Lockdown 3 Birding

 Ottery St Mary, Devon

I'm quite lucky that I can easily walk to a few places near me to get my daily exercise and birding fix. Here are the hghlights from the last week.

The garden has produced some good entertainment whilst I'm working in the kitchen / diner. With Goldcrest, Eurasian Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit, European Greenfinch and Long-tailed Tit. Fieldfare and Redwing have been very prominent too. Plus a brief Tawny Owl the other evening. 

A walk along the Otter near St Saviours Bridge allowed me to get good views of White-throated Dipper and Grey Wagtail. 

Slightly further north on the Otter near Cadhay House gave me Eurasian Treecreeper, 8 Stock Dove, Grey Heron and Little Egret. Disappointingly, no Common Kingfisher which i normally see along here.

I've only been carrying my binoculars but did manage a half decent photo of this White-throated Dipper in very overcast conditions.

White-throated Dipper

2020 Review And New Year Listing

2020 Review

Last year was a tough one for all. I did far less birding than other years. Mainly due to home working. My normal routine means I bird before and after work on both commutes. Since I'm not commuting, that wasn't possible add to that to 3 months of home schooling and..... 

However, I did manage 202 species with a number of lifers in the mix. The Sociable Lapwing had to be the stand out bird. I did however feel slightly sad when I saw it. Why? Because its endangered in its natural habitat and who knows if one will ever grace our shores again. A sobering reminder of how fragile life is. I have seen European Bee-eater abroad on several occasions but to see not one but 13 for the first time in the UK was a special moment. The Tundra Bean Goose in Somerset was also a lifer (seen Tiaga) and I was amazed by how tame it seemed. I guess that its not used to humans and therefore doesn't fear us?

Other notable species were the Blue-winged Teal at Mandands, Long-billed Dowitcher at Bowling Green Marsh and Surf Scoter at Labrador Bay (before Covid-19 kicked off). A lesser Yellowlegs at Averton Gifford and 10 Ring Ouzel at Avon Dam were also very memorable. Superb views of Western Yellow Wagtail and Eurasian Penduline Tit at Steart Marsh were very enjoyable. On the Warbler front the Marsh Warbler at Tipton St John and Melodious Warbler at Dawlish Warren were great to see. Others great bits and bobs include American Wigeon (Exmouth) and Green-winged Teal (Matford). I didn't do much sea watching but did manage Great Shearwater, Pomerine Jaeger and Parasitic Jaeger from Berry Head and a Sooty Shearwater, European Storm Petrel and a Leach's Storm Petrel off Otterton.

Species I missed that I would normally expect to see were Eurasian Bittern, Common Cuckoo, Water Rail, Common Crane, Bewick's Swan, Barnacle Goose, Egyptian Goose, Arctic Tern, Roseate Tern, Red Kite and Sanderling! What a strange year it has been. 

I also added a few Butterfly lifers with Long-tailed Blue, Grizzled Skipper and Wood White at Seaton and Lulworth Skipper at Portland.

2021 New Year List 

I didn't have time to put in a full day so no magical 100 for me. 

My first bird was a European Goldfinch on the feeders in my garden and by the end of my Coffee I had logged the 5 commoner Thrush species. 

We had a family walk from Budleigh Salterton beach to the White Bridge this morning. Highlights were a Common Loon, a flock of Common Scoter that included a Velvet Scoter and Water Pipit.

Late afternoon I took a walk around my estate and the farmland behind my house and added a number of species. I finished the day on 70 species. Not too shabby for little effort. 

Here's hoping that 2021 will be a better year for all. 

Siberian Chiffchaff

 Exwick, Exeter, Devon 

I popped to the flood relief area to look for the Dusky Warbler. It was a no show unfortunately. I did pick up on the Siberian Chiffchaff though. First one I've seen in a while. Also a Grey Wagtail and White-throated Dipper were on site. 

Eastern Yellow Wagtail

 Steart Marsh, Somerset

I had the day off so I popped here for the morning. I first went to Stockland Marsh in search of the Eurasian Penduline Tits. When they say Wellies are essential, they mean it. The trudge there and back though was worth it for views of male and females birds. On route I also had a fly over Female Hen Harrier and on site a Male Western Marsh Harrier.

I then moved on to Steart Gate and after a bit of a search the Eastern Yellow Wagtail showed at very close range.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail 

Eastern Yellow Wagtail 

Sociable Lapwing

Crows an Wra, Cornwall (4th December)

I had the day off and the lure of a mega lifer was too great. I know some will say I shouldn't have gone but you if you read the guidance it clearly says you can travel from tier 2 to tier 1 as long as you still abide by tier 2 restrictions. The only ones that cannot travel are unfortunately tier 3 residents. I didn't stop anywhere on the journey there and back and I socially distanced from all on site. In fact, social distancing was adhered to by all of the small ensemble there. 

Anyway, the bird showed superbly straight on arrival. I couldn't believe I was seeing such a class bird and I totally enjoyed the views. Also on site were numerous Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover.

I stayed for 30 minutes and left for home. 

Sociable Lapwing

Tundra Bean Goose

Apex leisure park, Burnham on sea, Somerset 

A belated post from Wednesday (2nd December). I have been desperate to see the Tundra Bean Goose as it was a lifer bird for me. I have see Tiaga Bean Goose. 

I have been waiting for the national lock down to be over to travel. And as guidance says you can travel within tier 2 areas, I thought I would go for it. Due to the location I wore a face mask at all times (even though it was outside) as there were a number of people on site so I played it safe.

