Thursday 23 December 2021

Scaup on Seaton Marshes!

I have lost count of how many times I have mentioned on this blog just how scarce diving ducks are on the Axe. But it is somewhat ironic that the first year I've known with not a single Tufted Duck or Pochard record, is the year an Aythya patch mega puts in an appearance!


Clive found a female Greater Scaup on Seaton Marshes this morning. The first patch record since the winter of 1988/89 when a male spent some time on the Borrow Pit, also Seaton Marshes. Thanks for clarifying the date Phil. 

Great to watch it frequently dive in this shallow lagoon

Note that distinctive pale cheek spot

I always thought my first patch Scaup would likely be during a spell of cold weather, which clearly was not the case today. However although it's not cold here, something notable is happening with wildfowl presumably due to easterly winds and cold temperatures on the continent. Across the south and south west of England during the last week odd ducks like our Scaup have been appearing at unusual locations, as well as a noticeable arrival of grey geese (Tundra Bean, Pink-feet and Russian White-fronts) and the odd wild swan. Am sure it's only time before we get something else - I really wouldn't mind a slice of Exminster Marshes current luck! They currently have singles of all three of the above mentioned geese and three Whooper Swans.

Being the first patch Scaup in 35 years this was obviously a patch tick for me, my second tick of 2021 in what is turning out to be my year of 'unblocking'.  Just need a mid-winter Puffin now!

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Back in Play

Not blogged for so long because, well, since I came out of self-isolation work has been hectic.  I haven't really even got a catch up post to do because there isn't anything to tell!

One thing I do want to share (which was actually over a month ago) was my very first morning out after Covid-19.  Although I had seen some fairly good vismig from my garden, I was absolutely gunning to get back up to Axe Cliff.  On 4th Nov that was exactly where I went on my first morning of freedom, and what an absolutely stunning morning it was...

In such a strong northerly wind, finch vismig was a bit all over the place, although I still managed nine Brambling which was my best count of the autumn. This included a lovely group of three that came up from under the cliff, circled over my head calling for thirty seconds and then headed off west. Also noted three Reed Bunting, two Redpoll and a Siskin.

As I'd hoped Wood Pigeons were on the move in incredible numbers.  The earliest flocks hugged the coast west, but I soon noticed flocks passing way out to sea - and I mean miles out! Often I would be watching a (still distant) large flock, when I noticed behind it a slow moving dark mass heading west, which was of course yet more Pigeons!  I recorded 20k birds in no time at all.  As ever photographs didn't capture the spectacle well at all, but enlarge the lower two pics out of the four below to get an idea of how the view out to sea often looked...

On the way home I was pleased to see one of the four or five Black Redstarts that were around Axe Yacht Club in early November...

Since this freedom day, two Pintail over the Estuary on Sunday morning were literally my only interesting snippet of bird news from the Axe since early November. Sure I haven't been out much, but whenever I have it's been quiet on all fronts.