Saturday, 12 November 2011

Dawlish warren

A good morning at dawlish warren from 07:15 till 12:30

1800+ Dunlin, 5 sanderling, 28 ringed plover, 80+ grey plover,8 turnstone, 14 red breasted merganser, slavonian grebe, 2 great crested grebes, 7 common scoter, 1 peregrine, 1 male blackcap lots of wigeon and Brent geese.

Hopes Nose

Short-eared Owl around noon today, plus a raft of 24 Common Scoter offshore.  [Joe Martin]

Bursdon Moor

Afternoon1530-1700: 2 male Hen Harriers and 2 Merlins interacting with each other and with several crows. A stoat chasing a rabbit right in front of 4 birders.

Soar and Plymouth

An enjoyable wander in largely fine, calm conditions with Steve Cox & Jake Aley. Only vis mig today was c500 Wood Pigeons. But just after first light we found 2 Hen Harriers sitting in the big field just west of Middle Soar house - an adult female and a juv. Four Snow Buntings flew over East Soar calling and a Dartford Warbler showed at the top of Stare Hole. Otherwise - 5 Goldcrests, 6 Redwings, 8+ Cirl Buntings, 15+ Song Thrushes, 3 Siskins, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Bullfinches, 10 Lapwings and 3 Chiffchaffs.

No sign of the Glossy Ibis in Plymouth tonight, but 40 Little Egrets coming in to roost on Drake's Island.

Otterton - Monks Wall

A surprising sighting of a SWALLOW, first seen hawking over fields of stubble and then perching on overhead wires amongst Starlings and preened for several minutes. Large flocks of Starlings, circa 2,000+ feeding in the pig and stubble fields as well as perching on the overhead wires. BLACK REDSTART at Monks Wall House catching insects on the thatched roof.
3 Stock Doves, 2 Yellowhammers and a pair of Stonechats completed a very pleasant morning.

Budleigh Salterton

The two Snow Buntings were still performing down to a few feet along the path by the shingle ridge, by the River Otter mouth late this morning.

Bursden Moor

Stopped at Bursden Moor yesterday just before dusk. Two male Hen Harriers came in to roost, and also a Merlin.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Budleigh Beach - Snow Buntings

A visit to see the Snow Buntings at Budleigh before the rain set in this morning proved rather instructive. The two birds look quite different and at first glance appear to be a male and a female. However, close scrutiny of the photos I took of the 'female' when it stretched its wings show that it is in fact a male. The border between the black and the white on the underside of the primaries is very distinct (this would be diffuse on a female). Both birds present appear to be first-winters judging by the rather narrow, pointed tail feathers (these would be more rounded on adults).

Plymouth Ibis

Devils Point, Plymouth: Glossy Ibis in from Tamar, over Devils Point to roost on Drake Island at 16:16 [Tom Forster]

Matford pools

Finished work and decided to take a look at matford pools and then walk back to Exeter via the canal. 14:30 till 16:00
On matford pools 80+ wigeon, 15 black tailed godwits, 2 male shoveler, 20+ teal, 50+ pied wagtails, 40+ Canada geese.

On walk down the canal about 300m from the swing bridge at countess wear came across a group of long tailed tits and blue and great tits with goldcrests calling then 2 chiffchafs appeared and then even better a Firecrest worked through the bushes moving towards the swing bridge final totals for the group were 25+ long tailed tit, 6+ goldcrest, 1 Firecrest, 2 chiffchaff, 13 redwing, 1 bullfinch, several blue and great tits, 4 greenfich

Down near the quay on the flood relief area in with a group of black headed gulls was a nice common gull

Not bad for a walk home from work.

Berry Head

Seawatch from 8:30-11:30 (BM & MD) produced 1 Balearic shearwater, 3 manxie's, 2 bonxie, 2 pomarine skua's, 2 red breasted mergansers, 1 eider and a single great northern diver near the quarry. Bill also had a juv little gull.
Large numbers of kittiwakes, acouple of gannets and 4-7 common gulls.

Budleigh Salterton

2 Snow Buntings showing well on lower path near the estuary.

Rillage Point to Widmouth Head (nr Ilfracombe)

A 1st-w Great Northern Diver on the water, close in, just off Rillage Point, at about 11.30.


