Wednesday 23 December 2015

Water Pipit at Wembury

With the Christmas frenzy almost reaching its climax I decided to head off to Wembury  on the bus for a bit of fresh air and relaxation. It was nice to see a bit of blue sky and sunshine in what has been a very grey, very wet, very windy and very warm December. The footpath was a muddy quagmire as I expected but I managed to navigate it successfully without incident (for a change!).

Birdwise it was quiet in the blustery conditions - a goldcrest in the bushes, a gannet offshore, a kestrel and a buzzard overhead and a curlew and grey heron along the beach with oystercatchers and mallards were the best of it until I got to the large seaweed mass near the sewage pipe and found a smart water pipit feeding amongst the rock- and meadow pipits. It was quite aggressive towards nearby rock pipits but was mostly tolerant towards nearby meadow pipits. It also had a full tail unlike one of the birds that was present here last winter.

 Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Male Pheasant

And so the year is nearly over again and I doubt I will get out birding now until after New Year due to work, Christmas and family things. But it has been quite a good year, I haven't chased after birds (although I did dip on Hudsonian whimbrel and serin) and I've seen 4 British lifers - Squacco heron, White winged black tern, Isabelline shrike and Caspian gull. My year list is on 185 but that does include barnacle goose, feral birds at Slimbridge, and an auk species, distant views at Prawle Point. I don't feel happy at ticking the barnacle geese but bizarrely I'm happy to tick Egyptian goose and Mandarin duck! And I had hoped to see both razorbill and guillemot at some point this year but bizarrely have missed out on both other than the distant flight views I had of an auk species at Prawle.

It has however been an excellent year for butterflies with fantastic butterfly days at Upton Towans, Cerne Abbas, Ashclyst Forest and Aish Tor - great views of some beautiful insects and utterly heavenly experiences.

And so to 2016 - what will it bring? I'm planning some more butterfly days to try and see some more new species and I really must get organised and go on an offshore seabird pelagic at some point in the autumn.

Monday 21 December 2015

Ring Necked Parakeet, Plymouth

With ring necked parakeet sightings appearing on the Devon Bird webpages recently I headed off to Ford Park Cemetery on Sunday 13th December to have a look around as up to 4 had been seen there and in nearby gardens.

A look around the Cemetery drew a blank but I did see at least 3 mistle thrush, 10+ redwing and a sparrowhawk soaring overhead. It was interesting to see and hear the coal tits feeding in the trees react to the sparrowhawk, giving a distinctive call note as they watched it fly over before returning to their foraging as it passed.

I decided to head off to the surrounding roads to have a look in the gardens and just as I was about to leave the Cemetery I heard the distinctive calling of a parakeet. Despite searching the trees I couldn't see it even though it continued to call but eventually I located it in the top of a bare tree, surprisingly well camoflagued against the sky despite its bright green plumage.

It eventually flew off but I relocated it nearby feeding on a bird feeder in a garden and I watched it for a while before I headed off home. A new bird for Devon for me and maybe the beginning of a feral population here in Plymouth, presumably they are birds which have dispersed from further east in the UK.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Yellow Browed Warbler - At Last!

A sunny but cool and breezey day on Wednesday 9th December and so I decided to visit Broadsands where some good birds are being reported. David dropped me off at the car park on the beach and went off to the shops for a couple of hours, giving me time for a good look around without interruption.

A quick look off the seawall and a few great crested grebe were dotted around the bay with a black necked grebe showing briefly close to the shore towards Elberry Head before diving out of sight. I walked off along the cliffpath towards Elberry Cove to get a better look at the black necked grebe and managed some decent views although it spent little time at the surface and was difficult to track between dives.

Walking further along the cliffpath and there were 4 more black necked grebes, 3 together which gave some nice views as they rested and preened at the surface for a while and a single bird which was constantly diving too.

Further scanning across Torbay with my telescope and I managed to find a great northern diver and a gannet along with shag, cormorant and gulls. A very distant small grebe looked good for Slavonian and I had a brief view of a diver which looked good for black throated but I couldn't refind it after it dived.

 Great Black Backed Gull trying to eat a tennis ball!

After 5 minutes it was still attempting to peck it open!

Heading to the back of the car park and I had a strong sense of deja vu as I scanned the bushes and trees for a reported yellow browed warbler - back on December 23rd last year I visited the same spot and had some good views of a wintering bird. I was in luck again today and had 2 brief and obscured views of the warbler as it constantly moved through the undergrowth before finally getting some amazing views as it fed amongst a clump of ivy less than 5 metres away - a smart looking bird in the bright sunshine.

