Autumn Northern Wheatears

Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon 
A quick look after work was initially very quiet. It livened up a tad when a flock of Common Linnet were doing their best to shoo off a hunting Female Common Kestrel. Back at the car I had one last look in the new dung field and spotted a Female Northern Wheatear. It was quickly joined by another. My first Autumn migrating Northern Wheatear of the year.

Shelley Beach Terns

Shelley Beach, Exmouth, Devon 
I had a spare hour this afternoon, which coincided with the receding tide so I popped to Shelley Beach in the hope of some Terns. There were a circa 30 Sandwich Tern and 10 Common Tern on what had started to show of Great Bull Hill. I was hoping that the Juvenile Black Tern that’s been around whilst I’ve been out of the country would put in an appearance but I was out of luck. There were also a few Mediterranean Gull in amongst the regular Gull species.

Exmouth Forest School, Devon
After my look off Shelley Beach I had to pick up my youngest from a party at the Exmouth Forest School. Whilst there, this huge Wasp species was flying around and landed briefly. Not a very good photo but I believe it is a Giant Horntail. Open to suggestions if I’m wrong. It was a brute of a thing at around 4cm in length.

Giant Horntail ?
Shelley Beach, Exmouth, Devon 
I had another look this evening and managed to see the Juvenile Black Tern briefly set down on Great Bull Hill with 4 Common Tern. None of the Terns hung around long (no more than a minute) and they set off up river.

Majorca Family Holiday

Cala D’or, Majorca, Spain
I have just got back from a weeks family holiday to Majorca. As ever I had my bins on me and was always on the look out. Around the hotel grounds were some common birds that you’d expect to see back home.

These included. Common Blackbird (Male and Female), Common Swift, House Sparrow (Male and Female), Conmon Wood Pigeon, European Blue Tit, Common Linnet (Male and Female), Eurasian Collared Dove, Great Tit and Eurasian Goldfinch. A bit less common for the uk were Yellow-legged Gull around the marina, that the restaurant overlooked. But the star bird around the hotel was s lifer in the form of the now split Mediterranean Flycatcher. Several were seen around the hotel and they seemed to pop up everywhere we went. It turned out to be the most common bird of the area. A close second for best bird around the grounds was a corker of a Male Sardinian Warbler just outside the balcony one morning.

A walk along the rocky coast to a cove gave yet more Mediterranean Flycatcher views. Plus European Greenfinch, Rock Dove, Stock Dove and European Stonechat were added to the trip list.

A couple of trips to the local beach (Cala Gran). The first was disappointing in terms of birds with only a few House Sparrow and Common Wood Pigeon at first. But there were.... yes you’ve guessed it.... Mediterranean Flycatcher on offer. But the second trip was far more productive as I found a lifer Balearic Warbler and Common House Martin whilst waiting for the hotel bus to arrive. Then on the beach, I discovered a nice area that held both a Male and Female Sardinian Warbler.

But the birding highlights came when I discovered a great area just 2 minutes fro the hotel. Our hotel was on the outskirts of town and right next to an area of scrub, orchard and farmland (which I seeAmes to be able to walk around freely). This area proved highly productive as it was teeming with bird life. Seen in this area were- Another lifer with a single Thekla’s Lark, a Female Spectacled Warbler, several Sardinian Warbler (both Male and Female), another Balearic Warbler, 1 Zitting Cisticola, 2 Pallid Swift, 1 European Roller, a couple of European Serin, 2 Eurasian Wryneck, a small group of Eurasian Tree Sparrow, more Mediterranean Flycatcher (around 7 individuals), 2 flyover Mallard (which seemed a little out of place). Plus large flocks of Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch and House Sparrow. Toped up with several Barn Swallow, good numbers of Common House Martin, 4 European Stonechat, a flyover Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Great Tit and 2 Common Blackbird. I wish I hadn’t been so lazy and checked this area out more.

Also around the hotel grounds was a tiny green Grasshopper species. I assume that it was a youngster but not sure what species. There were several large wasp which as far as I can narrow down were from the Ichneumon family. A small Cricket which I can’t nail down to species level but comes from the Camel Cricket family. Also 2 Dragonflies in the form of Red-veined Darter and Common Darter and a Speckled Wood Butterfly.

