Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Staying Local: freezing cold!

I have been birding the patch pretty much daily during recent weeks and the last few days have become very cold! It is due to the biting NE wind which is part of a national cold front that has resulted in much snow in the east of England and much of Scotland. The scrapes, adjacent to the estuary, are all frozen and day temperatures have been hovering just above freezing but in the wind it feels like -7C! Today saw the first real sign of any cold weather movement with a lone Avocet on the estuary and perhaps more surprisingly, a count of 85 Dunlin which is huge for the estuary! 

The Cattle Egret that I first discovered on the 4th Feb is still roosting on the River or Estuary.
Other highlights over the last couple of weeks have included a single drake Pintail, up to 10 Shoveler, 29 Brent Geese and 9 Stock Dove. Also a female colour-ringed Wigeon that has been returning since it was first ringed in Nov 2016.

Finally, earlier in the week I took a different route and cycled over to Exmouth where I was lucky to see the Northern Mockingbird late in the day with just one other local birder there watching it. 
I always consider myself to be very fortunate where I live, and during this difficult time of restricted travel I am exceedingly lucky to live so close to Exmouth! Great to see the local residents have also embraced the rare avian visitor and have put up an NHS donation bucket for local visiting birders.

The Otter Estuary looking towards Otter Head

The Wigeon flock has been a minimum of 230+ birds

Colour-ringed Female Wigeon AJ although the ring is very degraded.
First ringed here in 2016  and  last reported in Oct 2020 after an absence of a couple of winters. Sadly, one of the male CR birds on the Otter was shot 5,551 km east in Khanty-Mansi on the Ob river, in Russia on 30.05.2018. He was last seen on the Otter on 14.3.18 RIP.🙁
Many thanks to Peter Bennett for this info.

Shoveler numbers have peaked at 10 birds on the scrapes

A single drake Pintail has been present on the scrapes for the last couple of weeks


One of the fock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese ranging between 24 - 29 birds

Avocet is still a very scarce bird on the estuary

Part of today's mega flock of 85 Dunlin!


This Cattle Egret I first discovered on the River Otter on the 4th Feb
Cattle Egret, River Otter

Northern Mockingbird, Exmouth.
A truly amazing discovery of this North American passerine, found by the owner of the
 garden whilst carrying out the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch!

Brilliant to see one of the local residents had put up this donation bucket for the NHS 👍

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