Saturday, 19 February 2011

Seaton Area

Still 12 Velvet Scoters off Seaton Hole, and a young male Pintail on Colyford Marsh


Female Brambling
Black necked grebe.
Common scoter ( 7 ) 
[from Roy Williams]

Exe Estuary

On the Stuart Line cruise this afternoon: first winter Glaucous Gull (off Exmouth seafront), fw drake Long-tailed Duck with Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood, 2 female Scaup off Lympstone, plus 2 Little and 1 GC Grebe, c25 Shags, 7 Little Egrets, 70+ Mergansers, a quick count of 570 Avocets, 5 Greenshank at Powderham, several hundred each of both godwits, c100 Common Gulls, 1 Kingfisher on wreck off Cockwood. Also the long-time resident (blind?) Common Seal hauled out on Bull Hill.

Wembury Point

Still 2 Water Pipit at the point but little else of note. Also one stranded Porpoise? Have I watched too many Nat Geo documentaries with Shark in the title or does the missing bit look suspiciously circular?? 2 Honey Bees in my garden as well collecting pollen from Crocus flowers.


James Leonard and I returned to Newbridge this afternoon. There is a Pink-footed Goose there with the Swan flock. There is another Goose with it that has pink feet and a mostly pink bill.
The two pictures above (sorry for the quality) are this bird. It has been variously identified!
All opinions welcome!
ps we also saw 4 Little Egrets and the Cattle Egret.


6 Spoonbills roosted on Wrafton marsh for the last two nights and departed quite early (from James Leonard).

(In the field on the south side of the Tarka Trail opposite Wrafton Pond.)

Beesands Ley

Very quiet this morning except for 5 Goosanders which soon took off and flew south anyhow.



35 Mute Swans and 2 Pink-footed Geese in meadows downstream of the bridge. 2 Farmyard (white) Geese in the river.
Also 1 Greylag with c60 Canada Geese in field alongside Tawstock road.
1 Little Grebe and 2 Goosander upstream.
No sign of Cattle Egret or Little Egrets.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Topsham Environs

Three drake and two female Red-breasted Mergansers were on the Exe off the recreation ground in the morning as were two Avocets, a Common Sandpiper, eighteen Teal, three Black-tailed Godwits and eighty eight Common Gulls.

One Spotted Redshank was with twenty six Redshanks and three Greenshanks on the Clyst Estuary from the viewing platform at about half past two in the afternoon.

The female Smew was still on the lagoon at Bowling Green Marsh viewable from the hide at five past three.

Cyprus Records

For Mike Passman & anyone else who has recently visited/will be visiting Cyprus.

I worked in Cyprus 2005-2009 and am still involved in writing species accounts for the annual Cyprus Bird Report. Could I please ask that anyone who visits Cyprus to send me a list of their sightings on a spreadsheet if possible. Species/Location/Number of birds/Comments/Date and I will forward them on to the recorder (Colin Richardson). My email is
There aren't that many resident birders out there and all records from visiting birders are most welcome. Thanks.

Thurlestone Bay

Back on the patch after a visit to Cyprus.

Small goups of Black Headed Gulls moving through the Bay and up the valley, including 1- 1st w & 1- 2w Med Gulls.
Single Shelduck in the Bay, 1 Red T Diver flew east

Thurlestone marsh -4 Shoveler, 5 Lapwing , 9 Wigeon,.

Max Reed Buntings at the feeders up to 21. Another 7 ringed this am.

Exe Estuary

A selection of birds seen on the Exe during yesterdays RSPB Avocet Cruise, highlight being the Long-tailed Duck - a first for me.

Otter Estuary

The following birds were present on and around the Otter Estuary late this afternoon;

2 Water Rails
First-winter Yellow-legged Gull

and two of Matthew Knott's gulls from last Friday:

leucistic Black-headed Gull ( I can see all sorts of birds being claimed from this individual - groan!)
putative first-winter Scandinavian Herring Gull

The latter bird was stood in the second field up from the cricket pitch and was huge, dwarfing a first-winter argenteus stood alongside!

Tamar Lakes

A visit to Lower Tamar Lake this afternoon revealed:

41 Goosanders (5 males)
1 female Pintail
56 Coot
2 Moorhens
26 Wigeon
3 Gadwall
19 Mallard
Canada Geese as ever

Plus 2 Willow Tits at the feeding station with numerous other tits and a Nuthatch

No sign of the Bittern although it was reported earlier today.

