Friday, 30 August 2019

It's Autumn on the Axe

It's been a good week locally for birds, one of the best autumn weeks we've enjoyed for several years I'd say, and this is why...

First of all I'll start with Ospreys. A couple of weeks ago, on the 18th in fact, I happened to be outside at work (in the middle of Seaton) when an Osprey flew low south west overhead shortly after 10am.  It disappeared as quickly as it appeared, unlike the juvenile Sue Smith found from Tower Hide on 25th.  This one, clearly an amateur fisher, is still around today, and can be easily seen fishing on the Axe given a bit of time.  It's great having a long-stayer again, our first proper lingering bird for what seems like years...

Osprey with a typical back drop - lots of alarming gulls!

The Tower Hide is the best place to see it from, although I have stayed clear of here as I know it's proving a busy place for photographers at the moment - and rightly so.  This has to be one of the best sites to photograph fishing Osprey in the UK (away from breeding grounds)?

Going in for a dive

I had a second Osprey on the 27th, when one flew in from the north west over Seaton cricket pitch, then continued south west at quite a height.  Our usual bird was back fishing on the Estuary an hour or so later so am happy this was a different individual.  Whilst on raptors, at least one Marsh Harrier remains in the valley, and I had a second fly west over Lyme Regis on the morning of the 23rd.

Now to the wading birds and Black Hole Marsh.  After another little pulse of Wood Sandpipers with three on 25th, it really kicked off yesterday.  Late afternoon on 29th, inline with something of a national arrival of these species, Phil texted with news of three Curlew Sands and three Ruff - nice.  I went down there that evening and saw all six of these goodies, along with three Greenshank, a juvenile Knot, several Yellow Wags and plenty of the usual species...

All three Curlew Sands - a cracking adult and two juvs
Three juv Ruff - I think a male and two females
Juv Knot

Over the course of today, the three Ruff have dispersed, but a lovely adult Little Stint has joined the fun and games.  Unlike the adult Curlew Sand which is still very summery, the stint is more advanced in its moult to winter plumage...

Little Stint on the left, and Curlew Sand in shot too
On the right here, such a delicate little beauty

A juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was also new in, mixed in with the vast numbers of Black-tailed Godwits...

Note the difference in leg-length!

Had some better views of the Curlew Sands too.  The adult really is cracking, only seen one or two better than this on the Axe before...

Look at that!
Constantly feeding though! 

Also tonight a Green Sand, two Ringed Plover, the Knot still (which has developed an occasional limp), a Whimbrel and heaps of the usual species.  I am so glad the water levels have now been sorted on Black Hole because the mass of birds it's attracted will no doubt continue to attract even more - the next few weeks could be really good.

The one thing I have really missed this August is Beer Head. I simply haven't had chance to get up there, but those who have have been seeing plenty.  Phil turned up the highlight, with a brief Wryneck yesterday morning, but the large counts of migrants coming in most mornings have proved equally gripping.  Looking forwards, Yellow Wags will start picking up in numbers now, they usually peak over the few days when August ends and September begins, so hopefully I will be able to cash in on this at least.

 'til next time...

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