Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Seaton quieter than Colyton!

An early afternoon visit to BHM produced some ringed GBBGs on the estuary but just Barwits, Common Sand. etc. waderwise. I might give Colyton cemetery a go! A Whinchat was on posts along Cownhayne this lunchtime...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Barwits Revisited

Referring back to my March 2015 post - 'Which One's the Barwit?' - I thought that the current Autumnal prescence of up to 20 Barwits on the Axe estuary might be the right time to answer the questions which people have since posited regarding this 'issue'! As I said at the time, that blog post was simply to do with one Barwit in particular - the overwintering individual of Winter 2014-15. Thus, I didn't complicate that post by talking about Summer or Juvenile plumages. Today, I thought I'd deal with the Juvenile Blackwit scenario, as this seems to be the greatest cause of consternation and confusion; mainly because, in March 2015, there obviously weren't any juvenile birds about. The main difficulty seems to be that Black-tailed Godwits of juvenile age can often show a streaky mantle, as do all Bar-taileds. This, however, should not be a problem as juvenile Blackwits can easily be separated by their rusty-red neck and breast Autumn colouration which only occurs on Barwits in Spring females, and is lost by July.Even the male Barwit's extensive Spring red is lost by the time of its Southward migration, so it's extremely unlikely we'll get a reddish male on the Axe in the Autumn with anything like the strong red colour of a juvenile Blackwit. Also, the streaking on Barwits continues across the mantle, scapulars, wing-coverts and tertials which never happens in Blackwits. Even juvenile Blackwits have a very different pattern of spotting, not streaking, on the wing-coverts especially; I liken the patterning of Juv. Blackwit's wing-coverts to a 'Bar-of-Chocolate' as the spots often look like squares of chocolate arranged in a grid pattern, separated by pale criss-crossing lines. At various stages of immaturity a Blackwit's wing-coverts can also look quite plain or very finely spotted but never streaked like a Barwit's. Add to all of this the differences already discussed in March 2015, and you can't go wrong! Happy Birding, y'all!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Patch tick! I finally saw my first ever Colyton Hummingbird Hawkmoth today at approximately 14:15 GMT. It was briefly on Honeysuckle but didn't linger long enough for a photograph which is a shame. I'll be checking that honeysuckle again though...

Monday, 26 September 2016

Calandra Larks

Calandra Lark, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Compared to anywhere else that I've visited, Extremadura was easily the best for Calandras. Short-toed, Thekla and Crested were also about in similar areas but Calandras were most co-operative when the camera was out...

Quiet Weekend 24th -25th Sept.

Three Grey Plovers were still visible from Tower Hide Sunday evening, as was a Peregrine hunting repeatedly. It failed to catch a Woodpigeon with an impressive burst of acceleration but later caught a Redshank which it was forced to drop by mobbing crows. What a waste of effort! Oh by the way at least 4 Wheatears were at Seaton Marshes on Saturday (new ones I reckon as different plumages to last week's birds).

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Grey Plovers

I'd just decided not to return to BHM on Thursday when I had my mind changed by a message from Phil-a-roony-oony-o that he'd got 9 Grey Plover from Tower hide. I cycled hard and managed to get this phonescoped vid at dusk. Poor quality but only 3 could still be seen Friday evening which is a more usual count for us. Nine is/was unprecedented! Well done Mr. Abbot...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker,Branscombe,21/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Southern Hawker, Branscombe, 21/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Having not been to Branscombe for a while due to my lack of a car, the kind offer from Kris Gray of a lift down was too much to refuse. With Yellow-browed Warbler being reported from Charmouth, I wondered if our local Phyllosc. sites might have something of interest too. Unfortunately, Branscombe sewage works seemed completely devoid of anything even Chiffy or Cresty! Still, this Southern Hawker dragonfly was some compensation. To jump back to Tuesday evening, no less than 3 Goosander were upriver from Tower Hide at dusk, as was a Pintail which hopped across to BHM with the Mallards. Otherwise, Wednesday was disappointing with just Barwits and other 'old news' to enjoy. But the Yellow-broweds are coming...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


Roller, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Trujillo area was the best place I've been to yet for the much-lusted-after Roller. I saw one in Devon in 1989 at East Budleigh Common which was fantastic, but to see them in large numbers on the Spanish steppes was pure gluttony. The provision of nest-boxes in some areas has clearly helped and even whilst driving I would spot one on wires here and there. Outstanding...

Another Drenching

Well I got saturated cycling to/from BHM last night (Monday) so to see Little Stint for the 4th day running didn't seem like much reward. However, close views of Yellow Wagtails for the 30th day running made it all worthwhile! They are such gorgeous things; I'll never get bored with them...

Monday, 19 September 2016

Colyton/Seaton Stuff 15-18th Sept.

After my last post I had a Greenshank on BHM late in the day. On Friday 16th a new Little Stint plus 3 Knot( 1 in Winter plumage) were on BHM. On Saturday 17th, a juvenile Hobby was feeding on one of the massive swarm of Swallows along Cownhayne Lane, where the occasional white rump of a House Martin interspersed the Swallowage. No less than 3 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear & 3 Stonechat lined the Cownhayne fenceposts. At Coly Common the Little Stint (or another ) was on the scrape from the hide with 8 Ringos and 7 Dunlin. On BHM, 1 each of Yellow Wagtail & White Wagtail accompanied 40 Pied Wagtails plus 18 Bar-tailed Godwits. On Sunday 18th, Little Stint was still on BHM, then just before dusk 2 Goosander flew down the Axe then over Seaton Marshes towards the sea. A new week begins...