A well enjoyed family holiday bolstered with some great bird species. I must however invest in a camera as with my scope to digiscope, I’m stuffed for taking pictures.

Mediterrean Flycatcher

Mediterrean Flycatcher

Mediterrean Flycatcher
Mediterrean Flycatcher
Yellow-legged Gull

Ichneumon Wasp Species

Camil Cricket Species

Unknown Grasshopper Species (Young)

Unknown Leaf Hopper Bug Species

A Good Dragonfly Day

Otter Estuary, Budleigh Salterton, Devon
Finished work half day due to a dental appointment (ouch) so took a pre filling walk north of the white bridge. Not many birds about but my main interest was Dragonflies. They didn’t disappoint either with good numbers of Banded Demoiselle and Common Blue Damselfly. A single Common Darter, a few Blue-tailed Damselfly and best off my first ever White-legged Damselfly. Trouble was, nothing wanted to sit still long enough for a decent picture.

Common Darter (Male) 
Bystock Pools, Exmouth, Devon
After my filling I decided to walk off the numbness. So I did a circuit of this reserve. On the main pool was an Emperor Dragonfly, 1 Southern Hawker, several Azure Damselfly, a few Blue-tailed Damselfly, good numbers of Common Blue Damselfly, several Beautiful Demoiselle and best of all 2 Emerald Damselfly. Awful light meant crappy pictures I’m afraid. Up at the other ponds, things were a bit quieter with a few Keeled Skimmer and a single Emperor Dragonfly. Walking through the woods gave brief but nice views of a single Purple Hairstreak.

Emperor Dragonfly (Male)
Common Blue Damselfly (3 is a crowd!!)
Emerald Damselfly (Male)
Emerald Damselfly (Male)

A Surprise Visitor

Byron Way, Exmouth, Devon
Whilst having a cigarette by the front door my wife noticed a scurrying noise and this lovely large European Hedgehog was scampering about. The first one I’ve seen since living in this house.

European Hedgehog 

A Walk With The Kids

Woodbury Castle
The whole family has a walk around the site this morning and stopped for a picnic. It wasn’t to busy on the bird front as there must have been some race / walk taking place. Perhaps part of the Heath Week events. Anyway, there was quite a lot of noise from this event so the only birds see were a European Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Common Chaffinch and Common Linnet. There were 2 species of Dragonfly seen with a Female Common Darter and a Male and Female Southern Hawker. There are now 2 ponds in the centre area of the fort and the Southern Hawker was busy laying eggs on a log in one of the ponds.

Common Darter (Female) 

Southern Hawker (Female)

Barn Owls

Undisclosed Site, Devon
Seeing that I have picked up a few year ticks this week, I popped out late evening to see if my luck would hold out for a Barn Owl. I haven't seen one for a couple of years so its a species that I thought was overdue for me. I am not going to disclose details of the site for obvious reasons but I had success with 2 birds. Views were always distant (hence the rubbish photos) but were good through the scope.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Wood Sandpiper Episode III

Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon 
I popped to the hide before work and one of the Green Sandpiper was in front of the hide. A few Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin and a Stock Dove were about but not much else was on offer.

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper  

Green Sandpiper  

Black-tailed Godwit

Viewing platform 
A quick look produced 4 Common Greenshank and circa 40 Dunlin.

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton, Devon 
I couldn’t resist a quick nip across to Seaton for the reported Wood Sandpiper. And on my third attempt this year I obtained awesome close views of a juvenile. I don’t know what it is about this Marsh but the Wood Sandpipers always show well. I bumped into Tim White who reminded me of a few years ago when there were 30 plus however last year there were no records. Also a showy Common Sandpiper was on offer.

Wood Sandpiper (Juvenile)

Wood Sandpiper (Juvenile)

Wood Sandpiper (Juvenile)

Common Sandpiper 

Common Sandpiper 

Byron Way, Exmouth, Devon
I forgot to mention that my Common House Martin have fledged. I didn’t witness it but I believe 2 youngsters made their way out from the nest some time on Tuesday.

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