Saturday, 22 January 2011


Plym estuary;
Star prize today goes to the Firecrest in trees around Blaxton Meadow, my first one here.
On the river were eleven R.B.Mergs, two female Goldeneye and a Commmon Sandpiper.
The two Coot are still here.

Not much on the Tamar today, one hundred and fifty Wigeon and around one hundred Avocet in flight. Otherwise just a scattering of Teal and Black tailed Godwits and four Snipe.

River Culm

Three Goosanders and a Dipper were on the River Culm late this afternoon at Whorridge Farm which is a kilometre and half south of Cullompton. ST020052.

River Exe

Exminster marshes, 9.30 a.m.-12 noon:

43 Tufted Duck, 69 Shoveler, 8 Greylags on lagoon; 5+ White-fronted Geese behind lagoon. 5 Scaup off Turf (male, 4 female).

Dart's Farm fields/ Clyst marshes:
about 600 Brent Geese, with 2 Red-breasted (1 unringed, 1 perhaps ringed).

Topsham Recreation ground - 2 p.m.-5.30 p.m.:

1 adult Med Gull, ringtail Hen Harrier

Lower Tamar Lake

A pleasant walk at Lower Tamar Lake today (Saturday 22nd January) with a gentle SSE wind and crisp frosty conditions underfoot. Excellent visibility and reasonably calm water.

Masses of wildfolwl on the lake, including:-

14 Goosanders (4 females)

2 female Pintail


250+ Teal

124 Wigeon

36 Tufted Duck

2 Pochards

91 Canada Geese

54 Coot

6 Grey Herons

1 Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming for at least 10 minutes intermitently

Small numbers of Redwings in the surrounding fields.

(Harvey Kendall)

Otter and Orcombe Point

The drake teal x wigeon hybrid was relocated on the Otter estuary this morning, looking superficially like a big fat teal. Also present at least 8 adult mediterranean gulls. The top fields were quiet as to be expected but 40+ skylark, a single lapwing and golden plover and a female cirl bunting were present. The latter is only my second record from the top of Gore Lane following a one-day male in autumn 2008. Hopefully a further sign of an eastwards range expansion?

Newton Abbot area

Stover Lake was totally frozen over this morning , a few Siskin including singing males in the trees by the path, also 2 Redpoll flew over. A Greenshank and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were off Passage House Inn. Decoy lake held 44 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, a Gadwall and a Great Crested Grebe.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Staverton - yesterday 20/1

Seen pm Staverton ......... Firecrest, Goldcrest, Dipper, and 5 Goosanders (3 female and 2 male)

[from Terry Lakeman]

Thurlestone Bay

Another great morning both the weather & the birds.

Only walked round Warren Point to Yarmer Beach-- 09.25 - 12.15- 35 Wigeon on the sea with 5 Shelduck , 2 Slavonian Grebe , 3 Great C Grebe, 2 Red T Diver 5 Guillemot & 25 Razorbill. 9 Shoveler came in off the sea to join 7 already on Thurlestone Marsh.

5 Curlew flew west ( largest no. for a few years.) On the rocks ? beach 3 Purple Sandpiper (1st of the year) 9 Ringed Plover , 1 Dunlin , 4 Turnstone.

Lunch time - 7 Reed Bunting ct & ringed outside my garden, Water Pipit & Cettis Warbler , Grey Wagtail , 6 lapwing over.

14.30 Whitley X farm ( nr Thurlestone ) 70 Lapwing & 25 Golden Plover

Mansands & Brixham

At Mansands, there were 68 Snipe viewable on the marsh, but no sign of the Jack Snipe after a good long scan. Also 2 Water Rail, 1 on the marsh and 1 by the small pond with Moorhens. At Brixham Breakwater early afternoon, saw 4 Purple Sandpipers with 3 Turnstones. Also a adult Mediterranean Gull flew along the breakwater to the end and towards Broadsands.

Beesands Ley

52 Canada Geese, 13 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 3 Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, 4 Coot.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Geese Quarries - Curlew Drive, 09:20-13:30, falling tide.

94 Brent Geese, 4 Pintail, 8 Tufted Duck, 12 Goldeneye, 32 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, 9 Knot, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit.

Sorry - the photo of the male didn't load last time

Thought you might like these of the Black Redstarts at Dawlish Warren. Couldn't get so close to to the male.

Totnes - St Marys Church & Guildhall

Black Redstart, male feeding around tower and church yard.


Around Torbay today:18 Black-necked Grebes ( 6 Paignton/Preston, 7 Goodrington, 5 Broadsands), 1 Slavonian Grebe, 47 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Common Scoter, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Broadsands: 15 Cirl Buntings on seed put down today in back of second car park, also 11 Reed Bunting, 1 Brambling, 17 Chaffinch & 8 Dunnocks. 35+ Skylark in stubble field at back of beach.
1 collybita Chiffchaff, couldn't find the tristis Chiffchaff today.

A Little Egret picked out a large Shanny (thanks to Heather Dutton & Chris Proctor for fish Id!) from crevice well above waterline the fish made it very difficult to be swallowed by spreading out all of its fins!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Exminster Marshes

Watched a Bittern sunning itself this morning for 15 mins around 10.00am, very distant by the large lagoon - couple of record shots.

(Tom Wallis)

Exminster pm

The ringtail Hen Harrier flew north over the main lagoon at 4pm. No sign of the Smew but it had been reported earlier at Bowling Green. Reports of a Bittern seen from the gate by the double bend in the track this morning, looking across to the west.

Thurlestone Bay

No great change today- Pink -footed Goose still with Canadas. In the bay 2 Great C Grebe & 1 Slavonian Grebe ( very close inshore )

Exminster Marshes

The highlight of a brief visit at lunch time was a single little egret on the lagoon. It is the first I have seen, on the marshes, since the snow. Lots of wigeon and teal on the unfrozen flashes and pools. All the wildfowl seemed very wary but there was no obvious reason. The white-fronted geese were glimpsed, in the place they have recently begun to favour, to the west of the lagoon. I didn't look for the smew but it was not obvious on the lagoon or on the canal (it was on both yesterday at the same time).

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

14:15 - 15:45.

5 Gadwall still on pond at Bradiford Reserve.

4 Bar-tailed Godwit.
3 Little Grebe.
1 female Goldeneye
1 female Smew. This was probably the bird that I mistakenly thought was a Slavonian Grebe yesterday.

Bowling Green Marsh

Female Smew still there this morning, but elusive.

From the train near Kings Nympton two female Goosander.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Whooper swan at Weare Gifford

1 whooper swan with 2 mute swans in fields near church also 1 little egret in field near cricket pitch seen by David Churchill

Aylesbeare, Sidmouth & Exmouth.

A ringtail Hen Harrier being mobbed by Crows flew from Hawkerland Common over to Aylesbeare Common this morning.

One Purple Sandpiper was on Chit Rocks in Sidmouth. A proper scan would probably have yielded more.

The male Black Redstart was still on the new buildings above Shelly Beach in Exmouth. The Long-tailed Duck could also be seen distantly on the other side of the estuary from here. Three Goldeneye and a Slavonian Grebe also viewable off Shelley Beach.

South Huish Marsh.

Rec'd a message that builders working on one of the 3 houses at the far side of the Marsh had v good views of a Bittern yesterday & today,. WEnt over and cross eyed looking for movement in the reeds when at 16.55 it flew right across the marsh , viewed down to 25 feet. Also with the Canadas on the marsh was the Pink-footed Goose.

Other sightings - 8 Gadwall,125 Teal.75 Wigeon 1 f Tufted Duck, 60 Lapwing, 20 Snipe.

In the Bay this am - 1 G N Diver, 1G C Grebe, 1 Shelduck,35 Gannet & 1000+ Auks many on the sea constantly diving.

ON Thurlestone Marsh this am-2 Water Rail, 1 Water Pipit, 1f Cettis Warbler 35 Snipe

Cold East Cross

Saw the Great Grey Shrike again nr. Cold East Cross early afternoon. (on Dartmoor north of Ashburton, first seen on 7 Jan, approx Grid Ref SX 736745 ).

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

14:15 - 15:15

C120 Brent Geese on Penhill Marsh, until they moved downstream nearer to Penhill Point due to wildfowler setting up hide on the marsh.
2 Pintail off Penhill Marsh.
Peregrine on sandbar opp Ashfors sewage works.
3 Little Grebe.
4 Gadwall still on Bradiford Reserve pond.
1 female Goosander on shoreline of saltmarsh off Pottington.

An unidentified Grebe diving and feeding off the same saltmarsh, between Pottington sewage outfall and where the road from the estate joins the Tarka Trail. Even with 30x scope it was too far away to i/d but jizz, size and markings made me think of Slavonian.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


On the River Tavy adjacent to the park at midday:
A female Goosander showing down to 5m. from the footbridge, at one time swimming under the bridge, and a Dipper c. 20m. below the same bridge on the side of the river opposite the park.

Exminster Marshes

Good news from Charlie Fleming today:

' least one Cetti's on Exminster Marsh Today, heard it sing 3 times in area of the canal about 200 to 400 yards south of the Motorway Bridge at around noon.'

Exe Estuary area

On Exminster Marshes this morning the Hen Harrier was sunbathing on a fence post, wings spread and white rump gleaming. A Bittern walked in the open across grass to the reedy ditch below the lagoon embankment, soon after which my attention was drawn to a second Bittern nearby amongst rushes. While watching the latter, what was presumably the original bird flew by - two Bitterns in the scope together! Also 8 White-fronts, 6 Greylags, Water Rail and a Water Pipit in the area. Cetti's conspicuous by their absence, and even Wrens seems very scarce.

