Saturday, 16 April 2011

4-12 nm off Start Point

From a fishing boat off Start Point today we saw: 5 Puffins, numerous auks (mostly Guillemots), 4 Common Terns, 20+ Manx Shearwaters, 6 Bonxies and a diver sp. Most of this was approx. 4 nautical miles off Start (wthin sight of land). Attending the boat were the usual Gannets and Fulmars, while the most numerous gulls were Lesser black-backed with 50 or more (presumed migrants including some darker types).

Thurlestone Bay.

A calm & quiet day but still with some surprises. On Thurlestone Marsh this am a male Tufted Duck ( this is not a regular visitor), 25 Teal and 10 sand martin In the Bay A rthur Livett had a 2w Little Gull 3 Red T divers flew eastat 10.55. The ringing team had a very successful morning at South Milton Ley -12 Sedge , 8 Willow ., 1 Reed Warblers, 7 Blackcap with 2 reeling Groppers

Sherpa Marsh

Had a quick look around the marsh early this evening and found much to my delight a drake Garganey! Also a number of Sand Martins as well as a sprinkling of Swallows.


A pair of Red grouse flying over Birch tor today. Also Soussan's valley [below Bennets cross], resounded to the song of willow warblers, but sadly, this was my first spring visit to this area without sight or sound of a Cuckoo, or a Whinchat for that matter though the latter is easily overlooked. I would be intertested to hear if anyone else has seen either of these two species hereabouts this year.


5pm - Mudbank Lane - 270+ pale-bellied brent goose. Also 3 dark-bellied brent still, 8 red-breasted merganser and 11 whimbrel. We always get flocks of pale-bellied brents going through at this time of year but this is by far the largest number I've ever seen.

Prawle and Slapton

Arrived late at Prawle after spending time watching 4 Hares running in and out of the road into fields near Chivelstone Cross,at one stage only a few feet from the car. Prawle itself fairly quiet, a few distant groups of Manx passing west in morning, scattered Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat on land. 4 small divers probably Redthroated passed east during morning and a Blackthroated was also reported. At Slapton a Great Northern Diver just north of Torcross, several Large Red Damselfly at rear of higher ley.


5 Broad-bodied Chasers emerged and flew this afternoon (earliest reported in Britain this year), despite almost no sunshine. Over 25 Large Red Damselflies also emerged. One pair of Great Crested Grebes with a nest, 1 Snipe (late!) and 1 Willow Warbler were the only birds of note.
Otter Estuary / Budleigh Seafront
Seems as if the Bonaparte's Gull has departed. Only 2 Black-headed Gulls on the estuary this morning in contrast to the 6-7 that have been associating with the Bonaparte's Gull in recent days. Other birds included at least 6 singing Cetti's Warblers, 2 Whimbrel north up the estuary and 4+ Sandwich Terns off the seafront. However, whilst scanning the sea, a distant Glaucous Gull sat off-shore was a nice bonus as it slowly followed a small fishing boat. Unbelievably, it followed the boat all the way in to Budleigh beach allowing very close views of this 2nd winter bird. Best viewable from western side of seafront around hauled up fishing boats.


An adult and juvenile Dipper on the River Walkham yesterday.

[Tom Wallis]

Beer Head

Numbers a bit slim, but a few nice arrivals (06:10 - 08:30)

1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wags, 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffs, 8 Blackcaps and 1 Wheatear.

Bonaparte's Gull - River Otter, Budleigh Salterton

A couple of pics of the Bonaparte's Gull taken yesterday at midday

Friday, 15 April 2011

Thurlestone Bay.

First Common Sandpiper of the year on the rocks, in the bay - 1 1w Med Gull, 5 Wheatear, 7 Whimbrel, 22 Manx S'water, 1 Turnstone. South Milton Ley - Wood Wblr still, 1 Grasshopper Wblr. East Soar this am - Bob Burridge - 1f Redstart, 10 Wheatear, 2 Grasshopper Wblr.10 Whitethroat I covered Bolberry Down to Soar Mill Valley - 3 Grasshopper Wblr ,9 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaff, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Cirl Bunting.

Hillhead, Brixham

Osprey up the valley this evening from the direction of Mansands, past Southdown then north over Paignton, 6.55pm.

Otter Estuary

Whilst successfully looking for the Bonaparte's Gull this morning a Common Sandpiper was also seen nearby. There had also been a report of a Green Sandpiper earlier. Three Whimbrel came in off the sea, flew around a bit and then flew off again. Later, walking along the estuary, 7 (seven) Wheatear were around one of the scrapes above the cricket field. A pair of Stonechats and a Brimstone were the only items of note on a visit to Aylesbeare Common in the early afternoon.

R. Taw Pottington-Ashford SW. 1500-1630

Following heard singing: 4 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat and 1 Sedge Warbler.
94 Shelduck, 5 Grey Plover, 3 summer-plumaged Dunlin and 7 Wheatear.


Ringing today produced 5 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaffs, 8 Blackcaps, 2 Reed Warblers and 4 Sedge Warblers, along with some resident species. Amazed to read of the Swallow passage at Hartland - they all seem to have by-passed the marshes at Velator and the Great field! Had a report of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling at Down End (Saunton Down).

Somewhere in Devon...

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker today - photo by Simon Thurgood

Berry Hd

Seawatching 0645-0715hrs; 5 Puffin (also 4 later from top of headland), 158 Gannets, 22 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Little Egret.

Migrants around Headland; 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 1 Redstart, 18 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 11 Wheatear (including at least one NW type see photo), 4 Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Redpoll, 4 Blackcap, 2 House Martin, 4 Swallows.

Exminster marshes

In the drizzle this morning from 08.30 to 09.30. Two common sandpipers, 4 whimbrel (included two feeding on the fields near the viewing platform and two more flying over the estuary calling for their mates) and lots of singing reed warblers and sedge warblers. Two gadwall and a few teal still. Also what looked like a very pale female pintail with a dark cap. Only seen briefly from the middle car park. Yesterday a green woodpecker sang (!) from a dead tree on the canal bank. Its many years since I recorded one of these on the marshes. No sign today. In my garden the resident male robin has incorporated bits of Cettis warbler song into its repertoire. I have heard this once before on the marshes so it may be the same bird.

Hopes Nose

7 Puffin, (including one nice group of 3), 14 Manx shearwaters and 3 Common Scoter south between 8.30-9am. Lots of birds in the bushes, 1 Grasshopper Warbler reeling, 5 Whitethroat, 20+ Willow Warblers and several Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.


Orcombe point was much better than usual this morning in drizzly conditions (605-830am). 7+ chiffchaff, 6+ blackcap, 3+ wheatear, 4+willow warbler, 1+ tree pipit, 2+ meadow pipit, 5+ grasshopper warbler (the most I've ever recorded here in one morning), 1 male lesser whitethroat, 7+ whitethroat, 8+ swallow, 14 eider, 124 shag (single flock) and 1 common scoter. Got home 9'ish and a grasshopper warbler was reeling from just beyond the end of the garden in scrub bordering Warren View football pitch.

Exton Station

Nightingale singing opposite the Puffing Billy Pub this morning. Found by Gary Clayton. Still belting it out 930am at least!


Nightingale singing in hedgerow bordering playing field opposite the Puffing Billy this morning. Please note field adjacent is private.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


This bird was intent on feeding on this Wood Pigeon, not sure if it was taken by her or, a road kill, but she came back repeatedly for 40 minutes, smack in the middle of the main road just outside Dunsford on the Exeter Road. She carried on feeding even though, in the end my car was 20 feet from her and other cars were slowing to go around her, and also some, like me were stopping to watch.

[from Charlie Fleming]

Torr Quarry

A Yellow Wagtail flew over Torr Quarry near Kingsbridge this morning.


Orcombe Point - early am - grasshopper warbler reeling. Seafront - 8 pale-bellied brent goose and 1 whimbrel on sandbar early am with a further 29 pale-bellied brents off Mudbank this evening keeping a distance from the three dark-bellied brents. Also c50+ sandwich tern. A very brief glance off the seafront produced 1 red-throated diver and 4 manx shearwater east.


A Ruff, originally seen from the Clyst viewing platform, was later located at 1940hrs on the Exe off the Goatwalk, on the Exminster Marshes side of the river with a few Redshank.


While waiting for the gull roost to build this evening off three Beaches headland I picked out a Manx Shearwater circling around the bay, 11 Sandwich Tern and a pale phase Arctic Skua so close in I lost it below the cliffs in front of me as it harassed the terns. The skua regularly settled on the sea for a while before going back in for another go at the terns, it was still present sat on the sea at dusk.

Thurlestone Bay.

What started out as a fairly ordinary day turned into one of the best days of the Spring Thurlestone marsh -40 sand Martin , 15 Swallow, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Willow warbler, 35 Teal. Thurlestone Bay - 22 Sandwich Tern, 6 Swallow, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 m Yellowhammer, 1 Black T Diver, 1 Kittiwake, a 1st w Iceland Gull flew over Beacon Pt at 12.00 with 4 Herring Gull ( for size comparison ) 2 Whimbrel, 200 Manx S'water. Late pm Bob Burridge had 2 Arctic Skua flying east. At 15.00 at South Milton Ley Bob B's ears picked up the call of a Wood Warbler ( only the 3rd record for the site) I had super views at 15.30 - a site first also 7 Blackcap, 6 Willow warbler 1 Reed Warbler Great Days birding!


4+ Tree Pipits on the heath above Yarner

[from Simon Thurgood]

Hartland Point

Visible migration at Hartland Point.
From the top of the cliff about a mile south of the carpark at midday I watched Swallows flying north at the rate of 1000+ an hour (in fact there were so many that I couldn't keep up at one point). This included single numbers of Sand Martins and groups of 10 + House Martins every ten minutes or so.
At the hanging valley just next to the carpark the Hirundines would head out to sea, a few degrees right of Lundy Island. They would fly between 100-200 feet above the sea until disappearing from view in the scope. I estimate landfall 45 miles away on the South Pemboke coast after an hours flying with a good tail wind?!
Half a mile around the corner towards Clovelly and only a few odd Swallows hugging the cliffs flying east.
Plenty of Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers in the bushes.

R. Caen / Horsey Island

7 Greenshanks and a flock of 10 White Wagtails at lunchtime today
Otter Estuary
No sign of the Bonaparte's Gull between 07.00 and 08.15hrs this morning, just a few Black-headed Gulls. Luckily it was refound by Doug and Ray at around 09.30hrs and has been showing very well all morning/afternoon and remaining faithful to the mouth of the estuary. Best viewed from below the shingle beach east of the Lime Kiln Car Park. Some slightly better photos today!

Berry Head and River Otter

Fairly quiet at Berry Head this morning, but a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling 75yards down the lane from the bungalow and 2 Whitethroat were at the far end of the headland. No sign of the Hoopoe by mid morning. Early afternoon, the Bonaparte's Gull was still on the River Otter and showing very well with a just a few Black-Headed Gulls at the mouth of the river, about 100 yards from the shingle ridge. Also a White Wagtail briefly.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Red Kite over Yelverton this morning.
(Jack Aldous)

Prawle seawatch

Seawatch from 15.30 - 19.00; 95 Gannets, 24 Fulmars, 630 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Common Scoters, 7 Kittiwakes and 54 Auks, mainly Guillemots.
Otter Estuary
A quiet morning with the highlights being 9 Teal, a drake Gadwall and a yellow colour-ringed Shelduck (HV) ringed on the Axe (the first to be sighted outside of the Axe!). However, this evening was the real shock as a 1st winter Bonaparte's Gull showed well in the rain! First found from the hide on the west side of the estuary and later feeding on the sand bar/mud at the mouth of the estuary in the company of a few black-headed gulls. Some record shots below taken in poor light and rain!

Thurlestone Bay.

A day that looked so promising just didn't serve up the goods . Early morn - Thurlestone marsh 3 House martin, 35 Swallow, 60 Sand Martin ,singing warblers were 2 Sedge, 1 Reed ,2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff. South Huish Marsh - a flyover Little Ringed Plover. In the Bay 6 Shoveler ., 35 gannet , 3 Kittiwake, 12 Sandwich Tern 4 Common Scoter .6 Turnstone In the field opposite my house this afternoon 6 Lesser B B Gull


3 little tern off the seafront early am + 14 eider, 3 great crested grebe and 2 presumed 'intermedius' lesser black-backed gull. One adult bird was particularly black but stood too far out on a sandbank for closer scrutiny. The above photo is of another 'intermedius' type photographed off Mudbank on Monday. Exmouth has been very quiet of late but 1 whimbrel off Mudbank and a manxie off the seafront on Monday.

Berry Hd part 2

A seawatch 11:00-14:00 produced the following: 3 Puffins, 5 Common Terns, 4 Red-throated Divers, 45 Manx Shearwaters, 317 Razorbills/Guillemot, 88 Gannets, 13 Common Gulls (all 1st W) and 24 Kittiwakes.

Berry Hd

Hoopoe still present again in copse as yesterday; around headland much quieter than recent days and cold enough to put my gloves on! 4 Willow Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Stonechat, moving N were 1 Alba Wagtail, 12 Swallow and 3 House Martins.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Buckfastleigh area

Ideal soaring conditions today, at 10:50 2 Red Kites passed high up heading SW.

Berry Hd

Hoopoe again seen at Berry Head 50m down road from Wardens Bungalow toward the Berry Hd Hotel, seen in grassy field on left and also on copse on right.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Prawle yesterday (10/4)

The pick of yesterday's birds were 2 Wood Warblers, feeding together beside the village pond - the earliest site record by 7 days. Elswhere, not great numbers but a nice variety. Totals as follows; Snipe (east), 20 Swallows, Sand Martin, 9 Wheatears (several 'Greenland' type - the pictured bird was by no means the brightest), Redstart (female), Lesser Redpoll (east), Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, 11 Blackcaps, 5 Whitethroats, 15 Willow Warblers and 56 Chiffchaffs.

Thurlestone Bay.

A cloudy am with poor viz Only passage were 3 Sandwich Tern &1 Common Tern. At South Milton Ley the first reeling Grasshopper Warbler found by Bob Burridge at 7.30- still calling at 9.30, also 4 Blackcap, 4 Willow, 3 Cettis & 2 Sedge Warblers. Over the marsh at 18.00 40 sand Martin & 20 Swallow with 35 Teal feeding,. Ringing team had a Wood Warbler at Soar Mill Cove this am


1500hrs Hobby over the house watched above higher Brixham circling, viewed for around 10 minutes before a rapid dive behind Southdown Hill.

Ideford Common (10am)

Tree pipit (1), siskin, redpoll, linnets, stonechat (1 male), willow warbler, chiffchaffs, yellowhammers.

Berry Hd

No sign of the Hoopoe seen earlier in the morning but plenty of birds on the move: 20+ Wheatear mostly >NW, 8 Willow Warblers, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (reeling near to car park), 4 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 15+ Chiffchaff, 1 Sand Martin, 7 House Martin, 20+ Swallows.


The ring-tail hen harrier flew from the marshes over the village towards Halden Hill at 08.05, (yesterday it did the same at 08.22). A little later 2 ravens over the marshes were probably the highlight of a brief walk. More sedge warblers singing (4+), at least 1 reed warbler singing and a single Cettis. Over 150 sand martins feeding low over the lagoon. A few ducks still included 2 pintail, 2 shoveller, c20 teal and 2 tufted ducks - both males.

Sharkham Point

0900 - 1100. 6 Wheatear (5 on the point), 6 House Martin, 8 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 20+ Chiffchaff, 6 Whitethroat, 10 Blackcap


Little, 2 Common and c.40 Sandwich Terns off the clocktower, Exmouth seafront at 1120hrs this morning, but birds moving up and down coast, so not always visible.

Northam Burrows & Skern

07:40 - 09:45

What a miserable morning compared to yesterday. Cold and drizzling on the Burrows.
The Little Ringed Plover was still on Greysand pond together with 13 White Wagtails and 9 Pied but were constantly being disturbed by dog walkers. 4 Wheatear in same area and 1 Cetti`s singing on top of the bramble bushes. Also 1 male Stonechat.
c50 Ringed Plover and c30 Dunlin on the Skern.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Orcombe Point - early am - clear skies and fewer birds today but 1 grasshopper warbler reeling in the dung field first light, 1 whitethroat, 3+ chiffchaff, 6+ willow warbler (photo), 3+ blackcap, 3 swallow and 1 wheatear.


Cuckoo this afternoon at Hawkerland

[from Pete Adey]

Soar - yesterday 9/4

Lesser Whitethroat around the top car park.

[from Tim Clyburn]

Thurlestone Bay.

An interesting 2hrs at Warren Pt this am. With4 Shelduck on the sea was anice male Garganey last seen flying accross the Bay at 10 15 .Also on the sea wasa Great N Diver. At least 15 sandwich Tern in the Bay. On the rocks were 2 Turnstone & a Purple sandpiper

Braunton Marsh

Had a quick look around the reserve at Velator when a distant flying Heron attracted my attention. I watched it circle around for several minutes and even had it right overhead at one point. Clearly a Purple Heron, which eventually drifted out over Braunton Marsh and was lost to view. It may have landed. Last seen at aboout 11.30.

Sharkham Point

At 1035 hrs I was heading back thinking this hasnt been that great due to very few migrants when circling over the grassland next to the car park were 2 Red Kites. Patch tick! They hung around being mobbed by Herring gulls before drifting over St Marys Bay onto the Southern Fort at Berry Head. Also present this morning were 13 Swallows, 4 House Martin, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler, plenty of Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap and an Adder.


11.30am 1 Red Kite circling over town upsetting Herring Gulls. The bird languishly flopped North towards haldon after a few minutes. No sign of any wing tags.

Northam Burrows

A sunny, warm still morning on the Burrows today. Apart from the usual suspects, yesterday's Little Ringed Plover was still around Greylake Pool. I had my first Whitethroat of the year, and a maie redstart was singing fron the tops of the bushes.

Berry Hd

Clear skies and a brisk NNE wind reduced any chance of a fall of migrants but did still manage: 2 Wheatears, 2 Whitethroat, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 Tree Pipit, 8 Swallow, 5 House Martin.

Exe estuary 9th April

A walk round Exminster Marshes to Powderham and back produced few waders and wildfowl, but a single singing Willow Warbler, numerous Chiffchaffs, a single Cetti's, 2-3 Reed Warblers and one Sedge Warbler, as well as four Black Terns flying downriver in company with Black-headed Gulls at about 1445. A poor photo below.