Saturday, 24 March 2012


Walked the line and back early morning, disappointing lack of migrants save for a few Chiff-Chaffs, had hoped for coastal fog which could have dropped-in something good overnight in the SE breeze. The two summer plumaged Black-Necked Grebes still there looking resplendent saved the day!

Little Haldon

At least 6 Crossbills and several Siskins this afternoon.   [Simon Thurgood]

Thurlestone Marsh

First seen a.m. with attached photo taken at 1500 hrs - Little Ringed Plover. Also seen two sand martins and two wheatear

[Terry Lakeman]

Baggy Point - yesterday 23/3

Had a lovely walk from Croyde to Baggy Point and back this afternoon. Had one singing Willow warbler, two Wheatears, five or six Chiffchaffs and five or six pairs of Stonechat. Also a Holly blue.
[Peter Liddle]

Wembury again

This post should, by rights, have a nice Iceland Gull photo but it was not to be. Keeping me marginally entertained while waiting for nothing were several Oil Beetles (Meloe proscarabeus) and some Common Lizards. Also the first 2 Sandwich Terns of the year. A few more nice Oil Beetle shots on my blog.


First Wheatear of the season a smart looking male, plus 2 chiffchaff singing away. Oodles of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll (2 ringed) and even more over at Soussans plus another CHiffchaff.

Soar and Averton Gifford

After failing to find the Little Bunting but enjoying a slice of what Mike Passman has reported from South Huish, I headed for Soar. Quiet overall, but a Willow Warbler showed in the willows at East Soar, plus 3 Chiffchaffs. The 1st-w Bewick's Swan still present with a single Greenshank at Averton Gifford (South end of tidal road).

A few butterflys around including a Comma at South Milton Ley.

Little on the Plym Estaury - Curlew down to just five.


Orcombe Point - 4+ chiffchaff, 13+ meadow pipit (photo), 15+ linnet, 1 white wagtail and my first swallow of the year.
West Lodge - 1625 - yellow-browed warbler showed well and called a lot. Also 1+ chiffchaff.
Mudbank - 21 turnstone, 62 red-breasted merganser and 19 dark-bellied brent goose.
Yesterday - migrants included 1 fieldfare, 1 siskin and 1 redpoll sp on Orcombe and there was a second summer mediterranean gull in with 160 black-headed gulls off Mudbank.
22/3 - 2 pale-bellied brent goose off Mudbank.

Thurlestone Bay

First a message for Jake Wood - please ring me on 01548 560076 and I can provide you with details - just rec'd a call from Bob B he and Alan Doidge have seen the Little Bunting feeding at 17.30, also seen by visiting birders at 11.-1200 this am .

Brisk E /SE winds in spring bring birds into the Bay - today was the best seawatching day of the year.
Bay watched 07.20 -13.00 40 Gannet , 3 Fulmar, 23 Lesser Black backed Gull ( all flew up the valley as did 18 Black Headed Gull and a nice ad Med Gull.
8 Sandwich Tern flew east before 9.00 with another 8 in the bay at 17.30. Duck on the move were - 24 Shoveler (inc a flock of 17 ) 5 Gadwall and 17 Common Scoter.
A Little Ringed Plover flew into South Huish marsh at 09.15 ( still there at 17.30 ) 4 Whimbrel and 7 Bar tailed Godwit were much earlier than in recent years. On the rocks were 2 Ringed Plover and 4 Sanderling

Only 3 Swallow and 1 Sand Martin moved through ,. A Wheatear in the field by the cafe.

With E/SE wind forcast for next 5 days could be interesting

Little Bunting Directions

I will be going to Thurlestone tomorrow and I wondered if anyone could tell me where to look for the little bunting.

Southdown Farm - Soar Mill Cove

Went on a kids Wildlife Watch walk this morning guided by Colin and Vanessa from Soar Mill Seeds. Beautiful scenary and weather. A good 20 or so Chiffchaffs around, plenty of Cirl Buntings and an early Swallow.

