Saturday, 7 May 2011


Had a brief update from Lundy this afternoon, thanks to Shaun Barnes. This morning there were two Turtle Dove and two Yellow Wagtails in the brick field near the village. Plenty of Puffins for tomorrows DBWPS day trippers too, I just hope the weather behaves itself!

If you are going, keep your eyes peeled for that Little Shearwater during the crossing...

Berry Head.

Sea watching between 08.15 and 13.00 hrs.
Fairly slow but a steady trickle kept me interested. All birds south.
One hundred and thirty five Manx Shearwaters were counted throughout the morning plus three Balearic Shearwaters.
A Puffin came through at 10.45 with a flock of Guillemots and settled briefly on the water.
Two Bonxies were seen plus a single adult Pomarine Skua, and a flock of thirty Common Scoter.
Plenty of Guillemots were here which I took to be local birds, but between 11.00 & 11.30 two hundred and thirty nine were counted in large flocks going south. I guess these were birds on passage???
Two Razorbills and singles of Whimbrel and Sandwhich Tern plus a scattering of Kittiwakes completed the count.

P.S. I was joined by Jacob Wood at around midday; it was his picking up on a single Manx that led to the finding of the Pom.
Nicely done Jacob....

Thurlestone Bay.

Not as good as anticipated- 27 Whimbrel, 1 Bar T Godwit, 8 Sandwich Tern, 9 Manx S'water, 20 Common Scoter.

Thurlestone Marsh - 25+ Swift 3 House martin , a M Bullfinch was a surprise visitor to my garden

Berry Head

Brief visit just before rain set in mid afternoon produced a Cuckoo and Garden Warbler out on the headland


Mudbank - 0730 - fw bonaparte's gull again with a small group of black-headed gulls resting on exposed sandbar. Also flock of 15 grey plover, 5+ bar-tailed godwit, 5 brent goose and 1 great crested grebe. No sign of the black-necked or slavonian grebe this morning.

Skern, Northam Burrows

Hoping for a few Terns this morning, spent an hour at Skern at high tide 08:00 - 09:00

No Terns but:-

6 Dunlin; 7 Shelduck; 2 Wheatear; 11 Whimbrel; 6 Oystercatcher; 2 Great black-backed Gulls; 3 Bar-tailed Godwit; 3 Turnstone and 1 Grey Plover.

Latest disturbance - Not dogs but Keep-fit classes on the foreshore! What next?

Exminster Marshes

A stroll around the marsh early morning: 20+ Whimbrel, 3 Wigeon, a Short-eared Owl perched on a post for half an hour giving good views at the Turf end of the marsh, Lesser Whitethroat singing and a few Swifts over

Exmouth - Mudbank Lane

Another good Whimbrel count 8.30am on the rising tide - total of 74 at Mudbank inc. 15 grazing and roosting in a field. 5 d-b Brent Geese. 2 Whitethroat.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Thurlestone Bay.

Update from late Thurs 250 Manx Shearwater & the first of year Great Skua ( Bob B )

Bay watched from 07.00- 12.00 & 16.30-18.00. Early morning passage v good evening poor . days totals :-

Arctic Skua 2dp 1 lp ., 2lp ad Pomarine Skua ( with spoons ) ,35 Manx S'water, 14 Kittiwake, 8 Sandwich Tern, 20 Arctic Tern 75 + Gannet, 70 Razormot , 33 Whimbrel, 4 sanderling 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Common sandpiper, 1 Bar T Godwit, 3 Common Scoter.

Thurlestone Marsh - 1f Marsh harrier, 25 Swift, 75+ Swallow , 1 Turtle Dove ( over at 15.15 )

Bowling Green Marsh

Pink-footed Goose and summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit highlights. Also two Common Sandpipers, around 40 Black-tailed Godwits and Med.Gull

Stover CP

Jon Avon reported an Osprey twice today over the lake at Stover 11.40am & 3.30pm.

Holsworthy area

Very early this morning (5.50am) at Kingford Reserve and Lana Heath near Pancrasweek in the Holsworthy area:

2 Garden Warblers, 5 Blackcaps, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Great Spottted Woodpecker, 12 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Ravens over, 1 Buzzard and 2 Cuckoos.   Also 1 Tree Pipit but no sign of the expected Grasshopper Warbler or Spotted Flycatcher yet.

