Friday, May 22, 2020

Slowing Down

View from Kingsdon Hill, Colyton towards the Axe estuary (Copyright T D Wright)
Painted Lady, Colyton 21/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)
Red Kite, Colyton 20/05/2020 (Copyright TD Wright)

    Well, May often starts well but quickly slows down around here and lockdown has not altered that. I still managed a couple of waders on a rare visit to BHM on Saturday 16th. Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers were both present and 4 Curlew outnumbered the 2 Whimbrel for a change.
     A lone Red Kite brightened up my exercise walk to Colyton Hill on 20th. The next day, I saw my first Painted Lady of the Spring. Not much to report then but May can often have a sting in the tail!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Coly Update

Dippers 12/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)

Dipper 12/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)
Common Whitethroat (Copyright T D Wright)

      Being concerned about our Coly birds after the recent pollution incident I took a stroll along it yesterday. It was great to see things looking more normal for mid-May with fledgling Dippers being fed by adults and other riverine birds about. Some Mayflies were on the wing but I didn't see any Demoiselles or Damselflies. Lots of Sand Martins still although I'm not sure if they are breeding birds. I will try to keep an eye on things and hope that some of you will let me know if anything comes to light regarding the river's condition and its wild inhabitants' welfare.
      Colyton Hill was disappointing today but there were birds about yesterday on the upper Axe. A showy Common Whitethroat was nice but star bird was a Turtle Dove settled in a ploughed field. I've had a few of these near Colyton before but they are getting rarer these days so who knows if we will still have them in the future? Mike Blaver found this one so well done to him on turning up so many birds on his exercise walks during lockdown. Let's hope he doesn't now start driving more and therefore misses all the birds!
Turtle Dove 12/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Kites, Hobbies, Worms and Flycatchers

Red Kite, Colyton Hill, 09/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)
Spotted Flycatcher, Colyton Hill 07/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)

Slow Worm, Colyton, 09/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)

     Well, Cownhayne was good for a while with another Whinchat on 3rd with Lesser Whitethroat, Swifts and myriad hirundines. On 5th, BHM held 2 Ringed Plover, 9 Dunlin, 7 Whimbrel and 2 Curlew. The Bar-tailed Godwit from 2nd was still present on the estuary.
     On 7th, a walk to Jobble's Lane produced my first Spotted Flycatcher of 2020 on Colyton Hill. The 9th was very warm and sunny and several Slow Worms were out on the tarmac around Colyton. As I climbed higher past Whitwell Lane I saw my first Red Kite of the year thermalling towards Colyton Hill. At last! Then, like Red London Buses they piled through en masse and I soon had double figures. Within an hour I counted 11 but just as suddenly as they started, they dried up. 7 Common Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and 2 Sparrowhawks added to the raptor count but I had to wait until Sunday to see my first Hobby from Colyton picnic site. Today (11th) I got more glimpses of Hobby from Clay Lane but how many are there? People from Rousdon to Southleigh and North to Axminster have also been reporting Hobbies as they pass through our neighbourhood so when that settles down we might work out if they are breeding this year. Stay ALERT, everyone!
Whinchat, Cownhayne 03/05/2020 (Copyright T D Wright)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull 1stWinter, Axe Estuary, 30/04/2020 (Copyright TD Wright)

        Well, my Lockdown Luck hasn't been too bad really. Even though I found out from 'Magic' Mike Blaver that I'd missed out on a pair of Garganey, I wasn't too bothered as I've seen plenty of them in our area previously. Steve's cracking female Ruff was showing really well last evening so I thought I'd probably have to settle for that. However, I did that thing of saying "Right, I'm leaving" but then having one last look at the estuary. One final scan. Corblimey luvverduck a blinking whitewinger plopped in amongst the bathing gulls by Coronation Corner! Immediately an Iceland Gull immature, it later became a first-winter when I checked my hastily grabbed video and pictures. The bill is the most obvious pointer to that, along with the darkish eye. Anyhow, see for yourself...
      The other video I took is too long so needs to be cropped for Blogger! If I can be bloggered. Anyway, try another still...
Iceland Gull 1stWinter, Axe Estuary, 30/04/2020 (Copyright TD Wright)
      Incredibly, Steve Waite managed to see the bird without leaving his house! I'd put it out straight away on WhatsApp but nobody came down for it. I suppose they had all used their daily exercise and couldn't. I was glad to hear that at least one Seaton birder had seen it, albeit at some distance. It flew North, which makes me think that it might turn up at Torr or Chew next. Sorry I couldn't make it stay for everyone but you've all seen whitewingers here before and will again. At least it wasn't an even rarer gull species!
     As for other birds since my last update, Tuesday 28th was rain-blessed with waders and I was lucky to see 2 Grey Plovers with the 40-strong Dunlin flock. Also female Barwit, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 LRP and 11 Whimbrel. My second Swift of the year was with a massive throng of 3 hirundine species and along Cownhayne 4 Wheatears still remained. An amazing number of House Martins on this day included 50+ over Colyton WTW and 50+ on wires at Cownhayne farm simultaneously. Brilliant to see!
     I would say that May has been thrown down the gauntlet by a decent April. With all Whitford, Seaton, Beer and Coly Birders still confined to local 'exercising', what else will lockdown bring?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Kitchen Sink Birding

