I have been birding since 1987 but only started taking the hobby very seriously in 2011 after moving from Wales to Devon in 2007. Birding Wales could be very hard but enjoyable however since moving to Devon I have more than doubled my life List. The main sites I cover are Orcombe, Mudbank, commons north of Exmouth, Darts Farm, Otter Estuary and often look at Otterton Sewage works, Exminster Marsh and Bowling Green Marsh. I do the old twitching thing, but generally only in the south west.
Managed a very quick look at the Sowdon Lane area (by the cycle path) of Lympstone after work and had the large flock of C50 Brambling. They were very mobile between the sunflower field and trees by the Railway line. Plenty of Chaffinch in the flock and a few Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Also a single Reed Bunting (my first of the year)
(Awful record shot)
A text from fellow Exmouth birder Matt Knott that the Bonaparte’s Gull was showing very well, had me heading for Shelly Beach. On arrival the Bonaparte’s Gull was nowhere to be seen. As I met up with Matt, however he had just spotted a Glaucious Gull that had flown overhead and settled on Great Bull Hill. Quickly got on to the bird and got these awful record shots.
Glaucous Gull, Shelley Beach, Exmouth 21/01/2018
Also a Great Northern Diver was feeding at close range. Moved on to the quay so see if the Bonaparte’s Gull was hanging around there but again no joy. Did however get views of the Long-tailed Duck feeding in the channel off Warren Point. That’s to Matt for the alert.
A dawn visit to the pig farm near Yettington produced 6 Red-legged Partridge in the field directly behind the farm house. It was good to see healthy numbers of House Sparrow around the farm buildings, I would guess c40. Numerous Corvids with a mix of Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw. A few Common Pheasant and a calling Green Woodpecker.
An early morning look (at first light) from the quay provided me with distant views of the Long-tailed Duck. It was off shore from the Warren Point. Also 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Eider, several Common Scoter, several Shag and Red-breasted Merganser. Distant views of the Slavonian Grebe near Cockwood and a few Great Crested Grebe. Numerous Gulls but nothing unusual.
A look on the way to work in the Sowden Lane area (near the cycle track and rail bridge) gave very close views of several Brambling.
Had a look at the rec after work to see if the Water Pipit was around but no sign. Only bird of note was a single Common Sandpiper.
An early morning visit to Cadbury Gardens to see the possible Italian Sparrow proved very productive as the bird in question showed very well on the feeders. It’s nice to see the change in the bill colour from the last time I saw it in November. I’ve heard there are plans to try to trap the bird to obtain DNA. Let’s hope that’s possible and can hopefully answer a lot of questions.
Matford Pools, Exeter
Finally caught up with the American Wigeon on a visit after work. The Wigeon flock were at the back of the pool from the viewing platform. They were obscured from view for a lot of the time but the bird eventually gave decent (if not distant) views. The only other birds of note were 2 Snipe and a group of 7 Mistle Thrush.
A late afternoon (almost dusk) sea watch from near the clock tower, produced 2 Red-throated Diver. I still haven’t managed to catch up with the Long-tailed Duck anywhere on the Exe as yet though.
Ludwell Valley, Exeter This is a decent site for Dipper but unfortunately none seen but I did see 4 Green Sandpiper and 2 Grey Wagtail Stover County Park 20+ Goodander, 2 Mandarin Duck (M & F), 4 Pochard (2M & 2F). On the feeder were 2 Bullfinch (M & F), a Siskin, 3 Nuthatch plenty of Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit
Exminster Marsh 100’s of Wigeon but could not locate the American, which I later found out had relocated back to Matford Marsh. However I was pleased to see a Marsh Harrier on leaving site.
Cockwood Cracking views of the resident Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver from the steps at the railway crossing. Also bagged a group of C20 Grey Plover and a single Great Crested Grebe. Exmouth Awesome close views of a Firecrest on the path at the rear of the Cricket ground. One of my favourite birds. Hayes Barton Went to the pig farm to see if there were any Red-legged Partridges in the fields but my luck was out. It was dusk when I left and just up the road (on the way b…
5th January 2018 A very brief sea watch at first light for 30 minutes. 10 Common Scoter one of which could have been a Velvet as sure I had a flash of white on one but the choppy sea and distance made if difficult to get a positive ID. 3 Common Eider, too many Kittiwakes and Gannets to count. Several each of Razorbill and Guillemot (or should we be calling these Common Murres now that we are on IOC taxonomy?) heading west. Disappointingly, no Divers that I could see.