Saturday, 18 February 2012

Otter estuary

A wet afternoon but rewarded with a 2w med gull and snow bunting.

Powderham Marshes

Ringtail Hen Harrier late pm [Martin Cox]


Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk over the Higher Ley before the rains came. [Tim Clyburn]

Exe Estuary

Among the usual waterfowl and waders, this morning's Stuart Line cruise produced c15 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Egrets, excellent views of the Red-breasted Goose with Brents near Turf, Sparrowhawk, 500-550 Avocets, 500+ Black-tailed and several hundred Bar-tailed Godwits, 20+ Knot, c10 Sanderling (more than usual), 4 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank (between the Kenn outlet and Starcross Sailing Club). Common Gulls numbers were good(c100?) and there were 6 adult Lesser Black-backs. The usual Harbour Seal was hauled out on Bull Hill sandbank. The exceptional numbers of Great Crests continues, but it would be nice to have a diver two in the estuary!

Over Exminster Marshes, a flock of Lapwings, Golden Plover and Dunlin circled for a while. Later, at the marshes in early afternoon, the American Wigeon was with Wigeon east of the railway, while on Powderham Marshes there were 4 Ruff with good numbers of Curlew, Black-tailed Gowits, Dunlin and Teal; a Barnacle Goose and 4 Greylags were with the Canadas.

Brixham Breakwater

Brixham Breakwater about 16:30-17:15.
Finally got the 3rd winter kumlien's gull about 50m off the seaward side of the breakwater in really good light. The bird was alone and separate from the majority of gulls on the water.

Plym Estuary

A few bits and pieces mainly before the rain started.

On the river - a 1st-w Mediterranean Gull, 11 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Little Grebes and one Common Sandpiper.

On Blaxton - 4 Greenshanks, 31 Curlews, 26 Shelducks, 30+ Pied Wagatails and c15 Linnets plus 2 Marsh Tits around the "hide".
adult med gull this morning at northam burrows behind pebble ridge w.ho end

Exminster/Powderham Marshes

Powderham Marshes 07.50-0820

American Wigeon, 1 male
Ruff, 4

Axe Estuary

At last! in front of the tram sheds at midday.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Bystock Reserve

An early afternoon meander round the reserve today produced:
2 Tawny Owls calling, one Lesser Redpoll, Marsh Tit and the usual Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Goldcrests and Ravens.

Velator reserve

Cetti's Warbler calling this afternoon (third day this week I've heard it).


Mansands has a new hide now at the top end of the marsh. Not alot on the marsh itself, but a male Sparrowhawk tried it's luck with some Snipes without success. Also a Water Rail calling from the reeds by the beach.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Isley Marsh

9 Spoonbills today. [Tim Stripp]


1 female Black Redstart in Durnford Street area of Stonehouse, Plymouth today 16/2/12. Seen in gardens behind Durnford Street today and also seen in same location on 1st and 11th February (previously female also seen in same location in December).

[Tom Forster]

Kingsbridge Estuary + Thurlestone Marsh

Greenshank and Spotted Redshank at South Pool just after high tide this afternoon.

Glossy Ibis at Thurlestone.

[Peter Liddle]

Iceland Gull, Pottington, Barnstaple

John Wicks reports that he saw an Iceland Gull this afternoon, just off the western end of the saltings on the Pottington side of the river.

Plym Estuary

Couldn't find the Spotted Sandpiper again, despite on-going reports. However 27 Snipe and 2 Common Sandpipers.

Taw Estaury

This Ruff was feeding on the Taw Estuary yesterday, taken by Rob Jutsum.

Axe female American Wigeon nailed at last?

Finally got good views of the pale Wigeon that has been doing the rounds since Dec 2011 (first on the Otter, then on the Axe from Jan 1st). It is on Seaton Marshes this morning, showing just south of the path to the hide. You can click on the photos below to enlarge them.

I rather flukily managed a pic of the underwing too - only just though...