I also managed to get some excellent views of at least 2 firecrests, a male with a bright orange crest and a presumed female with a yellower crown. Again they did not stay still for a second but I did manage to get 2 crappy record shots. 2 chiffchaffs were also flitting about with 1 bird snaffling down a large bluebottle type fly it caught (it was surprisingly warm in the sunshine when sheltered from the wind).  A male cirl bunting, a singing song thrush, goldfinch, goldcrest, long tailed tit, blue tit and great tit were also seen.

 Firecrest - record shot

Firecrest - another record shot

I managed a further brief view of the yellow browed warbler but that was it before David arrived to pick me up and we headed off to Totnes for some lunch - not a bad couple of hours birding away from the increasing frenzy of Christmas time. And I have finally seen a yellow browed warbler in 2015 in what has been a bumper year for them.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Caspian Gull in Suffolk

Wet, warm and windy weather of late has precluded any real birding with the only thing of note being my first 2 little grebes of the winter on Sutton Harbour on November 19th along with 7 mute swans - the RSPCA had caught and relocated the mute swans in the harbour in the spring due to concerns about pollution and lack of natural food availability but it looks like they are slowly migrating back.

November 22nd was a pleasent contrast - cold, clear and calm - but my planned trip to Wembury for a walk went out of the window when I realised that there are no buses to Wembury on Sundays since Stagecoach took over from First Bus. Instead I caught the train to Dawlish Warren and had a very enjoyable wander around. It was low tide when I arrived so I concentrated on the sea and land instead of the estuary and as the day progressed it became pleasently warm - it was still a surprise though to see a swallow flying along the beach towards Exmouth, my second latest sighting ever.

On a flat calm sea I managed distant and heat hazy views of a great northern diver and a red throated diver with much better views of 2 female goldeneye with 2 female red breasted mergansers closer to shore. A flock of around 20 common scoter were flighty and mobile around the bay and a flock of around 30 teal roosting on the sea was a surprise. 2 great crested grebes were also seen and I eventually found another red throated diver close to shore, this one was a juvenile with a duskier head and neck than the adult I had seen earlier and with a buffy coloured throat patch.

It was quieter on land with 2 chiffchaffs in the trees around the main pond, water rails heard squealing in the waterside reeds, a pair of stonechat, a great spotted woodpecker and a female reed bunting being the highlights.

On checking the bird sightings in the evening on November 26th and a yellow browed warbler was reported in Beaumont Park, right on my doorstep, but unfortunately the next morning I was due to head off early on the train to Suffolk to visit my parents. I had a quick walk around the park before heading off to the railway station but didn't find it although I did find 2 coal tits, 2 goldcrests, long tailed tits, a flyover grey wagtail and a calling nuthatch, my first in the park.

The train journey to London was uneventful although 30 minutes late into Paddington and I had some brief and distant views of red kites between Westbury and London on what was another grey and windy day.

The following day and my Mum had to work and so we had the use of her car for the day. I wasn't sure where to head too, my plan to visit Minsmere was ditched when I realised I had left my membership card and free visitors pass at home and I wasn't going to pay £16 for the 2 of us to get in. A red necked grebe at Alton Water, not far from Mums house, was an option but I eventually decided to head to Ampton near Bury St.Edmunds instead to look for tree sparrows that are frequently reported in the winter on the Suffolk BINS website. I wasn't sure where to look for the tree sparrows and searching the internet for more information gave few clues but it seemed that the birds were mostly seen on bird feeders in the village gardens. Google Maps highlighted the few houses with gardens in the village and so I was able to narrow down my search area. I also found some reports of yellow legged gulls and Caspian gulls at a nearby pig farm and so decided to include a visit there on my walk.

David dropped me off in the village before heading off to look around the antique shops at Risby, giving me around 2 hours to explore the area by myself. It was a grey and windy day but dry and I wandered off checking out all the gardens for any sign of tree sparrows. Eventually I found an isolated row of cottages surrounded by trees and hedges and there they were, a flock of around 50 tree sparrows, noisey but skulking in the vegetation and regularly flying around - very nice to see as I rarely see them and have never seen them here in Devon.

 Tree Sparrow

 Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrows

Also seen with them were blue tits, great tits, chaffinch, goldfinch, a male yellowhammer, redpoll and at least 3 bramblings, while in the nearby fields there were lots of pheasents and red legged partridges.

