Saturday, 25 December 2010


A lapwing flew south over Chelston this morning (very unusual here) and a female Blackcap in the garden.

On a completely different subject, does anyone have any more info on the Eagle Owl report from near Clovelly yesterday?


Sharkham Village- A good number of birds around the garden today including male Black Redstart (a pair have been resident over the last few weeks), Meadow Pipits and loads of Redwings. The last few days have seen 3 Lapwing on the common areas also.
On another note I was very pleased to recieve 'The Birds of Devon' as a present from my wife today. On first looks it's excellent!

Happy Christmas.

Slapton Ley & Beesands

A festive wander around today was quite rewarding. On the sea off Beesands was a Velvet Scoter and 4 Red-throated Divers. Beesand Ley itself still mostly frozen but in fields close by were 50+ Lapwing and 20+ Golden Plover.
While at Slapton Ley highlights were a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier hunting the line and in with the wildfowl, on the unfozen part by Ireland Bay was a 'redhead' Smew. Again a fair few Lapwing on fields around the Ley and 3 Woodcock and 2 Snipe. On the sea another 3 Red-throats and Great Northern Diver.

Paignton - yesterday 24/12

9 Waxwings near top of southfield avenue,Paignton at 3pm today

[from Chris Noakes]

Friday, 24 December 2010

Brixington, Exmouth

Sadly no sign of any Waxwings around my house today. However there were 300+ Redwings stripping berries off every available bush in the neighbourhood, with a couple of Fieldfares and a Mistle Thrush. The male Blackcap was loitering around my back garden all morning, but didn't see the female today. A new garden tick was a Common Snipe which flew low over early morning.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tarka Trail etc...

Snowy cycle on the Tarka Trail from Barnstaple to Braunton this morning:

Near the new bridge, a Pochard floating down on the outgoing tide was unusual.

A few Bar-tailed Godwits with Redshank, Dunlin, Grey Plover and 4 Sanderling around the Pottington/Bradiford Water area - nothing of note on the reserve.

Across on the Penhill saltmarsh were the most Wigeon I have seen on the estuary in many a year - may have been over a thousand. Plenty of Canada Geese in smaller flocks.

On Wrafton Pond - which still has some unfrozen water - 6 Shoveler, and 16 Common Gulls in amongst the Black-headed and Herring Gulls.

In the Velator reserve, still lots of Song Thrushes and Redwings, but the Buckthorn berries are fast disappearing! Highlight of the morning was 2 Woodcock in the reserve.

Only fell off the bike once!

[from Jon Turner]

Bunts Lane - Seaton

Plenty of birds in the garden today - 40+ Redwings, 12 Fieldfares, 56 Blackbirds, also 6 Brambling ( 2 male & 4 fems ) 3 Blackcaps, 2 Marsh Tits, and 3 Woodcock over the woods at dusk.


The ley almost completely frozen with no wildfowl apart from 86 canada geese. I did however flush out a Bittern on the path to the hide. Lapwing seem to be everywhere with c. 40 in the field and others drifting over in ones and twos. Also saw a fox sneaking down to the lakeside, perhaps in the hope of an unwary coot!
 I would like to offer salutations to John Gale for his stirling efforts to save the roosting wrens, I don't think intervention is a bad thing John, I'd like to think that if you found me shivering under a tree, you'd put me in a box and feed me worms.

Thurlestone Bay - South Milton Ley

Thurlestone Marsh this am - 45 Stock Dove -N ,75 Skylark, 30 Linnet 10 Redwing , 40 Fieldfare, 4 Lapwing , 1 Grey Wag., 15 Snipe

South Milton Ley late am - Walked round the top end 7 Woodcock ( a site record for me), 7 Teal, 1 m Shoveler, 6 lapwing, 45 Fieldfare ,20 Redwing 15 Song Thrush, 3 Chiffchaff( they must be hardy) No Cettis Wblr.

Colyton WTW

Despite a good look this morning I couldn't find the Eastern (?) Yellow Wagtail, but at least 2 Chiffchaffs and 3+ Water Pipits were in residence. No sign of Woodlarks in the field across the road either - too much snow I guess.


Clennon Valley - no sign of the Bittern this morning but 1 Ruddy Duck, 5 Gadwall, 6 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 8 Shoveler, 5 Lapwing, 5 Snipe around ponds and 3 Bramblings >over.

Broadsands: sea too choppy to check but 22 Cirl Buntings on seed at back of 2nd carpark and 5 Reed Bunting and 11 Dunnocks! still a flock of 200+ Skylark in the stubble field.


