Saturday, 6 November 2010

Wembury 6/11

2 or possibly 3 Firecrest between riding stables and Churchwood Valley. Also 300 Woodpigeon and good numbers of Linnet and Skylark zipping about.

Prawle area

Seawatch 07.00 - 09.00 produced 150 Gannets, 106 Kittiwakes, and a Shearwater too distant to positively identify, either Manx or Balearic.

Between 09.00 and 10.00, approx 2180 Woodpigeons flew SW, with a very small number of Stock Doves mixed in, and a further 600 Woodpigeons were feeding in stubble fields.

Other birds included 2 Golden Plovers, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Swallow, 2 Black Redstarts, 30 Long-tailed Tits, Brambling, Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests and 3 Firecrests.

Clennon Valley

Caught up with the Yellow browed Warbler here today. Very elusive, showing briefly just a couple of times.
Nearby from Preston Beach car park the Long tailed Duck was much more co-operative just offshore. (Even my wife managed to pick it up and without leaving the car)!!!

Lyme Bay - approx. 15nm E of Berry Head

From fishing boat: masses of gulls following local trawlers, also 4+ Great Skua, 2 (juv/1w) Pomarine Skua, 1 (3s) Arctic Skua chasing Kittiwakes (photos to come!).

Thurlestone Marsh

Afternoon- 1 Swallow over at 15.30.100+ Wigeon ,30 Teal, 1 Black T Godwit, 1 Lapwing,2 Water Rail.

Went over to Beesands this am- the Red Necked Grebe offshore opp football field at 10.30. Very few ducks on the Ley

Berry Head

Over-head migration: 6 Brambling, 133 Chaffinch, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Reed Bunting, 13 Siskin.
Around Headland: 1 Wheatear, 2 Black Redstart, 1 Firecrest, 12 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Little Egret.
3 Harbour Porpoise off end of headland.
Colyford Common

The two Water Pipits were showimg really well this morning on the edge of the new reedbed. Other birds seen included a Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, 5 Rock Pipits and a White Wagtail.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Future ID problems?

Quote from the Dawlish Warren website, Thursday, 4th Nov. (since edited!), 'a brambling in the treecreeper by the main pond'. This may well cause a few ID headaches next year!!

Slapton Etc

4 Swallows, 7 Common Scoter, 50 Meadow pipits

Pigs Nose Valley
1 Firecrest, half way down the track

[from Nik Ward]

Kingsbridge Estuary

From the hide on Charleton Marsh mid-afternoon ( high tide ) were a couple Whimbrel with the Curlew flock flying around the bay and a Kingfisher on the marsh.

Start Bay

Went out to Start Point first light and walked down to the lighthouse. Although there was a fresh to strong west-southwest wind the road was sheltered as always when the wind is anything around this direction. The frequent showers were unpleasant though and only a couple each of Redwing and Song Thrush were seen.
Went around to Beesands where a Red-necked Grebe was on the sea off the football pitch. A late Wheatear was also present on the beach road. Duck and Coot numbers on the ley were lower than last month and just a handful of Gadwall seen. Water Rail, Kingfisher and a couple Cetti's Warblers heard.
Next stop was Torcross where an adult Yellow-legged Gull was watched on the beach before heading around to Beesands at 11:00. A couple good sized flocks of large Gulls on the beach held nothing noteworthy , no sign of last weeks Glaucous Gull. Finally stood on Slapton Bridge for 40 minutes hoping for a sign of the Great White Egret seen a couple of times in recent weeks. Had to settle for a Little Grebe in the channel.


Goodrington: 2 Black-necked Grebe

Paignton seafront: Long-tailed Duck (showing well relatively close to shore)

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler still present this afternoon behind golf driving range just W of YMCA it is nearly always in the dense tangled willow that has fallen and overhanging the stream about 10m W of the grilled and railed storm drain outflow pipe. It can be elusive but rarely moves from this spot.

A new (possible) tristis Chiffchaff also around willows beside 2nd Pond (non calling and lacks the normal rusty cheeks), 5 collybita Chiffchaffs also present around the ponds and stream.

Also: 4 Water Rail.

Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike still mid morning on Hawkerland Common and showing well

[from Jean Millen]

Start Point - seawatch

Seawatching 08:45-12:30 (wind WSW4-6), fairly quiet (but it is November after all!): 202 Kittiwakes (34% juvs/1w), 88 Gannnets, 33 Auks (mostly Razorbills), Great Skua and Balearic Shearwater (heading N!). Also 3 Turnstones and a Purple Sandpiper.


