Saturday, 12 March 2011


Wheatears are arriving! - records received today from:

Legis Tor, Peek Hill and Staple Tor

Also flock of c500 Golden Plover between Cox Tor and Staple Tor this afternoon
(Thanks M&RH, J&MD)

Dunsford Woods

Three Goosanders were on the Teign at Dunsford Woods today with at least one being a drake. Also a pair of Dipper. A pair of Marsh Tit in the trees too. No luck with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Exminster Marshes

Spoonbill (unringed adult), merlin, 8 white-fronted geese and 4 sand martin this evening.


Birthday today, so allowed to spend a couple hours at Branscombe STW!!

Gavins Firecrest still present this morning, at least 3 Goldcrests & Treecreeper.

Otter, Mudbank and Hayes Barton

presumed 'intermedius' lesser black-back - a small, long-winged bird - small mirror p10 and considerably darker than adjacent 'graellsii' - Otter est

presumed teal x wigeon hybrid again present near Otter est mouth.
Mudbank - 630am - spoonbill again present + 9 goldeneye, long-tailed duck, 16 little egret and c15+ redwing.
Hayes Barton pig farm - late pm - mixed flock - c20+ linnet, c150+ chaffinch, male brambling, reed bunting 2+ yellowhammer and 1+ red-legged partridge.

Berry Head

late afternoon, a Firecrest at the east edge of the wood, near the corner of the path.

Clennon Valley

How to get a Siberian Chiffchaff record rejected!..
One of the most important BBRC guidelines for acceptance of tristis records is: Absence of yellow away from the underwing...

Several singing Chiffchaffs around blossoming willows today almost certainly new birds in and first I have heard singing at site since the autumn. I then heard a tristis chiffchaff call and scanning the trees found this strange looking beast! in the next 1.5 hrs that I watched it it only called one more time as it fed continuously from the willow blossoms getting more stained as it did so (and presumably a good job of pollinating at the same time).
many other features were lost in the pollen staining but it did react very well to tristis song playback approaching me, wing quivering - as usual the other chiffchaffs ignored the tristis song playback

Above photos showing the usual buffy grey upperparts, and wing quivering to tape.
Yesterday Friday 11th March: 1 Whimbrel on rocks at Broadsands.


Singing Chiffchaff at rear of the marsh and at least one Firecrest still by the track. Stonechat gathering nesting material, 10 Teal and a Snipe on the marsh and two Great Crested Grebe offshore.

Hopes Nose

1 Wheatear at Hopes Nose late morning on the rocks at the point.

whooper swan

one adult at hallspill weare gifford with 3 mute swans this morning


Between 8.00 and 8.30 a single Sand Martin was seen feeding above/along the S.W. coast path between the two jetties on the river Taw at Yelland.

[from Mark Humfrey]

Friday, 11 March 2011

Grand Western Canal

A WeBS count between Halberton and Tiverton this morning produced some fair birds including a Green Woodpecker, three Bullfinches, two Reed Buntings, a Skylark, five Nuthatches, a Raven, a Treecreeper, seventeen Redwings, four Siskins and three Stock Doves.


Smart male Firecrest along northern fenceline of Water Treatment Works at lunchtime.

Bowling Green Marsh

Spoonbill flew in just after 2pm near to the hide. Also spotted redshank off the viewing platform.

[from Phil Holyday]


Spoonbill FJ9 has wintered on the Taw estuary every year since it first appeared on 12 October 2007; the same year it was first ringed as a nestling at Donana in Spain.

Exminster marshes

8 white fronted geese showed in the corner of a field at the southern end of the marsh.

Bowling Green Marsh

The redhead Smew was still on the main pool early afternoon.


A single sum plum Blacknecked Grebe off Broadsands this morning and the Longtailed Duck still off Preston front/Redcliffehotel. 6 Common Scoter off there, and about 35 Great Crested scattered across between there and Broadsands.

Colyford Common

The over-wintering Pipits at Colyford Common have been very elusive of late so I was quite pleased this morning when two of the 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipits were close enough to attempt to digiscope.
As you can see they were in summer plumage so for comparison purposes I have attached a couple of photos taken on 9th December.
Yesterday there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the River Axe just to the north of Coronation Corner.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Spoonbill FJ9

I had an interesting voice mail message from Graham Woodbury this evening, to say Spanish-born Spoonbill 'FJ9' (seen on 7th March at Exminster Marshes) was seen a month previous on the Taw/Torridge.

