Whitethroat, Mediterranean Gull, Little Grebe | Axe Estuary Birds 161

[Axe Estuary Birds is republished with permission and sincere thanks to the team! Apologies — due to technical limitations it has not been possible to preserve the layout of the print version of the newsletter on this occasion. See gallery at the bottom of the post.]

The Birds

This Whitethroat was just next to Seaton Marshes Hide on July 15th, photographed by Ron McBride, a visitor from Coventry.

The gulls on the right, snapped by Roger Boswell, clearly show the difference between a Black-headed Gull and the Mediterranean Gull behind with its blacker hood extending down the nape of the neck.

Talking of Gulls, David Janaway spotted two ringed Herring Gulls at Coronation Corner on Monday 18th July – one had been ringed at West Hatch Wildlife Centre on 17th July 2009, when taken in with a damaged left wing, and released on 10th September of that year, and the other ringed at Gloucester Landfill Site on 18th July 2010.  It is interesting to speculate on what motivated them to come here!

On Monmouth Beach at Lyme Regis, Roger Boswell came across this Parliament of Crows, clearly putting the world to rights, and this Sandwich Tern fishing off the Cobb.

Ian Waite reports a Little Grebe on the Borrow Pit with chick, and Sue Smith got these pictures.

The Trivia

Nature Red in Beak and Claw!  Some rather gory images this time, Geoff Morris captured a Sparrow Hawk in the act, and Mike Dannat another rather replete one in his garden. And on 15th July Ron McBride from Coventry saw this Fox with a gull’s head in its mouth, just near the lagoon at Seaton Marshes. I was there too, and we watched the fox devouring the gull, and eventually he trotted off with the head, and came back a few minutes later.  I can’t help wondering how the fox managed to catch a gull! Peter Vernon saw a Wasp attacking a caterpillar the other day on a road near where he lives He didn’t wait to see the wasp carry off the his prey but reckons he must have struggled getting it airborne!  Susan Smith snapped this Grass Snake at the Borrow Pit – a real snake in the grass!

And to counteract the gore, another lovely picture of a Water Vole at BHM, taken by Roger Boswell.

A few days ago I saw something I had never seen before – an adult Shelduck chasing of a female Mallard, what had the poor Mallard done to annoy the Shelduck, I wonder?

Colyford Common Snippets

There has been much to see at Colyford Common over the last two weeks – too much to list it all in this newsletter!  There have been at least eleven species of Wader recorded in the period.  The scrape is attractive to Wildfowl, Herons and Gulls.  It is the beginning of the autumn migration for the birds, who are slowly returning to their winter feeding grounds. A Montagu’s Harrier was reported on 17th.

News from Holyford Woods

I started seriously studying ‘our’ Roe Deer five years ago, with the help of Richard Prior’s detailed book on Roe. At that time  there was a very laid-back buck in residence.  I saw him so often he became very used to me, and Paco, and I have written of him, and sightings of does, occasionally with fawns, in the Woods.

At present the current buck is very active, in the rut. Paco has spotted him three times, twice ‘fraying’ (scent-marking) the trunks of conifers. I have  also discovered he has been doing so on an oak tree, a few yards below my seat. Most interesting of all, on the level ground at the West end of the path below The Hangings, is the discovery of where the buck has been fraying small saplings, scraping back the undergrowth to expose the garlic bulbs, and ring-running –  chasing a doe in circles around clumps of ferns and possibly mating.  This has been going on for nearly 2 weeks.  During that time I have regularly  seen deer on the hillside above, and  one morning Paco got very excited when we heard a prolonged session of a deer barking there. Paco’s recent disturbance of a fawn indicates there are at least 2 around, as they usually have twins. Sadly, following the bitter cold winter 3 deer have been lost. Definitely two of those were female. I hope we will soon have fresh ones taking up residence, as there are plenty of Roe deer in the woods and fields north of Holyford. Photo of buck by Jean Kreiseler: “The buck, beside the tree he was fraying.”

Jean is away in Botswana on another wonderful wildlife holiday, we hope to hear from her on her return.


Despite an early start again fewer birds were present, but we did catch 42 of 13 species. These were: Blue Tit 6; Great Tit 4; Reed Warbler 12 (2); Sedge Warbler 7; Kingfisher 2 (1); Wren 1; Dunnock 2 (1); Blackcap 1; Greenfinch 1; Mallard 2; Chiffchaff 2; Blackbird 1; and Reed Bunting 1. Interestingly, the majority of Reed and Sedge Warblers were juveniles, suggesting that adults had moved on from their local breeding site in the reed beds. Juveniles usually follow later. It will be interesting to see what is caught in the next session which is three day operation from Friday to Sunday 12-14 August. Further details nearer the time.

This photograph of a Riband Wave moth Adult, aberrant dark Form, was taken by Peter Vernon and made it onto the ukmoths web site.


Diary Dates

Apologies for no details this time – after cataract surgery I cannot see clealy.  Suffice to say there are at least 31 events during August, and if you need to know more please contact the EDDC Countryside Service on 01395 517557 and ask them for a copy of the event guide.

This twice-monthly email newsletter is freely available to anyone who would like it, as is a periodic one about the activities of the East Devon Local Group of the Devon Wildlife Trust.  Just send me an email with Axe Estuary Birds and/or East Devon DWT in the subject line.  Also, for those without a computer, I will send a copy by post if you would like to send me some stamps.

Thanks to those who keep me informed.  Please continue to tell me of any unusual, interesting or amusing sightings, and what is about locally, and send any photos you would like to share.

Mike, Jean, Bob and David.  (and many others!) davidwalters@eclipse.co.uk.   tel. 01297 552616 Mobile 0779 1541 744.


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