Tuesday 28 February 2023

Tuesday 28th February

A quiet day for birds with the high tide leaving the Bight largely uncovered. The two juvenile Spoonbill paid another visit, initially on Finger Point, but with the low high tide not hindering feeding moved to feed in Shutterton Creek. The Linnet flock wandering Greenland Lake and Golf Course increased to at least 40. The bushes were otherwise noticeably quiet except for vocal tits in their pairs near nest boxes and single Grey Wagtail, Goldcrest and Redwing.

Wildlife News: The second bumblebee species of the year, Garden Bumblebee Bombus hortorum was near the Go-Karts.

Garden Bumblebee - Alan Keatley

Other records including a couple of 24-spot Ladybird, the click beetle Agriotes sputator, Glossy Groundbug Plinthisus brevipennis, the first Dock Bug of the year and under driftwood on Warren Point the coastal ground beetle, Harpalus latus.

Glossy Groundbug - Alan Keatley

Harpalus latus - Alan Keatley

Sunday 26 February 2023

Sunday 26th February

The first Water Pipit of the year was feeding in the Bight on the rising tide with a Scandinavian Rock Pipit also present. Also in the estuary the two juvenile Spoonbill on Finger Point and counts of 1,350 Dunlin, 778 Oystercatcher, 120 Grey and 31 Ringed Plover, 114 Bar-tailed Godwit, 88 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 39 Teal, 31 Turnstone, 29 Redshank, 22 Wigeon and five Red-breasted Merganser.

Elsewhere three Goldcrest were on site with five Shoveler on the Main Pond. 

Wildlife News: The first Tapered Dronefly Eristalis pertinax of the year was on the wing but there was little other invertebrate activity. On the more sheltered Dune Ridge the first Dune Scarab Aegialia arenarius of the year were also out, with a single Green Tortoise Beetle Cassida viridis, a new species for the Recording Area. 

Dune Scarab - Alan Keatley

Green Tortoise Beetle - Alan Keatley

Saturday 25 February 2023

Saturday 25th February

A Red-necked Grebe was off the seawall early morning with 72 Common Scoter, 12 Great Crested Grebe and six Red-breasted Merganser also present in choppy conditions. 

Elsewhere 19 Cirl Bunting and a Redwing were on site, six Chaffinch and a Rook were overhead, with counts from the estuary including 735 Oystercatcher, 206 Curlew, 131 Grey and 25 Ringed Plover, 61 Turnstone, 45 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 42 Redshank, 24 Teal, 22 Wigeon, 20 Sanderling, 19 Knot and three Greenshank.

Friday 24 February 2023

Friday 24th February

Offshore a lingering raft of 71 Common Scoter, with 17 Great Crested Grebe and a Red-breasted Merganser but no reports of any divers. Elsewhere two Green Woodpecker and a Grey Wagtail were around the Entrance Bushes with a pair of Mute Swan at the Main Pond, the male at least the regular breeding bird, also present, two pairs of Shoveler and vocal Little Grebe and Water Rail

Grey Wagtail - Alan Keatley

Wildlife News: The first flowering Lesser Celandine was further proof of the slow arrival of spring.

Lesser Celandine - Alan Keatley

Thursday 23 February 2023

Thursday 23rd February

An afternoon meeting at the Golf Club allowed for a quick low tide visit. An unexpected highlight was a new site record 21 Cirl Bunting feeding with a single male Reed Bunting on the course. Elsewhere 22 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were at Langstone Rock, 18 Common Scoter were offshore, and a look from Cockwood Steps revealed 27 Teal, eight Shelduck, two Greenshank and a Grey Wagtail

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Wednesday 22nd February

The pair of Goldeneye reappeared, having spent much of the winter nearer Topsham, also in the estuary counts included 1,100+ Dunlin, 293 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 127 Curlew, 108 Grey Plover, 70 Common Gull, 53 Bar-tailed Godwit, 19 Teal, 17 Wigeon and six Red-breasted Merganser

Elsewhere the Dartford Warbler made one of its infrequent appearances along the Back Path, eight Jackdaw flew NW and offshore 26 Common Scoter, 23 Red-throated Diver and 23 Great Crested Grebe, with three Shoveler south with two of the Common Scoter.

Dartford Warbler - Lee Collins

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Tuesday 21st February

Flat calm conditions saw a winter high 72 Great Crested Grebe off the seawall along with six Red-throated and four Great Northern Diver, 16 Red-breasted Merganser, also a winter peak, and 12 Common Scoter.

Elsewhere a Chiffchaff was in song in the Entrance Bushes, Blue and Great Tit were squabbling over nest boxes and five Shoveler were on the Main Pond. Counts from the estuary included 1,050 Dunlin, 182 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 131 Common Gull, 126 Grey and 19 Ringed Plover, 112 Curlew, 101 Bar-tailed Godwit, 34 Teal, 20 Turnstone and 12 Wigeon.