Male Brambling

I then headed off towards the pig farm, walking along the road in a flat and open landscape. Nearing the farm and I could see lots of large gulls roosting amongst the pigs but I made the mistake of stopping to scan them with my binoculars and they all took to the air. Fortunately they quickly settled again but further away and so I headed to a small wood by the road where I would be less obvious and this time the gulls didn't take flight again as I stopped to look at them. Scanning through them and I instantly found what I was looking for - a smart 1st winter Caspian gull, its white head and underparts standing out like a beacon amongst the herring, lesser black backed and black headed gulls and a life tick for me too.

1st Winter Caspian Gull - top right

As I watched it a nearby shooting party began blasting pheasents and red legged partridges out of the sky and all the gulls took to the air again. I watched the Caspian gull fly off and noted its white rump and black tail band before it landed again nearer to where I was standing. I then had some good views of it before a tractor came rattling along the road putting up all the gulls again and off it flew, never to be seen again, but I was very pleased to have seen it.

 1st Winter Caspian Gull - top left

 Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull

After all the gull and sparrow and finch excitement the rest of the trip was uneventful and so it was off to Cologne for a few days on Monday 30th to eat and drink too much on the Christmas markets. Birdwise it was quiet but I did see collared dove, woodpigeon, feral pigeon, magpie, carrion crow, greenfinch, blackbird, starling, blue tit, black headed gull, fieldfare and ring necked parakeet from the hotel room window, not bad for the centre of Cologne. I also saw buzzard, mute swan, Canada goose, coot and jackdaw on our train journeys and arriving back in the UK on Saturday 5th December I saw a single ring necked parakeet flying over the M4 on the drive back to Plymouth, a nice end to a busy week away.

 Cologne Christmas Market

 Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Wednesday 11 November 2015

More Dipping

Sunday 8th November and I had a quick look around Ford Park Cemetery again in between chores on what was a grey and dank and windy afternoon and again there was no sign of a yellow browed warbler. I did see 2 goldcrests, a jay and around 25 redwings before heading off home after an hours wandering around.

Monday 9th and a grey and dank and windy day again but I headed off to Exmouth on the train to have a look for the reported serin. I left Plymouth after 9am to have a lie in and to get a cheaper train ticket (£10 return instead of £20 prior to 9am). While walking from the railway station in Exmouth to the football ground where the bird has been showing I bumped in to a birder called Dave who I see sometimes at Bowling Green Marsh and he pointed me in the right direction. A few birders were already assembled by the double decker bus by the football pitch where the serin was being regularly seen but there had been no sign of the bird - and after an hour and a half I had had enough and gave up. While waiting around I did see 8 redwings fly over and 2 peregrines soaring high overhead along with chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch and pied wagtails which helped to pass the time.

I walked back towards Exmouth along Mudbank Lane and had some nice views of brent geese and pintail feeding on the mudflats and eel grass beds along with wigeon, mallard, shelduck, oystercatchers, curlews and gulls including 2 adult common gulls and an adult lesser black backed gull.

 Pintail, Brent Geese and Black Headed Gulls
Brent Geese (Dark Bellied)

At the Imperial recreation ground a raven gave some very close views as it eyed me up, presumably waiting to see if I had any food it could scavenge from me.


Heading home and from the train between Exeter and Dawlish I saw a green sandpiper in a drainage channel near Countess Wear, black tailed godwits and greenshanks feeding on the mudflats and red breasted mergansers and 2 Slavonian grebes on the River Exe near Cockwood.

Hopefully my dipping streak will cease very soon!

Sunday 8 November 2015

Double Dipping - Wrong Warbler, Wrong Whimbrel

My plan to look for the reported yellow browed warbler in Ford Park Cemetery after meeting a friend for coffee at on Mutley Plain on November 5th wasn't looking like a good idea as it was dank and misty and windy on leaving Costas and by the time I arrived at the cemetery it was chucking it down. I had a quick wander around amongst the tombstones anyway but as expected I didn't find the warbler - I did find a chiffchaff along with a goldcrest and a coal tit amongst the blue tits skulking in the well leaved vegetation but I got absolutely soaked through for my troubles.

November 7th was wet and windy but forecasted to clear in Cornwall by 10am snd so I headed off to Penzance on the train. Sure enough the rain had stopped by the time I arrived in Penzance and eventually the sun appeared but a strong offshore wind remained all day. I caught the bus to Longrock and walked to Marazion, seeing a grey heron and moorhen on Longrock Pool and 9 little egrets, 2 grey heron, teal, mallard, 2 buzzard and a stonechat at Marazion Marsh along the way.

