Saturday, 15 January 2011

Start Point

Seawatch 13:30-15:00. Pomarine Skua (ad winter, with spoons) south-west at 14:07. 3 Great Northern Divers north-west into Start Bay. Good passage of Gannets and auks. Most impressive was a feeding flock of c1500 Gannets stretching from close in at Hallsands out to Skerries bank. Several Harbour Porpoise also feeding.

Devils Point, Plymouth

Three Spoonbills were on Drakes Island this morning. I'm guessing they roosted overnight though there was no sign of their return by 15.30.
A very showy Great Northern Diver was here late afternoon and six Red breasted Mergansers flew across the sound.

Hopes Nose

Seawatch 9am - 4pm. 2 red throated divers, 1 black throated diver and 1 common scoter, all south. Also good numbers of razorbill, guillemots, gannets, kittiwakes and some fulmars, most south. Big flocks of gannets, gulls and auks were gathering to feed off Long Quarry Point and Black Head.

Exminster marshes

One short-eared owl flying over reed bed on the estuary side of the canal opposite the car park at 15.40. The smew and hen harrier were both reported earlier.

Wembury 15/1

Steady stream of Auks, Kittiwake and Gannets all going West. Auks too far out for ID but luckily a few were bobbing around in the waves close to the beach (4 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot).

Tihill Wood, Bursdon - Starling Roost

If anyone wishes to see the huge Starling roost for the Starlings that pass over the moor at dusk - it is at Tihill Wood just about three quarters of a mile off the A39 about 2 miles south of Bursdon. Usually a few raptors in attendance at the roost.
(Harvey Kendall)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Paignton Pier to Broadsands

13 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Black-Necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Diver species, probably great Northern. Also several parties of Razorbill on the water, probably around 30+ minimum.

[from Tom Forste]

Thurlestone Bay

Main interest in the Bay were 4 Sanderling on Yarmer Beach.

Thurlestone Marsh - 70 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 1 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler.30 Snipe. a Cettis Warbler heard. The Starling roost just keeps increasing -this evening at least 110k. A Peregrine flew thru.

South Huish Marsh - 180 Wigeon, 95 Teal, 6Gadwall

South Milton Ley 15.30- 1 Brambling, 1 Woodcock, 125 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare

Hawkerland, East Devon

Ringtail Hen Harrier showing well over the valley at around 11.30am. but I missed the Great Grey Shrike in the same area which had been seen by others to fly in from Aylesbeare Common. However other than these gems and a few Reed Bunting the area was pretty lifeless.

Exmouth & Woodbury Common

The female Long-tailed Duck was close in to Shelly Beach at 1220hrs over high tide. Also 5 Goldeneye there and at last, my first Rock Pipit of the year!

A ringtail Hen Harrier came in over Woodbury Common just south of Castle Plantation at 1640hrs (presumably to roost) from the direction of the Exe (could it have been the Exminster Marshes bird?) and glided down low towards Uphams Plantation. No sign of any Dartford Warblers though..........


Slavonian Grebe feeding offshore between Shoalstone beach and Breakwater beach. Lots of gulls at Brixham harbour today but I was unable to find anything worthy of a mention.
From a quick tour of the bay,
Preston Seafront - 2 Black-necked Grebe
Paignton Seafront - Common Scoter
Goodrington - 3 Black-necked Grebe

Exminster marshes

A pleasant walk around the marshes with Peter Reay this morning produced some good birds. The hen harrier was quartering fields to the north of Cork's drove and the female smew was on the canal south of Topsham Lock at 9.45. There were few other ducks on the canal apart from 3 tufted ducks. Near Turf the 8 white-fronted geese were in the adjacent field before flying first towards Powderham and then back towards the lagoon where they eventually settled. There were about 160 brent geese south of the Turf with more out on the estuary. Still no sign of any Cettis warblers but we did glimpse one wren and saw a flock of long-tailed tits.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Axminster Waxwings

Nine still present behind the Cloakham Lawns Sports Hall at 2:30pm today. Other observers visited earlier in the day, some seeing just five, and others seeing none at all!

Stover Park

Called into Stover this aft. On the Treetop walk were ;1 Marsh Tit 1 Tree Creeper ,6 Siskin, 3 Nuthatch . On the water were 2f Goosander

Exminster Marshes

Hen Harrier in the north of the marsh again this evening also a distant bird on the lagoon may well have been a drake scaup but only had bins ........

Teign - Passage House

12 Avocet today, also 50 Lapwing, 46 Redshank, 44+ Curlew, 25 Oystcatcher, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit & just the single Dunlin. No wildfowl apart from 4 of the dodgy geese and 2 Little Grebe.

Berry Head

Seawatch 10:15-12:30. 3 Eider still off the platform. Despite last night's strong winds seawatching was a little disappointing. Still good auk passage, but not as high as previous days at 1600/hr (90% Razorbills). Gannets 95/hr. Also past south were 5 Red-throated Divers and the best bird, a female Scaup. 4+ Harbour Porpoise off the headland.

Black Redstart Seaton Hole

Male Black Redstart still showing well at Seaton Hole today.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Exeter Canal

Bittern 15.40 today Exeter Canal - Opposite Countess Wear Water Treatment Works
[from Bob Reeves]
There was a Black Throated Diver off of groin 9 at Dawlish Warren this morning + a G N Diver.
Also 4 Pale-bellied Brents 
[from Dave Stone]
Photos of one of the pale-bellied, and a dark-bellied for comparison...


66 Oystercatcher
43 Turnstone
8 Curlew
2 Redshank
1 Knot

~10 Rock pipit
~10 meadow Pipit
~12 Cirl Bunting

Very good seabird passage offshore: 15 gannet feesing in wembury bay, 150 large auk sp ?mainly razorbill, seen passing west between Wembury Point and Great Mewstone, 100 seen passing in 9 minutes during rain squall.

[from Tom Forster]

Thurlestone Bay

The Starling roost dispresal at 08.15 was the most impressive so far, my guestimate was 75k.
Only change on the duck role were 4 Gadwall and 2m Tufted Duck.

Sea watching totally unproductive visability very poor. On South Huish Marsh still 12 Gadwall, with a new arrival being a male Pintail,. lapwing had increased to 60 with a similar number of Snipe.

Waxwing at Axminster

One of this morning's nine.

Torquay - Waxwings

A phone call from Mr Owen this morning to say he has two Waxwings feeding on the rosehips of a large rambling rose in his garden in the middle of Torquay.

Waxwings - Axminster

Yesterday Rodney Gayer found 7 Waxwings in Axminster in trees just behind Cloakham Lawns Sports Centre (at SY300993). This morning, 9 are present in the same area and showing well. The light was awful though so only record shots.

Bursdon Moor - yesterday evening

One ring-tailed Hen Harrier came into roost at 3.15pm. Then at about 4pm what I assumed to be a Merlin (looked small and very blueish back) came in low from the north and perched on a small gorse bush out in the middle of the moor, but looking through a telescope found it to be a Peregrine.
There were huge numbers of Starlings heading S over the moor so I drove off to see (hopefully) a spectacular display but failed miserably to find the roost site before it got dark!

(Dave Allan was also at Bursdon and saw a Short-eared Owl as it was almost dark at 5pm and possibly another ring-tailed Hen Harrier)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Seaton Hole.

11 Velvet Scoters now on the sea though quite distant, also 2 Eider ( much closer in )

Also on the rocks on the beach a male Black Redstart.

Thurlestone Bay

The Starling roost is really building up- dispersal at 08.15 was 50k, tonight looked even higher.

On the marsh 5 Shoveler, 65 Wigeon, 35 Teal 20 Snipe and a lone Lapwing.

South Huish Marsh this am150 Wigeon, 70 Teal, 60 Mallard, 45 Lapwing ,12 Gadwall, 1 Dunlin

Aveton Gifford this pm =- 5 Redshank, 1 Greenshank 1 Common Sandpiper 150+ Wigeon

Langston Cross ( nr Kingston ) 250 Golden Plover

Mansands and Broadsands/Elberry Cove

About 40 Snipe were visible at Mansands on the edge of the marsh tussocks. A Stoat was watched standing upright peering over the top of the tussocks then jumping over trying to surprise feeding Snipe, but was unsuccessful. The Jack Snipe came out to feed in the open for short periods. Single Chiffchaff and Water Rail were also present in the valley together with a few Teal and 6 Gadwall.
Off Broadsands headland over 120 Razorbills scattered across the south end of the bay, plus 3 Black-necked and one Red-necked Grebe..

Exminster Marshes

The redhead Smew was on the Exeter Canal c.150m above Turf but was flushed by a dog, and flew onto the main lagoon at 1320hrs. The ringtail Hen Harrier was quartering the marshes north of Lions Rest Estate from about 1335hrs onwards. A Bittern was watched flying into a thin stand of reeds near the fishermans' car park at the end of Swans Nest Lane at 1253hrs, but was not visible afterwards!

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

No sign of any Smew or Avocet in this area this morning.
17 Bar-tailed and 10 Black-tailed Godwit on freshly uncovered mud/sandbank just off Bradiford Reserve.
At least 1 pair of Gadwall still on pond in the reserve.
A flock of at least 400 Canada Geese on the river and Penhill Marsh, with a single Greylag in among them.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Exminster Marshes

A photo of the Hen Harrier, taken this morning by Charlie Fleming...

Marsh Barton Waxwings

A couple of recent photos from Charlie Fleming that illustrate some of the differences between adult and 1st-winter Waxwings. If only some local ones would allow me to check this out in the flesh!

