Sunday 19 November 2017


Despite resisting for years I've finally caved and twitched some off-patch Hawfinches. Having missed the Hawfinches in Colyton on November 5th I was hopeful we'd get some more but so far my searches around Colyton have produced little of interest. Best of it has been a thrush flock visiting the yews at St Andrew's for a week now, with many Redwings (hundreds in Colyton at the moment) and a few Fieldfares. I'm still hoping to find some Hawfinches of my own but with Shute being only a few minutes up the road it was worth a trip up there to see the birds which have now been present for almost a week.

They were generally fairly distant but it was nice to see my first ones with 4+ there. Hopefully I'll get some better pics of these if they hang around for a while longer; the bird pictured below was the most showy in the short time I could spend there but it was a rather scruffy individual...

Only other bird worthy of note was a Cattle Egret flying over Colyton at 15:00 whilst I was returning from the Hawfinch twitch!

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Glossy Ibis and Great Egret (late post)

Sue Murphy found a Glossy Ibis on Colyford Common on 28th October and I caught up with it early the following morning and the day after. I heard a 3rd hand report that it has been seen as recently as Saturday 4th November too so perhaps it's still about but being elusive. Steve Waite had a Great Egret on 29th October and this one lingered for the rest of the day making a change from the usual brief visits of this species. Here are a couple of fairly distant snaps of both birds:

Of more interest is that there were 2 Hawfinches in Colyton on 5th November. Steve Waite found them early morning so I got some kit ready and popped straight out but unfortunately missed them by minutes. I tried again later and had a good look around a wider area but failed to find them. It's a bird I've yet to see (anywhere!) as I've been avoiding twitching any off patch in the hope that I'll see my first here...

Saturday 28 October 2017

Great Egret at Black Hole

A Tweet from Bob Longhorn had me heading out of the door; he had spotted a Great Egret on BHM! This is the 3rd we've had on patch here since October 18th and the 5th reported in 2017. As is fairly typical with Great Egrets it didn't linger for long before heading off high (South West). I saw Ian Mc arrive at the reserve just after the bird had flown but a quick phone call got him onto it as it was heading towards Seaton. One was reported at Dawlish about 90 minutes later so quite possibly the same bird continuing SW.

I quite like the warm light coming through the wing here

I'm very late posting this but Steve Waite had 6 Avocets flying over the estuary and then landing on BHM on 19th. It was tipping it down by the time I could get there for a look but they were nice to see none-the-less. 

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Yellow-browed Warbler and Great Egret

October has seen frustratingly little birding for me as I simply haven't had time. A Tweet and a call from James Chubb alerted me to the presence of a Great Egret on Colyford Common so I rushed over having not seen one here for a few years. I jogged down the path as Great Egrets can be very brief visitors; it's just as well I did as it was already flying off and if I'd got there just 10 seconds later I would have missed it! Jammy.

Only other birds of note here were 5 Ruff on Colyford Common. Nothing of note on Black Hole Marsh.

Whilst heading back a message from Steve Waite came through saying YBW near Primrose Way. I missed 2 others whilst I was living at Primrose Way (I'm now back in Colyton) but managed to connect with this one.

Nice finds and cheers for getting the news out chaps!

I'll only post the one image (montage) as a lot of people are probably fed up of seeing pics of the Sun through the dust and ash from the morning of 16th. This post went a bit mad on Twitter...

Wednesday 27 September 2017

4 Little Stints and more Grey Phal pics

Tuesday 26th:
It was nice to get to Black Hole Marsh early evening after having to neglect birding yesterday. Upon first glance there were 3 Little Stints, 6 Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper showing. A 4th Little Stint arrived, flying in with 3 Dunlin before joining the others and that was as good as it got.

It would be nice to get a few more join them; there are some double figure counts of Little Stints in places in the UK at the moment and I've never seen more than 5 at any one time since I've been birding here. We have had bigger numbers of them locally in the past (reports from Phil, I think) but this was yonks before I was into birding or maybe before I was born.

