Monday 23 July 2012

Sunshine At Last!

Just as the natural world thinks autumn is upon us, the sun comes out! Lovely it is though - finally the shorts are out!

Looking up the Estuary late last night

I've kept an eye on Black Hole Marsh over the last few days, eagerly waiting for a rare wader to drop in! No luck so far, but there is some wader passage going on.

On Saturday evening there were six Blackwits, three Dunlin, two Greenshank and this Ringed Plover on Black Hole Marsh...

A juv - it should have been a little ringed really!

And this morning, the same counts of Blackwits and Dunlin, one less Greenshank, but two Green Sands and this Whimbrel...

Dropped in all on its tod

Two of the three Dunlin

Before I start boring you with photos of dragonflies, I'll mention the colour-ringed first-winter Med Gull I saw at Black Hole Marsh last week. This one...


It was ringed as a pullus near Terneuzen, Netherlands on 20/6/2011, then spent the winter in France, in the far north west of the county. It was last seen in France at Plonévez-Porzay on 25/1/2012 and there were no more sightings until mine the other day.

Ok, now for a few dragonfly pictures that I've taken today. I just had to take some photos because I have seen so few so far this year...

Southern Hawker

Four-spotted Chaser

Black-tailed Skimmer

And to end this post, a bit of 'natural art', taken this morning at Black Hole Marsh...

Friday 20 July 2012

Peace And Tranquility Shattered

With a new moon last night, and a morning high tide, I thought a wander around the marshes this morning would be a good idea with wading birds on the forefront of my mind. Well, someones got to find the Axe's first Marsh Sandpiper :-)

One of the pros of going down to Black Hole Marsh/Colyford Common early is that you are often alone, and when I arrived the car park was empty. So as you can image, my wander around was nice and peaceful. Well it was until this happened...

Note the shape below the flying Curlews!

It was an adult Osprey, and so great to see too, though I guess it could well be a failed breeder - so not so great for the Osprey! I was fortunate to watch it for about ten minutes hunting over the upper Estuary until about 08:55 when it caught a fish (albeit a small one!) and flew north towards Musbury/Whitford. I'm sure it will be back, if it hasn't already returned for more food.

Sorry for the shoddy photos - still you can see what it is!

The wader totals were actually very disappointing, no Dunlin at all, and only eight Common Sands, two Green Sands, three Blackwits and a Whimbrel...

The Blackwits

A Water Rail was very vocal on Colyford Marsh somewhere (they can't have had any breeding success this year with all the floods), and the gulls offered some interest. Amongst the 280+ Black-headed Gulls on Black Hole Marsh were three Med Gulls. This adult...

Well on it's way to winter plumage

And two first-summers, including this colour-ringed bird...

'E325' - I have emailed off the details

So although poor for what I was hoping, I still had a very enjoyable few hours out. Especially when considering the date!

Saturday 14 July 2012

Wood Sand

A text from Dad shortly before I started work yesterday had me scurrying down to Black Hole Marsh in the rain to see a splendid adult Wood Sandpiper. I'm sure there will be many more Wood Sands to come this autumn, but it is always nice to see a pukka adult as apposed to the more regular and far more numerous first year birds we get later on in the autumn.

Not that you would be able to tell what age it is from this photo...

In my defence it was chucking it down with rain!

Thursday 12 July 2012

Flagged Godwit

Before I elaborate on the subject in the post title, I should mention the birding that I've done over the past few days.

Tuesday I had a good look around in the valley, and it was worthwhile. Colyford Common was most productive, as on the main scrape on Colyford Marsh were three Green and eight Common Sandpipers. The adult Green Sands at this time of year look so much smarter than the juvs we see later in the autumn. A look along the Estuary produced 214 Black-headed Gulls (3 juvs), one Med Gull (1st-summer) and my first 'independent' juv Herring Gull of the year...

Not a Yellow-legged!

On Tuesday night whilst at work, a Green Sandpiper flew south over the back yard calling at 22:30. Wader migration in action - love it!

Wednesday a quick look along the Estuary revealed two
Blackwits - both in fine summer plumage. Also 13 juvenile Herring Gulls - I've never see this many before seeing a juv Yellow-legged!

Today, and I've just popped down to Colyford Common - only two Common Sandpipers on the scrape but amongst a good number of Black-headed Gulls an adult Common Gull. Also 22 Little Egrets loafing around, only two juvs though.

So, now the flagged Blackwit. This bird was on the Axe Estuary from the 5th - 24th April this year...

Makes a change not seeing an Axe Estuary colour-ringed Godwit!

Well I have finally found out about this bird. It was ringed as a nestling on 13/6/10 in Southern Iceland. It was next sighted on the Tagus Estuary in Portugal on 24/11/10 and remained here until 25/2/11. But that's it - no more sightings until it was on the Axe in spring 2012. Great stuff.

Monday 9 July 2012

White-winged Beauty

A couple of years ago a summer plumage White-winged Black Tern spent a day at Lodmoor - as I have never seen an adult White-winged Black before, and really have a thing for black and white birds, I was going to go. But after one day, it departed and my plan was foiled.

Yesterday though history repeated itself, and a White-winged Black Tern was found at Lodmoor! I couldn't go yesterday, so was hoping this one would stay. Thankfully it did :-)

I was hoping to be there and back home by 10am, but I woke up with a horrendous migraine so didn't feel well enough to leave until 10am. It was well worth the trip though, one of my top ten birds for sure - STUNNING! The scope views were brilliant, but it was too distant for the Lumix - though I did try...

Still looks stunning though doesn't it!?

And here's a shaky video taken through my scope with my Nikon...

I didn't get home until half one - so my day has gone nowhere near to plan! I then had a moth trap to go through too, and that took over an hour as I had 167 moths of 38 species! I won't list them now - but I just have to post a photo of the one that was a new species for the garden (don't get many these days!). This Pretty Chalk Carpet...

A very smart moth indeed

Saturday 7 July 2012

In The News

The River Axe was mentioned on the BBC National News several times today - but for the wrong reasons.

A huge amount of rain (and I'm sure not helped by big tides and a gusty southerly wind) has caused horrendous flooding in the area. A lot like many other places in the south west today. The damage it has caused to houses, businesses and roads is very sad to see, but the effect on the local wildlife must be catastrophic.

Pictures never give the full effect of something like this, but here's a few anyway...

The Axe Estuary today about an hour before low tide!

From the farm gate

Note how on the far side of the tram line it looks like one huge lake - the whole of Colyford Common, Black Hole Marsh, Seaton Marshes and the fields in between were flooded into one. The bank at Seaton Marshes stopped the flooding continuing any further south.

So I thought I'd go around to Black Hole Marsh...

The entrance track - I couldn't even get to the gate!

So I then tried to get down to Colyford Common...

Ok - maybe not!

As usual the A3052 flooded over and it was closed by the bridge.

These are the fields just south west of Boshill Cross

The rain wasn't just causing problems via the river...

One of many that I've seen today

And this land slide by the side of the harbour was pretty dramatic to see. Totally blocked the path to the beach east of the harbour...

Note the tree in the river!

The only birds I've seen of note today were two commic Terns south down the Estuary and a Hobby low over Black Hole Marsh. These really are insignificant though when you think how today has affected our local breeding birds - I should imagine ALL Reed/Sedge Warblers nests have been flooded out today. Disaster.

Thursday 5 July 2012

A Movement of Meds

Last night we just had to go out, it wasn't raining and the sun could actually be seen! Where better to go than Lyme Regis, and we enjoyed a lovely meal in the Bay Restaurant - I thoroughly recommend it!

Anyway, the reason I mention it on here is soon after Jess and I arrived, two small flocks of Black-headed Gulls flew close west along the beach. The first had three Med Gulls in it (two adults and a second summer), and the second had two adult Meds in! Soon after this Dad text me to say there were two Med Gulls on Black Hole Marsh, and about an hour and a half or so later, when Jess and I were back in Seaton, three more Med Gulls (an adult and two second summers) flew west past the sea front. We then made a quick visit to Black Hole Marsh where there were two Black-tailed Godwits and a Hobby, Dad's two Med Gulls had gone.

This morning I was back down the seafront at 7:30, to see if any more Meds were passing. They weren't - well not the Gulls. Just after 8am a Balearic Shearwater flew east - with a second Shearwater sp. also east about ten minutes later, but this one was too far out to be sure of. Also saw five Common Scoters which landed in the bay, and several Gannets (all flying west).

After this I had to carry out my woodland survey, a bit late due to the mostly pants weather we've had! Nice to see lots of young birds about, and Marsh Tits are always good to see as they can hardly be described as a common bird on patch...

A Willow Tit would have been something else though!

And this Rabbit did make me chuckle. One greedy bunny...

Or I suppose it could be lining for a burrow?

