Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cockwood and Exminster this afternoon

Pair of Goldeneye feeding with around 10 Red breasted mergansers at Cockwood - no sign of Long tailed duck.
Around 100 Black tailed godwits on flooded field on approach to Starcross.
The White fronted geese were still present at Exminster although difficult to see, to the west of the lagoon. Good numbers of teal and wigeon, 20+ shoveler and a pair of pintail. No sign of Spoonbill although it was reported as still present in the morning.
Small tortiseshell butterfly at the main car park.

Around Seaton

At least 11 velvet scoters and 3 great crested grebes off Seaton Hole.
Bewicks swan in the usual field showing very close to gate.
And finally after many attempts I caught up with the great grey shrike on Aylesbeare common. Very mobile and hovering but perching low in the strong winds.


Seawatch, 7.30 - 10.00; 2 Red-throated Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver, 170 Gannets, 18 Fulmars, 2 Goosanders, Velvet Scoter, 1692 Auks.

Apart from there now being 3 Water Pipits at Horseley Cove (with at least 34 Rock Pipits), and the first decent count of Pied Wagtails for the year (21), very little to report!

Pottington/Bradiford Reserve & New Bridge

Pottington/Bradiford Reserve 12.15-13.50
44 Sanderling, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Gadwall and a redhead Goosander.

New Bridge 14.00-14.45
Cattle Egret still present in field between the A377 and the railway line.
No sign of Pinkfeet.

Plym Estuary (Blaxton Meadow) Fri 25th Feb

A flock of 20 Siskins in trees beside the (narrow) river, 4 Greenshank, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 22 Common Gulls, and a leucistic Black-headed Gull.

Found a Leica binoculars rain guard (near Plympton sewerage works) - any claimer?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Thurlestone Marsh

At 08.15 both the Bittern & Marsh Harrier on the Marsh.

2 Sanderling on Yarmer Beach this am. 25 Redwing in local garden.

Whooper swan

1 adult Whooper swan with 3 mute in the field next to the old mill house in Weare Gifford at 14:30

David Churchill

Exminster marshes

Mid afternoon, low water, so few waders on the marshes. Also large female peregrine sat in the middle of the marshes may have been partly responsible. A few hundred wigeon still and about 120 teal spread out over all the wet pools and flashes together with 6 tufted ducks, 17 shoveller, 8 mallard, 6 shelduck and at least 8 pintail. To the west of the lagoon the 8 white-fronted geese were with a large flock of Canada geese and a single spoonbill.

Great Grey Shrike

The Great Grey Shrike showed well at Aylesbeare Common at 2.09pm perched at the top of a bush just past the cross tracks about 200 yards in from the entrance. It then flew down over the ridge to the right of the main track. It had been very elusive though and I had spent at least a couple of hours searching for it and was walking back to the car when it appeared.

Some Odds and Ends

Spotted Redshank on the Clyst at Topsham (23/2) - by Simon Thurgood

A Slavonian Grebe was off Broadsands beach, 24/2 [from Jacob Wood]

Finally, very nice to get this photo of a singing Devon Dartford Warbler after the winter we've just had!

Taken 24/2, by Shaun Barnes

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Double Locks Wetland

Bittern was showing well at the screen nearest the pub, for 2 minutes at 1.32pm. Also on the pools, 2 gadwall, 2 mallard, 17+teal, 1 heron and a little egret flew over. On the adjacent scrape, 2 green sandpiper, 1 common sandpiper, 4 mallard and 1 little egret.


Visit to Matford 3p.m. was quite productive:
1 Green Sandpiper, 7 Gadwall, 3 Snipe & 5 Tufted Duck in addition to the 100+ Wigeon flock and other usuals. Lot of water but plenty of grass and muddy edges etc.

Thurlestone Marsh

The adult F Marsh harrier showed very well at 8am & again at 16.00 & 17.00.

When quartering birds dieturbed were 50 Teal, 25 Snipe 4 Shoveler, 5 Wigeon 1 Gadwall.

In the garden area a Firecrest & the first Green Woodpecker of the year. 4 Water Pipit on the back marsh at 13.00. ,also 45 Goldfinch ( max up till today 8 )

Near South Milton a large flock of 200 + Chaffinch


At 09:25 this morning, 4 Spoonbills just downstream of the Taw Bridge, on the Sticklepath side of the river.

Double locks wetlands

A bittern was showing well this morning (08:00-08:30) from the cycle path screen nearest the pub.

Also two sandmartin high above the flood plain south of Trew's weir and a green sand.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Axe Estuary and Seaton Bay

Still 12 Velvets Scoters floating around in the bay - they seem to be drifting closer by the day too!

