Heard a few birds scolding something today, and a few moments searching high in the Macrocarpus, I found a Tawny Owl looking down at me. First there this year. Here's hoping it makes use of the Owl box I put up last year.....
Not a great deal of excitement today, but Shelduck numbers are starting to slowly increase with 9 birds today. However, of more interest was the fact that one of these birds was a returning bird - a yellow colour-ringed male "HV" This bird was first ringed on the Axe in March 2011 before it re-appeared on the Otter in April 2011 and this is the first time I have seen it since. SO if you are over this way, keep your eyes peeled and send any colour-ringed shelduck sightings to email@example.com
After bowling green marsh this morning decided to make my way over to the double locks wetland pools in the riverside valley park and watched from 12:45 till 13:30 the water level was a lot higher today on the pool nearest to double locks pub and the Green sandpipers were not as obliging as they have been over the last week but with a bit of patience finally found 5 in total feeding around the pool best viewed from the path by the river also 7 wigeon, 2 snipe and a little egret.
A couple of pics from this week
Then made my way around to matford marsh and watched from 13:50 till 14:35, the snipe are getting harder to find but i still managed to find 40+ again today also 90+ wigeon, 30+ lapwing, 2 tufted duck, 35+ shoveler
Seafront - late pm - 2w (I think) iceland gull on sandbar off seafront before relocating to Great Bull Hill viewable from Exmouth Docks. Also ad or nr ad yellow-legged gull off seafront. The iceland gull was discovered earlier in the afternoon by Mike Langman leading a group around the Exmouth area. Maer Rocks - 0700 - 4 eider still. Orcombe Point - 1 migrant chiffchaff Mudbank - 60+ red-breasted merganser. At this time of year they flock and display. The last coule of years the flocks have reached 90+ and are quite a spectacle. West Lodge - yesterday - yellow-browed warbler 1715 still and reportedly still present today.
A bit more detail to this mornings post for bowling green marsh watched from the hide from 06:20 till 10:15 and was a good morning with the Spotted Redshank showing well from 06:25 till just before i left
It spent most of the morning asleep and was not disturbed by 2 Peregrine attacks but unfortunately for one of the godwits the peregrine was successful on the second attack and it landed on the marsh and proceeded to eat its fill of the kill before flying off leaving the remains to the crows
The other highlight of the morning was a female sparrowhawk which flew past the hide window at head height and only about a foot outside.
The drake American Wigeon still south of the lane viewed from the middle car parking area with 100-150 Wigeon in 5 seperate flocks, though typically it was in the furthest flock and the Water Pipit still showing well in the wet field there, just north of the lane. Nearby, a Green Sandpiper on Matford Pool.
The attached photo was sent to me by a gentleman who was surprised to see a Cirl Bunting coming to his bird feeder for the last week or so. This is the second person to report a Cirl Bunting in their garden recently although the other bird was feeding on the ground beneath the feeders.
08:10-14:00 Lots of birdsong but a chilly wind made it feel less springlike. Tufted Ducks fairly numerous, counted 102. Elsewhere just 5 Pochard, 7 Gadwall and a couple of male Goldeneye. A lone female Ruddy Duck was at Torcross. A fairly good grebe day with 29 Great Cresteds on the ley ( several displaying pairs ) and a furthur 11 in Start Bay. Also 3 Little Grebes, including one singing, and single Black-necked Grebe near Torcross and unusually a Red-necked Grebe in Ireland Bay. 2 Great Northern Divers offshore and also Black-throated Diver off the central car park but it was mobile and headed off south. Lots of gulls offshore including good numbers of Common Gull and at least a couple hundred Lesser Black-backed seen - none of the many adults appeared dark enough to suggest intermedius birds. At least 2 Mediterranean Gulls offshore including one full summer adult.
About 10.00 this morning there was a flock of c20 black-headed gulls feeding close to the Exminster side of the estuary opposite the Goat Walk. One of the birds had noticeable pale under-wings apart from a distinct black edge to the outer wing. It looked smaller than the b-h gulls and was in winter plumage (no hood). I suspected that it was a Bonaparte's gull but almost immediately all the gulls vanished from view. They may have landed on the water or mud. As I was viewing from the canal bank on the Exminster marshes I was unable to locate them again. Someone else might have more luck.
Flock of 20+ linnet near RSPB carpark followed by a
Green Woodpecker in an Oak tree near by
with a Peregrine Falcon showing well on the pylon overlooking
the Marsh. Plenty of Canada geese, lapwing, Curlew with Skylark singing high
at the lower end of Exminster Marsh. 75+ Brents in fields
between Powderham Folly and Estuary with Meadow Pipit feeding
near the ditches.
On the Estuary side at low water, 5 pair of Red Breasted
Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe 2 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron
all fishing and viewed from Turf Lock area with several Shelduck, 12
GreyPlover, Dunlin, and 5 Redshank, feeding close
Along the Canal, reed bunting, chaffinch, and Bluetits were busy in the
hedgerows. While viewing across Exminster Marsh from the canal side 12+
Pintail 16+ Shoveler 100+ Teal and Widgeon were seen at a distance through the
On the way back to the Carpark the American Widgeon was
showing well on the pond nearest the road with 2 Greylag Geese
and a lonely Barnicle Goose amongst the Canada geese proving it
pays to view every bird in the flock you may well have a nice surprise.
Finally leaving the RSPB Carpark a Sparrow Hawk watching
from the top of a fir tree near the Swans nest making 48 species seen during the
Just back from 2 weeks in Spain. Followed Devon Bird News while there and was a bit dissapointed in the lack of postings from N.Devon? There were plenty of Sand Martins, Swallows and Chiff Chaffs on their way north during February.