Lunchtime today: one Green and one Common Sandpiper at the Exe overspill by the canal basin. Also one Finnish and one Swedish-ringed Black-headed Gull coming to bread, along with a couple of birds whose rings weren't fully readable.

Snow Bunting - Dartmoor

One this morning 100 meters west of the summit of Gibbet Hill (near Brent Tor) at 08:30. Grid Ref: SX499811

[from Charlie Elder]


Broadsands: 2 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Red-throated Diver - also flying over 3 Curlew and 3 Wigeon. 4 Cirl Buntings on seed in back of second car park, 2 Chiffchaffs in marsh with 5 Goldcrests.

Paignton: 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Common Scoter

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Paignton Seafront

Long-tailed Duck still present at 1445hrs

hartland point

1 black throated diver, 1great skua,1 manx shearwater. between 07:00- 08:00hrs

Exminster Marshes

A large Falcon sp. It had to happen, the first day for some time I failed to take my scope or camera with me on a morning walk on the marshes. A scan of the fields immediately located a large pale raptor sitting on the ground. Creamy colour with dark wings it was only marginally smaller than a buzzard close by. Closer inspection confirmed a heavily streaked breast, dark brown wings and a noticeable tail projection. However it was the facial pattern that was most interesting; pale crown contrasting with a black mark above the eyes running down the nape and pronounced moustachial stripe. After 20 minutes the bird flew towards Topsham. In flight the wings looked long and narrow as did the tail. It was a powerful falcon bigger than the resident peregrine. It looked like a Saker but with so many hybrids about I guess we will never confirm the id. However if anyone else saw this bird please contact me.


Preston: Long-tailed Duck still present, 1 Black-necked Grebe & 1 Common Scoter

Clennon Valley: Yellow-browed Warbler still on willows over stream behind golf driving range near to the YMCA

(thanks to Bob Bailey for information)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Is Egg Collecting Alive and Well in Devon?

Even in the 21st century, egg collectors are still a very real threat to our breeding birds. The following is a press release issued today by the Devon and Cornwall Police..

Police in South Devon today teamed up with the RSPB to conduct searches and seize illegally-held wild bird eggs.
Officers targeted three addresses simultaneously in South Brent, Bittaford and Totnes this morning and seized more than 50 of the eggs.
Acting on information received from the public, local officers and Force wildlife officers teamed up with National Wildlife Crime Unit officers and members of the RSPB to conduct the morning raids.
At an address in Rattery, South Brent, 50 wild bird eggs were located and seized. The owner of the property is due to attend Totnes Police Station at a later date for interview in connection with these offences.
Eight eggs were also seized at a property near to Ivybridge. The owner of the property is still being actively sought in connection with the offences.
And in Totnes a number of exhibits related to the theft of wild bird eggs, such as diaries and related literature were also seized.
It is extremely important for birders and people interested in wildlife to continue to report any suspicious circumstances when out and about. Particularly during the nesting season. Today’s searches were possible because information was provided to police by members of the public. Please continue to contact police with any suspicious sightings including descriptions and vehicle registration numbers.
Further details will be published shortly in the local media
PC 1776 Josh Marshall
Torquay Response
Wildlife Crime Officer
Devon and Cornwall Police

And HERE IS A LINK to the story on BBC news.

It bears repeating that it really is the course of wisdom NOT to publish anything on the internet that may hint at the location of Schedule 1 breeding birds. The excuse that 'everyone knows that such-and-such a species breeds at so-and-so anyway' is not actually an excuse.

Berry Head

Seawatch 14:30-16:00: lots of gulls following the trawlers in, including two Bonxies; also 4 Balearic and a Manx Shearwater passed south.

Great Skua - 01/11/10

This skua seen 20 nm SSE of Start Pt, posted intially on 1st November caused some interest! It seems this bird is most likely a Great Skua (dark phase), 2-3 year old. But an interesting bird!

northam burrows c p

3 snow bunting 1 male and 2 females behind pebble ridge along track between sandymere and westward ho gate
also 3 piedwagtail,2 little egret, 1 curlew, at 16:10 hrs

also at skern 125 brent geese, 6 shelduck,100 oystercatcher, 1 adult med gull , in gull roost,at 16:30 hrs

David Churchill

south yeo farm westliegh

1 cattle egret, 4 little egret, 2grey wagtail, 3 meadow pipit, pied wagtail, buzzard, chafinch at 1500 hrs,

David Churchill

Northam Burrows and Skern

08:30 - 11:00.
Dull and overcast with stiff SW breeze.

