Saturday, 3 December 2011

Slapton Ley etc

A family walk along the higher ley at Slapton today threw up a marsh harrier, a bittern and whilst watching a short eared owl quartering over the reeds we accidentally flushed another one on the beach side of the road. The owl returned to sit on the beach where its plumage made it virtually invisible. Cettis were still singing and a kingfisher flew upstream of the bridge.
Also the juvenile Berwick Swan has returned to Aveton Gifford and seemed to be particularly vocal.

[Tim Clyburn]

Exmouth and Otter

Maer Rocks - 0740 - 10 common scoter, 3 great northern diver, 2 velvet scoter, 1+ red-throated diver, 2 turnstone, 1 eider, 1 great crested grebe, 16 dark-b brent goose.

Mudbank - 0835 - 4 greenshank, 4 teal, 2 goldeneye, 1 shoveler, 2 pale-bellied brent goose.

Carter Park - male black redstart (photo).

Otter Estuary - fw caspian gull (see field notes), 1+ ad mediterranean gull, 1 male black redstart (first beach east of Otter Head).

Maer Rocks yesterday - late pm - 1 purple sandpiper, 15+ turnstone, 2 great northern diver and 1 eider.
The caspian gull was present for about 5 minutes at 1pm before the whole gull flock was spooked and the caspian flew upriver, past me in the east hide and then back south and out of sight. A large, long-necked classic first-winter bird, very beautiful.......if gulls are your thing!


The odd calling tristis type chiffchaff was still present with at least one collybita chiffchaff in the marsh, also two Water Rail.

At sea there was a big dispersed flock of feeding Kittiwake 400+ and Gannets 60+ on the Torquay side of Torbay. Off Broadsands there were 6 Great Northern Divers (none very close!), 5 Black-necked Grebes, 13 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Razorbill and 1 Guillemot. The auks and a good number of Shags were feeding very close to the shoreline taking tiny bait fish. 

Velator reserve

Big increase in Blackbirds yesterday - 15 ringed along witha Redwing and a Song Thrush. STill scores of Greenfinches taking advantage of the berries and feeders - 38 ringed.

river torridge landcross n devon

adult whooper swan with 2 mute swans , seen from iron bridge landcross at 10.00 hrs today

Friday, 2 December 2011

Middle Soar

Wing-tagged Great Bustard in the 'pepper pot' field, and 6 Golden Plover in the field next door. [photos from Barry Rankine]

Thurlestone Bay

Had a day off patch- Went to Chew and had 3 American waders - Sharp Tailed S'piper, Spotted S'piper & 2 Long B Dowitcher, on the way back stopped off to look at the Red B Goose at Darts Farm .

Bob B on site here ,7 Bearded Tit & Kingfisher at South Milton Ley also a male Tufted Duck flew east .

In Kingsbridge he had an Osprey over Tesco's flying NNW at !2.00

islay marsh

10 spoonbills including adult with white ring FJ9 on its left leg, also adult with yellow flag on its right leg. also adult med gull at westward ho.

River Plym estuary

At 13.00 Thursday Dec 1st the juv. Spotted Sand' was on the west bank of the river mouth where it runs into the wider estuary by Blaxton Meadow. 1 ad. Common Sand' and a juv. Greenshank were nearby.

A December Wheatear!

This Wheatear was on Seaton Marshes this afternoon. One was also seen here on the last day of November so it's presumably a lingering bird (it could even be the yacht club bird?). Easily the latest I've ever seen - in fact there's now only two months of the year that I've not seen Wheatear on patch!

Also this afternoon, on the Estuary were 6 Med Gulls (4 adults; 1 colour-ringed, and 2 2nd winters) and the 7 Greylag Geese still feeding on Colyford Marsh.