An Eider off Downend this morning.

[Rob Jutsum]

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Woodcock flushed this morning [Pete Adey]


I walked from Garra Rock nearly to Prawle Point this aft with a detour up Pig's Nose Valley. Saw a Hen Harrier, ringtail  in the valley, and at least one Ring Ouzel. Brilliant! [Peter Liddle]

Dawlish Warren

Joe Martin sent these amazing pics of Goose Barnacles attached to a log washed up near Langstone Rock today. Also a Wheatear on one of the end groynes.

Torre Abbey Beach, Torquay

26 Brent Geese on sea in bay.

Devil's Point, Plymouth

Glossy Ibis flew from roost on Drake's Island at 7am this morning and flew towards St Johns lake.

Exminster Marshes

A single short-eared owl rose from the estuary side of the canal at 15.40, circled up over the marshes and flew west over the Dawlish road. I counted 326 Canada geese and amongst them were the red-breasted goose, barnacle goose and white - fronted goose.

A flock of about 100 finches mostly green finches came into roost in the canal side trees. A peregrine was hunting over the estuary. The lagoon had its resident coots, wigeon, shoveller (15), pochard (2) and teal. There were several hundred wigeon grazing amongst the geese.

Thurlestone Bay

Expected rain must have moved further east , a lovely calm autumn morning - stared well with 5 Bearded Tit in flight at South Milton Ley.

On the sea a Red T Diver & 7 Gannet. On the roof of the house at Beacon Pt a jv Black Redstart.

Stopping off to look at 2 Med Gulls on South Huish marsh a male Snow Bunting flew out of the dunes over my head calling - flew in S/SE direction.

More Thrushes around this am - 3 Mistle and several Song


250 Fieldfare at Whistley Hill Cross - while doing Atlas square!

Budleigh/Otter Estuary

The two snow buntings are still present today (male and female - one looked like it had more white in the wing yesterday due to the soggy conditions!) Nearby an adult Med Gull on the Otter Estuary with at least 2 Water Rail calling and 1 Blackcap. A walk along the coast path was pretty good with 3 Crossbill over heading east and a Short-eared Owl flying around Otter Head. The cherry on the top was a flighty but vocal Lapland Bunting in the stubble field between Otter Head and Brandy Head with 80+ Skylark and 1 Yellowhammer nearby.

Around the Axe

Woke up late this morning, because the weather men said it was going to be raining all morning!!

Actually ended up being an excellent few hours out. The two Snow Buntings are still at Axe Yacht Club, along with our first Black Redstart of the autumn. A little later on, looking from the sea front, six Greylag Geese flew south down the valley and out to sea. And they really did fly south, not turning east or west at all. Six flew past Portland yesterday, am guessing it is the same birds - so clearly wild ;-)

At Colyford Common, 7 Crossbills flew over east, with a Chiffchaff and five Rock Pipits on the deck. On Colyford Marsh there's now 11 Brent Geese (8 juvs). At Lower Bruckland Ponds, the Cetti's Warbler is still present.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hope's Nose

Seawatch 08:45 to 15:00. Red throated diver 1 (north), manx shearwater 1, fulmar 1, gannet 144, brent goose 8, common scoter 6, curlew 1 (north), dunlin 4, arctic skua 1 (middle photos), pomarine skua 1, mediterranean gull 1 (top), little gull 4 (bottom), kittiwake 303, guillemot 36, razorbill 7, auk sp. 72.

Berry Head and English Channel off S Devon

Today at Berry Head seawatching 11:45-15:30. No large seabird movement, but quality in what passed, especially as 4 auk species seen including a Little Auk and a Puffin (juv/1w). Also 8 Little Gulls (3 ads, 5 1stW), 3 Pomarine Skuas, 8 Bonxies, Manx Shearwater, Red-throated Diver, 7 Common Scoter, 6 Fulmar, 348 Kittiwakes (incl. 60 1stW), 218 Gannets, c400 Razorbill/Guillemot (mostly Razorbills), Brent Goose (heading N) and 2 Harbour Porpoise. MD, ML

Yesterday on a fishing boat approx. 20nm SE of Start Point.