Wembury Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull at Wembury this morning (mentioned below by Richard) seen 07:00 - 07:20 in tilled field at Wembury Point. [Andy Trout]

R.Taw - Anchorwood Bank and Penhill Mrash.

Forgot to add that there were quite a number of Brimstone butterflies about as well.

R.Taw - Anchorwood Bank and Penhill Marsh

07:00 - 10:00

13 Bar-tailed Godwits; c125 Shelduck; 3 Dunlin  and 2 early WhimbrelChiff Chaffs singing everywhere now.

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide 07:05 till 10:05

1 green sandpiper, 90+ bar tailed godwit, 140+ black tailed godwit,1 snipe,150+ redshank,1 greenshank, 2 knot,Dunlin, 2 common gull(adult and 1w/1s)and a 1w/1s med gull, 2m pintail, 6 gadwall,8+ tufted duck, 3 little egrets, 1 cetti's,5+ chiffchaff


Plenty of Chiffs again along with one Common Gull and a steady stream of Gannets. Unfortunately missed the Iceland Gull that was seen first thing.......

Parke 23rd March

Half a dozen Chiffchaffs singing in Parke yesterday morning, but even better signs of spring with a couple of Speckled Wood butterflies on the wing, as well as the expected Red Admirals & Brimstones.

Friday, 23 March 2012


3 pale bellied brent geese,2 adult+juv,fs med gull,skern at 5pm


3 Sand Martins this evening. Forgot to mention the Kingfisher and Dipper I saw this morning.

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

Great Grey Shrike showing well in the glorious sunshine early evening (4.30 to 5.15 at least). Golden plover up to 91.

Matford marsh to the quay

A nice walk home along the exe after work produced the following.

Matford marsh, still 3 green sandpipers, 10+ snipe, 21+ wigeon and a little grebe

Double locks, 5+ chiffchaff, 1 green sandpiper on pool nearest pub also still 8 wigeon, on the river another green sandpiper but no sign on the 2 goosanders

Between double locks and the quay, 2 kingfishers giving great views, 3 little egrets,14+ lesser black backed gulls, 3 chiffchaffs, 1 peregrine.

Powderham and Exminster Marshes

Powderham: A single Barnacle Goose associating with large flock of Canada Geese from viewing platform. Large numbers of courting Lapwing. Willow Warbler - feeding in shrub along road side.

Exminster: amongst large flock of mixed waders: 6 Ringed Plover along waters edge of large pool at end of lane. No sign of American Wigeon or Water Pipit
[David Smith]

Thurlestone Bay

Little Bunting seen around 10.00 by visiting birders , very elusive afterwards,. A Black Redstart on the reserve

Around the Bay - 2 Swallow, 1 Sandwich Tern, 2 Gadwall, 6 Sanderling,
5 Shoveler and 4 Common Scoter flew east .

Out of the fog a lone Siskin flew north ( not a regular spring migrant here ) In the field by the cafe 1 Wheatear, 50 Meadow Pipit and a few Linnet

Balearic Shearwater study

Although not directly related to Devon, interesting article here on tracking Balearics Shearwaters (though the photo is a bird off Devon from last year!).

Bursdon Moor


male merlin then hunting ringtail and male hen harrier.

Stacks of territorial skylarks & stonechats.

Recent Lundy sightings

Lundy Warden, Sophie Wheatley, reports that migrants seen in recent days have included Black Redstart, House Martin, Black-tailed Godwit and Jack Snipe. The first three Puffins of the year were seen at Jenny's Cove on 16 March. MS Oldenburg resumes sailings to the island shortly, with the first trip an extra sailing leaving Bideford at 08.30 this Sunday, 25th March - east wind permitting...


A stroll around Wrafton Pond, Sherpa (sharper?) Marsh and then Velator reserve was quite productive this morning.

Although no sign of the female Pochard from yesterday on Wrafton Pond at least one pair of Little Grebes trilling. Around Sherpa, 37 Canada Geese, 8 Snipe, 7 Teal, a Gadwall, a pair of Pintail, a Shelduck, one Little Egret, a pair of Little Owls, and a singing Chiffchaff along the Chivenor perimeter fence. At least 4 Calling Cetti's Warblers, a Kestrel over Chivenor, and a few Reed Buntings in evidence with one or two Water Rails. Outside the reserve a small flock of Pipits has built up over the last few days, today I counted 12, and can't rule out at least one of them being a Water Pitpit, but with silhouette views it ain't easy! In the reserve, another Chiffchaff, and then the delightful liliting song of the first Willow Warbler of the year.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

R.Taw - Pottington to Ashford Strand.

0845 - 10:00
The Green Sandpiper is still in it`s ditch at Ashford sewage works.
17 Sanderling and just 1 female Goosander at Ashford Strand.
The Brent Goose flock was down to only 28 birds this morning.
Plenty of Chiff Chaffs in the bushes along the Tarka Trail.

Yesterday morning I had a stroll from Wrafton Station down to Sharper Marsh 08:30 - 10:00
Buzzards mating in the conifers at Velator Reserve.
Again plenty of Chiff Chaffs about.
Several Reed Buntings in the reed beds on Sharper. 1 Gadwall on the marsh pond with a dozen Teal.  Male Kestrel overhead.
At 10am 4 Sand Martins over Wrafton Pond.

I couldn`t help but thinking, "What a stupid time of the season to be making repairs to the viewing platform on Wrafton Pond."

Exminster Marshes

2 Water pipits, 1 showing well and looking very smart coming into summer plumage. Also a brief glimpse of an Otter.

Roadford Reservoir

A walk at Roadford Reservoir this am brought a small fall of Chiffchaffs, at least 10 in a fairly small area, all singing away!
(Rob & Maureen Harrison)


Lots of hope and effort for little reward today! 12 Chiffchaff and this 1st summer Med Gull was about the best of it.

New Blog - birds, moths and other random stuff!


Just thought it would be worth mentioning that I've just seen my first swallow of the year! the bird flew up our valley (nr. Paington).

Berry Head

A seawatch in a brisk easterly from 10:00-13:00 produced (all heading south): 5 Velvet Scoter, 4 Puffins, Red-throated Diver, Manx Shearwater, Great crested Grebe, 248 auks ( about a 50:50 Razorbill: Guillemot split), 80 Gannets, 31 Common Gulls, 35 Kittiwakes and 2 Curlew. While heading north were 3 Brent Geese.

Along the exe

Matford marsh 14:10 till 14:30
3 green sandpipers and 12+ snipe

Double locks area 14:35 till 15:20
5 chiffchaff, 1 willow warbler, 1 green sandpiper on river and 2 goosanders(1m,1f), 2 reed buntings, 8 wigeon.

Double locks to the quay 15:20 till 16:35
7 sand martins, 1 swallow, 2 chiffchaff, female sparrowhawk, peregrine, reed bunting
3 bullfinch, 3 little egrets.

Rillage Point to Widmouth Head (nr Ilfracombe)

Strong passage of Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Siskins, with smaller numbers of Linnets and Goldfinches, from just after dawn until 08.00. All flying east along the coast into the ESE headwind. One singing Chiffchaff.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Axe Estuary

1st-winter Iceland Gull on the river this afternoon, until 3:30pm at least.

Stover Country Park

First Willow Warbler of the year today - my earliest date and the first time I've had one before swallows seen here. Water Rails still present, which again is unusual.
(Jon Avon)

Bicton College Lake, East Budleigh

A 2nd winter Iceland Gull at Bicton College Lake this morning loafing with around 50+ Herring Gulls, seemingly present since at least Sunday. This bird looks very like the bird from Seaton Marshes earlier in the month and maybe the bird Matt has been seeing on the Exe?