To add to the picture, it is now in the Weymouth area, seen at both Radipole and Lodmoor today (which means it probably flew right over the Axe!).

Double Locks Wetland

No sign of the Bittern during a brief visit but five Green Sandpipers on the new scrape nearest the pub.

Smeatharpe Aerodrome

36 Golden Plovers sitting out the wind in the cereal field. 120 Fieldfare feeding at the west end in the rough pasture along with around 500 starlings. Raven numbers were lower with circa 12 present.

.Re Jonathan and Gittisham. I watch a little bit further north on the Devon Somerset border in the Blackdown Hills. I had a Great Grey Shrike back in the autumn at Smeatharpe and there has also been one sporadically reported just into Somerset at Staple Hill this winter. I guess there are more about than we realise but there is a lot of good habitat for them in this area and they probably roam quite widely. Nice to know someone else is out looking in this area!!

Exminster marshes

At 8.30 this morning 3 sand martins flying over the canal and 2 chiffchaffs on the canal bank, one singing.

Report of a probable marsh harrier yesterday over the marshes late morning.

Taw/Torridge Area

Two Sand Martins reported over Wrafton Pond this morning.

(Rob Jutsum)

Thurlestone Bay.

First good blow for a while produed a steady movement of Gulls after almost in the Bay for a week. Started with a flock of 60+ GBBG & LBBG on Thurlestone Marsh at 8am, 45 GBBG flew east in 2hrs plus 16 BHG, 5 Kittiwake2 Fulmar and 1 ad Med Gull.

As i arrived home a very nice ad Black Redstart was in the drive .

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Two pairs of Mandarin this afternoon on the river at Buckfastleigh between the old bridge and the A38 roadbridge.

Yarner Wood

While checking for woodpeckers early pm, near box 40, I was surprised to see a Firecrest feeding overhead- not a usual date or location for this species.

Gittisham Hill, Nr.Honiton.

Great Grey Shrike showing at 11.30am today but not this afternoon when I went back for a photo.  This is not an area much visited by birders, at least I have never seen anyone when I have been there and I covered it last year for BTO Atlas.  Always thought it ideal for Shrike and this is the first time I think it has been sighted here.  For those not familiar with the area, the land belongs to the Combe Estate but is accessible when they are not shooting.  The ground it is very rough and the best vantage point is from the Faraway Farm road which runs W-E accross the middle from the main Honiton to Sidford road.  The Shrike was seen north of the farm road on power poles.  Also present: Snipe,Yellow Hammer, Reed Bunting, Kestrel, Buzzard and Mallard.

08/03/2011 - English Channel 20nm south of Start Point

Around the boat yesterday a noticeable increase in Lesser-blacked Gulls (birds moving back north) and an increase in Fulmars (also moving north? More on this below). Also of note were a pod of c.100 Common Dolphins and 2 Great Skuas.
Among the Fulmars was one very smart intermediate phase bird. These dark birds often turn up this time of year, so a good time to look for them. I only normally see them at distance while seawatching, so good to get some nice views and photos up close.
Here's a comparison of a 'normal' light phase (left) with this intermediate phase bird (right) and a couple of flight shots of it below. Also notice the darker band on the bill compared to the normal phase bird.

They get much darker than this, with my darkest bird to date past Berry Head on 29/01/2009. Some shots of it for comparison. This Fulmar was so dark, it initially it looked like another species (the bill appearing all dark)!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Male Black Redstart in Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth, this lunchtime. [from Chris Ellis]

Meldon Reservoir, Okehampton

Seven Goosander (Male & 6 female) on reservoir late this afternoon.


On a sunny, calm morning substantial drumming activity from 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers over a 30+ minute period in the woods above the hide. Dick Andrews & I were between boxes 41 & 45 on the upper paths. Birds very mobile and seen flying both sides of our path. Pair seen on trees, but believed third (another male) bird present due to the drumming activity.

Minimum 6 Siskins feeding at hide.


[OSPREY?] - juvenile, seen from RSPB car park at 1445-1500 sitting on fence posts at far side of field. [bird now believed to be a pale Buzzard. See page 68 of 2009 Devon Bird report, Buzzard - 'plumage variation']

Wheatears Beer Head

Spring is here...