It's the bird in the top right corner just about to fly out of shot! Check out and compare those underwings.

Same photo just cropped more. They do look a bit less white here, but the quality is pretty shoddy, and they still are strikingly different from the female Eurasian Wigeon beside it.

This was the photo I took roughly half a second before I fluked the flight shot.

This is the best on the deck photo I managed. It is the upper left female. Check out the colour of the head with a darker eye mask which extends down to the neck (almost ghosting a male American), and the peachy flanks. Head seems smaller too, and often appears to be a subtly different shape to Eurasian Wigeon.

Mid afternoon edit: An excellent photo of the birds upperwing (taken by Gav) has indeed clinched the identification...... as a Eurasian Wigeon. Oh well, it was all looking so promising too!!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Budleigh today

A couple of photos from Martin Cox...

South Hams

Picked up a few bits during / after my BTO atlas work:-

Grimpstonleigh - 1 Merlin.

Kingsbridge Estuary / Bowcombe Creek - 1 Pintail (drake), 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1 Greenshank.

Beesands - 5 redhead Smew, (on east side of Ley); 1 Great Northern Diver (on sea).

Averton Gifford - 3 or 4 Common Sandpipers.


2 Waxwings frequenting a private garden in the Maidencombe area of Torquay. No public access but a look around Rock House Lane may prove worthwhile? (Antony Moore)

Brixham Breakwater

What was almost certainly the 3rd winter Kumliens Gull was sat on the water within the outer harbour when I first arrived at 1540hrs. The position of the bird plus the strong sunlight made it difficult to see the primary tips. However the bill pattern and the streaking appeared to fit the bird seen on previous visits. Although 2 others present never saw this bird get off the water it was never relocated but what was almost certainly the same bird followed in a trawler showing a similar tail pattern to the Kumliens a bit later on at 1700hrs

Penhill Marsh

After a lengthy search the Black Brant was located at midday on Penhill Marsh with c. 200 Brent Geese  [Harvey Kendall]

Thurlestone Bay

GLOSSY IBIS from 08.00 until 16.30 spending most of the time feeding on the back marsh with the 50 WIGEON , 30 TEAL. 2 SHOVELER, the BLACK TAILED GODWIT returned this morning . at least 30 SNIPE feeding.

Waders on the beaches at high tide - 16 RINGED PLOVER, 12 SANDERLING, 5 TURNSTONE.
news from yesterday AJL had 2 PURPLE SANDPIPER on Warren Pt rocks

Star birds of the day were 2 male PINTAIL ( 111) found feeding on South Huish Marsh, whist we get Pintail most years recently they have been females so nice to have 2 stunning males as the first of the year.

In Mallards Lane this morning 2 f BULLFINCH.

Exmouth and Budleigh Beach

Maer Rocks - 0730 - 81 dark-bellied brent goose, 3 knot, 3 eider, 1 purple sandpiper, 6+ turnstone, 1 curlew and a blackcap in scrub behind beach huts.

West Lodge - 18+ pied wagtail, 1 mistle thrush, 1 goldcrest, 7 goldeneye and the yellow-browed warbler (1045). The YBW seems to be favouring the first tree after the gap from the SE corner of the copse along the stream. Present and showing well for 10 minutes at least this morning. It has frequented this tree the last few times I've seen it.

Budleigh Beach - 1 snow bunting still. Also 2+ goosander and 2 great-crested grebe. A large starfish wreck is attracting a sizeable herring gull flock at the moment (see photo). Surely only a matter of time before a white-winger joins them?

Exmouth Docks - 1620 - 2 redpoll sp north and 1 kestrel across the channel to Exmouth from Warren Point.

Glossy Ibis Torridge Estuary

Midday yesterday, a Glossy Ibis seen under the New Bridge by Ken Humphries.