Another visit to the same lake this afternoon, produced a second Iceland Gull - this time a 1st winter and probably the same bird I had a few days ago on the Otter. Certainly seems there are plenty of white-wingers on the move!

Northam Burrows country park

15:00 Saw a couple of Wheatear today (both males) but the highlight was a Merlin which I managed to get a record shot of (shot from around 100 yards and very heavily cropped).

Thurlestone Bay

The LITTLE BUNTING showing well at 08.00 on the feeding station.

A male CIRL BUNTING just outside my garden was my first Spring record . They have not bred on the patch for some years.

2 WHEATEAR in the field at South Huish Marsh with the first SWALLOW flying over at 11.15

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

You boys on the coast may be getting summer migrants but it's still winter up here in the Blackdowns. Great Grey Shrike showing well this evening up to 5.30 p.m. at least - Little Owl also enjoying the afternoon sun. Also 40 Golden Plover present with some coming into summer plumage and the first Linnet for some time flew overhead.

Sharkham Point

Afternoon walk produced a single Wheatear and this Adder. Seb Loram contacted me to say he had an Osprey come in off the sea at Sharkham along with 20+ Swallow first thing this morning.

Matford marsh

14:30 3 green sandpipers, 11 snipe

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The juvenile Night Heron was still at the usual pond in Woolacombe at 1200 today, hiding in the reeds & fishing! [Sue Murphy]


A superb 1st-winter Glaucous Gull at Exeter Basin, opposite the Port Royal pub this afternoon. Also, during the walk up from Countess Wear, a Sand Martin and 3 Chiffchaffs.

[Stephen Turner]

Bicton Common

I quick stroll around after work produced 6 crossbills, yellowhammer, Goldcrest and a nice mixed flock of finches including greenfinch, goldfinch and chaffinch.

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide from 15:35 till 17:30

A steady passage of sand martins between 16:00 and 17:00 with 45+, also green sandpiper,9 tufted duck,6 gadwall,pintail(m), 150+ redshank, 80+ bar tailed godwits, 200+ black tailed godwits, 150+ wigeon, 2 little grebes, 1 cetti's, 3 chiffchaff, 25+ shoveler

Thurlestone Bay

A visiting birder reported seeing the Little Bunting this morning though elusive.

The Aveton Gifford Bewick's Swan has also been reported at Slapton Ley, this morning it flew over South Milton Ley with 3 Mute Swan, last seen flying back into the Avon Estury.

A Great Northern Diver in the Bay , 8 Turnstone on the rocks .

This afternoon 4 Sand Martin over Thurlestone Marsh

South Milton Ley

Record shots of the Little Bunting caught & ringed yesterday.


3 Black-necked Grebes all sum plum just off the headland today but little else just 1 Great Crested Grebe. The male Black Redstart still at Saltern Cove south end.


Mudbank - 0645 - iceland gull (presumed 2w) on sandbar this morning. Also a 2s mediterranean gull and 18+ red-breasted merganser.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Exminster Marshes

American wigeon still today and at least 2 water pipit.


West Lodge - 1655 - yellow-browed warbler still, now into at least its third month of residency, showing quite well in the copse and calling on and off. Also 2 sandwich tern, 6 little egret and 15+ lesser black-backed gull.
Orcombe Point - Saturday 17/3 - 40+ common scoter, 4 eider still and another cirl bunting, this time flying quite high west over the top fields. Also 1+ redwing, 9 meadow pipit and 2 chiffchaff.


Well it can't be far away when you see your first Swallow! One at Wrafton Pond this evening, plus a couple of Sand Martins. Lots more over Sherpa Marsh.

Soar Valley

Male eider on the sea, close inshore; black redstart ; 2 male wheatears; stacks of territorial stonechats inc. two showing large areas of white on the rumps but reddish right way down on underparts.

Poppewd in to Thurlestone on way back but unaware of little bunting - several pied wagtails, presumably migrants?