A wander from Dump C.P at the Skern, over to the Info Centre at Sandymere and back around to Skern along the shoreline threw up:-
c600 Golden Plover in flight.
8 Meadow Pipit.
1 Purple Sandpiper at the north edge of Sandymere pond.
4 Snow Buntings at edge of the pebble ridge in north corner of the pond.
c100 more Golden Plover, 1 Little Egret and 100s of Oystercatcher on the foreshore.
83 Brent on the Crow side of the estuary.
c40 Wigeon off the Skern.

Thurlestone Bay - South Milton Ley

100% cloud cover from 8am Wind 4 west increased 6 at 12.30 withconsistant drizzle from 13.00

A Swallow over garden at 08.30 was anice surprise, Marsh same as yesterday.

An ad Yellow Legged Gull was on the rocks with 100+ Herring and 3 L.B.B.'s.

Decided to walk around South Milton Ley- interesting morn.- 15 Blackbird, 8 Song Thrush, 1 Redwing, 1 Jay, 4 Water Rail, 2 Cettis Wblr,2 Chiffchaff, 8 Bullfinch ,2 Grey Wagtail,6 Reed Bunt, 100+ Linnet, flock of 50+ Goldfinch& Greenfinch,1m Brambling.

Berry Head

1 Ring Ouzel by quarry entrance, pair of Black Restart by fort entrance, 1 Pallas's Warbler by transmitter array.
1 Firecrest at cottages near hotel and Short-eared Owl flying towards headland being mobbed by Gulls.

Colyford Common

Visited Colyford Common this morning and there was one Green Sandpiper, two Water Pipits and a Rock Pipit
(probably Scandinavian).

R. Caen & Horsey Island. 3rd Nov. 09:30-12:10

Water Rail 1
Greenshank 11
Redshank 39
Lapwing 73
Stonechat 1
Cetti's Warbler 3
Reed Bunting 3

and a male Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

Vis Mig - Beer

Watched this morning from Beer Stables, 07:35 - 09:10. At about 9am, dark clouds engulfed from the west, ensuring passage dried right up.

The highlight was a single Hawfinch over at 08:10; it flew west about 80/100m north of me - the light was perfect which made the bird look simply stunning. As usual for this site, it was only just above hedge-top height.

Other birds seen during this watch included: 1,290 Wood Pigeon (see pics below), 3 Stock Dove, 11 Skylark, 4 alba Wagtail, 15 Meadow Pipit, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Redwing, 48 Starling, 104 Chaffinch, 4 Siskin, 3 Greenfinch, 14 Goldfinch, 4 Linnet, 2 Yellowhammer and 2 Reed Bunting.

On Axe Estuary Whooper Swan still present, also Black Redstart still yesterday at Axmouth Yacht Club.

Exe Estuary

A single juv Swallow sitting on telephone wires in the garden was a nice surprise, as was the Coal Tit and 2 Fieldfares (in Exminster). A walk to Turf was rewarded by the American Golden Plover still on the end of Greenland Bank south of the Turf. It was with 2 Grey Plovers, 3 Avocets and a few Dunlin. The shore at Turf was alive with birds - meadow pipits (c30), linnets (c60), Reed Buntings (c10) and various finches, wagtails and tits. There was even a Robin and Song Thrush all feeding on the seeds of the cord grass and berries from the bushes. Overhead several flocks of Woodpigeons flew SW.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Otter Estuary
Glossy Ibis still present this afternoon and 2 adult Med. Gulls on the Otter. No further sign of Sunday's Lapland Bunting.

Berry Head

At least one Pallas's Warbler still present at Berry Head at 08:10 with tit flock half way down lane to the hotel, as well as a Firecrest.

Woodcock flushed by car at 06:30 at bottom of hill on edge of woods adjacent to Berry Pomeroy Castle.

Spoonbill at Powderham.

A Spoonbill flew over the road from the Exe estuary into Powderham Park at approximately quarter to five this afternoon.

Thurlestone Bay -915-12.00

Wind west f 6/7 Cloud cover 80+% Pressure 1012 mb.

Very little around a few Gannets and ad Kittiwakes, 1 Dunlin over ,9 Common Scoter flew west.

Blk T Godwit still on Tstn Msh with 50+ Teal and similar Wigeon

SKERN. 2nd November 1300-1430

Dark-bellied Brent Goose 126
Shelduck 23
Wigeon 104
Pintail 6
Golden Plover 123
Lapwing 32
Redshank 39
Grey Plover 9
Bar-tailed Godwit 2
Dunlin 26
Oystercatcher 176
Curlew 49


A Black Redstart was on the roof of Estuary Court, to the rear of the sailing club near Shelly Beach, Exmouth at lunchtime today. The Long-tailed Duck was again out in the estuary looking from Shelly Beach towards Lympstone village. Given the bright sunlight, it may be better to look for this bird from the Shelly Beach area on sunny days, as later at Mudbank Lane, I could not refind the bird - all the wildfowl appearing as dark shapes, as the light reflected off the water. Also off Shelly Beach/Mudbank Lane were two Pale-bellied Brent Geese and 4 Goldeneye.


