Saturday, 30 April 2011

Seaton Area

A round-up of birds this evening - not all seen by me, so some counts rough.

11 Manx Shearwaters E in half an hour from 5:15

The selection of waders on the estuary/marshes included these indicators of definite passage: c.30 Dunlin, a handful of Ringed Plovers, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits (3 in full summer garb), 1 Knot, 2 Common Sands.

Also, a Whinchat and 4 Wheatears on Black Hole Marsh.

White Stork

Just to prove the White Stork is the same bird as the one on Colyford Common. I didn't look too closely at this photo before as it wasn't a 'keeper'.

More Stork Stuff

In addition to Steve's info from Chris Batty, a couple of other observations re. the White Stork.

First, a bit of research from Shaun Barnes...

Fylde Bird Club noted that On 26th March 2011 Bob Danson and Barry Dyson discovered a White Stork feeding in a flooded field at Pilling Lane Ends, before it relocated to a field alongside Taylor's Lane, Stake Pool. However, the presence of a narrow metal ring above the bird's left foot proved it to be an escape from captivity, and the same individual that had earlier been noted in Scotland over Fairlie, Ayrshire on 13th March 2011, then at Ormiston, Edinburgh and Whitecraig, Lothian on 17th-19th March. After leaving the Fylde it overflew Halton, Lancashire then Tebay, Cumbria on 27th March before visiting Lockerbie and Moffat, Dumfriesshire on 9th-10th April and Banchory, Aberdeenshire on 11th-12th April 2011. The bird originated from Harewood House, north of Leeds, West Yorkshire, where free-flying White Storks are known to have been kept as exhibits since at least April 1997, and they successfully fledged young later that year. Ringed White Storks from this source are occasionally recorded at large around northern England and southernScotland, particularly in the early spring (see The individual seen on the Fylde is believed to have been visiting Scotland since at least January 2001 (see and

And finally, a note from Josh Marshall to say that Paignton Zoo used to use such rings on their storks to distinguish between males and females [and perhaps still do?]

Thurlestone Bay.

Just had a call from Bob B at 18.00 3 Arctic Skua & a light phase Pomarine Skua ( with spoons ) in the Bay . Another flock of 40 Bar T Godwit takes the day total to 712 & 1003 for the 3 days.

3 Egyptian Goose flew onto South Huish marsh

Thurlestone Bay.

Superb passage of waders- Bay watched from 09.00-17.00 Bob B,AJL & myself .

Main highlightwas a total of 672 Bar T Godwit- largest flocks 90 & 140. all went up the valley after flying into the Bay. This makes a total of 963 logged in the last 3 days ( the recent record is 1170 in May 1990) with stronger easterly winds for the next few days we could pass this landmark.

100 Whimbrel , 1 Grey Plover, 1 Sanderling, 30 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper plus the resident Oystercatchers completed the wader day list.

3 Arctic Skua, 5 Sandwich Tern, 4 Common Tern, 8 Wheatear, 10 Swift, 10 Sand Martin, 13 House Martin and 100+ Swallow

Thurlestone Marsh had a late Sipe & 22 Teal.

Yesterday aSpotted Flycatcher at the side of the marsh

A very enjoyable day !

The White Stork

Following on from Gavin's post below about the White Stork first seen on the Axe Estuary, and now residing in North Devon, I have some news...

Thanks to an email from Chris Batty I can confirm this White Stork is indeed an escaped captive bird. It has spent the past spring in Lancashire (since late March).

Just shows that however good the weather conditions seem, you just don't know.....

Northam Burrows

Plenty of Wheatear's around this year - the males are looking stunning at the moment. I particularly like the tail spread in this one.

Jetty Roost, Yelland

After visiting Weare Giffard at 07:30 and seeing the White Stork, I came back to Yelland and had a stroll down to the Jetty Roost at about 08:30.

Among a feeding flock of 64 Dunlin and 37 Ringed Plover was 1 adult spring plumaged Sanderling.
A careful scrutiny revealed that it was flagged and ringed.
I observed that it had:-

Left leg:Yellow ring.
Right leg: Blue flag over red ring.

A check of Sanderling Ringing Projects on indicates that there should be at least 1 flag and 4 colour rings, so if you see it about perhaps you can add to those I saw. It could be that the red and yellow rings were each 2 of the same colour on each leg.

10 Bar-tailed Godwit.
18 Whimbrel and just 1 Shelduck. Plenty of Common Whitethroat and 2 Wheatear in the site of the old power station. The Wheatear seem to like the large heaps of concrete boulders.