1 female Brambling at the top of Cockington Valley and lots of Fieldfares and Redwings around Upper Cockington/Chelston.

Waxwing Wembury

A single Waxwing by the school briefly this morning but no sign when I searched for it again - lots of gardens!!

Underdown, Haldon Forest - Wren Roost Update (yesterday 23/12)

The wren roosts at Underdown have been severely affected by the cold weather. Three days ago I counted about 30 birds going to roost in our house martin's nest. On returning home after a drink with neighbours at 9pm I saw that wrens were falling out of the nest and hopping about in the snow - the nest had collapsed. I immediatly decided to catch all remaining birds in the broken nest, so using a net I leant out of the bathroom window and took the whole lot including the nest. I transfered them into a cat basket and went to find other birds in the snow. Back indoors the birds had got out of the cat basket and we had 20 wrens flying around the house. We left them to go to roost and all birds flew off fine the next day at 8am. I spent the morning making a replica house martin nest for birds to use, and amazingly some used it the following night.

Wrens are also using our neighbours HM nests and last night one of their nests collapsed. Due to the prolonged cold weather this time birds were simple falling down dead. We immediatly got a ladder and decided to again take the remaining nest down plus birds all in one go. As I went up the ladder I was picking up hypothermic birds and putting them in my pockets. I pushed a box over the nest and slid a piece of board down against the wall, placing everything into the box. Decended the ladder with the box, I found more hypothermic birds and with my pockets full and no were else put them I ended up gently holding them in my mouth.

This morning we had 15 dead birds. I 'wren proofed' my studio, where I have housed the remaining 6 birds, feeding them live food. They have voracious appetites and will ONLY eat live food, despite what wild bird food suppliers say. They are doing well and will be released tomorrow morning, hopefully with a bit of reserve for the next 48hrs.

Some people may say I should not have interfered. A short period of cold weather, catching the first nest collapse would have saved about 20 birds, but after prolonged cold weather and the birds body reserve depleted there is very little one can do.

I estimate that about 60-100 wrens have been roosting within the immediate area and we are now down to about 10.

[from John Gale]

Dousland - yesterday 23/12

In our garden at Dousland the number of Bramblings has been increasing since the beginning of the month to a maximum of 33 today. The garden is still snow-bound and providing regular food and water attracts many species including two Reed Buntings

[Maureen and Rob Harrison]

Red Kite - Willand - yesterday 23/12

Lucky enough to spot a Red Kite working low over the M5 at Willand this afternoon

[from Tim Clyburn]

Turf Lock - yesterday 23/12

This Ruff was photographed by Simon Thurgood.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Topsham Lock

Two redhead smew together on the unfrozen pool just south of the lock, from midday on. One flew off shortly after, the other flushed by a walker later at 1.04pm. Also good numbers of gadwall and tufted duck, and a few pochard and shoveler among the many coot.

Thurlestone Bay

Expectations never live up to actuality . Not so much on the move today but still interesting

Movement this am - 22 Stock Dove -n , 10-0+ Redwing , 90+ Fieldfare, 15 Siskin -s , 34 Song Thrush, 250+ Skylark- N , 4 Mistle Thrush. 95 Lapwing, .On the Marsh 70+ Wigeon ,8 Teal, 1 Water Rail.15 Snipe. 1 Jay. 10 Reed Bunting on my feeders.

In the Bay - 3 Mute Swan, 8 Gadwall, 7 Wigeon, . 35 Golden Plover in the cafe field

at 8.20 a Grey Lag Goose flew into the Marsh -landed just outside my garden . Flew off at 9.50 -west

At Southdown Farm near Bolberry - Bob Burridge had v good views of a hunting Short-eared Owl and a male Hen Harrier- needless to say by the time I arrived neither could be found but still over 2000 Skylarks in the fields

Thrushes Galore

Barnstaple Garden today.
Never seen so many Song Thrushes and Redwing as in my garden today - the cut up red apples seem to be bringing them in. On a berry hedge just down the road from me there must have been 50 Redwing.

Powderham Marshes (RSPB land)

The large flocks of larks and finches have dwindled to a mere 300 skylarks and another similar size flock of brambling and chaffinches. However there was still excitement with a male cirl bunting, a male yellowhammer and one woodlark. A little unusual was a curlew feeding within the dense stands of bird crop, which was a patch of sunflowers.

A wren and small flock of 7 long-tailed tits suggests some small birds have survived so far, but several small piles of feathers marked successful hunting by the sparrowhawks.


Got the 90th species for my garden list (i.e. seen from my house or garden) this morning: a long-awaited Little Egret.

