Saturday, 5 November 2011


Pallas's Warbler found in the Reserve just after 12.00. Those arriving later saw 2 together. The photos above may show 2 different birds, so I might have unknowingly seen both birds! Still present late afternoon.

The day started with a spectacular display of overhead migration. First off were thrushes. As dawn broke, small groups left the bushes and headed north. Most had gone within 30 minutes, leaving totals of 100 Redwing and 50 Fieldfares, with about 20 Song Thrushes. Woodpigeons then became the main event, and birds were, for the first hour or so literally filling the sky. Moving in all directions, at various different heights and distances, one scan out to sea showed about 3000 birds in view. Later they began moving in a more ordered fashion, heading south/south-east, and the morning finished with an estimated 16000. Small numbers of Stock Doves accompanied them, totalling 40+. All the while, small groups of Chaffinches were moving north, finishing with a total of 1200. Bullfinches were also on the move, a total of 23 being one of the highest counts here. Other notable birds over included 70 Goldfinches, 3 Bramblings, 13 Siskins, 1 Redpoll, 2 Reed Buntings, Grey Wagtail and a Woodlark. Small numbers of Skylarks, Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Linnets also moved north.

Also seen today; Short-eared Owl, Merlin, 2 Golden Plovers, 4 Swallows, House Martin, 18 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests and a Firecrest. On a short seawatch, 3 Common Scoters, a Great Skua and a Diver sp (probably GND) went past.

Last, but by no means least (all birds count at Prawle!), a flock of 68 Canada Geese flying over the Airfileds late afternoon set a new site record.

(records also from Dave Hopkins, John Lambert and Tony Marchese)

Bowling green marsh

After a cracking morning at Dawlish Warren got the train over to topsham and arrived at Bowling green marsh at 12:45.

A quiet afternoon but still some good birds with 3 Spotted redshanks ( 2 adult and a juv/first winter ) showing very well at times. There were 200+ teal and 60+ wigeon, 1 male Pintail, 1  male Gadwall and 2 shoveler. 150+ black tailed godwits, 15+ bar tailed godwit, 40+ dunlin, 2 knot 30+ lapwing, 2 jays and 1 female sparrowhawk.

A  good end  to the day

Dawlish Warren

Arrived at Dawlish Warren just after 7:oo this morning with a cool northerly wind started to walk out towards the dunes to do a bit of vis mig hopefully and was not to be disappointed with from the word go large groups of Woodpigeon with  8000 + in the first hour they were coming from exmouth area then turning and heading  west / north west over the warren. There were good numbers of chaffinch and skylarks heading east with two groups of redpoll ( 6 & 7) with 12 siskin and at laest 50+ redwing. Then just after 8 a SNOW BUNTING  flew low overhead moving northwest calling the first year tick of the day.

The birds kept coming with 2 Peregrines attacking one of the groups of woodpigeon flying over.
Lee collins  picked out a Jack snipe flying in of the sea and heading north my second year tick  a sparrowhak flew east along the beach. Then headed over to the hide to try and see the AMERICAN WIGEON and Lee found it quickly  in with the masses of wigeon not bad views and my third year tick and a devon tick. The female Scaup was showing very well with a Red breasted merganser also 5+ bar tailed godwit and good numbers of knot and dunlin.

On the walk back to the station  had a group of 30+ Golden plover heading high north, and several smaller groups of woodpigeon  still moving west/ north west with a final total of 14000+ in 5 hours. Along the back path had a group of 6+ lesser redpoll, 15+ siskin, 5+ goldcrests  and 2 male bullfich and a female blackcap  and 20+ long tailed tits

A cracking 5 hours of  birding thanks Lee for your help this morning.


In addition to Pete's post I had a probable Dusky Warbler at 10.30 in the hedge that runs at the top of Starehole Valley, 150M NW of the ponds. Seen quite well but briefly three times, most of the plumage and jizz was right for Dusky and it was constantly calling a sharp 'tek', didn't get prolonged enough views to 100% separate from Radde's, very frustrating as it was one or the other! Disappeared into cover and not seen again despite alot of searching, hopefully might be seen again.

