Yarner Wood

Yarner Wood, Bovey Tracey, Devon
An hour or so visit after work was rather satisfying. I started off by parking at the first Trendelbere car park and was rewarded with a Garden Warbler singing. I do love listening to their song. I only had the briefest of views (albeit a good view) but not enough for a photo opportunity. I had a look around the heath but didn’t locate any Tree Pipit. It had stated raining so they probably had the good sense to look for cover (whilst this idiot birders stood there getting soaked!) I looked in the trees on the end of the heath for any Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but all I could manage was a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I then drove to the next car park. This may sound lazy but when time is against you have to utilise it well. It had stopped raining so I staked out the area by the entance gate. Within I few minutes I got fabulous views of 2 Female and 1 Male Pied Flycatcher. One of the Females was rather interesting. I think the white patch on the primaries of one of the birds seemed rather large, well larger than I have ever witnessed. I know what your thinking, he’s thinking this is a Collared Flycatcher. Well, yes it did cross my mind if I’m honest. However I’ve never seen a Collared and my time with Pieds over the years has been limited. So I’ve probably not noticed or seen one that’s a bit different. I did manage some pictures but the light was awful. It’s probably nothing unusual but I do like to share my thoughts on this blog and point out things that I find odd or unusual.

I think the side on photos show the size, length and shape of the primary wing bar. It also had a white forehead patch. I guess the Iberian sub species is a possibility too but I don’t yet know enough about that subspecies. I guess I need to brush up on my Flycatchers.

It’s weird, I’ve been birding for a long time now but I still come across things that make my stop and think. As the saying goes “everyday is a school day”
European Pied Flycatcher (Female)


European Pied Flycatcuuher (Female) 
European Pied Flycatcuuher (Female)


European Pied Flycatcuuher (Female)

Red Knot Or Not?

Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon
A pre work visit to the hide early morning. There wasn't a great deal about but on my first scan of the waders on the spit I was drawn to this smaller wader. It was sleeping when I first saw it so I couldn't be sure what it was. It woke up to preen itself for a moment or two and I could only manage a few of my rubbish photos. At the time it was sleeping, I did think Red Knot. However when it was preening etc. the neck looked to long for a Red Knot (picture 1 kind of capture this). The light was awful (as it can be at this site when the sun is low) but the bird was a medium sized wader and looked a dull brown / grey on the back, wings and head (almost like a non breeding Godwit plumage). The chest and belly were white but the chest had some faint barring on it. It was short billed and the supercilium stood out a mile (picture 2 shows this). I had a proper look at the pictures during my lunch break and conferred with my trusty Collins App and the only suitable candidate was a Red Knot. Although it didn't quite sit well with me (me and my curiosity again!).
Mystery Wader - Longer neck than I would expect


Mystery Wader - Look at that Supercilium!

Mystery Wader - Short bill

I returned to the site after work to have another look. There were plenty of Waders about. Mainly Black-tailed Godwit but a couple of Dunlin and several Red Knot were in the mix. I was glad there were Red Knot about as it gave me a chance to do a compare and contrast on the bird from this morning. And in honesty, looking at the Red Knot has made me think my bird from this morning didn't quite fit with how these birds looked. However I cant seem to tag it to anything else at the moment! Also on site was a Ruff, a few Sand Martin and a Male Eurasian Blackcap on the road near Goosemoor.

Red Knot in amongst Black-tailed Godwit 

Dunlin in amongst Black-tailed Godwit 

Black-tailed Godwit

The Otter Estuary, Budleigh Salterton, Devon
I had time for a quick look before heading home. The Cetti's Warbler was in song near the white bridge. No sign of the Lesser Whitethroat but to be fair I wasn't on site long. Still no Common Kingfisher or Water Rail! A few Barn Swallow were about but apart from that the site was very quiet.

Little Tern

Exmouth Seafront, Exmouth, Devon
A quick visit this morning to have a look for yesterday’s Little Terns was unsuccessful. There was however one Common Eider. I could only manage this awful picture. 

