[Simon Thurgood Images] [Simon Thurgood Images]


25 February 2019

All over the place

This last 5 days Ive been all over the place, taking advantage of visiting family, friends and just getting in the car and getting out in this glorious weather.

On Thursday I was close to South Wales and noticed there was a long staying Red-rumped Swallow at Cym Ivy which is on the stunning North Coast of Gower. I had seen several of these birds before but never close enough to get a picture, several pics already taken close up, so only being up the road I took a chance. I arrived mid morning to find the bird flying around the Marshes, sadly at a distance, this was also its last fly around before moving off. Some of the locals there said yesterday it was flying above there heads and put on a good show, typically not while I was there!

I did though was very lucky to see not only several butterflies that were out in the warm weather but Dragonflies! These were Migrant Emperors, a first for me but again I couldn't get near enough to take a pic because of the Marsh, a local one was seen on the beach earlier. These had come up on the Southerly Winds from Africa, Brilliant to see and a first for me!

Saturday I was on Dartmoor, parked up at Trendlebere and did a circular walk around Yarner.

Plenty to see with Redpol, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Marsh, Blue, Coal, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Siskin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Woodpigeon, Raven, Jackdaw, Magpie, Mallard, Buzzard, Great-spotted and Lesser-spotted Woodpecker.

Sunday found me walking around Exminster Marshes, my first Swallow which was hawking over the ditches, great to see, also Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Brent,Greylag and the Snow goose, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Peregrine falcon, Buzzard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, the explosive call of the Cettis Warbler, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Skylarks in full song, Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Pied Wagtail.

At Turf the tide had just turned and on the way out showing a bit of mud with Avocet, Redshank, Godwits, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Black-headed, Great-black Backed and Herring Gulls, Teal, Little Egret, Cormorant and the electric blue flash of a Kingfisher flying by.

Today I spent some time at Stuart Marshes as I was passing, main target was the long staying Short-eared Owl, the bird was found up the road from the main car park sat in the field. Plenty of cameras about waiting for it to land on a fence but I wanted something different and got one of it sat on the ground enjoying the sun. Beautiful looking bird and a big thank you to the locals who pointed me in the right direction.

Did see plenty of Butterflies with a few Brimstone and singles of Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Red Admiral, also saw a huge Buff-tailed Bumble Bee at Turf.

Had a great couple of days and met lots of humans, many of them were great company and very supportive, helpful and very funny. Met lots of families out enjoying themselves, dog walkers, runners, cyclists all sorts! But also met a couple of morons, a well known Devon Elite Birder, so far up his own arse its unreal, he has always looked down on me as I am unworthy but thats his loss, and another twat is a Photographer with "all the gear but no idea" who had zero field craft. Still far more great humans than bad.

19 February 2019

East Devon

Spent the morning in and around Aylesbere Common, when I first got there it was very quiet and my first circuit was bird less! Dont know why but just after I started my second I noticed bird song especially towards the wooded area and as I walked towards it, Stonechats started to appear then the main prize Dartford Warblers!

One single Male then three birds, 2x Male trying to attract a female, talk about luck, just couldn't get them into one pic focused.

Also had fly over Buzzard, Wood Pigeon and Carrion Crow. Also saw Greenfinch, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird and robin.

Then off for the afternoon at Seaton Wetlands, it being half term the car park was full of cars, mainly Grandparents doing the childcare. There was also activities going on at the activity center, passed a few proud children with their freshly made Nest Boxes.

Bird wise it was very quiet, especially on the Lagoon with just some Shelduck and the odd Teal. On the River there was 200+ Gulls of all ages with Black-headed, Lesser and Greater-black Backed and Herring Gulls, Carrion Crows, Mallard, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Curlew and Cormorant.

Around the hedges and feeders there was Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Great and Blue Tits, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.

Met lots of nice humans today, great to see so many happy kids out in the fresh air!

17 February 2019

Torbay Boat Trip

Went out on the last of the winter trips organised by Nigel S on the "Optimist" skippered by Nigel L.