My usual lack of direction meant I got lost trying to find a way down to the beach at Little London, eventually clambering down a cliff, but I slipped and skidded down the cliff face ending up muddy, wet, bruised and bloody handed on the sandy beach. I tried to wash the mud off my hands in the sea but a large wave caught me out and I ended up with soaked feet - needless to say I was not in a good mood by this time but it was my own stupid fault and I wasn't badly hurt.

I scanned around for the Hudsonian whimbrel which has been present along the beach for a few days now but could only find curlew, oystercatcher and turnstone roosting on the rocks at high tide as the waves crashed in on the beach. A smaller bird caught my eye amongst the curlews and it briefly showed its head from under its wing - despite being in silhouette against the sun it was clearly a whimbrel species but a pair of birders appeared close to the flock and off they flew with the whimbrel species clearly showing a white rump - not a Hudsonian but a Eurasian whimbrel although I've never seen a November whimbrel before.

A large white butterfly, a male kestrel, a buzzard and a little egret were also seen along with shag, herring gull, great black backed gull and black headed gull but the bird of the day was a great northern diver offshore on the walk back along the coast path to Penzance to catch the train back to Plymouth.

So a double dip and getting wet and muddy and injured in the process - such is birdwatching!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Cattle Egrets in Devon

A beautiful sunny day on November 1st and so we headed off up the A38 to Teigngrace near Newton Abbot to look for the 2 cattle egrets reported in the area with some little egrets. However as we neared Rattery we drove in to low cloud and mist and murk which hung around for our walk but at least it didn't rain.

Arriving at the flooded field by the road near Teigngrace as per Birdguides/Devon BWPS instructions and there was a flock of 16 egrets feeding in the waterlogged grass. Scanning through them I quickly found the 2 cattle egrets with their yellow bills and chunky build standing out as they fed alongside the little egrets. However on rechecking through the egrets I found another cattle egret amongst them - so actually 3 cattle egrets present with 13 little egrets in total.

 Distant Cattle Egret in the Murk

 Cattle Egret

 Little Egret and Cattle Egret

Two Cattle Egret with Sheep

We drove onwards to nearby Stover for a walk where a grey heron, 2 female pochard, 5 male and a female tufted duck, a very noisey adult lesser black backed gull and a female sparrowhawk swooping in at the bird feeders were the highlights.

 Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lunch at The Brookside Cafe at Bovey Tracey was delicious (the toffee and almond pavlova was to die for) and then a drive home saw us enjoying lovely sunshine again as we left the cloud and murk behind near Rattery - typical!

Sunday 1 November 2015

South Devon Coast Day and a Trip to Dawlish Warren

A sunny but breezey day on October 28th and despite it being half term holiday hell we headed off to Prawle Point for a walk.

I have only been to Prawle Point once before, many years ago, and was struck at how isolated and unexplored it felt. The drive down to the car park at the Point followed an increasingly overgrown and narrowing pot-holed lane but we finally got there and I was rewarded with a firecrest feeding in the trees as soon as I got out of the car.The isolated location meant it wasn't too busy with people but a large walking group appeared on the footpath as we were leaving.

A male kestrel and a male stonechat along with a red admiral butterfly were seen on the walk to the Coastguards lookout and scanning the sea from the lookout there were a few gannets circling around. Closer inspection revealed at least 3 harbour porpoise beneath them and despite the choppy sea they showed very well as they surfaced at the top of a swell and then surfed just under the water as the swell rolled, the bright sunlight helping to highlight them very well under the water.

We had lunch at The Pigs Nose pub in Prawle village before heading off to Beesands. It was much busier here than at Prawle Point but we found a car parking space and walked off along the beach towards Slapton Ley, seeing a swallow around the houses and a large peregrine overhead. A quick look at the hedgerow near the hide at Beesands Ley revealed just 1 goldcrest but at least 4 chiffchaff feeding in with grest, blue and long tailed tits along with another red admiral.

At Slapton Ley a surprise were 2 male red crested pochard in front of the hide at Torcross, my first sighting here. They were found earlier in the autumn when they were in eclipse plumage but haven't been reported for a while. I have always thought of them as dabbling ducks despite their pochard name and so was surprised to see them both diving underwater for brief periods.

