[Simon Thurgood Images] [Simon Thurgood Images]


28 April 2015

Evening walk around Exminster Marshes

The joy of lighter evenings mean I can go for a walk after work!

I went to Exminster Marshes and parked up in the RSPB car park. The birds were singing in the late evening sun and it was just luvely!!!

Blackbirds, Robin, Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Cettis Warblers, Wren, Lapwing, Little Egret, Canada Geese, Mute Swans all heard or seen along the back path. Several Swallows flying low over the fields hunting for flies and a Peregrine sat in one of the pylons then dived off towards the River Exe was a fine sight!!

At the Turf there was a few birds about with Mallard, Shelduck, Carrion Crow, Curlew, Herring Gull on the mud flats which is normal but with 14 Whimbrel and 4 Common Sandpipers made it a bit more interesting.

Along the road back to the car things got a lot quieter as the sun went down, but still saw plenty of Goldfinches, Woodpigeons, Dunnock Greenfinch, Swallows, Herring Gulls, Cettis Warbler, Coot, Moorhen, plenty of Mallards and a pair of Gadwall finished off the walk. Home for a pint brill!!!

26 April 2015


Managed to get out today, spent most of yesterday trying to sort out issues with website. Sorry if you couldn't log on yesterday, it wasn't my fault for a change!

I went up to Soussons Wood and did a circle walk via Challacombe Farm and the Headland Warren.

When I left Dawlish the weather was clear but when I got to Soussons it was misty, damp and cold!!

When I parked up and got out I could hear a Cuckoo, but had no idea where it was. I walked off down the road and thankfully lots of birds singing with some coming to the side of the road, one very smart male Siskin sat nice and close but as soon as I got my camera out it flew off! Typical!!

Along the road to Challacombe I saw or heard Chaffinch, Buzzard, Woodpigeon, Stonechat, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Wren, Linnet, Robin, Tree Pipits, Blackcap, Great Tit and several Swallows flying quite low over the fields hunting for flies.

At Challacombe I was hoping to see some Redstarts and possible Spotted Flycatchers but sadly they have not arrived yet. But did see Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tits, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crows, House Sparrows, Dunnock and Chaffinch. Also heard but didn't see a Cuckoo which was calling from across the road.

Out on the Moor it was quite windy but still a few birds around with quite a few Stonechats, several Wheatears, Meadow Pipits, Blackbird, Chaffinches, Skylarks, Carrion Crows and some Herring Gulls flying over. Another Cuckoo calling from up by the Warren but again not seen due to the mist. Best though was Whinchats! 3xM and 1 F! They must have wished they were back in Africa instead of a cold, wet and misty Dartmoor!!!

Walking back to the car I went through part of Soussons and then onto the Bridal Path that takes you past Soussons Farm. Saw several Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Buzzards, Ravens, Swallows around the farm, Linnets, Stonechats and a couple of displaying Tree Pipits always to far away for a picture.

Only a few humans around due to the crap weather and no other birders.

19 April 2015

Nightingales and Stuff

Went to a wood I know that has Nightingales hopeful that they have returned safely from there migration and wasn't disappointed! There was one male who gave me a song for five minutes, couldn't see it but boy could you hear it! Absolutely brilliant!!!

The wood itself has loads of great singers with Blackcap, Willow Warblers, Blackbirds and Song Thrush. With Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Wren adding to the noise. Also seen Bullfinch, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, great Tit and a soaring Buzzard over head.

Lots of flowers with Cowslip, Primrose, Bluebells and Wood Anemones.

Nearly fell over a Fox as I came out of the wooded area with plenty of Rabbits about and as I was leaving a Stoat ran across the road, Great place!

Then off to Shapwick in Somerset, it was a bit windy and chilly out of the sun but plenty to see!

At the Decoy Hide there was plenty of Tufted Ducks, Coot, Pochard, Mute Swans, Great-crested Grebes, Herring Gulls and a Marsh Harrier.

Around Mere Scrape there was Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Teal, 50+ Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Greenshank and Lapwings. A Buzzard circling and the sound of Cettis and Reed Warblers from the reeds and Bushes.

Meare Heath Hide just a few birds with Marsh Harrier, Coot, Mallard, Gadwall, Woodpigeon flying over with the sound of Blackcap from the bushes and Reed Warbles from the reeds.

