Saturday, 19 March 2011


Female Black Redstart in Ford Park Cemetery today.

[from Tom Forster]


6-7 Chiffchaff this morning and Great Crested Grebe. Also, while at the point having an in depth discussion about how we would find it very hard to find a Treecreeper as the only woodland is Pine and Treecreepers don't like Pines, a Treecreeper appeared on the nearest Pine!! First Wembury record?

Stover Park Lake

Two male Goosanders joined the females at Stover lake. One of the females didn't seem so keen!

Trew Wood, Hartland Forest

Great Grey Shrike at 1130 in young plantation at Trew Wood
4 male Blackcaps and 2 GS Woodpeckers in my garden nr Woolsery

Friday, 18 March 2011

Axe Estuary

There was a female Goosander on the river opposite Colyford Common this afternoon and the Bewick's Swan was in the field to the west of Stedcombe Manor.

Thurlestone Bay.

During the heavy rain this morning 2 Swallow over Thurlestone Marsh with atotal of 17 Sand martin through during the day. New arrivals in off the sea were 3 Shoveler , 25 Teal still on the marsh.

Between 10.30- 12.00 75 Meadow Pipit flew through with 2 Water Pipit on the back marsh

The Colyford Yellow Wagtail - a UK First?

The grey Yellow Wagtail found by Phil Abbott and Clive Williams at Colyton WTW on 4/12/10 was trapped and ringed on 14/12/10 and last seen 19/12/10.

From the catching and ringing process, a sample of feces and a couple feathers recovered from the mist net, were sent to Dr J. Martin Collinson at the University of Aberdeen for D.N.A analysis. Dr J.M. Collinson is also the chairman of the BOURC.

I am pleased to report that preliminary sequencing results show that it was a male of the eastern tscutschensis/taivana/macronyx group, genetically most similar to tschutschensis. Full results will be published in due course.

There are two other specimens being sequenced now, if neither of these match any of the eastern Yellow Wagtail-types then the Colyford bird will represent the first record for Britain.

I'd just like to thank Dr J.M. Collinson and his team for all their hard work, and for keeping me well informed throughout the process.


Exe Estuary

The highlights of yesterday's Stuart Lines Cruise - in glorious sunshine - were 5 G C Grebes, 1 Slavonian (in transition to summer plumage, south of Turf), 20+ Shags, 5 Little Egrets, c200 Brents, 100+ Shelduck, c50 Teal (Topsham), 2 Goldeneye, 80+ Mergansers, 56 Avocets, less than 20 Grey Plover, several hundred Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit, c100(?) Bar-tails, 4 Greenshank, 3 Sanderling, 12 Turnstones, a few Lesser Black-backs and surprisingly few Common Gulls (10?).

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Dawlish and Bowling Green

There were at least 3 Sandwich Terns distantly offshore at Dawlish Warren this morning. Also the male and female Black Redstart near the visitor centre.

This afternoon a Little Ringed Plover on Bowling Green Marsh with 25+ Sand Martins overhead.

[from Will Salmon]


A nice sunny walk along the coastal path this morning. At Scabbacombe Head, saw a male Merlin flying north along the hedge by the footpath then down towards Scabbacombe beach. There were plenty of Buzzard soaring along the coast, one a very pale bird, 8 in all. Also a small flock of 11 Cirl Buntings in a stubble field east of Froward where this chap was singing.

Exminster & Powderham marshes

Today far fewer starlings flying north. Yesterday over 1,000 in a couple of hours with some lingering to feed on the fields. However at 10.00 this morning a bittern appeared from the reeds at the end of Cork's drove to stand in the sun. Also a female stonechat was in the lane with 2 chiffchaffs.

I failed to locate the white-fronts yesterday and their preferred grazing patch is now occupied with 5 greylags. Also yesterday there were two more greylags on Powderham marshes with 44 linnets and c20 chaffinches. A pair of red-legged partridges were probable escapees from the Powderham shoot.