Frustratingly brief view of a largish (long-winged) storm-petrel sp. passing the boat at distance. The bird looked all dark and initial thoughts were of something exotic (Swinhoe's etc). But in hindsight it was probably a Leach's with a much reduced white rump (which was not visible at range - as some do). Sadly it showed no interest in the boat and was quickly gone, but I managed a quick photo as I quickly grabbed the camera. Also good numbers of Kittiwakes, with c250 (most I've seen foraging around the boat), Mediterranean Gull (ad), 6 Little Gulls, 5 Common Gulls, juv Pomarine Skua, 20+ Bonxies, a small skua sp. (most likely, dark phase juv Long-tail, but again gone too quickly) and only a single Fulmar and lots of large gulls.

Budleigh Beach/Otter

Not wanting to be trumped by the Axe (not that I'm competitive or anything!), Budleigh now has two Snow Buntings. Present this morning on the beach at the mouth of the Otter.
A brief look on the nearby scrapes resulted in around 90 each of Wigeon and Teal and 7 Brent Geese including 5 youngsters.

North Devon

A Snow Bunting at Baggy Point this morning, on the narrow footpath but disturbed by walkers. There was a Black Redstart here last Saturday too. Also two Common Scoter and a (presumed!) Teal off Downend.

[Rob Jutsum]

A Quick Round Up

No sign of the White-rumped Sandpiper in a brief look this morning, but as it wasn't seen for seven hours yesterday - I'm not surprised! The two Snow Buntings are there though, showing well on the beach at Axe Yacht Club.

There's a flock of ten Brent Geese on Colyford Marsh, and this Wheatear on Tesco building site, is sadly just a Wheatear...

More Woodpigeon information

It seems that most of the Woodpigeon movement seen recently is from our own UK population. Looking at the BTO statistics we seem to have a steadily increasing population, see

Tom Brereton, who does alot of vis mig in Dorset, contacted me with this useful information:

Hi Mark,
We get this passage every year (I've seen 50-100,000 per annum every year of counting since 2002, whilst missing some good days) and there has been a lot of discussion on vis mig

I am sure it's been overlooked in the past, because this year has been no more than average - though birds concentrated in high numbers as there have been few good days for migration. It does seem to have been a good year though in some areas e.g. 100,000 through Cardiff Sunday, with Dorset missing out a bit (only 8,000 West Bay Sunday, though I missed the likely big day on Saturday).

These are almost certainly GB birds from the huge population. The southerly movements get tracked annually through middle Britain in October then we get the big numbers in November in Dorset and Devon. At the same time Scandinavian birds seem to go straight through Mainland Europe with no ringing recoveries in England and no North Sea crossings.

We are short on woodland down here in the SW, and I've always speculated that the key roost sites are therefore the New Forest (due to high Poole Basin Counts ) and Haldon (unwatched) - the Haldon counts provides a bit of proof for the latter.

I am sure some of these birds cross over to northern France, though again ringing evidence is scant for this, as we see large flocks heading out south high over the sea, a funnel effect has been apparent at Portland and
Durlston when we have done co-ordinated counts (see 2006 Dorset Bird Report) and large flocks have been recorded in-off in Normandy and Brittany.



Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great Grey Shrike still present present this morning and harrassing meadow pipits. Little Owl showed briefly. An increase in fieldfare to 200, 2 stonechats but just 5 golden plover although one made an immaculate approach down the easterly runway before veering gently right to land on the barley field. 10 blackbirds in a small single elderberry bush got lots of attention but none with any white feathering or fringing....

Budleigh late afternoon

Dropped in and saw the snow bunting on the path at 4.00 p.m.

Bowling green marsh

A grey afternoon at the marsh watched from the hide from 14:30 till 17:00

180+ avocet put on a great display as they swept into the marsh, 1 spotted redshank, 2 snipe, 2 pintail, 12+ shoveler, 1 tufted duck, 50+ wigeon, 100+ teal, 4 Dunlin, 42 bar tailed godwit, 12+ greenshank, 100+ redshank,20+ lapwing and a cetti's warbler calling.

Great Bustard

I have heard from the Great Bustard project:-

The South Huish bird was released in mid-September this year. It was the only individual to leave the release site immediately, and spent a couple of weeks on a neighbouring farm. This is the first confirmed sighting since late September (but the bird was probably at Portland the day before.