River Dart Totnes-Dartington

The lower Dart today produced a good variety of wildfowl forced in by the cold weather, including: 12 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, Pochard, 20+ Tufted Duck, 5 Teal, 10+ Little Grebe, 4 Goosander, 30+ Moorhen and 5 Coot.

Strete Ralegh, Whimple

Another tip when feeding Thrushes etc. cut up windfall apples into quarters (having first found them in the snow) as the birds go for the cut up ones first and don't lose energy trying to get through the tough skins and halved apples always seem to end up cut side down.  The pic shows 6 Fieledfare, 4 Redwing, 6 Blackbird and a Pied Wag.

Old Turf Lock Cottage

Some nice Gadwall, Tufted Ducks and a female Smew early this morning

Winter lunch - Exmouth

A pair of Song Thrushes visiting my patio today (Thursday) so I thought that they deserved some help and protein. A slate with wintering snails has been much appreciated! Hopefully, two well fed thrushes - they also appreciated porridge oats.

Wembury 23/12 - Woodlarktastic

The fun continues - Started off with a Brambling in the garden before a long (and very treacherous) walk along Wembury Beach. Still good numbers of Lapwing (50), Golden Plover (80+) around but Song Thrush numbers down (50). Good movement of Redwing (3-400) along with 100+ Fieldfare, 2 Snipe, Knot, 2 Grey Plover, Redshank, Merlin, 3 Buzzard (one in off), Pintail, 5 Wigeon, 2 Gadwall and 3 Dunlin. Still 1000+ Skylark, 4 Cirl Bunting and a few Chaffinch about. Then we come to the Woodlarks. Scanning the stubble field yielded me 3 Woodlarks flying over. Moving on the wheat field (W of stubble field, almost at Wembury Point) yielded hundreds of Skylark circling round very nervously and a big flock of Linnet. Then a group of about 35 birds got up from the back of the field and my brain went into meltdown - I identified the two Skylarks easily but my brain had a bit more trouble coming to terms with the fact that at least most of the rest were Woodlarks. In a bit of a state of shock, I waited for them to get up again but they didn't so I walked around to where I could see the back of the field a little closer. A Sparrowhawk came through and put the whole group up and they flew over my head Tillueeing gently as they went. I was able to identify 20 Woodlarks as they settled back in the wheat field but I think I missed at least a few. At the risk of getting referred for an eye test or psychiatric help, there may be as many as 30 birds present!

Clennon Valley

Bittern located and photographed by Terry Lakeman on the lower (Easternmost) pond, it showed again briefly pm slipping and sliding on the ice before going into dense cover. Also 1 Ruddy duck, 6 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 3 Teal, 2 Little Grebe and 1 Water Rail.

The Bittern was probably the same bird that was seen earlier in the day on one of the ponds in Paignton Zoo, apparently it was seen flying down the valley towards Clennon Ponds.


Waxwing located whilst out and about at work. Single bird present feeding on berries at 1000hrs in the service lane to the rear of Lower Ellacombe Church Road.


5 Waxwings were a pleasant surprise this morning in the oak tree overhanging my back garden! They are feeding in a berry-laden cotoneaster (along with Redwings and Fieldfares) in a private garden to the rear of Holly Walk. They may well be visible from Maple Drive/Cedar Close but please do not try and drive on these roads as they are extremely dangerous with iced- over hard-packed snow. Please respect residents' privacy. A word of warning to anyone contemplating driving anywhere in Exmouth - do not under any circumstances try and drive off the salted main bus routes, the road surfaces are lethal. Just checked again and another bird has joined the Waxwings making it 6!
Latest update - 9 birds in all seen at 1010hrs, but they flew off over the other side of Jubilee Drive. However singles seen again round the lunchtime period.
Also a male and female Blackcap in my back garden, and amazing numbers of Redwings feeding in every berry bush in sight!

Mudbank Lane this afternoon:
male Cirl Bunting still present, favouring the grassy areas around the 'stone cages' midway between Lower Halsdon Farm and West Lodge. Also 12 Goldeneye, 25 Teal, 3 Lapwing, Greenshank, 21 Avocet and 9 Black-tailed Godwits.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Exeter Canal Smew

Some cracking shots of a Smew from Charlie Fleming...

On the Exeter Canal near Topsham Lock

Thurlestone Bay

Another day with plenty of cold weather movement-

Song Thrush were the surprise with 168 logged, 150 Redwing , 14 Fieldfare . 232 lapwing, ( only S Thrush west all others east.)32 Stock Dove -W , 103 Skylark -E 3 Mistle Thrush,

3 f Goosander in the bay, 12 Wigeon -e +64 on the Marsh.,10 Teal 3 Turnstone, 1 Mute Swan -w (first since Sept ) 1m Shoveler, 1m Gadwall.