On the way down the track this morning at about 8:15, looked out to sea, which was quite calm and saw a pod of about 12-15 Dolphins heading towards Sharkham Point and Berry Head, it looked as if there were a couple of young ones as well, pity they were too far to get a photo of them. The cold morning seem to have brought out a few birds, there were around 9 Bullfinches near the carpark and loads of Songthrushes in the bushes and also two Fieldfares. There were 3 Firecrests, with two in the woods as you walk down and another in the reeds by the beach. Also a male Reed Bunting popped in for awhile and two Chiffchaffs. A nice lot of birds on the marsh with 44 Teal, 12 Mallard, 14 Moorhens 29 Snipe and 3 Grey Herons. The coastguard cottages still had a couple of Black Redstarts on them (sorry no Wheatear!) the only new attraction coming to Mansands will be the new hide that will be going up sometime soon.

Powderham Marshes

Mid morning visit. Two , possibly three green sandpipers including one seen near to the Swan's Nest with 18 curlews. The fields of sun flowers are certainly attracting finches. Difficult to count or even estimate but at one time I thought the flock had about 300 birds in it - mostly linnets and chaffinches with over 50 greenfinches. Elsewhere one chiffchaff (alongside the railway), 16+ reed buntings and 8 skylarks flew over calling. In the distance, near the lagoon on Exminster Marshes a peregrine was calling and stooping repeatedly. I was unable to see the cause. A small group of 8 pipits were close to the road onto the marshes but I was unable to confirm their identity - almost certainly meadow pipits.


Slavonian Grebe very close in the bay along with 2 Black-necked Grebes. Also a couple of Razorbills with a Guillemot very close, fishing just off the shore line. 2 Great northern divers in the bay with another probable out towards Hopes Nose but too distant to confirm ID.
Tristis/eastern type Chiffchaff in company with a Colybita Chiff also present.

Exe Valley wetlands south of the double locks.

The small but perfectly formed starling roost performed again yesterday eve 16:15 ~ 16:30.  Two or possibly three sparrow hawks put on quite a show looking for a late night snack.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Greylag movements

More info can be found here

The wintering population in Spain follows the channel coast and no doubt some pass through Devon and elsewhere with the right conditions, contrary to assumptions in Birds of Devon.

southcott valley bideford east

ruff still present

hartland point

9 red throated diver,2 balearic shearwater,1 great skua,30 kittewake, between 08.00-09,45

Trowlesworthy Warren, Dartmoor

Redhead goosander on the River Plym.
70 fieldfare in berry-laden hawthorn scrub.
Sparrowhawk over.

Exminster Marshes

A mid morning visit coincided with the high tide. Also very mild with virtually no wind. Altogether a very pleasant day. Continuing the greylag theme - 6 flew north high over the marshes but turned and eventually landed near to the lagoon. They appeared nervous and took a long time to land. Unfortunately almost as soon as they had landed a RAF helicopter flew low over the fierlds and most of the birds took to the air. At that point I counted 10 greylags of which 4 flew east towards BGM.

Also on the marshes - c300 Canada geese and lots of teal, wigeon and 30 shoveller. I counted 9 gadwall on the lagoon. Over 400 black-tailed gowits, c200 curlew and 226 lapwing were roosting. A few snipe were flying around. Near the Turf there were a few winter thrushes 20+ blackbirds, 2 song thrushes, 30 fieldfares and 11 redwings. On the canal bank I saw 2 Cettis and heard a further 4. Two water rails were calling from the reeds on the eatern canal bank.

Clennon Valley

A walk around the ponds this morning produced: 1 Mediterranean Gull (ad), 8 Chiffchaff (all collybita types), 6 Goldcrest, 3 Water Rail, 2 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 7 Tufted Ducks, 6 Snipe & 1 Little Egret. 


Interesting comment by Steve on these Greylags. Back on 4th November we saw c20 distant 'grey' geese (which looked like Greylag) pass off Berry Head . They landed on the sea for half an hour, then headed back north. Wind was a strong easterly - that day there was also some other wildfowl passage with 6 Pintail, 2 teal and Shoveler heading south. Oh and an interesting looking Lesser Whitethroat briefly near the seawatch point! Forgot to post it at the time.


I know it is a long long way north and east of here, but I thought this was interesting enough to post a link up on here...