From Noah's Hide there was Mute Swans, Great-crested Grebes, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Coot, Canada Geese, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants and Little Egrets flying over.

From the hide that over looks 70 Acres you had great views of 4 Marsh Harriers that were always distant.

Around the rest of the reserve you could hear Bitterns Booming with Cettis Warblers, Blackcaps, My 1st Whitethroat of the year, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Cormorant and Reed Warbler.

On the Butterfly front, double figures for Orange Tip and Peacock and singles for Speckled Wood and Brimstone.

A few humans around all behaving themselves;o)

12 April 2015


I went up to Dartmoor today and look around a few sites to see if any migrants had made it home.

First stop Yarner Woods and looking for Pied Flycatcher, well there was one in front of the car as I parked singing in the tree, job done! Well I thought I would have a good walk around, nice day, a bit breezy but ok!

Around the pond there was Blue, Great and Coal Tits on the feeders with Chaffinch and Robins in the trees, 3 stunning Male Mandarins and 1 Female were on the pond with some Mallards. A pair of Grey Wagtails were on the edge of the water making it a stunning group of birds!

Up at the hide in the woods there was Coal, Marsh, Blue and Great Tits on the feeders but little else. In the surrounding trees there was Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Around the rest of the woods I found another 4 Male and 1 Female Pied Flycatcher, plenty of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeons with a couple of Raven flying over.

On the Gorse area out towards the Moor there was quite a few Stonechat and a Skylark. Only a Brimstone and a Peacock on show with plenty of Ants working hard on there nests.

On to Challacombe to see if the Redstarts had arrived, here the weather was a lot different with stronger winds and dark cloud, so I parked up and did a circular walk of the farm. Very little flying except a lone Swallow. The rest are Grey Wagtail, Robin, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, and a Mallard in the stream. The best was close to the car with a couple of Tree Pipits but sadly no Redstarts. On the way out in the car there was quite a few Wheatear on the side of the road.

Last stop Steppes Bridge mainly to look for the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, the plan here was just to spend some time in the area they are normally seen in, but my feet just kept walking and I walked through Dunsford Woods and out onto the road up to Clifford Bridge and back to Steppes Bridge by the side of the River Teign through Cod Woods and St. Thomas Cleave Wood.

I sadly again didn't see the Woodpeckers but did see a lot of other stuff, lots of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits with Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Wren, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, several Grey Wagtails on the river as well as a couple of Dipper, Mallard, Grey Heron and the Electric Blue flash of a Kingfisher as it flew down the river.

After leaving Dunsford Woods along the road there was several Swallow over the fields and Blackbird and Song Thrush singing there hearts out.

In Dunsford Woods especially, the Wood Anemones and Wild Daffodils were putting on a show with the smell of the Wild Garlic as you brushed past it adding to the atmosphere! To my surprise didn't find any butterflies here?

Met plenty of humans today and all very nice, I met a couple of birders at Steppes Bridge who also were looking for the Woodpeckers, sorry having a senior moment and cant remember your names but nice to met you!!

12 April 2015

River Otter and Beavers!

This post is from yesterday Saturday 11/04/15, just got home too late to write up.

I have been a few times now in a attempt to see the Beavers on the River Otter but never been able to pin them down but with a lot of help from Chris T. I came up trumps on this visit.

The day was sunny with a few clouds, hopefully the clouds would clear because this had made it too dark for pics on previous visits. I parked up in the car park at Budliegh Salterton which over looks the Otter Estuary. The tide was out and you could see large numbers of Gulls in the main channel, mainly Herring Gulls with a few Great Black-backed Gulls. Little Egrets and Shelduck also in good numbers.

Along the path there was plenty of small birds, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were in good numbers all along the walk with Dunnock, Robin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Swallows, Blackbird and Wren all seen.

Collard Dove and loads of Woodpigeon seen on the floor as well as flying around, because there is several Rookeries there was Rooks everywhere. They got very noisy especially when a couple of Buzzards came flying near bye.

In the scrapes in the fields on the left there was several Teal, Canada Geese and about 50 Herring Gulls.

Also saw and heard Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the large trees on the opposite side of the river.