I had a moth trap out last night - which gave me exactly 100 moths this morning. Just one immigrant, a Silver Y, but there were several new species for the year for me, including; Buff Arches, Eyed Hawkmoth, Green Arches, Clouded Brindle, Clay, Common/Lesser Rustic, Sycamore and Fanfoot. The numbers came from Heart and Dart (37) and Dark Arches (11).

Buff Arches


Wednesday 4 July 2012


Yesterday I was shown around some private farm building and stables, to look at a pleasingly decent number of Swallow nests. I was really enjoying myself, well until the land owner and I got to a large pond... (I am in italics)

"oh yes - we had a baby Heron here this year, we often get adults, but this was the first baby one we've had"

"really - oh that's good"

"yes - it was about two months ago"

"two months ago? that's very early!"

"yes - we knew it was a baby because like a Heron, the same colour, just much much smaller"


"yes - it spent most the time sat in that willow tree there, but I also saw it climbing on some fallen trees over the stream that runs out from the corner of the pond"

"that would have been a Night Heron then. I hate you".

The most gripping thing is that during the Night Heron influx of this spring, I checked out Lower Bruckland Ponds almost daily. And the pond this bird was on is literally on the other side of a line of trees from the lowest pond at Lower Bruckland. I could well have been maybe 50m away from the very bird I was hoping for! Arse!!

Well enough of that. It's in the past now...

Last night I spent a good few hours out, showing rare bird finder extraordinaire M Knott around the patch. We didn't see much - a summer plumaged Dunlin, the Blackwit still, two juv Black-headed Gulls and a Willow Warbler (which must have been a migrant as they don't breed here) being as exciting as it got!

Bring on August....

Monday 2 July 2012

The End Of The Summer Break

Well I'm sure any blog viewers I have left are fed up of that baby Barn Owl they keep seeing when they click to look on this blog! On the bright side, it could have been something less cute, like a photo of me!!

Anyway, yes, that was my 'unofficial summer break' from blogging - back to normal (whatever that is!) now. I know - can I describe the last month as being summer!??? Well my calendar says it was.

My first post back is going to start with a bit of weirdo! This afternoon Fraser was at the Field Studies Centre, where there is an Egyptian Grasshopper on show at the moment...

Sorry for the picture quality, this photo was taken through a fish tank!

It doesn't really look like much in the above photo, but adding this 1p to the picture should show why it is pretty cool to look at...

It's bloody huge!!!

It was found about a week ago in Colyton, apparantly on a house roof! Although it arriving in a packet of fruit/veg/salad is probably more likely, with all this Saharan sand dust carpeting vehicles all over the county within the past week - could it not maybe have arrived with this? Personally I don't see why not - especially if it really was found on a house roof.

Whilst on insects, I should just mention my first catch of over 100 moths for this year, in the garden on the evening of 25th/26th June. I won't list the whole lot, but the big guns were represented by 3 Elephant and a Poplar Hawk, my first immigrant of the year with a Silver Y, numbers thanks to Heart and Dart (47), and other new species for the year with Maiden's Blush, Large Yellow Underwing (4), Heart and Club (5), Common Wainscot, Snout and this (very fine) Herald...

A fine moth - The Herald

Silver Y - hopefully 2012 will prove a better year for this immigrant species (and the rest!) than 2011 was!

Back to birds then, well I haven't been out and about much at all. Mostly because it has been June, but also because I haven't (as usual!) had much time.

I did visit Black Hole Marsh late Saturday (30th) with Jess, a lone Common Sandpiper on the Estuary, and the first juvenile Black-headed Gull of the 'autumn' were the only 'highlights'...

So where did you come from?

Today Black Hole Marsh offered a Black-tailed Godwit (as my Twitter followers will have seen - or as you will have done if you've been watching my Twitter feed at the top right hand corner of this blog), and a Greenshank which circled over the marsh before flying south and appearing to land on the Estuary.

After the fog had cleared I attempted a sea watch - seven Manxies later and I gave up!

As well as little birding, I haven't done all that much ringing. A short session last week gave me 15 House Sparrows (always great to handle) at Jessie's, and later in the day back home my first 3J Bullfinch of the year, and this beast...

The second Wood Pigeon I've ringed in the garden

Several weeks ago I ringed a brood of six Swallows near Beer, late last week they looked like this...

Almost too big!

At the weekend, five birds successfully fledged the nest. So great to hear they have done so well considering the awful weather!