We've had at least three flocks on the Axe this autumn, totaling 17 birds - two of these flocks flew straight through. I know it doesn't sound like many, but taking into account the flocks seen elsewhere in the county, and seen passing Portland, this isn't a normal occurrence at all. So it does beg the question as to where they have all come from??

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thurlestone Bay

Much better visability today -still Sw F6-

Waders on the beaches / rocks -15 Turnstone, 13 Ringed Plover, 2 Sanderling ( first since Sept 9th )

In the bay 27 Auks, 114 Gannet, , 33 Kittiwake and a dark Fulmer all east in 1 hour late morning


Braodsands 3:00-4:00
On the sea was a distant Black necked grebe and a single Slavonian grebe feeding close to the shore.
Also a flock of about 9 long tailed tits, 1 firecrest and the tristis type chiffchaff that Mike found earlier.

Maer Rocks Exmouth

1 Purple Sandpiper,8 Turnstone 1 Meadow pipit and 1 Guillimot 10 foot from rocks.

Skern, Northam Burrows

08:55 - 10:30

Grey Plover 41; Dark-bellied Brent 26; Turnstone 10; Wigeon c35; Common Gull 4; Shelduck 62;
Bar-tailed Godwit 1; female Sparrowhawk and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser.
Also c200 Dunlin and reasonable nos. of Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher,
Teal, Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Meadow Pipits and mixed flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches.

Broadsands & Torbay

Around car parks: 1 Firecrerst (see above), 3 Goldcrest, 1 tristis type chiffchaff(odd calling bird again see photos), 1 collybita Chiffchaff, and 1other chiffchaff spp. 4 Cirl Buntings on seed in 2nd car park, 1 Reed Bunting.

Around Torbay: 2 Great Northern Divers, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 3 distant scoter off Groodrington looking bulky necked/headed (perhaps velvets).

Exminster Marshes

Two short eared owls over the northern marshes this morning at 8 am.

Westward Ho!

Purple Sandpipers have only just been retaining a toe-hold in the area in recent winters, so it was good to find 3 on rocks at the east end of Nassau Court this morning.

Great Bustard - Soar

Great Bustard '06' still present at Middle Soar at 09:30 this morning.

[Pete Reay and Britta Saffron]

Also, here's a photo from Britta...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Great Bustard still at large in Devon

Great Bustard '06' was present in the Soar area for a few days up until 26th Nov - it's probably still there somewhere. See for some footage.

It was found by Richard Hanham at Higher Soar. Thanks to Chirs Harper and Pete Reay for reporting it to me.

Thurlestone Bay

First good blow for a while - F8 SSW with gusts up to F9- In 2.5 hrs this am - 275 Gannet, 21 Kittiwake, 1 Common Scoter & 3 Little Gull all east- 17 Turnstone on the rocks .

South Huish marsh held a Greylag Goose , a db Brent Goose, 5 Shoveler, 25 Wigeon .

Thurlestone Marsh held a Goldeneye ,6 Gadwall, 25 wigeon, 50 Teal


Got out early and came across a drake Mandarin on pond 1, together with 3 Shoveler, 2 Pochard , 2 Snipe , 1
Kingfisher and 4  Tufted Duck. Did not see any chiffchaffs.

Berry Head

Seawatch with MD 0915-1400hrs
3 Great Skua
4 Sooty Shearwater
2 Manx Shearwater
2 Pomarine Skua (juv/1w)
1 Common Scoter
1 Diver sp.
Also steady passage of Gannets, Kitts and Auks, and 3 Harbour Porpoise.

Monday, 28 November 2011


At least 2 Black Redstarts on the cottages, and about 20 Teal on the ley.

[Andrew Hanlon]

Exminster Marshes

One of the short-eared owl's on the north of the marsh at 07:30 this morning.


This evening there was a small (~3000) but close and acrobatic murmuration over the Exe Valley wetlands just south of the double locks.

This video is part of that group.....

Thurlestone Marsh

Numbers of Duck have reduced over the last few days, 20 Wigeon, 25 Teal, A Greylag Goose came in with the Canada's.

Over at South Huish Marsh - 25 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 5 Shoveler, 2 db Brent Goose.

