Thursday 31 December 2015

2015 Review - THE PATCH

Well that's another year over and done with! A year which has seen a heck of a lot of change in my life - redundancy, owning a new business, being offered (& my subsequent acceptance of) a Directorship role for a very exciting company, my partner getting a dog (Millie the Cockapoo), me being involved in my first car crash... the list goes on!

Now for the important stuff. BIRDS.
2015 was another good year on patch with a few scarce birds being added to my patch list. Also it was another successful year of conservation locally with the fantastic maintenance of Black Hole Marsh and the surrounding areas bringing in heaps of birds. I did manage to get out for a couple of twitches this year but I will keep this post about the Patch as that's where my main interest firmly lies. I missed a few good birds this year due to business trips, but thankfully none of them were patch ticks (particularly Bittern, Spotted Crake & Wryneck). My patch ticks this year were:

Slavonian Grebe
Yellow-Browed Warbler
Baird's Sandpiper
Temminck's Stint
Penduline Tit
Barnacle Goose (yes really...)

Other notable (locally scarce) species were:
Short-Eared Owl
Glossy Ibis
Wood Sandpiper (34 at once!)
Curlew Sandpiper
Yellow-Legged Gull

Here's a few pics of some of the aforementioned species:

Penduline Tit

Short-Eared Owl

Baird's Sandpiper (natural reflection)

Wood Sandpiper x 2 (natural reflections)

Yellow-Legged Gull

Curlew Sandpiper x 2 (natural reflections)

Glossy Ibis

Yellow-Browed Warbler

So that's a wrap!

2016 promises to be a very exciting year for me with my new jobs, roles and responsibilities; hopefully it'll be exciting on the bird front as well!

All the best for 2016 everyone - I hope you all have a healthy and prosperous year!

Monday 28 December 2015

BARNACLE GEESE at Bridge Marsh (River Axe)

Thanks to Tim Wright for the heads up about the 3 Barnacle Geese which were on Bridge Marsh this afternoon. I was actually heading down to that area to look for the Firecrest which Tim had reported earlier - I didn't find it. When I checked Bridge Marsh, there were 3 geese flying away from me and I couldn't help but think that they were the Barnacle Geese. Unfortunately these views were un-tickable. However... they then did the decent thing and flew back towards me and I was indeed correct that they were the Barnacle Geese (good job they came back too otherwise the ID would have been a 'maybe' at best).
Naff pics due to distance, light and the weather; the (overdue) patch tick was satisfying though.

Saturday 21 November 2015

SHORT-EARED OWL at Black Hole Marsh

I've seen 3 Short-Eared Owls on patch in my life, and they've all been this year! The first was the Axe Cliffs bird in March. Next was a bird frequenting BHM and the fields towards Seaton Marshes, and now this one; hopefully it'll stay for a while like the other two did. It was getting dark when I heard about the SEO but there was just about enough light to get a few pics (although slightly noisy due to high ISO used). Great birds! Thanks for the Tweet Robin Morrison.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

A Painful Patch Dip

Despite making a rapid exit from home, I didn't connect with the Hen Harrier that Steve Waite found this afternoon. It would have been nice to add this to the patch list after having a few Marsh Harriers and a Montagu's Harrier in recent years (see here and here for the Montagu's). I did get a couple of snaps of a passing Sparrowhawk though; it was taking a swipe at the Starling flock:

Thursday 29 October 2015


Well done to Steve Waite for finding this little beauty yesterday morning. I didn't go for it at the time as walking is still uncomfortable, although a text this morning saying 'close and prolonged views' got me moving. Warblers are often elusive and this one was no exception; I didn't get any nice pics but it was good to see none-the-less.

Tuesday 20 October 2015


Having never seen a Shrike in the UK, the opportunity to see a Daurian Shrike in my home county of Devon was too tempting to resist. I rarely twitch off patch but this was an exception. However, the day did not go to plan; not at all to plan. Cutting long story short, the trip cost me my car as well as possible damage to my camera gear (yet to be inspected fully) due to a serious error by another driver. Not only that, this happened on the way TO the bird, rather than the way back - the wait for the recovery truck and a car to pick me up was not an enjoyable one. So now I'm without a car and also disallowed from driving for 2 to 3 weeks due to the effects of medication prescribed to help pain relief for the injuries sustained.