1 Cattle Egret still, with 5 little egrets at field next to tapley park seen from road to instow- seen by Malcolm Shakespeare at1200 hrs today

Aylesbeare and Woodbury Commons - yesterday 1/11

Seen during a walk around Aylesbeare Common and Wooodbury Common;

1 Great Grey Shrike on Aylesbeare Common RSPB Reserve on Harpford Hill.
13 Dartford Warbler seen (several more heard only)
4 Reed Bunting
2 Siskin
7 Stonechat
16 Skylark overhead in singles and small flocks
~380 woodpigeon flocking S/SW over reserve early in morning
5 Kestrel
2 Buzzard
1 Sparrowhawk
13 Snipe

[from Tom Forster]

Preston / Paignton

Very calm sea this morning: 1 Long-tailed Duck still present between the two beaches, 1 drake Common Scoter (Preston), and the first (that I've seen) 3 Black-necked Grebes (mostly Paignton).

Also: 1 ad w Mediterranean Gull on rocks at Goodrington (off from the pub), 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Monday, 1 November 2010

English Channel - 20nm SSE of Start Point

Out fishing in the channel: c100 Kittiwakes, 1w Little Gull, 15 Great Skuas and 2 Balearic Shearwaters attracted to the boat (disappointedly no Poms).
Balearic Shearwaters are meant to forage near the coast, yet this is not the first time I've had birds 20 plus miles out, feeding around fishing boats. Notice this second rather pale Balearic head-lifting while searching for food, this also the makes the neck look longer.
juv / 1w Kittiwake

Bolberry- Soar Mill Valley 09.15 -12.30.

Beautiful morning for Nov. No wind ,little cloud ,pressure `1017mb.

Couldn't find anything special -20+ Chaffinch,15 Long T Tits, 1m Brambling, 8 Goldfinch, 1 Bullfinch, 50+ Linnet, 12 Song Thrush,22 Blackbird,1 G. S. Woodpecker, 6 Redwing, 3 Stock Dove, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest,2 Yellowhammer, 15 Cirl Bunt.

08.00 over Thurlestone 20 Chaffinch,1 Siskin, 1 Siskin.

16.30- South Milton Ley-roost 180+ Alba Wagtail, 12 Reed Bunting.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Dropped into West Charleton Marsh late afternoon in case the Great White Egret reported here yesterday was still around. Only 4 Teals, 2 Pintails and a Kingfisher seen. Out in Charleton Bay ( high tide ) were a late Whimbrel and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Start Point

Clear night, beautiful sunny morning. Cooler and cloudier with gradually strengthening southeast wind after midday.
06:30-14:45, Light,Farm, Down Valley, Mattiscombe Valley.

Golden Plover, 700 Woodpigeons ( south east towards Lannacombe ), 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Swallow, 20 Redwings, 7 Fieldfares, Mistle Thrush, 4 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, 17 Goldcrests, 80 Jackdaws, 60 Ravens ( in field south east of car park at dawn before all flying off north, presumably from a communal roost on local cliffs ), 17 Bramblings, 4 Siskins, Lesser Redpoll, 5 Reed Buntings.

Mudbank Lane, Exmouth

The female Long-tailed Duck was again showing well off Mudbank Lane at high tide, over the lunchtime. 5 Goldeneye were also present and the Pale-bellied Brent Goose lurked amongst the Dark-bellied Brents. 12 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Knot added interest.

Clennon Valley

Lunchtime: Yellow-browed Warbler still up behind the golf driving range near YMCA also 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Water Rail.

Bearded Tits - Axe Estuary

Two Bearded Tits in reeds at the north end of Colyford Common this morning. After spending a few minutes showing well in the Phragmites - perching on top on a couple of occasions - they flew off north, then back south east (possibly heading for the larger reed beds over the river?). A patch tick for me - I don't get many these days!

Also Fieldfare, few Redwing, two Brambling with large numbers of Skylark and a couple of Wood Pigeon flocks (totally c250 birds) over west.

Berry Head

Left: Lesser Redpoll.
After yesterdays horrible conditions it looked good for Berry Hd, still and sunny perfect to find a pallas's warbler that seem to be all over the S & E coast at the moment. Checked the top half decent overhead passage in 1 hour while I was checking the bushes: 200+ Wood Pigeons, 100+Jackdaws, 5 Brambling, 1 Reed Bunting, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 40+ Skylark. but no warblers.
The Quarry - normally a good migrant area was devoid of birds shaded and cold.
The woods were also shadowy in the early morning so little there. The path and trees up behind the stone cottages were calm, sunny and alive with birds. First 15+ Long-tailed tits, 4 Chiffchaffs, 8 Goldcrests, the second go at pishing suddenly saw a small silvery warbler drop into the budleigh beside me, after a minute or two I got enough to know it was Pallas's and not Yellow-browed warbler. Suddenly another movement caught my eye there were two now in the same bush!
Above: Pallas's Warbler the first picture rules out Y-bW the second poor but the best I could get! Sometimes you should just enjoy watching the birds..
Also in area: 1 Firecrest, 1 Treecreeper. Nigel Smallbones reported a Black Redstart at the coastguard station.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hope's Nose

0700-1200 in a pretty strong Sou'easterly that could have produced more! :-
5 Great Northern Divers, 2 juv. Pom Skuas, and a Bonxie, all South.

Prawle & Slapton

East Prawle Woods 31/10/10
Pallas's Warbler seen 3 times between 12:00 and 2:30 in with very mobile Long-tailed Tit flock on South side of the wood. Also 1 Firecrest, 3 Chiffchaff and 5+ Goldcrest.
Slapton - Higher Ley 31/10/10 4:00 - 5:00pm
1 Bittern - in flight over reeds at dusk.
Also female Marsh Harrier, 1 Swallow and 1500+ Starlings into roost.

[from Luke Harman]
Sunday 31st October
The ever faithful Glossy Ibis remains on the Otter, the Starling roost continues to build in number with an estimated 5,000 birds as 2 Sparrowhawks take advantage! However, best highlight was a Lapland Bunting in with 80+ Skylarks in private fields nr Otter Head.

Exmouth odds n ends

Two more rubbish photos - the top (taken last week) is of the presumed hybrid teal x wigeon drake still present yesterday with the large wigeon flock off Mudbank (at least two probably four pale-bellied brents and the long-tailed duck also present) and the bottom is of a goldcrest that spent several minutes this morning feeding very openly in stubble several metres from the hedgerow on Orcombe point - behaviour I can't recall seeing before.
Also on Orcombe Point this morning: curlew 73, skylark c50/60+, starling c2/300+, redwing c100+, goldcrest 4, chiffchaff 1, brambling 1, fieldfare 2 and several chaffinch. One diver sp west was probably black-throated. Birding difficult in blustery SE wind

Dawlish Warren Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper on beach at Dawlish Warren (around Groyne 10)
not especially common here so quite nice on a rather grey day

[from Steve Ayres]

Plymbridge Woods

2 Firecrest seen in flock with ~5 goldcrests

[from Tom Forster]

Teignmouth - Sat 30/10

Black-necked Grebe off back beach at midday. [from Adam Davison]

Prawle stuff

30-31/10; Pallas's Warbler. Found mid-afternoon with mixed flock at East Prawle Woods. Quite vocal, heard on several occasions for half an hour before setting eyes on it. Very difficult conditions - very windy, loads of leaves flying around, and a very active flock, containing 10+ Long-tailed Tits, 15-20 Blue Tits, 4-5 Great Tits, 2 Coal Tits, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3+ Goldcrests and a Firecrest. Seen just once. In contrast, today it was the second bird I saw when I went to the woods late morning. Showed quite well several times, but again the flock was very mobile. Still present mid-afternoon.

Other birds;
29/10, 2 Med. Gulls.

30/10, Brent Goose, pale-bellied juvenile still at Horseley Cove (also 31/10), 2 Med. Gulls, 2 Swallows,

31/10, Balearic Shearwater, Med. Gull, Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrests.

Mudbank Lane, Exmouth

Between 1410 and 1520hrs at Mudbank Lane:

Long-tailed Duck, Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 15 Great Crested Grebe, [Black Swan], 4 Goldeneye, female Shoveler, 4 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwit.

Start Point

Fresh to strong southeast wind, frequent showers.
06:30-13:30. Light, Farm, Down Valley, Mattiscombe Valley.

Seawatch from the point 07:00-09:30 fairly quiet, highlights Great Skua and 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas. Elsewhere Black Redstart, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Goldcrests, 3 Firecrests.

Tapley Park Instow

1 cattle egret seen by Malcolm Shakespeare in field next to the main road just past Tapley Park entrance