Aveton Gifford

Bewick's Swan reported back on the river 1300hrs today. ENW

 Photo by Simon Thurgood

North Devon Coast

Stunning morning so went for a walk hoping to see Wheatear, never saw one but there were plenty of stonechat and Linnets as well as a Raven scavenging on a washed up marine carcass. A few Skylarks were performing but the highlight for me was a superb Yellowhammer. Spring has certainly arrived.

Western Channel Observatory (L4) - Plymouth

From Plymouth to approx. 4.5miles off Rame Head, 07:30am - 11:00am:

3 Puffin sat on sea, c30 guillemot, 1 Razorbill, 2+ Fulmar, 4 Gannet and small numbers of gulls.

Thurlestone Bay

Fantastic start to the week- 08.50 Bob Burridge caught and ringed a LITTLE BUNTING at South Milton Ley near the pumping station- all the local team contacted and with squeeling tyres arrived in time to see this diminutive Bunting in the hand . When released flew into a corn field with a diagnostic tick call. Photos to be posted later

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Exminster Marsh

A late afternoon visit produced 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Female Merlin, 1 Pergrine and all the usual common birds, but generally seemed very quite,a lot of birds moved on.

Exe Estuary cruise and WeBS count

A morning Stuart Lines cruise yielded 6 Great Crested Grebes, Slavonian Grebe, 2 Little Grebes, c20 Shags, c50 Mergansers, Spotted Redshank still with Greenshanks off Powderham, c50 Golden Plover, 1 Knot, c100 Bar-tailed Godwits, Sandwich Tern on a buoy, a Buzzard heading quite low from the Warren to Exmouth and the Common Seal out on Bull Hill sandbank. There were very few Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin, only 1 Common Gull and no Avocets to be seen.

The afternoon WeBS count between Starcross and Dawlish Warren produced the wintering Whimbrel and a Jack Snipe in the Warren saltmarsh, but nothing else of note.

And more Sand Martins

There were 25+ at Wrafton pond this evening (at about 6.30).

Exe estuary

WeBS count between Turf and Powderham this afternoon at 2.05 to 3.05. Cold NE wind so few waders, however an impressive 114 shelduck. Also one Slavonian grebe, 2 Great-crested grebes and 4 black-bellied brent geese.

Along the exe

From the mill on the exe to matford marsh 06:45 till 10:30

Around mill on the exe Dipper, kingfisher, 2 peregrine, and between the quay and double locks 2 kingfisher, 2 green woodpeckers, 3 reed buntings(2m,1f),3 little egrets

Double locks area goosander(m), green sandpiper and little egret on the river on the main pool another green sandpiper, 8 wigeon. Also 2 sand martins over, 3 great spotted woodpeckers, 6+ chiffchaff, 2 reed buntings(1m,1f), 4 bullfinch(2m,2f)

Matford marsh very quiet 12+ snipe 23+ shoveler, 2 lapwing, 27+ wigeon, 5 buzzards,20+ teal

Exminster marshes

3 water pipits near bends in the lane viewed from the gate facing north. A fourth bird was seen but only in flight. At one time 4 birds in the air calling but only 3 seen clearly on the ground.

Berry Hd

A few migrants on the move this morning with 2-3 Black Redstarts (including 1 male) around northern and southern forts,1 Wheatear, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap. 2 Harbour Porpoise off the end of the point see photo above. 4 male Stonechats around the headland including one possible very smart Continental Stonechat Saxicola torquata ssp.rubicola around the southern fort (unfortunately very mobile) it was almost black backed, large white collar, white belly and lots of white in therump. However, there was more orange on the breast than I would have liked, that spilled down onto the flanks see photo below left - photo right a  normal male also Berry Hd this morning with rustier breast and belly browner back much smaller white rump and smaller neck patch.

Sand Martins

A lone Sand Martin this morning at Wrafton Pond and then 4 more over Velator Reserve.