Exminster marshes

This morning the 2 white-fronted geese were on the field near the railway line to the north of Turf with 18 greylag geese. Also 1 kingfisher, 2x singing Cettis and 3 colour ringed black-tailed godwits.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Powderham Marshes & Budleigh Salterton

Birds I've had today, not reported on here so far:

Powderham Marshes - 4 Ruff. (on far right scrape looking from viewing platform)
Budleigh Salterton - 6 Goosander (on the sea close in to beach near the Otter mouth)

Budleigh Salterton

At 10 am (for about twenty minutes) a male and female black redstart on beach hut & cafe roofs west of beached fishing boats.

Powderham to Dawlish

Powderham Marshes 07.50-08.30:
American Wigeon, 1 m
White-fronted Goose, 2
Barnacle Goose, 1
Glossy Ibis, 1
Exminster Marshes: 08.40:
Peregrine, 1
Langstone, Dawlish Warren: 09.05-09.50
Surf Scoter, 1f
Great Northern Diver, 1
Red-throated Diver, 10+
Slavonian Grebe, 2 (poss. 3)
[Paul Holmes]


The 3w Kumlien's Gull followed several trawlers into Torbay and eventually came into Brixham Harbour and pitched up for a short period on the rusty barge at 17.30hrs before flying back out to sea to another incoming trawler at dusk.

Beesands and Slapton

At 10.45 while I was watching the Smew, a Bittern flew left past them along the reed edge and dropped in at far left corner of pool. Later at Slapton, 150-200 Golden Plover circling over the village, seen from the bridge. Usual Firecrest at Quarry, plus male and female Blackcap, the male in subsong.

Thurlestone Bay / Beesands Ley

GLossy Ibis feeding at the back of the Marsh at 08.00 & 13.15 . A male Gadwall was a new arrival,

6 Turnstone on the beach. Offshore 12 Kittiwake , an ad Yellow L gull

South Milton Ley - 15 Chiffchaff ( inc 1 Tristis type ) 3 Goldcrest., 15 Redwing , 1 Cettis Warbler.

This afternoon went over to Beesands Ley to see the 5 Smew along with 14 Shoveler, 12 Gadwall

Exminster marshes

A short visit between 09.00 and 10.00. In addition to the great tits, chaffinches and song thrushes that have been singing intermittently for some weeks today reed buntings, water rails and chaffinches were very vocal. Even a few lapwing were displaying.

On the lagoon 23 gadwall was my highest count for some time. Also there 3 pochard, a couple of tufted ducks and a single pintail. All the wigeon (c1000) were on the fields with a similar number of lapwings, c300 dunlin, c400 black-tailed godwits and 2 grey plovers. In the ditches over 50 shoveller and almost 100 teal. Also seen were one water rail and a little grebe on the canal. I thought I heard the water pipit near the canal-side car park and may have glimpsed it flying further out onto the marsh.

R.Taw off Pottington Ind Est, Ashford and Penhill Marsh.

14:00 - 15:30

Bradiford Res.
A pair of Gadwall; c60 Teal and c30 Wigeon.

1 Green Sandpiper; a male Pintail and 7 Teal in the ditch alongside the sewage works.

Off Pottington Ind.Est.
4 Little Grebe; 4 Grey Plover; c1000 Golden Plover with good numbers of Redshank and Dunlin.

Off Penhill Marsh.
268 Dark-bellied Brent and 1 Black Brant; c220 Wigeon and c2500 Lapwing.
The Brant can be initially picked out from the crowd by its very pale/white flanks.

Bassett`s Ridge.
c1500 Golden Plover.

3 Bullfinch in bushes alongside path down to the Ind.Est off the Tarka trail.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Trip around North Devon

Thought I'd respond to the earlier post re trip around South Devon!