Also in addition: Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 6+ Goldcrest and at least 60 Song Thrushes in the area. A thoroughly enjoyable day despite the one that got away.

Thurlestone Bay

Missed the report on the Starling roost - numbers well down at 1500, a Swallow over the marsh at 16.30

Thurlestone Marsh

Late afternoon update - a female Black Redstart on roof of my house at 13.30. Female marsh harrier over the marsh both early am & late aft. On the marsh a Blk t Godwit, 3 Snipe , Water rail, Grey wagtail , Cettis Warbler , 30 Teal


130 Fieldfare; 20 Redwing; 40 Starling; 2 Lesser Redpoll - all on the move!


A busy day with quite a bit of "vis mig" from dawn including a spectacular movement of Wood Pigeons: a conservative (if crude) estimate of 18,000 birds mainly going South East, 0705 - 0910. Unusually they started moving just after dawn. During the same period: 140 Skylarks, 50 Meadow Pipits, 240 Chaffinches, 55 Goldfinches, 45 Linnets, 10 Alba Wagtails, 2 Fieldfares, 55 Starlings, 4 Song Thrushes, 1 Siskin, and 1 Greenfinch.

Also: 1 Short-eared Owl flushed from scrub between Bolt Head and the Warren at c0730; 1 Golden Plover; c25 Stock Doves; 2 Redwings; 1 male Ring Ouzel; 1 ad fem Hen Harrier (fields around East Soar Car park); 1 Black Redstart; 1 Merlin; 2 Bullfinches, 2 Firecrests (West Soar); 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker; and 1 Wheater.

Overall a lively day!

Berry Head

A couple of Black Redstarts, photographed today by Simon Thurgood...

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great grey shrike still present to dusk. 100+ fieldfare with a sprinkling of redwing and 400+ woodpigeon

Exminster Marshes

This afternoon to dusk: unringed, adult red-breasted goose with Canada geese (I guess a returning presumed escape); male merlin to roost; and one short-eared owl (Topsham Lock area).

Also: 12 golden plover, 200 lapwing on the Marshes & 1000 starling in the Exe reedbed roost.


Chaffinches were bird of the day with at least 400 going west this morning (all in groups of 5 - 20). A conservative estimate of the Woodpigeons was about 800 going east (seeming having arrived off the sea) first thing and another 500 or so going west later. Also 5 Siskin, 2 Jay, quite a few Skylarks, 50+ Redwing and the first Fieldfare of the Autumn. Birds seemed to be cutting over Wembury Point then heading west.

Start Point

07.00 - 14.00 (with Perry from 09.30 - 11.00) see his post for conditions and much more detailed counts:
Gannet (4 ad.s E), Hen Harrier (1 fem. right at the point apparently in off the sea at 07.45 and headed NW. up the point), Woodpigeon (flock of 200 E. far out over water), Black Redstart (2 at the lighthouse), Fieldfare (5 at farm), Redwing (1 at farm), Dartford Warbler (1 singing W. of Mattiscombe Bay), Blackcap (5+ at farm), Chiffchaff (1 in lighthouse tamarisks), Firecrest (2 in lighthouse tamarisks, 1 at farm), Pallas's Warbler (1 on private land nearby), Brambling (2 N. over with Chaffinches), Siskin (3 at farm), Bullfinch (3-4 at farm), Cirl Bunting (1 fem. at farm)

Start Point

06:50-12:00. Fresh to strong NW in the car park first thing, Light to moderate N by mid morning with bright conditions.

Vis mig from the car park 07:00-10:00, all headed between west to north except Woodpigeons.
10200 Woodpigeons, most cutting southwest inland on a heading between Slapton to Prawle / Portlemouth, largest flock 2500 +, 4 Swallow, 104 Skylark, 22 Meadow Pipit, 12 alba Wagtail, 27 Starling, 630 Chaffinch, 250 Goldfinch, 16 Siskin, 26 Linnet, 11 Greenfinch, 10 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Bullfinch, 12 Brambling and 3 Reed Buntings. Elsewhere an additional Lesser Redpoll and Grey Wagtail. A few thrushes around eg 15 Redwing and 6 Fieldfare. 5 Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest and Firecrest in the farm, Chiffchaff down at the light. Flock of c300 Starlings around the mast field.