46 Golden Plover in cafe field. 30 ad Gannet feeding close offshore. 1 ad + 1 1w Med Gull,

T hurlestone Marsh 1 Cettis Warbler still croaking and 1 Water Rail.

Roll on Thursday !


Male cirl bunting along the cycle path between Lower Halsdon farm and West Lodge this afternoon. It is very unusual to see them in Exmouth and this one had found some snow-free hedgerow to its liking. The skylark pictured above was clearly struggling to find food and looked very weak, again beside the cycle track. The waxwings and redwing were feeding beneath the rowans this morning because of the lack of berries on the bush!


Broadsands: 173 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Red-throated Divers, 4 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Teal, 5 Pochard, 21 Wigeon, 10 Common Scoter. 1 Chiffchaff, 11 Cirl Buntings, 6 Reed Bunting.

Clennon Valley: The female Ruddy Duck (I assume it's the same one) is back at Clennon Valley: also 9 Shoveler and 2 Water Rail. Nick Bray saw a couple of Waxwing by the Leisure Centre during the afternoon.

More from a Barnstaple Garden

Plenty of birds visiting the garden today including Redwing, Song Thrush , Goldcrest and Blackcap, nothing as good as Bittern Though !!! - Another day of snapping from the comfort of indoors.


Buckfastleigh - Garden

27 species in the garden today, far more than normal. There were 11 Song Thrush when we usually have one! Also an abnormal Blue Tit with a blue belly - I assume some sort of feather problem. I'm finding putting peanuts in a blender makes them attractive to a variety of species, together with sun flower hearts and apples.

Wembury 22/12

More excellent birding this morning: 70 Golden Plover, 100 Lapwing, 150 Song Thrush, 100 Redwing, 20 Fieldfare, 4 Snipe, 4 Mistle Thrush, Teal, 7 Cirl Bunting, Merlin (Male), Sparrowhawk, Redshank. About 1500 Skylark in the big stubble field - I trawled through them for nearly an hour before finding 2 Woodlark feeding very much by themselves on the western edge of the field.
Note: the last bit of the hill down to the beach car park is not really passable in a car - park at end of Mewstone Avenue and walk the last 500m or so to the car park.

Mondays Med Gull (4V7) (still here today) was ringed near Nantes in France in June 2009 and was seen at Mount Batten in September 2010.

Exminster Marshes

Single corn bunting with the finches at Powderham Marshes, also 3 woodlark, 150 brambling & about 300 skylark on the bird crops and one jack snipe. Redhead smew still on canal.

Exeter Canal - yesterday 21/12

As I walked towards the large unfrozen pool on the Exeter Canal at Topsham Ferry at 1430 yesterday , all the birds remained including around 20 plus Gadwall but the 2 Smew were easily put up and flew down the canal to another unfrozen pool by the Fishermans car park.

Road through the marsh to Fishermans car park is treacherous and not worth the risk

[from Charlie Fleming]


12+ waxwing still outside leisure centre early morning but their favoured rowans are now almost berry-free so I would imagine they will relocate elsewhere soon. Also around Exmouth this morning: woodcock, 5+ mistle thrush, 2 blackcap, snipe, goldcrest, treecreeper + numerous redwing and fieldfare (seafront/Maer), 135+ Lapwing (Orcombe Point).

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Thurlestone Bay

Over my house at 08.30 - 75 Skylark & 27 Stock Dove flew west.

South Huish Marsh -am - 31 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 50+ Teal. 5 Coot on the only ice free water, . In field behind the cafe- 107 Lapwing & 215 Golden Plover. 5 Mistle Thrush.

A f Marsh Harrier flew up South Milton Ley valley

21.12.10 Plymouth

Now 30 Waxwings in King Street, just off the city centre (opposite Frankfort Gate between Chemists and roundabout). a great sight!
Photo of single opposite is separate city centre bird (found yesterday and present early am today but not seen this pm after all the berries had gone!). Other images are from King St.
Also quite a few redwings and Fieldfares in that area.


An even better day for garden birds than yesterday (although I can't match Bittern!), with 19 species, including our second and third ever Bramblings, a granivorous Meadow Pipit again and a male Bullfinch.

My granddaughter says there were at least 15 Waxwings at Exmouth Leisure Centre at 11:30 today.

Bittern at Berrynarbor

Record shot of a Bittern that appeared in Margaret's garden early this morning.