Six Goosander including one Drake at Newbridge east of Bishops Tawton this morning at 07:45

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


At midday a very grey and white tristis-type Chiffchaff feeding in the ditch near the Firecrest, contrasting well against the 2 singing Chiffs present in the willows. First sighting of this bird for several weeks, appears to be same individual after comparison with Mike's photos from jan/early feb.

Lower Tamar Lake

Warm, sunny and spring-like at Lower Tamar Lake today, the following of note:-

21 Goosanders (3 males), 10 Tufted Ducks; 1 female Goldeneye, 7 Mute Swans, 2 Willow Tits at the feeding station plus Coal and other tits; 2 Nuthatches ; 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 singing Chiffchaffs.

(Harvey Kendall)

Thurlestone Bay.

The Little R Plover still on South Huish Marsh, 6 Sand Martin over,. In the Bay - 1 Red T Diver, 1 G C Grebe& 2 f Goosander

Thurlestone marsh- 1 Cettis Warbler, 1 Snipe, 20 Teal, 1 Sand Martin over.

Sherpa Marsh

Around the Marsh this afternoon, a calling Cetti's Warbler - first I've heard since the cold snap. At least 8 Gadwall, one Little Egret, several Teal, a few Reed Buntings propecting the reed-bed. At least 5, and possibly as many as 8 Sand Martins over the reed-bed.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wrafton pond

There were at least 6 Sand Martins over the pond and adjacent Tarka Trail this evening.

The Ness and Bundle Head

Quick review first - not had too much to report from the Teign the last 4 weeks or so (only been out about 8 times), just that an Eider and a single Slavonian Grebe were offshore from Spey Point most the time I looked, and on one occasion 2 Slavonian Grebe. Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit have both been present in very small numbers throughout, so too has the odd single Dunlin and the Avocet disappeared early-mid Feb (highest count was 14). That's pretty much it really apart from the obvious.

Anyhoo...The Ness and Bundle Head is where I hope to pick up some migrants this spring. I had just a single male Blackcap and lots of Chaffinch heading north yesterday and today was a bit better with 5 Chiffchaff and probably the same Blackcap singing

Horsey Island & Pottington

Horsey Island 13.10-14.50
Male & female Gadwall on Sherpa Pond
10 Greenshank
1 calling Water Rail
Single singing Cetti's and Reed Bunting

Pottington 15.05-16.05
Redhead Smew still present
2 redhead Goosander

Also a couple of singing Chiffchaffs and my first butterflies of the year: two male Brimstones and a total of four Small Tortoishells.

R.Taw. Pottington to Ashford Strand.

14:05 - 15:00

The only birds of interest for me today was a small flock of 14 Sanderling flying around Ashford Strand area.
However I was surprised to see a number of Tortoiseshell butterflies and 1 Brimstone flying about the Tarka Trail.
It was hazy sunshine and about 16c at the time.


A Firecrest by the track between the Parke buildings and the bridge over the river Bovey (from Naomi Barker)

Thurlestone Bay.

Very misty & cloudy morn gave way to a sunnyaft. First signs of spring migration today . Alan has already reported on the L R P,

In the Bay - 16 Teal, 4 Shelduck, 1 G C Grebe, 2 Sand Martin flew north. 140 Meadow Pipit flew noth in 2.5hrs.A Chiifchaff by the toilet block

Another m Wheatear on Warren Pt

At 9am -4 Sand Martin over Thurlestone marsh


The Firecrest still present this afternoon, plus a Water Rail.
Thurlestone - Sth Huish Marsh

a drive through at mid day today produced: Little Ringed Plover (male) on the pool to the left of the marsh, White Wag, N Wheatear (male) and single Sand Martin


A summer plumage female brambling was a surprise in the garden this morning.

At 8.00 the Exminster marshes appeared very quiet with a few wintering ducks still present including 20 shovellers, 5 pintail and c100 wigeon. Six chiffchaffs, with one singing, were the most I have seen this year indicating a recent influx.

At Sidmouth, on the sea-front, yesterday an adult herring gull carried a colour ring. It turns out to have been rung in 2006 on the Gloucestershire land fill site.

Monday, 14 March 2011


6 Wheatear (males) showing well at the usual Torridgeside site - no sign of any females yet.


A pleasant walk this afternoon at Trew Wood, Hartland Forest
The Great Grey Shrike was showing well - actively feeding from tree to tree.

Also present: 3 Buzzards; 2 Ravens ; 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker; 22 Canada Geese and a Grey Heron.

(Harvey Kendall)

Thurlestone Bay.

Bitterly cold east wind, started sunny & clear , by 11am 100% cloud.

On the sea this am - 3 Gadwall, 5 Razorbill, 1 G C Grebe.2 Teal, at 10.25 a Velvet Scoter flew east( only my 2nd record in 5 years) followed shortly by a Brent Goose.

On Thurlestone Marsh 21 Teal and the first 2 Sand Martin. a single Cettis Warbler singing.

On the Erme est this aft. only 8 Wigeon

Aylesbeare Common

Great Grey Shrike showing well this morning and afternoon. No Dartford Warblers to be seen or heard.

Sharkham point

Approximately 250 Meadow Pipits over in groups of around 30 and 40. A few more Chiffchaffs around feeding in the blossom 5 in total. No Wheatears yet. Also a Nuthatch was an unusual sighting.
This Black Redstart was still present today at Sharkham Village.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Notable birds today included Red-throated Diver past, 3 Black Redstarts (1 male), 3 Wheatears, White Wagtail, 12 Chiffchaffs, Goldcrest and Firecrest.
(Sightings include some from John Lambert)


Firecrest still at Branscombe sewage works late afternoon. Seen in firs by the entrance gates feeding frantically. I had wrongly tried looking at the ivy clad trees at the north side.

 Earlier the redhead Smew was seen again in the back channel at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB but little else of note to report.

Thurlestone Marsh

Arrived home late pm- 2 Jay flew up the valley. At 18.30 a Barn Owl flew around the marsh - first sighting here in 3 years since we moved in --great.


About 70 Golden Plover very high overhead at about 1730, heading NW towards the north moor. Also the Great Grey Shrike between Haytor and Saddle Tor, but decidedly wary. Seemed to be favouring the newly-swaled area just below Haytor rocks.

R.Taw. Barnstaple to Wrafton.

08:30 - 10:20.

Taw Bridge. 08:30 Single Redhead Smew just under the bridge but flew off downstream.

Pottington. 08:55 2 Redhead Goosanders and 2 Black-tailed Godwits.

Heanton Court. 09:41 1 Greenshank.

Wrafton. 10:20 2 Sand Martins flying into the pond area from Sharper Marsh area.

Exminster Marshes & Turf

A single Slavonian grebe with 3 red-breasted mergansers south of Turf this morning at high tide. A good count of 123 shelduck on Powderham sands and the remnants of the brent geese flock, 176, in the fields near Turf. Earlier there were 3 chiffchaffs on the canal bank and the "new" un-rung spoonbill near the lane.

Exminster Marshes

Spoonbill, hen harrier (ringtail), 8 Ewf geese, 2 wheatear and a sand martin on the WeBS count today.

R. Taw

Rumsam Bridge:
Male & female Goosander at 07.20.

Fremington Pill:
1 Greenshank, 89 Redshank and my first singing Chiffchaff of spring.

Anchor Bank:
1 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwits & two redhead Goosander at 09.45.


First Wheatear of the spring on the beach this morning along with a Chiffchaff. The bird that I have presumed was a littoralis Rock Pipit for a couple of months has now developed the nice peachy breast.

A nice confiding male Cirl