The Glossy Ibis flew down the Tamar and over Devil's Point at 16.33 to roost on Drake's Island. Also a steady stream of Little Egrets going to roost.

Thurlestone Bay

Spent the wet morning writing notes up - perched on the fence a f Black Redstart which spent the next 2 hours around the house. At least 3 Chiffchaff and a big increase in Blue & Great Tit, and a male Blackcap .

On the Marsh - the female Pintail returned, 3 Black T Godwita lapwing , 2 Water rail. The female marsh Harrier over at least 3 times.

In the bay 3 Turnstone..

Bob B saw 2 Bearded Tit & 8 Chiffchaff at S M Ley.

A Wheatear still in the Cafe field yesterday

Axmouth Snow Buntings

Berry Hd

Despite fantastic looking conditions misty/drizzle & mod/light E wind there was very little around the headland: 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Siskin, 5 Stonechat, 9 Goldcrest, 3 Blackcap. Also 1 Great Northern Diver looking back toward Brixham Breakwater.

As I walked into the quarry I could see groups of Gannets passing (>S) the headland an a couple of Bonxies so a 1/2 hr seawatch followed (including Nigel Butlers counts): 5 Bonxie, 2 Pomarine Skuas, 100+ Gannets, 50+ Kittiwakes, 1 Red-throated Diver and a Bottle-nosed Dolphin >S at 9am.


White-rumped Sandpiper Still on estuary N of Coronation Corner first thing this morning, and 2 Snow Buntings on the beach about half way between Axe Yacht Club and river mouth, just S of the shingle ringe.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Budleigh Snow Bunting

A nice shot of the Budleigh Snow Bunting from Martin Cox - taken yesterday 6/11

Devils Point, Plymouth

The Glossy Ibis came into roost again on Drakes Island this evening with Little Egrets.
The bird came in earlier than last night at 16.55.
I arrived just after it had flown in and in the fading light I didn't hold much hope of seeing it. Fortunately something spooked all the birds on the island and the Glossy Ibis was seen quite well in flight amongst the hordes of gulls and egrets.
A very welcome addition to the Plymouth list.
Thanks to Tom for finding this one. A feather in your cap!!

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Found the Great Grey Shrike was still present this evening despite the extremely gloomy conditions. This morning around 100 Golden Plover on the barley field, 2 lapwings in the rough meadows and 120 fieldfare and 30 redwings. Although in lesser numbers than those on the coast, the woodpigeons were headed north west today having been going south west the past 2 days.
Intrigued by the report from Velator regarding thrushes - I visited Shipley Bridge yesterday afternoon and found 3 flocks of fieldfare totalling about 250 birds (plus a single redwing). Previous experience here has found many many more than this and it would appear that they have been through the Avon Valley in big numbers already as all the rowans were totally stripped of berries - again previous experience is that they take these berries first and then move on with the hawthorns being taken by birds later in the winter.  Question is where have they gone as few reports are coming from the coast - I should also mention that they seem to be in lower numbers on the Blackdowns compared with last year.
p.s. Still waiting my turn for a short eared owl!!

Preston Sands

1 Black- necked Grebe between Preston and Paignton today.

Thurlestone Bay

Another very good day - just hope it continues .

Having missed out so far a Short Eared Owl flew over South Huish Marsh at 12.30 to bring the patch year total to 190.. female Marsh harrier seen several times . Between 3 & 4pm Bob B had an adult male Hen Harrier over South Milton Ley( first reported on sat aft ) he also had 2 Bearded Tit calling.

A G N Diver on the sea , with 6 Brent Goose -db- flying west.

Waders around marsh/ beach were - 8 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 3 Snipe , 2 Lapwing, 8 Turnstone

The ringing team ct - 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 4 Reed Bunting, 11 Goldcrest.

In off thesea were 3 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler ,with another 12 Wigeon on the Marsh

Dawlish Warren

A Short Eared Owl passed over about 2.30pm and was last seen heading towards Orcombe Point. 35+ Common Scoter off shore and a Med Gull flying east.

