Saturday, 31 December 2011


This afternoon: 7-8 Cirl Buntings down on seed in 2nd car park with 2 Reed Bunting, 1 tristis type and 3 collybita type Chiffchaffs in marshy ditch. 2 Black-necked Grebes in Broadsdands bay and 3 Great Crested Grebes a little further out.


Seawatching from 8.15 - 10.45; My record-breaking patch year-tick scraped in under the wire today, in the form of a female Long-tailed Duck which flew west. Remarkably this is only the 5th site record, and the first since 1999. Also passing (all west unless stated) were single Great Northern Diver, 8 Red-throated Divers (2 east), 225 Gannets, 66 Fulmars (good numbers at last), single Common Scoter and Goosander, 48 Kittiwakes and 350 Auks. More Guillemots today, but still less than half the total.

Tramping round the fog-free areas turned up some of the regular wintering fare, namely Water Pipit, 3 Chiffchaffs, Goldcrest and Firecrest.

Braunton again

Forgot to mention that I saw a huge loose flock of Golden Plover this morning over the Chivenor airfield - probably 2000 plus.

Late afternoon a flock of about 40/50 Siskin feeding in Alders along the Tarka trail by the Braunton Tesco brings 2011's birding year to an end.

Happy New birding Year to all!

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

A nice end to the year. This morning a site record of 600 Golden Plovers on the barley field were flushed presumably, by an unseen raptor judging by the behaviour of the passerines and corvids.  120 lapwing were also flushed and about 6000 starlings were around the airfield in about 3 different groups.

This evening the Great Grey Shrike was showing well just before dusk and has now been present since mid October.

Exminster marsh

A quick visit to exminster marsh between 13:30 and 15:00 was rewarded with distant views of the glossy ibis from station road looking towards the lagoon feeding with the wigeon. Also a possible merlin but only a brief view, and 2 pintail, 1 water rail and 1 cetti's warbler.

On matford marsh earlier 30+ snipe 160+ lapwing , 21 black tailed godwit, 1 little grebe, 2
common gull in with 100+ black headed gull.

A good end to the year.


A rather splendid Song Thrush singing by the main road as I headed to Velator this morning. 5 Shoveler on the flooded field across the Tarka Trail from Wrafton Pond.

Plym Estuary

1st winter Spotted Sandpiper still present on Blaxton Marsh, along with 6 Greenshank and 67 Curlew.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Torre Abbey beach, Torquay

Three Black-necked Grebes, 5 Grest Crested Grebes and a Razorbill at lunch time today.

Devils Point, Plymouth

Late news for yesterday; the Spoonbill was on Drakes Island again, leaving at about 10.50.
Otherwise very quiet down here.

Exminster Marsh

The (unringed) Glossy Ibis still on Exminster Marsh. This morning viewable distantly from the path south from the RSPB car park south of the lagoon and then this afternoon north of the lagoon on the main marsh viewable from the canal path. Also, a superb male Merlin flew in with prey and sat on a fence south of the lagoon and a Water Pipit showing well around the middle car park area.

The Photographer's Tale

Following recent comments on this blog about some poor behaviour at Exminster Marshes, and to present a balanced picture, I thought it might be good to publish this account from Seb Loram...

'I have always loved wildlife and over the last few years developed a passion for photography.  Two weeks ago I was at Exminster Marshes hoping to see a Short Eared Owl with the intention of photographing it.  So, as most ethical photographers will hopefully tell you, I started planning my shots and hoped to use my knowledge of the bird, a bit of luck and most importantly fieldcraft.

So, I walked to an area I identified as a good place with nice light, background etc etc and hunkered down in full camouflage near a post I had seen a bird perch on regularly.  I waited for 6 hours, froze to death, then suddenly the bird came across the reeds and alighted on the post about 10 metres away. The next 20 mins it sat there preening before floating off to quarter the reeds.  I waited until it had gone to the other side of the marsh and darkness fell before getting up and leaving.

The next day I came back and at 2pm a bird (the same?) was sitting on that same post.... I was so chuffed.

The feeling you get when you capture images of that nature with the subject unaware of your presence is what wildlife photography should be about, not chasing a bird around the fields just to get a photo..... its only a photo.'

This is a bird news blog, and I can't help wondering if several recent posts (this one included) have strayed a bit too far from that remit. Perhaps circumstances have demanded it though? Anyway, as a final remark on this topic can I just refer any would-be photographers to the link on the right entitled 'Bird Photography Code of Practice'. It has been there for some time, and if everyone who includes a camera in their birding kit were to read and apply it there would be a lot less bad press aimed at photographers.



Northam Borrows

Glaucous Gull first winter also a adult Med Gull at goose pool at 10:30 hrs.


A sweep of the bay this morning came up with: 2 Great Northern Divers, 4 Black-necked Grebes, 10 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Shelduck still lots of Razorbills and a few Guillemots.

At Broadsands: 15 Cirl Buntings on seed in back of 2nd car park + 6 Reed Buntings. In the marshy ditch between the car parks there were two tristis type and 4 collybita type Chiffchaffs.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Exminster Red-breasted Goose

An email today from David Byrne, which said in part:

'...had good views of the Red-breasted Goose with Brents close to the new viewing platform on the cycle path between 1130 and 12 this morning. It and all (I think) the Brents  took off in a single sudden flurry of wings...'

Exminster Marshes

The Glossy Ibis was in fields opposite the Lion's Rest Industrial Estate mid afternoon, earlier it had been nearer the motorway so obviously mobile. No sign of the Red-breasted Goose reported nearer Turf in a quick check but a Pale-bellied Brent was present.

The Long-eared Owl was not present, yesterday it was flushed twice from its roost by the same photographer so its absence today was not surprising. Photographers have also been reported disturbing the Short-eared Owls well away from the footpaths across the Marsh.

A reminder to all readers of this blog (with or without cameras) that the area is protected as a SSSI and It is an offence under Section 28 P(6) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as incorporated by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000), without reasonable excuse, intentionally or recklessly to destroy or damage any of the flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features by reason of which land is of special interest, or intentionally or recklessly to disturb any of those fauna. A person found guilty of any such offence may be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000 or on conviction on indictment to a fine.

Away from the Exe regular checks of the Teign have failed to turn up the Iceland Gull but a gull on the evening of 26th was possibly an albino Lesser Black-backed Gull, maybe the Axe bird of previous winters?

N Devon

Malcolm Shakespeare rang me late morning to say he was at Down End (between Saunton and Croyde) - he'd been looking for the Iceland Gull, but saw a Great Skua instead - great record for this site at this time of year!

Clennon Valley

Yellow Browed Wabler still present late morning in the general area of the top pools


14 Cirl Buntings on seed in back of second car park with 4 Reed Buntings. In the marshy ditch between the car parks were 2 collybita type Chiffchaffs, one tristis type and a Water Rail.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bursdon Moor

Three Hen Harriers there late this afternoon (4.30) adult male, 2nd winter male? and a ringtail all quartering the moorland. Also Merlin and Kestrel around with them.