Common Eider (Male)

Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon 
I then moved on to head to work but decided I had time for a lightening quick look from the hide. I was pleased that I did as there was a Ruff showing well in front of the hide that was quickly joined by 3 others. Nothing else of note apart from a calling Cetti’s Warbler in the reeds on the opposite side of the reserve. 

Ruff

Ruff


Exmouth Seafront, Exmouth, Devon
Another Little Tern text from Matt whilst I was in work made me ensure I was out of the office early! I arrived at the Seafront and nothing was on view. After around 10 minutes a group of Sandwich Tern moved across the bay from the Warren direction and in amongst them was a single Little Tern. Job done as they say.

Both Whitethroats In One Day

Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon 
I spent a little over an hour on site this morning from 7:20 to 8:30. Birding was a tad more rewarding today with at least 3 Common Whitethroat. There may have been a forth but I couldn’t be sure as 2 birds in particularly were rather mobile and ranging around the top orchid field and coastal path whilst 1 bird was routed to the vegetation in the north east corner of the same field but I seemed to be getting 4 lots of song. In the electric fence field was a smart Male Northern Wheatear and a Female Common Kestrel stopped for a moment. A look around the dung field and possibly the same Male Northern Wheatear along with a Female were on offer. Also in the dung field were the 2 White Wagtail.

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

Common Kestrel (Female)

Northern Wheatear (Male)

Northern Wheatear (Male)

Northern Wheatear (Female)

White Wagtail

Northern Wheatear (Female)

The Otter Estuary, Budleigh Salterton, Devon
After work I was again drawn to the otter. I was pleased I did as there was a cracking Lesser Whitethroat on show near the white bridge. I enjoyed close prolonged views of a bird I don’t see to often.

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Exmouth Seafront, Devon 
A Text from Matt Knott alerted me to some Little Tern active on Exmouth seafront. I quickly headed off in pursuit. I arrived (around halfway along the seafront) just as Matt and Nick were leaving but they quickly gave me the low down on the birds. I was very quickly joined by Dave Stone and we both eagerly scanned the sea. There were some Sandwich Tern on offer along with a few Northern Gannet. We couldn’t however locate the birds we were hoping to see. I then picked out a smaller Tern on a sand bar that had appeared whilst waiting. It was distant but eventually I called it as a Common Tern and both Dave and myself were happy it was. Dave was happier as it was his first of the year. With no luck on the Little Tern I relocated to the Quay in the hope they had settled on Great Bull Hill or Warren Point but again there was no sign. Thanks as ever to Matt for the alert.

Common Whitethroat

Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon 
I had to pop to the recycling centre early afternoon as our fridge freezer packed in a few days ago. I guess 13 years of service isn’t too bad in this throw away age. Anyway after I had dropped it off I had time to have a quick look around. It was rather quiet until I got to the coastal path. I was pleased to get my first Conmon Whitethroat sighting of the year. It was the briefest of sightings but enjoyable. I was near the shelter when I glimpsed the bird and moments later a Male Peregrine Falcon drifted over me. A Northern Fulmar was hanging around the cliffs a few Sandwich Tern were feeding distantly and a Barn Swallow flew through. It’s quite dire at the moment up Orcombe Point.

Some Great Stuff In Dorset


Me and my good pal Pete had a road trip to Dorset today in search of that star Spring migration bird.

Ferrybridge, Portland, Dorset
Our first stop off was the lagoon at Ferrybridge in search of Little Tern. We scoped every boat, buoy and the shingle beach opposite but couldn't locate any Little Tern. Its very strange as they are usually in on the 19th like clockwork. I only know that date as I spoke to an RSPB person on site last year. There was however a single Common Tern and several Sandwich Tern to keep us occupied.

Common Tern

Sandwich Tern

The Bill, Portland, Dorset
We moved on to the observatory to pop in and ask the low down of the morning. on arrival we noticed a group of birders opposite the observatory and looking in to the crown estate field. So we immediately went over to see what they were all looking at. Steph Murphy and her other half were there (Sorry I cannot recall his name) and we were told that Whinchat was the answer. The bird however was very distant. I got scope views but they were rather shocking. Someone also mentioned that there was Common Redstart in the same area. After a quick catch up with Steph and co we decided to relocate to the free car parking area near the cottage and look from there. We were glad we did as we got close views of the Whinchat, a Male and Female Common Redstart, several Northern Wheatear (mainly Males but a few Females) and a fly through Common Swift.