A bit choppy so didn't get around Berry Head, also there was quite a bit of disturbance from the Gigs that seemed to be everywhere!

Still saw quite a bit around the Habour, the cliffs and on the water with Mute Swan, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Shag, Gannet, Gillimot, Great-black Backed, Herring, Black-headed and Common Gull, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Pied Wagtail, Jackdaw and 3 Peregrines.

The only Grebes we saw where 2 Red -necked which was a surprise, no Divers ether. No Dolphins or Porpoise but double figures of Seals.

The Human company was great as always

16 February 2019

Out and About

On Thursday I visited a couple of places on Dartmoor I haven't been for a while, first stop was Emsworthy Mire, there didn't look much from a distance, I just went down to the barn and the fields next to it. One thing that was noticeable the amount of singing male Chaffinches, they where everywhere! Also Magpie, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Great Tit, Wood pigeon and a couple of fly-over Fieldfare, they must be on the move.

Then through the lanes to Soussons, I did a circular walk hoping to see some Crossbills but where unlucky, other birders said they had seen some flying but I was unable to locate them. There was a lot of bird song in the sunny weather but only saw a couple of Blue, Great and Coal Tits, A rather noisy Buzzard soaring over head and a couple of Ravens.

Around the roads, hedges and farm buildings I saw Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Skylark, Magpie, Blackbird, Robin and Jackdaw.

On Friday I went for a circular walk around Exminster Marshes. plenty to see with a group of 3 Buzzards soaring, Peregrine on sat on a pylon waiting for lunch, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Greylag, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Pintail, Pochard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Great and Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Skylark, Starling, Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow and Pheasant.

At Turf the tide was coming in and the waders were on the move, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Red and Greenshank, Curlew, Godwit, Avocet, Shelduck, Cormorant, Brent Geese, Herring and Black-headed Gulls and a electric blue flash of a Kingfisher.

Met lots of nice humans of all shapes and sizes doing all sorts of stuff, great to be out in the sun!

13 February 2019


Last minute decision to go to Somerset on Monday, the weather was good, clear but cold.

I normally visit Greylake on my way home but started here as I wanted to visit Tedham Moor late to see the reported Short Eared Owls which had been regularly seen here.

From the hide at Greylake stunning close up views of 1000+ Ducks and Waders, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Pintail, Gadwall, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits, Moorhen and Coot which were regularly put up by fly over Marsh Harrier and Peregrine.

Also seen around the reserve and car park were Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Starling, Great and Blue Tit,Chaffinch, Blackbird,Lapwing, Mute Swan, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Cettis Warbler, Magpie and Carrion Crow.

Then on to Cattcot Lows, plenty of water here and ducks such as Tufted Duck, Pintail, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Great White Egret, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Magpie, Carrion Crow and Starling.

Stopped for a Bacon Bap at the Avalon Center and very nice too!

Parked up at the entrance to Shapwick and walked to Decoy Hide, found plenty to see, several sightings of Marsh Harrier,sadly too distant for any decent pics, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Cettis Warbler, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Coot, Moorhen, Great-crested Grebe, Pochard, Mallard, Tufted duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Great-white Egret and fly-over Lapwing.

Final stop Tedham Moor , when I arrived at 3.15 all the gate entrances and pull ins had cars parked in them with birders and photographers out with scopes and cameras. All the ditches were flooded with water and plenty of the fields were water logged, lots of Gulls and Lapwing, Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Great White Egrets, Mallard, Fieldfare, Buzzard, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Starling, Robin and a distant SEO on a fence post, I've seen quite a few this year but all distant, still great to watch them fly over the ground.

Had a great day and met some very friendly humans as always in Somerset.

10 February 2019

Weekends Birding

Had a great weekend and managed to gets some time out around the River Exe and the surrounding countryside.

Started off at Cockwood Steps, looking out there was very little to see on a calm river even though there was a bit of a wind, only a couple of Cormorants on the wreck and the odd Black-headed Gull. The Harbour at Cockwood was full of water but no birds, but there was in the pond and field by the side of the bridge with Grey Heron, Canada Geese, Mallard and a Little Egret.