[Karen Sims and John Towers]

Exminster Marshes

At 13.45 whilst watching the marsh from the railway line path, with Paul & Tom Kemp, all the birds flew up as they often do. Amongst them however was a Glossy Ibis. This bird then dropped back on to the marsh. The bird then flew up again at 13.55 and flew ever up and away so that it appeared to drop down at or near Bowling Green Marsh. At 14.10 to my amazement the same or another bird was feeding happily close to the same path we were on by the railway line. Great views and it could be identified as a Juv/Imm. The bird then took off and flew back towards Topsham last being seen at 14.25 flying high and north. Nobody else had mentioned it when we had arrived, so I am hoping that I was lucky enough to have found it. One subsequent report was that it was seen flying back from Topsham between our sightings so confirming that it was just one bird.

Also seen were one Short-eared Owl (plus a number of birders out on the marsh with their cameras. Can I support Gavin's comment below, this is not fair on the birds. One guy with his camera flushed the bird twice. His actions were simply selfish and unreasonable. He was wearing a full set of blue waterproofs, so if you know him tell him) and a Merlin.

Kingsbridge Estuary


Off Lincombe Pt: 
GN Diver juv 
Blk N Grebe - Blanks Mill
Pintail 30 - Blanks Mill 
Bar T Godwit 8 - off Gerston
Blk T Godwit 12 same with a few around the tide edge
Dunlin 280-300
Grey Plover 6
Spotted Redshank 1 - landed right in front of me during a hail storm, I though, if I move it will fly off - I moved, it flew off!!
Brent geese are scattered so no accurate count. duck, grebes and particularly Common Gull in good numbers.

Exminster Marshes

With most of the family commitments and a very persistent cold behind me I decided to venture on to the marshes. The brisk walk to the Turf along the railway path revealed at least one stonechat and 8 grey geese that I presumed were greylags but were very difficult to see. At Turf 21 dunlin fed on the remaining mud (it was almost high tide) and a single kingfisher was on the river.

There were about 500 brent geese on the fields. I could not see any other geese with them. A few ducks on the lagoon all appeared to be gadwall. There were an additional 4 greylags on the bank. More brent geese flew in from the estuary but still I was unable to see any other geese accompanying them. Elsewhere on the marshes were lots of lapwings, curlew, shoveller, teal and a few tufted ducks.

A female sparrowhawk seemed interested in the blackbirds near Turf. The only other raptor I saw was a kestrel near the main road. With deference to Gavin's posting I won't mention anything to do with long winged owls.

Happy New Year to all.

Totnes riverbank

A short amble along the riverbank path between the bridge and weir this afternoon produced a pair of Goosander,16 Teal, Kingfisher and 2-3 Siskins.

Exminster Owls - a Plea

The recent Long-eared Owl at Exminster has raised an issue that this blog has had to deal with a few times - whether or not to publish reports of a potentially sensitive nature. Obviously I would be quite upset to learn that a direct consequence of news published on DBN was the disturbance and harassment of the birds in question. So, following concerns raised after the first report was published, the decision was taken to keep quiet instead. However, this was without realising the bird was so obvious and had rapidly become a virtual tourist attraction! So it was 'on', then 'off' and now 'on' again. Sorry, these things happen. We are not always going to make the correct call, but will always try to err on the side of caution. Apologies if your posts or reports have been affected by this, but hopefully you'll be understanding.

The LEO has apparently chosen a rather accessible roosting bush. Might there be a temptation to approach it too closely? The Exminster Short-eared Owls have likewise become very popular. Rumour has it that some visitors are not content to watch the birds from a sensible distance but are getting into the habitat for some reason, with the obvious risk of disturbance. Clearly this is daft. All these owls will only put up with so much hassle and will move on if not left alone. I have deliberately not ascribed this alleged behaviour to any particular 'group' of enthusiasts, because the point of this post is not to lay blame, but to encourage responsibility.

The instant availibility of bird news is potentially a double-edged sword. While it gives everyone the opportunity to hear about good birds (and to go and see them if they choose) it is not discerning, and cannot tell if the recipient will behave in a resposible fashion. So, for what it's worth can I please ask that if you learn some bird news through this blog you also treat it with respect. Thanks.


Plym Estuary

The Spotted Sandpiper still present this afternoon on Blaxton Meadow (islands). Also: Little Grebe (3) and Greenshank (1).

Weare Gifford

adult Whooper Swan in field near village hall at 12.00 hrs.

Kingsbridge Estuary

GN Diver
Goosander 2 fm Blanks
Dunlin 280
BT Godwit
GC Grebe 9+ plenty around sams Little G's
Tufted Duck mf
Goldeneye 2f
Pintail 30'ish 
Razorbill and
Eider - 1cy male. Castle Pt Salcombe (view from Cliff Rd?)
blackcap 2 and colibitta Chiff in the Sewage works Char Marsh
Barn Owl 2100hrs below Sorley Cross Kingsbridge.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Iceland Gull North Devon

On Boxing Day, an immature Iceland Gull was seen both in the morning and afternoon over the sea between Baggy Point and Croyde Beach. [Rob Jutsum]


This morning 10.30 AM, at the top of Port Hill (on the way out of Galmpton halfway to Waddeton, on the Stoke gabriel road,)  2 x Grey Partridge ( a year tick)......I have seen a pair in this area before......they caught sight of me, and ran off at high speed !!

[Trev Leaman]

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler was showing around 2-2.30 pm by the wooden bridge at rear of the last pool. A drake Mandarin was still on the main pool. Two Water Rails, Kingfisher, 6+ Snipe and 2 Teal also present.
Not much off Goodrington beach, the 4 Black-necked still favouring Broadsands-Elbury. No divers seen.

Bowling green marsh and exminster marsh

08:00 till 11:00 from the hide at bowling green marsh

420+ avocet, 500+ black tailed godwit, 150+ bar tailed godwit, 1 tufted duck, 1 shoveler, 300+ wigeon, 1 little egret, 150+ Brent geese, 22 Dunlin, 1 knot

13:45 till 15:30 exminster marsh great views of the long eared owl and 1 short eared owl toward motorway bridge, also peregrine, sparrowhawk, kestrel, 600+ lapwing and barnacle goose in with the Canada geese.

An excellent day


Did some ringing in the reserve this morning. Delighted to ring another wintering Blackcap, a first-winter female not carrying any fat at all, but looking in cracking shape! Later heard and saw an unringed Chiffchaff, then caught another. Best of the rest were 5 more Bullfinches, and a first-winter Song Thrush.

R.Taw between Pottington and Penhill Marsh.

13:00 - 14:00

At least 3000 Golden Plover in 2 flocks just off Penhill Marsh, with c220 Brent Geese and c1000 Lapwing.

Just 1 Bar-tailed Godwit; 5 Grey Plover and c160 Dunlin off Pottington, with fair numbers of Redshank and Curlew.