The bird seed crops at Powderham Marshes only held c100 Linnets, a few dozen Chaffinches and c30 Skylarks, plus the odd Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting and a pair of Peregrines on one of the pylons. A male Stonechat was my first of the year.

Between Powderham and Cockwood: 1 Slavonian, 2 Great Crested and 5 Little Grebes (plus another in P. Park), c20 Shags, 4 Little Egrets (in field with cattle), 2 Herons at a nest in P. Park, 16 Goldeneye (including 11 towards Exmouth), 8 Avocets, 2 Greenshank, c80 Turnstones, 2 Rock Pipits, good numbers of Common Gulls (>100).

Finished the day with a scan from the bridge at Langstone (13 Eiders, few Common Scoters etc, but light had gone), where a Green Woodpeecker called and 2 Goldcrests came to roost in an evergreen bush. At 5.30pm, 1 Woodcock leaving the edge of Haldon heading for Chudleigh.

Thurlestone Bay

Today was Auk & Diver day.

Over 350 Razormotts in 2.5 hrs mostly moving east, those on the sea that could be id'd were Razorbill.

3 Red T Diver on the sea plus 2 Great N Diver flew east , there was also 2 Diver species flying west too far out to positively id.

60 Wigeon on the sea later flew onto South Huish marsh, 90 Lapwing & 1 Dunlin on the Marsh.

First Shelduck of the year on the sea.

Movement of Mute Swan with10 either on the marshes or flying thru., until today only 2 on the marsh

Newton Abbot- Waxwing

7 Waxwing still in Newton abbot nr Town Centre for a 3rd day, occasionally on the trees along Halcyon Road near the multi storey car park, but today favouring the one large tree near the Cinema/Bus station area. This afternoon the flock was breaking into 2 mini flocks of 3 and 4 and also seen flycatching off the top of the tree.

Brixham - Sharkham Village

Male Black Redstart present today, feeding around the houses near to the sales office

English Channel 25nm SSE of Start Point -17/01/11

On a fishing boat out in the channel yesterday. Mostly gulls attending the boat, the majority were Great Black-backed (c120) also 4 Lesser Black-Backed and 45 Kittiwakes. 6 Great Skuas were attacking the above - confirming wintering out in the channel off Devon.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Seaton Hole - yesterday 16/1

Photo of the Seaton Hole Black Redstart, taken yesterday by Martin Cox

Exminster and Exmouth

Female Hen Harrier still on the Exminster Marshes today & a female Long-Tailed Duck off of Shelley Beach Exmouth this afternoon
[from Dave Stone]
The Otter
Despite a fair amount of searching, the bittern has remained pretty elusive in recent days, until tonight when it showed well from the main footpath 2 fields N of White Bridge. A drake Red-breasted Merganser has also been on the river N of White Bridge in recent days.



1 x Long-tailed Duck on small pond above pond 3 with the Mallards
2 x Teal
2 x Pochard
2 x Chiffchaff by the golf driving range
2 x Goldcrest
9 x Snipe

Long tail is probably the same one seen off Paignton sea front.

Thurlestone Bay

No sign of the P F Goose this am- only 25 Canadas in the field.LIttle change on the duck no's from yesterday, at 11.45 a female Marsh Harrier found at the back of South Huish Marsh-later flew up the valley. Didn't look like the Slapton Bird head more creamy than golden

Westward Ho!

Purple Sandpipers have been hard to find here this winter, so it was good to see two with Turnstones an hour before high tide this afternoon. They were among pebbles around the base of the steps leading to the beach in front of the ugly new block of flats.

Grand Western Canal

Between Halberton and Tiverton there was the undisputable highlight of four Goosanders flushed from the canal by the golf course by dawn dog walkers. Two drakes and two females. A rare canal tick. I had seen two drakes and two females on the River Exe not too long ago and suspect the rising river sent them over to the canal.

Other notables include eleven Reed Buntings, two Goldcrest, nine Fieldfares, a hundred and forty five Redwings, five Bullfinches, two Stock Doves, two Marsh Tits, four Nuthatches and eleven Siskins.

Ray Jones had a female Gadwall out towards Burlescombe which is another good canal bird.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


At 1.00 am I was surprised to see a Barn Owl hunting around Kerswell Gardens and across the main A380 Hamelin Way junction, a very unsafe traffic area for this species.

Exminster Marshes WeBS

WeBS count today brightened by the redhead smew (on flood near canal carpark), the 8 European white-fronts and 2 water pipit.