Dinan Way, Exmouth

Found a different group of Waxwings (3) in Exmouth early afternoon. They were along Dinan Way, opposite the entrance to Meadow View Road. Still present when I trudged back past at 1510hrs.

Old Apples in Teignmouth garden

Put some old apples on the lawn and a female blackcap was down within half an hour.

Exmouth - Leisure Centre

The Waxwing flock is feeding on the rowan tree outside the Leisure Centre and alongside the main Imperial Road carpark, as at 1230 Tuesday 21st Dec. Sorry, no count - couldn't stop; driving conditions in Exmouth bad.

Exminster Marshes

Single redhead smew still on Exeter Canal this morning, south of Topsham Lock

Monday, 20 December 2010


Finally, a Waxwing nailed down in Plymouth!!
A lone bird at the junction of Mayflower St. and Armada Way, opposite Subway/Armada House.
Feeding on a spindly Rowan. (How did he find it)???
Still there at dusk but very few berries left on the tree so it may not be there tomorrow.
At home a Brambling in the garden again plus three Redwing.

Wembury 20/12

Not quite as good as yesterday afternoon but still plenty of birds thanks to the cold weather: 8 Med Gulls (6 2W, 2 Ad one with green ring 4V7), 8 Mistle Thrush, 120 Lapwing, 40 Golden Plover, 3 Teal, c. 400 Skylark, 150 Song Thrush (all British birds seemingly) and 1 Grey Plover.

Thurlestone Marsh

Fortunately it only rained (+ thunder & lightning) Unfortunately it then froze - took me 2 hrs tochip the ice away from the drive. Decided to stay at home and look for cold weather movement over the Marsh, wasn't disappointed.
9.15 - 13.00- 108 Teal, 30 Wigeon, 7 Shoveler, 20 mallard ,1 Coot. 85 Snipe , 23 Lapwing, 15 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 5 Mistle Thrush, 20 Song Thrush, 100+ Redwing, 15 Fieldfare, 2 Stonechat, 45 Stock Dove, 205 Skylark, 40 Linnet, 25 Meadow Pipit, 7 Reed Bunting, 25 Goldfinch, 1 Cettis Warbler, 200 Jackdaw,1m Blackcap, 1 m Brambling,50+ Chaffinch, 6 Long T Tit

Exminster Marshes

Two redhead smew on Exeter Canal with coot & gadwall on unfrozen patch just south of Topsham Lock bridge, departed towards Topsham @ 1615.

Also: on Powderham Marshes c2000 skylark carpeting the bird cover fields, 11 woodlark, 350 brambling and smaller numbers of other finches & buntings. About 2200 wigeon, 600 lapwing & 20 shoveler sitting out the snow around the lagoon.

And bittern & jack snipe on Exminster Marshes 19/12.

James Diamond

Exminster Marshes

record shot of Smew

Between 6 and 8 inches of snow covered the marshes today. About 400 Lapwings huddled together as one flock but little else showed on the fields. The ice free parts of the canal still held 60+ Gadwall, hundreds of Coots, 15 Tufted Duck and five Pochard. However at 14.20 a redhead Smew flew in. ( James Diamond saw two later in the afternoon).

On Powderham Marshes there were thousands of birds! I tried counting the skylarks but failed to get an accurate number - well over one thousand. Also hundreds of Brambling and Chaffinches, a few Yellowhammers, Linnets and Meadow Pipits. I saw two Woodlarks but James Diamond saw at least 8 earlier. Alongside the small ditch a single Stonechat and Cettis Warbler were foraging.

Overhead there was a noticeable movement of Common Gulls (c200) throughout the afternoon. They looked smart against the leaden sky. In the trees in the lane I saw a Treecreeper and heard a Chiffchaff.


After 15-20 cm of snow fell before dawn (to the accompaniment of thunder and lightening!), I was forced to spend the day watching birds in the garden. It proved worthwhile, as I notched up 18 species actually in the garden, including our first ever (2) Redwings. There were also 2 Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Blackcap (feeding on the ground). Sum total of the maximum counts was 92 birds, which included 30 Starlings, 14 Chaffinches, 12 House Sparrows and 10 Goldfinches.


Good numbers and variety! - 181 Great Crested Grebes (county record?), 14 Black-necked Grebes, 17 Red-throated Divers, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Common Scoter, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Wigeon, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Grey Plover.

At Broadsands: 2 collybita Chiffchaffs, 1 Water Rail, 1 Snipe, 8 Cirl Buntings & 5 Reed Bunting.


29 waxwing right outside the leisure centre entrance and presumably the flock that flew over the house. Apparently they've also been getting in a small Rowan tree near the roundabout where Rolle Street joins Salterton Road.