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.

Thursday 7 September 2017


Even though we get them every year, there's something very impressive about seeing an Osprey fishing in a small estuary. Thanks must go to a visitor (Martin) for getting the news out after another visitor told him there'd been an Osprey (our first of the autumn here) fishing on the river at around 12:30. It put in a couple more appearances in the afternoon, fishing at 16:45 and then fishing again at 17:15; it caught a very small fish in the first instance so came back for another!

There was a Barwit on the estuary mid-morning and also a Little Stint, in front of Tower Hide at around 18:00.

The Sun and colour of the sky looked stunning for a couple of minutes as the evening wore on so I risked a couple of shots (not good for cameras if done for too long).

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Patch update and some wet weather

This is a bit of a catch up post as I haven't had much free time lately! 31st August saw 2 Sanderling arrive late in the evening and they were still present on 1st September. The rough weather on Sunday didn't quite have the desired effect at dropping in a load of birds; the best I could do were a few extra Ringed Plover (16+) and a Common Tern which flew in from North and landed on BHM for a few hours. The Ruff which lingered for a while seems to have now left us but other wader numbers are strong with 7 Greenshanks and 4 Green Sandpipers being the best of it this morning. Although most have moved through we do still have a few Yellow Wags with us.

Please excuse the dodgy pics; all of these birds were very distant with the exception of the Yellow Wag!

We have also had THIS in with the Canada Geese for a couple of days