Thursday, 15 September 2016

RB Shrike Stills

Red-backed Shrike, Beer Head, 15/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Red-backed Shrike, Beer Head, 15/09/16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Not bad for a 5-year-old phone and a 25-year-old scope!

Red-backed Shrike Beer Head

Well that Son-of-a-Bun struck birding gold this morning by unblocking RB Shrike for Beer Head and the Patch area to boot. A 1st Winter bird but a really nice one, strong markings and colouration plus it showed brilliantly well. A long journey for me with no car- 2 buses then a long uphill walk from Beer Underleys! I thought my heart would give out but I survived the climb and was distracted by at least 7 Yellow Wagtails before locating the Shrike. After watching it grab a big ol' cricket I grabbed some phonescoped video and here's a couple of clips. I also thought some people might like the clip of Shags and Cormorants as it provides a nice comparison between the two. I couldn't carry my DSLR up there today but if it's there tomorrow I may substitute my scope for the camera ensemble thus producing better quality images!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Seaton Sightings 14th Sept.

At Seaton Marshes just now all I had was 6 Wigeon, 6 Barwits and 4 Wheatear plus a Chiffchaff. Earlier on, I caught up with Steve's Avocet on the estuary before it flew to BHM. A 1stW YL Gull was flushed with 300 other gulls by a low-flying chopper so no video. The Curlew Sandpiper was still present and there were 2 Ruff. A new Knot, not as peachy as Sunday's bird, hid among the throng of Barwits, Blackwits and Redshanks. Apparently, a Great White Egret was reported belatedly for yesterday but I couldn't find it this afternoon.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Rock Buntings

Rock Bunting, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Before going to Spain, I couldn't find any mention of this cracking Bunting species for the Extremaduran sites I planned to visit in the birdwatching guides to the region. I can only suppose that they assume that everyone is more interested in the big birds- Bustards, Eagles & Vultures- therefore passerines are not worthy of attention?! I thought I might have to travel to Andalusia to see Rock Bunts! However, whilst waiting for the Swifts to show, I noticed them hopping around just below me. Brilliaaant! I saw more of them at several locations without going out of my way to see them. Cheesy-peasy...                                               
Rock Bunting, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )

Monday, 12 September 2016

White-rumped Swift

White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May 2016 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May 2016 ( Copyright T D Wright )
Some people have asked me why I've not posted more of my Springy Spanish trip so, as the only interesting birds on patch over the weekend were Knot, Green Sand. plus Barwits still on BHM & a stunning male Wheatear plus several others at Seaton Marshes, I thought I'd take you back to Spain. One of the advantages of visiting Extremadura after the migrants have passed through is that the late-arriving White-rumpers are in. I had to endure that intense Sun in order to get these photos after climbing a steep path so I hope you appreciate all the effort. It was "T.F.H.", as one of my wheelchair-using friends used to say!        
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
White-rumped Swift, Extremadura, May '16 ( Copyright T D Wright )
The rump and especially the white trailing edge to the secondaries aren't always easy to see...

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Friday Afternoon

After I posted yesterday I had a couple more things. A pair of Common Scoter landed on the sea off Spot On then I called in at BHM where the juv Sanderling which arrived over high tide was still present. On the estuary from Tower hide a lone Whimbrel stood out from the Curlew flock with its dark cap, 3 head-stripes and short bill. Apparently some Brent Geese dropped in while I was in the library; all this blogging gets in the way of birding sometimes, doesn't it?!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Early Birding 09/09/16

To those of you who received text messages from me this morning - no, your phones were not 'on the blink'! I was out birding at 7:30 and didn't see much at BHM so visited Seaton Marshes at 8a.m. where three Wheatears graced the track to the hide. The Shoveler was still on Borrow Pit and at least 8 Barwits were still on the estuary. Bird of the morning though was an eclipse drake WIGEON  in the channel in front of the hide, my first of the Autumn. There were 2 in fact as later I cycled up the road to Coronation Corner and saw another. Before people doubt my 2-bird theory please note that I could still see Bird One from the road simultaneously, plus it's at a slightly more advanced stage of its eclipse moult than the CoriCorner one. Phew! Anyhow, onshore winds proved ineffective from Spot On even though they were South South-Westerly (not strong enough!), although a Peregrine being mobbed by gulls provided a bit of entertainment. I'll give BHM another go on the way back home for lunch I think...

Colyton Glow-worm & Coly Com Green Sand

Here's the best phonescoped video I've managed this last week. A self-found Glow-worm at last! (That's my phone-hand moving about, not the Glow-worm)

Monday, 5 September 2016

Saturday Seawatch 3rd Sept

Well, I said I would so just before the rain closed in I gave it half-an-hour from Spot On. A superb 2nd Winter Little Gull was my only reward, save for 2 Sandwich Terns which flew over me calling loudly. A complete soaking Pale-bellied Brents this time!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

White Wagtail

Just a quick update to say that last evening(2nd) there was a classic 1stWinter White Wagtail among all the Pieds from Island Hide. Also Little Stint, 2 Ruff, Knot and LRP. Peregrine, Barn Owl and 2 Kingfishers at least from Tower. Seawatch today I think...