(Harvey Kendall)

Thursday, 17 February 2011


The 12 Velvet Scoter were again showing well off Seaton Hole this afternoon, together with 20 Common Scoter and 3 Eider. The Bewick's Swan was again in the field opposite Stedcombe Manor.

Tamar Lakes

Bittern showing well today opposite the hide at Lower Tamar Lake.
(Roger Walter)

North Devon

Ringing at the Velator reserve this morning yielded plenty of Finches (11 Green, 12 Chaff, and 12 Gold) plus 2 Siskins and a female Brambling. Also a female Reed Bunting.

While there I had a message from Steve W with news of birds at Bishop's Tawton, so headed off there at 4.30 with James L. In the first field north of the the river 5 Mute Swans, 5 Little Egrets and a CATTLE EGRET - first Reported by Rob Jutsum yesterday.

South of the river 30+ Mute Swans (mostly ist-years) with a Greylag Goose and a Pink-footed Goose!

In the river 4 Goosanders including 2 smart-looking Drakes.


34 Great Crested Grebes off shore and 1 black-necked Grebe (brief look only). If anyone notices fishing nets set just offshore from Elberry Headland please estimate length of net, number of bouys holding the net, time and date date. Please email details to me

In back of 2nd car park: 11 Cirl Buntings, 10 Reed Buntings and a female Brambling. 160+ (in several groups) of Redwing flying over >N.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bowling Green Marsh

Redhead Smew still present on the main pool this evening until 1725hrs at least. Also the high tide wader roost included a Spotted Redshank and 400+ Avocet.

Berry Head

Seawatch 10:00-13:30. Despite promising conditions relatively little moving, apart from a trickle of Auks, Gannets and Kittiwakes. Highlights being 4 Red-throated Divers and a Red-necked Grebe heading south. 2 Harbour Porpoise off the headland and a single Eider off the platform.

Baggy Point. 1210-1340

Single Gannet, Fulmar . One or two Rock Pipits, a pair of Stonechats but no sign of any Dartford Warblers.


2w Mediterranean Gull with flock of Black-headed Gulls and Common Gulls in Ireland Bay, also the female Marsh Harrier headed out of Ireland Bay toward Torcross at 10.15am.

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

08:50 - 10:15

Bradiford Reserve

3 Gadwall and c40 Teal. Wigeon numbers have dropped considerably, only 2 visible with a few Mallard.


9 Black-tailed Godwits; 3 Bar-tails; c50 Redshank; c250 Dunlin;
203 Dark-bellied Brent just off Penhill. Some of the Brent were turning somersaults, end over end on the water. Looked very odd.
2 Little Grebe which flew off upstream. What a struggle they seem to have to fly.
2 Grey Plover; and 59 Shelduck just off Ashford sewage works. Apparently "Sheld" is an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "Pied." You learn something about birds everyday.
Also 18 Sanderling `buzzing about.`
4 Great-black backs having a right old feed on a sheep`s carcase in the river.


A single brambling in the garden was the first for weeks. Almost as exciting were two, possibly three, green finches the most seen for months.

On the marshes 7 white-fronted geese still present near the lagoon (8 were seen last Sunday). On the lagoon 4 pochard were with about 6 tufted ducks, with a further 8 tufted ducks on various pools. Lots of wigeon, teal and shoveller scattered over the many wet flashes and pools together with a few black-tailed godwits and curlew.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bowling Green Marsh

The Smew was still present at 5pm, plus 6 Gadwall, 2 Pintail, 4 Pochard, 9 Tufted, 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, c160 Avocets, Little egret, Little Grebe and lots of Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits (one colour ringed: yellow above red on both legs, all above the 'knee'; right red was a 'flag' - apparently ringed in Iceland in 2007).


The fw Scaup still present this afternoon, mostly inactive. Two Black-necked Grebes and a single Great Crested off the beach.

Bowling Green Marsh

The redhead Smew still present this afternoon on the main pool, best viewed from the hide (Just as well too, given the weather!).

Brixham Breakwater

Slavonian Grebe just offshore at high tide and feeding successfully. Nothing else of note in and around the harbour area
Bantham foreshore high tide at start of path to Thurlestone 3 Ruddy Turnstone & 3 Sanderling. Only a few starlings left at Thurlestone roost.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Harpford Common

The Great Grey Shrike was still showing well this morning in the same burnt area on east side of Harpford Common.

