Saturday, 10 December 2011

Stoke Gabriel

2 Egyptian Geese today. [Terry Lakeman]

Slapton Ley

2 Gn Diver in the Bay, 1-3 Guillemot, doz Razorbill, Marsh Harrier, 2W med Gull, 2 Chiffchaff and Fem Blackcap

"Pied" GBB.

Further to Steve's post; I saw this bird on the Plym about two weeks ago. Unfortunately
I can't find the date in my note book. Russell Eynon tells me he has been seeing this bird on and off since October but again no dates.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Curlew Drive - Charleton Marsh ( 12:00-13:45, low tide ).

c 60 Brent Geese, 2 Tufted Duck, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and c 150 Golden Plover. Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaffs West Charleton sewage works.

Scorhill Tor

Several dozen brambling roosting in the beech trees below Scorhill Tor late afternoon.

Matford & exminster marshes

13:15 till 14:30 a look around matford marsh produced 11 snipe, 1 water rail, 12+ shoveler,85+ wigeon, 100+ teal, 200+ lapwing, 1 little grebe and a black headed gull in full summer plumage, and a possible tristis type chiffchaff calling and showing briefley by the seats on the back pool.

14:45 till 16:15 after several attempts to catch up with short eared owl over the last couple of weeks i was finally rewarded with the fantastic sight of 4 showing very well flying over the fields between station road and the motorway bridge also 1 snipe 20+ fieldfare, 30+ redwing and a large roost of long tailed tits by the bridge on station road.

A very enjoyable afternoon on the marshes

Elberry Cove, Paignton

2p.m Saturday, FIRECREST very active in small copse on southern corner of public area above the cove, using tree trunk thickly covered in ivy where footpath divides. Also Bullfinch seen in bramble thickets.
A mere 6 Black-necked Grebes offshore with 6 Great Crested Grebes; also 6 Razorbills close in.

Axe Estuary

A 1st-winter Caspian Gull was flushed by canoes around 13:40. It landed briefly by the tram sheds before flying off W with other large gulls.

Also on the river were 41 Dunlin, 3 Med Gulls and at least 5 Bar-tailed Godwits

Thurlestone Marsh

Big reduction in Duck numbers from Thurs., paticularly Teal - no more than 10 today. Waders on the mash 8 lapwing, 8 Snipe , 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Black T Godwit.

A new arrival in the garden a juv m Black Redstart

On South H Marsh this morning 5 Shoveler, 6 Wigeon, 1 Grey Lag Goose, 2 m Bullfinch & 1 Chaffinch in the copse

Velator reserve

Ringed at the reserve today after a couple of days away, and not filling up the feeders was slightly disappointing with finches well down on recent days - 2 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Bullfinch, 5 Greenfinch. However, the 6th Great Spotted Woodpecker of the autumn, and a retrap adult female Green Woodpecker, along with a good haul of wintering thrushes - 2 Song Thrush, 11 Blackbird, and 5 Redwings made up for it. So did the retrap male Blackcap ringed a few weeks back, a male Reed Bunting (first of the winter) and 2 wintering Chiffchaffs, both collybita. There's been a small arrival of birds this week, I also saw an unringed Goldcrest - they have been very rare there this winter.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

First visit this morning since last Sunday. Pleased to find the Great Grey Shrike still present and a better showing of passerines with around 30 chaffinch, a very smart male bullfinch, around 10 each of meadow pipit and skylark, 5-6 stock doves and approximately 2000 starling. The golden plover seem to have deserted for the time being.

English Hen Harriers in a bad way.

Please read the article, "English Hen Harriers `four steps` from extinction" and consider signing the petition.

Very few seem to know about the petition and not many have signed. Come on you birders!

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler showing well again in NW corner of Western most pond (interesting to compare it to the Hume's Warbler in Dorset: )
also 2 collybita type chiffchaffs and 2 tristis type chiffchaffs ( at least one calling similar to a collybita but a touch flatter), 3 Goldcrest, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Water Rail and a Ruddy Shelduck!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bursdon Moor

Called in at Bursdon on our way home from Cornwall this afternoon. At 4.15 - and unusually in still broad daylight! - a male Hen Harrier flew around (needless to say on the other side of the moor from where we were parked!). Shortly after, a female Merlin flew in and perched in the only significant hawthorn out on the moor. It was cold so we left!

Exminster Marshes

In late afternoon there were at least 3 Short-eared Owls hunting over the NE section - looking in the distance from the Swan's Nest bridge they were towards Topsham and the M5, but moving around a lot. There was also a Water Pipit near the canal car park.

At 16:50, 2 Woodcock seen in flight near Haldon Racecourse.

Seaton Area

The Wheatear is still present on Seaton Marshes this morning, with two Stonechats.

At Colyford WTW at least 15 Chiffchaffs along the northern edge, all appeared to be collybita-types.

Lastly, has anyone else seen this Great Black-backed Gull? It was on the Axe Estuary yesterday.

After posting this pic on my blog, Mike Passman informed me he had seen it (or an identical bird!) in Thurlestone Bay a couple of weeks ago. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has, or does, see it.

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler was showing on and off in the NW corner of the western most pond, also tristis type and 2-3 collybita type Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests 1 Water Rail and 2 Siskin.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Berry Head

Seawatch 10:00-13:30, wind WSW (245) 7-8: 14 Bonxies, 2 Pomarine Skuas (winter ad and imm), Balearic Shearwater, c700 Auks (mostly Razorbills), c300 each of Gannets and Kittiwakes, 2 Red-throated Divers.

Thurlestone Bay

F8 SW gale this morning- managed to find a sheltered corner by the cafe. Not much in quantity but certainly quality. Bay watched 90.30-12.45.

Very rough seas with poor viz.

75 Gannet , 5 Razormott, 1 Razorbill (on sea) all the quality between 10.20-11.10 first a female Long-tailed Duck , then a Balearic Shearwater, followed at 11.10 by an ad Sabines Gull - all flew east about 150 yds offshore.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Thurlestone Bay

Strong NW winds do not produce anything -even the gannets are well down.

Best sighting a F Merlin, on South H marsh,.

Totals on both Marshes - 14 Shoveler, 6 gadwall, 30 Wigeon, 100 + Teal, 6 Snipe , 8 lapwing , 1 Black T Godwit, 1 Greylag Goose.

Waders on the beaches - 13 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling.

5 Reed Bunting back on the garden feeders

Seaton Area

Wheatear still on Seaton Marshes today, showing much better along path to hide. On the Estuary mid afternoon were six Bar-tailed Godwits and and three Med Gulls.

At Brascombe Mouth this morning, a Firecrest at the sewage works with two Chiffchaffs. Lastly, a female-type Black Redstart at Seaton Hole this afternoon.

Clennon Valley

The Yellow-browed Warbler showed very well this afternoon in sallows and alders top NW corner of largest westernmost pond. 4 Goldcrests, 4-5 Chiffchaffs pesent (no sign of the eastern type bird). Also around ponds: 1 Pintail, 1 Little Egret, 1 Pochard, 2 Shoveler, 5 Tufted Ducks, 3 Water Rail.

Berry Head

Nigel Smallbones phoned in to say there were 3 BlackRedstarts on the southern slopes (out of the NW wind) of the Southern Fort this morning. Also Hundreds of Gulls moving north into Torbay.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Clennon Valley


Yellow-browed Warbler another strange calling (short sharp 'Tee' )  warbler, but too bright to be anything else! It's with about 4 Chiffchaffs including a white undersided chiff I was trying to attract out of the top of the trees when this bird dropped in less than 6ft away calling. Remained at very top (western most) ponds in willows between a small feeder pond and main pond


Good to meet another blogger Rob Macklin on the headland this morning between us we managed to see:
1 Red-necked Grebe, 56 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Red-throated Divers (no Great Northerns today!), 3 Common Scoter, hundreds of Kits, auks other Gulls and Gannets out in Torbay.

Around the car park: 13 Cirl buntings on seed in 2nd car park, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 collybita type Chiffchaffs and the tristis type (odd calling) Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrests.

At Preston: 2 Black-necked Grebes.

Two of the Chiffchaffs present the olive looking collybita type left and odd calling browny-grey tristis type right. In bright - neutral light today there appear to be some olive streaks in the mantle and possibly nape of the tristis type bird - olive in the other parts of wings/tail and rump are not so important. In the field a little yellow on the undertail coverts; combined with the odd call (despite it responding only to tristis song playback) must make this bird an intergrade or just a bird from the eastern contact zone between abietinus/tristis?

