Friday, 11 September 2020

Grasshopper Warbler

The patch has been quiet of late but it is finally beginning to feel a little more autumnal now. Clear highlight for me today was flushing a Grasshopper Warbler from the clifftop fields and it even perched out in the open for a few seconds, but too quick for the camera! Also today, it was great to see a flock of at least 15 Cirl Buntings and most seemed to be juveniles, but I don't find them the easiest species to confidently age!
Other highlights over the last few days have included a small group of Dunlin and Ringed Plover at the mouth of the Otter, a few flyover Yellow Wagtails and a lone Golden Plover. Plus the first returning Wigeon to the Otter on September 3rd.
Adult Peregrine

Female Cirl Bunting

Juvenile Ringed Plover

Small group of Dunlin roosting on Budleigh Beach

Wigeon on  Budleigh Scrape

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Storm Petrels and Wood Sandpiper

I spent a number of hours watching the sea this morning after Storm Francis headed through the South West. Nothing spectacular, but at least 3 Storm Petrels off the seafront (2+ this morning and one this afternoon) are always a treat to see from Budleigh.
A check on the Otter Estuary first thing this morning produced some good counts of waders for here with 34 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper and 5 Whimbrel. The latter desperately seeking shelter in the gale force wind and landing on the shingle ridge. A lone Wheatear was also trying to find shelter. 

However, best of all was  a juvenile Wood Sandpiper on the scrapes (now with water!) late this afternoon and only my 4th on the patch, the last being 12th August 2018.

Poor phonescoped video of Storm Petrel off Budleigh seafront

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper

Monday, 24 August 2020

Juvenile Firecrests

Great to be able to confirm successful breeding of Firecrest in Budleigh Salterton yesterday. I first became aware of a singing male back in mid April and despite numerous visits I hadn't managed to confirm anything other than a singing male until today! Guess these juveniles must be a second brood due to the late date.

Juvenile Firecrests

Juvenile Firecrests

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Local Insects

A few photos from the last few days in and around East Devon focused on insects. 
Many thanks to Matt Knott for an enjoyable morning sharing his knowledge on dragonflies and damselflies and to Steve Waite for some advice when visiting his patch at Seaton.

Peacock Butterfly in the garden

Small Copper on the Patch

Dingy Skipper, Seaton

Wood White, Seaton

Small Tortoiseshell in the garden

Male Blue-tailed Damselfly, Woodbury Common

Common Blue Damselfly, Woodbury Common

Mating White-legged Damselfly, River Axe

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Lower Bruckland Ponds

Black-tailed Skimmer, Withycombe Common

Southern Hawker on the patch

Mating Common Darters, Woodbury Common

Friday, 24 July 2020

NOCMIG Nightjar and Water Rail

The nocturnal flight calls of migrating birds (Nocmig) has slowly started to gain a bit of momentum again as we start heading into early autumn. Of most note in recent days was a lovely Nightjar recorded at 03.26hrs on the 23rd July. Interestingly, despite having recorded almost continually since early April, it is the first Nightjar since my only other recordings from April 26th and 3rd May. It will be interesting to see if I record more birds and whether it is possible to work out if they are just local birds foraging or possibly early returning migrants. 
I was also pleased to obtain a very clear recording of a Water Rail recorded at 23.15hrs on 23rd July.  You can see my updated list of Garden Nocmig Species on the GARDEN NOCMIG tab at the top of the page.

Water Rail spectrogram showing the "trill" call and the typically arched shape

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Birds, Butterflies & Lunar Hornet Moth

More exploring the superb East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and Bystock Pools NR during the last few days and a great morning spent on the patch with Matt Knott. Thanks to Matt I also managed to see the holy grail of moths, the Lunar Hornet Moth!
Moorhen chick, Bystock Pools NR - one of two family groups

Moorhen and chick, Bystock Pools NR

Moorhen chick, Bystock Pools NR

Juvenile Peregrine with full crop

Six-spot Burnet, Bystock Pools NR

Six-spot Burnet, Bystock NR

Small Heath, Bystock Pools NR

Small Heath, Bystock Pools NR

Wall Butterfly, Withycombe Raleigh Common
Wall Butterfly, Withycombe Raleigh Common

At home, the House Sparrows are on their 2nd or even 3rd brood now!

The incredible Lunar Hornet Moth.
One of several similar 'mimic' species, known as Clearwings

The incredible Lunar Hornet Moth.
One of several similar 'mimic' species, known as Clearwings

Monday, 20 July 2020


As Summer progresses it is normal practice to veer away from "just birds" and diversify and whilst I am at home more this year, I am really enjoying diversifying more! We are very lucky to live in East Devon with fabulous landscapes and diverse habitat literally on our doorstep and with such amazing weather at present, there is so much to see!

There have been many highlights over the last few days. Meeting up with one of my oldest birding pals, Peter and his family was certainly one of them. We visited the brilliant Bystock Pools NR to look for dragonflies and it was a novelty seeing a friend in person rather than just on a screen! We even managed time to have a quality Cream Tea! Another highlight was discovering a Brown Argus butterfly on the patch. It was an exciting surprise find and may even be a new site for this localised species in Devon.

The following photos are from the last few days. I always have to re-learn many of the different invertebrate groups each year, particularly the dragonflies and damselflies, so please comment if any identifications are incorrect!

A great grass and flower margin at South Farm, Budleigh Salterton

Brown Argus
The "88" mark distinguishes from a female Common Blue if only underwing is visible

Brown Argus

Male Common Blue

Male Common Blue

Male Common Blue

Meadow Brown




Female Large Skipper

Female Small Skipper

Male Small Skipper

Marbled White

Team Alfrey at Bystock Pools

Me "diversifying" at Bystock NR

Male Keeled Skimmer

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Large Red Damselfly

Small Red Damselfly

Male and Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Female Azure Damselfly

Long-winged Conehead Nymph

Common Field Grasshopper

Common Green Grasshopper