Saturday, 17 March 2012


Highlights of a 2 hour seawatch were single Black-throated and Red-throated Divers and a Sandwich Tern. Foot-slogging resulted in a nice but routine selection of birds for mid-March. Totals as follows; 65 Golden Plover, 4 Redwing, Black Redstart, 7 Wheatears, 2 Water Pipits, 2 Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests and a Firecrest.

Around the exe

Dawlish warren 07:15 till 09:30

first wheatear of  the year a female this morning also 3 slavonian grebes, 8+ sandwich terns, 12 common scoters ,2 stonechats plenty of meadow pipits

Exminster marshes 10:20 till 11:30 dipped on the Little ringed plover

Bowling green marsh  12:00 till 14:00

A peregrine made an unsuccessful attack on the wigeon in front of the hide but landed just long enough to get this photo a stunning  bird

also 7 Gadwall, 30+ shoveler, 9+ tufted duck, 200+ wigeon, 2 pintail, 3 little grebes, 2 little egrets 

West Charlton Marsh (Kingsbridge)- Beesands- Slapton.

DBWPS East Devon Branch fieldtrip,  13 members present including Plymouth Branch members.

Total of 71 species counted during the day (10am - 5pm), including:

West Charlton Marsh
Egyptian Goose, 6 Cirl Bunting, 4 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 female Wigeon.
3 female and 1 male Wheatear , 6 Chiffchaff (including one with unusual dark colouring on forehead and chin- below hide), 1 male Black Redstart (hedgerow near football pitch), 1 male Common Scoter, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Peregrine Falcon.
2 Sandmartin, 3 male Wheatear, 1 first w Whooper Swan.

All agreed that this had been a very enjoyable day with record high total number of species seen with some good spring migrants present and nesting in evidence (including pair of Long Tailed Tits seen building nest in bramble bush at Beesands).


Male and female Hen Harrier over Mardon Down c.4.00 this afternoon

[George Wilkinson]

Thurlestone Bay

Only migrants this morning were 2 Sandwich Tern and a Wheatear.

Exminster marsh

   A Little Ringed Plover showed well for an hour mid-morning before doing a disappearing act. Also the first Willow Warbler , and the American Wigeon.

N Devon

Four wheatear northam burrows+700golden plover,skern. Healthy number of yellowhammers along coast path from old house to cornborough.Counted 7 6male and a female,pair of which gathering nesting material.Also green woodpecker and singing chiffchaff presnt all at 10am,w.ho!.

R.Taw Barnstaple to Ashford.

09:20 - 11:00

After the Woolacombe Week`s Highlights it was back to normal along the Tarka Trail this morning.

Bar-tailed Godwit 10;  Bl;ack-tailed Godwit 3 (1 in full breeding plumage);  Lesser Black-backed Gull 44; Shelduck 37 and just 1 Chiff Chaff.

Ashford Strand - 4 Goosander(2 male, 2 female);  Wigeon 61 and  Sanderling 17.

Friday, 16 March 2012

More Woolacombe Night Heron Pics

Juv and adult (Rob Jutsum)

Slapton Ley

3 Garganey (1 drake) on Lower Ley today, plus Firecrest, the female Marsh Harrier and lots of chiffs.

Male Wheatear on the beach yesterday.

Otterton Mill

Up to 11 Sand Martins [Steve Henry]

Ladram Bay/Budleigh

Walking the coast path between Ladram & Budleigh today (at about Black Head) saw a male Black Redstart and a Wheatea

[Suzanne Lyus]

Some Woolacombe Night Heron Pics

A few more Woolacombe Night Heron photos, from Barry Rankine, Andy Lansdell and Steve Hatch...

© Barry Rankine

© Barry Rankine

1st-summer   © Andy Lansdell

© Steve Hatch (taken yesterday 15/3)

Around Torbay

Clennon Valley: 3 Chiffchaffs (two singing), 4 Blackcaps (three singing), 2 Water Rail but the highlight was a fly-over Mandarin drake it circled twice then carried on through! Some rubbishy photos....
Young's Park, Goodrington: 1 female Red-crested Pochard and 1 Water Rail.

Three Beaches Headland: for Gull roost, 3 Mediterranean Gulls (1st w, 2s and ad moulting w/s).

Saltern Cove: 1 Male Black Redstart at Southern end of beach on sea defence gabions.

Exminster marsh

Hen harrier female 17:10 hunting near railway brige station road

Also on the marsh this afternoon the drake American wigeon from the s bends with the main group of wigeon,4 gadwall(2m,2f), 5 tufted duck(3m,2f), peregrine, sparrowhawk, 2 buzzard and kestrel, 2 cetti's along station road

Sharkham Point

Male and female Northern Wheatear present in the field at the rear of St Mary's Bay this afternoon

Double locks wetlands

14:00 till 15:30

2 goosander (1m,1f) on river, 1 green sandpiper on main pool, 7 chiffchaff, 5 swallows over, 2 groups sand martins(6,3) also 2 peregrines over heading towards exminster and female sparrowhawk

Exminster marshes

Walked around the southern part mid morning. Real signs of spring included 9 sand martins and 6 chiffchaffs. Remnants from the winter were also evident. A single green sandpiper flew from the marshes onto Powderham marshes. Shoveller numbers still good, I counted over 30 but only a few pintail. Wigeon numbers probably just over 120 (including I was told the American wigeon).

Northam Burrows

It didn't feel much like Spring on the Burrows this morning, but there were 4 Northern Wheatear and a Little Ringed Plover around the remaining water in front of the old tip.
Good numbers of Linnet are returning, and plenty of Skylark around.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Powderham and Exminster marshes

     The female Hen Harrier showed well on Powderham marsh this afternoon before crossing the road over the viewing platform. On Exminster marsh the Short-eared Owl continues to hunt North of  the middle car park, and the American Wigeon is hanging on still.

Wheatears - Baggy Point

Rob Jutsum had five Wheatears arrive early afternoon at Baggy - four males and a female.


2 Night Herons (adult and 1s) showing very well this evening   [Steve Hatch]

Photo by Steve Hatch

Otter Estuary

Single Avocet today [Pete Adey]

Meadow Pipits - Berry Head/Sharkham Point

Arrival of Meadow Pipits today - 150+ at Berry Head, and two flocks of about 40 over Sharkham Point late morning [Tim Clyburn]

Thurlestone Bay

At South Huish marsh 2 SAND MARTIN flew through at 11 am ., At 14.00 Bob B had 5 and at 16.30 I had 6.
In the field behind the cafe there were 2 WHEATEAR this morning and at 16.30 another one near the flats., where the female BLACK REDSTART stll showing.
In the Bay a single GREAT CRESTED GREBE.

Best birds of the month were a pair of POCHARD ( 123 ) on the front pool at Thurlestone Marsh - only the 4th record since 2001.

Only waders were 2 DUNLIN

Along the exe

Matford marsh, 1 green sandpiper 30+ snipe still

Double locks, 2 goosander (1m,1f) on river , and on the pool nearest double lock pub 1 green sandpiper, 12 wigeon, 2 snipe

Along the river 3 little egrets, 4 reed buntings, 2 great spotted woodpeckers plenty of meadow pipits and pied wagtails

Sand Martins

There was something of a wave of Sand Martins yesterday; ten were over Bridge Marsh on the Axe Estuary mid afternoon, and Rob Jutsum had three over Wrafton Pond (North Devon) in the afternoon.

Wheatears seem to be a bit slow though don't they!


The first-summer Night Heron still present this morning. See earlier posts for directions.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Woolacombe Night Herons

Arrived ‘on site’ 3.30 where we were welcomed by the friendliest of owner , updating us on the herons’ movements and kindly inviting us into her expansive garden – with large pond at bottom level. A fleeting glimpse of the juv. occurred about a half hour later but just after 6pm an adult flew out of a ditch and into a thickly branched tree where, although partially obscured, it was observed preening. Ten minutes had elapsed when unexpectedly it dropped to the ground and stalked into the open affording us small band of hardy and jubilant birders the most superb view...

[Stewart Beer]

 Photo by Brian Palmer

Ed - this is one bird where a bit of 'red-eye' in the photo would have been quite appropriate! GH

Bolberry Down

Working behind the Port Light for a short while first thing this morning and a Merlin shot across the field and a Golden Plover flew overhead.

Yarner Wood

Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were heard singing several times during the day at Yarner Wood, mainly in the vicinity of the car park. A pair showed themselves at about 1215 in the large beech trees at the start of the track to the hide (near the green number 7 on the Yarner Wood Trail leaflet). They then flew East into the trees, where one kindly stayed long enough for a good view & a bad photo.

