Saturday, 30 July 2016

Little Ringed Plover posing for the camera this time!

Improved numbers on Black Hole Marsh this evening with birds continuing to drop in until 21:00 ish. Counts from Island Hide were as follows:

1 Wood Sandpiper
2 Green Sandpiper
10 ish Common Sandpiper
4 Ringed Plover (1 juv, 3 ad)
5 Little Ringed Plover (4 juv, 1 ad)
54 Dunlin

A good day - the marsh is perfect to attract waders at the moment with low water levels, a pungent odour and lots of flies!

Here's a couple pics of Little Ringed Plover:




Wood Sandpiper finally poses for the camera!

A few new birds in today with 5 adult Ringed Plover, a few extra Common Sandpipers and a single Green Sandpiper but otherwise no significant change - the Marsh Harrier and Wood Sandpiper continue to stay here. Someone wrote Spotted Redshank on one of the boards but between us the locals were around for most of the day and none of us saw it (as far as I know). No time/location/age/moult info was recorded - it would be great if there is one here somewhere so let's see if one of us can pick it up...

The Wood Sandpiper was showing fantastically well in the evening, although the light was challenging. Such a lovely wader:

Green Sandpiper

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Wood Sand & Marsh Harrier Linger

An evening visit to Black Hole Marsh & the Axe Estuary showed nothing new of interest. The juvenile Marsh Harrier was still present and I heard a vocal Wood Sandpiper calling from BHM. Sure enough it flew in front of Tower Hide a few seconds later and landed out on the estuary. I knew it was on it's way - their call is incredibly distinctive (and very pleasant too)! Other Tim had arrived at Tower Hide too and hadn't yet seen the Wood Sand so we were both pretty fortunate that it landed out on the estuary as it had only been showing distantly on BHM until that point. Tim has spent more time looking around Colyton than Seaton lately and reports that things have been typically quiet, although he did have an Otter on the Coly. I've seen dozens of Mink locally but never an Otter. One day...

It's abundantly clear that the tourist season is now in full swing; there have been a lot of family groups down the marshes recently. It's always nice to hear how impressed people are with the wetlands here; in fact it's unusual not to hear praise of some kind from the large numbers of visitors. This does mean that space in the hides has been hard to come by at times, but at least people are out enjoying the facilities & the wildlife. There was a young lad with his grandparents in Tower Hide late in the evening - he was trying to take photos of every species he could see. He was amazed when I pointed out a Kingfisher to him (quite reliable here at the moment) and he took a few snaps - this reminded me of me a bit as Kingfishers on the Coly is what got me into all this about 14 years ago... He was so interested & enthusiastic - great to see!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

MARSH HARRIER - Wading in the River Axe... (and Wood Sand)

A Wood Sandpiper was new in on Tuesday morning - found by Sue Smith. I couldn't get down to see it for a while as I was on a Conference Call (work), but in the end it stayed on Black Hole Marsh all day. I popped down in the evening and had some decent counts so more birds gradually trickled in during the day:

1 Wood Sandpiper
6 Common Sandpiper
19 Dunlin
4 Whimbrel
54 Curlew
1 Marsh Harrier

In the evening, the Marsh Harrier spent 10 minutes out on the mud (estuary) which was very interesting to watch - it did some wading, bathing & drinking. It also did a fly-by near Tower Hide so here's a few pics:

This Kingfisher also performed well at dusk. Great to watch but difficult to photograph after Sunset:

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Excitement on the Axe - birds arrive

This last week has largely been pretty samey on patch with a few LRP, RP, Common Sand, Green Sand and Whimbrel etc. but yesterday saw the arrival of an adult female Marsh Harrier and early afternoon today saw a Sandwich Tern perch up on Black Hole Marsh. This is the 4th Sandwich Tern I've seen at BHM, but only the first that I've seen landed. Not a scarce bird by any means, but it was certainly the highlight of my week. Here's a few pics; they're distant but this was easily my best views of this species here:

There's an adult med gull in this pic too. Can you spot it?

