Tuesday, 16 January 2018


Heather and Emily found a firecrest just recently at Sophia Gardens on Thurs 11th, and I re-found it yesterday. It gave stonking views and I was gutted not to have my camera to hand, but pleased to get several from the office on to it, as it was a lifer for many of them. Today (with cam in hand) we went over again, and I got some brief views before we lost it. Plenty of goldcrests about still though.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Xmas Tits (and other prezzies) Christmas 2017

 On Christmas Eve we took a trip with Olive to Stover Country Park. I was quickly on to Marsh tit, and even managed a decent shot.

We also saw one again from the raised walkway feeders so there's obviously not bad numbers here. I also managed to get a couple of nice snaps of the long tailed tits. With a bit of time and patience this would be a great spot to get some good photos. Mental note - one for 2018. 

Christmas Day saw a report of the Wally, the Yankee Widge, back in Exeter. So early Boxing Day I took another trip to Matford Marsh, parking in the layby we identified on the last trip. It was a cold morning, and I wrapped up against the chill. I had a quick scan of the group of wigeon on the main pool, but was pretty sure the wigeon hadn't moved overnight. I walked around to the back pool where it had been reported. There were lots of ducks over there, and one of the first I saw was a female mandarin, which was quickly lost from sight. There was an absolute scrum of wigeon feeding and bathing, and I waited for a few moments, eye down the scope to see if the American Wigeon was there. After a few minutes searching I tried the back field, but shortly returned. This time, after a few minutes I was rewarded with a fairly short view as it emerged from behind reeds to the left of the group, and it was out long enough to get a few poor digiscope record shots.

On 28th Dec we took  a trip to Broadsands so that I could try for a BNG. There didn't seem to be any on view, but after I scanned from the right of the beach I could see two divers from the cliffs. We walked Olive up to the top, and a gent informed us there were lots of Dolphin out in the Bay. I swung the scope out, and immediately found a pod over towards Brixham Harbour, and managed to show Jess them in the scope. I had some great views of some jumping out of the water too. The two divers typically moved over towards the other side of the Bay, but we could see them quite well in the scope. There were many cormorants and shags feeding in the bay, and we also saw a guillemot out past the main cormorant hang out point.

So, no black-necked grebes for me this year, but a nice last outing over Christmas all the same.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The last few go's... 17/12/2017

Even though I was still tired from Friday's work do, Nick and I set off early to Garw Nant in the dark on a willow tit quest. We picked up Ai-lin from home on the way and the three of us. We arrived at Garw Nant in the breaking light, though you could barely tell that the sun was rising in the gloom and drizzle. It didn’t look at all promising, but as the rain died a little we ventured down the road and into the area that Dan had suggested, coats pulled up tight against the inclement drizzle and cold. We scanned Llwyn Onn in case of any specials, and with just the cormorants on view, we took a path to the waters edge and followed it along a few meters.

We saw two blue tits in the lakeside trees ahead of us, and thought that seemed positive – if they were up and out, why wouldn’t their cousins be? I asked Nick to play his Collins app willow tit call, and to our astonishment, a willow tit popped into view behind us almost immediately, inquisitive but nervous.  It gave us a quick lap, though never stayed still long enough for a picture.
And that was it.
A result non-the-less, and a triumphant victory considering the weather.
We dropped Ai-lin back off, and grabbed a Maccy’s brekkie to celebrate (and sort out my hunger pangs), and then we headed to Ogmore to find the goldeneye. From the water treatment works we could see quite a few species. Goosander, several little grebe, lots of gulls, redshank and a Canadian squadron flyby. We carried on to Portobello where we immediately picked up the goldeneye, including some perched out of the water, but they shortly flew further down river.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Coming up on year end - and mopping up. Dec 2nd & 09th 2017

Last Saturday saw Tara, Nick and myself head down to Chard Reservoir in order to go and see the Red Necked Grebe. Seemed a funny one for me, having seen lots in Denmark earlier this year, but it felt good to see one at home. Shortly after we arrived we got on to it, but it motored over to the other side of the reservoir and after a while went out of sight down to the South West Corner.

From there we headed to Matford Marsh where we tried for the American Wigeon, to no joy, but it was nice to explore a new part of the Exeter compliment of reserves. We then headed to Exminster and Bowling Green Marsh before heading home.

I had a couple of sitters left in the shape of White-fronted Goose and Bewicks, so Jess and I headed to Slimbridge this morning for a Christmas visit. Not long after arrival we scored both over on the Tack Piece, and so spent the rest of the morning at our leisure.

We also had fun watching some wild bank voles popping up like a whack a mole game.

I'm aiming for 225 by the end of the year now, so 3 left.. All to play for!