The one positive from the trip is that I did eventually (and rather uncomfortably) connect with the target bird, albeit briefly before it went to roost.

Sunday 11 October 2015

GLOSSY IBIS Colyford Common

A message from Ian Mc had me running down to the hide at Coly Common; two Glossy Ibis were on the small scrape! Apparently they were first seen by some visitors yesterday; it was a good job that they hung around for a second day so the locals could all see them. I've only seen Glossy Ibis on patch once before; my self-found bird from November 2013 SEE HERE. Here's some pics of today's birds:

Friday 9 October 2015


... is what was said in a phone call to me this morning. I wasn't sure if it was a hoax or a misidentification so I popped down to have a look in case it was indeed something of interest. The bird was alert but sat down on the pebbles, between two of the sheds. I'm not sure what's wrong with it; I kept my distance and walked all the way around the bird but couldn't see any obvious injury. Unfortunately some of the people observing it had dogs with them (most of them not on leads) and the bird wasn't too amused by this. Each time a dog approached, the bird stretched it's neck in disapproval. I didn't need to get close either; I was surprised just how big the bird was (not seen one landed before) so it was easy to get nice shots from 30 - 40 ft away. Here's some pics of the 'Booby':

P.s. GANNET. Ahhh if only it were a BF Booby...

Tuesday 29 September 2015


Did you stay up for the Lunar Eclipse on the morning of the 28th? If not, why not?!?! It was well worth the all-nighter...

The 'Supermoon' was fantastic prior to the eclipse:

And then for the eclipse:

And a composite image:

Thursday 24 September 2015

More OSPREY pics

Ospreys never fail to impress me...

I'm still working in Germany at the moment, but will be back soon!

Wednesday 23 September 2015

OSPREY at Lyng (Norfolk)

Quick post whilst waiting in the airport; I'm heading off to work in Germany for a couple of days. This Osprey performed well at Lyng.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Black-Winged Stilt

Another quick Egypt catch up (although I did see a Black-Winged Stilt at Abbotsbury earlier this year)! There were 5 birds present upon my second visit to the Sewage Works.

And there were a few White-Eyed Gulls near the hotel:

Apologies for lack of content; I'm having a rather busy spell again at the moment. More to come soon...

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Western Reef Heron

I've been rather busy since I've been back from Egypt; apologies for how quiet this blog has been! Here's a few pics of Western Reef Heron from the aforementioned trip.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

NIGHTJAR - successful breeding on patch

I'll start this post by stating that I'm currently in Egypt. I knew going away at the beginning of September would probably mean I miss one or two good birds on patch, but didn't expect such quality as Citrine Wagtail, Spotted Crake and Wryneck! I'm disappointed to have missed those, but thankfully I've seen the latter two on patch in previous years, and the Wagtail was a brief visitor so I may not have seen it anyway. Look out Steve Waite, with all the good patch birds this year it looks good for Phil Abbott to jump your record...

Back to the post title regarding Nightjars. I've had more time this Summer to monitor the activities of the Colyton Nightjars. August 2013 was the last time I saw these so I thought it was about time to see their progress; and what fantastic progress there has been! I'll do a full write up about them upon my return from Egypt, and also a write up on birds I've seen whilst away. Nightjars are VERY difficult to photograph, but weeks of monitoring their behaviour gave me a wealth of knowledge to be able to photograph them whilst causing minimal disturbance (monitoring during early stages of breeding and photographs post fledging). Some of the birds were surprisingly confiding once they'd become accustomed to my presence (maybe they didn't even see me) so although I didn't take many pics, I have had some fantastic experiences with them.

I'm glad to report that there were a minimum of 8 Nightjar at the site, including 3 juveniles in August (adult and 2cy birds were counted in July only). A fantastic success!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

KNOT another wader post

I thought I'd join the bandwagon of having a slight pun in the post title - I caught up with the Knot on Black Hole Marsh this evening. A fairly scarce bird on patch; this was only my fourth. Here's a couple of snaps:

Tuesday 25 August 2015


Black Hole Marsh was a bit disappointing this morning! I popped down for a quick look around in the rain and the only birds of interest on BHM were 3 Wood Sands and 4 Ruff... Hopefully the birds were out on the estuary instead; it was low tide at the time. Here's a few more pics from yesterday: