Saturday, 29 January 2011

Bere Ferrers Area

Tamar, opposite Cargreen (around SX 440635)

Spotted Redshank (1)
Avocet (1)
Greenshank (3)
Widgeon (35)
Shellduck (40)
Teal (23)

Tavy near Lopwell Dam

Little Grebe (11)
Goldeneye (2)
Shellduck (28)
Teal (9)

[from Tom Forster]

Prawle this morning

Striking buzzard hanging around the car-park today

Very 'samey' at the moment, but good birding nonetheless. 2 hour seawatch produced 2 each of Great Northern and Red-throated Divers, (+ 1 unidentified), 462 Gannets, 6 Fulmars, Shelduck, 4 Wigeon, 4 Common Scoter, 6 Common Gull, 33 Kittiwakes and 1015 Auks (advantage with Razorbills today). The Goosanders put in another appearance, with 3 redheads flying east before returning west a little later. Shag count now up to 66, while regular winter residents remain as follows; Knot, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, 3 Med Gulls, 52 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, Water Pipit (Horseley) and Black Redstart (female on Point).

Isley Marsh and R.Taw foreshore to fuel jetty.

12:50 - 14:45

Isley Marsh.
Spoonbill 5
Plus the usual nos of Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, Grey Plover, Redshank, Dunlin and 1 Little Egret.

Foreshore including the jetty roost.
Knot 103
Wigeon 57
Grey Plover 62
Dunlin c200
Teal 39
Sanderling 2
Kingfisher 1
Turnstone 35
Golden Plover c100 overhead.

Thurlestone Bay

Very raw day even though the wind abated.

Both the Slavonian Grebe & Pink-footed Goose still present. Evidence of some cold weather movement with 5 Golden Plover , 55 Fieldfare & 35 Redwing in the cafe field.

Thurlestone Marsh had 60 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 10 Snipe .
Between 13.00-15.00 groups of Snipe moving up the valley of upto 30 birds ,eventually totalling 120 +.

Staring roost tonight largest so far - at least 150k . good flying display when both Sparrowhawk and Peregrine decided to investigate,.

Record no of Reed Bunting at my feeders this pm -17 (none with rings - 10 were ringed during the week ). The South Milton Ley team have ringed27 this month- the wintering population at both sites at least 60 birds


2 Water Pipit at the Point this PM. One a classic bird straight out of the field guide, the other much more subtle. Last weekend 3 Great Crested Grebe.

Northam Burrows

Looking unsuccessfully for Jack Snipe this afternoon, 2 Short-eared Owls were found over the rough area between Appledore Gate and Sandymere Gate.

2 Purple Sandpipers were again seen at Westward Ho!

Hawfinch at Ide

Recent sighting of hawfinch last weekend

Friday, 28 January 2011

Axe Estuary

Two 'Scandinavian' Herring Gulls L. a. argentatus this afternoon - one big, one not so. Here's the smaller of them (the darker bird in the middle)...

Stoke Gabriel

A photo from Terry Lakeman, taken this afternoon at Stoke Gabriel. The Cormorant did finally swallow this enormous meal, but then couldn't fly - it swam to a log to digest it.

I cannot identify the oddly shaped fish though. Any suggestions?

Steps Bridge

Six Goosander were on River Teign above the bridge this afternoon, and a Dipper singing.


A total of 102 Knot on the Yelland foreshore at lunchtime today

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Double Locks Wetland - beloved of Bitterns

Further to Andrew's post on Wednesday I received an informative email from Martin Davies today - most of it is quoted here:

Good news about the Bittern.

Just to say, those pools are actually called Double Locks Wetland

Btw – did you know that we’d recently excavated another pool / scrape in the adjacent field to the North of those pools?   We’ve taken a slightly different approach with the new one in that quite a lot of the scrape should develop as wet grassland rather than standing water.

Martin Davies.

Countryside Project Officer
Exeter City Council
01392 265337

Averton Gifford etc...

Averton Gifford: (on rising tide)

3 greenshank
8 redshank
1 common sandpiper

West Charelton Marsh, kinsgbridge estruary (high tide)
75 dark bellied brent geese
1 little grebe
10 red breasted merganser
5 goldeneye
4 scaup
4 tufted duck
27 grey plover
2 curlew
7 oystercatcher
250 dunlin
65 widgeon
2 great crested grebe

Frogmore Creek, Kingsbridge estruary (falling tide)
5 little grebe
3 dark bellied brent geese
47 shellduck
129 widgeon
35 teal
27 mallard
6 tufted duck
2 shoveller
10 redshank
4 greenshank
1 Avocet
15 curlew
9 oystercatcher

[from Tom Forster]

Thurlestone Bay

Waders in and around the Bay/marsh were--1 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Ringed Plover , 3 Dunlin, 1 Golden Plover, 2 lapwing, 45 Snipe.

At least 10 Song Thrush in the area ,usually no more than 2.

Slavonian Grebe still in the Bay.

Staring roost at 5pm well in excess of 100k

The Exe

Yesterday 580 avocets were counted at Topsham and 203 black-tailed godwits at Bolling Green Marsh. The number of avocets is good and suggests that few, if any, have moved away from the estuary however the number of godwits is less than a quarter of the expected total, (counts provided by Sally Mills RSPB). Today it was cold and bleak on the Exminster marshes but there were almost 2.000 wigeon, 7 pintail and 4 black-tailed godwits.

There have been recent reports of 2 bitterns on the pools between the Double Locks and the ring road and further sightings on the Exminster marshes. Are these the same birds? There is speculation that there may be at least 5 bitterns between Exeter and the Turf. I am considering attempting to collate records to see if there is overlap or a pattern of distribution emerging. Please if you have seen a bittern in this area (Exeter to Turf) since November 2010 would you send the record to me, ideally with the date, time and location. My email is or give me a call on 01392 833310.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Countess Wear (Riverside Valley Park)

One Bittern seen briefly in flight at Countess Wear pools from the second viewing screen away from the main road. Also a Sparrowhawk, a Little Egret and a Buzzard but not much else.

Dawlish Warren - afternoon

The male Black redstart was hanging around the visitor centre area for much of the afternoon today, sometimes flying a little way into Grenland Lake. Nearby, 7 redwing and a green woodpecker (towards the car park). Off the beach, about 30 common scoter, 2 red breasted merganser, 5 great crested grebe, 2 slavonian grebe, 1 distant flyby diver sp, and 4 brent goose flying into the estuary. In the morning a the surf and velvet scoters and a red necked grebe were also off the beach (info Dave Hopkin).

Thurlestone Bay

Generally overcast with an increasing nne wind.

On Thurlestone Marsh this am - 110 Teal, 50 Wigeon,10 Shoveler,10 Gadwall, Snipe20, 12 Reed Buntings coming to feeding station.

South Huish Marsh- 100+ Teal, 50 Wigeon, 60+ Snipe, 2 Jack Snipe ( very good in flight views),6 gadwall.

In the Bay-1 Slavonian Grebe , 1 G. C. Grebe. 2 Turnstone, 1 G. N. Diver , 3 Brent Goose landed briefly on yhe sea before continuing east

Aylesbeare Common

A ringtail Hen Harrier was quartering the heath to the west of the track to Woolcombs Farm at 1240hrs, near the broken pine. Also 3 Woodcocks in the 'usual place'. Again, no sign of any Dartfords...............

Berry Head

Warden, Nigel Smallbones informed me that an amazing 1228 Guillemots are roosting on the cliffs at Berry Head at the moment.

Also a working party at Broadsands yesterday saw 7 Waxwings near to the car park.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Brampford Speke north of Exeter

On the river Exe this afternoon male and female Goosander, also two Little Grebes . Twelve Siskins feeding in riverbank bushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming.

Start Point

One of those rare 'no birds mentioned at all' posts....

5 Grey Seals [from Terry Lakeman]

Thurlestone Marsh

Can't compete with Julia - I was chuffed to find the Pink F Goose outside my bedroom window at 07.45 - it was still alive.

On the Goose theme 3 Greylags flew over at 12.00.

Early pm at Aveton Gifford - 3 Green Sandpiper , 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 7 Redshank, 2 Egyption Goose , 2 Kingfisher.


Female Black Redstart in Beaumont Park this morning. [from Jack Spurway]

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

11:00 to 11:45 (rain stopped play) High tide at approx 10:00.

Smew 1 female ( just off Pottington sewage works.)
Black-tailed Godwit 1
Goosander 1 female just off Bradiford Reserve.
Bar-tailed Godwit 6.

Bradiford Reserve.
Black-tailed Godwit 13
Gadwall 2
Teal c120
Wigeon c50
Snipe 7
plus Canada Geese, Mallard, Curlew.


Can't compete with the American Purple Gallinule - Well done Julia for following up and collecting the bird - just occasionally odd birds that people report do turn out to be something extraordinary!

Around the Bay (myself & Bob Bailey): 20 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 120 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Long Tailed Duck (Paignton), 9 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Red-throated Diver & 200+ Razorbills.

At Broadsands Marsh; 1 tristis Chiffchaff, 1 collybita Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Siskin, 1 Water Rail.

On Seed at back of 2nd car park; 8 Cirl Buntings, 7 Reed Buntings.

Monday, 24 January 2011

American Purple Gallinule

Photo © Julia Harris

This immature American Purple Gallinule was found freshly dead in a private garden on west Dartmoor this morning. Late this afternoon it was handed over to the Assistant County Recorder when the above photo was taken.

If accepted, this will be the third record for Britain following an immature picked up exhausted on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, 7th November 1958 (British Birds 53: 145-146, plate I; G. A. Pyman and the Rarities Committee, British Birds 53: 164; K. Williamson & I. J. Ferguson-Lees, British Birds 53: 371; Flood, Hudson & Thomas, 2007: plate 42), and an immature picked up dead at Southill Park, Old Warden, Bedfordshire, April or May 2008 (B. Nightingale, Birdwatch Issue 200, Feb., 2009: 60-61)

Please contact for any further correspondence.

Steve Waite
Devon County Recorder

Saunton Down

Now three Eider off Down End this morning.

Green Woodpecker at Dawlish Warren today

Exe- Mudbank to Courtlands Slipway

On a very calm morning, flat sea & high tide, there were 10 Goldeneye towards Courtlands slipway - my best count this season. First drumming by Great Spotted Woodpecker that I've heard.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Short seawatch (08.15 - 09.45) recorded single Great Northern and 7 Red-throated Divers, 257 Gannets, 14 Fulmars, 34 Kittiwakes and 1265 Auks, (split fairly evenly Guillemot/Razorbill). Also noteworthy were 2 juv Mute Swans moving east - this species is less than annual here. Off Langerstone Point, a good count of 52 Shags. Waders included Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 370 Golden Plover, 100+ Lapwing, Ringed Plover, 10 Purple Sandpiper and 22 Snipe. 7 Med Gulls were in Horseley Cove. Thrushes are still present in reasonable numbers, totalling 100 Redwing, 85 Fieldfare, 21 Song Thrush and 2 Mistle Thrush. The farms around the village held approximate totals of 80 Chaffinch, 15 Greenfinch, 40 Goldfinch and 75 Yellowhammers. Other birds included the Water Pipit still in Horseley Cove, where a Chiffchaff was also finding plenty of pickings on the beach, 2 Goldcrests, and Tony Marchese also recorded Merlin and Brambling today.

Exminster Marshes

In addition to the birds posted by John Waldon this morning, I had the following of interest this afternoon:

female Marsh Harrier - flew north from Turf along the canal towards Topsham and the M5, about 1440hrs.

female Merlin - sat on a metal gate in fields opposite the Lions Rest Estate from 1640 until 1650hrs, when it flew towards the canal.

(The 8 White-fronted Geese were still present near the lagoon).

Kingsbridge Estuary

Charleton Marsh / Bay, 10:00-12:00, high tide.

Female Marsh Harrier flying around on arrival, it then spent 30 minutes out of sight in the reeds before flying out and immediatly heading west. The 4 Scaup ( 3 fems and a first winter male ) were tucked in the west corner of Charleton Bay but soon departed around Charleton Point towards Kingsbridge. Fair bit of noise disturbance this morning but also saw 103 Brent Geese ( distant below Lincombe ), 2 Tufted Duck, 5 Goldeneye, 24 Red-brested Merganser, 20 Knot, Coot ( on marsh - rare here although did breed last summer ) and a single Rock Pipit. Single Chiffchaff and Blackcap in the sewage works.


Black Redstart in St Brannock's Parish churchyard this morning.

Isley Marsh and R.Taw foreshore to fuel jetty.

07:50 - 09:20

The 7.6 metre tide at Yelland at 08:14 nearly covered all of Isley Marsh.
Spoonbill 7: Wigeon c65: Teal c230: Little Egret 3: Curlew 67.

Grey Plover c200. This has to be the most I`ve ever seen here.
Lapwing c200: Turnstone 91: Little Egret 4: Great Crested Grebe 1 near Horsey Is:
Dunlin c500 in total flying down river and on roost: Redshank 27: Wigeon c60: Teal c50:
Knot 63 a good number for here: Little Grebe 1 and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Exminster marshes

A visit between 09.00 and 10.30 coincided with the high tide. There should have been lots of black-tailed godwits but there were none. I guess they moved south during the cold weather. There were however 120 lapwings, 13 golden plovers and lots of waterfowl including the main brent goose flock near Turf. Yesterday afternoon this flock included one, possibly two, red-breasted geese but today the flock was too distant to identify individual birds. The 8 white-fronted geese performed a few circuits of the marsh before settling just north-west of the lagoon. At about 9.30 a bittern flew , from the southern end, into the main drain immediately to the north of the lagoon. The only other bird of note was a female bullfinch on the canal bank. The smew had been seen earlier in the morning flying over the estuary by James Diamond.

Thurlestone Marsh

10.25 - went into the garden to fill the feeders , rewarded with a Bittern flying accross the marsh only 10 yards away .A nice garden tick .