[from Harvey Kendall]


Mudbank - 0620 - fw bonaparte's gull, black-necked grebe, slavonian grebe, 5 brent goose, c15+ dunlin and 3 black-tailed godwit.
Finally got the boney's from the house this morning. It was feeding with a small group of black-headed gulls on the river. The black-necked grebe has been fairly reliable mid-river looking towards the atmospheric railway in Starcross (from Mudbank). The slav is usually a bit further upriver towards West Lodge. Both are always quite distant.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Gone Missing!

A slightly unusual post, this one. Yesterday I received the following email...

'I was recommended to get in touch through the Devon Bird News Website, as 10 Days ago our Jenday Conure Parrot escaped and we was wondering if you would be able to help us in any way.
We live in Paignton, Torbay, but he was last spotted this morning in the Galmpton Creek / Churston Area.
If there is anyway you may be able to help us find him we would be extremely grateful.
Many Thanks,
Laura Bishop.'

Maybe not exactly what this blog is for, but if anyone claps eyes on this bird, perhaps you could post on here? After all, we were quick enough to publish the whereabouts of someone's pet Stork! Thanks.

PS. Also known as Yellow-headed Conure.

Bowling Green Marsh

The summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper still on this evenings high tide from the hide at Bowling Green Marsh on the far bank with 5 summer plumaged Knot and 12 Dunlin. Earlier today - 5 Swift over Newton Abbot town centre and 4+ House Martin back at Decoy.

Thurlestone Bay.

Bay watched 09.15-11.00& 13.00-14.00, increasing se wind ,showers and reduced vis brought a nice mixture into the Bay but then petered out

2 Balearic S'water at -09.25 east were first of the year, 28 Manx also thru. A Great N Diver and dp Pomarine Skua both flew east. 3 sandwich Tern, 9 Whimbrel & a single Bar T Godwit. 22 Common Scoter, 16 Razorbill and 9 Razormott all east. 1 Common sandpiper on the Ley.

Thurlestone marsh -1 m Gadwall, 18 Teal, 1 Willow warbler& 20 Swift

Yelland - Isley Marsh.

07:00 to 09:45.

1 Lesser Whitethroat in bushes on Tarka Trail about 50 yards from level crossing, towards Instow.
Also Sedge Warbler; Willow Warbler; Blackcap; Common Whitethroat and Chiff Chaff.

Jetty Roost at high tide.

Whimbrel 16; Bar-tailed Godwit 26; Knot 4; Oystercatcher c150; Dunlin 12 and 1 Wheatear.

Old Power Stn ashbeds.

Wheatear 1 and several Skylark.

Reedbed at entrance to Isley between Tarka Trail and ashbeds.

Reed Bunting 2 ( males); Sedge Warbler; Reed Warbler; Willow Warbler; Cetti`s ( heard) and another Lesser Whitethroat (seen).

Old Power Stn generator pit pond.

2 Grey Heron nests with 2 young in one and an adult sat on t`other. 4 nests here last year.
There did not appear to be any Sand Martins nesting in the conduits at the side of the pit. Last year there were 30+.

Colyford Common

One Wood Sandpiper showing in the large scrape.
Reed Warblers singing and showing around Black Hole Marsh along with Reed Buntings.
Elsewhere many 1st winter Common Gulls on estuary.

Clyst Estuary

A breeding-plumaged Curlew Sandpiper on the Clyst Estuary from the viewing platform at 1300hrs, was present earlier in the morning on Bowling Green Marsh pool. It was with 7 Dunlin. Also at BGM: 2 Gadwall, Wigeon, Sedge & Reed Warblers and several Swift high over.

Berry Hd

0600-0830hrs: 1 Whinchat, 1 Yellowhammer >W, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Swifts, 1 House Martin 10 Whimbrel > N, 3 Mute Swans, 2 Manx Shearwaters.


Mudbank - 0600 - summer plumaged black-necked grebe and slavonian grebe both still present this morning. Also 1 great crested grebe, 5 brent goose and c30+ whimbrel. Yesterday 2 fs mediterranean gull.

Evening visit - fw bonaparte's gull downriver at 1900, fs mediterranean gull, c50+ whimbrel, black-necked grebe and 5 brent still. Also an apparent increase in black-headed gull numbers with c2/300+ downriver.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thurlestone Bay.

Fairly quiet compared with recent days -Bay watched 07.30-11.00

4 Common scoter, 7 razorbill, 14 Manx S'water-all east, 29 Whimbrel, 2 Bar T Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 2 Curlew, 8 Kittiwake,

Notable passage - 220 Swallow, 8 House martin, 7 Swift, 1 Tree Pipit 8 Whitethroat.