The bird shows ridiculously close, almost tame and I was able to enjoy great views of the bird. The two juvenile Greater White-fronted Geese (of Russian origins) showed and behaved equally as well.

Tundra Bean Goose

White-fronted Goose (Russian)

Trushes Galore

Ottery St Mary, Devon 

I walked around the farmland areas near my house this afternoon. Sticking to the PROW's.  The order of the day was Thrushes. Plenty of Common Blackbird about, Several Song Thrush, and 4 Mistle Thrush. However, the main event was a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare. The flock was circa 250 birds. Mainly Redwing but good numbers of Fieldfare. 

One of my photos captured 3 species and it's a shame I couldn't get both nearby Song Thrush and Common Blackbird in the shot. Well, I could of but they would have been dots.

Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare 

Mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare 


American Wigeon

Exmouth, Devon 

Popped to Exmouth today in hope of seeing the eclipse plumage drake American Wigeon. I popped to Mudbank first. I scanned the large Eurasian Wigeon flock for around an hour until he gave himself up. First one I've seen for nearly 2 years and was great to see.

Ottery St Mary, Devon 

This week around my estate I have taken a few very short walks and not ventured more than half a mile from my home. I've noticed a nice flock of circa 30 Redwing in the area which was nice to see. Also the following of note. Mistle Thrush, a big increase in European Greenfinch, European Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, Tawny Owl and Goldcrest. A total of 34 species on my doorstep, which just goes to show what you can see if you keep and eye open.

South Devon Outing

Avon Dam, Shipley Bridge, Devon 

I had the day off and was desperate to see Ring Ouzel. I turned up and started the walk from Shipley Bridge to the dam and the heavens opened. I arrived at the dam soaking wet with only seeing 4 Ring Ouzels but in distant flight. 

On the way back down and not too far from the dam in noticed some activity in some trees on the opposite side of the river. At first I noted Fieldfare. With several birds feeding on the Rowan berries. Then, a female Ring Ouzel followed by a male and then more and more. I counted 10 individuals all within 2 trees next to one another.

I looked like a drowned rat by this point but I didnt care. I do love seeing this species and I enjoyed watching them for a good while. I managed a record photo (as dismal as the weather).

On the way back down I also bumped into a White-throated Dipper. 

Ring Ouzel (Male) with Fieldfare above

Ring Ouzel (Male)

South Eford Marsh, Averton Giffard, Devon 

Whilst in the area, it felt rude to not pop here and take a look for the lesser Yellowlegs. I didnt have too long here but I didnt need it. I was able to view the bird very nicely from the entrance gate. I love seeing this species. A very nice bird. Again, a rather awful photo.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Pink-footed Goose

Bridge Marsh, Seaton, Devon 

I've been suffering with my sciatica so I've not been out a lot of late. It felt better today so I saw my opportunity to go and look for the Pink-footed Goose. I only had about 30 minutes of daylight but I was in luck as it was on show as soon as I arrived. I do like this Goose species and I stuck around until dark and enjoyed watching it. Not much else on offer but that didnt matter.

Pink-footed Goose

Spotted Redshank

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton, Devon 

I hadn't planned on going out birding but a message from Tim Wright on Twitter about Spotted Redshank. Gave me the inspiration I needed get out for a quick walk. The bird showed well in scope views from the tower hide but wasn't quite close enough for a phonescoped picture. The fading light didnt help. Nice to see my first one of the year though. Thanks Tim for putting the news out. 

Eurasian Beaver

Ottery River, Ottery St Mary, Devon 

I had a walk this evening from St saviours bridge in Ottery to halfway to Tipton St John. I was treated to several Grey Wagtail, White-throated Dipper and Common Kingfisher. My first Cetti's Warbler in Ottery boundary and more Little Egret than I could count. I thought back to when I first started birdwatching (late teens) and the later 2 species I mentioned were a real rarity (Living in Wales, even more so) and now they are relatively easy species to enjoy. It also got me thinking of all the species that I would see in plentiful numbers that are now hard to see and enjoy. How time changes things? Best of all though was the briefest view of an Eurasian Beaver. I dont seem to have much luck when looking for these amazing creatures so I was extremely pleased to finally catch up with one again.

Beer Head, Devon 

Last Wednesday I spent an afternoon getting to know this site in more detail. Not a great deal about but did enjoy 5 Northern Wheatear, a fly over Western Yellow Wagtail and Lots of Meadow Pipit. I was treated to Small Copper and Clouded Yellow on the Butterfly front.

Meadow Pipit 

Northern Wheatear 

Its like waiting for a bus

Bystock Pools, Exmouth, Devon 

Saw Dave Boults twitter report of 12 plus Spotted Flycatcher on Bystock Pools reserve. So was itching to have a look as I've not seen one this year. As it happened, I had to run an errand in Exmouth so had 30 minutes there this evening. I didn't quite get the results Dave had but did get on to 6 individuals.  As the saying goes "it's like waiting for a bus, then they all come at once." I also note plenty of Common Chiffchaff, at least 7 individuals. A good number of Tit species noted too. It was great to see the place buzzing with bird life and I wish I could have spent longer there.

Ice Cream And Northern Wheatear

Ottery Valley Ice Cream, Monkton, Devon 

Despite the rain, the family popped here for an ice cream. It had stopped raining when we got there so I was able to check the fields. Plenty of Pied Wagtail where about but in amongst them was a single Northern Wheatear. Just goes to show, you can see great things in the most unlikely of places. 

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