Wise Birding Holidays

Saturday, 21 March 2020


A wander down to the scrapes beside the River Otter this evening produced only my 2nd Ruff for the patch. The last one I saw here was on 13th April 2013.

Add caption

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Back for a while!

Having spent the last month in the US leading tours (see some photo highlight HERE if interested), it is nice to be back home and on the patch. Highlights around the Otter have included at least 2 Firecrest, 3 Med Gulls and a group of at least 24 Brent Geese.

Mediterranean Gull - two of three birds on the River Otter coming into breeding plumage

Firecrest - at least two birds around of late

Brent Geese - River Otter

Common Pheasant - I know it is non native, but the males are pretty impressive at this time of year!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Red-necked Grebe, Exmouth

A sunny morning was a bit of a novelty today after all the grey gloom and heavy rain, so I had a look off Exmouth for the Red-necked Grebe found on Monday by local birder Matt Knott - See HERE
I had all but given up, despite seeing the distant Slavonian Grebe and a couple of Great Crested Grebes off Starcross, when the RN Grebe suddenly appeared off Shelly Beach amongst the mass of buoys. A very scarce bird here and my first on the Exe. Below are a few basic handheld digiscoped photos. Thanks Matt!

Friday, 3 January 2020

New Year Listing 2020

Once again Helen and I headed out on our New Year local listing, postponed from New Year's Day due to the poor weather. It was a much better day today, drier and brighter but with a stiff cold northerly breeze. We headed to Exmouth and Bowling Green Marsh by car and then cycled around Budleigh and Otterton STW before a final dusk session on the Commons. Frustratingly, we again failed to break the 100 species, but we managed a respectable 96 species. The magic 100 must be possible, but everything needs to fall into place and you are always chasing the daylight!

Anyway it was a great day and highlights included:
Hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits at BGM
Long-billed Dowitcher and Ruff at BGM
Avocets, Golden and Grey Plover on the Exe
Black Redstart near Exmouth Marina
Water Pipit, Blackcap and Green Sand around the Otter
Red-throated Diver, Guillemot, Fulmar and Cirl Bunting Otterton
Merlin, Yellowhammer and Fieldfare on the Commons

Notable omissions as always included:
Med Gull, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Treecreeper, Dartford Warbler, Slavonian Grebe, Cattle Egret and Tawny Owl (though there is still a chance from the garden tonight!)

Black-tailed Godwits and a Ruff at Bowling Green Marsh - Spot the Ruff!

Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Year's Day 2020

Due to the damp, grey miserable weather on NYD, Helen and I decided to postpone our traditional year listing on bikes and the patch, but we still wandered out along the Otter with friends Sarah and Paul who were year listing! Highlights included the Cattle Egret, Water Pipit, Med Gull and Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine within just a few minutes! Helen and I will be out very soon, so I will report back soon!

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Highlights of 2019

As tradition holds, with 2020 almost upon us I thought I should add just a few of my personal highlights for 2019. Happy New Year to you all!

JANUARY 2019: Family Celebrations

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Celebrating my Mum's 80th Birthday with my Dad and the rest of the family!
GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Birthday celebrations for my Mum!

FEBRUARY 2019: Geese, Cats and Grosbeaks

CALIFORNIA: Witnessing the amazing spectacle of Snow Geese and Ross's Geese in the Sacramento Valley
MINNESOTA: The fourth consecutive year and another special encounter with Canada Lynx

MINNESOTA: Evening Grosbeaks in the snow!

MARCH 2019: 10 years in Budders and more Cats in the sand!

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON: Celebrating 10 years living in Budders! 
BUDLEIGH SALTERTON: Celebrating 10 years birding on the patch, the Otter Estuary!

WESTERN SAHARA: Having my best Sand Cat encounter since my first visit to this area in 2017

WESTERN SAHARA: The beautiful landscape

APRIL 2019: Nepal

NEPAL: Seeing my first Tiger!

MAY 2019: Local Patching

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON: Fantastic to have Spotted Flycatchers breeding on the patch!

JULY 2019: Uganda the true Pearl of Africa

UGANDA: Sharing the first views of the mighty Shoebill with Helen

UGANDA: The mighty Shoebill
UGANDA: Bromance at the Royal Mile!

UGANDA: Seeing Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

UGANDA: A Silverback!

AUGUST 2019: A return to beautiful Mongolia

MONGOLIA: Land of the Snow Leopard

MONGOLIA: Finally getting to see a Snow Leopard!

MONGOLIA: The spectacle of literally thousands of Pallas's Sandgrouse

SEPTEMBER 2019: A significant Birthday!

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON: Celebrating the Mrs significant Birthday!

BUDLEIGH SALTERTON: This juvenile Little Stint was a great patch bird  found one afternoon on the beach

OCTOBER 2019: The beloved Isles of Scilly

ISLES OF SCILLY: Spending a week on St Martin's

ISLES OF SCILLY: Finding Britain's 30th record of Rose-Breasted Grosbeak!

ISLES OF SCILLY: Finding /Re-finding? a Buff-bellied Pipit on St Martin's. 
A bird was seen on the afternoon of the 9th and not again until I found this bird on the 14th

Monday, 30 December 2019

Cattle Egret and Black Redstart

A novelty to walk around the patch today in the dry and the sunshine! A Cattle Egret was in the fields north of White Bridge this afternoon and presumably the same bird from mid November that has gone missing for all this time? Also a Black Redstart in a stubble field west of Brandy Head and at least 4 RT Divers off Otterton STW.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Water Pipits

I counted a minimum of 10 Water Pipits in the fields north of White Bridge this morning. They are feeding in the damp fields and are pretty tricky to find as they are not always by the wet areas and are often hidden in the long grass. The photo below was a bird that I  digiscoped whilst it was feeding on the scrapes south of White Bridge and seemed to be separate from the other flock. Hopefully that Buff-bellied Pipit will join them soon!😂
Water Pipit, beside the river Otter north of White Bride

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Water Pipits, Dippers and Blackcaps

Helen and I had old friends Nigel and Claire to stay this weekend and we all enjoyed a good day out on the patch  where highlights included Cirl Bunting, Water Pipit and a Starling murmuration of around 1,000 birds on the Otter Estuary. As well as 6 Blackcaps in the garden and of course plenty of Claire's home made chocolate cake!

Yesterday, there were at least 5 Water Pipits in the wet fields north of White Bridge and today there were a minimum of 7 birds and I am pretty sure there are at least 10 birds, the largest count I have seen on the Otter. A pair of Dipper were singing on the River Otter this morning too, just north of White Bridge and the furthest south I have seen them.  
I made a very simple sound recording using my iPhone - See below.
A digiscoped photo of one of at least 10 Water Pipits adjacent to the River Otter

Friday, 15 November 2019

Cattle Egret

I found this Cattle Egret today just south of East Budleigh village. I only found it because I was checking the Starling flock that was feeding in the same field! Amazing how common this species has become now and it wouldn't surprise if the number increases based on the number of birds in Devon at the moment.

Cattle Egret, East Budleigh

Cattle Egret, East Budleigh