Instow Barton Marsh had 1 low flying Buzzard and contractors are clearing out the drainage ditches producing vegatation free, water filled ditches.

And on a Different Note...

Not news, just a bit of light relief. Photo from Pete Adey yesterday - female House Sparrow with assorted goodies from the brook at Newton Poppleford...

Prawle - roundup 28 & 29/4

28/4; Female Woodchat Shrike found early evening on the clifftop at Horseley Cove. Appeared to be well fed - content to just sit around. Some traces of blood on it's face, so had probably eaten a Cirl Bunting recently! On the beach below, 17 Bar-tailed Godwits (3-4 in breeding plumage), 13 Whimbrel, and a Grey Plover at Langerstone Point. 45 Manx Shearwaters east in a single flock.

29/4; Shrike still present, today favouring the walls/hedges running north from the beach. Also today, a male Whinchat (alongside the shrike), 9 Wheatears, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher (female), and 4 Willow Warblers. Earlier, a seawatch produced 232 Gannets, 23 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Common Scoters, 91 Bar-tailed Godwits (east, + 3 still at Horseley Cove), 12 Whimbrel (east, + 2 at Horseley), Arctic Skua, 11 Common Gulls (all immatures), Sandwich Tern, 162 Guillemot/Razorbills and a Puffin. (Also, very pleased to see a Basking Shark - my first here for many years).

(p.s. Nice picture of the Stork, Roy - I wish my distant record shots were that good!!)

Weare Giffard White Stork

Some more great shots of the White Stork- these taken by Shaun Barnes.

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens when a good photo allows a closer examination of a rare or scarce bird, all may not be quite what it seems. See particularly the last photo in the set...

If anyone knows for sure what such an adornment actually indicates, I'd be happy to hear about it. Go on, confirm my worst fears!

Even so, a very smart and obliging bird. The missing primary in the right wing pretty much proves that this is the same bird that was at Colyford Marsh earlier in the week.


Had an early wander along the cliffs to see if Roy's Ring Ouzel might still be present. Sadly not, but a cracking male Whinchat was some compensation, along with a male Yellowhammer, lots of Whitethroats, a small movement of Swallows heading north with a couple of Sand Martins and three Swifts. An interesting song by the gate eventually showed what I suspected: Garden Warbler! There was also a Red-legged Partridge out in one of the fields. 4 Wheatears were on rough ground at the top of the hill.

Great shot of the Stork Roy!

White Stork

River Torridge nr   Weare Giffard  10:30

Managed a few distant shots through hedge and trees as the bird was feeding in the River. Last seen way up high and drifting over Torrington direction - cracking bird !!!

Exminster Marsh

"Marble-Tail" - seen for a couple of minutes at 10:30 feeding along the near edge of the pool closest to the middle car park. Then flew over to the far corner of the pool where it dropped behind the taller clump of reeds. Longish ivory-coloured tail. In flight, whitish underwing and creamy secondaries were text book for Marbled Duck. Pity about the size, bill and other seemingly inconsistent features!

Pink-footed Goose still present on the same pool.

4 Swift over, plus a female Wheatear along the metal fence in front of the lagoon.

Otherwise, disappointingly quiet.

Start Point

08:00-10:30, Car Park - lighthouse - Mattiscombe Valley.
Some overnight rain for about an hour either side of midnight but Start pretty much blown out in strong NE wind making it hard to see any migrants which may well have been around. Had to settle for 12 Whimbrel, 5 Wheatear, Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and 5 Willow Warblers.

Weare Gifford

Left home at stupid'o'clock to get to Weare Gifford at first light and was rewarded with the White Stork feeding contently in the same freshly cut field giving very good views, I left at 06:20 so not sure how long it stayed but it did look very settled

siskins breed in my garden

siskins have breed in my garden thought you might like latest pic.
Nigel bastin.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Sherpa Marsh

And a final late walk of the day showed 2 drake Teal still, only one Common Sandpiper, but a bonus with a smart Wood Sandpiper! Glad to see that the Stork has been committed to film!

white stork (again)

received a phone call from Malcolm Shakespeare about a white stork in Weare Gifford so dashed over to look still present in large field behind the houses opposite the cyder presse pub 20:20hrs got a record shot with a handheld camera

Ring Ouzel

Westward Ho! 15:00
Managed to grab a quick record shot of this distant bird this afternoon.

More on the N Devon White Stork

The following is from Shaun Barnes and Ken Ebsworthy...

We went to Yelland with JUST binoculars! And had the best views of the White Stork which John Turer has mentioned! It seemed to lift of from near the old Power station Jetty area, probably flushed by a dog! It flew so close to us and over our heads so elegantly, with just the odd graceful wing flap. It circled more and more gaining hight and being mobbed by noisy herring gulls and odd crow! It circled above Instow before coming back over heads and heading towards Braunton! It all lasted for about 15 minutes 11.15 - 11.30am.

Sharkham Point

A quick walk after lunch, nice to see some Yellowhammers around, and Whitethroats were all over with at least 25 singing males. Only other birds of note were 2 Wheatears and a singing Reed Warbler.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Charleton Marsh / Bay, 14:30-15:30, high tide.
2 Gadwall, fem. Teal and male Shoveler on the marsh. 15 Whimbrel in the bay.

Berry Head

A singing male Golden Oriole near Berry Head wardens cottages today, at about 3 p.m. Somewhere in the tall poplars behind the overgrown security gate, along the road between Shoalstone and Berry Head. Several Wall Brown butterflies flying on the headland as well.

Bradiford Water DBWPS Reserve

Reported on Birdguides today:-

White Stork seen over Bradiford Reserve at 12:00 today.
Flew over the reserve for about 10 minutes and then drifted off west towards Chivenor.
Observer unknown.

Prawle- (Horsley Cove)

The female Woodchat Shrike still this afternoon in a hedge viewed from the coastal footpath above Horsley Cove and showing very well.

Penhill Marsh / Pottington

I carried out the RSPB Breeding Redshank Survey on Penhill Marsh this morning; as expected
no Redshank were found although single Common Sandpiper and Wheater were some compensation as were 7 Whimbrel, 4 breeding-plumaged Dunlin and a flock of 38 Bar-tailed Godwit (many in almost full breeding plumage and others still in almost full winter plumage) off Pottington early this afternoon.


Quiet - 30+ Whimbrel, 5 Barwit, 1 Common Sand. Plenty of resident migrants in with 20 - 30 singing Whitethroat and plenty of Blackcap. The only passerine of any note was a big, cold, grey/brown Willow Warbler that must have been at least on the way to an acredula but after about 5 seconds, it flew high north.

Smeatharpe aerodrome

5 Wheatears (1m, 4f) stopped off on passage finding the rough pasture and broken concrete to their liking, 3 whitethroats singing occasionally from deep inside scrub, 2 male blackcaps, 8 ravens, 2 pairs of stock doves, 1 meadow pipit, 2 pairs of linnets with nest material and around 10 singing skylarks.

Thurlestone Bay.

Lunch time update-

So far today from 08.15- 121 Bar T Godwit, 72 Whimbrel,2 Curlew, 2 Turnstone, 9 Wheatear, 4 Swift.

White Stork - North Devon

Jon Turner had a White Stork fly west over the Bradiford Reserve at midday.

Slapton Ley

Five summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwits flew over, a Whimbrel, 4 Swifts and a female Redstart (in the hand).

Pete Aley

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Exminster Marshes

At least 2 Hobbies catching insects this afternoon while I was looking for dragonflies (10+ Hairy Dragonflies, including 1 egg-laying; also Large Red, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies). Distant views of the 'Marbled Pintail' and a Bar-headed Goose, 6 Teal and 4 Wigeon. Lesser Whitethroat singing near the viewing platform overlooking Powderham Marshes.

East Devon Commons - Dalditch

Nightjar churring 9pm Thursday on Dalditch Plantation, south of Squabmoor Reservoir. No responses, seemed like single bird although I had heard a possible wing clap a little earlier. Clear evening, no cloud but NW breeze getting up

Parke, Bovey Tracey

No sign of the Hoopoe between 16.00 and 17.20 but I learnt that it had been found singing in the tall trees by the pony paddocks above the carpark in the morning. I will take a look tomorrow morning.

Sherpa Marsh

Just got in from a late evening walk around the marsh, sort of vaguely hoping for the Stork to drift in somewhere. No such luck, but a Fox out in the open, eyeing the loads of Mallard ducklings. 2 male Teal, but the main highlight was finding 8 Common Sandpipers, so at least some migration up here in the north. A small group of 20 or so Sand Martins and Swallows flew over, and 15 Pied Wagtails on a wire by the Toll House.

Thurlestone Bay.

Nothing of the quality of the Colyford White Stork but another day that started ok and just got better .

This am 07.15 - 09.30 observers Bob B & myself - 1 M Tufted Duck flew around the Bay before settling on South Huish marsh , 10 Whimbrel, 3 Bar T Godwit ( superb in full sp), 5 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover , 1 Sand Martin , 2 House martin.. 1 ad Med Gull.

Afternoon passage started at 14.30- 1 Common Tern, 100 Bar T Godwit ( largest flock 60 )87 Whimbrel.

On Thurlestone Marsh 17.30-18.30 - 1m Gadwall, 22 Teal , 2 Bar T Godwit then at 18.30 a flock of 65 flew over.

A total of 168 Bar T Godwit is a good day.


Report from Birguides about an hour ago that a White Stork was seen circling over the town before heading off South East - no idea who reported it. I've been looking longingly but in vain out over Braunton Great Field and Marsh. Will report again if anyone sees it.

Exe Estuary - Tuesday 26/4

A couple of belated items from two days ago (my fault)...

Exminster Marshes
1 Pink footed Goose this morning on the marsh along with 2 Hobbies, and a Yellow Wagtail over. [from Kevin Bainbridge]

Viewing platform at Bowling Green Marsh

Ruff   [from Phil Holyday]

Parke, nr Bovey Tracey

Hoopoe this morning at Parke (from Tim Frayling). Not seen subsequently, unless anyone else has any news on it.

colyford common

White stork still present at 6 a.m

Colyford Common

White Stork still present this morning (05:50) by main scrape on Colyford Marsh, best viewed from Colyford Common hide.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Colyford Common

White Stork this evening. Still present on main scrape at 20:20. Spent time on both sides of tram line.

Dartmoor - Postbridge

At 16.30 a ringed-tail harrier (probably hen harrier) hunting over moor about 1 mile south of Warren House at Merripit Hill. Seen from the B3212.

Slapton Ley

Went around Ireland Bay and right up to Deer Bridge and back, then down the line to Torcross but extremly quiet. Only saw single Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Sandwich Tern and a Lesser Whitethroat. On a positive note, although perhaps a little down on previous springs still plenty of Cetti's Warblers singing.

Exminster Marshes

The "odd" duck was still present and hiding amongst reeds. However when it did show it looks larger and browner than a marbled duck with features of a pintail cross.

Also present one little ringed plover and solitary pink-footed goose.

Exminster Marshes

Robin Khan emailed this photo to me, it looks very much like a Marbled Duck (teal) but there does seem to be a few anomalies:

1. The scapulars and mantle feathers should really be well marked with diffuse but obvious pale spot at the tip of each feather, this bird appears to be have neat(ish) pale fringes.

2. Speaking to John Waldon apparently the bird may be as big as a pintail , which would be too big for a Marbled Duck

3. Perhaps the flanks are too scalloped rather than spotted?

4. the tail may be too pointed, difficult to tell from this picture - but Marbled duck does have a long tail.

The crest on the back of the head is fine for Marbled Duck as is the bill length. The it would be good to have some feedback from field views especially any flight views of the wing pattern - upper and under.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Exmouth Sea Front

The 2w Glaucous Gull late evening on the sandbar off Exmouth Seafront within a large flock of Herring Gulls, had also been viewable distantly from Dawlish Warren mid evening. Also a Grey Plover and 1 Dunlin on the sandbar.

Princetown, Dartmoor

Red Kite over Tor Royal about 18:10 tonight flying East towards Hexworthy/Newton Abbot direction. Possibly female with couple of primaries missing on both wings no wing tags seen.

(Gary Easton)


A report on Birdguides of a Hoopoe at Kentisbeare today.

Thurlestone Bay.

After a w/end of vitually nothing worth reporting today changed.

In the Bay this am - 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, a 2s Glaucous Gull and a Hobby flew in at 10.30.

This eve a short visit produced 1 Sandwich Tern, 11 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1m Wheatear

Early this am Bob B had 6 Egyption Goose fly through

Dartford Warblers

Regret this is a negative blog, but I hope relevant. Now searched, listened, checked etc the Woodbury Castle to Four Firs area of East Devon Commons on three occasions - last this morning with sun shining and mild breeze. Unable to locate any Dartfords in the area - in previous years up to 5 or 6 territories

Monday, 25 April 2011


2 pairs of Redstarts at Challacombe today

[from Tim Clyburn]


If this were the Portland website, the word 'dire' would appear now, but at Prawle, we're thankful for small mercies! Only a few 'true' migrants today, the counts of 81 Whitethroats, 16 Blackcaps and 35 Chiffchaffs almost certainly being of birds settling in for the season. Otherwise, a steady trickle of Swallows moving through barely reached 3 figures, 7 Wheatears, singing Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler, and 4 Willow Warblers constituted the migrant passerines, while a single Whimbrel represented the rest. Tony Marchese did a short seawatch early on and came up with a Balearic Shearwater for his troubles. Lots of butterflies though, including my first Green Hairstreaks of the year.


1 Roseate tern resting on bouy off Orcombe Point at 4pm (seen from mackerel fishing boat).

Clennon Valley

Josh's Osprey flew up the valley from the Goodrington area and then over Paignton Zoo. Another observer watched the bird head off leisurely toward Totnes. A female Red-crested Pochard was on the ponds at Goodrington (Young's Park) this afternoon with a couple of Tufted Ducks.


1710hrs Osprey going north west over Sharkham/St Marys Bay area. House and patch tick! The bird seemed to send the entire population of gulls in Brixham into the air.

Otter Estuary

A female Merlin flew in-off the sea at approx 7 am and landed on a dead branch on the marsh. After resting and preening for about 5 minutes it headed off strongly east along the coast.

Although initially not visible from the mouth of the estuary, the Bonaparte's Gull was picked up at approx 8 am from the east side of the river. As in recent days, it was feeding with the small group of Black-headed Gulls in the area opposite the first viewing platform and hide.


A/the Marsh Harrier flew up the Higher Ley at 8.10am, 2 Whimbrel flew south south down the beach calling early morning and also Sedge Warbler, Cettis' Warbler, a few Swallows and a male Reed Bunting seen.


Orcombe Point - 0550-0800
14 whitethroat, 6 chiffchaff, 6 blackcap, 1 tawny owl, 1 sedge warbler, 1 glaucous gull (East 0610), 11 swallow, 1 red-legged partridge, 1 willow warbler, 1 great spotted woodpecker, 1 meadow pipit, 1 pochard (male South), 7 great crested grebe, 1 roseate tern.
Mudbank - 75+ whimbrel, 3 dark-bellied brent and 17 dunlin. Additionally a hobby flew north upriver at 1700 (viewed from house).
The glauc was presumably the 2w Otter bird, it landed on rocks just off Sandy Bay. The pochard was the first I've recorded from Orcombe Point and the undoubted highlight was a beautiful peachy-flushed roseate tern feeding with a small group of sandwich tern off the point. It's the earliest one I've had there.

Gara Rock - Portlemouth - Sunday 24th am

1 singing Lesser Whitethroat and Clouded Yellow butterfly.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Birch Tor area

On a short walk from the entrance to Headland farm to Birch Tor saw 8 Whinchat 2 Stonechat, loads of Wheatear,Skylarks and Pipits, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestral 1 Reed Bunting 2 Chaffinch, 4 Blackbirds and heard at least 1 Cuckoo.

[from Simon Thurgood]

Staddon Heights

A Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat - both singing, 15 Whitethroat, 2 Red-legged Partridge, and 2 singing Cirl Bunting.

Pete Aley

Velator reserve

The Canada Geese on the reserve are now the proud parents of 4 Goslings.

Kingsbridge Estuary

West Charleton Marsh / Bay, 10:45-12:45, high tide.
Pair of Gadwall and a female Teal on the marsh. 5 Great Crested Grebes in the bay. Female Marsh Harrier came out of the reeds at 11:45 and flew around the top of the marsh for a while before disappearing. Pair of Stonechats in residence, good to see after the cold winter.

Slapton Ley

Savi's warbler trapped and released in to willows nr bridge on inland higher Ley side at 11:30.

Beer head

At Beer head this morning there were 3 wheatears,Spot fly, Gropper,3 Yellow wags(north)2 Whitethroats,and a willow warbler.

Exminster Marshes

Great White egret on the northern marshes this morning half way between motorway and lane. Was standing in the open before dropping into a ditch. 2 Hobbies in the afternoon hunting over the marshes north of Station Road.
Otter Estuary

A quick look around the estuary this morning produced the 1st winter Bonaparte's Gull (also present yesterday evening), best viewed from the first viewing platform north of the Lime Kiln Car Park. Also 5 Black-tailed Godwits and a Dunlin on the estuary.