In the reed beds by White Bridge a Cettis Warbler was calling, its explosive call echoed down the river. Also on the river was Mute Swan and good numbers of Mallard Duck, one female had 9 chicks with her. A pair of very smart Grey Wagtail and the Electric Blue of the Kingfisher was seen a few times as it flew up the river.

The main event was the Beaver, to mine and Chris's joy the female came out showing her pink tags which the scientists had placed in her ears, the light was good but I nearly blew the opportunity by using my big 500 lens but it was struggling with the light and the pics were not very sharp. Luckily I had my Nikon 300 and it coped very well with the failing light. The Beaver got out of the water several times showing her tail but the best bit was when she took out a branch with her teeth in minutes and stripped it of bark, just a wonderful experience which I wont forget in a hurry! So glad common sense has broken out with these fantastic animals and the threat of culling has now passed, apparently there is 10 animals on the river in various places and I think I will try to catch up with these.

Lots of members of the human race about all well behaved and out enjoying the beautiful countryside, brilliant day!!!

09 April 2015

Portland Bill

Got up early and made my way to Portland in Dorset, the weather was just great! Watched the sun come up over Lyme Bay and the sky was clear and looked like it was going to be a great day. I stopped off for a snack/breakfast just above Abbotsbury to enjoy the view and two bright Yellow Hammers sat on the hedge, a great start to the day!

The weather continued to be good until I got to the southern end of the Bill it was thick fog and almost turned back, but luckily I didn't!

I parked up in Portland Bill car park and there was grounded birds all over the place, mainly Wheatears with a few Meadow Pipits. What had seemed to have happened is the fog made the birds drop and the already grounded birds stayed. The problem was although it was great birding it was crap for photography!!

There was loads of Chiffchaffs in the bushes around the Observatory with a couple of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, a singing Sedge Warbler and a Redstart.

Then the main attraction was a Stone Curlew which was sat the edge of a ploughed field, at distance and mist it was job to get any pictures.

Plenty of other birds about, because of the mist you couldn't see much out to sea but I did see some Guillemot, Puffin and Cormorant. Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls were everywhere as well as Woodpigeons and Carrion Crows. One Raven was seen close to the bill.

Swallows, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Wren, House Sparrows, Starlings, Jackdaws, Pied Wagtails, Linnets, Great and Blue Tits, Skylark, Dunnock, Magpie, Kestrel, Stonechat and a Sandwich Tern flew over.

No insects, Butterflies and Bumble bees seen because of the Sea Mist.

Lots of members of the Human Race around all seem happy if not cold and it was great to meet all the birders around the place, some old faces from Devon and Somerset! Great day!!!

08 April 2015

Shapwick, Somerset

Up to Somerset today! Parked in the "Avalon Marsh" Car Park and after a bit of light refreshment from "Eco Friendly Bites" off I walked. From the car to the entrance to Shapwick I picked up House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Robin, Dunnock, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Cettis Warbler, Pied Wagtail and a Cormorant flew over! So that was a great start even before I got in the entrance!!

In the bushes there was several Blackcaps singing with Chaffinch, Robin, Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Wren, Blackbird and Cettis Warblers with their explosive burst of song.

It wasn't long until I heard my first "Booming" Bittern of the day, in fact I lost count of the number, that deep "boom" is unmistakable.

In the Noah's Lake there was plenty of birds in the water, Great-crested Grebes, Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Cormorants. Plenty of ducks with Mallard, Tufted, Teal and Pochard, there might have been other species on the lake but its so big I could have missed them on the other side.

Two Raven making a racket overhead as well as Carrion Crows and Woodpigeons.

At Mere Heath Hide it looked quiet but a few birds flew in, one being a male Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Carrion Crow. Grey Heron, Cormorant, Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Coot and Cettis Warbler were the other birds seen. Outside the hide on the walk back to the main drag there was a Treecreeper and a few Goldfinches.

At Mere Lagoon there was a few Swallows flying around with a Marsh Harrier and Buzzard in the reeds behind. 40+ Black-tailed godwits in the lagoon with some in their summer plumage looking very smart. A little egret and the pair of Great White egrets flew in putting on a show and looking very classy too! A few ducks, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal and a very smart looking Drake Garganey.

The Marsh Harriers were putting on a great show over the marshes on the opposite side of the Lagoon, I am sure that area has a name but I don't know it! A bit frustrating as the sun was nearly always behind them while I was there, but later on I moved to another viewing area and it was better, fantastic birds and a real treat to see them!

A walk into Ham Wall saw my first sighting of a Bittern to add to the many "Booms" around the place. The bushes were alive with small birds making a racket, mainly Cettis Warblers and Blackcaps but Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks and Blackbirds were doing there bit as well! Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch also seen.

Woodpigeon, Magpie and Carrion Crows seen flying around with Canada Geese, Great-crested Grebes, Coot, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Mallard, Little Egret and Cormorants all seen on the water with a pair of Lapwings on the mud try keep the Carrion Crows away. A Kingfisher flew along the dyke by the first platform which is always a great sight!

A few Butterflies about with the main ones Peacock and Small Tortishell but saw a few Brimstone as well and singles of Speckled Wood and a female Orange Tip. Noticed the difference to Devon with the lack of wild flowers as apart from a few Colts Foot very little.

On the way back there was a Roe Deer in the field and by the entrance a Adder! My first of the year.

Plenty members of the human race about and must say they have been the happiest bunch I've met in a long time and very helpful! Cheers guys!!

05 April 2015

Soussons Woods, Challacombe Farm and Back!

Went up to Dartmoor today and decided to do a circular walk from Soussons out onto the Moor and back via Challacombe Farm.

On parking up at the entrance to the woods it was obvious that there was plenty of birds about because of the bird song, but they were all in the top of the trees!

I managed to see Siskins, Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tits in the first section but Iam sure there was more. I came across a clear area which looked up towards the Warren House Inn and I could see three Buzzards loafing about in the sky, calling and doing a bit of display. I also noticed another bird that turned out to be a Peregrine, I watched it for a while until it gave one of its trade mark dives and disappeared behind some trees, I presume it caught its prey as it didn't re-appear while I was there. A bit further up a female Sparrow Hawk landed for a while in one of the Fir trees before flying off again.

As I walked into another wooded area there was a couple of Bullfinches as well as Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Blue and Great Tits, Woodpigeon and the sound of a Green Woodpecker.

As I came out onto the moor I could see Chaffinch and Great Tits in the bushes by the footpath, this path is quite wet with Tadpoles in the pools so you have to be careful were you put your feet!

Further on the moor I came across two pairs of Reed Buntings, also a few Skylarks up singing as well as Meadow Pipits doing some display flying from fence posts and bramble bushes and a Buzzards flying around.

At this part of the walk I came across Five Wheatears 2M and 3F, this was a real treat as they were my first of the year!

At Challacombe Farm there was a couple of Stock Doves in the trees with Blackbird, Robin, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit around the farm with a Drake Mallard in the stream.

On the way back via the road I saw Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tits, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird where the road had hedges and Skylark and Stonechats could be seen and heard where it was more open. Also a Kestrel was on a telegraph pole. When I got to Soussons I saw a Nuthatch and plenty of Siskins and Crossbills flying along the top of the trees.

There was virtually no insects except one Red Admiral Butterfly and one Bumble Bee, very little in the way of wild flowers.

A few well behaved humans today around the place although it was a bit disconcerting to have a couple of mountain bikers fly by me on the Moor! One thing I would like to ask, are Springer Spaniel owners all as mad as their dogs?? Answers on a postcard please!!!

03 April 2015

River Teign and Stover Park

Another wet, grey and miserable Bank Holiday! With very little chance of doing photography I parked up in the "Sibelco" car park with the plan to walk up the River Teign then turn off to Stover Park and return by the old canal.

There was a lot of noise from the trees by the river which was both Blue Tits and Great Tits in virtually all the trees going up the path. Robins were the only other small bird with Magpie, Woodpigeon and Carrion Crows flying over with Mallards being the only birds on the water.

It was great to see Swallow and Sand Martins close to Ventiford Basin over the River, a reminder that summer is coming!!!

I went under the railway bridge at Ventiford Road and followed part of the Templar Way along the road and through the village until I came to the woods that leads to Stover. Along this part of the road by the houses there was plenty of House Sparrows on the wires and garden hedges with Blackbird, Robins, Greenfinch and Woodpigeons.