[Sue Murphy]

Thurlestone Bay

First WHEATEAR a male in the field behind the cafe at 16.30.

Main interest this morning was an increase in Waders - on the beaches 7 SANDERLING, 5 DUNLIN, 3 RINGED PLOVER,. 3 REDSHANK 1 CURLEW and 1 BLACK TAILED GODWIT all flew over the Bay and up the valley. earlier a single REDSHANK feeding on Thurlestone Marsh .

A total of 5 SHELDUCK seen , 2 GADWALL on the sea .

The female BLACK REDSTART still on the rocks.

A COMMON DOLPHIN in the Bay ( first live one this year )

Sand martins

Totnes weir.
3-4 Sand Martins feeding around Totnes weir at midday.
Viewed from my P.E. lesson in the playing field.

Woolacombe Night Herons

14:00 No sign of any in the reeds of the pond although visibility is limited. I did managed to get a distant record shot of one in flight further on down the valley (very heavily cropped).


Double locks river exe

Now 4 goosanders (3m,1f) on river between bridge car park and double locks 15:30

Woolacombe Night Herons

Malcolm Shakespeare reports that at least 3 of the Night Herons have been seen this morning, 2 adults and the first-year.

Night Heron

Apparently another Night Heron was seen yesterday evening at Beara Charter farm near Halsinger, north-east of Braunton.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

English Channel 20nm SSE of Start Point

From an angling boat, I also witnessed a strong passage of Meadow Pipits heading north, also a few alba Wagtails (looked like Pied) and a couple of Chiffchaffs. Seabird wise, Lesser black-backs (migrants) were the most numerous gull, followed by Kittiwakes and Great Black-backs, also a few Black-headed Gulls heading north. Two dark phase Fulmars in with the light phase birds and up-to three Bonxies around the boat. Also two pods of Common Dolphins seen.


There are FOUR Night Herons at Woolacombe. Yes FOUR!

They are in a private garden.

Directions as follows:

Park either in Woolacombe itself and find the
entrance to the footpath in South Street to the riding stables. Or park in the
lay-bys (please check for parking restrictions!) near the entrance to
Woolacombe Sands holiday park. Immediately next to this entrance is a signed
footpath to the beach. Walk (no vehicular access) down a quarter of a mile past
the riding stables, go through the kissing gate and 20 yards further on view
through the trees to a small pond with some reeds. The birds have been roosting
in trees around the pond. Please view ONLY from the footpath. There is STRICTLY NO ACCESS to private gardens or fields. Please respect residents privacy.

This is apparently their second day. There are three adults and a first-year bird.

We have pictures and will try to post them soon.

Lyme Bay

Fishing well out into Lyme Bay today in the fog again saw a significant passage of pipits skylarks etc with flocks coming through every 5 minutes before lunch. We also managed to save 2 birds today ! A Redwing that had dropped into the water right beside the boat and was in danger of being attacked by Fulmars so I managed to fish it out in the net and it spent the rest of the day in the cabin curled up in a hat, and a little pipit that landed exhausted on the boat ,which after helping to drive the boat home  (see photo attached) decided to curl up in one of the guys hands and go to sleep until we got back to Brixham, where both birds had recovered enough to fly off. That suggests to me that there must be significant losses during passage as we were only covering half a mile of water whilst fishing – has anyone done any work on that anywhere out of interest. Seabirds were very standard fare I’m afraid.

PS We had a lot of cod so I got a fry up as well – happy days

[Tim Clyburn]


goosanders in the mist

After work was going to go over exminster marshes but with the thick mist decided to do double locks wetland and the river valley park on the exe and a very productive afternoon it turned out to be.

Walking down the canal path from the swing bridge at countess wear a chiffchaff was near the viewing point on the the first pool with 2 buzzards in trees and a snipe at back of the pool. On the second pool 10 teal and 2 more snipe, 2 reed buntings, and a fight between 2 water rails was a surprise. The walk around to the path on the riverside of the pools produced another reed bunting(m) , 5 bullfinch(2m,3f) , 2 chiffchaff, on the next pool 8 wigeon, 3 snipe, 1 shoveler but no sign of the green sandpipers, 3 great spotted woodpeckers, 15+ meadow pipits and another chiffchaff.

Then looked along the river and appearing in the mist were 3 Goosanders (2m,1f)

they were very flighty and lost them a couple of times but were always in the area of the double locks pub on the river. Also along the river to the quay produced 3 little egrets, 1 kingfisher, 1 treecreeper, and 1 more chiffchaff.