Two male Wheatears from 13:30 in field at the end of Beer Head.


14 Common Scoter, 5 Black-necked Grebes, 21 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Red-throated Divers.

Broadsands: Firecrest in ditch between the two car parks, 12 Cirl Buntings and 3 Reed Bunting on seed in back of 2nd car park.

Berry Head: Nigel Smallbones reported a Firecrest in the garden of the wardens bungalow feeding around the pond before moving on toward the woods.

Taw Cattle Egret - yesterday 7/3

Cattle Egret still at New Bridge beyond Bishops Tawton amongst the Mute Swans 16:30 - 17:15 yesterday.

[from Martin Bond]

Monday, 7 March 2011

Exminster Marshes

Spoonbill again this afternoon, between the lagoon & railway line.

I managed to read the colour-ring and perhaps unsurprisingly it is 'FJ9', the Spainish-born bird first seen as a first-year on the Exe in September 2007 and seen in the county on several occasions since.

Also: 8 white-fronted geese still today and a male merlin yesterday (Sunday)

Thurlestone Bay.

10.15 Noticed a Goose in with 30 feeding Canadas on South Huish Marsh., moved to the other side of the marsh to obtain better views. , a single [Black Brant?]. Hopefully a couple of record shots will be attached to this report. [bird now believed to be an intergrade or a dark-bellied Brent Goose]

The 2 f Goosander were still in the Bay . First White Wagtail on S H Marsh- birds were flying in off the sea,.

A Jack Snipe found feeding on the edge of Thurlestone Marsh.


Walking down from NT car park this afternoon, , two Firecrests in ivy covered trees above the viewing blind. 22 Teal, mostly paired, and 2 prs Mallard on the marsh, plus a Water Rail; no sign of Gadwalls today. Too rough to check the bay.


Great Grey Shrike still at Hartland Forest. Photo taken this morning by Nigel Bastin.

Northam Burrows

The two Short-eared Owls which have been seen intermittently through the winter were still present this afternoon. As usual they were around the rough area between Appledore gate and Sandymere gate.

Stover Park Lake

No rarities but I thought you might like these from Stover Park Lake today.

Sunday, 6 March 2011


One of the three Water Pipits again in Horseley Cove today. Generally not considered to be birds of rocky shores, Prawle has had several winterers over the years, usually just one, occasionally two, but never before three. At low tide they fed niceley alongside each other, but at high tide, when feeding areas were much reduced, each one vigorously defended it's own 'territory', not tolerating either Water or Rock Pipits coming near.

All the rest of today's action was on the sea, a watch from 06.45 - 12.15 returning totals of 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-throated and 5 Red-throated, (+ 2 unidentified), 155 Gannets, 13 Fulmars, 19 Common Scoters (all drakes), a Great Skua, 2 Puffins (east), 113 Auks, and a small movement of Gulls, including 9 Lesser Black-backs and 10 Common, but just 2 Kittiwakes.

Smeatharpe Aerodrome

An impressive 40 Ravens present along with 800-1000 starlings, 10 skylark and 3 stock doves. Despite the singing skylarks, not much feel of spring in the biting north easterly.

Thurlestone Marsh

At 08.00 both the Bittern and Marsh Harrier seen. Previous views of the Bittern have been fleeting flight over the Marsh. This morning it was out in the open for 10 mins no more than 30yds from my window. The Harrier made akill at 10.45 last seen going to feed in the reeds. Also on the marsh- 20 Teal, 7 Wigeon, 1m Gadwall, 2 Shoveler.

Brief visit to the Bay at 11.00 produced 3 Gadwall on the sea, at 11.30 2 f Goosander flew in from east & landed by the rocks off Warren Pt.

Budleigh etc...

Budleigh Ottermouth and offshore this morning

2 Red-throated Diver. 2 Little Grebe, 6 Fulmar, 90+ Wigeon, 24+ Teal, 6 Common Scoter, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, Stonechat (m), Cetti's Warbler

[from Steve Oliver]

Another Devon crake from 2010!

Not as good as a Gallinule, but still this Juv Spotted Crake photo was taken by one of our volunteers back in July somewhere near Tiverton. A cat had dragged it in, but it was released the next day after spending the night recovering in a polytunnel.