Below are a couple more snaps of the Grey Phalarope which seems to have now left us. It was an aggressive bird, repeatedly chasing off Redshank and the Curlew Sandpiper.

This Green Woodpecker regularly shows well near the BHM car park area

1 of the 6 Ruff

2 of the 4 Little Stints

Friday 22 September 2017

Brilliant Grey Phalarope views

An early visit to Black Hole Marsh yesterday revealed that the Grey Phalarope was still present but conditions were still challenging for pics as it was dull in the early hours and raining badly at times. An afternoon visit had slightly more light but it was generally from the wrong direction so the bird was backlit. A pretty difficult day for pics but the bird certainly showed very well all day; it was great to watch.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stints

Our 3rd Curlew Sandpiper of the Autumn (counting my late Summer one as Autumn) has lingered for a 4th day and has been showing well on Black Hole Marsh at times. We still have the Spotted Redshank here, showing most frequently on the Colyford Common scrapes. Clive found a Little Stint on BHM this morning so I popped down in the afternoon to have a look; it was showing distantly but after 30mins or so I saw another one fly in! The 2 stayed fairly close together until early evening. I'll put up some pics (distant) in the next post but for now here are a few of the Curlew Sandpiper:

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Least and Stilt Sandpipers

12th September:
Having seen the news of there being two rare sandpipers at Lodmoor I hastily made arrangements to go for them. Leaving home at dawn, the hope was that there would be some positive news by the time we arrived on site and sure enough there was. For me, seeing the Stilt Sand was the priority having already seen 2 (3!) Least Sands on patch in Seaton so we headed for this bird first. We connected pretty quickly and although the bird was distant it gave decent scope views for long periods of time. We heard from other birders that the Least Sand was showing again on the opposite side of the reserve so we headed around and connected with that too where there was also a Great White Egret.

After some lunch and a few work emails we headed back to try and get some better pics; the birds were distant and the heat haze (or rain) was often severe so this was a good challenge. Still, persistence paid off. Some decent views came after a helicopter flushed almost every bird on the reserve and I then relocated the Stilt Sand on the East side (it headed back to the West side later). Also late in the afternoon the Least Sand came a bit closer and a few of us managed to see it through the bushes briefly as it was moving along a scrape. This bird was often hidden behind banks and proved quite elusive at times, rather unlike one of our two patch birds last year which showed fantastically well for hours on end (see the current blog header).

I put '3' in brackets earlier as I didn't know I'd seen 3 Least Sands on patch until a pic from Phil A emerged online today showing that the possible Little Stint we had recently actually had yellow legs and they don't look muddy or dirty. My pics weren't good enough to tell but his on the other hand... it was clearly not a Little Stint! No one was totally convinced it was a Little Stint when viewing it on the 7th and with the Lodmoor Least Sand turning up soon after... well, it all seems to fit quite nicely (it doesn't seem to fit other stints or Western Sand anyway). Well done to Phil for sorting through his pics; it shows how important photos are in scenarios like these as our 2nd Least Sand in 2016 wouldn't have been correctly identified without some of the pics either.

Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Stilt Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Least Sandpiper at Lodmoor

Monday 11 September 2017

OSPREY puts on an incredible show

There have been some better birds here recently with:
Osprey, Little Stint and Barwit on 7th
I had a Kittiwake and 2 Knot on 8th (plus Osprey again)
(Osprey again on 9th)
Spotted Redshank and another Osprey found by Phil A on 10th
2 Common Terns and Spotted Redshank again on 11th.

I have some (mostly lousy) shots of all of the above but the pics in this post have to be all about the Osprey. We had a more showy bird in 2010 which was here for 3 weeks but I wasn't so much into photography back then, plus it had colour rings on both legs so it wasn't particularly aesthetically pleasing for pics anyway. I put in a LOT of hours (10+) for these pics on Friday but it was certainly worth it, plus the Kittiwake and Knots provided something else to watch whilst waiting.