Thurlestone Bay

Superb morning more like early Sept than Nov.

Having returned from a few days of vg birding in Norfolk with reasonably good views of Bearded Tit I was not expecting to find the first ones for c20 years on South Milton Ley. Bob B had 7 at 09.00 near the bridge which departed with their typical spiral high flight . 2 more were heard and seen at 10.00 with at least 1 still calling at 11.00.

Whilst waiting for the B T 's to appear the ploughd field had a good flock of Pipits which included 2 Water Pipits and 2 Cirl Bunting,1 Yellowhammer. 6 Siskin over with at least 750 Wood Pigeon. 2 Chiffchaff in the bushes

In the bay a 1st w Med Gull, 12 Dunlin.

Firecrest in Teignmouth garden

Heard and eventually pished this beauty into my garden from next door.

Berry Hd

Some good over head migration today despite the fresh N wind and clear(ish) conditions: 2200+ Wood Pigeons > SW unfortunately not over the headland mostly 1-2 miles inland so I probably missed lots!, 320+ Chaffinches >NE, 4 Brambling, 11 Bullfinch, 7 Siskin, 2 Redpoll, 1 Yellowhammer, 29 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 2 Redwing, 25+ Songthrush, 4 house Sparrow plus smaller numbers of commoner finches and pipits.

Around the headland: 1 Black Redstart,3 Goldcrest.  

Woodpigeons on the Move

3000 woodpigeons flying SW over Bickleigh, mid Devon in 1.5 hrs this morning.
[from Peter Burston]

Bere Ferrers

Immature Glossy Ibis at Bere Ferrers this morning between 08:48 and 09:03 (grid ref 464635) - then flew up the river Tavy.

[from Neil Moore]

Friday, 4 November 2011

Kingsbridge Estuary

this evening: 7 med gull (2 1W, adW's ) Black Necked Grebe was a nice surprise.
BB per comm this evening: 2? Bearded tit Sth Milton Ley 200/400M from footbridge?


5 Purple Sandpipers on groynes amongst 20+ turnstones.

Berry Hd

Got in before the rain this morning! Good numbers of Chaffinch overhead today also: 2 Brambling, 4 Lesser Redpoll (they dropped into the bushes), 7 Siskin, 3 House Sparrows, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting, 12 Skylark.

Around Headland: 20+ Songthrush, 1 Firecrest, 11 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 4 Stonechat, 1 Great Spotted woodpecker and a Merlin > W.

Photos, Left Firecrest. Below: Lesser Redpoll.

Broadsands late afternoon: 1 Wheatear, 1 Great Crested Grebe


Male Black Redstart on rooftops of Windward and Leeward Courts, Shelly Beach until 1600hrs at least this afternoon. Also a Greenshank just off Shelly Beach.
3 Common Scoter off the seafront at 1630hrs.

Northam CP

13:00 - 14:30 Still 6 late Wheatear on the rocks by the 8th green. No sign of the Snow Buntings at Sandymere.

Budleigh Beach - Take 2!

With thanks to Doug C for the tip-off, couldn't resist adding some different poses of the Snow Bunting to Chris's great photo. As Chris says, a cracking bird!

Budleigh Beach

A nice surprise on the beach today was this cracking male Snow Bunting feeding on the beach path beside the Lime Kiln car park. Still present at at least 2pm this afternoon and very obliging and unbothered by passers by. Other than that, recent counts of Teal have been 115+ and Wigeon are increasing though still around the 40+ region in recent days. The scrapes are actually looking like proper scrapes now too!

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great Grey Shrike and the Little Owl still present this morning. 9 snipe and around 100 fieldfare and 60 redwing. Steady movement of starlings south west - rough estimate of around 400. Plenty of meadow pipits but numbers of skylark and linnet now much lower than a few weeks ago.

Exminster Marshes

Mid morning walk started in perfect conditions; still, dry and warm. Along the railway path I watched a water rail swimming in a ditch and although I searched a party of tits to find something different I had no luck. I did see one superb male bullfinch and a fieldfare (the first one this winter for me on the marsh) with c20 blackbirds. One Cettis called.