As I passed bye Starcross Golf Course there was a large flock of Brent Geese flying in to join the Curlew, Oystercatchers and Canada Geese already on the field.

In a flooded field just past Starcross opposite to the road entrance that goes parallel to the Exe there was 200+ Gulls, mostly Herring abut a few Black-headed as well as about 20 Curlew. Around Powderham itself there was Mallard and Canada Geese in the flooded River Kenn and Robin, Dunnock, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Wren and Chaffinch. Plenty of Shelducks in the lake in front of the Castle.

On the road between Powderham Church and Exminster Marshes there was plenty of Rooks, Pheasants, Wood Pigeons and Buzzards. On this road there are a few fields with cattle and sheep feeding on catch crops, these in turn are churning the ground up, plenty of Gulls here with several Little Egrets and these fields will be worth keeping an eye on as they have a history of Cattle Egrets over the years.

On to Exminster Marshes, parked up in the RSPB car park and walked to Turf by the back path and back to the car by the road.

Plenty to see around the reserve with Canada, Brent, Greylag and Snow Goose, another birder saw some Barnical but I was unable to locate them. Ducks were good numbers with Mallard, Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail and Gadwall. I saw Dave B who said there was a Pochard on the lagoon. Plenty of Curlew, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Kestrel, Starling, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Blackbird, Stonechat, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Rook, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw.

At Turf the tide was now out and it was great to sit down on one of the benches and enjoy the show, loads of Waders, large group of Golden Plover on the mud flats between Turf and Limpstone, also Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Red and Green Shanks, Teal, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Little Egret, Cormorant and Brent Geese on show.

Today I made a trip to Matford Marsh while I was passing, 100+ Gulls, mostly Herring but a few Black-headed Gulls in the mix with Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted and Teal. Coot, Little Egret, Carrion Crow, Blue and Great Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Magpie and Woodpigeon on show.

Great to see Dave B on the Marshes, very few other humans about to my surprise.

08 February 2019


Spent parts of this week on Dartmoor, with the weather being very changeable didn't walk very far but managed to drive around and visit a few places such as Yarner and Dunsford woods. Drove up on to the moor close to Sousoons, Challacombe, Two Bridges and Princetown.

Great to see the Wild Daffodils at Dunsford woods as well as Goosander and Dipper. The usual woodland birds at both woodland sites, lots of Tits at Yarner on the feeders with Marsh, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. Also Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Nuthatch, Wood pigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Raven seen. The only evidence of Woodpeckers in the two woods was surprisingly the call of a Green Woodpecker at Dunsford, nothing else seen or heard.

Around the Moor plenty of wind and very little flying, saw a few Buzzards but all sat on fence posts out of the wind, plenty of Corvids especially Rooks on fields but also saw Raven, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw. Around Soussons saw a few Jay and Magpie. Apart from a couple of Mistle Thrush everything else was keeping there heads down.

Nice to bump into Tom W at Dunsford and chew the cud

03 February 2019

Great weekend

A great weekend which really started Friday evening watching Wales beat France, some Guinness and a pub band!

Since turning 60 I got myself a Senior Railcard which entitles me to a third off so instead of driving to Topsham I decided to go by train, it costing me now only 3.70 it was a no brainer. So I caught the 8.46 from Dawlish which was busier than I thought it would be for a Saturday morning, the train gives everything a different perspective as you are higher than normal, you can see over hedges and further over the estuary. I could see so many birds both on the estuary and on the fields, lots of Geese everywhere, Canada and Brent, lots of Ducks and Waders on the Estuary, little Egrets on ponds you pass that you can't see from the path, especially by Turf, other waders in the flood plain away from human disturbance.

When I got into Topsham I left the station to go to the Recreation Ground, the sun was up and the birds where on the roofs, chimneys and other prominent places lapping up the sun singing their hearts out, House Sparrows, Robin, Blackbird and Starling with the odd Collard Dove.