3 Black-tailed Godwit at Bradiford Reserve and the Green Sandpiper still in the ditch just before Ashford sewage works.

Dawlish Warren

At Dawlish Warren, the female Surf Scoter showing well mid morning just north of Langstone Rock and an adult Little Gull feeding offshore a bit further out.

Interesting Wigeon - Christmas Eve

Came across this quite striking cold grey-headed Wigeon in amongst the Wigeon flock feeding in fields beside the Otter on Christmas Eve. It did seem to show some features that could potentially be good for female American Wigeon with the cold grey dark peppered head contrasting with warmer flanks, dark shadow behind eye and paler forecrown and subtly different head shape. Wing coverts possibly show a third white bar in wing.
However, it could equally be a very grey variant Eurasian Wigeon.

Frustratingly I did not have enough time to get the critical underwing shot! I have had a brief look again yesterday and today, but the Wigeon flock seems smaller and greatly dispersed on the estuary. Worth keeping an eye out for it amongst the the Axe/ Exe Wigeon flocks as I would be keen to see the underwing!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Parke & Lustleigh

A pair of Mandarin on the river Bovey at Parke today, and a Firecrest just south of Lustleigh.

Broadsands-Elbury Cove

Very low tide this lunchtime, four Black-necked Grebes on the sea and single Razorbill and Guillemot. Grey Heron on rocks. A Firecrest was reported by the fence where the footpath enters the golf course , with Long-tailed Tits, but I was unable to relocate it.

Matford marsh

A walk out along the river from the mill on the exe pub to matford marsh from 10:30 till 15:00

At the mill on the exe had 2 grey wagtail and a dipper, between the quay and double locks another 2 grey wagtail, 2 kingfishers and 6+ snipe on the pools and a redshank by the overflow dam near the quay

On matford marsh excellent views of 42+ snipe on main scrape in with 50+ lapwing 4 shoveler, 1 tufted duck, 30+ teal, 2 black tailed godwit. On the back pool 3 snipe 13 shoveler and 100+ wigeon, 1 buzzard.

On the walk back along the canal had another kingfisher fishing and giving exellent views not a bad few hours walk.

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler still present at Clennon Valley usual place:

Also 3 Chiffchaffs including at least one tristis type, 1Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 12 Tufted Ducks, 2 Tea, 2 Water Rail, 8 Snipe and 1 Little Egret.

brixham breakwater

Breakwater 13:30-14:15.
6 turnstones, 1 ringed plover, 13 purple sandpipers feeding right up on the breakwater. The purple sandpipers could be viewed up to under acouple of metres away.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Exminster Marshes

Martin Cox reports four Short-eared Owls on Exminster Marshes late this afternoon, he got some pretty good photos too!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Clennon Valley Ponds

A couple of pictures from the ponds this morning. Also seen: 4 chiffchaffs (2 tristis type, 2 collybita), 3 shoveler, 2 teal, 1 water rail (and another heard), 10 snipe.

Plymouth (belated news for 22/12)

Peverell, Plymouth
1 Firecrest 700+  Redwings heading NW (largest flocks of over 100) & a Fieldfare heard. No's would easily have gone over 1000 if I had been able to watch for more than about 1/2 hr at 8.30am.

Saltash Br
50 Redwing heading WNW across the border at bridge height.

[Robert Hurrell]

Lower Tamar Lake

11 male Goosander; 1 Gadwall; 60+ Mallard; 70+ Teal;  c50 Wigeon; 2 Shoveler; ^ GreatCrested Grebe; 4 Little Grebe;  c80 Coot; 7 Moorhens; 2 Grey Herons; 90+ Lapwings; c100 Golden Plover; 1 Kingfisher; 1 Peregrine over; 2 Ravens over; 1 Willow Tit at the feeding station by the hide plus Nuthatch, Blue and Great Tit.  Coal Tit calling

[Harvey Kendall]

Weare Giffard

Lovely Whooper Swan at Annery Kiln Bridge today - photo by Brian Palmer


Seawatch from 8.00 - 10.30. All west, 2 Great Northern, 1 Black-throated and 16 Red-throated Divers, 135 Gannets, 4 Fulmars (still in short supply), Goosander (redhead), 45 Kittiwakes and 253 Auks, mostly Razorbills. Not much on the land, just 2 Water Rails, Reed Bunting, and single Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Highlight of the day, and most unexpected, occured just as I was about to leave, in fading light. All the birds went up and started circling and calling. After a few minutes of frantic scanning, I found the culprit. Way out to sea, very high up and moving rapidly east, I could just make out a string of Reindeer, pulling some kind of sleigh. The lead one had a very bright nose. Looks like he's on his way. Hope you've all been good this year! Happy Christmas.

West Prawle

After being told of 5 Egyptian Geese in a field with a swan, I went to have a look. Only 3 geese by then, but the swan turned out to be this adult Whooper. Site is on the East Portlemouth road, about 1/2 a mile beyond Vinivers Cross, opposite the entrance to West Prawle farm. Frustratingly, this is 2 fields outside the Prawle patch boundary. Yours truly is looking for one more year tick to beat my previous record - both these would fit the bill !!


On sea: 7 Black-necked Grebes, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Guillemot, 1 Common scoter.

Around car parks: 13 Cirl Buntings on seed, 2 Reed Bunting and in the marshy ditch now 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 whiter undersided tristis types plus one much better buffy and brown bird that called 3 times - perfectly for tristis, also 2 collybita type birds. 1 Water Rail in marsh.

Near Tedburn St Mary

A late early-winter Atlas tetrad yielded a decent total of about 150 each of Redwing and Fieldfare gorging on apples, and a cold-looking Peacock butterfly looking for some shelter.

Even Later news from yesterday

1 Short eared owl briefly in strong breeze at 1545 hrs at North end of Exminster Marsh,flew briefly and landed did not see it again before dusk,but was not looking in that area all the time so may of flew some more,lots of birds on the marsh but nothing unusual, Merry Xmas to every one and good birding,

Aveton Gifford

Late news from yesterday - Bewick's Swan still viewable from the tidal road.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Preston Down yesterday

A nice group of 3 brown hairstreak eggs found during the site survey.

Wembury 22 and 23/12

While most people were searching for last minute Christmas presents, I was searching for last minute year ticks. Just like shopping, I had to wait until the last possible minute to find something that I wanted! Lots of time and effort searching for Firecrest, Water Rail, Purple Sand and Tawny Owl but no luck! Best bird of yesterday was a Stock Dove (only just annual here although 3-4 seen this year). Masses of Redwings with 1500+ yesterday when normally we would be scratching round for the odd one in December. No Fieldfare but lots of Song Thrush (many in song...) and Blackbirds seeming very conspicuous.

Today a quick seawatch yielded 7 Common Scoter, 5 Kittiwake and 10+ Fulmar. One Guillemot was on the sea as well. In the fading light of this evening a Woodcock flew out of the radar compound to add itself to the year list.

Edit: A quick request - if anyone has got our Turnstones, can we have them back please? I have only seen one in the whole of December when normally we have 50+.