Monday, 5 December 2011


The tristis type Chiffchaff still present with the collybita, both calling. On the sea were 34 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Black-necked Grebe and a couple of Great Northern Divers. Still lots of Gannets feeding in the bay with plenty of Auks but no Kitts. Couldn't find the Red-necked Grebe or the Slav's today.

Dawlish Warren

Colorful drake Eider close in off Langstone Rock.

Exmouth and West Hill

There was a Black Redstart around rooftops in Madeira Villas, Exmouth, this morning - apparently seen there regularly. Visiting one of Andy Swash's 'regular' Firecrest sites in West Hill soon revealed an apparent pair - as usual, associating with Holly bushes (Holly and Yew seen to be important to Firecrests, at least out of the breeding season).

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Slapton Ley

Offshore a Slavonian Grebe and further out a raft of Gannets. The Marsh Harrier appeared at 2.30 then again at 3pm over the bridge. 3 Cettis heard plus 2 colybita Chiffchaffs and as Starlings began to appear a female Sparrowhawk flew over the Ley.
[Tony Marchese]


This Chiffchaff, in East Prawle Woods, looked good, sounded good, so probably is good for 'tristis'

Water Pipit, still in Horseley Cove.

Very uneventful 2.5 hour seawatch, with only 4 Common Scoters and a small passage of 24 Lesser Black-backed Gulls of any note. Elsewhere, 15 Purple Sandpipers and a Med Gull along the shore, Water Rail still at Moorwell, 2 Black Redstarts, a 'normal' Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrests.


The sea was fairly busy with: 4 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 13 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Razorbills. As Josh noted still lots of Kittiwake and Gannets on the Torquay side of Torbay 4 Cirl & 1 Reed bunting on seed in back of 2nd car park and the tristis type Chiffchaff again in the marsh also 3 Goldcrests and a Water Rail.

At Preston Seafront there were 3 Black-necked Grebes and 5 Great Crested Grebes.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

The Great Grey Shrike present late this afternoon sitting low down in a hawthorn bush on the rough pasture. Having visited three times this past week after an absence of two weeks whilst on holiday without finding the bird, I  thought it had moved on so was pleasantly surprised. However very few other birds around with passerines very low in number - 20 fieldfare being the only other birds of note.


As happens every December/January I remember that Water Pipit ID is a lot easier that I make it seem through October and November! A real corker at the point this afternoon. Also 10+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls (normally pretty rare here over the winter months). There were 2 second winter birds as well which I had never seen here.

4 Crossbill over the garden in the village this morning.

Aveton Gifford

The juv. Bewick's Swan still presents on River Avon amongst 23 Mute Swans. Also 3 Redshank, 3 Oystercatcher, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2-3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Wigeon, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Curlew and over 100 Mallards were seen today afternoon.
Observers: Matt Twiggs, Gábor Tresó and me.

Bursden Moor - yesterday 3/12

2 Hen Harriers (adult male & ringtail) at Bursdon Moor on Saturday late afternoon.[Will Salmon]

Exminster marsh

Arrived at the marsh at 08:30 along station road 22 fieldfare and 30+ redwing good numbers of wigeon and 12+ shoveler, 1 male pintail on the first scrape. 4 cetti's warblers calling from various locations around the marsh, 7+ reed buntings, 1 great spotted woodpecker.

On the lagoon 4 pochard, 6 gadwall, 3 shoveler

From the turf hotel on the rising tide 285+ avocet, 15+ red breasted mergansers, 100+ grey plover and 2000+ Dunlin, 2 bar tailed godwit, 4 great crested grebes, lots of Brent geese

On way home stopped at matford marsh, 8 snipe, 1 water rail, 450+ lapwing, 80+ wigeon, 5 shoveler, 3 tufted duck, 100+ teal, 35 black tailed godwit


Had a look at the bay from Battery Gardens, Brixham at lunchtime. Large amounts of Kitts and Gannets feeding in the bay managed to drag in a Great Skua.
Also 2 Great Northern Divers and a Red Breasted Merganser were present