Monday, 2 June 2014


Well yesterday was a very exciting day, and I can't tell you how lucky I feel.

Every Sunday I always work 6am to 4:15pm. But yesterday, not only was it the start of new Sunday hours for me (now working until 7pm), because I had to go in for an early morning meeting, I had a couple of hours off in the middle of the day.... this was vital.

The first hint of Bee-eater action was former patch birder James Mc who had one fly west along the cliff-edge at Charmouth, which isn't far from our patch at all.  Bun reacted to this news by heading up to Axe Cliff, which is the western edge of the Undercliff and the most likely spot to see a coast-hugging migrant.  I think it was towards the end of his walk when he heard Bee-eater calling, and at the same time Karen saw one briefly by the parking area. But as soon as they saw it, it was off, and flew west.

Phil was at my place, and after hearing this news we debated heading to the coast, but thought standing in the garden would give us as good a chance. But then we had another phone call from Bun (many thanks mate, always good at keeping others informed) to say the Bee-eater was circling over the golf course in the distance. I bundled Phil into my car and we went off.

The next bit of news was less than hopeful though, as Bun said it seemed to continue west and flew off from the golf course. Oh bugger. We stopped along the Estuary to have a listen, nothing. I then thought maybe it was still worth popping up to the golf course as Bun and Karen were viewing from quite some distance away. We walked onto the golf course and within a minute Phil said "What's that on there?" (he didn't have any bins on him!)...

Patch tick! Probably the most colourful bird on my patch list!

Incredible!!!! Then ensued numerous texts and phone calls as we watched the Bee-eater sit motionless. Bun and Karen arrived, as did Tim Wright, but just before the next wave of local birders got to us, a Crow flew in and flushed it. I could have taken some photos of it in flight, but decided to record that lovely call. It's not just the Bee-eater you can hear though, I apologise for the language I use as I realise the bird was flying off. I was just really disappointed that it didn't stay put for a bit longer...

Thankfully for some, the Bee-eater was relocated further up towards Rousdon, along with four more! But sadly yet again they didn't hang around, and soon all five flew off west never to be seen again.  Bee-eater is a mega Devon bird, they just don't hang around.  So it really was a great shame that the Axe couldn't be the place many people added this beautiful species to their county lists.

This was my third UK Bee-eater, having found two singles fly through at Spurn. This was my first perched UK bird though, and what a delight to see. So happy!  And as for Phil, well it wasn't just a patch tick for him, but a UK first too! I hear he was jumping up and down in excitement for the rest of the day...

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