North devon reserves

Visited Bradiford reserve this morning early, but was surprised to see a squad car and two policemen looking over the gate! They were watching some shooters in the fields just over the river on the far side of the reserve. Fat lot of good providing a refuge for birds only to find that shooting is permitted just over the river. No doubt where the birds they would be shooting would come from! And I've also no doubt that that their dogs would be sent into the reserve to collect any birds that fell in the reserve...... I didn't stay to see what happened.

Went later to Velator and found the reserve pond swamped with Canada Geese, scores of them! They soon flew out into an adjacent field! Quite a few Redwings present with all the Finches.

Axe Estuary

The 1st-winter Caspian Gull present again opposite Coronation Corner (with apologies to all yesterday's visitors!) from at least 11:50 until 12:42, when it flew slowly SW towards the coast.

A minimum of 3 adult Med Gulls and an intermedius type LBBG too.

Dinnaton, nr.Ivybridge

Like Mike P, heading off to get the sprouts & mushrooms when a merlin decided to fly alongside the car. Nice surprise!!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Bursden Moor

Three Hen Harriers came in to roost late afternoon, an adult male, a second winter male and a ringtail. A male Merlin was also around, and three Buzzards. In the fields were 350 Lapwing and 150 Golden Plover. Several large Starling flocks were flying over towards their roost near Meddon.

Axe Estuary

No sign of the Caspian Gull today (one day we'll all catch up with one in the county!), but 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (ad + f.w.), at least 2 different ad Mediterranean Gulls and a Common Sandpiper. There were a few Black-tailed (I didn't count them) and at least one Bar-tailed Godwit present as well.

Around the Exe

Dawlish Warren - Dick Andrews & I went looking for the Surf Scoter (it was there) but got the most pleasant surprise - this male Eider was resting on the sea just off Langstone Rock at lunchtime. It didn't look in any hurry to depart.

Also lots of activity well offshore with a mixed flock of Gannets (100+ at least) and Gulls, with the Gannets giving good diving displays; flock of 20 Common Scoter also present

With apologies for the photo quality.

Exminster Marshes - the lagoon had 32 Gadwall and 3 Pochard in addition to the usuals.

Matford Scrapes - as wet as I've seen them, but with 27 Snipe in and on the various small islands and tufts of grass

Exminster Marshes

Two Short-eared Owls flew north along the canal, on the estuary side, near the anglers' carpark at 1550. The same or another two then hunting over the northern part of the marshes between 1600-1630.

Thurlestone Bay

Pretty desparate on the marshes/aby this morning - after an hours seawatch producedonly30 gannet & a Kiitiwake suddenly deceided to look more closely at the steady flow of Herring Gull -must have been in excess of a 1000, only addn'l species a2w Common Gull, 2 Lesser B B Gull and 70 Black H Gull- one day I will find the first Caspian for the patch..

This afternoon driving out of the village when a juv ringtail Hen Harrier flew in front of me , who says shopping doesn't pay!

Red-breasted Goose among Brent Geese near Turf.
200+ Avocet on estuary
Water Pipit on edge of pond nearest to Canal Car Park
Water Rail in ditch
Short-eared Owl quartering over rough ground near Motorway Bridge from 1440 to 1500
Other birds of prey :- Peregrine, male and female Kestrel and female Sparrowhawk. Surprisingly no Buzzard

Teign Estuary

I haven't posted in a while and so thought I'd put up some of my (4 days late WeBS) count from this evening.

Not much to report but the "highlights" were 11 Ringed Plover, 29 Dunlin, 1+ Avocet and a Great Northern Diver (near Shaldon bridge). There were 11 Snipe feeding in the open at Passage House which was unusual, and a Water Rail feeding frantically along the undercliff of one of the roost islands was also unusual (and nice).

Other wader counts included 344 Oystercatcher, 118 Curlew, 62 Redshank, 20 Lapwing and a Greenshank. Nothing much in the way of wildfowl and no sign of Iceland Gull.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great Grey Shrike still present this morning and showing well between 11.00 and 11.30. Also 12 lapwings, 150 fieldfare and 120 redwing.

Yesterday: 25 lapwing, 1 snipe, 1 stonechat, 4 stock doves and 10 raven

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lower Tamar Lake

1 Water Rail; 31 Wigeon; 52 Mallard; 6 male Goosanders; 8 Tufted Ducks;10+ Teal;  2 Little Grebe; 3 Great Crested Grebe;  37 Lapwings; 151 Black headed Gulls; 60+ Coot;  1 Reed Bunting; 1 Nuthatch; Dunnocks, Robins, Blackbirds and Blue and Great Tits (at the feeding station) but no winter thrushes or raptors.

Harvey Kendall

Aveton Gifford

walked the tidal road this morning with AJL - 27 Curlew, 7 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 3 Common sandpiper, 1 Green sandpiper, 6 Little Grebe, 8 Wigeon, 1 Grey wagtail, 2 Mistle Thrush. The juv Bewicks Swan is now showing some yellow on the bill.

Over Thurlestone Village a flock of 75 Redwing & Fieldfare. On the beaches 2 Sanderlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone.

Thurlestone Marsh- 18 Lapwing, 35 Teal, 20 Wigeon. In my garden - 6 Reed Bunting on the feeders, a male Blackcap , a male Bullfinch.

Still no sign of the Starling roost returning

Axe Caspian...again

In case there is still appetite for this - the 1st-winter Caspian Gull showed very well on the Axe estuary today, from at least 12:00 - 13:10 when I left. There was also an adult Yellow-legged Gull, and what was most probably a Herring x LBBG hybrid.

Teign Est

Iceland Gull on the Teign Estuary between Wear Farm and Jacks Patch. (Robin Shute)


Hear .. Hear... to Gavin's blatant plug, I too always relish seeing the annual report, it's certainly changed enormously from my first DBR in 1978 (the 1977 report), that didn't so much thud, but sort of slapped on the door mat. The new editorial team did good job this year, with more people submitting records and hopefully getting involved in the writing of it will get even better.

Broadsands today: 1 Great Northern Dive, 8 Black-necked Grebes (5 in one flock), 13 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Wigeon, 6 Razorbills. 6 Cirl Buntings on seed in car park and 1 tristis type and 2 collybita type Chiffchaffs in marsh.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Quick Plug

Assuming that many readers of this news blog are not members of the DBWPS, please excuse this quick plug.

Last week this publication landed on my doormat...

The Devon Bird Report is 204 pages of quality A5 paper, and is as good a county report as you're likely to find. Many (most?) birdwatchers of my generation were weaned on their county bird reports, but I'm not so sure about younger birders? When I first moved to Devon it was an essential purchase, quickly followed by membership of the Society. The main reasons (for me) were to familiarise myself with the county's birdlife (especially the status of different species) and to access local news and contacts. DBWPS also publishes two excellent journals each year - Devon Birds - of the same format and quality as the report, though usually 40-odd pages, not 200+! And if you're relatively new to the hobby or the locale, membership would be a great way to access the many organised field trips/indoor meetings and meet like-minded folks.

There, that's my plugging done.

Good birding all...

