Saturday 9 September 2017

Osprey and Continental Black-tailed Godwit

Although we see several Ospreys each year on the Axe, both in spring and autumn, we've not had a lingering bird since mid August 2014 - this one unusually preferred fishing over the sea not the Estuary!  Before that we had two lingering birds in 2012 (though neither for very long) and the most watched was THIS colour-ringed juvenile that stayed for over a week back in September 2010.  So it was high time we enjoyed another loitering bird, and that we have...

Thanks to a tweet from Martin Bennett early Thursday afternoon (a lovely chap from the New Forest who I'd met that morning in the Island Hide) we were made away of the presence of a fishing Osprey on the Estuary. It remained all of the Friday, and was around today until late morning when it flew off south west.  I though it was leaving us earlier in the day as at 9:20am it flew west over Stafford Marsh with pace...

Gladly though it came back east to offer the gathered crowd some more fishing views...

There's nothing like an Osprey to pull in the crowds! Pity it left us so soon but hopefully we will see some more before the autumn is out.

The bushes were deadly quiet this morning, and the wading bird situation isn't much better now Black Hole is full of water. All I noted here and on Colyford Marsh were four Greenshank, two Green Sandpipers and a couple of Ringed Plovers.  The highlight for me this morning was without doubt one of the 90+ Black-tailed Godwits that are currently on the Axe.  Among a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits feeding on Colyford Common I was delighted to notice a larger bodied, billed and legged bird, a Continental limosa Black-tailed Godwit (as apposed to Icelandic islandica race which are the norm for the Axe).....

Limosa Black-tailed Godwit (front bird)

I have got several more pics of this beast, but am going to save them for another post within the next couple of days which will be about all things Blackwit.

Since my last post, the only other sightings I have to add are of a drake Gadwall that I've seen on the Borrow Pit twice, and good numbers of migrants around the Wetlands on Thursday morning which included singles of Wheatear, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, six Yellow Wagtail, 15 Blackcap and 20 Chiffchaff.

Colyford Common Wheatear

I have missed a few birds since my last post, mostly thanks to work. Tim White reported two Knot from the Tower Hide on Friday, and I was annoyed to miss a juvenile Little Stint found by Phil on Thursday evening which sadly didn't stay the night.  The most annoying thing about missing the Stint was that I really wanted to give it a good grilling as Phil reported that night, that it was a particularly long-billed individual. Hope Phil doesn't mind me sticking one of his record shots of it up here...

Little Stint (c) Phil Abbott

As you can see, quite a long-billed bird. But nothing else suggested it was anything other than a Little Stint.

Be sure to check back here soon for that Black-tailed Godwit post, which who knows may even prove educational!?


  1. Hi Steve, Nice pics. I'm just wondering how you could tell that the Blackwit was a 'Continental' Limosa and not a British-breeding Limosa? Could it not be from the UK breeding population?

    1. Hi Tim. You can't at all as they are the same sub species. I think they're called Continental as there's only a couple of dozen pairs nesting in UK, compared with 120,000+ pairs nesting elsewhere in Europe and Russia. I guess Eurasion would fit better than Continental but was only using already used wording. Same as the term Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit I suppose as a few pairs nest in Scotland. Still known as Icelandic though...

  2. Steve -you might be interested in this extract from the Devon Subspecies paper I co-wrote in 2007, it needs updating really as our knowledge of other plumages has moved on - no questioning the id but it will be the first accepted record of 'limosa':
    BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa
    [Limosa limosa limosa; breeds S England, W Europe to W Asia, winters sub-Saharan Africa and N India.]
    Limosa limosa islandica; breeds Iceland, Norway and Shetland, winters Britain, Ireland and W France.
    Identification. Only reliably separated by underpart tones in breeding plumage and slight structural differences.
    GB status. L. l. limosa is migrant breeder. L. l. islandica is migrant breeder, passage and winter migrant.
    Devon status. Mainly L. l. islandica, a not-scarce, but local winter/passage visitor (scarce in summer) – see Box 2 on p 56 in DBR 2004 for examples of colour-ring sightings. L. l. limosa is probably rare passage migrant, but surprisingly there are no confirmed records and status is unknown.

  3. Hi Mike, thanks for this. I have pretty much completed another blog post on it showing more photos and a lot more text. But something more pressing has come up so that will be posted a few days later... Cheers, Steve.