A slow bike ride today along the Tarka Trail produced 223 Dark_bellied Brent and 1 Black Brant still off Penhill Marsh.
2 Goldcrests and 2 Bullfinch in bushes alongside the Tarka Trail.
3 Redhead Goosanders; 4 Turnstone; c 35 Sanderling and c30 Wigeon at Ashford Strand.
The latest RSPB Press Release is very relevant to Devon birders! More details can be found on Josh Marshall's blog here.
OPERATION WILDERNESS TAKES OFF
RSPB welcomes Police operation to tackle bird-crime in
The RSPB has welcomed a
major operation by Devon and Cornwall Police to tackle wild bird crime in Devon.
Spearheaded by county Police Wildlife Crime Officer Josh Marshall Operation
Wilderness will use covert camera’s to collect evidence on the illegal
disturbance of some of the county’s rarest and most vulnerable
The Operation is a
response to last year’s shocking series of crimes against birds of prey in the
county. In separate incidents four goshawks, a buzzard and a peregrine were all
Tony Whitehead of RSPB
South West said; “Crimes against wild birds continues to be a problem in Devon
and Cornwall. In a survey recently the area was identified as the fifth worst in
England. We remain particularly concerned about the spate of bird of prey
poisonings last year and persistent threat from a small but obsessive community
of egg collectors. There is also growing concern about a small number of
reckless and irresponsible wildlife photographers who disturb sensitive
The cameras were kindly
donated by The Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society. The intention is to
place them at pre-identified locations within Devon at the nest sites of
previously targeted species and of species that are considered vulnerable to
persecution or disturbance. Volunteers have been identified who will locate the
difficult to find nest sites and place the camera in situ. All of these persons
will be acting under the necessary license. The camera will be left in place for
the duration of the nesting attempt. The cameras will not be able to stop an
attempt on the nest or birds. However, it will hopefully be able to provide
sufficient evidence to assist with a prosecution.
Tony Whitehead added;
“This is a great initiative by the police and we hope that the knowledge that
key species are being watched in the places they nest will deter the people that
carry out these crimes. And make no mistake, killing or disturbing threatened
species is a crime. If convicted such crimes will result in either a fine and,
or, a prison sentence.”
“We also hope it will
remind people to remain vigilant themselves and report to the police anything
they think suspicious.”
If anyone has information
regarding bird crime they can call the Police on 101 and then the RSPB on 0845
466 3636. All information is handled in the strictest confidence.
The number of wintering waterfowl is rapidly declining with only about 200 wigeon and small numbers of teal, pintail, shoveller, pochard, tufted duck, gadwall and mallard left. The only geese I saw were 2 black-bellied brents (at Turf), 2 greylags and a 100 or so Canada geese. 14 lapwings were displaying going between Powderham marshes and the main marsh. The drake American wigeon was with the wigeon near the canal-side car park.
At Turf there was one chiffchaff in the scrub on the sea wall. Elsewhere 4 singing Cettis warblers and 3 singing reed buntings. Several small groups (c20 birds) of linnets at various places might be from the larger flocks previously at Powderham. I failed to see a female peregrine make a kill directly above my head. I only became aware when feathers began to fall. It took the prey onto the ground but I was unable to identify it. Later a second peregrine began to noisily mob the first as it ate.
After matford marsh popped over to bowling green marsh and watched from the hide from 16:00 till 17:15
6 gadwall, 200+ wigeon, 40+ shoveler, 6+ pintail, 10+ tufted duck, 1 avocet, 20+ Dunlin, 3 little grebes, a male peregrine made 2 attacks but failed but gave great views and caused panic amongst the other birds on the marsh also 8 lesser black backed gulls flying north.
A few flight shots of two different dark phase Fulmars seen approx. 20nm S of Start Point yesterday. I think these dark birds look really smart - the last shot show comparison with a 'normal' light phase bird and a Lesser black-back Gull.
Spotted Redshank was still showing near Powderham today, viewed from step by
railway. Also 5 Greenshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, female Red-breasted Merganser
and good numbers of Redshank, Turnstone and Curlew.
The best sighting today was 3 Manx Shearwaters about 10 miles off Start. Otherwise around the fishing boat some 20+nm out were 2 dark phase Fulmars in with c40 light phase, 5+ Bonxies and c200 Lesser black-backs (almost certainly migrants) being the most numerous gull.
A cold north-west wind so few birds singing or displaying. Noticeably fewer ducks and geese than before my holiday. There were 6 barnacle geese, although one kept to itself and may have been the individual that wintered on the marsh, one bar-headed goose and 3 greylags. The American wigeon was with c60 wigeon and good number of shoveller (c40), a few teal, 10 pintail and 12 tufted ducks. A female adult peregrine was sitting on the ground amidst the Canada geese.
On the canal bank I saw a chiffchaff - the first for me at this location since the new year. That was a nice surprise. Then it called and I realised it was atristis. It showed well, providing all the correct plumage for a Siberian chiffchaff and and continued to call. It was about 100m north of the Turf.
Spent a couple of hours looking for the first winter Glaucous Gull this morning but with no luck. Had a patient look at the bay, also reasonable numbers of large gulls arriving and departing the ley but no Glauc. The only rarity seen were a couple of Redshanks which flew in and landed on the top island, can't remember seeing Redshank here before.
Pretty quiet over the weekend, though hundreds of gulls were gorging on Starfish on Saturday, but no sign of any White-winged gulls unfortunately. Today the Teal x Wigeon hybrid (click on image for a better look at this interesting bird) showed well in with the 170+ Wigeon flock on the estuary and a drake Red-breasted Merganser was also present. Not much else to report!