Exminster marshes

From 15:00 till 16:30

3+ short eared owls over the fields between station road and the motorway bridge around 16:25
Also 2 kestrels, 1 sparrowhawk, 2 peregrine, 30+ shoveler, 1 water rail, 800+ lapwing 200+ Dunlin, 40+ golden plover good numbers of wigeon, 1 cetti's warbler several snipe.

Clennon Valley & Three Beaches Headland

The Yellow-browed Warbler in usual place at Clennon Valley this morning with 1 tristis type and 1 Collybita type Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Water Rail and Ruddy Shelduck flew over. (photo yesterdays Drake Mandarin).

3 Beaches Headland this evening to check the Gull Roost: 2 Mediterranean Gulls 1 Adw & 1 2w, 179 Common Gulls, 2 Great Northern Divers, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Black-necked Grebes & 2 Great Crested Grebes also 1 Firecrest in cliff undergrowth.

Clennon Valley and Broadsands

The Yellow-browed Warbler (found by ML) was still by the western pond at Clennon Valley, along with a tristis type Chiffchaff.

Off Broadsands were 7 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers and a Red-breasted Merganser. Feeding very close into the beach were 15 Great Crested Grebes, one has forgot its winter still resplendent in summer plumage!

Also a tristis type Chiffchaff along the flooded ditch by the first carpark .

Bursdon moor

2 hen harriers male and female at 08;00hrs

Upper Tamer Lake

Cetti's warbler singing,plus 5 great crested grebe,3 goosander. on lower lake 7 great crested grebe,6 little grebe,9 mute swan,117 teal,28 widgeon, 4 gadwall, 11 shoveler,17 tufted duck,1 goldeneye,9 goosander all males, 83 coot 170 lapwing.3 snipe.

East Devon Commons - Squabmoor

10am Tuesday - flock of c25 to 30 Lesser Redpoll very mobile around woods to the north of Squabmoor Reservoir and Withycombe Raleigh Common; feeding briefly on the tops of birch and alder. 2 Bullfinches present.
First seen last Thursday 15th feeding in the same trees when a small flock of 8 Bullfinches were also with them.

Weare Gifford

Whooper Swan adult with 2 Mute Swans in field next to Annery Bridge. Green sandpiper on nearby river Yeo opposite Whitehouse

Budleigh / The Otter

No sign of Lyndon's impressive count of five from yesterday, but a single Snow Bunting (one of the original two birds from November) still remains faithful to the beach east of the Lime Kiln car park.
On the sea: a GC Grebe and 2 GN Divers.
On the Otter and adjacent scrapes: 29 Curlew, 4 Dunlin, 5+ Redshank, 170+ Wigeon, 60+ Teal a drake RB Merganser.

Yesterday: 3 Redhead Goosanders on the Otter late afternoon.

Aveton Gifford

At low tide below the bridge:

2 green sandpipers; 4 common sandpipers and a "lost looking" imm.Bewicks's swan.

Axe Caspian

The 1st-winter Caspian Gull present again briefly at lunchtime - would have been less brief if it weren't for a couple of kayaks!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Colour-ringed/flagged Redshank

Charlie Fleming photographed this Redshank on the Exe at Turf, Friday 16/12...

It is part of a Dutch project, and the co-ordinator (Wim Tijsen) sent more details to Charlie, as follows...

The reported sighting on 16 December  is good news (Wim's words) because it is the first proof that this bird is over-wintering on the Exe Estuary where it has bee seen twice before during this Autumn and previously on the Exe at Turf on 10 November 2005.  The bird was first rung as an immature bird in 2004. It is a female and a proven breeder both last year and this, very close to where it was rung at Westerland, Netherlands. The green flag is a transponder and was placed on the bird 13 May 2011. A metal circle is placed around the nest area and each time the bird enters or leaves the circle this is recorded via the transponder. Here is a copy of an email received from Wim that explained more about the bird.

" ........They raised at least one or more juveniles this spring despite the very dry summer. But the farmer I am working with is into nature farming and mow's his land very late, after 8 june or later for the birds in schedules. The farmer (Jan Mulder) also caught her back by hand when she was a juvenile. My main study area is around a skating rink in a open polder of 40 hectares, the skating rink is specially a wet-grass-land area, where the farmer get paid for. It is wet for 60% untill 15-5.This year my farmer pumped his land wet during the dryness, specially for the meadow birds."

A few more details on Charlie's blog here.

Newton Poppleford

A berry-eating wintering Blackcap! [photo by Pete Adey]

Exminster Marshes

2 Kestrels, Sparrowhawk, 9 Curlew, 2 Redshanks, a beautiful view of a fox eating a vole and 1 extremely distant short-eared owl virtually under the motorway.

[Sam Marles]

Axe Estuary

A 1st-winter Caspian Gull, north of Coronation Corner from 15:10 - 16:15 at least.

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler still present usual place, also 2 tristis type and 4 Collybita type Chiffchaffs, also Male Mandarin, 10 Snipe, Kingfisher, Little Egret and 2 Water Rail.

Budleigh Salterton

No less than 5 snow buntings feeding on the lower beach path this pm.

Some Photos from the Weekend

Short-eared Owl at Exminster Marshes - taken Sunday 18/12 by Martic Cox...

...and freshly scrubbed Snow Buntings at Northam Burrows - taken by Rob Cross, also Sunday 18/12

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Beesands Ley

Birds seen on the WeBS count this morning included 3 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 9 Tufted Duck and 7 Pochard. Only 3 Coot but great not to see a single Canada Goose. Black Swan still present.
Offshore 9 Common Scoter and 3 Great Northern Diver.


Spent the whole weekend doing common bird survey work - it's much better than christmas shopping! Away from the common birds, totals as follows; Merlin (female, Airfields), Green Sandpiper (over), 8 Purple Sandpipers, 10 Turnstones, Water Rail, 18 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, 15 Stonechats, Water Pipit, 50 Rock Pipits, 8 Bullfinches, Reed Bunting, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests.

Clennon Valley Ponds

No sign of the yellow browed warbler until 2pm when we left. However the eastern race chffchaff showed well, in willows by the brick slipway between the 2nd and 3rd pond (see photo). Also at least 3 water rail, and 2 snipe by the 1st pond.

Brixham Breakwater & Broadsands

On a a stroll along the breakwater this afternoon counted: 15 Purple Sandpipers, 9 Turnstone and 1 Ringed Plover.

Broadsands this morning: 3 Black-necked Grebes , 11 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Common Scoter, 1 Little Egret.

11 Cirl & 3 Reed Buntings on seed in 2nd car park. 

Photo: Black-necked Grebe Broadsands

Exe Estuary area

A mainly sunny day, providing excellent light for the WeBS count this morning. In my estuary section, between Starcross and Dawlish Warren Golf Course, the American Wigeon gave excellent views. Although mainly seeming to be unpaired, at times it displayed, called and followed closely a female Wigeon, which was within the range of plumage colours exhibited by Eurasian Wigeon (I never saw its axillaries though!) - see digiscope image. The count also included 7 Little, 4 Great Crested and the usual Slavonian Grebe, 400+ Brents, 1 Shoveler and 27 Mergansers, with Whimbrel, Water Rail and 3 Reed Buntings in the saltmarsh.