We then walked across the slope field to the Auk colony. on route were a few Meadow Pipit, Common Linnet, Eurasian Skylark and a nice Tree Pipit. The Auks showed nicely at times, mainly Common Murre but a few Razorbill were on offer too. A single Northern Fulmar patrolled the cliffs and a single Northern Gannet was feeding in the distance.

I fancied a look in the quarry before moving on and on the way back across the slope fields a Eurasian Skylark gave nice views whilst feeding. It was lovely to enjoy these views as I normally only get fleeting flybys or display flight views. We got to the quarry and searched a little while but there was no sign of the Little Owl. There was actually very little in the quarry, with a Common Chiffchaff and a Common Wood Pigeon being the only birds in there. I was hoping for a Common Whitethroat as its a prime stop off location for a tired bird but no joy.

Whinchat (Male)

Whinchat (Male) 

Northern Wheatear (Male)

Northern Wheatear (Female) 

Common Redstart (Male)

Common Murre 

Razorbill

Razorbill 

European Shag

European Shag 

Eurasian Skylark

Eurasian Skylark

Radipole Lake, Weymouth, Dorset
Our last stop in Dorset. we hoped that the weather would favour Bearded Reedling. After having slowly completed the Budleia Loop we had struck out. The best bird being seen was a Cetti's Warbler. on the way back and on the bridge near the visitors centre we both started hearing a Warbler sing. First impressions were a Eurasian Reed Warbler but the song changed. I fully appreciate that Reed Warbler species can mimic but this bird was amazing! I picked out Blue Tit, Chaffinch and House Sparrow within the first round of singing. The call changed and changed, it was quite amazing! Now my understanding is that Marsh Warbler are the more talented singers, so I was hoping this bird would revel itself. Needless to say it didn't. Shame as I would have loved to see the bird making such mesmerising tunes. Other wildlife of note were in the variety of Butterflies. The following species where seen. Brimstone, Peacock, Small White and Large White.

Aylesbeare Common

Aylesbeare Common, Devon
With the weather turning warm and the lack of wind, I thought I would have a look for some Dartford Warblers after work. I enjoyed being out in the warmth but unfortunately there were no Dartford Warblers on offer. In fact there was very little on offer apart from some Eurasian Stonechat and Common Linnet. I'm out for a Portland trip again tomorrow. Lets hope it delivers

European Stonechat (Male)

European Stonechat (Female)

Common Linnet (Male)



New Life

Otter Estuary, Budleigh Salterton, Devon
After work I visited the Otter again. This site keeps calling to me lately. You know when you just get that though of “I need to be there” today’s theme was Raptors and Warblers. On arrival at the white bridge, the first bird was a Female Conmon Kestrel followed by a Cetti’s Warbler. A little north of the bridge was a Female Eurasian Sparrowhawk gliding through the trees on the east side of the river. Again no Common Kingfisher or Water Rail. Will I ever see these species this year!!

I decided to try the south of the bridge and was rewarded with my first Sedge Warbler of the year. First heard singing then the briefest of views. A further brief view of a Eurasian Reed Warbler followed. Out on a tree stump on the east side of the river was a Conmon Buzzard. So Raptors V Warblers ended at a 3 all draw.

To finish the visit, at the white bridge was a group of Mallard Ducklings. My first young seen of any species this year. I do love watching Ducklings discovering their surroundings and I watched for a while. Their mummy was never too far away and watching over them. She duly shuffled them into cover when any passerby came near. New life is well underway!

Mallard Ducklings 
Byron Way, Exmouth, Devon 
Back at home this Bumblebee was on my side entrance gate. I’m ok with Butterflies and Dragonflies but I’m not great with identifying Bees. My best attempt at this species is a Buff-tailed Bumblebee but I would happily be corrected by anyone with superior knowledge than me.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee ??

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