Wheatear, Colyton, 26/04/2020 (Copyright TD Wright)

Today was one of the best days of lockdown! I saw some blogworthy birds without leaving the flat; from my kitchen window, no less! I heard a major kerfuffle from the gulls but could only see Common Buzzards, albeit 12 of them, in a large kettle rising to the west of Colyton. Lots of gulls and corvids with them so maybe there had been some good feeding opportunity over there. Flying through my binocular view were several House Martins which was great as over Bridge Marsh yesterday the swarm of Sand Martins and Swallows didn't contain any House Martins.
    Incredibly, the best bird of all was closer than all of these. I've seen Black Redstart on the Colyton rooftops before but this was my first ever 'urban' Colyton Wheatear! It performed alongside the House Sparrows and Goldfinches for half an hour. Very nice.
      Belated News From Last Sunday (19th) - I saw a distant raptor last week which I couldn't make up my mind about. I only have poor pics but here's a couple of them to peruse if you have the inclination. I just thought the jizz of this bird was not like the usual Buzzards. Therefore it could have been something unusual but I couldn't even string it as anything definite. If anybody wants to comment on it, feel free...
Raptor species, near Colyton 19/04/2020

Raptor species, near Colyton 19/04/2020 (Copyright TD Wright)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Poverty Lockdown!

    I have to say it's nice to see everyone else experiencing the same restrictions as me for a while. For three years or more I've been restricted in my movements by lack of money and no car. I've also tried to socially distance myself from people with coughs for years as I know that, as a zero-hours worker, I will not get sick pay if I can't work due to illness. To be honest, I'm doing many of the same things I normally do - walking around Colyton, cycling maybe as far as Seaton - so it's mainly the closure of the library and, horror of horrors, my "lockdown hairstyle" which have marked these times as distinct from others. I have a suspicion that the air quality has improved a little (which is good for my asthma) but the roads seem to be busy enough still.
    Anyway, what birds have I seen? Well, I haven't done too badly really. I've tried some areas of high ground near Colyton and have seen or heard some migrants; in places I tend to have all to myself in birding terms. The sight of a lone Wheatear in a field of Pied and White Wagtails, the sounds of a calling Cuckoo and a singing Lesser Whitethroat have all complemented the views from Colyton hill very nicely.
    As for Colyton itself, I have now seen all 3 hirundines around the town/parish and a single Swift. Best of all, however, was a very low Osprey which flew N over the town on a very grey afternoon. Two species of Owl have been calling at dusk.
Field near Colyton with Axe Cliff in distance (Copyright TD Wright)
    Another area I can legitimately explore is Cownhayne lane by bike. Often quiet, it suddenly burst into life after last weekend's fall and produced 2 Whinchat, 10 Wheatears and 4 White Wagtails among 20+ Pieds. From the end of Cownhayne, Bridge Marsh is viewable and supplied a distant cracker. A male Yellow Wagtail among the Pieds was also accompanied by a Whinchat on the dried-up pool.
Whitethroat, Axe Cliff, April 2020 (Copyright TD Wright)
    My fortnightly trip to Tesco in Seaton enabled me to add Knot, Barwit and many Whimbrel to my birding smorgasbord in a quick gander at the estuary. A quick walk up to Axe Cliff was combined and produced singing Whitethroat and Yellowhammer. Also Willow Warbler.
     That's the best of the edited highlights for now. I still haven't seen a Red Kite but did manage a Marsh Harrier near the A3052 one day. The less said about high-flying 'barn doors' the better.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Crumbs of Comfort

    Well, it's not been a bad 24 hours under Lockdown Lite. Firstly, a lone redhead Goosander flew West along my road at dusk last night - a very good Colyton sighting and proof that the birds are not locked down and are on the move as normal. Secondly, my supplier (pusher?) of home-made baked goods delivered a muffin consignment as we all need a few tasty morsels to keep our chins up during the soft curfew they've imposed upon us.
     I'm off for my exercise now so if I see that Green Woodpecker again all well & good. Keep your distance, folks! At least 2 metres away from all birds; even if you have got a camera!