On tues 3/5 another 27 Bar T Godwit, & 3 Whimbgel

Dawlish Warren + Exminster Marshes

Small number of birds from the Warren hide this morning. Highlights a single Grey Plover in summer plumage and around 14 Whimbrel which moved down to Exminster marshes in the afternoon. Saw the Green Woodpecker in the trees behind the pond at Dawlish - my first photo of this species.

Trenchford, Tottiford and Kennick Reservoirs, Nr. Christow

3 Hour walk around the reservoirs this AM in order to reconoitre for the DBWPS fieldtrip (East Devon Branch), this Friday.  Plenty of warblers present (mainly Willow and Blackcap, with smaller numbers of Chiffchaff ) and a very obliging Garden Warbler seen at close quarters.  A party of six Crossbill flew over, also Siskin. A pair of Coot on Kennick Res. have produced 5 young but a pair of Mallard only had one duckling.  Two fine Gt Crested Grebe present on Tottiford Res.  Bullfinch, Gt Spotted Woodpecker and Goldcrest heard.

Yelland Jetty Roost

Yelland roost at high tide this morning: 283 Oystercatcher, 36 Whimbrel, 28 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover, 69 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot (three in almost full summer plumage), two Wheater, a handful of Sand Martins and one Swift. Also several singing Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, one Cetti's and one Lesser Whitethroat.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Orcombe Point

A Great Skua was sat on the sea out in the bay at 1250hrs, then flew off south.
25 Black Terns headed slowly east into the strong wind, just off the point at 1330hrs.
Also 4 Whimbrel and a Whitethroat were seen.

Stover Country Park

Great-crested Grebes displaying again on the lake.

White stork

Still present this morning Bideford end of Weare Gifford village

Exminster Marshes

1-2 pm, from path alongside railway line...

Lesser Whitethroat - a pair in the area of the first double gates, male singing

Hobby - at least 3 showing very well, hawking for snacks low over the marsh

Berry Head

Seawatch 8.40-10.30 produced a few birds of interest although generally things were slow. A Pomarine and an Arctic Skua flew south, both by 9.00, as did 2 Great Northern Divers. 7 Manx Shearwater flew south followed by 35+ north, also a Whimbrel and a summer plumaged Blackthroated Diver flew north.

Exminster Marshes

After such a busy and extended week-end I expected it to be quiet this morning so resumed my early morning walks. However a farmer moving cattle disturbed the high-tide roost and kept many birds in the air - long enough to be counted. Roost count included 82 curlew, 40+ whimbrel. 3 redshank and a few bar-tailed godwits. Also on the pools 60+ shelduck, 4 shoveller (all males), 4 gadwall, 3 wigeon and a few mallard. The pink footed goose was with the Canada geese. Exotica included bar-headed goose and the crested duck/Panama teal cross.

On the canal bank a male green woodpecker sat in a dead tree. Elsewhere 2 Cettis singing. Over 100 swifts flying over with about 20 swallows.


A pomarine skua (again fully spooned) lingering off Exmouth seafront this morning (0630-0650 at least). Also 20+ common tern. The sum plum slavonian grebe again off Mudbank and 5 brent goose but no sign of the black-necked grebe.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Exminster Marshes

In addition to Doug's post below, I also had a brief visit to the marshes mid afternoon and recorded:

Pink-footed Goose, 2 Hobbies, Yellow Wagtail (fly-over), 12 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and at least 2 Wigeon.

All the above were seen from the 'middle' carpark area.

Also off Foxholes Hill, Exmouth late this evening, a first-summer Little Gull with 500+ Black-headed Gulls out in the bay.

Sherpa Marsh

A walk around the marsh this evening was worthwhile - at last there was a significant number of Swallows and Sand Martins low over the water/field (perhaps it's because there are now some cows in the field). They, along with what could possibly have been a Yellow Wagtail...... (not 100% sure), all chased a Sparrowhawk away. On the Pill a Common Sandpiper, with two more around the pond along with a Little Ringed Plover and a Ruff, which then flew off south. Further around a pair of Gadwall, a male Shoveler and a pair of Tufted Duck. Finally a Little Egret. At dusk I was in the reserve when I heard at least one Snipe out over the marsh.

Did I mention that I heard a Cuckoo in the reserve at 05.30 this morning, but not subsequently.

Prawle today (and yesterday)

Several Gannets feeding in the lee of the headland today, putting on quite a show.