Blue Tit - Alan Keatley

Wildlife News: Few invertebrates about in the dull conditions but that didn't stop another first for the Recording Area being found, a European Chinchbug Ischnodemus sabuleti.

European Chichbug - Alan Keatley

Sunday 19 February 2023

Sunday 19th February

The first Yellow-legged Gull of the year, an adult, was on Bull Hill on the dropping tide with counts from the estuary including 269 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 242 Curlew, 118 Common Gull, 114 Bar-tailed Godwit, 68 Redshank, 28 Wigeon, 16 Sanderling, two Greenshank and an Avocet

Overhead the second Buzzard of the year, along with seven Rook, seven Jackdaw and two Chaffinch, with a singing Chiffchaff and six Shoveler around the Main Pond. Offshore calm conditions saw 59 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver, 11 Red-breasted Merganser, four Common Scoter and a Razorbill.

Wildlife News: A Peacock became the second species and second sight of butterfly for the year with at least one Harbour Porpoise offshore.

Saturday 18 February 2023

Saturday 18th February

Counts from the estuary included the two Avocet with 250 Curlew, 216 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 57 Turnstone, 56 Redshank, 38 Wigeon, 26 Sanderling and eight Black-tailed Godwit, the highest count this year. Also present 200 Common and a Mediterranean Gull with five Lesser Black-backed Gull including a continental intermedius bird.

Offshore 54 Great Crested Grebe, 45 Kittiwake, eight Red-throated Diver, five Red-breasted Merganser and three Common Scoter whilst 31 Linnet were on site with a pair of Bullfinch and single Redwing, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Grey Wagtail and Sparrowhawk. At the Main Pond three Shoveler and two pairs of Little Grebe.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Thursday 16th February

A quick low tide visit saw 65 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the mudflats, 21 Great Crested Grebe offshore and three Shoveler on the Main Pond. In Greenland Lake, 25 Meadow Pipit were a welcome sign of the advancing season, backed up by many resident species now in song.

Linnet - Alan Keatley

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Tuesday 14th February

A visit on the dropping tide saw just 470 Dunlin feeding on the mudflats, the remainder having already departed to feeding areas further upriver, also present the two immature Spoonbill, 182 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 84 Common Gull, 47 Teal, 37 Wigeon, two Avocet and a Greenshank.

Elsewhere the two Eider and a Red-throated Diver were offshore and seven Shoveler were on the Main Pond.

Wildlife News: The rise in temperature together with a sunny afternoon prompted an increase in insect activity with two very early solitary bees - a Yellow-legged Mining Bee Andrena flavipes and a Furry-claspered Furrow Bee Lasioglossum lativentre sharing the one and only Dandelion in flower at Langstone Rock. February records are not unprecedented and are increasing as the climate changes. 

Yellow-legged Mining Bee - Alan Keatley

Other species emerging for the first time this year included 24-spot Ladybird, the ground bug Peritrechus geniculatus, Lined Froghopper Neophilaenus lineatus and the weevil Trichosirocalus troglodytes.

Lined Froghopper - Alan Keatley

Trichosirocalus troglodytes - Alan Keatley

Sunday 12 February 2023

Sunday 12th February

WeBS count day for the Exe, so numbers were much reduced from yesterday with 56 Redshank, 28 Sanderling, five Greenshank and single Golden Plover and Black-tailed Godwit the more notable additions, along with the two immature Spoonbill again on Finger Point, but there was no sign of yesterday's bird. Other counts included 2,400 Dunlin (post WeBS), 196 Grey Plover, 185 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 118 Curlew, 70 Knot, 66 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Ringed Plover, 42 Teal, 37 Wigeon, four Red-breasted Merganser, two Avocet and a Peregrine.

Elsewhere much reduced numbers offshore with 14 Great Crested Grebe, nine Common Scoter, five Red-throated and four Great Northern Diver, two Redwing and two Goldcrest were in the bushes and the Shoveler count on the Main Pond climbed to nine, with five male and four female.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Saturday 11th February

A grey, overcast day but at least the fog was gone by first light. The sea was like a millpond and for once there was some good feeding offshore with hundreds of birds present across the bay. The highlight was a Red-necked Grebe moulting into breeding plumage, arriving with a winter high count of 52 Great Crested Grebe. Also present at least 585 Razorbill, with two Guillemot, 58 Common Scoter, 12 Red-throated and five Great Northern Diver, six Red-breasted Merganser and the two Eider

Spoonbill - Lee Collins

In the estuary a Spoonbill roosted around the Bight at high tide until being flushed by two circling paragliders, these also kept the waders airborne with many settling on the estuary wall north of Cockwood. Counts on the dropping tide included 2,290 Dunlin, 193 Grey Plover, 169 Bar-tailed Godwit, 145 Curlew, 89 Knot, 53 Teal, 42 Ringed Plover, an increase, 38 Wigeon, 37 Redshank, 23 Turnstone, 13 Sanderling, three Greenshank and two Avocet. Disturbance further upriver flushed 358 Dark-bellied Brent Geese from Oak Meadow, Starcross into the Recording Area, within the flock 63 juveniles, showing good overwinter survival.