At Turf the rain started. A flock of 13 reed buntings was feeding on the cord grass under the seawall. Just before the visability deteriorated 2 swallows flew over.

On the walk back it was hard to view anything. The lagoon held c60 coots and a few wigeon and mallards. On the fields a wader roost was building - c80 lapwings, c200 black-tailed godwits and a few curlew. Two flocks of snipe flew in (2 and 11). In the lane a flock of long-tailed tits were accompanied by goldcrests and possibly a chiffchaff. I was soaked by then and had lost the will to linger. It stopped raining as soon as I got home.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Hope's Nose and Torbay

Seawatch from 08:00 to 10:00 at Hope's Nose was truly dire, with just 1 distant skua (probably pom), 3 auks, 4 gannets and 2 kittiwakes! However 3 female common scoters were feeding very close in just off the rocks. In Torbay this afternoon, a great crested grebe and a slavonian grebe together at Elberry Cove at 2:30pm.


20 turnstones and 3 purple sandpipers on the groynes off Sidmouth beach around lunchtime today.

[Ian Pearson]

Berry Head

Pallas’s Warbler still present this AM. Took a bit of finding in the corner of the quarry closest to the cafĂ© in a small tree. Very active up and down the cliff face as were a lot of other birds including half a dozen or so Blackcap and a Treecreeper forgetting its name. Mike's Stoat also put in a cameo appearance at the end .

[Tim Clyburn]

East Soar

Very quiet in SE winds:

wheatear; 86 skylark; 5 goldcrest plus several additions to Devon Atlas!

Exminster village

At 4.00 pm a swift sp. flew east high over the house in front of a very black cloud. Disapeared before I could grab my binoculars and get into the garden.

Central Park, Plymouth

A juvenile Pallid Harrier was in Central Park for 3 minutes around 09:00, before heading towards Rame. No previous records of this species in Devon!

[2nd or 3rd-hand per various Devon birders!]

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Berry Head Extra & Torbay

To add to Marks totals:1 Wheatear, 3 Blackcap, 1 Firecrest, 6 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Siskin. I sat looking into the Pallas's  quarry for 30+ mins earlier in the day, watching a Stoat (or was it watching me?) was my highlight.... Well done Peter for finding the Pallas's.

Stopped off at Broadsands on the way back home a single Black-necked Grebe was feeding in Broadsands bay my first of the autumn in Torbay.

Welcombe, N. Devon

A fine Black Redstart showing well on farm buildings at Welcombe, North Devon this afternoon
[Harvey Kendall]

Berry Head

This Pallas's Warbler (found by Peter Garvey) in the bottom of the quarry was rather a nice surprise while we were walking back from seawatching.

Rather dull light, but..... for the photograghers, all these 'poor' record shots are cropped tight and taken at ISO2000 (Nikon D7000 is pretty amazing for a DX camera in low light)!

Seawatching 07:10-13:00: Little Auk, Sooty Shearwater, 8 Balearic Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Pomarine Skuas (all juvs), 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Bonxies, 3 Common Terns, 2 Little Gulls ( ad &1w), Med Gull (1w), 3 Common Gulls, 756 Kittiwakes (incl. 113 juvs), c220 Gannets, c200 Auks, 3 Swallows and 2 Harbour Porpoise. MD, ML, BMcD, DS et al.

Dawlish Warren - yesterday 1/11

A quick look around in the morning produced 2 late Swallows over and 3 Bottle nosed Dolphins out on the sea all moving fast west.
[from Kevin Bainbridge]

Exminster & East Devon Commons - yesterday 1/11

Exminster Marshes – 14 Golden Plovers, Cetti’s Warbler, Black Swan (on canal)
Matford Marsh – Green Sandpiper
Aylesbeare Common – Dartford Warbler (heard only)
Woodbury Common – Short-eared Owl (towards grenade range at dusk), Woodlark, 2+ Bramblings
[from Will Salmon]

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

West Hill - more Firecrests!