On the Estuary late afternoon 5 Med Gulls (4 ad, 1st wint) and 120 Common Gulls.

Re: the mystery North Devon Grey Goose - all the people I've asked (a few Norfolk birders, plus others from Holland, Dorset) have said that all features on show are within the range of a pure Pinkie (head shape, head and neck colour, bill shape and colour, over all size, and white edges to wing feathers).

This photo, also taken by Nigel Bastin, is quite a key one, showing tail band and upperwing...

By various different observers this Goose has been named as four species so far. It just shows - birding isn't an easy game!


Ringtail Hen harrier over Exe reedbeds at 16:45. 3 Brambling in garden.

Newbridge Geese

Hi Gavin,

Steve has sent various photos to several experts, and the concensus is that they are indeed both Pink-feet.

Taw Meadows, near Newbridge

A slightly belated posting (my fault -sorry) of some interesting photos from Nigel Bastin, taken last Friday I think. Although both have pink feet, not both are Pinkfeet! At least, that appears to be the case. Opinions welcome.

Double Locks' wetland, Exeter

As I approached the viewing screen over-looking the pool closest to the pub a sand martin flew over head. It then appeared on several occasions high over the pool during the following 20 minutes. However I began to take less notice of it as I realised a bittern was standing in the edge of the reeds directly opposite the screen. After a few minutes it caught a fish (probably a rudd) and ate it. A kingfisher sat on a bullrush and a male sparrowhawk flew over.

On the newly created pool east of the pub there were at least two common sandpipers. On the new fishing pools to the west of the pub two little egrets and a buzzard were sitting enjoying the sun. Not a bad 40 minutes bird watching between 2.00 and 3.00 pm.

Thurlestone Marsh

Best birdwatching from the house this am- At 8.00 a Bittern flew across the Marsh and landed just 40 yds from my garden. At 11.55 the adult femail Marsh Harrier was flying over the Marsh.

Yesterday at least 1 Water Pipit and a male Blackcap. also first Little Grebe of the year.

Quick visit to the Bay produced a Great N. Diver close inshore at 10.45

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dawlish Warren

Apparently no sign of the juvenile Glaucous Gull today, but Sunday and Monday morning it was on the point at Dawlish Warren viewable from Exmouth. On Sunday it then spent time on Pole Sands as the tide dropped.
Kingsbridge Estuary:
the best at lunch time today: 26 Red Knot and 4 Gtr Scaup (3f, m) with Drake Tuftie in attendance.

Bowling Green Marsh

A ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting over the reedbed at the back of the main pool, prior to 1250hrs, but flew off west, presumably being the Exminster Marshes bird. The Spotted Redshank was on the nearby Clyst estuary from the viewing platform at 1320hrs.

R. Taw

At Yelland, 66 Turnstone, 57 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Instow: 823 Oystercatcher, 41 Ringed Plover.

Bradiford Reserve: The redhead Smew was on one of the pools at 10.50; 8 Black-tailed Godwits. Green Sandpiper still present in the ditch between Reserve and Sewage Works. 221 Dark-Bellied Brent Geese feeding on Penhill Marsh.

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est and Bradiford Reserve

07:50 - 09:30

Very high tide at 08:45

21 Snipe on the saltmarsh near Pottington sewage outfall.
4 Little Grebe paddling up river in line astern.
c250 Dark-bellied Brent and c90 Shelduck off Penhill Marsh.
8 Wigeon on the river.
35 Redshank; c50 Dunlin and c40 Oystercatcher on the concrete bank.

Bradiford Reserve.
5 Gadwall; 6 Wigeon; 1 Little Egret; 7 Black-tailed Godwit; c25 Teal and c150 Curlew in next field with 12 Canada Geese.

Barn Owl hunting in area of the smallholding, opposite Ashford Garden Centre at 08:40. It flew off towards the sewage works when disturbed by rabbiters and lurchers on the Tarka Trail. It returned at 09:10 being harassed by a Magpie and Crow.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Thurlestone Bay

High tide waders this am - 8 Ringed Plover, 7 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling.

In the Bay 1 f Common Scoter ( on sea), 1 1st w Med Gull.

South Huish Marsh - 40 Teal, 25 Wigeon .

Thurlestone Marsh- The F Marsh Harrier briefly at 8am not seen after. 4 Shoveler, 8 Wigeon ., 35 Teal. 17 Reed Bunting at feeders( only 1 ringed )

Exminster marshes

A visit at 9.00 this morning coincided with a high tide and a break in the rain. From the canal bank I heard a Cettis warbler, my first record since the snow in December. The bird began with a sub-song, quite faint, and then over about 10 minutes the volume built. It was great to hear. Elsewhere reed buntings and skylarks sang.