A quick look at the sea from Langstone produced Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Eider and the female Surf Scoter.

At Exminster Marshes in late afternoon, the Red-breasted Goose was with Brents near the M5 and at least 2 Short-eared Owls were hunting.

As I was driving over Haldon Hill as darkness fell (16:50), a Woodcock flew over the A38.

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide from 08:30 till 13:15 a very cold and icy morning.

180+ bar tailed godwit, 400+ black tailed godwit, 450+ avocet, 43 Dunlin, 1 knot, 3 turnstone, 500+ wigeon, 250+ teal, 1 gadwall, 4 shoveler, 1 peregrine made at least 4 attacks but none sucessful, 1 cetti's warbler, 5 fieldfare, 80+ redwing, 2 Greylag geese 30+ Brent geese, 2 meadow pipits.

Velator reserve

A session ringing this morning delivered 21 birds: all Finches (4 Green, 7 Chaff and 2 Bull) and Thrushes with 7 Blackbirds and a Redwing.
Sadly I didn't catch the Buzzard (sitting atop a tree), or the Kestrel which was mobbing it. Neither did I catch any of the 40/50 Fieldfares that arrived, chacked about a bit, and left. I also failed to snag the Water Rail I saw fly from the pond into an adjacent nettle bed.
I did, however catch SE97815, a Kingfisher that I originally ringed on 4th July this year. I tentatively put it down as a male that day, and was able to confirm this today.

Powderham, Exe Estuary

Just before the start of the WeBS count a single goosander (redhead) flew south down the estuary. On Powderham Sands were 269 avocets but they flew north within the first few minutes of the count starting at 9.40. Few other waders apart from 5 turnstones and about 400 dunlin. A flock of about 260 brent geese were off the Turf until they decided to fly. About 110 landed over Greenland Bank and the others returned towards the Turf.

On the fields - 6 meadow pipits, 2 robins and 2 stonechats.

Some recent sightings off Plymouth Sound

14 Dec: Drakes Island, Plymouth:
Ad unringed Spoonbill at roost till 10am
87 Cormorant (far more than usual)
13 Shag
Min 37 Little Egret

17 Dec:
Ad unringed Spoonbill at roost till 8.45am
Min 55 Little Egret

[Robert Hurrell]

Plymouth - yesterday 17/12

1 female Black Redstart in gardens behind Durnford Street, Stonehouse, Plymouth

[Tom Forster]

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Clennon Valley and Exminster Marsh

The Yellow Browed Warbler still at Clennon Valley this morning showing well from the wooden bridge.

This evening, a Short-Eared Owl showed well at the northern end of Exminster Marsh

Thurlestone Bay

This report covers the last 2 days-

Friday - A female Goosander was a surprise flying in off the sea & straight up South Milton valley.

An increase in Duck - on Thurlestone marsh - 7 Shoveler, 32 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 10 lapwing.

On South Huish marsh - 1 Greylag Goose, 200+ Teal, 50 Wigeon 9 gadwall.

Saturday - Waders on the beaches at high tide- 14 Turnstone, 2 sanderling, 13 Ringed Plover, .

Only duck on Thurlestone marsh - 50 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 5 Shoveler

Bowling green marsh

Watched from 08:45 till 12:00

On the walk down to the hide had a male blackcap and 80+ redwing 15 fieldfare,

From the hide 180+ bar tailed godwit, 450+ avocet, 400+ black tailed godwit, 250+ wigeon, 140+ teal, 40+ Dunlin, 1 knot, 70+ redshank, 2 tufted duck, 1 snipe , 2 little egret and 1 cetti's warbler calling

Isley Marsh and Foreshore to Fuel Jetty

09:00 - 11:00

Unpleasant birding in strong N.W. wind; blowing straight onto the shore.
Difficult to make an accurate count due to bins and scope being blown about.

On the Tarka Trail from Yelland level crossing to Instow Barton Marsh, 23 Fieldfare;
1 Redwing; 7 Bullfinch and 1 Buzzard.

Jetty Roost.
c180 Grey Plover; c350 Dunlin; 19 Bar-tailed Godwit; c100 Lapwing; 54 Turnstone;
20 Knot; 34 Redshank and just a few Oystercatcher, Teal and just 1 Wigeon.

Isley Marsh.
10 Spoonbill; c250 Teal; c150 Wigeon; c70 Curlew and 9 Greenshank.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bradiford reserve

A quick look in this morning at high tide. The river had backed up considerably, water completeely submerging the scrape and the reedbeds. In amongst the Teal (40?) and Mallard (a few) was a smart drake Pintail. On the other side of the river was a lone Black-tailed Godwit.

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler still in same place NW corner westernmost pond where tiny feeder pool streams into the top pond. also 1 tristis type (Alan D, if you got any good shots could you post them?) and 3 collybita Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and Water Rail.

Broadsands this morning: 2 Black-necked Grebes, 15 Great Crested Grebes, 27 Wigeon. around car parks 9 Cirl and 1 Reed Buntings on seed, 1 tristis type and 1 collybita type Chiffchaffs in marsh.

Seaton Marshes

Wheatear still present on Seaton Marshes this morning, with two Stonechats. Be good if it stays in to the new year!

Also yesterday, two Slavonian Grebes off Beer (found by Ian McLean).

 Added by GH

Northam Burrows

Two Snow Buntings feeding quietly around the edge of Sandymere Pool this morning. One was a very smart male, and probably a different bird from those earlier in the autumn.
73 Brent Geese on the Skern including 1 Pale-bellied, and around 40 Shelduck. Plenty of small waders, but impossible to get the scope on them in the wind.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

nr. Ashburton

Flushed a Woodcock in Owlacombe Wood, couple miles northeast of Ashburton this morning.

Yelland Taw est

9 Spoonbills feeding in field between Islay marsh and the main road opposite Lagoon view at 13.45 hrs still present at 16 15 hrs.


At Bellever Forest :
20 crossbill - a flock of 16 by the main car park. 1m 2f Goosander on the River Dart plus Dipper.

Burrator Reservoir: 1m1f Goosander at north end, also 10 teal.

Sidmouth - Jacobs Ladder

On time 2+ hours after high tide this morning the first
group of 7 Purple Sandpipers flew off the groyne to feed on the rocks alongside the foreshore. Overall total of 11 - (a passing pedestrian said that he had seen 14 on an earlier date)
Also 14 Turnstones.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

A totally unexpected surprise was an adult Bewicks Swan flying quite low south east at 8.50. Great grey shrike still present but elusive in the strong wind. 87 golden plover on the rough pasture until 9.05 when flushed by someone/something unseen and flew off east. Single mistle thrush and song thrush mixed in with around 60 fieldfare. 4 stock doves, 1 raven and one adult male stonechat.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Exminster Marshes

The fw red-breasted goose back today, with brent geese in the large field directly south of the M5 from the canal bank, over the high tide this morning. Also: 11 greylag geese, 2 water pipit and 2-3 short-eared owls (from 1500 north of Station Rd.)

