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. 

Common Redstart And What Was That?

Beer Head, Devon 

A late post from a visit yesterday evening. I was rather late getting to site but was hopefully of seeing some migrants. I caught up with a male Common Redstart that showed very briefly before dropping into the undergrowth and didnt show again. A few Western Yellow Wagtail were rather mobile and didnt settle down. On the headland south of the barn I picked up a call I've not heard before. The only way to describe it was a "Hew up" with the Hew being rather slow and the up quick. Its difficult to describe calls. I searched the area with no luck and only heard the call 3 times. I've checked Xeno canto, for things I think it could have been with not luck. All I can say is I've never heard that call before so just playing guess work at what to listen to. This will go down as a "oh I wish I knew what that was" bird. 

Somerset Marshes

Ottery St Mary, Devon 

I woke up to this amazing garden tick. A Northern Wheatear on my neighbours roof

Northern Wheatear 

Shapwick, Somerset

Had the day off so had a few hours around the marshes. I was treated to a Great Egret almost straight way on the way to Noah's Lake. At the hide at Noah's lake I just caught sight of the Western Osprey as it circled over the lake and out of sight. The Black-necked Grebe showed well, if not distantly. 3 Western Marsh Harrier gave pretty good views too. Back at the main path, another 2 Great Egret. 

Great Egret

Black-necked Grebe 

Ham Wall, Somerset 

A quick walk up to the first viewing platform. All rather quite on the birding front with the best bird being a Common Kingfisher at the bridge. On the Dragonfly front there were loads of Southern Hawker plus a nice Migrant Hawker. Disappointingly no Eurasian Bittern seen on either sites.

A Nice Time At A Familiar Place

Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, Devon 

I had an evening look around. I've not been here for some time since moving from Exmouth to Ottery St Mary. So it was nice to be on Familiar territory. I was hoping for my first Eurasian Whimbrel and Gargeney of the year. The first species was easy with a few birds on site. The hide was frustratingly closed, so I had to make do with views from the road. The next species on offer was Curlew Sandpiper. A Few birds were frustrating to get views of but I did manage some half okay views. The Greater Scaup put in a brief appearance. As did a Common Pochard. With really fading light I just managed a Garganey before heading off. As always, lots of waders on offer with Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Common Redshank. It looks like yesterday's Spotted Redshank has cleared out though. Unless its elsewhere on the Exe.

Curlew Sandpiper

Black Hole Marsh, Seaton, Devon

An evening look around produced a Little Stint, Green Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover, a Red Knot, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Plenty of Dunlin and eventually a single Curlew Sandpiper. 

Whinchat and Northern Wheatears

Beer Head, Devon 

Yesterday evening I took another walk around. The main bird on offer was Northern Wheatear. With at least 15 birds on site in the fields near the old Coastguard building. I went in hope of Whinchat and after a few walks up and down this area, 1 gave itself up briefly. I did look for some Spotted Flycatcher that had been seen earlier in the day but no joy.

Northern Wheatear

Western Yellow Wagtail

Beer Head, Devon 

All the years I've lived in East Devon, I have never managed to get to this site. Got some info off Kevin Hale today though and had an evening visit. A joy of a site with lots of great habitats. And an amazing migration drop in area. 

I wanted to have a look for Western Yellow Wagtail and was not disappointed. Within minutes I had got nice views of 4 birds. I normally see this species hanging about with Cows, so to see them dodging sheep feet was a bit of a novelty.  

On leaving, there was a Red-legged Partridge by the barn near the entrance gate and nice views of a European Green Woodpecker. 

I will definitely be spending more time here now that I live nearer the site than I was in Exmouth. 

A Great Sea Watch By East Devon Standards

Otterton Coastal Path, Devon

I had the afternoon off as it was perfect sea watching conditions. So I headed here as it's the nearest descent location to pitch up. It all started very quiet with the commoner species of Northern Gannet, Northern Fulmar, Black-legged Kittiwake and Common Scoter. After about 30 minutes I picked out a cracking European Storm Petrel. And literally 5 minutes later a Sooty Shearwater. Hmmm, this could be a good session I thought. As it happens I was right. A further 2 European Storm Petrel but better still a Leach's Storm Petrel. I didn't put the news out as I've only ever seen one before and not very well, so I had to be sure. So refreshing myself with the species, I am now confident. It was rather close. It was longer winged, looked larger, no covert band on underwing and had a stronger more veering flight pattern. As, I was getting ready to leave a Great Shearwater went by and topped off an enjoyable afternoon. Also making the notepad was a single Red-legged Partridge on the lane down to the Sewage works and a Cirl Bunting on the feeder.

Sea Watching

Berry Head, Devon 

I had the day off especially to do some sea watching. I was tempted to venture to Porthgwarra (wish I had now as good counts of Great Shearwater and Cory's Shearwater). However, I still had an enjoyable time with great company at Berry Head. It was slow going but a trickle of Manx Shearwater and Balearic Shearwater was a welcome site. As was a Pomerine Jaeger, a few Parastic Jaeger and a Great Skua. Lots af Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar and Northern Gannet to make up the supporting cast. Also great amount of Harbour Porpoise sightings. 

A lovely couple from Stockport were on holiday and by chance ended up on Berry Head. It was a great pleasure getting them on to a number of lifers (Manx Shearwater Balearic Shearwater, Pomerine Jaeger,  Parasitic Jaeger and Harbour Porpoise). It was amazing to see the joy on their faces and made me think of all the times I've had that "get in there!" Moments. All too few and far between these days. But equally nice to see the true meaning of enjoying birdwatching. 

All in all a great day out. As Berry head always is.

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