Record shot of the 2 male Red Crested Pochard

There were lots of variously plumaged and aged gulls bathing on the Ley and amongst the herring, black headed, lesser black backed and greater black backed gulls were a 1st winter Mediterranean gull and a first winter common gull. I also saw what I think was a 1st winter yellow legged gull but it was too distant in the fading light for me to be sure - why do I torture myself?

Saturday October 31st and another sunny but breezey day and I headed off to Dawlish Warren on the train, a bargain at £7.30 for a return. It was quiet on arrival at 9 o'clock but got busier with half term holiday makers as the day went on although it was nice and peaceful on the nature reserve itself.

A quick look off the seawall for a reported black redstart drew a blank and there was little offshore apart from gulls, shags and cormorants. I headed off to the hide as it was a very high tide and settled down to watch the wader roost. A surprise was the reported purple sandpiper, a first here for me, with the dunlin, knot, ringed plover, turnstone, curlew, oystercatcher, sanderling and grey plover but the birds were all very flighty and eventually the purple sandpiper was lost from sight. It was strange to see some of the waders roosting on the posts in front of the hide and even weirder to see a dunlin resting on the back of a knot on a post! In the estuary were a male and 2 female red breasted merganser and in The Bight were wigeon, 2 female teal, shelduck and (dark bellied) brent geese along with a very black brant looking pale bellied brent goose.

Turnstone on the Seawall

 Roosting Grey Plover, Dunlin and Knot from the hide

 Pale Bellied Brent Goose (left) with Dark Bellied Brent Geese and a Shelduck

 Pale Bellied (left) and Dark Bellied Brent Geese

Left to Right - Shelduck, 2 Dark Bellied Brent geese and a Pale Bellied Brent Goose

I headed off to Warren Point for a look around and had some nice views of a female Dartford warbler feeding in the gorse, a first for me here, but I dipped on the 2 short eared owls reported earlier.

A walk around the meadow and woods on the way back to the train station to look for the reported firecrest and yellow browed warbler also drew a blank and I didn't find the Pallas's warbler seen yesterday either. I did find a male great spotted woodpecker, 2 male and a female bullfinch, a singing chiffchaff and at least 5 goldcrests. A red admiral, a small tortoiseshell and a few common darter were also seen on the wing in the warm sunshine.

Common Darter

With the mild weather I decided to have the (repaired) moth box out in the back yard for probably the last time this year. I wasn't expecting much but this morning I had a large yellow underwing, a light brown apple moth, a rusty dot pearl and a Tachystola acroxantha, a nice end to my mothing year.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

A Quite Quiet Autumn Continues

Autumn slowly marches on into Winter and things remain fairly quiet on the bird front after the excitement of the isabelline shrike at South Huish Marsh - it has certainly been quieter than this time last year.

October 22nd and it was an early start to drive the Outlaws to Exeter airport for their flight to Malta. After a trudge around the shops in Exeter we stopped off at Shipley Bridge for a walk to the Avon Dam before heading back to Plymouth. I had hoped to see some ring ousels but there was no sight or sound of any but I did see fieldfares, redwings and blackbirds feeding on the hawthorns - the blackbirds were regularly chasing off the fieldfares but seemed to tolerate the smaller redwings and it was nice to see a few immature male blackbirds, all black including their bill and with no yellow eye ring and looking very smart. There were quiet a few goldcrests around too, busily feeding in the trees and bushes.

October 23rd and a dreaded night shift but a walk at Wembury beforehand was a nice distraction. It was again quiet with the highlight being 2 peregrines overhead and spooking all the corvids feeding in the fields above the horse stables. Along the beach 5 feral type mallards were amongst the more usual mallards -  a white bird, 3 pale and dainty females and a pale and dainty male.

3 of the Feral Type Mallards

There was also a large flock of gulls roosting on the rocks, mostly herring along with great black backed and black headed but including a nice adult lesser black backed gull.

Lesser Black Backed Gull

A great black backed gull showed well feeding on a dead fish washed up along the beach.

 Great Black Backed Gull

Juvenile Great Black Backed Gull with Herring Gull

October 26th and another walk at Wembury was a bit more interesting despite being half term holiday hell and a little busier than on the 23rd. It was grey and breezey with mizzley rain at times but mild. My third ever (faded) green brindled crescent in the toilet block started things off well but a large bumble bee was the only other insect seen. A surprise was a slow worm on the footpath despite the lack of sunshine - it was a bit moribund but perked up after warming up in my hand and it slithered off into the grass when I let it go.