Elsewhere five Rook overhead and two male Stonechat in Greenland Lake were signs of spring with 10 Cirl Bunting, three Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff on site.

Wildlife News: At least three Harbour Porpoise and a Common Seal were offshore with a Grey Seal in the estuary. Invertebrates remained well hidden with a few rove beetles and springtails recorded as well as the pseudoscorpion Moss Neobisiid Neobisium carcinoides, the second site record.

Moss Neobisiid Neobisium carcinoides - Alan Keatley

Thursday 9 February 2023

Thursday 9th February

The first Red Kite of the year, the earliest ever, flew west over Warren Point just after 1pm, the late morning start missed the high tide waders, but the two Spoonbill back on Finger Point were more tardy, waiting till mid tide before departing north.

Spoonbill - Dean Hall

Elsewhere 93 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were feeding on the beach, a Red-throated Diver and 17 Great Crested Grebe were offshore, three Snipe were in Greenland Lake and three Shoveler and a Chiffchaff were at the Main Pond.

Chiffchaff - Elizabeth Mulgrew

Green Woodpecker - Dean Hall

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Wednesday 8th February

The first Short-eared Owl of the year was on Warren Point, with four Shoveler, three males and a female, at the Main Pond.

Shoveler (female) - Elizabeth Mulgrew

Mallard - Elizabeth Mulgrew

Wildlife News: The first Wood (aka Long-tailed Field) Mouse of the year was watched feeding on the nectar-rich Gorse blossom in the afternoon sun.

Wood Mouse - Elizabeth Mulgrew

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Tuesday 7th February

A day of two halves with dense freezing fog most of the morning, clearing to a bright sunny, if not warm, afternoon. By the time the fog had lifted the tide had gone out, so it was not possible to make any meaningful estuary counts although at least one Greenshank was particularly vocal.

Elsewhere 105 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were feeding on the beach at low tide, 19 Great Crested Grebe were offshore, four Shoveler were on the Main Pond and in Greenland Lake, 16 Skylark, three Redwing and a Snipe.

Wildlife News: Insects were more active than of late in the sunshine, with the first butterfly of the year on the wing, a Red Admiral. Other species new for the year included Seven-spot and Pine Ladybird, several Gorse Shieldbug, a Sea-spurrey weevil Hypera arator and new for the Recording Area, the rove beetle Actocharis readingii. This minute, flightless species, (less than 2mm) is confined to coastal areas of the south west so its presence here has presumably been long-overlooked.

Hypera arator - Alan Keatley

Gorse Shieldbug - Alan Keatley

Pine Ladybird - Alan Keatley

Sunday 5 February 2023

Sunday 5th February

The Dartford Warbler reappeared by the Visitor Centre briefly with 11 Skylark and single Redwing, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk on site, four Teal, three Shoveler and two Little Grebe on the Main Pond and three Red-throated Diver and the two Eider offshore.

Skylark - Elizabeth Mulgrew

Saturday 4 February 2023

Saturday 4th February

Offshore first thing a roosting flock of just 11 Red-breasted Merganser, this winter's peak count (cf. 204 in Dec 2000), also present five Red-throated and three Great Northern Diver, 36 Great Crested Grebe (cf. 132 in Jan 2018), five Common Scoter and the two immature male Eider.

Elsewhere 143 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 32 Wigeon and a Greenshank were in the estuary at low tide, with 319 Black-headed, 70 Common and a Mediterranean Gull. In the bushes three Great Spotted and a Green Woodpecker, three Goldcrest, two Redwing and a Chiffchaff, with two male Shoveler on the Main Pond.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Thursday 2nd February

A low tide visit saw 99 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the mudflats with another 28 feeding at Langstone Rock with a Greenshank in the estuary and offshore a mobile flock of 61 Common Scoter, 15 Great Crested Grebe and three Red-throated Diver.

Elsewhere four Shoveler were on the Main Pond with 15 Greenfinch, 12 Long-tailed Tit and 10 Redwing in the Entrance Bushes and a flock of 51 Goldfinch west overhead.

Oystercatcher - Alan Keatley