Today; Seawatch highlights included single Pomarine and Arctic Skuas, Balearic Shearwater, 43 Manx Shearwaters, 35 Common Scoters and 6 Common Gulls. Waders around the area included 30 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot (s/p) and Common Sandpiper. The Woodchat Shrike is still present, although it wasn't showing in it's usual area early evening.

Yesterday (1/5); Long seawatch produced 2 Great Northern and 1 Red-throated Diver, 404 Gannets, 64 Manx Shearwaters, Balearic Shearwater, 25 Common Scoters, pair of Shoveler, single Arctic and Pomarine Skua, Mediterranean Gull, 6 Common Gulls and 2 Sandwich terns. Best of all though was a passage of waders, only 29 Bar-tailed Godwits, but a site record of at least 74 Knot. This included a single flock estimated at 65. Interestingly, while the Godwits are 50/50 summer and winter plumage, all bar one of the Knot were in full summer plumage. The flock of 65 was a fantastic sight! 2 Dunlin were present (first of the year), while Whimbrels totalled 17, including 1 in off the sea, and another leaving to the south - had enough already! Other birds in-off included 4 Swifts and a Hobby, as well as a steady trickle of Swallows.

Branscombe/ Weston

Turtle Dove in flight this afternoon on the A3052 by the Donkey sanctuary turning flying east then lost to view behind trees at the Kingsdown Tail garage & campsite.


A summer plumaged black-necked grebe off Mudbank this evening plus 2 great crested grebe makes it three species of grebe (including sum plum slav this morning) from there today.

Thurlestone Bay.

A good f7 easterly and clear horizon didn't really produce the results today. bay watched from 07.00-18.00

87 Bar T Godwit, 27 WHIMBREL, 11 Manx S'water, 2 Sanderling, 11 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone ,8 Sandwich Tern,15 Fulmar, 4 Swift, 8 House Martin, 2 Sand martin.

Thurlestone marsh - 24 Teal, 3 Whimbrel, Female Marsh Harrier showed well at 13.30 & particularly at !9.00- 20.00( looking closely there are gaps in the tail feathers which would indicate the Slapton bird)

Bar T Godwit total now 1440 over 5 days

Wembury Bay

10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper.

Is there anywhere without Barwit's at present? The strong Easterly hampered any migrant search on the land.

Pete Aley

Exminster marshes

A brief visit early afternoon. Ringtail hen harrier still (at 13.55), 3 shoveler (m), 1 swift. Otherwise very quiet other than many sedge warblers and a few reed warblers singing well.

Seaton Area

A quick tour of the marshes this afternoon...

Seaton Marshes
1 Common Sand, 1 singing Lesser Whitethroat
Black Hole Marsh
1 White Wagtail, 2 Dunlin on the river, several Swifts through
Colyford Common/Marsh
2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 9 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 2 Ruff and a Wood Sandpiper.

Beesands Ley

Very quiet this afternoon. Only thing of note the return of the male presumed Red-crested Pochard X Tufted Duck hybrid.

Upper Tamar Lake

A report from Harvey Kendall:

A sunny but very windy walk at Upper Tamar Lake this afternoon produced:-

4 Black Terns, 3 Common Sandpipers, 3 Swifts, several hundred Swallows, about 15 House Martins, 9 Sedge Warblers, 1 Reed Bunting,
3 Grey Herons battling against the wind and making very little progress. Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing.

Hillhead, Brixham

First Swift and Hobby through northwards up the valley yesterday afternoon. More of a surprise was this Turtle Dove in the garden today, feeding on fallen bird seed with the local Woodpigeons and Feral Pigeons, from 13.10 to 14.05, when it flew off towards Gattery Lane. Came back briefly around 3pm.

Hopes Nose

A seawatch from 11.45-13.30 - 1 Pom Skua (fully spooned) slowly south at 12.30, 1 (First summer) Med Gull off the point, 2 Common Terns, 2 Sandwich Terns and 3 Manxies.

Velator reserve

A ringing session this morning (before the wind got too strong!) produced 3 Reed Warblers, a Willow Warbler and 18 Sedge Warblers one of which was ringed in Belgium! First foreign control at this site. Also new to the ringing list in the reserve were a Whitethroat, and a White Wagtail. At one point two Peregrines flew over!

Isley Marsh area and Jetty Roost.