A very good afternoon along the river.


One brambling calling from top of tall beech tree just off John nash drive, dawlish.

Thurlestone Bay

This morning still a very gloomy and cold windy day, on the beach/rocks were- 7 SANDERLING.,
4 RINGED PLOVER, 3 DUNLIN, 3 TURNSTONE 1 CURLEW . 2 REDSHANK flew through and up the valley.
Another female BLACK REDSTART on the rocks ( different to last weeks bird as this was unringed.
A male SHOVELER flew around the Bay before settling on South Huish Marsh to join 8 WIGEON, 3 TEAL.

6 TEAL landed on the sea before continuing east.

A MUTE SWAN on the sea was showing a yellow ring with black letters YU.

River exe at Double locks

3 Goosanders(2m,1f) this afternoon 16:00 till 16:40 showing well on river at double locks

Dawlish Warren to Dawlish

Offshore were :- 10 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Red-throated Diver, 18 Common Scoter and 1 Guillemot.

Langstone Rock :- 1 Rock Pipit

Dawlish :- 1 Rock Pipit and 29 Turnstone on breakwater

Also 1 Greenshank at Powderham on way home

Roadford Reservoir

1 drake Scaup still present above the viaduct keeping company with c. 15 Tufted Ducks. I Great Created Grebe also.

[Harvey Kendall]

Thurlestone Marsh

Spring has arrived - 2 SAND MARTIN flew through the Marsh at 14.20

Axe Estuary

Iceland Gull north of Coronation Corner at 13:00 today.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Not the greatest news but...

A singing Chiffchaff beside the driving range at Saunton Golf club diluted the bad shots somewhat today!!

The Otter Estuary

Finally a white-winger makes it to the Otter!
A visit to the Otter estuary this evening produced the hoped for Iceland Gull, found earlier in the afternoon by David Janaway. It was at the mouth of the estuary before flying East at around 17.40hrs. Presumed 1st winter, albeit on closer inspection bird appears to show a tiny subtle pale tip to bill and and even more subtle pale iris.

Along the exe

A nice walk this afternoon from the mill on the exe pub out to matford marsh

Kingfisher, dipper and 2 peregrine around the mill on the exe, 7 lesser black backed gulls, another kingfisher and treecreeper between the quay and double locks.

2 green sandpiper, 8 wigeon, 4 teal, 3 snipe on the first pool after double locks pub from the path on the river side.

30+ snipe, 80+ wigeon on matford marsh

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Yarner Wood NNR

After hearing a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker call three times along the eastern line of oaks at midday, I returned late afternoon to find a male feeding actively in the treetops, his raspberry cap gleaming in the sunshine. My one hand-held digiscope shot did him no justice.


Precious little happening at the moment, hence the lack of recent posts. 2 Water Pipits still (one looking quite smart now), 13 Purple Sandpipers (highest count of the winter), Green Sandpiper, Redwing, 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Goldcrests the only birds worthy of note.

Exminster Marshes

5.20pm Short eared owl showing very well between Station Road & motorway.

[The family Grove]

Exmouth Seafront

A brief look off Exmouth Seafront this morning 07.30am produced 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 adult Med Gull with Kittiwakes and Black-headed Gulls.

Berry Head today: Nigel Smallbones saw a Swallow am and this afternoon there was a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull off the end of the headland and 1 Harbour Porpoise.

Thurlestone Bay

Thick fog until 9.00 and then from 16.00.

On the rocks at Warren Pt 3 PURPLE SANDPIPER with a single RED - THROATED DIVER offshore were the only birds worth recording.


Orcombe Point - 0715 - new in were 2 meadow pipit, 1 chiffchaff, 1 cirl bunting (photo) and 1 stonechat. Also 1 fulmar east, 1 black-throated diver, 34 common scoter, 1 sandwich tern, 4 eider and 4 great crested grebe.

West Lodge - 1025 - 2 goldeneye and the yellow-browed warbler.

Exmouth Docks - 1635 - male black redstart.

North of Axminster - yesterday 10/3.

Coming back up to Somerset after some successful dirty twitching of the Caspian Gull I had a Red Kite drift east over the road between the turning for Waggs Plot and the model railway shop, it was too high plus I was driving to see if it was tagged or not.

[Roger Musgrove]

In Devon, but only just!  GH