Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Avocets breed at Black Hole Marsh

Well the news is out! We had a pair of Avocets prospecting an island on BHM in May, and mating regularly. Come the start of June, they were taking it in turns to sit on the nest, one more than the other, so I figured all being well we'd get chicks somewhere between 24th and 27th. Sure enough, the first 2 hatched on 26th, and a 3rd on 27th! An adult did go and sit on the nest again after the 3rd hatched, so perhaps there's another yet to come, time will tell.

Thursday, 4 May 2023

2 Pochards

The year that keeps on giving. I popped to BHM between deliveries on Wednesday evening and had a quick look (mainly listen, they were very vocal) for the 4 Wood Sands that had been found by Sue S earlier. As I was leaving to head back out for deliveries, I spotted 2 ducks flying in from the south, and a quick look through the bins had me thinking possibly Pochard. Pochard are decent here, and the initial views were far from ideal but they came a bit closer and pics soon confirmed. 

We've had a few more over the years, but these were only the 2nd and 3rd Pochards I've seen on patch here. I nipped back for another look on my way home (sunset time, dull night, hardly any light) and they were settled on BHM so I grabbed a few more snaps.

It wasn't worth getting up at 5am this morning, especially as I was up til nearly 3am as always... BHM was naff. Water is too high which doesn't help. The only highlight came at Seaton Marshes with a single Yellow Wagtail. Colyton gave another highlight later with another Red Kite over at 13:00.

Friday, 28 April 2023

Night Heron

A bird that most of the local patchers have been in search of for a while now given the recent influx, but it was Steve Waite who came up with the goods and found a Night Heron. It was nice to watch it on Borrow Pit island before it flew south and into the mist, calling. Obscured for pics but it doesn't matter, I was just pleased to see one; my first that isn't captive. Cheers Steve!

What a year we're having for local rarities.

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

More arrivals

Another quick, showery dash to BHM after work proved fruitful with an LRP and Ringed Plover there, later joined by another LRP picked up initially on call (same as yesterday, nice that they announce themselves). I wonder if these are the same 2 I had yesterday morning, or another 2 plus the Ringo... The Black-winged Stilt was still showing, albeit about as far away as possible whilst still actually being on BHM itself.

A march up to Coly Common yielded 2 Swan Geese (what's the origin?) and 9 Whimbrel, my 1st of the Spring. 

And to bring some life to this quick post, here's another image of the Black-winged Stilt from Monday morning. 

Monday, 17 April 2023

Black-winged Stilt


A BirdGuides alert went out at 12:53 on Sunday 16th saying Black-winged Stilt at Seaton Marshes, so mild panic ensued, especially as I had Olivia (my daughter) to myself and she was approaching nap time. I didn't see the report for a few mins, but alerted the locals ASAP knowing that some would likely be able to get there before me. Steve was first on scene and sure enough, a stonker of a Black-winged Stilt was on Black Hole Marsh.

It's a bird we've been long overdue here. There've been several fairly close either side of our patch, and with this influx this year, chances were relatively high, and sure enough it finally happened. 

At 2 y/o Liv saw her first Black-winged Stilt (although she was far more interested in my camera), and thankfully she behaved impeccably despite the crowd. Carrying her as well as a heavy backpack whist rushing between hides after 5 days of very little sleep wasn't easy mind...

I popped back in the evening to check if the bird was seemingly staying or not, and picked up Susie enroute to make sure she got a chance to see it. 5am alarm the next day and onsite well before sunrise proved worthwhile, and a disgusting number of shots later...

Only other thing of note from me were 2 Little Ringed Plovers on the morning of Monday 17th. I picked them up on call and heard them for a good 10 seconds before eventually seeing them flying north of BHM.

Many more photos and some videos to come...

Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Lesser Yellowlegs at LORP

Amazingly, the first Lesser Yellowlegs I've seen! I'm really not into twitching off patch, but at under 30 mins away I couldn't resist paying this one a visit (twice in fact). In truth, I also wanted to familiarise myself with the Lower Otter Restoration Project site as it's done fairly well recently, so it was one to get 'on my radar'.

I wasn't too bothered about the photos, and it was certainly rather challenging. The bird was generally pretty distant (the images are cropped massively, showing approx 2-5% of the original pixels), my first visit was at sunset, and my second visit had very poor conditions (severe atmospheric distortion, and hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of people). Still, very smart bird and a joy to watch.

Now, if we can get one at Black Hole Marsh please, I'll enjoy it at least 50x as much as this one... 

Monday, 27 March 2023

NORTHERN LIGHTS from southern UK

Whilst primarily a birding blog, I just have to post this. Aurora Borealis is rarely seen, to any extent, from my latitude near the south coast in East Devon. There was a truly exceptional level of activity on the night of Thursday 23rd into Friday 24th March, caused by a CME (coronal mass ejection) a few days prior.

Long story short, I stayed up the entire night (then went to work, ~ 41 hours awake straight), and took images that I never thought would be possible near home, the like of which have almost certainly never been taken here before. 

I have a lot of images to go through but they'll have to sit on the hard drives for a bit, but hopefully you enjoy these as a taster: