Monday 28 August 2017

Yellow Wagtails Galore!

It's proving to be an absolutely stonking autumn for Yellow Wagtails. We always do well for them here in late August/early September, especially at Beer Head, but this year there are stacks more than usual. 

For the last few days up to 100 have been present in the valley (they can be found wherever there's cattle or on Black Hole Marsh) and most mornings Beer Head goers have been seeing upper double figures flying west. Plus this morning I added a load more with a visit to Axe Cliff, which I will happily write about now...

Beer Head has been pretty well covered so far this autumn by the usual gang; Ian Mc, Phil A, Bun, Clive W and Dad. This gang would usually include me, but this autumn I've decided to really concentrate on Axe Cliff which usually plays second fiddle, hence why Axe Cliff is within my Patchwork Challenge patch.  I went up there a few weeks ago but it was before the autumnal rush, and for the last week Harry has been suffering with a cold so our nights have not been too good (to say the least!). Thankfully though I finally made it up there this morning for a good walk about, albeit later than I would usually visit. An hour and a half from 08:30 produced;

6 Tree Pipit (two grounded, four west)
7 Meadow Pipit (grounded - my first of the autumn)
140+ Yellow Wagtail (all grounded in the stubble fields, I reckon I would have seen 200+ had I walked more fields)
1 Wheatear
3 Whinchat
1 Stonechat
3 Blackcap
2 Whitethroat
5 Willow Warbler

The bushes never do that well at Axe Cliff, but oh my word the stubble fields were amazing. I don't think I've ever seen Yellow Wagtails like it - they were everywhere!

This is what the Axe Cliff stubble fields are looking like at the moment

If you enlarge this photo, all the dots flying above the stubble are Yellow Wags!

Two Yellow Wags - they weren't easy to photograph as they spent most their time feeding in among the stalks

One of the Whinchats

Down in the valley, Black Hole Marsh is pretty samey wader wise but it's nice to have a juvenile male Ruff with us, which has been here since the afternoon of 23rd. There are a few more Snipe (11) and Teal (25+) about as well, and I'm sure a scarcity or rarity is only a matter of days away.

Which leaves me just to say goodnight...

Tonight about twenty minutes after sunset on the lower Axe Estuary looking towards Seaton


  1. Was down there this morning for a good hour, had a greenshank, snipe,kingfisher,kestrel,5 common sand, ruff juv,all from the main hide.Cracking reserve,I was the only one present too, holiday maker!
    Yesterday had a barn owl in the middle of the day, behind the tea rooms at colyton,flew up river and across meadow carrying food!

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for the comment and yes were are so lucky to have this reserve on our doorstep. As for the Barn Owl, that's not a site I know off so really appreciate this news nice one. All the best and hope you visit us again, Steve.