Around the Rec there was Dunnock, Blue and Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Magpie and a flock over 13 Redwing flew over. On the River there was loads of Gulls with Black-headed, Great-black Backed and Herring Gulls, Teal, Mallard, Little Egret, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Godwits, Ringed Plover, Cormorant and Mute Swan.

At the Goat Walk plenty of mud on show as the tide was out, large numbers of Avocet working their way across the mud with Redshank and the odd Godwit, on the water's edge you could see Shelduck and Teal with Red-breasted Mergansers and Cormorants in the water. Plenty of Gulls especially Black-headed Gulls.

Then on to the viewing platform, the tide being out there was very little to see except a lone Avocet and a couple of Redshank on the water's edge. But in the field next door there was 8 Fieldfare that were unusually tolerant of humans, normally they fly off when I see them on Dartmoor but these just carried on. Hundreds of Geese flew over, Canada and Brent Geese, Greylags where in the Hide Field. The water in front of the hide was frozen so all the birds were on the edges, some smart looking Ducks with Mallard, Tufted, Shoveler, Widgeon, Teal, Gadwall, Pintail and Shelduck. Plenty of Lapwing and singles of Green and Red shank, couple of Godwits and Curlew, as the tide was out most birds were on the estuary. Moorhen, Coot and a Water Rail, around the hedges there weren't that many birds, House Sparrow, Robin, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tits, Blackbird and the sound of a Great-spotted Woodpecker drumming away.

Goosemoor was empty of water and birds except a lone Curlew, the Creek had more with Little Grebe, Little Egret, Redshank, Godwit, Teal, Cormorant and Black-headed Gull. Along the cycle track there was Robin, Dunnock, Great and Blue Tits, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Woodpigeon and a fly over Buzzard.

Stopped for some Chips at Darts Farm before having a look at the "Wetlands and Bird Hide", on route found some more Fieldfare and Redwings in the field by track, also Mute Swan, Little Egret, Rooks and Black-headed Gulls. From the hide I could see Mallard, Teal, Lapwing, Canada Geese, Coot, Moorhen, Widgeon, Godwits, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rooks and fly over Stock Dove and Woodpigeon.

Along from Darts Farm to the Train station at Topsham plenty of Brent and Canada Geese in the fields with Mute swan, Curlew, Widgeon, Little Egret and Godwits.

Onto the train and a pleasant journey home, saw 3 Foxes, one just past the station sunning itself on a bank and the other two close to Turf. Met lots of humans today and it's been a very pleasant experience!

Today Sunday started early scraping the ice off my car as I was off with Nigel S on a boat trip around Torbay to see what was about, great to meet up with everybody, skipper Nigel L, Nigel S, Kevin B, Paul T, George and Les, plus a couple of other nice people whose names I can't remember, sorry old age!

Cold but sunny, the water was calm so off we went, loads of grey Seals on the pontoons, counted 22 total on trip but probably a lot more, as we were leaving the harbour the shout went up for Dolphins, they were everywhere, lots of small pods from the Harbour to Berry Head and across the bay, a conservative figure would be 100 Common Dolphin but could have been more, they put on quite a show. It's such a lift to see these beautiful creatures, worth getting up for these alone!

Plenty of birds about and some quality as well as quantity with 2 Black-necked Grebes, Red-necked Grebe, 2 Great-northern Diver, 15 Great-crested Grebes, 1 Scooter, 5 Purple Sandpipers, Grey Heron, Shag, Cormorant, Gannet, Kittiwake, Common Gull, Fulmar, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great-black Backed Gull, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Razorbill as well as 700+ Guillemot seen crammed on the cliffs as well as on rafts across the bay. Also seen Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw, Carrion row, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow and Robin.

Such a brilliant trip!

On the way home popped into Labrador Bay, it was a bit quiet on the bird front but still managed to see Robin, Dunnock, Great and Blue Tit, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Cirl Bunting and my first singing Skylark of 2019, just a brilliant sound!

Home for tea and cake!

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