Saturday, 10 March 2012

Lower Tamar Lake

At least 4 pairs of Great Crested Grebes, c.15 Goosander, 30 Snipe, 1 Pintail, and a good selection on the feeders, including a male Reed Bunting on the fat balls!

[Stewart Beer]

Also, some photos from Brian Palmer...

Marsh Tit

Interesting to compare the above photo with the following, taken at Lower Tamar Lake earlier this year...

Willow Tit - taken 7 Jan 2012

Velator reserve

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.....

Kingsbridge Estuary

Geese Quarries - Charleton Marsh, 10:30 - 13:00, low tide.

76 Brent Geese, 30 Teal ( marsh ), 17 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit ( marsh ).


This Iceland Gull flew into Seaton Marshes during the a.m. whilst searching for the 1w Caspian Gull.

It flew over to the Axe by the tram sheds and remained until just before midday.

During the early part of the p.m. the 1w Caspian Gull also appeared on the Axe by the tram sheds.

The Otter

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

Matford marsh and Riverside valley park

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.

Thurlestone Bay

A PURPLE SANDPIPER on rocks at Warren Pt was the first for a few weeks. A CURLEW flew west with 7 SANDERLING still on the beach.

A Walk around the Golf Course produced 4 pairs of STONECHAT plus 2 singing males .

Other singing birds were BLACKCAP, CHIFFCHAFF and CETTIS WARBLER

bowling green marsh

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.
       6 med gulls at rocks nose w.ho!10am.5fs+2s.


1st-winter Caspian Gull still present on the Axe this afternoon, and at least one Iceland Gull was around earlier too.

Exminster Marsh

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.


2 Slav Grebe off the point and a singing ChiffChaff (migrant?) were the best of it this morning.

Bowling green marsh

Spotted redshank from hide from 06:25 also 110+ bar tailed godwits, 10 avocets, 20+ Dunlin, 400+ black tailed godwits, 6 gadwall, 10 tufted duck, 3 pintail, peregrine, 1 cetti,s, 100+ wigeon

Friday, 9 March 2012

Garden Bird

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.

Yarner Woods and Stover - yesterday 8/3

Yarner Woods - good numbers of birds on the feeders including Marsh Tits and Siskins, but no sign of Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers.

Stover Country Park - still a female Goosander.

[from Tony Brooking]

Wrafton Pond, Taw/Torridge

One Bittern flying NE from Sharpa Marshes & landing in the reed beds that fringe Wrafton Pond at 07.50 this morning.

(Rob Jutsum)

Exminster marsh

16:50 short eared owl hunting between station road and motorway bridge

Riverside valley country park

6 green sandpipers , 2 snipe,7 wigeon, 20+ meadow pipits on second pool on riverside path from bridge

Slapton Ley

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.

Exe estuary near Topsham

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.


Just one Black-necked Grebe in bay and 4 Great Crested Grebes today.


Two Iceland Gulls on the Axe estuary this morning (1st and 2nd-winters) plus the 1st-winter Caspian Gull at the south end of Seaton Marshes.

Exe Reedbeds

Ring-tail Hen harrier hunting over the reed beds at 7:20am today just below M5 bridge.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Exminster Marshes etc

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 Grey Plover, Dunlin, and 5 Redshank, feeding close by.
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 scope.
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 day.
A great early Spring day.
[Derek Carter]

R.Taw - Pottington to Heanton Court.

09:30 - 11.00

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.

Operation Wilderness

The latest RSPB Press Release is very relevant to Devon birders! More details can be found on Josh Marshall's blog here.
RSPB welcomes Police operation to tackle bird-crime in Devon
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 birds.
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 found poisoned.
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 species.”
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.