[PS. Only 6 birds remaining first thing this morning]


Newton Abbot-Waxwing

2 Waxwing (found by KR) on Halcyon Road in Newton Abbot this morning, present till 9.20am at least between Asda and the Multi Story Car Park and showing well, but not there early this afternoon.

Thurlestone Bay

First good blow produced some passage- Sea watch from the cafe 9.45-12.45

60 Gannet , 3 Fulmer,19 Kittiwake, 3 Common Scoter 12 Razorbill ,3 Guillemot ,24 Razormot all flew east.2 Goosander (F ) west

1 Black T Diver (on sea), 2 Great N Diver-on sea & then east, 2 Red T Diver -west , 2 Red T Diver flew west

Berry Head

Seawatch 10:30-14:45.
The Sooty Shearwater came through at 11:25 (so took along time from Dawlish!). This bird looked a standard Sooty with no moult (see, so there appear to be at least two birds around. Still good auk passage at around 2800/hr, although now more Guillemots, with a 50:50 Razorbill ratio. Otherwise 13 Common Scoter and Red-throated Diver and c500 Gannets.

Barnstaple area

No sign of Andy's Avocet at Bishop's Tawton this afternoon in poor weather, but a female Goldeneye on the river there.

At Newbridge 28 Swans in the fields with 114 Curlew and a Black Swan.

At the Bradiford reserve still several Gadwall, good numbers of Wigeon and at least 200 Teal in the reserve, with a lone Black-tailed Godwit.

Out on the river, couldn't find the female Smew, but a big flock of Canada Geese with the Brents. A few Bar-tailed Godwits.

West Down, nr Tavistock

Great Grey Shrike still present today although mobile.
(Tony John)

Exminster marshes

The redhead smew was on the canal at 9.25 with 12 tufted ducks. Shortly after it flew to the lagoon on the marshes and joined another 20 tufted ducks. It was still there when I left at 10.00. The times might help establish whether or not the bird seen at Bowling Green is the same one that frequents the marshes.


Dashed down to Broadsands when I heard Lee Collins had seen a Sooty Shearwater close in at Dawlish Warren but it didn't come my way! Hundreds of Razorbills and another big gull feeding frenzy off Brixham with 70+ Gannets feeding and sat on water. 2 Black-necked Grebes but the bay was too choppy today to check properly.

8 Cirl Buntings on seed with 5 Reed Buntings 2 collybita Chiffchaffs in marsh and 1 tristis Chiffchaff (see pictures above - quite a difference in colour in the photos from low down in cover and very dull light to up in open and still fairly dismal light).

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Now at least 10 Velvet Scoter off the seafront with Commons, though distant.

Bishop's Tawton

Single Avocet with approx 150 teal at Bishop's Tawton west of the Taw by the railway bridge - unusual for North Devon.

[from Andrew Lansdell]

Exminster Marshes

A couple of photos of the Hen Harrier, from Martin Cox


The Bittern flew into the  rushes 40m North of the bridge. Had about 30 secs to watch it settle itself down into the classic neck up pose before slowly sinking out of sight. Also noted my first Cetti's of the year  just in front of the watchpoint by the pumping station and Woodpeckers seemed to be drumming everywhere I stopped today.

[from Tim Clyburn]
Sth Milton Ley:
Woodcock (Water Treatment Works)

Kingsbridge Est:
Brent Goose 77, Slavonian Grebe, Med Gull adW. Blk Tailed Godwit, Bar Tailed Godwit 9+

Blackcap m/f at Bird feeder


The female Eider is still kicking around the Cattewater; watched today from TR2 car park.
Little change on the Plym but a female Goldeneye has re-appeared.


A good day's birding in excellent weather - many birds in full song, and good to see a healthy contingent of Wrens among them.

Highlight of the day were 2 Lapland Buntings that flew north mid afternoon over the village.

The cold weather refugees remain in good numbers, notably 500+ Lapwings, 100 Golden Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 4 Knot, 2 Redshank, 15 Snipe, 2 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover. These last two constitute the first instance of overwintering for the species at Prawle.

Thrush totals were 210+ Redwing, 120+ Fieldfare, 48 Song Thrush and 3 Mistle Thrush.

The Water Pipit remains, along with 52 Rock Pipits counted, and Skylarks totalled c350.

Other notable birds included a Merlin, Mediterranean Gull, 3 Goldcrests and a Firecrest (at East Prawle Wood).

Hopes Nose

12.15-15.30. Hundreds of auks offshore (seem to be mostly razorbill), 1 imm drake eider hanging around Flat Rock, 1 red throated diver, 1 curlew, 1 little egret, 2 ravens.

