Wise Birding Holidays

Monday, 12 August 2019

Avocet on the Otter

I have been overseas pretty much continually since late June, so it was great to be back on the patch and even more so for the surprise of finding two Avocets! Only my third sighting on the Otter, the last being on 15th March 2012. A lovely evening on the Otter with other notable species being a Green Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover, plus an obliging Cetti's Warbler.

Avocet on the Otter Estuary

Avocet on the Otter Estuary

Avocet on the Otter Estuary

An obliging Cetti's Warbler

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Common Whitethroats

Me and the Mrs carried out our section of the National Seabirds Census: Seabirds Count this morning from Ladram Bay to Otter Ledge and it was great to be walking alongside so much wildlife friendly farmland. Impressive grass margins, loads of flowers and insects, thick hedges, low intensity arable fields and all to the sound of numerous Common Whitethroats and Cirl Buntings! 
We counted mostly Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gull, Fulmar and a few Shag and Cormorant nests. Also of note were 10 Common Scoters on the sea.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Bonaparte's Gull and Goosander Family

A morning visit to the Exe Estuary proved very worthwhile with some good scope views of Matt's excellent recent find -  2nd Cal Year Bonaparte's Gull. It was busy feeding amongst the 100+ Black-headed Gulls. Despite the distance, the photos still show many of the features, such as grey nape, very striking pale under primaries, pink legs etc.
A stroll along the Otter later in the day revealed a great family group of Goosander - an adult female with 15 young.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Local Patch, East Devon Commons & Exmoor NP

I have been enjoying birding the local patch over the last week. Nothing out of the ordinary, but some nice things to keep me interested. Also spent yesterday afternoon with the Mrs on Exmoor. Highlights have been:

Med Gulls - at least 5 birds off-shore on the 16th May 2 2nd Cal Year and 3 3rd Cal Year birds feeding and then drifting east
Bar-tailed Godwits - 2 birds on the estuary on the 17th May present since at least the 15th May
Black-tailed Godwits - 2 birds this evening on the scrape
Wigeon - a drake still on the Otter this evening 
Shelduck - a family group with 9 young on the Otter this evening
Dartford Warbler - a pair on the East Devon Commons today
Nightjar - a bird churring in the day on the East Devon Commons today
Whinchat - great to see a very high density on Exmoor

Rainbow over the Otter Estuary

Bar-tailed Godwits on the Otter Estuary

Mediterranean Gulls, Budleigh Salterton

Whinchat, Exmoor National Park

Common Cuckoo, Exmoor National Park

Canada Goose Family, Bystock Pool

Common Shelduck Family, Otter Estuary

Thursday, 9 May 2019

GBBG Nest inland & Lundy Day Trip

Yesterday, 8th May I took a day trip to Lundy with Helen and good friend Russ. The weather was pretty grim with a strong Force 5 SW  and continual rain and showers for most of the day. The crossing on the trusty Oldenburg was pretty lumpy as expected! 
The sea crossings didn't produce much out of the ordinary, the highlights being a flock of 25+ Commic Terns, numerous Manx Shearwaters and small numbers of Razorbill, Guillemot, Fulmar and Gannet.

Grounded migrants in the difficult conditions included:
3 Spot Fly
4 Sedge Warbler
6+ Willow Warbler
4 Common Whitethroat
1+ Chiffchaff
Plus Swallow and House Martin, a single Sand Martin and Common Swift heading north.

On the 7th May Russ and I came across a nesting pair of Great Black-backed Gulls on the roof of Topp Tiles, Liverton Business Park. Unusual to see this species nesting on buildings and even more unusual when it is at least 2Km from the coast!
Nesting Great Black-backed Gull, Liverton Business Park Exmouth

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Staying Local

A lovely morning around the River Otter. Nothing out of the ordinary, but great to be out on a bright still sunny morning and to hear so many Reed Warblers singing - seemingly more than in previous years? Other highlights were a single Sedge Warbler, 24 Shelduck, Reed Bunting, and small numbers of House Martin and Swallow, plus two drake Wigeon still hanging around. My first Swift were 3 birds yesterday over the scrapes.

This afternoon it was good to hear and see 2 singing male Dartford Warblers on the East Devon Commons and a Stonechat already feeding young.
Male Dartford Warbler, East Devon Commons

Reed Warbler, River Otter 
Male Reed Bunting, River Otter

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Bun in the Oven?

Since returning from Nepal, Helen and I have spent quite a bit of time on the River Otter looking for Beavers and until yesterday we had only seen "signs" of beaver activity. 
Yesterday evening it was great to see an old friend as we located the pink-tagged female "Patricia" and watched her for 30 minutes or so as she grappled for tempting branches to feed on. Judging by the size of her, it looks like it won't be too long until there will hopefully be the pitter patter of tiny Beaver Kits soon! 
Watch this space.......

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Back on the Patch for a While

After numerous overseas trips, it is great to be back in Devon and back on the patch for a few weeks. Looking forward to the Spring!

Roe Deer

Cetti's Warbler

Friday, 29 March 2019

LRP and Grey Plovers

I have been overseas far too much and as a result I have neglected my blog and the local patch! Therefore it was good to be back on the patch this afternoon where two Sandwich Terns on the rocks below Otter Ledge were my first this year. On the Otter Estuary were two Grey Plovers (very different in structure) and a bird that I rarely see on the patch.

March 20th  - I was pleased to see my first Little Ringed Plover of the year on the scrapes.

Two Grey Plovers on the Otter Estuary - a scarce bird on the Otter

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Caught on Camera!

Since "the Mrs" bought me a trail camera for my birthday almost 9 years ago, I have always loved the challenge of trying to capture wildlife on them. The technology has increased so much, the size of the trail cameras I use now is almost half what it was 9 years ago and the picture quality and sound is far superior.

As with most trail cameras, it is all about choosing the correct place based on a lot of fieldwork and then it is a waiting game. Below are some recent results that have taken a lot of monitoring and effort, but pretty pleased overall. It's just a shame the Owls perched so close to the camera! Turn the sound up for the Tawny Owl!

If you are thinking about buying a trail camera, I can totally recommend NatureSpy 
They are very knowledgeable and helpful and the service is first class.