Bowling green marsh

Thanks to Mark Baker for the following update for Bowling green marsh for this afternoon helped by 2 guys from Plymouth

280+ Avocet, 4 spotted redshank(2 adults, 2 1st winter), 200+dunlin, 2 knot, 50+ bar tailed godwit, 650+ black tailed godwit, 12 greenshank,1 male pintail good numbers of wigeon and teal, 2 little grebes,  200+ wagtails to roost and 800+ starling displaying

The star attraction of the afternoon was 3 otter seen from the hide around 16:30 an fantastic sighting  for the marsh and the 3rd sighting  this autumn the others have all been singles.

Woodpigeons on Dartmoor

On Saturday and Sunday we noted and received reports of small flocks (30 - 150) of woodpigeons over Manaton, Widecombe and Princetown areas almost constantly at times. Like Mark D we commented on the fact that they were all heading North, with just a couple of groups North West. Small flocks, but for most of the day.


Ringing in the reserve at Velator today produced the usual crop of Finches and Tits, with the highlights being the first Song Thrush of the winter, 4 new Blackbirds and 2 male Siskins.

We also saw a Woodcock, which needless to say didn't find a net! Plenty of Water Rails calling and a lone Cetti's Warbler too.

Retrapped one of the late summer Kingfishers too.

Didn't see any winter Thrushes despite plenty of Hawthorn, Buckthorn, and other berries/friuit.

[Jon Turner]


7 cirl bunting & 14 yellowhammer in ploughed field by Soar Farm - no sign of Lapland but viewing conditions dull & difficult!

Rintail hen harrier over airfield, 2 blackcap at Starehole, 120 skylark in fields, 44 fieldfare over and 260 woodpigeon moved off east.

Woodbury Common

A good hour plus on Woodbury Common around the firing range and woodbury castle, first bird was a ringtail Hen Harrier at about 1500 hrs then seen again about 15 mins later and watched for about 5 mins until lost to view,also in the area 100 plus Fieldfare, 1 Reed Bunting and many Meadow Pipits and Linnets, then about 1600 hrs a Short Eared Owl flew into view and landed on gorse Showing very well until a crow harrassed it then flew and lost behind a bush possibly landing again. Also over Broadfields in Exeter just after 8am a very large flock of Wood Pigeon flying South West probably 3000 plus.

Braunton Burrows

One Short-eared Owl and a female Merlin this afternoon; the owl along 'J' Lane, near the seaward end, the Merlin over the old Broadsands carpark. A smattering of Redwing throughout the site, and at least three Redpoll over.


White-rumped Sandpiper on the estuary this afternoon - best views were to be had from the Tower Hide. A first for the Axe.

Hopefully there'll be better photos, but it's the bird on the right, with a Dunlin facing away

Exminster Marshes

As John posts below the red-breasted goose present & much closer today and very obviously a first-winter (I'll blame bad light, kids and ineptitude for my previous ageing), and looks very similar to posted images of the Stanpit bird. Also the Greenland white-front and barnacle goose still.

Several 1000 woodpigeon have headed north/noth-east over Exminster village today, as well as at least 500 redwing. suggests this pigeon movement is very much a UK thing; this map shows birds per hour from visible migration watches across NW Europe since 1 Nov. Note big movememts in Yorkshire, Scotland the SE England.

Exminster Marshes

The red-breasted goose is attracting some attention. It is a first winter bird and possibly the one reported from Dorset earlier in the autumn. What ever its origins it is mixing with the Canada geese and a single barnacle goose - possibly the one that has lingered around the estuary for some time and was grazing in the fields closest to the canal bank.

Also on the fields c200 lapwing and a similar number of wigeon. There were another 30 or so wigeon on the lagoon together with 108 coots, 7 gadwall, 2 tufted ducks, 3 pochard and 13 shoveller.

A light passage of chaffinches totalling about 50, all flying north. Also 11 fieldfares north and of course the obligatory woodpigeons - about 300. Heard one water rail and two Cettis calling.

Braunton Marshes, Toll Road and Horsey Island.

08:35 - 10:30

Apart from usual;

1 Cetti`s heard in first reedbed; 1 Water Rail; 10 Little Grebe; 2 Kingfisher; 10 Fieldfare (in blackthorn bushes by the Great Sluice);
4 Greenshank; c30 Teal; 1 Snipe and 1 Spotted Redshank at the White House end of the old river course.

