Sunday 30 August 2020

Axe Cliff

Having not written a blog post for two weeks, in one of the busiest birding months of the year, I have allowed it to get to the stage that I have so much to blog about I have no idea where to start! 

The two Ospreys maybe? The mass of wading birds using Black Hole Marsh? How about the (mostly unsuccessful) seawatching of late? Agggghhh just too much possible content! So I shall simplify, which is what my brain wants and just talk about this morning, in which I enjoyed my first visit of the autumn to Axe Cliff.

It was cold, very very cold.  And am sure the harsh north wind didn't help reveal all the birds that were present, but there were clearly birds about. Wheatears topped the chart at 16, including a nice mix of males (top) and females (below)...

A couple of grounded Tree Pipits were nice to see, and my first migrant Meadow Pipit of the autumn made it into my notebook.  Six Yellow Wags flew straight over west, but three of the five alba Wagtails that were heading the same way landed - not that that helped with their ID in anyway! 

For me to call an autumn White Wagtail I need to see a strikingly pale mantle and a importantly a pale rump, but I do think I'm over cautious and probably let many intermediate-looking birds slip the net.  As I didn't see this birds rump it remains an alba Wagtail, although the cleanish flanks do make me wonder...

The bushes weren't busy at all, although they were being blown all over the place so I couldn't be sure. Just a few Chiffchaff and one Willow Warbler were all I could see.  Surprise of the visit goes to a single Snipe that flew over north.

Just before work I had time for a quick glance over Black Hole Marsh. In keeping with the cold theme a juvenile Pintail was feeding on the marsh, amongst an obvious increase in Teal numbers. Still plenty of wading birds about too, which I will fill you in about on a later post.

Do check back for more soon.  Well once I figure out what I want to blog about that is!

Friday 14 August 2020

Black Hole Marsh Update and Common Dolphins

I can't believe it's been about twenty days since my last blog post! Apologies for this, especially when it's been so busy out there in the birding world. I have been getting out as much as possible, just always been running out of time to blog about it afterwards.  

In this post as the title indicates I want to update you all with the happenings on Black Hole Marsh since my last post about the wading birds here on 20th July.  It really has been excellent, and right now is looking as good as it ever does so do come and visit if you get the chance.

Following the early juvenile Wood Sand I blogged about on 17th July, over the past ten-ish days up to two more juveniles have been present, although there seems to be just one now.  One of them in particularly was really showy, hence the obscene amount of photographs below. They are such a charismatic species packed full of charm it's a real struggle not to aim the camera at them..

It's been a good late summer/early autumn for Greenshank, with six on 17th July my highest count.  I noted the first juvenile on 1st August, with the early date suggesting it may be of Scottish origin.  A really cracking example of a juv too, looking strikingly paler than all the recent adults...

The first juvenile Ruff was on the marsh on 10th, with two a couple of days later.  Again, how fresh and bright does it look in its brand new baby feathers...

And the most recent addition to the Black Hole crowd is a Little Stint first found by Derek Carter on 12th.  Surprisingly it was also a juvenile - another example of what I believe to be an early date for a juv wading bird. 2020 really is proving the year of early juvenile waders, which hopefully is a sign they've had a good breeding season.  

As you can probably tell from my pics though, the two times I've seen it it hasn't been particularly close...

Whilst on the subject of juvenile wading birds, I always look forward to seeing my first juv Black-tailed Godwit of the year.  This year that was on 4th August, but it wasn't the first of a flurry - I have only seen one more since!

Not that there's anything wrong with summer adult Black-tailed Godwits, so richly coloured...

Other bits and bobs on the marsh have included up to 51 Dunlin, 25 Teal, 20 Common Sandpipers, nine Ringed Plover, four Green Sandpipers, four Snipe and my first Yellow Wagtail of the autumn on 5th August.  The lingering juvenile Marsh Harrier is still around too, although can be surprisingly sporadic in its' appearances.

I'll finish this blog post on a different topic.  Yesterday morning before work I spent fifteen minutes sat on Seaton Beach with Jess and Harry, and as we wandered down to the shore I mentioned that the flat sea looked good for cetacean spotting.  About five seconds later I was showing Jess two distant Dolphins out in the bay, including one frequently breaching - pirouettes and everything!  Unfortunately though they were too distant to ID and I couldn't get any other local birders on to them.

So I was dead chuffed to find a video of them on a local Facebook page today, clearly shot at the same time we were watching them from dry land.  Here's a screen shot from the video, showing they were my second ever Common Dolphins here...

And here's a link to the actual video, which is well worth a watch: