Saturday, 11 April 2015

Hilarious Beavers

The pink tagged female Eurasian Beaver (aka Patricia) showed well this evening. She spent quite a bit of time grooming herself on the river bank too - Check out the hilarious video below!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

More Beavers

Good to see both a male and female Eurasian Beaver are currently frequenting the lower River Otter. These are two of five adults which were tested and then released back into the area.

Very interesting to watch the behaviour of these animals. I have seen/heard a few tail slaps over the last couple of nights in reaction to the local Mute Swans and a dog that got a little too close! Tail slapping is often used by beavers as a signal to other family members that there is potential danger, to frighten a potential predator or to warn a potential predator that they have been seen.

Looking forward to learning more about these great animals over the next few months.

This is the green tagged male - Gordon

This is the pink tagged female - Patricia

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Beavers Back in Town

Great to see one of the now recently released and disease free Eurasian Beavers back on the River Otter this evening complete with new ear tags to enable identification of individual animals. This is a female who is known to be pregnant.

No sign of the 2 Little Ringed Plovers that were present on the scrape last night, but 2 Black-tailed Godwit still also 3 Shoveler (2 m 1f) a pair of Wigeon and 2 Swallow today. At nearby Otterton Sewage Works at least 3+ GN Divers and 1 RT Diver plus Guillemot and Razorbill. 

Other recent sightings on the patch in recent days include a pair of Goosander and White Wagtail.

Eurasian Beaver EZ 322-23 

Male Stonechat, Otterton SW 7th April

White Wagtail, N of White Bridge 6th April

Monday, 6 April 2015

Belated Estonia

Some highlights from the recent Wise Birding Holidays Bird and Mammal tours to Estonia.

Bird highlights included a superb flock of 260+ Steller's Eider close inshore, Nutcracker, Grey-headed and Black Woodpeckers and some wonderful Estonian food too! The mammal tour started immediately after the birding tour and focused on trying to see one of Europe's most elusive mammals, the Eurasian Lynx. The tour could not have started any better with a superb Eurasian Lynx seen very well on the first night of the holiday! The animal was watched for a good couple of minutes by spotlight in an open field at a range of just 70 metres. Other highlights on the mammal tour included Eurasian Elk, Mountain Hares, Wild Boar as well as Ural Owl and Eurasian Pygmy Owl.


Grey-headed Woodpecker

Eurasian Elk

Long-tailed Ducks

Steller's Eiders

Eurasian Pygmy Owl

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Last week with a birding mate, I found three Water Pipits in an area where I have had birds in previous years, in fields north of White Bridge. One of the birds is a cracking summer plumaged bird which I managed a record shot of, but despite a couple of repeat visits I have failed to get any half decent photos. They are extremely wary and do not allow close approach. At least one was still present yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon(23rd March), Steve Waite kindly let me know that a visiting birder had reported 6 Water Pipits on fields south of White Bridge. I had some free time so headed out and could only find a group of 6-7 Rock Pipits in the area. There has been a small group around for the last few days, but they have been feeding around the wet fields and scrapes, perhaps more the feeding habitat you might expect from a Water Pipit. However, on scanning the flock, I was immediately drawn to a much greyer headed bird than the other Rock Pipits it was associating with. The bird also seemed to show fairly prominent wing bars that on my first views I even wondered if it was a Water Pipit. I spent quite some time watching this bird and the more I watched it the more I became interested and I suspected it might possibly be a littoralis Rock Pipit (Scandinavian Rock Pipit). I don't have any recent experience of these, but it certainly seemed to show some littoralis features with a fairly obvious grey head and mantle, prominent supercilium behind the eye and a very subtle peach wash to the upper breast. I managed some really dodgy video through my phone, but annoyingly didn't have the correct attachment with me, hence the shaking and black vignetting!

Below is the video with the odd still included in the video. Would be happy to hear others thoughts.....

Summer plumage Water Pipit 20th March North of White Bridge

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Better late than Never...

Finally, after having been present for at least four months, I actually made a proper effort to try and see the Penduline Tits at Darts Farm which coincided with a little shopping at Cotswold Outdoors!
Two birds showed well and were calling fairly regularly too.
These birds have been photographed so many times and far better than I could manage, but just for the hell of it, I thought I'd post my best efforts in a half hour visit today.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Horse Whisperer - Aylesbeare RSPB

Helen and I had a very enjoyable weekend with our good friends, the Butcher family last weekend. On Saturday, we visited the Aylesbeare RSPB Reserve where Nigel was keen to check on one of his GPS collars that has been fitted to one of a small group of ponies that graze on the reserve. 

Despite having the exact GPS co-ordinates at our finger tips just minutes before leaving the house, it became quite a mission for "Team Butcher" to actually locate the animal as we all battled across boggy ground to finally locate the pony. Luckily, we had Nigel the horse whisperer on hand and we soon caught our first proper look at the very healthy looking pony that has been named Richard, after the Assistant Reserve Warden.  

Richard's GPS collar is collecting useful data that can be used to work out grazing management for the future of the reserve. 

Nigel Buther - Horse Whisperer with Richard the Pony

Richard's GPS collar

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Another successful trip to Spain's Sierra de Andujar

Just returned from another Wise Birding Holiday Iberian Lynx and Eagles Tour.

Iberian Lynx - 12th Feb 2015
Spanish Imperial Eagle - 10th Feb 2015

video with the iPhone 5s and the Swarovski 65HD telescope

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Bulgarian and Romania Goose Recce

I have recently returned from a short break to Bulgaria in search of the spectacle of thousands of wintering Red-breasted and European White-fronted Geese. We spent two nights in the vicinity of Duranulak Lake Ramsar Site in NE Bulgaria. Then due to the mild weather and lower than usual numbers of geese we ventured further north into Romania near Tulcea. Despite the low numbers of geese we still enjoyed a fantastic Eastern European spectacle as three species (Greylag, White-fronted and Red-breasted) arrived at a Steppe Lake in small flocks at sunrise. The noisy Caspian Gull colony, an adult Great Black-headed Gull and Dalmatian Pelicans were also a constant distraction.

All in all, a great short break with 100 species recorded in total including Sombre Tit, Syrian, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, 25+ Long-eared Owls, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Long-legged and Rough-legged Buzzards and many Hen Harriers.

I shall be organising a similar short break in Feb 2016 through Wise Birding Holidays - Details on website soon.

European White-fronted Geese, Romania
Red-breasted Geese and European White-fronted Geese, Romania

Greylag, RB and WF Geese, Romania

Red-breasted and European White-fronted Geese, Romania
Sunrise at the Steppe Lake, Romania

soemmerringii race Jackdaw, Romania  
White-tailed Eagle and Wind Farm, Romania

Bit of culture! Russian Church in Romanian Village

Wetland Reserve near Varna, Bulgaria

Sombre Tit, Bulgaria

Male Syrian Woodpecker, Bulgaria

Longe-eared Owl, Bulgaria

Caspian Gull, Romania

Caspian Gull Colony, Romania
Dalmatian Pelican, Romania

Great Black-headed (Pallas's) Gull, Romania

Pygmy Cormorants, Bulgaria

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

EXMOUTH: Long-tailed Duck and Brent Geese

A pleasant afternoon on Exmouth Beach......

Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Female Long-tailed Duck

Female Long-tailed Duck

Female Long-tailed Duck
Female Long-tailed Duck