Numbers of waders were low probably as a result of both a female sparrowhawk and peregrine on the marsh. There were a few bar-tailed godwits with c100 curlew and 30 black-tailed godwits (no sign of the 2 colour-rung birds seen yesterday amongst a flock of 300) and a single dunlin. Wigeon and teal were both plentiful and at least 8 pintail were scattered around in pairs. The 8 white-fronts were near the lagoon. I was pleased to see 8 as I had only seen 7 recently and began to suspect I could no longer count.

A water rail called and showed in the canal-side car park.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Taw Estuary

The overwintering Spoonbills looking absolutely fabulous this morning with two ringed birds present (one ringed in the Netherlands & the other in Spain). (Rob Jutsum)

Bits and pieces

Male Blackcap, Bascombe Court, Churston Ferrers
3 Black necked Grebes and 6 Common Scoter, Broadsands
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - by A30, Fairmile just west of Fenny Bridges
Presumed first returning Stonechat to the top of the Blackdown Hills, a male at Smeatharpe this morning.


Despite less than favourable conditions, a 90 minute seawatch still turned up a Great Northern Diver, 140 Gannets, 16 Fulmars and 585 Auks.

Otherwise, Prawle has entered that 'between seasons' feel. Remnants of the winter included 8 Golden Plover, a Redwing and a Brambling, while some local movement was evident with 8 Canada Geese over (!) and 7 Shelduck in Horseley Cove. Also there, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and an adult Med Gull with almost complete hood. A chiffchaff was again on the seaweed, but as it was low tide and the Pipits were widely scattered, I failed to find any Water Pipits.

Around the village farmyards there is still a healthy flock of Yellowhammers, numbering 80+

Westward Ho!

Sunday 20 Feb
5 Purple Sandpipers on rocks below Elizabethan Hotel 1630.
At least 300 herring gulls swimming on water just off the same rocks

Sidmouth - Jacobs Ladder

My wife wanted to visit Lidl's & Waitrose in Sidmouth this morning so I negotiated 30 minutes at Jacobs Ladder Beach as a part of the trip. Great - 13 Purple Sandpipers in total - 10 feeding on the beach rocks with 14 Turnstones and 2 Rock Pipits, with an additional three on the sea defences 'island' (& there could have been more).
That's the largest count that I've had at this site. For anyone unfamiliar with this site, the optimum timing seems to be 2.5 to 3 hours after high tide when the rocks along the sea wall are exposed and wet. Earlier this week in rough sea conditions with waves breaking over the rocks, there were five P/Sandpipers on the shingle at the town end of the sea wall path.

Aveton Gifford and Prawle

Driving down the tidal road at 4.30 pm I ws surprised to come across a group of 5 Common Sandpipers feeding together. Also 2 Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.
Yesterday (Sat) pm at Prawle the 2 Water Pipits were at Horseley Cove, together with 5 Rock Pipits, 12 Turnstone and 12+ Pied Wagtails. The pipits and wagtails were feeding on the beach just below Maelcombe House.

Thurlestone Marsh

Nice email Marsh Harrier found at 10am , still present at 16.00 but very elusive, in 2hrs this pm only showed for 2mins. Put up 40 Snipe this am.

Black Redstart on the rocks at S Milton Sands.

Firecrest & 12 Chiffchaff at South Milton Ley.

Blackcap - f - in local gdn this am

Nigel - Will write up my records for Cyprus and forward a copy to you - fantastic island

Exe Estuary

Avocet cruise yesterday, in addition to Stuart Line post, at least one female goldeneye and several grey plover.


08:50 - 09:45

Canada Goose 130; Greylag 1; Shelduck 4; Lapwing 10; Curlew 1; Grey Heron 1; Pink-foot Goose 2 and 2 Farmyard geese. Also 31 Mute Swans on the meadows.
At 09:35 the Cattle Egret was located in the field behind Newbridge House with a further 9 Mute Swans, making a total of 40.
Cattle Egret then flew off over the railway and river and joined the Canada Geese over by the Tawstock road.
The only difference myself and Nigel could see between the 2 Pink-foots as shown in Jon`s pics, was the all pink bill(no black) and that the pale feather fringes were wider? Is is just a "variation on a theme" or something different? The neck colours and general overall appearance seem to fit that for a Pink-foot?

Exminster Marshes

Ringtail hen harrier (seen earlier by Martin @ Topsham) north of Station Road. Also 8 European whitefronts still.


Ring-tailed Hen Harrier over Exe reedbed at 09:45 this morning before it flew onto northern section of Exminster Marshes. Singing Blackcap gave spring like feel to yesterday morning.