A wander around Isley, the ashbeds and jetty roost at 08:00 produced:-

19 Whimbrel; 5 Ringed Plover; 32 Dunlin; 17 Bar-tailed Godwits; 2 Sandwich Terns; 2 Common sandpipers; 2 Wheater; 13 Skylarks; plus plenty of Reed Warblers; Common Whitethroat; Oystercatcher and 2 Great black-backed Gulls.
Just 2 Teal and 2 Mallard on the overflow(?) pond.
The Dunlin and nearly all the Godwits were resplendent in summer plumage.


Orcombe Point - 0600-0745 - 1ad little gull (feeding off point before heading east), 27 common scoter, 10+ common tern, 1 great northern diver, 6 manx shearwater, hobby 1 (in-off with another more distant falcon probably also this species), 2 whimbrel, 1 diver sp.

Mudbank Lane - 0800 - 1 little tern, fw bonaparte's gull (top photo), fs mediterranean gull, sum plum slavonian grebe, 30+ bar-tailed godwit, c40+ whimbrel, 3 turnstone, 1 dunlin, 3 knot, 2 dark-bellied brent goose, 6+ swift and peregrine.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bideford - yesterday 30/4

Nice photo of male Sparrowhawk from Shaun Barnes

Hartland Quay

Wheatear (2 pairs), Whitethroat, Linnet, plus Swallows everywhere and two Ravens.

Exminster Marshes

Pretty quiet today.
This morning - 30+ whimbel, 15 black tailed godwit, 11 greenshank, common sand.
Pink footed goose still present this evening, as is marbled duck/crested duck.

Mudbank Lane, Exmouth mid pm

At 1520 hrs roughly, the Bonaparte's Gull was seen flying leisurely down river with a few Black-headed Gulls.
Also seen, c.45 Whimbrel and still 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese out on the estuary.

Thurlestone Bay.

Easterly force6 with almost total cloud gave another interesting day. Bay watched from 07.00-18.00

325 Bar T Godwit 47 whimbrel, 26 Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover,1 Curlew, 1 Knot( first of the year ) 3 Common Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern , 20 Common Scoter, 3 Common Gull, only Skua of the day was a lp Arctic which at 17.30 took the same flight path as the Godwits straight up the valley.

At 08.00 on South Huish marsh a Wood Sandpiper ( flew off over Bolt Tail ). A Tree Pipit flew in off the sea .

11.30 Thurlestone marsh a female Marsh harrier .

Late sat eve a further 35 Bar T Godwit taking the day total to 747 , with todays passage the4 day total now 1353


The Woodchat Shrike was still visible this afternoon, despite quite rough and damp conditions at times. Standing by the footpath intersection sign above Horseley Cove and looking inland, I was able to see it in the tall hedgerow on right at back of of the field, which would give some shelter from E/NE winds.Also 10 Whimbrel on the shore, and at Strete Gate on the way back, 12 Bartailed Godwits .

Dawlish Warren

A conservative estimate of 20+ Whimbrels and 30+ Bar-tailed Godwits. Also c30 Sandwich Terns but we couldn't find the Bonaparte's.

Pete Aley

Seaton Area

Seawatch this morning (05:45 - 07:35) was very slow. Apart from about 60 Gannets (mostly E), just 3 Kitts, 3 Manxies and a distant Great Northern Diver W, plus a Whimbrel E. Around 15 Swallows came in-off. If it had been a bit more lively I would have stayed longer and maybe enjoyed the Orcombe Pom coming by?

Anyway, I didn't, and a quick look at the Colyford scrape on the way home for breakfast revealed 20 Dunlin, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits (all no doubt yesterday's birds) and a first-summer Med Gull.

Smeatharpe aerodrome

3 wheatears still, all female and size would suggest Greenland type. A singing garden warbler was a new arrival, at least 12 linnets, 2 whitethroats and 3 meadow pipits displaying despite the strong wind.


Orcombe Point (0535-0845) - 1fw bonaparte's gull, 100+ black-headed gull, 1+ great northern diver, 5+ balearic shearwater, 6 manx shearwater, 1 pomarine skua, 1fs mediterranean gull, 1 dunlin, 1 whimbrel, 6 swift, 1 house martin, 4 chiffchaff, 8 whitethroat, 4 blackcap.

The bonaparte's gull showed well off the point around 0550 before moving towards Dawlish Warren and the pom (fully spooned) went east at 0655. A bare minimum of 5 balearic shearwaters, including a couple showing really well close off the point, was nice as was the sight of swifts coming in-off. 4+ diver sp were probably gnds and a poss black-throat.

Yesterday 7+ wheatear appeared all to be large 'greenland' types. Also 1 swift and 1 singing male garden warbler.