There's also a very friendly Robin near BHM; it's parent was offering to feed it but instead it avoided the adult bird and followed me whenever I moved... I imagine it's been hand-fed by someone and has become tame:

I popped back over to the marshes in the evening in case the rain had dropped anything else in but the only change of note was a significant increase in the number of Common Sands, with at least 30 birds visible from Tower Hide all at once! That's the most I've ever seen here at any one time. A fox strutted across the field next to Tower Hide also:

There's still a lot to put up here but I'll save it for the next posts!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Great White Egret in flight

Whilst up at Ham Wall for the Collared Pratincole (see here), I took a couple of chance snaps of a GWE which flew by within 200ft or so. Looking at the first pic you'd think the bird was shot against the sky...

... whereas in fact it was just the lighting making the fields in the background appear blue-tinged!

I'm away on business again this week so no doubt something decent is going to arrive on patch in my absence! To be fair it's about time another patch scarcity turned up...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Posing Waders at Black Hole Marsh

Waders are continuing to trickle in around the Axe Estuary. Ian Mc found 2 LRP in the morning so I popped down in the afternoon to see if they were still about; there was no sign for a couple of hours but then 4 LRP dropped in, although 2 quickly departed. Also there's still a dozen or so Common Sands, 4 Dunlin, lots of Redshanks (mostly juvs) and 8 Whimbrel - 4 flew over BHM from the Estuary and moments later another 4 flew upstream behind a flock of Curlew. Here's a few snaps from the afternoon:

Common Sandpiper (left) & Little Ringed Plover (right)

Little Ringed Plover

Redshank bringing up a pellet



Thursday, 14 July 2016

MANY THANKS - my first 1,000,000

Well I've finally reached a million views on my blog content!

In the infancy of this blog back in 2010, I would typically get 20 - 100 views per day, but it's now generally in the range of 2000 - 5000 daily. If there wasn't a decent reader pool then there'd be little point in spending time writing & posting pics etc, but you lot actually make blogging incredibly satisfying - so thanks very much for that!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Brilliant Bittern in Flight

Whilst waiting for the Collared Pratincole to show at RSPB Ham Wall a Bittern flew by rather gracefully. Although only visible for a few seconds, this was by far my best ever views of Bittern. Lovely!

More shots of the best PRAT I've even seen

Here's a few more pics of the Collared Pratincole which was present at Ham Wall for a third day. Also had nice views of Bittern and Great White Egret but I'll save those pics for a later post. (All of the below images are very heavily cropped from the originals due to the distance of the bird):

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


I didn't see the news about the Prat until around 23:00 on Sunday so I very quickly had to shuffle my work schedule! Some of the regular readers may remember what happened last time I went on a twitch for a Collared Prat... it was one of many rare birds that I waited a while to go and see (just to be sure that there was a good chance of connecting) and of course I missed it on it's first day of absence. My twitching luck in 2013 and 2014 was amazingly bad in that respect with a similar thing happening a few times!

We arrived at Ham Wall just after 08:30 and the viewing platform was surprisingly quiet with only 2 other birders there, neither of whom had seen the bird yet. About 10 mins later I spotted it fly up in the same place that it was frequenting the previous evening. Result! We spent almost 12 hours waiting for good views but the bird always remained distant - just a small speck in the viewfinder. I took work with me so I could wait and work at the same time! Thankfully it was such a good bird that it didn't really matter if the pics were a bit crap (these are cropped in VERY far, hence the poor image quality):

Dancing in the rain

Open wide!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Autumn Passage at BHM

I'm still very busy with work (mostly working away from home lately) but did manage a very overdue trip to Black Hole Marsh this evening. With 4 Little Ringed Plover earlier in the week, and a Greenshank & 5 Common Sands this evening it seems as though the birds are finally starting to come back through. The tide was still rising so there would also have been more birds out on the estuary. Here's a pic of the Greenshank which stayed distant but was nice to watch none-the-less.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Kingfisher Posing Beautifully

Another busy week of work for me but I hear that the patch is getting some Autumn migrants (see Steve's Axe Birding blog). Here's a couple of pics of a Kingfisher to keep this blog going; there'll be a few seconds of video to post soon as well.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Hawk Moth P0RN

A few snaps of a pair of Privet Hawk Moths taken at my parents' place in Colyton. I was on my way back from business travels when the message came through so I headed there instead of home to bed (work to sleep time ratio about 10:1 last week)!

Stunning creatures!