Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Nocmig Scoters and Godwits

Nice to get some Common Scoters and Bar-tailed Godwits migrating over the house a few days ago. I particularly like the Tawny Owl in the background to add to the mood!

Both species were recorded during the early hours of the 17th April.

Common Scoter at around 01.42hrs and Bar-tailed Godwit at around 02.30hrs

Tuesday, 18 April 2023

Night Heron

Found this adult Black-crowned Night Heron on the lake at the Bicton Park Botanical Gardens yesterday! No sign today despite two visits in and around the grounds of the Botanical Gardens, but I will try again.....

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens
Adult Black-crowned Night Heron, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens

Saturday, 8 April 2023

More Lesser Yellowlegs

Great to see the Lesser Yellowlegs still remain on the patch for its third day today and it even came a little closer for a brief time. Other notable species on site included 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Green Sandpipers, 1 Grey Plover, 8 Tufted Duck and 3 Gadwall.

Grey Plover

Black-tailed Godwit and Shelducks

Cormorants and Grey Heron

Thursday, 6 April 2023

Lesser Yellowlegs

Since returning home from Uganda on Monday, I have been checking the LORP patch twice a day as the new habitat looks so good at the moment! Since Monday I have seen a number of waders including 2 Green Sandpipers, Grey Plover and Greenshank which are all good birds for here and then late tonight, a completely unexpected surprise was finding this fine adult Lesser Yellowlegs! It has almost fully moulted into breeding plumage. 

The only other LYL I have found in the UK was also in Spring, on the island of Berneray in the Western Isles in May 2018 and accepted as a different bird to the one on Vatersay.

You cannot beat finding a bird on the home patch though - Happy Days!

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Another Glaucous Gull

The patch is having a great run at the moment! The Garganey was still present this morning and then on my walk back, I noticed a 2nd Cal year Glaucous Gull loafing with other large gulls just north of Lime Kiln car park. It was in the same area as the bird I found on the 13th March. However,  I soon realised that it was much darker than that bird and more heavily chequered on the wing coverts, so it is actually a different bird! 

I am pretty sure it has to be the bird first seen at Topsham on 26th Feb by Martin Elcoate and then on the Exe Estuary on the 6th March (see Derek Carter's photo below). It may also possibly be the same bird seen in Torbay by Mark Bailey and Mark Darlaston on 9th March, but photos not good enough to confirm.

 It just goes to show the huge turnover of gulls at this time of year.......

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 16th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 13th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 16th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 13th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 16th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 13th March LORP

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull form Exe Estuary 6th March. 
Screengrab of Derek Carter's Photo on Twitter

2nd Cal Year Glaucous Gull 16th March LORP

Drake Garganey 16th March LORP

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

More Garganey

Nice to see the sunshine yesterday! The Garganey, now present for its 6th day even flew around to show off its beautiful wing pattern too.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Glaucous Gull

LORP continues to produce the birds with a lovely 2nd Cal year Glaucous Gull today. This is actually only the 4th Glaucos Gull that I have found on the patch, so always a treat!

The previous birds were:

16th April 2011 & summered until Oct:

9th April 2018:

29th March 2021:


Saturday, 11 March 2023

More Garganey

Managed to get closer views of the drake Garganey this afternoon. Pleased to see the Bailey family out in force on site today! Also great to see the soon to be new Ranger of the area, Rick. Highlight birds today included 1 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, 5+ Water Pipits, Goosander and the drake Gadwall still.

Drake Garganey

Drake Garganey

Drake Garganey

Black-tailed Godwits and Water Pipit


Friday, 10 March 2023

LORP continues to impress

The Lower Otter Restoration Project (LORP) work is coming to an end this year and the creation of new habitat is getting more exciting by the day. Just in the last few days I have seen 10 Water Pipits, 6 Avocets and best of all a lovely drake Garganey today (9th March)!

The site seems to be continually breaking records with numbers of species that I have never seen in 13 years of birding the site. Thanks to a call from the local Ecologist Mark Wills, I managed to see the 6 Avocets yesterday evening. A very scarce bird here and my previous high count was just 2 birds. Earlier in the winter, (Jan) I recorded over 90 Black-tailed Godwits when previously a count of up to 10 birds was unusual! The site has always been good for Water Pipits and it is now the 4th consecutive winter period that I’ve recorded double figures with peak counts in December and March. However, finding today’s Garganey was a real treat as the last bird I saw here was as far back as September 2013, a female/imm bird I found on the estuary. The only other birds I’ve seen here were in March 2010, a drake found by Clive, followed by 2 females the next day. 

Other notable birds for the site over the last few days have included 2 Green Sandpipers (never regular previously), a drake Gadwall (very scarce), a pair of Pintail and Greenshank.

I am very much looking forward to what else this new habitat brings…….

Drake Garganey and Teal

Six Avocets. A record count for the Otter
Drake Garganey and Teal

Nine Black-tailed Godwits

Sunday, 8 January 2023

New Year 2023 Patch Listing

Helen and I decided to postpone our traditional New Year’s Day listing until the 2nd Jan with better weather. We walked from home, covered 16 miles and recorded 82 sp all on foot and 2 more than last year!

Highlights included Firecrest, Cirl Bunting, Dartford Warbler and, 2 Coot on the Otter! Glaring omissions included Raven, Kestrel and Tawny Owl whilst other hoped for species not seen included Nuthatch, Jay, Kingfisher, Dipper and Woodcock.