Thurlestone Bay

Still blowing a F8 sw with much stronger gusts in the very heavy hail showers, with little shelter managed to stay up to 11.30.

A flock of 100 Wigeon flew into the bay and landed on the seabefore continuing west. A single Guillemot and 12 Gannets were the only other birds over the sea .

On the beach a first Dec record for me of a Knot with 5 Turnstone. an ad Med Gull on the marsh.

with2 Shoveler, 20 Wigeon, 30 Teal.

On Tstn marsh- 30 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 5 Shoveler,1 Greylag Goose, 8 lapwing & 1 Black T Godwit.

Just got back to find the postman has brought me an early Xmas present- no falling asleep in front of the Telly tonight with the 2010 Bird Report to salviate over

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler still in same place, 5 collybita type and 1 tristis type Chiffchaff, 3 Teal, 12 Snipe, 1 Water Rail, 1 Little Egret, 2 Shoveler.


Still very blowy out in the bay so most birds very close in: 9 Black-necked Grebes, 14 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Red-breasted Merganser.

6 Cirl Buntings on seed in 2nd Car Park, 1 Chiffchaff in marsh.

Paignton: 2 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Great Northern Diver.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Thurlestone Bay

A SW5/6 soon increased to an 8 this morning, seas rogh but viz very good . A Great Skua flew west at 10.15, 78 Gannet, 16 Kittiwake, 11 Razormots, 2 Wigeon ( on sea ), 1 ad Med Gull.

Tstn Marsh this am - 1F Merlin, 12 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 5 gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 10 lapwing , 1 Black T Godwit

On S Huish Marsh - 2 Shoveler, 1 Grey L Goose

Powderham Marshes

At about mid-day the finch flock seemed to be smaller than on my last visit but there were still over 200 birds mostly chaffinches and linnets. A few greenfinches (c20), 10 redwings, 15 reed buntings and 2 (pair) bullfinches were in the hedgerows. All the birds were constantly moving probably due to the number of raptors; buzzard, kestrel (2), sparrowhawk and peregrines (2). Elsewhere one stonechat, 11 long-tailed tits and a single goldcrest. Overhead c6 skylarks and c10 redwings.

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler showing well again - in NW corner of western most pond from small wooden bridge from the tiny feeder pond is. Birders have been looking from the wooden bridge on the causeway between the two large ponds (middle and western most) the chances are you will not see the bird from here!

Also : 1 tristis type, 2 collybita Chiffchaffs, Kingfisher, Water Rail and 3 Goldcrests.

Broadsands this morning: 4 Black-necked Grebes, 6 Great Crested Grebes 8 Razorbills, 1 Guillemot. 6 Cirls on seed in 2nd car park, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Water Rail in the marsh.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Clennon Valley Ponds yesterday

A belated pic of the ruddy shelduck on the lower pond yesterday.

Great Skua from St.Kilda off South Devon

I had a speedy response to yesterday's Great Skua sighting 30nm off Start Point.

The bird was ringed by Will Miles (of Leach's Petrel fame, if you subscribe to British Birds).

Will replied with the following interesting information on the bird:

"This is definitely one of mine, and the first ever record of one away from Kilda - totally brilliant! A live wintering at-sea record is particularly rare for these guys - so many thanks again. This fella is actually the second bird I ever ringed on Kilda. It is White/White (L) Red/White (R), ringed on Hirta on 22nd May 2007 as an adult (wing 441mm, weight 1510g, head&bill length 108.5mm). It nested every year on Kilda that I was there (2007-10) with only two other pairs on 'Mullach Sgar', quite a remote location away from the main colony in Glen Mor. Also, if I remember, the pair had rather a taste for Leach's Petrels too !"

Upottery Airfield, Smetharpe

Great Grey Shrike still present this morning though a little elusive in the strong wind. No sooner have I made a comment on the absence of golden plovers when they turn up again!! 32 on the barley field and a group of approximately 60 went north east. A single lapwing was the first since mid October. Circa 1500 starlings in various groups and 70 fieldfare on the rough pasture.  A few more gulls beginning to show with a 2nd winter great black backed being the first of the winter. A nice group of 19 house sparrows feeding on the sillage heaps.


Seawatch 8.00 - 11.00 returned totals of 3 Red-throated Divers, 307 Gannets, 10 Fulmars, Red-breasted Merganser, Curlew, Great Skua, 65 Kittiwakes and 252 Auks. A quick walk around the village before the rain came turned up little more than 2 Water Rails, a Goldcrest and a Firecrest.

Dawlish Warren

The drake American Wigeon showed briefly from the hide, lurking in Shutterton Creek; most of the birds on the Starcross side of the creek were busy dodging bait-diggers, dog-walkers and birders. Aside from that, the usual selection of waders as expected, 5 distant scoter offshore - all apparently Common - and a frustratingly distant skua heading east. Might, just might, have been a Pom.

English Channel 30nm SSW off Start Point

Out on a fishing boat yesterday, a few interesting bits and pieces in the channel. Up to 15 wintering Bonxies around the boat, one carried colour rings (so awaiting some feedback on this bird as to where it was ringed); see photo - left leg double white, right leg red over white. There were far more large gulls foraging around the boat than normal, mostly Herring, Great and Lesser Black-backs and good numbers of Kittiwakes. Fulmar numbers have picked up again and there was one dark phase ( a 'dark' as opposed to a 'double dark'). Best bird was a cracking dark morph 1w Pomarine Skua, though sadly I have no photos as it disappeared soon as I waved a camera!
Below photos of unringed Bonxie and 'dark' Fulmar.

Devils Point, Plymouth

A Spoonbill was on Drakes Island this morning at around 09.30.
I missed it's departure towards the Tamar but another birder got a nice shot of it in flight. Perhaps he will post it here??

Clennon Valley

Yellow-browed Warbler showing well this morning from small wooded bridge dividing western most large pond and tiny feeder pond (this is the best place to watch from the bird always returns here but does wander fairly widely). 6 collybita type chiffchaffs, 2 tristis type Chiffchaffs one calling very similar to the Broadsands bird the other with a soft 'see-ou' not the classic tristis flat 'hiii', both birds look good for tristis! Also 7 Goldcrests, 1 Pintail, 2 Shoveler, 11 Tufted Ducks, 1 Pochard, 2 Water Rail.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stoke Gabriel

2 Egyptian Geese today. [Terry Lakeman]

Slapton Ley

2 Gn Diver in the Bay, 1-3 Guillemot, doz Razorbill, Marsh Harrier, 2W med Gull, 2 Chiffchaff and Fem Blackcap

"Pied" GBB.

Further to Steve's post; I saw this bird on the Plym about two weeks ago. Unfortunately
I can't find the date in my note book. Russell Eynon tells me he has been seeing this bird on and off since October but again no dates.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Curlew Drive - Charleton Marsh ( 12:00-13:45, low tide ).

c 60 Brent Geese, 2 Tufted Duck, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and c 150 Golden Plover. Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaffs West Charleton sewage works.