Prawle - Seabird Bonanza

Almost 10,000 seabirds were logged today between 08.00 and 14.00. Leading the way were Auks, with 6,800 west and 200 east. Gannets came in with 1675 west, while Kittiwakes totalled 955 west. There was a pause in the passage for about an hour around mid-day, when c.1200 birds were feeding/resting off the Point, conservatively estimated at 6-700 Auks, 400 Gannets and 100 Kittiwakes. Passage of Gannets and Auks resumed again, but Kittiwakes had tailed off by this time. The Auks were coming too thick and fast to try and identify, but the majority appeared to be Razorbills. Variety was provided by single Black- and Red-throated Divers, (+ 3 unidentified Divers), 4 Brent Geese, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 29 Fulmars, an unseasonal Manx Shearwater, and 7 Med Gulls. It would be churlish to complain after such a spectacle, but the absence of any Skuas was a bit of a surprise!

Had to end the seawatch to do the WeBS count which produced 63 Oystercatchers, 2 Curlews, 4 Redshank, Grey Plover, Knot, 9 Turnstones and 2 Purple Sandpipers. The Water Pipit is still in Horseley Cove.

(No time to check the Village area, but last friday (14th), still 400 Lapwings, 120 Golden Plover, 100 Fieldfare and 120 Redwing),

Thurlestone Bay

Strong SW wids upto F7 produced some sea passage- 10.45-12.45 60 Gannet , 25 Kittiwake,1 Fulmar, 22 Razorbill , 8 Guillemot+ 19 Razormots all going east . 2 groups of Brent Goose 4 &3 east between 12.00 & 12.15. A Black T Diver landed in the Bay.

Bird of the day was asingle Pink -footed Goose feeding with Canadas at the back of South Huish Marsh - both a site & Devon tick.

On Thurlestone Marsh this am - 50 Wigeon , 70 Teal, 4 Shoveler & 1 Cettis Warbler.

Yesterday in the village af Blackcap.

Berry Head

Seawatch 11:10-14:10. heading S, 5 Red-throated Divers. Steady passage of 2719 auks (70:30 Razorbill / Guillemot), though most (1828) in first hour. 3 Eider still present.

Seaton Area

Seawatch this morning from the seafront - an hour from 08:10...

34 Red-throated divers, 16 Fulmars, 9 Brents, 6 Gannets, 24 auk sp, 25 Kittiwakes - all W
At least 35 Common Scoter and 8 Velvets still in the bay. These were the flock sizes that got up and had a fly-round - there were a few more ducks out there, but too distant and rough to be sure of ID.

Male Black Redstart at Seaton Hole still, plus 7 adult Meds and 4 intermedius type Lesser Black-backs (out of a dozen or so LBBG) on the estuary up to dusk.

Exeter Canal & the Otter Estuary - yesterday 15/1

2 Red-breasted Mergansers on the canal, and a Bittern at White Bridge (am)

[from Martin Cox]

Around the Exe - yesterday 15/1

Exminster Marshes- 8 E. White-fronted Geese with the Canada Geese
Starcross-Red-breasted Goose with the Brents.
Dawlish Warren sea wall- Slavonian Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe, male and female Common Scoter, 5 Eider (inc a first winter male), 3 Red-throated Diver, Razorbill 5, Guillemot 1, Kittiwake 1, Fulmar 1, Gannet 10,
Shutterton Creek- 7 G Scaup (ad male, first winter male and 5 female/imms), Black-necked Grebe 1, Slavonian Grebe 2-3, 1 Little Grebe, female Goldeneye, plus the usual RB Mergs c20.
Bowling Green Marsh- Spotted Redshank 1 and a Barnacle Goose 1 with the Canada Geese, from the viewing platform looking over the Clyst, a Short-eared Owl was crossing the estuary from east to west heading for Exminster when harrassed by gulls. It climbed high and headed off down the estuary from 1530ish to 1540.
[from Martin J McGill]


Shoalstone beach - 1 Red-throated Diver which later flew south towards Berry Head, 2 more RT Diver headed south across the bay toward Berry Head.
Preston Seafront - 1 Black-necked Grebe

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve


Bradiford Reserve.

7 Gadwall.(4 males, 3 female.)
34 Wigeon.
89 Teal.
1 Little Egret.

R.Taw off Pottington.

132 Dark-bellied Brent off Penhill.
4 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Orcombe Point

A half hour seawatch this morning from the comfort of my car at Foxholes Hill, Orcombe Point between 0840 - 0910hrs produced the following:

Great Northern Diver, 4 Red-throated Divers, Fulmar, 7 Eider, 20 Common Scoters, 2 Velvet Scoters and c.500 auk sp. All heading south-west apart from the Eider which were sat on the sea.

River Dart above Totnes

A walk along the riverbank path between the old bridge and the weir on Saturday afternoon produced three Goosander (one male), 6 Teal and 6 Tufted Ducks.