Still 5 Bearded Tit , 3 Chiffchaff at South Milton Ley

In the bay 50 + gannet, 11 Kittiwake, 5 Guillemot.

Beesands & Slapton

Beesands: Great northern diver close in offshore.
On lake 27 gadwall, 2 shoveler, 4 pochard, water rail.
Also 3 stonechat.

Slapton: 3 red-throated diver south offshore plus one common scoter.
Male goldeneye on ley.


3 Snipe showing on the back edge of pond 1.
3 Male Shoveler on pond 1 , together with 3 Tufted Duck and 2 Pochard.
Also seen 4 Goldcrest , 1 Chiffchaff , 1 Little Egret and 1 Treecreeper .
6 Teal at the back of pond 3

R.Taw, Barnstaple to Wrafton.

08:45 - 11:15

08:45 Green Sandpiper in the ditch just before Ashford sewage works. Still there on my return at 10:55.

c140 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and 15 Little Egret on Penhill Marsh.
Also c40 Shelduck; 61 Mallard and 21 Wigeon on the river.

09:20 12 Bullfinch in the bushes between Strand House and Duckpool(Chivenor) roundabout.

10:20(return trip) Nearly all white Blackbird at Duckpool roundabout.

10:25 Male Ruff on foreshore at Heanton Court.

11:05 247 Dark-bellied Brent, mid-river just off Pottington and 3 Grey Plover.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Exminster Marshes

Two short-eared owls this evening over the northern marshes.

Seaton Area

2 or 3 Black Redstarts - 2 (including male) at Axe Yacht Club, plus a female on building next to Beach Road later.

8 Woodlarks on farmland (location withheld)

[Phil Abbott]


Not a bad day for late November. 90 minute seawatch threw up a little(!) surprise in the form of a Puffin, flying west after a little rest on the sea. Not quite so unexpected were single Manx and 2 Balearic Shearwaters, but apart from a single Common Scoter, there was nothing more than small numbers of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Auks (mostly Razorbills). The beach walk produced 3 Mediterranean Gulls, 13 Purple Sandpipers and 6 Turnstones, and at least 1 Water Pipit still. Song Thrushes showed the first signs of winter arrivals, with 14 counted, along with 4 Redwings, a Fieldfare, and the first Mistle Thrush of the autumn. Around the bushes were 7 Bullfinches, 2 Reed Buntings, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrests and 3 Firecrests. A Water Rail at Moorwell Pond was a year-tick (!!), and a Merlin patrolled the Airfields. Finally, as a little reminder of summer, a lone Swallow fed happily over the village this afternoon.

Dawlish warren

On the falling tide this morning from 09:15 till 12:15

3000+ Dunlin, 6 sanderling, 110+ grey plover, 15+ red breasted merganser, 8 turnstone a peregrine dropped into the bight and settled on the mud also 4 stonechat, 2 bullfinch. A brief seawatch produced 1 red throated diver, 2 great crested grebes and 2 razorbill. Not a bad morning.


Orcombe Point - 0745 - 0830 - 17 common scoter, 1 eider and the following all west : 113+ auk sp, 9+ razorbill, 2 red-throated diver, 1 great northern diver, 1 juv pomarine skua and c2/300+ kittiwake.

Exmouth Docks - male black redstart (photo)

Mudbank (yesterday) - 3 fem-type goldeneye, 65 shelduck and 62 turnstone.

Maer Rocks (25/11) - 2 fem/juv velvet scoter still with 1 eider.

Exe at Turf Lock

Saw this at a distance - my lens doesn't have the reach of birders' scopes. In among a group of Common Gulls. Seems a bit early for breeding plumage for a Black-headed. Med or even Bonaparte's? Please don't mock my lack of expertise but I'd be grateful if anyone could say if they've had a positive ID on this in this area. Thanks. Don

EDIT Hi Don, have had a couple of BHGs on the Axe that have been very nearly in full bp - just the odd white speckle in otherwise complete hood  (Gavin)

Start Bay

Great Northern Diver just offshore from Beesands village midday.