Friday, 8 August 2014

Topsham Rec, Black Hole Marsh (Seaton) and Aylesbeare Wednesday 6th August 2014 Be warned a lot to read!

Hi, what a boring start to the day... When on the train at Taunton that was already 20 minutes late we had to stop for some "technical difficulties", no surprise there then! We stopped for 1 HOUR!!! I worried about what my Granny was thinking at the station, even if she'd still wait for me. She did, and were well on our way to improving the day.

Our first visit was to Topsham Recreation Ground. It wasn't productive, to be honest, with the highlight being an immature Sparrowhawk that was hunting low by the side of the reed bed. My Granny was sat on a bench for half an hour and still didn't manage to find anything more appealing than a Cormorant, but you should always appreciate birds, they are amazing! I sat with her for a further 10 minutes and talked about where we should go next! The fantastic Black Hole Marsh Reserve near Seaton!

A few days before this my Granny had been there with the local U3A group in search of some waders. My granny had phoned me up making me jealous with great views of Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers. I had to see the Wood Sandpiper an elusive bird that always left at the wrong time. So I was a man on a mission and as soon as I stepped foot into the Island Hide my binoculars were zoned onto a summer plumage Knot! I started shouting "It's a Ruff or a  Knot I'm sure of it!" I still have no idea where Ruff came from, I was just too excited! Even though the bird kept walking out of view behind an island I managed to snap this shot...
I'm happy with this shot!
Following the Knot a large flock of Hirundines had a drink directly in front of u,s the best being a smart adult Sand Martin that proved way too difficult to picture! Shortly after another injection of adrenaline caused me to misidentify a Dunlin for a Curlew Sandpiper! What's wrong with me? Due to the excitement it did cause me to take quite a few pictures of the Dunlin...
Not happy with the post though...
No Wood Sandpipers though, where were they I wondered? A quick look round and I spotted two yellow legged waders in one corner. The first few shots I took were for identification in case they flew off in the worst case scenario! My best, but probably the worst, shots of  Wood Sandpipers ever!!!
The "pair" together.

Look at me!!!
Well how about that! All those waders in one small lagoon! Top mark. My Grandma and I admired these birds for a while, in awe of their beauty and elegance. Yet there were even more waders including some summer plumage Black-Tailed Godwits. I set my scope on them not expecting much until I set my eyes on some rings...
Any ideas, contact me if so!
I know Black-Tailed Godwits are widely surveyed at the moment so I'll report my sighting. After we had had enough we moved onto the Tower Hide that lies by the estuary. We were met straight away by some curve-billed migrant waders, Whimbrel a flock of at least 22! Here is a picture of some...
Quite a grumpy one!
Looking back from the hide towards the Island Hide that we were previously at I found a few Ringed Plover admittedly distant but still cute and lazy!
Picture shows the distance, shocking!
Now, now guess how many species we found? 45 WOW! including a Sparrowhawk that attempted to kill goldfinches

And if that wasn't enough my Grandma took me to Aylesbeare RSPB reserve on the Budleigh Salterton pebble heath. The habitat is a harsh gorse and heather rich habitat. Now bearing in mind it was late at night guess what bird we were in pursuit of? You're hopefully right... A Nightjar a beautifully camouflaged bird that by day sits still with not a sound but by night churring and keeping all the other birds awake!!! Due to it being dark I didn't bother bringing my camera out onto the reserve, should I have? Yes, sortt of... Well I would have liked to record their calls but trying to capture them in flight would have been practically impossible considering my experience! We heard around 4 churring, the habit in which they call before feeding, and saw around 4 sightings in flight.

A brilliant day out in sunny Devon with three new birds to add towards my list: Wood Sandpiper; Knot and Nightjar. My full list from Black Hole Marsh (sorry if some of the birds at the top or bottom have been cut out!):


  1. Another great read Alex , excellent selection of waders , well done getting 3 new birds :)

  2. Thanks Rob yours is great to, the BIRDY pictures do make a blog complete :)