Wednesday 2 October 2019

Windy Weather Finally Wains

Today autumn had a chance to breathe. The wet and windy weather of late (which has produced some good birding - keep reading on for that) cleared for dawn today revealing beautifully clear skies with a light northerly wind. Ideal conditions for a bit of migration so as soon as I could (8am) I was wandering around Axe Cliff...

Lots of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails

Try as I might I couldn't turn anything scarce up - but the volume of birds was seriously impressive.  The Golf Course looked as good as I've ever seen it, with large numbers of Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Linnets feeding on the greens...

A closer view

The bushes and fence line between this and the fields hosted a Stonechat, five Yellowhammer and three Reed Bunting...

Female Reed Bunting

In the stubble fields were 20+ Skylark and a few more Meadow Pipits and Linnets.  The bushes at first seemed quiet, but looking down into the Undercliff Chiffchaffs were almost constantly filtering through, along with a couple of Goldcrests.  The sky was also pretty busy, mostly hirundines and Meadow Pipits going over along with a few Skylark and Chaffinch.  So yes, disappointing to not score a goodie, but exciting nevertheless to be among some true autumn magic.

Spent a bit of time late morning/early afternoon hoping to see some fresh Long-tailed Blues at Axmouth Harbour, but the sunshine didn't deliver the goods.  Good to see two Tufted Ducks on the Estuary though, Gav saw them earlier from the same spot...

We don't see many diving ducks on this Estuary!

There's been a Cattle Egret hanging around recently, and I was lucky enough to see it on Colyford Common early Saturday morning...

However common these become I will always enjoy seeing them! Am pretty sure it's an adult although they are tricky to age.
I often find Cattle Egrets strike unusual poses and postures compared to Little Egrets!
Size difference with a Little

On Sunday afternoon a wander around the Wetlands with Jess' family showed singles of Ruff and Green Sandpiper on Black Hole Marsh, but sadly not the Spotted Crake that I've been hoping to jam in on! 

Green Sandpiper

And now to the sea.  Following the record breaking Balearic Shearwater day as detailed in my last post, I've enjoyed some more time looking at the sea.  We've had a few really lean sea watching years here, so it's been nice to be blessed with not only the right weather, but actually some birds too.

On Sunday morning (29th) I shared the Beer shelter with Ian Mc and Phil from 07:15 - 09:00 and it was excellent!  My totals were (all west);

2 Red-throated Diver
48 Common Scoter
3 Great Skua 
3 Arctic Skua
22 Kittiwake
2 Golden Plover (in-off)
1 small wader sp. 
12 auk sp.

Flock of Common Scoter flying west

I didn't count the Gannets but they really were plentiful. The six skuas were easily the highlight for me, and as usual injected a good amount of adrenaline into the watch.  Four of them (two each of Arctic and Great) passed at fairly close range - just brilliant to watch. Good fun ageing them too!

My other sea watch was on Tuesday 1st from Spot On Kiosk in Seaton 07:15 - 08:45 and showed (all west);

350+ Gannet
9 Balearic Shearwater
2 Shearwater sp.
12 Common Scoter
1 Arctic Skua (pale-phased)
3 Kittwake
6 auk sp.

So all good.  And I suppose if there was a moral to this blog post, it's you don't need to see a rarity to have a good time out birding!

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