Monday 7 December 2020

Lyme Rocks

Despite the place being situated between home and work I almost never go birding in Lyme Regis. Not sure why, because it is certainly the best local spot for Dipper and Purple Sandpiper. Anyway, circumstances have conspired to put me in Lyme for a few days, so let's see what happens...

By far the most eye-catching Lyme resident right now is this stunner...

I mean... Wow!!

This gorgeous drake Eider has been hanging around Lyme Regis harbour for a few years now, a very incongruous sight in this neck of the woods. To my shame it's the first time I've made the effort to have a look. I'm glad I did. It looked absolutely amazing in the late afternoon sun. It's clearly feeling a bit frisky, and was displaying to anything which looked even vaguely similar to a female Eider, ie, was brown. The young Herring Gulls thus accosted were notably unimpressed.

Understandably, it captivated me for some time...

Just immaculate!

I didn't make any effort to visit the Cobb wall Purple Sands, but spotted this one poking about the harbour beach briefly...

Purple Sandpiper

The little River Lym (or Lim) flows through the town, and is a very good bet for Dipper. Frequently they are a bit shy, and views might be distant, or brief and fleeting. Today was not one of those times, and this bird seemed oblivious to the proximity of passers-by...

Gorging on weeny fish...

...and even singing!

The only thing lacking in the Dipper encounter was sunshine. But the Eider made up for that later on!

At the end of the day I walked Monmouth Beach - where I saw a Black Redstart last winter - but it was very quiet today. Finally, strolling back towards town at last knockings I noticed that gulls were gathering in good numbers to the east, off Church Cliff. Very good numbers - several hundred large gulls and a sprinkling of small ones. The light was too poor and the distance a bit too great for bins alone, but there were certainly no white-wingers amongst them. A 2nd-winter Med Gull was nice to see, and I perched the camera on a wall to take a few photos. When I checked them later I realised the bird was wearing a red colour-ring!

2nd-winter Med Gull. I can almost read that ring...

Look at this bunch of lovelies! Might try again tomorrow. With a scope!

This is a bit of a 'went there, saw that' kind of post, but hopefully it's been worth it for the Eider alone. And just to put a cherry on it, a couple of short videos to close: The Dipper quietly singing, and the Eider displaying. And if you listen carefully you can hear the Eider doing that amazing thing that Eiders do. Makes me smile every time...


  1. Very high calibre of pics, buddy. Got me wondering - I'm not even sure I've EVER seen a Purp on sand, despite its name! Gotta love Eider noise, happily there are normally a few in the bay here, proper cracking birds.

    1. Thanks Seth. Your comment made me realise that I could probably list on one hand the number of times I've seen Purple Sand away from rocks/concrete etc, and I'm not sure I've ever seen one on sand either! 😄

  2. Love seeing the praise for the Eider and Purp, Gav, your post is like a trip up to Northumberland...Around here Eiders come to chips, and Purp is my most easily seen small wader after Turnstone. I am sometimes contacted by birders from the south coming here on holiday. They always like our Eiders... a party of drakes in late winter sunshine calling like Frankie Howerd is a sight to behold...

    1. I almost referenced Frankie Howerd in the post! 😄 Any young readers (unlikely!) might have to Google him!

  3. Ahh Lyme Regis, how many times have I been there? Yet never have I seen a close up Eider or noticed a "purp", to use the vernacular. My yearning to visit Lyme again is almost unbearable - bloody Covid.

    Great pics as usual Gav.

    1. Thanks Dave. The Purple Sandpipers like to rest up on the outer Cobb wall, but it would be easy to overlook them.

      I like Lyme too. A sunny winter's day is perfect. Hopefully won't be too long before you can visit again...

  4. I love Eiders, being London-based is a real downer as far as they're concerned. My second base in Fife is a lot better.

    1. The first time I experienced Eiders en masse was South Uist in 1984. I have loved them ever since.

      London-wise my only encounter was a female on Queen Mother Res in '85. Its arrival coincided with a certain Nutcracker. My twitch associates insisted on going to Suffolk first, but we were marching round a concrete bowl before the sun was down! 😄

    2. I've seen several in London, small flocks even, but they just look out of place with no rocks and swell. And no cooing!