While on way back to the Toll House, a further flock of c60 Fieldfare descended into the same blackthorn bushes.

Colyford Marsh - yesterday 6/11

Spotted redshank, Sunday 06 Novenber at 1400, seen on Colyford Marsh, last seen flying off towards the Axe river.
[Tony Brooking]

More Woodpigeons

Yesterday Simon Geary saw a minimun of 126,400 Woodpigeons pass over Little Haldon (perhaps a new Devon record!). Here at Buckfastleigh, over the last few days, large numbers (no count, but in the 1000's) have been following the southern edge of the moor, but strangely most were heading north, so some circulation also going on!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Wood Pigeons

Looking at Pat M's photo -if that is 745 birds -my estimate of 52,500 this morning over Thurlestone is considerably under estimated, probably by many thousands . Thanks for the info about these birds, you do wonder were they all finally end up

Ilsington, SE Dartmoor

A new species for my hamlet when 2 Firecrests joined Goldcrests and a Treecreeper in the hedge along the lane from Trumpeter at 15.30 and moved into a small oakwood nearby.

Woodbury Common

Whilst driving across the common this evening back towards Exmouth at 1805hrs, a Short-eared Owl flew across the road in my headlights. I was lucky not to hit it! It was just before the right-hand turning to Woodbury Golf Club.

Woodpigeon Migration

I've done some research on Woodpigeon migration that might explain what we have been seeing in the last few days. Scandinavian and Continental Woodpigeons are highly migratory and migrate through the Netherlands and down through France to winter in Spain mainly. Their migration route was considered to bypass England but it was know that some flocks cross the channel and then re-orientate themselves to fly back to France and continue south.

The flocks' flight directions reported from Dorset headlands and South East Devon is strongly westerly. The directions at Soar and Prawle is South/Southeast. I think birds are crossing the channel, coasting west to the south Devon coast then re-orientating South/Southeast to recross the channel. This idea is supported by the fact that no mass movements have been reported in Cornwall. Further east along the coast no mass movements were reported in Kent or Sussex so birds could be crossing from France between Devon and Sussex.


Very few Continental birds have been seen crossing the North Sea (very few ringing recoveries) and few flocks seen over oil rigs.


Lapland Bunting in the sewn field behind the junction to Soar/Soar Mill Hotel? Hen Harrier fem. 2 Swallow (Sharp Tor) Black Redstart, Blackcap, Redwing, Fieldfare.  More Dunnock about than usual I feel. Also more lost Woodpigeons.
Marsh Harrier fem. Thurlestone Marsh.
quite a weekend!

Okehampton Camp

The Starlings put on a good display yesterday evening going to roost.

Also Woodcock leaving the roost site at Waddeton (near Galmpton, Churston) over the last two weeks

[Chris Noakes]

Budleigh Salterton

No sign of the snow bunting this morning but a late Swallow over the beach.


A female Hen Harrier making a nuisance if itself with a few Redwings surprisingly and the many Chaffinches about this afternoon at Prawle, plus a single Woodcock, the first I have seen this winter, flushed from a grassy bank by the footpath about 4pm. Loads of woodpigeons everywhere looking lost
[Simon Kidd]


06/11/11: Devils point, Plymouth: 1 Glossy Ibis in to roost with little Egrets on Drake Island. Seen at 17:15 flying from Tamar past devils point to Drake Island accompanied by 2 little Egrets. (Little Egrets arriving from 16:52 to 17:20, 34 in to roost tonight).
[Tom Forster]

Thurlestone - yesterday 5/11

Male Hen Harrier at about 3.00 p.m. from the Thurlestone National Trust Car Park flying low over the reeds. I saw it again later in the afternoon flying over the marsh at the back of the Golf Club and also a Marsh Harrier.

[Frank Prowse]


Following an afternoon spent scouring the woodland along the cliff path to the west of Sidmouth, which produced a Firecrest and a couple of Crossbills over, decided to try Otterton Sewage works... Here, the Short-eared Owl was seen in the distance being continually harassed by corvids. We had given up hope of getting a photo, but struck lucky as we headed back home, when the owl flew along the road and right past us in the low evening sun - beautiful!


Test your skill !! How many woodpigeons in the above flock? (Taken yesterday at Prawle). I've been sad enough to count them - answer at the end of the post.