Thurlestone Bay

First GREAT CRESTED GREBE of the year in the Bay this morning , also 12 WIGEON on the sea with 2 RAZORBILL. 3 SHELDUCK flew west

On Thurlestone Marsh - 12 WIGEON , 10 TEAL, 1 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and a single WATER PIPIT

This afternoon the BLACK REDSTART by the flats whilst on the rocks / beach were 7 SANDERLING and 5 TURNSTONE

Riverside country park

6 green sandpipers on 2nd pool on left side of river path from bridge showing well 15:30

Caspian Gull - Axe

This rather small (only a smidging larger than argenteus Herring Gulls, so presumaby a female?) first-winter Caspian Gull was by the tram sheds on the Axe Estuary from midday today.

Despite the size, everything else seems to fit Caspian Gull rather well....

Exminster marshes

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.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bowling green marsh

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.

Matford marsh

14:10 till 14:40
1 green sandpiper, 35+ shoveler, 40+ snipe, 3 tufted duck, 6 common gull, 1 water rail,80+ wigeon

More dark phase Fulmars

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.

Kennick Reservoir

Yesterday (Tuesday 6 March)  Three nice Goldeneye (two male and one female) showing at its southern end. And no I am not going to get a new camera!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


There were at least 3 Crossbills in the Bellever Forest car park on Dartmoor at 4pm [Sue Murphy]

Near Powderham

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.

[Dave Aitken]

English Channel off Start Point

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.

Matford marsh

Still good numbers of snipe with 45+ on the marsh also 80+ wigeon, 6 common gulls, 3 buzzards

Thurlestone Bay

A very pleasant calm morning found more birds on the sea than for some weeks .

On the beach this afternoon waders were 7 SANDERLING, 4 RINGED PLOVER, 1 TURNSTONE.
On the rocks by the flats a female BLACK REDSTART ( ringed on rt leg )

A LAPWING on South Huish Marsh was a new arrival,.

No change to birds on Thurlestone Marsh until 17.15 when there were 2 BLACK TAILED GODWIT

Aveton Gifford & Avon Valley

At low tide:

2 greenshank; 5 redshank; 3 common sandpiper.

Also 2 Egyptian geese, peregrine & kingfisher.

Riverside country park

3 green sandpipers still showing well from the path on river side on second scrape on left from car park by bridge also 11+ meadow pipit

Monday, 5 March 2012

Exminster Marshes, this morning

5 barnacle geese in field on south side of station road, and american wigeon with flock of wigeon close to lane between middle and bottom car parks.

Powderham marsh

The male Merlin spent at least an hour perched on this gateway this morning.

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide from 13:20 till 16:50

A quiet afternoon on the marsh 59 Bar tailed godwit, 250+ black tailed godwit, 7 gadwall, 10+ tufted duck, 40+ shoveler, 11+ pintail, 40+ Dunlin, 1 little egret, 2 little grebe, 180+ wigeon.

Exminster Marshes

An early Wheatear opposite the Lions nest industrial estate was a nice surprise this morning at 11.30  [Kevin Bainbridge]

Newton Abbot

A male and female Goosander flew over Newton Abbot town centre following the River Lemon at 1.45pm

Exminster marshes

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 a tristis. 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.

Riverside Country Park

Three Green Sandpipers early afternoon on the third pool along from the main road.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


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.

Budleigh / Otter Estuary - Dodgy Ducks & Gorging Gulls!

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!

Thurlestone Marsh

Heavy overnight rain produced some good flooded meadows , changes in ducks - Wigeon reduced to 19 but Teal increased to over 50, 2 Gadwall and a male Shoveler. 2 Water Pipit were new arrivals.

Plym Estuary & Saltram

A second-winter Medierranean Gull was the only thing out of the ordinary. Otherwise: Snipe 12, Shelduck 43, Wigeon (pair), and Little Egret 9 (11 yesterday).

Exminster Marshes

American wigeon, 5 barnacle geese and female merlin early morning

Exe Reedbeds

Female Hen harrier hunting over the reedbeds south of M5 at 9 am.


Seafront - 0700 - winter plum sandwich tern this morning. Also 4 eider, 1 mediterranean gull, c50+ brent goose and c10+ turnstone.