Started this morning with a look over the Skern, where fortuitously, it was high tide. New for me here was a Spoonbill, presumably from the Isley marsh gang. Good numbers of Dunlin, Knot, Curlew and Oystercatchers. A few each of Grey Plover, Redshank and both Godwits. Only one Brent Goose, but several each of Wigeon and Pintail. Next stop was Fremington Creek which had about 50 Redshank. I cycled along the Tarka Trail to Penhill Marsh and found the Brent Geese, but couldn't be sure the Black Brant was amongst it. Good numbers of Shelduck. Next I left the car in Barstaple and cycled home along the Tarka Trail to Braunton. the Canada Goose flock was just downstream of the new bridge. Not many Gulls at all - have they already gone off to breed? A smattering of Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and Dunlin along the shoreline and a few Godwits too. At Bradiford the Brent Geese were across the river next to Penhill saltmarsh. By carefully picking right through them all number 177 was the Black Brant! I counted 217, but Maurice says there are about 240 I think. In the drainage ditch by Ashford STW, was the Green Sandpiper that Maurice has reported sporadically for quite a while now. A bit further on in a field next to the trail a lone Greylag Goose. As the tide fell the sandbank off Heanton Court was home to a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing.

In the afternoon I visited the reserve at Velator where there were 9 Canada Geese competing for the one nesting place on the island in the pond.

Exminster Marshes

Exminster Marshes: 10am-1.45pm
Packed with birds over the high tide with highlights below:
Red-breasted Goose, 1 flew in with Brents at about 1 pm but stayed only for about half an hour.
Water Pipit, 1 on pool beside road near to Tow-path car park.
[Paul Holmes]

Trip around South Devon

Started off on the Plym to look for the long staying,Spotted Sandpiper,walked from Sainsburys to Blaxton Marsh and only got Common Sandpiper, but on the walk back, right near the Railway bridge where we had the Common Sandpiper we got the Spotted Sandpiper,with C Sand close by to compare it with.Then on to Averton Gifford where we had the juv Bewick Swan,Beesands next 4 redhead Smew on the Ley, 2 Black Throated Diver on the sea.Then at Slapton by small pond above the LEY 1 Egyptian Goose and 3 Black Necked Grebes on the Ley,Excellant afternoons Birding.

Exmouth and Otter

Maer Rocks - 4 eider and 55 brent goose.

West Lodge - 0840 - 17 meadow pipit and yellow-browed warbler still.

Yettington - Hayes Barton Pig Farm - 1+ crossbill, 17 linnet, 1 yellowhammer, 1 reed bunting, c100+ chaffinch, c20+ house sparrow, 1 red-legged partridge and 1 fieldfare.

Otter Estuary - 1200 - 3 ad mediterranean gull, 1 grey plover, 3 gadwall, 10 lapwing, 7 goosander, 5+ little grebe, 2 reed bunting (photo), 1 chiffchaff (photo), 4+ razorbill, snow bunting (photo), 3 common scoter, 8 ringed plover and peregrine.

Feb 6th - Mudbank - late news - 22+ goldeneye (high count) - single flock

Failed to find the caspian gull on the Otter and purple sands on Maer Rocks. Also missed grey partridge at Yettington and no bramblings in with the finches where there have been good numbers in the last couple years at least.

Otter and Exe Estuaries

On the Otter Estuary-The Snow Bunting still on the shingle ridge this morning, with 2 male Reed Buntings. Also 9 Goosander (2 males) on the sea close inshore and 2 Adult Med Gulls from the first viewing platform. (Initially there were 5 Goosander, then 2 more flew down the estuary and by the the time I left there were 9, sometimes just a few yards off the beach)

A female Brambling still with the Chaffinch flock at Woodbury Castle.

3 Eider (1 male) off the lifeboat station on Exmouth seafront.

At Powderham Marsh- 2 adult White-Fronted Geese, the Barnacle Goose and a Ruff all from the viewing platform. Nearby c50 Golden Plover and a single Grey Plover on Exminster Marsh. Also 16 Greylag Geese counted.

Finally, a flock of 100 Fieldfare and c20 Red-Legged Partridge in the Willsworthy farm area.

Plym Estuary & Coypool

Despite a thorough search with Russ Eynon, we failed to find either yesterday's Curlew Sandpiper or the Spotted Sandpiper; and no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler.

Little Grebe 3, Common Sandpiper 2, Curlew 65, Redshank 111, Dunlin 17, Little Egret 7, Shelduck 35, Greenshank 5, Nuthatch 1, Great Spotted Woodpecker 1.


5 redhead Smew on the ley (as Perry S post) with 3 GN Diver off shore.

Bittern Higher Ley viewed from bridge.  Slav Grebe on the sea off monument Car Park
(per comm A Livett)

Beesands Ley

The 5 Smew still present this morning in the corner nearest the football pitch.Also 12 Shoveler and 21 Gadwall. Elsewhere a Lapwing on the beach and a Great Northern Diver off Beesands Village.


On sea 86 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Red-throated Diver & 1 Common Scoter.

Around car parks 12 Cirl Buntings on seed & 4 Reed Bunting 2 Chiffchaffs both collybita.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Beesands, Slapton etc

Smew, 5 readheads on Ley
Glaucous Gull, 1, first or second winter (looked pale but had first winter bill and eye looked dark) off shore.
GN Diver, 2+
Hybrid Duck, 1 male (guessing at Tufted x Red-crested Pochard)
RT Diver, 1
GN Diver, 2
Egyptian Goose, 1 roosting with Canadas in field next to pond at Farm shop just above Torcross.
Firecrest, 1 at quarry
Ruddy Duck, female at sluice in Torcross
[Paul Holmes]

Exe/Bowling Green

Early Sandwich Tern, this morning when walking around Bowling Green/Goatwalk I saw a Sandwich Tern sitting and preening on a bouy off the Goatwalk at 09.45. After about 5mins a Bh Gull flew in and chased it off, where it flew off down the Exe towards the Turf. I returned again around Mid-day to look again but it was not seen again. Although the R b Goose was in Bowling Green with c. 250 Brent Geese.
[Gary Clayden]

Prawle (and Beesands)

A 90 minute seawatch, done more in hope than anticipation turned up 5 Red-throated Divers amongst small numbers of the usuals, and a flock of 5 Curlews, which was nice to see. The Shag gathering is going on apace - a site record 216 counted today. WeBS count highlights included 2 Knot and a Kingfisher at Langerstone Point. The Water Pipit remains in Horseley Cove, as does the female Black Redstart on the Point, and there was a slight increase in Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail numbers. Very few thrushes though - just 3 Song Thrushes and 2 Redwings seen, and I have still to see a Fieldfare this year!

Popped into Beesands last thing - the 5 Smew still present.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great Grey Shrike still and showing well late afternoon. 45 Golden Plover and about 40 fieldfare with one or two redwing.

On friday, 26 Lapwing, 13 Golden Plover and 250+ Fieldfare scattered around the airfield.


I waited for the trawlers to come in this evening - unfortunately most of then came in dusk, I did get either a near adult Iceland Gull or the Kumlien's Gull in the distance on two occasions but it didn't appear to follow the trawler in to the harbour area.

A Bottle-nosed Dolphin with a damaged dorsal fin and a very tiny young dolphin with it (if I had seen the small animal first I would have identified it as a Harbour Porpoise as it appeared to have a very short triangular dorsal fin - but both animals were swimming side by side).

Otter Estuary

Today, 11:00 - 12:00

3 Med Gulls (2 Ad.W, 1 2W) - all close to first hide along footpath

Yesterday, 14:00 - 15:30

4 Goosander, 1 R-b Merganser & Snow Bunting still present

Devon Bird Reports

As part of a clear out, I have a decent stash of Devon Bird Reports and Devon Bird News magazines that anyone can have if they can collect them from Tiverton. A token donation could be made to the DBWPS for them.

Edit : These have now found a good home.