Teignmouth & Shaldon

Started from Teignmouth seafront this afternoon and had 5 Eider, 4 Red-throated diver, 8 Great-crested Grebe and a Slavonian Grebe. I then went down to Ness Beach until dark and 16 Red-breasted Merganser came out to roost, along with c1200 large gulls. There were also 89+ of auk on the sea, a few of which were Guillemot but mostly Razors.

Exeter Marsh Barton

4 Waxwings this morning near Bristol Street Motors.
River Otter and Colaton Raleigh Common
Great to find the Bittern back on the flooded fields north of White Bridge this afternoon. It was typically elusive in the rushes before finally showing well out in the open for a minute in the late afternoon sunshine. Interestingly it has appeared on almost the exact day it turned up in 2010 (11th Jan in 2010) , assuming it is a returning bird.
Another evening visit to Colaton Raleigh Common resulted in just a brief view of a ringtail
Hen Harrier.

Exminster Marshes

Ringtail hen harrier still, north of Station Road this morning. Also adult yellow-legged gull with large numbers of gulls, wildfowl & waders on flood waters.

Thurlestone Bay

On the sea this am the first Great N Diver of the year, 2 Fulmer flew east.

10 Ringed Plover & 2 Turnstone on the rocks, . At Warren Point a Kingfisher on the rocks.

Thurlestone marsh this am 80 Wigeon , 4 Shoveler, 45 Teal, 15 Redwing .

Walking to the local shop found a Firecrest in the hotel gronds

Isley Marsh and Foreshore to Fuel Jetty

08:10 - 10:45

8 Spoonbills on Isley. Also good numbers of Teal and Wigeon and c30 Curlew.

Jetty Roost and Foreshore.

Dunlin c500
Grey Plover 151
Bar-tailed Godwit 29
Turnstone 63
Teal c70
Wigeon 20
Lapwing c300
Little Egret 1
Usual nos of Curlew and Redshank and only a few Oystercatcher.

Just seen on Birdguides that 2 red headed Smew seen on Taw off Pottington today.

Squabmoor Reservoir

Squabmoor reservoir 830am-1230pm I managed to track down a total of about 30 redpolls this morning, split into two small groups. One group at the southern end of the reservoir appeared to all be lessers (but I wouldn't swear to it) and the group nearer the carpark at the north end of the reservoir may well have all been lessers too. There were however at least a couple interesting individuals showing 'mealy' characteristics. Both flocks were difficult to observe being generally high up in birches and restless. The above photos depict some of the individuals seen (but not the best mealy candidates). All but the darkest birds exhibited white 'tramlines' running down the centre of the mantle and many had shaggy tibia feathering and limited buffiness around the face and upper flanks. At least one bird had a gleaming white super and ear covert surround contrasting with browner ear coverts - very striking but other features on this individual were not seen well enough. I would be interested to hear from anyone who gets good views of these birds or who has any comments on my (poor as usual) photos.


Scaup 1 imm male in Broadsands Bay before flying off N back toward Paignton Harbour, 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver (first for over a month in Torbay!), 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 7 Black-necked Grebes, 25+ Great crested Grebes, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, massive feeding frenzy of mostly Herring Gulls 5-6,000 but lots of Razorbills, and a few Gannets too out in middle Of Torbay


Good start this morning on the way to Mansands, a Woodcock on the side of the road. On the marsh, there were 78 Snipe, that could be seen , and 1 Jack Snipe. Also 2 Water Rails, 1 Redshank, 4 Gadwalls, 30+ Teals, 10+ Mallards, 4 Coots and 14 Moorhens.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Geese Quarries - Charleton Marsh, 09:30-12:45, falling tide.

51 Brent Geese, 6 Shoveler, 13 Pintail, 9 Tufted Duck, 4 Scaup ( off Charleton Point ), 7 Goldeneye, 10 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Little Grebe, 33 Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, Kingfisher, 2 Rock Pipit and 2 Chiffchaffs ( sewage works ).


4 Scaup (one drake) off Mudbank Lane at high tide, (1010hrs).

Smew Photo

Another photo of the Exeter Ship Canal Smew - taken on Friday 7th Jan, adjacent to Exminster Marshes, by Barry Rankine.

off Paignton Harbour

1 male Scaup diving for weed between Harbour and Pier before flying off towards Brixham at 10:30 also 1 Black-necked Grebe.


A fantastic still morning in the bay. Really pleased to locate a Red-necked Grebe just off Broadsands after first light. It then moved around to Elberry Cove where it gave great views in company with a Black-necked Grebe. It was disturbed by water skiers at 0930hrs but then relocated a bit further out in the middle of the bay, still present at 0945hrs.
Also 4 Black-necked Grebes, 60+Great-crested Grebe and 2 male Red-brested Merganser as well as a gull feeding frenzy out in the middle of the bay.

Long-tailed Duck and Common Scoter still visible of Preston/Paignton Seafront