On the subject of Woodpigeons, this mass emigration seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon. Back when I was a lad, and the award-winning, bird-book-of-the-year 'The Birds of Prawle' was published in 1993 (now sadly out of print!), the record count for woodpigeon was 7000, counted over 2 days 22/23 October 1983. I remember being enthralled by that weekends' spectacle, hoping to see it again and again, but it happened only every few years, and in lower numbers. Now it has become an annual event, and to see the totals currently being counted - 50,000+, and all along the coast as well as inland is quite mind-blowing. Coverage these days is undoubtedly better than in the past, but it does seem that many more pigeons are passing through these days. Presumably they originate from northern Europe, but where do they all finish up? And are these movements observed all along the south coast - if so, how many millions of birds are involved? So many questions!!! Nice to know the humble Woodpigeon can be so interesting!

OK, give or take 1 or 2, there are 745 birds in the photo.

Nr Hound Tor

Whilst ringing this morning (7 a.m. 'til 1.30), a bare minimum of a thousand Woodpigeon over SW, all relatively high up. Around 300 (of the same birds??) heading NE, all much lower - about tree-top height - in small groups as well. A Great Crested Grebe over southwards as well, which was unexpected. Not much sign of anything else moving, though. Ten or so each of Redwing and Fieldfare around.

Yesterday a smart male Merlin on Exminster Marshes at about 2 pm.

Clennon Valley

After hearing of a Bittern roosting in the zoo at the end of last week I tried the valley during the morning and at dusk tonight - no sign - but other birds included: 3-4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrest, 3 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 7 Water Rail. This evening one Little Egret (headed toward the zoo at dusk), a roost of 137 (and probably more!) Magpies, 8 Grey Wagtail with a small number of Pieds roosting around the middle pond.
Great Bustard 06 - A note on Portlands website reports a Great Bustard flying off at dawn on 5/11 in a southerly direction . They did not manage to confirm the wing tag .


At 10.00 3 great spotted woodpeckers flew west high over Haytor Down. Not a tree in sight. Nearer to Widecome about 80 fieldfares were feeding in the hedges. Hundreds of wood pigeons appeared to be roosting in the conifer plantation nearest to Bellever Tor. In the same area at least 22 crossbills were flying around calling. Later nearer the river at Bellever another 12 crossbills were feeding with a few siskins and 5 crossbills flew over between Bellever and Postbridge. Also 7 stonechats, 10 meadow pipits and a few ravens seen during the walk.


Orcombe Point - 0705 - 1 short-eared owl, 7+ redpoll, 2 reed bunting, 1 fieldfare, 3 starling, 3 song thrush, 9 curlew, 7+ blackbird, 3 lapwing, 2+ siskin, sev chaffinch, 2 brambling, 2 great spotted woodpecker, 2 blackcap, 1 black redstart, 1+ grey wagtail, 1 prob water rail, c50+ jackdaw 2 goldcrest, 1 chiffchaff and several thousand woodpigeon (won't even try and guess).
Mudbank - 5 greenshank, 80+ redshank, 10 teal, 8 ringed plover, 44+ turnstone, c15+ dunlin, 3 knot, 1 black-tailed godwit, 1 snipe, 10+ great crested grebe, 1 tufted duck, 7 pale-bellied brent goose.

Woodbury Common - 1600 - dogwalk - fem hen harrier below fort plus 4+ fieldfare.

Exminster marshes & dawlish warren

Exeter to exminster marshes 07:00 till 10:00

Started by walking out from Exeter along the canal to exminster marshes this morning from 07:00 till 07:30 had 1200+ woodpigeon heading south west and 65+ redwing and a buzzard over the quay in Exeter. On the walk out along the canal had 3 cetti's warbler, 5 reed bunting,20+ goldcrest and 40+ long tailed tit. Arrived at exminster marsh around 8:30 and had another 2 cetti's warbler and 2 reed bunting, 250+ lapwing a peregrine flew through. On the lagoon 3 pochard, 8 tufted duck, 1 gadwall also 200+ dunlin on the estuary and a male stonechat by the viewing platform 40+ redwing and continued passage of woodpigeons.