Scorhill Tor

Several dozen brambling roosting in the beech trees below Scorhill Tor late afternoon.

Matford & exminster marshes

13:15 till 14:30 a look around matford marsh produced 11 snipe, 1 water rail, 12+ shoveler,85+ wigeon, 100+ teal, 200+ lapwing, 1 little grebe and a black headed gull in full summer plumage, and a possible tristis type chiffchaff calling and showing briefley by the seats on the back pool.

14:45 till 16:15 after several attempts to catch up with short eared owl over the last couple of weeks i was finally rewarded with the fantastic sight of 4 showing very well flying over the fields between station road and the motorway bridge also 1 snipe 20+ fieldfare, 30+ redwing and a large roost of long tailed tits by the bridge on station road.

A very enjoyable afternoon on the marshes

Elberry Cove, Paignton

2p.m Saturday, FIRECREST very active in small copse on southern corner of public area above the cove, using tree trunk thickly covered in ivy where footpath divides. Also Bullfinch seen in bramble thickets.
A mere 6 Black-necked Grebes offshore with 6 Great Crested Grebes; also 6 Razorbills close in.

Axe Estuary

A 1st-winter Caspian Gull was flushed by canoes around 13:40. It landed briefly by the tram sheds before flying off W with other large gulls.

Also on the river were 41 Dunlin, 3 Med Gulls and at least 5 Bar-tailed Godwits

Thurlestone Marsh

Big reduction in Duck numbers from Thurs., paticularly Teal - no more than 10 today. Waders on the mash 8 lapwing, 8 Snipe , 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Black T Godwit.

A new arrival in the garden a juv m Black Redstart

On South H Marsh this morning 5 Shoveler, 6 Wigeon, 1 Grey Lag Goose, 2 m Bullfinch & 1 Chaffinch in the copse

Velator reserve

Ringed at the reserve today after a couple of days away, and not filling up the feeders was slightly disappointing with finches well down on recent days - 2 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Bullfinch, 5 Greenfinch. However, the 6th Great Spotted Woodpecker of the autumn, and a retrap adult female Green Woodpecker, along with a good haul of wintering thrushes - 2 Song Thrush, 11 Blackbird, and 5 Redwings made up for it. So did the retrap male Blackcap ringed a few weeks back, a male Reed Bunting (first of the winter) and 2 wintering Chiffchaffs, both collybita. There's been a small arrival of birds this week, I also saw an unringed Goldcrest - they have been very rare there this winter.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

First visit this morning since last Sunday. Pleased to find the Great Grey Shrike still present and a better showing of passerines with around 30 chaffinch, a very smart male bullfinch, around 10 each of meadow pipit and skylark, 5-6 stock doves and approximately 2000 starling. The golden plover seem to have deserted for the time being.

English Hen Harriers in a bad way.

Please read the article, "English Hen Harriers `four steps` from extinction" and consider signing the petition.

Very few seem to know about the petition and not many have signed. Come on you birders!

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler showing well again in NW corner of Western most pond (interesting to compare it to the Hume's Warbler in Dorset: )
also 2 collybita type chiffchaffs and 2 tristis type chiffchaffs ( at least one calling similar to a collybita but a touch flatter), 3 Goldcrest, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Water Rail and a Ruddy Shelduck!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bursdon Moor

Called in at Bursdon on our way home from Cornwall this afternoon. At 4.15 - and unusually in still broad daylight! - a male Hen Harrier flew around (needless to say on the other side of the moor from where we were parked!). Shortly after, a female Merlin flew in and perched in the only significant hawthorn out on the moor. It was cold so we left!

Exminster Marshes

In late afternoon there were at least 3 Short-eared Owls hunting over the NE section - looking in the distance from the Swan's Nest bridge they were towards Topsham and the M5, but moving around a lot. There was also a Water Pipit near the canal car park.

At 16:50, 2 Woodcock seen in flight near Haldon Racecourse.

Seaton Area

The Wheatear is still present on Seaton Marshes this morning, with two Stonechats.

At Colyford WTW at least 15 Chiffchaffs along the northern edge, all appeared to be collybita-types.

Lastly, has anyone else seen this Great Black-backed Gull? It was on the Axe Estuary yesterday.

After posting this pic on my blog, Mike Passman informed me he had seen it (or an identical bird!) in Thurlestone Bay a couple of weeks ago. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has, or does, see it.

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler was showing on and off in the NW corner of the western most pond, also tristis type and 2-3 collybita type Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests 1 Water Rail and 2 Siskin.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Berry Head

Seawatch 10:00-13:30, wind WSW (245) 7-8: 14 Bonxies, 2 Pomarine Skuas (winter ad and imm), Balearic Shearwater, c700 Auks (mostly Razorbills), c300 each of Gannets and Kittiwakes, 2 Red-throated Divers.

Thurlestone Bay

F8 SW gale this morning- managed to find a sheltered corner by the cafe. Not much in quantity but certainly quality. Bay watched 90.30-12.45.

Very rough seas with poor viz.

75 Gannet , 5 Razormott, 1 Razorbill (on sea) all the quality between 10.20-11.10 first a female Long-tailed Duck , then a Balearic Shearwater, followed at 11.10 by an ad Sabines Gull - all flew east about 150 yds offshore.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Thurlestone Bay

Strong NW winds do not produce anything -even the gannets are well down.

Best sighting a F Merlin, on South H marsh,.

Totals on both Marshes - 14 Shoveler, 6 gadwall, 30 Wigeon, 100 + Teal, 6 Snipe , 8 lapwing , 1 Black T Godwit, 1 Greylag Goose.

Waders on the beaches - 13 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling.

5 Reed Bunting back on the garden feeders

Seaton Area

Wheatear still on Seaton Marshes today, showing much better along path to hide. On the Estuary mid afternoon were six Bar-tailed Godwits and and three Med Gulls.

At Brascombe Mouth this morning, a Firecrest at the sewage works with two Chiffchaffs. Lastly, a female-type Black Redstart at Seaton Hole this afternoon.

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler showed very well this afternoon in sallows and alders top NW corner of largest westernmost pond. 4 Goldcrests, 4-5 Chiffchaffs pesent (no sign of the eastern type bird). Also around ponds: 1 Pintail, 1 Little Egret, 1 Pochard, 2 Shoveler, 5 Tufted Ducks, 3 Water Rail.

Berry Head

Nigel Smallbones phoned in to say there were 3 BlackRedstarts on the southern slopes (out of the NW wind) of the Southern Fort this morning. Also Hundreds of Gulls moving north into Torbay.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Clennon Valley


Yellow-browed Warbler another strange calling (short sharp 'Tee' )  warbler, but too bright to be anything else! It's with about 4 Chiffchaffs including a white undersided chiff I was trying to attract out of the top of the trees when this bird dropped in less than 6ft away calling. Remained at very top (western most) ponds in willows between a small feeder pond and main pond