 Green Brindled Crescent

Slow Worm

The 5 feral mallards were still present and spending all their time together - they must have escaped from someones garden nearby. Scanning through the mallards and I was pleased to find an immature wigeon amongst them, easily overlooked as it slept on the water despite its noticeably smaller size.

 Wigeon with Mallards



In the stubble field were 14 Canada geese and a male pheasant with a male cirl bunting very skulky in the hedgerow. Stonechats were seen all along the walk, showing very close at times.


After a pasty and coffee for lunch a feeding flock of small birds in the bushes on a slow walk up the valley from the beach to the car entertained me with views of goldcrests, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, long tailed tits, at least 2 chiffchaffs and 2 very smart firecrests. I had some good views of the firecrests with one bird seen flicking its wings and raising its crown in display before I found the second bird.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Isabelline Shrike, South Huish Marsh

A beautiful sunny day on October 12th and so we headed off for a walk along the South Devon coastpath, parking the car in Thurlestone village and walking to Hope Cove and back. Heading down the road from Thurlestone church and a small group of birds moving through the hedges and sycamores caught my eye - a brief view of what I am sure was a yellow browed warbler had me scanning through the dying leaves but I never refound it and I never heard it call. While looking for the warbler I did find at least 2 chiffchaffs and at least 1 firecrest along with goldcrests, blue tits, great tits and long tailed tits.

Thurlestone marsh was devoid of birds due to disturbance from diggers dredging the drainage channel running through the golf course and dumping the mud on the marsh. South Huish Marsh did however have some birds on view - a grey heron, a little egret, a buzzard, a male kestrel, a black tailed godwit, a snipe, teal, mallard and a moorhen.

Also seen along the walk were 17 swallows heading inland and flying east, a lone gannet offshore over a flat clam sea, a small copper, a small tortoiseshell, red admirals, large whites, stonechats and a few common darters including a mating pair.

The following day at South Huish a shrike was found by a birder, initially ID'd as a red backed shrike it soon became apparent from photos it was in fact an isabelline shrike and this was confirmed on the 14th, just as I began a 4 day stretch at work! I also wondered if it had been around on the 12th when we were out walking around the area.

Anyway my day off on Sunday18th duly arrived and we headed off again to Thurlestone for a walk and a look for the shrike which had been showing up to the 17th. We parked in Thurlestone village again and walking down past the church a few goldcrest and a chiffchaff were flitting about in the trees but there was no sign of anything rarer.

A surprise was seeing Thurlestone Marsh drained and the reeds being cut down - apparently the farmer who owns the marsh is draining it to make grazing land for cows, such a shame.

There were quite a few birders around in the area and so I headed off straight away to The White House overlooking South Huish marsh as per the DBWPS and Birdguides instructions to find 2 birders photographing a bird high up in the roadside hedge - and there it was, the isabelline shrike and my 3rd British lifer of the year. I even managed to get a few (poor) photos too.

Isabelline Shrike

It was on the opposite side of a high hedge by the road with no easy vantage points, against the sun and viewing was difficult due to all the vegetation but it was only a few metres away and totally unperturbed by the people watching it. I managed some decent views but unfortunately never of the whole bird out in the open. It disappeared from view at times as it chased after wasps but it always returned to the top of the hedge and was frustratingly always partly obscured by leaves!

There is quite a bit of debate going on about its exact ID as well with the view being it is a Daurian shrike but I'm quite happy to call it an isabelline and let others debate the genetics and taxonomics. A very nice bird but a little ugly around the bill as shrikes invariably are.

 Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike
Isabelline Shrike - not my photo! (Unfortunately!) - Photo courtesy of DBWPS Website
After watching the shrike for a while we headed off to Hope Cove for some lunch, seeing a group of 20+ swallows flying west, stonechats, a few red admirals and a few large whites on the way. On the walk back a male kestrel flew over the cliffs, spooking pipits and finches and unfortunately it went on to spook the shrike too as when I returned to The White House the shrike had flown off and I never got another view of it, not helped by a birder walking along the hedge on the field side despite it being private land.

Other birds of note around South Huish marsh were a female and a juvenile sparrowhawk, 4 black tailed godwits and a chiffchaff. A few red admiral and common darters were on the wing too.

Caterpillar sp. found on the road near the shrike hedge

And so another new bird for my British (and life) list, some close but partly obscured views and not too twitchy - all in all a good day out.