Saturday, 26 March 2011


Ringtail Hen Harrier flying SE over Kellaton, 17.40 (towards Start Point).

Weare Gifford

Whooper Swan still present [photo from Nigel Bastin]


At White Bridge today; 15 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler (all singing) and singles of Firecrest and Swallow.

[Alan Salter]

Wembury Again

No further sign of the Hoopoe but 3 Black Redstart (2 males) around the point - not found by me. Another female Black Red was at Wembury church this evening along with a Willow Warbler. It seemed as though stuff was dropping in all day.

Black Hole Marsh

Little Ringed Plover again today - a bit more obliging in the photography department! Also 25 Sand Martins this evening.

Exminster marshes & Turf

4 sand martins over the marshes at 8.30 closely followed by one green sandpiper flying north. On the ground 6 male pintail, 14 male shoveller and numerous pairs of teal. I heard Cettis calling from 3 sites and 4 or 5 chiffchaffs were singing. An adult spoonbill was east of the lagoon at 11.00 but flew south towards Powderham Park at 11.15.

At Turf over the high tide at lunch time was a summer plumaged Slavonian grebe, 7 brent geese and 98 shelducks.

River Dart And Teign

A couple of pictures of the Pink-footed Goose this morning at Totnes - across the other side of the river and marshes so pretty horrible pictures especially as it was with a white farmyard greylag. Three Common Sandpipers in the same area also.

The most interesting bird on the Teign Est was a Black Swan! Also 42 Common Gulls 270+ Black-headed Gulls, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls of varying degree of darkness.

Totnes and Slapton

The Hoopoe still early afternoon at Slapton Ley but really elusive. It has now moved up to just south of the Toilet block in the Central car park but on the ley side of the road. It keeps wanting to come back to that area , seen several times perched in the low tress there, but when disturbed flys all the way across the ley to the fields to the right of Ireland Bay. Also Willow Warbler, Cettis' Warbler and Chiffchaff all singing well by the bridge, a few Swallow and Sand Martin passing through and at Torcross a very black backed Lesser Black Backed Gull on the ley.

Earlier, on the River Dart south of Totnes , a Pink footed Goose (found by ML) with 12 Canada Geese viewable from the public footpath on the south side of the river, accessed from near the boat yard. Possibly the same bird that was seen earlier in the winter at South Huish and then Beesands?

Slapton Ley

Hoopoe seen by Alan Searle this morning on Torcross Line between the end of the boulder sea defences and the lifebuoy.

Axmouth and Beer head

The Hoopoe still present in campsite area this morning .
Beer Head.
A walk around Beer head this morning with Clive williams and Dave Hellier produced male Redstart,Male and female Black redstart,12 chiffchaffs,1 Willow warbler and a flyover Brambling.


Added another species to my "almost run over" list this morning when a Hoopoe got up from just by the car at Wembury Point at 7.20. It flew into some trees and then flopped off over the field. No further sign by 9 but it was heard calling later probably from the gardens.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Double Locks Wetlands and Matford Ponds

A quick cycle down the river from the Quay this evening.

49 Sand Martin over Riverside ponds, 8 Chiffchaff singing along the route, 1 Blackcap singing at Matford plus, 19 Pied Wagtail including 2 White Wagtail, 23 Wigeon, 9 Shoveller, 15 Teal, 1 Green Sandpiper.

Black Hole Marsh

A Little Ringed Plover this evening, and a few Sand Martins through.

Broadsands & Teign Est

Broadsands (afternoon): 6 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot.

Teign Est (this evening): 16 Common Gull, 77 Black-headed Gulls, but nothing much else among larger gulls, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Little Egrets & 380+ Carrion Crows!

Exminster Area

The male Garganey still late afternoon on Powderham Marsh (present from yesterday) and nearby a male Merlin early evening perched on a gate post south of Lions Rest viewable from the middle car park.

Velator reserve

At least one Willow Warbler in the reserve today, although it's song was somewhat muted, perhaps more akin to subsong, which we thought was odd considering the very warm spring sunshine. Also saw an immaculate male Blackcap.

Thurlestone Bay.

Another fine day with more cloudin the afternoon.

At high tide this am waders on the beach- 1 Grey Plover ( first this year), 5 Ringed Plover , 2 Dunlin, 1 sanderling. 2 Sandwich Tern still offshore, only duck flying through were 2 m Common scoter & 2 Shelduck .

Vis mig in the morning - 45 Meadow Pipit, 15 Goldfinch& 9 Siskin. 5 Sand Martin.

Only 1f Wheatear today.

At 15.00 big increase in teal on Thurlestone Marsh to 30+, 2 f Shoveler and am Garganey. The G only seen in flight as it landedin some thick reeds behind the pumping station. A Dunlin flew through as well as 25 Sand Martin

R. Taw 09.05-12.05

Isley Marsh.
Single Great Crested Grebe, Water Rail and Greenshank.

172 Oystercatcher, 8 Curlew, 4 Ringed Plover, 96 Dunlin, 5 Redshank, 13 Grey Plover and 10 Turnstone. Just one Wigeon and a handful of Teal & Shelduck.

Instow Beach.
3 Grey Herons and not a lot else.

Butterflies: 1 Orange Tip, 3 Small White, 1 Peacock and 4 Small Tortoishell.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

East Devon

Nice to hear that at least one pair of East Devon Dartfords has survived the winter...

[photos from Pete Adey]


2 Spoonbill flying in from Tamar to roost with usual Little Egrets on Drake Island, Plymouth this evening.

[from Tom Forster]

Axmouth / Beer

Hoopoe still at Axmouth, Higher lane/ Pound Hill area this evening 6.15, though elusive & flighty ( half a hour after i gave up looking )

Also whilst at work this morning Red Kite east/north east over Beer at 10.05, probably the Budleigh bird ( could not get news out to local birders at the time because the orange mobile network was down )

Thurlestone Bay.

Another interesting day in the Bay with some good records.

First surprise was a singing Willow Warbler on Thurlestone marsh at 08.30. 12 Wheatear in fields by South Huish Marsh.

At least 40 Sand Martin , 3 Sandwich Tern. Duck on the sea were - 11 Shoveler, 14 Teal 1 f gadwall.

Waders comprised - 9 Dunlin , 4 Ringed Plover and a flock of 18 Bar T Godwit ( usually a mid April expectation )

Aylesbeare Common

Many Stonechat pairs but no Darfords.

N Devon

A fine male Wheatear behind the sand dunes at Croyde beach this morning was a pleasant reminder of Spring, and then I ringed a first-year male Brambling in the reserve at Velator early afternoon.

Beer Head

There was no sign of yesterdays Ring Ouzel in the Dell but there was a Golden Plover in the top field and a Firecrest (found by Phil) in the Sheepwalk.
Budleigh Salterton
A red kite at 08.55hrs being mobbed by gulls off Budleigh seafront this morning was a nice surprise, as it headed north. Little else of note on the nearby Otter Estuary with 2 Black-tailed Godwits, the last remaining Wigeon and Teal and a Wheatear on Otter Head.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Seaton Marshes

A hour after work 17.00 - 18.00, a few migrants on the move, 6 Wheatear and 4 Sand Martins, as well as the normal fare Teal, shelduck, Black Tailed Godwits and a couple of Little Egrets.

Bovey Heath

A good reptile/amphibian count of 1 adder, 44 common lizards, 2 slow worms, 2 palmate newts, and tiger beetles were abundant on the bare paths. The only bird of any note was a wheatear.

Thurlestone Bay.

First real movement of migrants today - I did 9am- 10 .30, Bob Burridge went through to 4pm & I managed 5-6.30 .Totals were:-

1 G N Diver, 1 Swallow , 46 Sand Martin, 1 Lapwing ,3 Curlew, 2 Sandwich Tern, 7 Wheatear, 4 Shoveler, 1 gadwall.

at 10 .15 6 Dolphin offshore


3 redhead Goosander in the inlet by the bridge at the far end early afternoon and showing very well . Also 1 Swallow and 5 Sand Martin over the lake and 1 Marsh Tit at the feeders and a Chiffchaff singing.

Instow Cricket Ground.

07:30 - 08:30

High tide this morning was at 08:20 so I decided to watch the tide come in over the Black Ground, just off the Cricket Ground. This is usually a good place to pick up a few Mediterranean Gulls.
Was I being a bit early in the year? There wasn`t a single gull of any description "anywhere in the area" and the only waders I saw was a largish flock of Oystercatchers over the Crow Point side. Apart from these all I saw were Corvids and Wood Pigeons. Even the Oystercatchers were put to flight by Army "Landings" on the beach.
Where have all the birds gone or have the dogs and dog walkers finally seen them off?
I decided to see if the resident Little Owl was about and there it was, on it`s post inside the lean-to shed. Thank goodness it was still there.

Topsham -BGM

Springtime at Bowling Green Marsh - Blue Tit and Chiffchaff

Brixham breakwater

A quick walk along the breakwater at lunchtime revealed 21 Purple Sandpipers - a good count for late March!

Axmouth Hoopoe

Hoopoe still present at 13:20, by the toilet block on Axmouth Camp Site...

Beer Head

Smart male Ring Ouzel today, and Karen counted at least 26 Wheatears, Beer/Branscombe. Small flocks of Meadow Pipits arriving steadily.

Baggy Point

At least 6 Wheatears at or near the point this morning. A Swallow flew in-off the sea at the point.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Berry Hd and area

Appart from 3 chiffchaffs no summer migrants noted, but there were 4 Siskins >N, 1 Skylark, 12 Chaffinches and a Yellowhammer on the end of the headland - very few noted in the spring here.
The highlights of the morning were reptiles several Adders, Common lizard and a tiny Slowworm:

Axmouth - Hoopoe

Still present this morning, ranging between Higher Lane and the caravan site.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Bittern sightings

While we wait for the spring migrants to arrive I thought I would provide a short update on bittern sightings in the Exe valley and make a request for additional records. I have already received 42 sightings from Exminster marshes of which 5 were of two birds. The next site with a significant number of sightings is the Double Lock Wetlands with 15 records of which two were of 2 birds.

The first sighting was on the 10 December and the last on the 17 March (birds may still be present as there are still several in Cornwall).

On the 22 and 23 January 2011 several birds were seen on the marshes and at the Double Locks, probably at the same time. Unfortunately few of the sightings have times so it is difficult to estimate numbers. If you saw one or more bitterns on either of these dates please can you send me your sightings with times. My email address is Thanks to all of you who have responded to my earlier requests for records.

Thurlestone Bay.

A Black T Diver on the sea, 3 Brent Goose flew west. 3 Wheatear on South Huish marsh with 1 on Thurestone marsh, a Little Grebe was a new arrival at the latter site

Stover Country Park

Four female Goosanders were on the lake morning and early afternoon. Around fifteen Snipe flew into the reed bed mid-morning.


A Hoopoe late this afternoon. Rather flighty, but mostly in gardens in Higher Lane, around the junction between Higher Lane and Pound Hill (B3172).

Exminster marshes

A walk around the perimeter of the marsh at lunch time revealed a dramatic decline in the number of ducks. I failed to see a wigeon and recorded about 12 pairs of teal, a few shoveller and even fewer pintail. A male (jack) merlin was sitting near the lagoon, probably also wondering where all the birds had gone. A singing chiffchaff and one pair of lapwings were the only sign of spring.

North Devon

A bit late, but a pair of Wheatears at Baggy point yesterday morning, and a Swallow with the growing Sand Martin flock at Wrafton Pond yesterday afternoon.

At Bradiford Reserve this morning about 12 Snipe and a few Teal along with a Little Egret.

Gittisham Hill (Honiton)

Visited Gittisham Hill with Ian Pullan at 09.30 this morning and within two minutes had found a GREAT GREY SHRIKE on the power line running through the northern sector of the rough land, seen from the Faraway Farm track which runs through the centre of the area.  This presumably is the same bird I saw in the same place on 9 March but having since been back there several times, I have not seen it again until today. (Pics taken with x10 Compact, and through eye piece of scope...hence poor quality but good enough to prove sighting!)

Also present: Snipe, Treecreeper, Mallard, Linnet, GS Woodpecker drumming, a pair of Stonechat and a distant singing Willow Warbler.


Broadsands: 3 Black-necked Grebes, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Razorbills, 1 Guillemot.

Goodrington: 6 Black-necked Grebes, female Long-tailed Duck (presumably the wintering bird moved over from Paignton/Preston).

Paignton/Preston: 1 Common Scoter.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Not a lot to add to Pat's post - no migrants other than Chiffchaffs at either site. Long-tailed Tits with a half-built nest seen below Prawle in the morning. Up to three Harbour porpoises off Prawle Point coastguards at 12:00, and numerous Small Tortoiseshells & Peacocks. A single Comma in Pig's Nose Valley was our first of the year.


In the absence of any migrants to photograph, I bring you sunbathing Tawny Owl ....

..... and busy Long-tailed Tit.

Still not an awful lot happening yet, but another pleasant day to be out and about! Short seawatch saw 330 Gannets (most east) and 296 Auks (all west) pass before 8.00, when passage stopped abruptly. The only real bird of note was a single Manx Shearwater (west).
Otherwise, a new Black Redstart (immature male) on the Point, a Firecrest in Pig's Nose Valley and a total of 15 Chiffchaffs represent the best of the day's birds. A Curlew flying north and the first Green Woodpecker of the year were noteworthy, as was a pair of Dunnocks taking food to a nest already!

Thurlestone Bay.

Another fantastic spring day & no birds- 2 Sandwich Tern in the Bay this Morning - first of the year.

Black Hole Marsh

A Swallow and 7 Sand Martins at 6:10 pm

[from Julian Thomas]

Isley Marsh area and Jetty Roost.

07:35 - 09:30
Very high tide( 7.8mtrs) at Yelland Quay 06:08

Isley Marsh and Ashbeds.
2 Spoonbills ( incl Green ring over Yellow flag over green ring. Dutch)
Chiff Chaff heard.
2 Long-tailed tits carrying nesting materials.
1 male Reed Bunting.
4 Teal.
5 Little Egret.
3 Shelduck.
1 Skylark soaring over ashbed.
8 Greenfinch.

Jetty Roost.
12 Wigeon.
10 Teal.
3 Bar-tailed Godwits.
2 Dunlin.
2 Redshank.
7 Grey Plover.
3 Curlew.
Oystercatchers setting up nest sites on main jetty.