Youngs Park, Goodrington

The 1st winter drake scaup mostly asleep lunchtime, but occasionally more obliging. Someone told me this bird has been there since wednesday or thursday last week. Off the beach a few great crested grebes and a black necked grebe - all distant.

Clennon Valley

A female Black Redstart in my garden and then moving up and down the road this lunchtime. Possibly the same one I have been seeing on and off all winter.


Youngs Park
1w male Scaup still present at 1500hrs

Taw estuary

Started at Fremington Creek, lots of skittish Redshank (one colour-ringed) with a lone Greenshank and a Little Egret. At the mouth of the creek a Spoonbill (with a yellow ring) was feeding.
Nearer Barnstaple I met a couple doing a bird survey to check on the effects that the new bridge has had on the birds of the river. It's the second year of the survey, and of course we couldn't find the Smew or the Goldeneye, but they did say they would return at high tide. I'm glad to see that the County Council is doing some on-going research into the effects of the bridge.
Not a lot on the way back to Braunton; 1/200 Golden Plover and about a dozen clockwork Sanderling!
At Velator Reserve this afternoon at least 2 Siskin seen with the mobile (and dispersed) Finch flock.

A couple of Little Grebes were very busy among the reeds in the pond by Dawlish Warren visitor centre today. Just a distant record shot of the pair.

Exminster Marshes

Three Water Pipits in flooded field to left of Swans Nest Lane, just past Lions Rest Trading Estate early afternoon.


1w male scaup on the boating lakes at Youngs Park, it was present last night when I was out just before dusk checking the gull roost and still present this morning.
I noticed 'fluff ' flying around in the light breeze from the reed mace heads so dashed over hoping for a Penduline Tit but it was a couple of Blue Tits instead!

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Eight Purple Sandpipers showing well on rock armour at Jacob's Ladder


Different week - same stuff! Seawatch (08.00 - 13.30); 3 each of Black- and Red-throated Divers, 1565 Gannets, 67 Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Common Scoter, 4 Common Gulls, Med Gull, 467 Kittiwakes and 1272 Auks (no attempt to seperate them today)! A nice lot of birds, but one of the lingering Sooties or a Skua or 2 would have been nice. (There's no pleasing some people)! I also fancied my chances of a Storm Petrel today, but I see they went to Dorset instead!

WeBS count produced a decent total of 16 Purple Sandpipers, along with the wintering crew of Redshank, Knot and 2 Grey Plover.

In Horseley Cove, I confirmed what I have suspected for a few weeks - that there are 2 Water Pipits, (I saw them together for the first time today), along with at least 36 Rock Pipits.


Still one Water Pipit at the point along with a Grey Heron.

Exe Estuary and Exminster Marshes

The WeBS count between Starcross and Dawlish Warren saltmarsh included 1 Red-throated Diver, Slavonian and 4 Little Grebes, Red-breasted Goose with 510 Brents in field at Easdon, 4 Goldeneye, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 30 Mergansers, Water Rail (in saltmarsh), 997 Oystercatchers, the usual wintering Whimbrel (also in saltmarsh) and 1 Greenshank.

Afterwards, there were 12 Gadwall and 2 Pintail in Powderham Park. At Exminster Marshes from 2:30pm: 8 Pintail, 14 Tufted Ducks on shallow floods (some diving), Water Rail and est. 750 Black-tailed Godwits. While checking Redwings in a field near the RSPB car park (one day there will be a Dusky Thrush!) I realised there was a Bittern's head and shoulders poking above the banks of a ditch - I had good scope views for c20 minutes until it finally walked off along the ditch.

Bideford - yesterday 12/2

These Starlings arrived lastnight at 5pm and do every night in our Ash Trees and roof at the Top of East-the-water, Ayres Close and Eastridge view, Bideford always around 5pm before heading off accross the town to Littleham and then Hartland. I Love it!
[from Shaun Barnes]

Exe Powderham sea-wall

During a wet WEBS count today three scaup were close to the sea wall at high tide. One male and two females. Also in the same area were 18 red-breasted mergansers with some of the males displaying. On the fore-shore were two knot and about 300 dunlin. In the wet fields immediately adjacent to the footpath there were 10 snipe , two rock pipits and 9 meadow pipits. One of the rock pipits sang and displayed landing in the old dead tree on the sea-wall.