Through the wooded section which was all pines saw a pair of Jays, Great and Blue Tits, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Woodpigeon and a few Squirrel.

Into Stover by the lake which looked a bit bare! Single male Gadwall, a few Tufted Duck, two Mandarin Drakes, lots of Mallard and a Mute Swan. Herring, Black-headed and Lesser-black Backed Gulls flying around, Moorhen, Coot, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Robin were the only other birds seen on this miserable day walking around the lake. A stop off at the feeding station saw Great, Blue and Coal Tits at the feeder and a Nuthatch in the surrounding trees with several fat squirrels feeding below the feeders. A Buzzard was loafing about in the sky being mobbed by Carrion Crows and that was that!!

On the way back I walked down the old Canal which is being cleared and new paths being made, a few birds here with Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrushes, Carrion Crows, Great and Blue Tits, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker and some Mallard on the flooded areas.

Very few insects, I think I saw 3 Bumble Bees on the whole walk! A few flowers but mainly on river bank and in the canal such as Wood Anemone, Marsh Marigold and Greater Stitchwort.

Dog walkers everywhere some were ok but others were just useless, dogs jumping in the lake at Stover after the ducks and on the fields running around barking which just frightened everything away, useless and just crap!!!

01 April 2015

Powderham, Exminster Marshes and Back

As the weather was slightly better today I went for a walk to Powderham and up the side of the River Exe to Exminster Marshes.

I arrived and parked up in the car park under the noisy Rookery, in the field opposite a farmer was ploughing a field up and there was 100+ Gulls all of which looked like Herrings with Carrion Crows also there helping themselves to the pickings. There was also a few smart looking male Pheasants in the field facing up to each other.

Along the River by the bridge there was about 100+ Gulls by the edge of the water, a mixture of Black-headed, Great-black Backed Gull and Herring Gulls, further up the river there was several Red-breasted Mergansers with Shelduck and Carrion Crows on the mud. The only Waders were Curlew and Oystercatchers, a Pied Wagtail on the sea wall and a single Sand Martin flying up the river with a Little Egret flying around trying to make its mind up on whether to land.

On the fields there was some Mallards in a ditch, 20+ Canada Geese, with Blackbird, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Woodpigeons and Starling in and around the ditch and trees. A lone Buzzard loafing around with a Grey Heron by the far hedge.

At Turf there was plenty of small birds around, especially around the bushes and the pine trees. Plenty of Goldcrests, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Robins, Dunnock, Wren, Woodpigeons and Great Tits.

Not many birds out on the river mud here with a few Curlew, Shelduck, Carrion Crow, Oystercatchers and a Little Egret. There was a couple of smart looking Red-breasted Mergansers in the channel with a lone Cormorant.

Up the cycle track there was Wrens, Blue Tits, Chiffchaff, Woodpigeon with Moorhen and Mallard in the ditches.

Onto Exminster Marshes and it looks like all the Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Wigeon have left as none were seen. Still a few ducks present with Shoveler and Teal in good numbers with a few Mallard. Loads of Mute Swans about the place and the ever increasing numbers of Canada Geese were widespread.

Several Buzzard flying around with 2 Sand Martins, Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons and a Grey Heron the other flyers. On the ground there was several Lapwing and you could hear the lapwings on Powderham Marsh as well calling. Little egret, Moorhen, Coot and Grey Heron around the ditches. Magpies, Pheasant and Carrion Crows looking for food in the pasture, a couple Stonechat on the odd fence post with Blackbird, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Dunnock and Chiffchaff in the bushes.

No Butterflies seen but plenty of Hoverflies down the back path out of the wind with a few Bumble Bees mainly Buff-tailed.

Plenty of wild flowers coming out with Daisy, Dandelion, White Violets, Alexander's, Cow Parsley, Groundsel, Red Dead Nettle, Shepherds Purse, Milky Thistle, Primrose, White Dead Nettle, Colts Foot, Green Alkanet, Common Speedwell, Ground Ivy, Lesser Celandine, Cuckoo Flower and a couple of others I need to Identify.

Good to bump into Dave Stone for a chat, very few other humans around so no chance of being run over by a bike;o)

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