Dawlish warren 10:30 till 14:30

After a call from Lee around 10 about Richard pipit at dawlish warren headed over with Mark Baker unfortunately dipped on Richards pipit by 15 mins but did see a female SNOW BUNTING on warren point on the beach before it flew off over exmouth. As we sat in the bight having a coffee everything went up and a rather late OSPREY appeared showing well for 5.

Another good days birding.

Exminster Marshes

Amongst the Canada geese this morning: adult Greenland white-front (presumably the Axe/Otter bird); adult red-breasted goose and one barnacle goose. Also a single merlin and as with coastal sites, a continuous passage of woodpigeon, skylark, chaffinch and reed bunting into the N wind.

Thurlestone Bay

Local patch birding just doesn't get better than this !

At 12.30 Graham Daw and myself were walking accross the South Huish Marsh car park looking at the db Brent Goose (first of the Autumn ) when we picked up a large bird at the top of the field - you can imagine the comments when we both called out Great Bustard ! Closer scope views confirmed it had wing tags showing 06- obviously one of the Salisbury Plain birds, will try and obtain more history details and post later. It had to choose the worst mobile reception area in Devon, calls made to as many people as possible--approx 20 saw the bird before it departed at 13.25 in a N/Ne direction.

On a normal day the m Snow Bunting on the rocks by the flats and later heard calling would have been a great record - last one around 8 years ago..

Also around were Merlin, 3 lapwing, 1 Wheatear, with a Great N Diver on the sea .

Arrived back home at 14.30 to a message that Bob B et al had seen a small wader fly over calling, would I check the back of Thurlestone Marsh- finding a Dunlin I continued to scan and found what looked good for a Pectoral Sandpiper- when it called it seemed too good to be true- called the cavelry and soon had AJL, BOB B, Eric W and Chris Bond with Alan D arriving later,. Continued watching the bird until 16.40 when the light started to go. During that time a Jack Snipe & 12 Snipe were flushed , Black T Godwit feeding and the female Marsh Harrier over at 16.20.

What a weekend 3 patch ticks and a lifer


Quite a brief look produced 1 Black Redstart, the Hen Harrier (presumably yesterday's adult female but not specifically noted) and 4,500 Wood Pigeons over, before we got diverted to South Huish....

Start Point

Beautiful morning though a chilly moderate to fresh north wind.
Got to the car park at 07:00 and did a vis mig watch until 08:45 when i got a call to go to work just as things were hammering through. Monster Chaffinch passage, birds coming in waves flying north up Mattiscombe Valley, all to much to keep tabs on so numbers probably underestimate true scale of passage.
600 Woodpigeon ( low count cp Thurlestone, Exmouth etc but i was not paying attention to the line they would be moving in - out of sight for me ), 25 Stock Dove, Golden Plover, 16 Skylark, 40 Meadow Pipit, 22 alba Wagtails, 4 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 30 Starling, 1080 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling ( low count cp usual Chaffinch / Brambling ratio here ), 25 Linnet, 380 Goldfinch, 20 Greenfinch, 17 Siskin, Reed Bunting and a vocal Lapland Bunting very low over the car park at 08:07. Surprisingly no Redpolls heard.
Great passage, shame had to abort early and had to watch from a very windy exposed area with phone coverage but are'nt we lucky to live in Devon with all its great birding spots.

South Huish

A wing-tagged (06) Great Bustard in the field by the cafe until 13.25 when it flew off NW. No doubt more from the finders - Mike Passmen et al in due course.

Thurlestone Bay

Superb morning for viz mig watching -particularly if you like Wood Pigeons. Even from my garden in Thurlestone there was an almost contiuous passage of birds from 07.15 - 08.45 , my logs list flocks initially of c500 increasing to around 5000by o7.50 , The total was 52,500. Will be interesting to see if totals at some of the main headlands exceed this. Most birds flying very high in a south/south east direction.

Other species - 9 Siskin, 30 Chaffinch, 125 Skylark and a very high flying Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Exmouth - from Maer Valley
More Wood Pigeons: from 0730 to 0810 wave after wave of Wood Pigeons flew over Maer Valley & coastline heading generally westwards. On the basis of 500 to 2-3,000 birds per wave, a guestimate of circa 50,000 birds went over. Sorry for any farmer whose fields they land on!