Another 4 Firecrests today, including 2 in my garden (locations different from any of the 15 seen on Sunday). Also 12 Crossbills, 10 Skylarks and regular flocks of Wood Pigeons over SW.

River Taw Barnstaple

Still a big flock of Golden Plover off of Anchor Wood Bank at midday - must have been well over 1000 birds.
I Should have taken a wide angle lens to get the whole flock in a frame.

Berry Head :(

Gutted! missed the Wryneck by 15 mins (on the school run), walked onto the headland to find a smiling Tim! After a prolonged sulk .... 11 Chaffinch, 15 Goldfinch, 3 House Sparrow, 1 Yellowhammer, 3 Bullfinch, 2 Siskin, 8 Song Thrush, 17 Skylark, 7 Starling, 5 alba Wagtail and a GS Woodpecker. Around the meadow 3 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest and bird of the morning for me a single Chiffchaff (proving to be quite a rarity this autumn).

Rillage Point to Widmouth Head (nr Ilfracombe)

1 Bonxie, 1 ad Med Gull, 1 Little Egret all passing W early this morning, alongside small numbers of auks, Kittiwakes, Common Gulls and an ad Gannet. Three Blackcaps and a modest influx of Blackbirds and Robins in the scrub. Chaffinch passage seems to be easing off now - just 52 today. First Fulmar of the new season patrolling the breeding ledges, only six weeks after the last of this year's young fledged!

Berry Head

Wryneck sat right on the end of Berry Head this morning but flew off out to sea . A late wheatear also present by the hide and a lot of movement overhead of various finches etc.

[Tim Clyburn]

Braunton Road, Barnstaple

Yesterday evening at about 4:50pm, just as it was beginning to get dark, I had my own Somerset Starling Spectacular over my back garden in Barnstaple. There must have been c4000-5000 swirling about overhead. When they roosted in the Alders and Poplars behind my bungalow, the trees were black with birds.
It may not have been as impressive as the numbers on the Somerset Levels but was something special to watch and hear. I don`t think I`ve seen a similar sight before in Barnstaple.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Hope's Nose

Seawatch 8.00-16.00. 265 gannets, 436 kittiwake, 49 auk sp., 11 razorbill, 1 guillemot, 1 fulmar, 1 diver (cf black throated), 9 brent geese, 11 common scoters south. Another female common scoter was off the rocks for most of the day - has been there since 29th so may hang around a while longer.


A nice flock of 220+ Fieldfares on the edge of the moor at Owley (nr. South Brent) this afternoon. Only a handful of Redwings with them, and a single Mistle Thrush.


07:00-17:00. Cloudy , grey day. Mod-fresh SW wind going SE in afternoon. Rain held off.
Alan's Pallas's Warbler showing well on and off till mid morning in the same spot as yesterday. Little else around, just a couple Water Rails calling at East Soar Ponds, 8 Redwings, 6 Chiffchaffs, 12 Goldcrests and 27 Siskins.

Berry Head

Seawatch 07:15-13:00: 12 Pomarine Skuas (all juvs), 2 Arctic Skuas (ad & juv), 8 Bonxies, 1 Pom/Arctic (distant probably also Pom), Balearic Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Black-throated Diver, 833 Gannets, 345 Kittiwakes, Mediterranean Gull (1w), 2 Common Gulls, 7 Fulmars, 224 Auks (mostly Razorbills), Little Egret and at least 5 Harbour Porpoises unusually leaping right out at times. ML,MD,AR, BMcD

Isley Marsh and Foreshore to Fuel Jetty

08:45 - 11:00

A 2 hour wander around Isley and foreshore down to fuel jetty included:-

Grey Plover 73; Turnstone 45; Wigeon 55; Greenshank 14; Lapwing c150; Great Crested Grebe 1; Little Egret 7 and Spoonbill 9. Spoonbills included FJ9 and Green ring over yellow flag over green ring (Life history 7 Devon Birds Journal Aug 2009)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

West Hill's 'Firecrest Day'!

An amazing 15 Firecrests counted in a 2-hour walk around the village of West Hill today! [Andy Swash]

Bellever - yesterday 29/10

'Lots' of Crossbills at Bellever yesterday - some photos from Barry Rankine...

