Friday 30 March 2018

Patch Glaucous! At last...

Gotta keep this post short and sweet (or brutish). Glaucous Gull has been a bit of a bogey bird for me on patch and amazingly this is the first one I've connected with here. Many thanks to Ian Mc for the message. I headed to Coronation Corner and had fairly good views from there but when it eventually flew it went VERY close to Tower Hide so hopefully someone was in there to appreciate a close fly-by. Both me and the camera got pretty wet but it was worth it:

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Garganey on Patch

Well that was a very nice surprise! I was looking over Bridge Marsh and Colyford Common/Marshes in case the Egyptian Goose that Steve had mid-morning was still here but had no success with that. Work kept me in in the morning but this turned out to be fortuitous timing as I had 2 Garganey fly N in front of the hide! They headed up to Bridge Marsh and appeared to drop down albeit out of sight so I hurried back over there. They had moved in the few minutes it took me to get there but Ian Waite had since seen them on the opposite side of the river to Tower Hide so I quickly popped up to 'Farm Gate' N of Axmouth and was pleased to see that they had landed on one of the pools. Most of the other patch birders connected with them too which is good; Garganey can certainly be tricky here. These were only the 2nd ones I've seen after finding a pair on Black Hole Marsh in June 2014; they were showing much better on that occasion... (see HEREHERE). Here are a couple of distant pics of the 2 from today and also a Peregrine:

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Iceland Gull

Ian Mc found an Iceland Gull on the estuary near the tram sheds so I quickly headed down to try and see it. As I approached Axmouth I saw all the gulls go up so thought that my chance may have been blown but fortunately a quick scan after parking up at Coronation Corner revealed that it had not gone far. I got a few distant shots of it on the river before it flew upstream a bit further and landed very close to Tower Hide. Back in the car and a hurried walk to Tower Hide later, I was pleased to see it on the edge of the mud right in front of the hide! Brilliant views. Unzip bag, remove camera and then a Merlin (helicopter) flies very low over the estuary and flushes the lot before I could get a shot off. A real shame after rushing over and having it showing so close! Still, nice to see it after having a probable Iceland Gull flyover get away from me on 22nd January. I didn't have time to look around the patch properly but 4 Gadwall on Black Hole Marsh and a seal on the sea were nice to see.

Thursday 22 March 2018


The recent 'mini beast from the East' on 17th, 18th & 19th wasn't at all mini; we actually had more snow here than with the 'main one' at the beginning of the month! At 03:30am on 19th we had over 8 inches settled on the garden table but thankfully the roads etc were warmer this time around so less built up in most places. There wasn't a particularly significant movement of birds over Colyton like there was at the beginning of the month, but there were just about triple figures of Redwings as well low hundreds of Starlings and Fieldfares all heading West. A few Meadow Pipits were grounded around the town but other than that I didn't see much of note. With some work and a small amount of birding done I did a pretty standard snow-day thing and headed to the pub with a mate. Good decision it seems as I managed to win a chicken!

A good look around the patch on Wednesday 21st was a little disappointing. The best of it was as follows:
Seaton Hole - 2 Black Redstarts, 3 Chiffs
Seaton Marshes - 8+ Chiffs
Black Hole Marsh - 2 Gadwall
Colyford Common - 3 Wheatear (all stunning males)

Friday 9 March 2018

Lyme Regis - Little Gull

With more than 1 Little Gull having been reported at Lyme Regis a few times recently it was worth a short journey over to have a look. And blimey it was showing well, often feeding just a few feet from the shore at Monmouth Beach and in view the entire time I was there. What a wonderful little bird to watch! It's definitely worth going to see it if you're fairly local and haven't had decent views of a Little Gull before.


Whilst there I just had to spent a few minutes with the Purple Sandpipers on The Cobb:

Nice iridescence!

Monday 5 March 2018

Avocets Galore!

After having a decent afternoon down the marshes yesterday I headed out at 9am this morning in the hope that some of the goodies would still be here. Most of them were plus a few new birds too. My totals of the most interesting birds of the day are as follows:

11 Avocet
8 Pintail
4 Gadwall
2 Bar-tailed Godwit
1 Grey Plover

When I arrived at Black Hole Marsh there were only 2 Avocet but before long I spotted another 9 flying in at 09:35 bringing the total up to 11. As far as I'm aware that's a record for the patch here (will no doubt be corrected if need be). All 11 looked settled and were still there when I left, with some on the estuary and some remaining on BHM. Next locally decent bird was a Bar-tailed Godwit which I saw in flight only, heading North of Tower Hide and at a similar time the lingering Grey Plover flew downstream over the other side of the estuary. With Colyford Marshes still quite flooded I stayed in Tower Hide for a while and got some great views of some of the Avocets:

The group of 9 which landed slightly too far away from the initial 2 to squeeze all 11 into one shot

Once the water levels had dropped a bit I headed to Colyford Marshes hoping for some of yesterdays ducks to still be there. 8 Pintail and 4 Gadwall were on the main pool of water and the males of both species were displaying; great to see. I really like Pintails, such stunning birds (well, mainly the males).

I had one more scan of the estuary at dusk and was rewarded with another Barwit with 2 from Coronation Corner. Like yesterday I was heading home from the gym so I phone-binned an awful photo of the Barwits. Phone-binning in moderate wind and rain was an interesting exercise; the result of which can be seen somewhere near the top of my Twitter feed on the side of this blog...

I forgot to include this in the post yesterday but there were still lots of Hawfinches around St Andrew's Church in Colyton. They've frequently been feeding on the ground over the last couple of weeks, both in the church grounds and nearby gardens. Great stuff! Must get down and have another count up soon; it'd be nice to hit the 20s.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Excellent afternoon on patch!

A check of Colyford Common early afternoon yielded the goods with 4 Gadwall and a Grey Plover when I arrived. Seeing as birds were still flying in I waited a couple of hours and was rewarded with another 2 Gadwall bringing the total to 6. Then a Ruff flew in. And then another! They soon flew to fields on the other side of the estuary but there was one up on Bridge Marsh shortly afterwards which was probably a 3rd bird based on plumage, although it was hard to tell due to scoping from a distance. Next bird to fly in was a stunning drake Pintail! It was great to see so many (locally) decent birds at once on Colyford Common. The long-staying Greenshank and Marsh Harrier were still about too.

I checked the area again at dusk on my way back from the gym and ended up getting soaked; the only additional birds of note were 2 Peregrines on separate kills.

As is usual with Colyford Common the pics are all very distant so please forgive the limited number of pixels here:

Saturday 3 March 2018

Birds in the Snow

Colyton has been looking absolutely spectacular with the recent snow and ice. Not the most snow I've seen here; we've just had 6-7 inches compared with 8-10 inches at the end of 2010. Despite the stunning scenery bringing joy and entertainment to many of the people it was a much more sombre situation for the wildlife. Like on 1st March, there were still many hundreds of Redwings and low thousands of Fieldfares here on the 2nd and they were clearly struggling. There was also a steady passage of Lapwings over West throughout both days, as well as a few Snipes and Golden Plovers.

After being armed with only a wide angle lens when I had 18+ Hawfinches in Yews by St Andrew's Church on 1st March, I made sure I had a long lens with me for the next trip down! The aim was to get pics of Hawfinches on snow and I came away with very cold hands and a few shots:

Thrushes were posing well too:

And here are a few pics of the town, most of which were taken on my phone:

Looks a bit better in black & white