Otter Estuary and Otter Head

A good day today with Doug C. and I bumping into what is presumably the same Greenland White-fronted Goose seen on the Axe about 10 days ago. I must admit I just don't see enough White-fronted Geese and it was good to see this bird was so obliging. Not the orangest of bills, but based on the long bill with definite orange tones, narrow tail band, build and overall darkness of bird it seems to fit flavirostris. The bird is frequenting the main scrapes just north of Lime Kiln car park in with the Canada Geese.
This afternoon, thanks to a timely text from Steve W, the Osprey was seen over Otter Head at 14.47 taking just 25 minutes to fly from Seaton! The afternoon ended well with a bonus Quail in flight in nearby fields found earlier by Brian H.

East Soar

Pallas's Warbler today 14:00-15:00 in the scrub/bushes higher side of the pond near the broken gate.  shameful record shot!


Today; Seawatch, 07.00 - 12.30 (with JL and FS); single Great Northern and Black-throated Diver, 786 Gannets, Manx Shearwater, 5 Balearic Shearwaters, 14 Common Scoters, 2 Great Skuas, Arctic Skua, 50+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Common Gulls, 5 Med Gulls, Little Gull, 319 Kittiwakes and 205 Auks. A quick blunder through the fog turned up the first Purple Sandpiper of the winter, Black Redstart, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests.

Yesterday (29/10); Seawatch (JL) produced a single Balearic Shearwater.

Overhead (8.00 - 9.30) all west; 3600 Woodpigeons, 150 Starlings, 5 Swallows, 50 Skylarks, 24 Pied Wagtails, 90 Meadow Pipits, 290 Linnets, 36 Goldfinches, 38 Chaffinches and single Redpoll and Reed Bunting. Elsewhere, 3 Merlins, Black Redstart, Wheatear, 14 Goldcrests and a Firecrest.

Late Osprey

My old man had an Osprey fishing on the Axe this afternoon. Soon after (just after 2pm) I watched it fly west along Seaton beach (from work), then Kev had it continue past Seaton Hole. It was seen further along the coast too, hopefully Chris will post on here later because I know he saw a few interesting bits today!

Also three Med Gulls during a quick sweep of the Estuary this evening when it was almost pitch black; 2 ad and a 1st winter.

Fernworthy Reservoir

Early afternoon mobile flock of 30+ Common Crossbill in Douglas Pines near the main car park toilets.

Start Point

Got out to the car park at first light but as expected pretty much blown out ( this place always seems to be at least 2 steps higher on the Beaufort Scale than anywhere else local at the same time ). The road down to the lighthouse is very sheltered for most of the way in southwest winds however so i gave it a go. Pretty quiet though with just 10 or so Redwings seen/heard. The lighthouse tamarisk were calm enough to give up a single Chiffchaff but after half an hour nothing else.

Exminster Marshes

Just add water. The ditches are full and there are wet flashes on the fields. So when the railway workers drove the birds from Bowling Green Marsh the birds flew here. I counted 484 black-tailed godwits and had not finished counting when crows caused a commotion and some moved. I guess there were well over 600 present. Also c250 curlew, 83 lapwing, 12 golden plovers, one dunlin and 83 avocets. The avocets were on the lagoon where the numbers of teal and coots appears to have fallen, I guess they have moved out onto the ditches and smaller pools. There were 102 wigeon, 12 gadwall, 3 greylag geese, one shelduck and a little grebe.

Very few passerines, one group of 8 skylarks and Cettis calling from 3 locations. Still no chiffchaffs.

Berry Hd

Despite damp misty weather conditions this morning, fairly quiet on top of the headland most interesting birds: 2 Brambling, 7 Siskin, 3 Redwing, 22 Songthrush, 40 + Robins, 5 Goldcrest (no Chiffchaffs).

A 1 hour seawatch produced: 1 Black-throated Diver, 2 Pomarine Skuas (one dark, one intermediate juv), 1 Arctic Skua (very pale juv), 6 Brent Geese, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 148 Kittiwakes, 2 Ad Med Gulls (together) and 100+ Gannets.