Saturday, 14 April 2012


As we are comfortably into the breeding season now, can contributors please remind themselves of - and comply with - the published guidelines for Rare Breeding Species.



Wrafton update

Sherpa this evening at dusk had 3 Gadwall (2 drakes) 38 Mute Swans, but no sign of the Whooper, about 150 Sand Martins, and a pair of Little Owls on a telegraph pole and wire above Marstage Farm.

Sharkham Point

0645hrs - 0930hrs
2 Whitethroat we're the amongst the commoner migrants today, along with a singing Sedge Warbler both species the first of the year for me at Sharkham. Also numerous Willow Warbler and Chiffchaffs with 14 Swallow over also

Plymouth area

A single Swallow at Staddon Heights

On the Plym Estuary, 2 Greenshanks, 1 Common Sandpiper, and 2 Sand Martins passing over. Later this evening a flock of 7 Whimbrels landed on the estuary and flew off over my house.

Exminster Marshes

Reed warbler singing early this morning and then this afternoon, after heavy thundery showers, a ruff, short-eared owl, 80 swallow, 30 sand martin and 25 pale bellied-brents- which settled on West Mud and then headed high north at 1715.

Daily early morning visits over the past ten days or so have been notably quiet (and cold), highlights being a singing grasshopper warbler 8th-9th & reasonable nos of migrant blackcap, willow warbler & chiffchaff.

Thurlestone Bay

Another steady Hirundine passage- included 5 House Martin, 4 Sand martin and 136 Swallow.
Waders were singles of Curlew, Turnstone, Snipe and Little Ringed Plover.

In the bay 7 Sandwich Tern, .

South Milton Ley this morning - Little Bunting seen and heard briefly., 2 Reed Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Cettis Warbler.

At nearby Aveton Gifford Eric W had 30 House Martin and his first Sedge Warbler

Beer Head & Cemetery Fields

Beer Head this morning between 7.30 - 9.15 produced 1 Redstart (m), 1 Tree pipit, 2 Wheatears, 9 swallows, & decent numbers of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, & Chiffchaffs.

A look around the Beer Cemetery fields late morning/lunchtime turned up 3 Redstarts ( 2m,1f ), 1 Pied Flycatcher (f), lots of Blackcaps, & about 25+ Swallows.


Still 3 Pochard (one drake) on the pond at Wrafton this morning with about 10 Sand Martins feeding low over the water. In the reserve, the Reed Warbler still singing low in the reeds, and more Willow Warblers today, but not many singing. One Blackcap singing. Around Sherpa, a drake Gadwall, a Grey Heron, and lots (200+) Sand Martins with a few Swallows.

Yesterday, the Whooper Swan was still with the Mute Swan herd out on Braunton Marsh.


Ground frost this morning but soon warmed up.
Redstart 2 males singing, Cuckoo, first of the season, a male flying around calling but disappeared around 9:30. up to 6 Swallows have arrived to take up residency in the barns. up to 10 Willow Warbler singing. still loads of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin around. Ringing reveals that the female Siskin have active brood patches while the redpoll are still to show signs of breeding. Also a female Crossbill ringed with a brood patch thats gone over so i guess they have bred and now looking forward to a lovely summer !


Went down to the seafront to look for the Arctic Skuas reported last night, but no luck with these. As I arrived, at 1200hrs, I picked up a Short-eared Owl coming in off the sea, circling a couple of times over the sea, before gradually gaining height and drifting off high NNE. A Little Tern was offshore with the Sandwich Terns.
At 1220hrs my attention was drawn to a huge bird heading out over the dunes and straight out to sea. This turned out to be a Common Crane! This is as far as I know the first record for Exmouth. It continued on its southerly course until lost to view.
Just to complete my "seawatch", a pair of Garganey flew in and landed briefly on the sea, before being flushed off eastwards by a powerboat.

Lundy 13 & 14 April, Rillage Point to Watermouth 14 April

Chris Dee reports a major passage of Swallows through Lundy yesterday (13th), with at least 2,000 estimated. This morning (14th), a Sedge Warbler and 2 Grasshopper Warblers in Millcombe. Since arriving on Tuesday, Chris & Mandy have ringed over 300 birds, including more Willow Warblers than were ringed on the island during the whole of last year!

On my Rillage Point to Watermouth patch this morning, the only notable sighting was the first Whimbrel of the year. Just a handful of hirundines heading into a strengthening NE wind. One Wheatear and a few Chiffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps the only grounded migrants.

Yarner Wood

The male Wood Duck flew up the valley and onto the pool by the car park in Yarner Wood at 8.15am to join the 3 Mandarin (2m, 1f) already present. This bird has been present here on and off for 2 weeks and has reportedly been present in the Bovey Valley since last autumn. Wild bird? or perhaps if Wood Duck is ever promoted to Category D?-this may be the one to see?? There was no sign of it at 9.10a.m

Also 4 Male Pied Flycatcher, male Redstart, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the wood and 2 Tree Pipit and 6 Willow Warbler on Trendlebere Heath.

Friday, 13 April 2012


This evening:

surprised to see that the Spoonbill are still present. 2 just opposite the cafe.
10 Redshank remain in the Estuary.
1 male Dabchick on the pond
Cettis Warbler calling, several chiffchaff.
Bullfinch and tree creeper on the tarka trail.
More swallow and Sandmartin that you can count.

Kingsbridge Estuary

Charleton Marsh / Bay ( 17:00 - 19:00 )

3 Egyptian Geese, 8 Teal, Sand Martin, 2 Swallow and 9 Sandwich Terns.


Orcombe Point- 0615 - quite a few new birds in with willow warbler numbers particularly notable - 11+ chiffchaff, 13+ blackcap, 40+ willow warbler, 1 redstart (photo). Overhead 5+ swallow, 11+ goldfinch, c10+ linnet and 2 yellowhammer west. Also 4+ meadow pipit, c20+ sandwich tern, 7+ great crested grebe, 1 turnstone and a single flock of 192 shag. Just reieved a call from Martin Wolinski to say there are 3 arctic skua offshore there this evening.
Mudbank - 2w iceland gull drifted slowly downriver at 1655 towards the Warren, viewed from the back garden.

Thurlestone Bay

The Bay bathed in sunshine all day so no fall of migrants avoiding the showers- stll another good Swallow passage , between 10.00- 12.00 115 logged moving north, also amongst them were 8 Sand Martin. 17 Goldfinch also flew north

In the Bay aflat sea this morning enabled birds on the sea to be picked up - 1 Red T Diver, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Guillemot, 5 Razorbill 2 Sandwich Tern.. 4 Turnstone on the rocks
3 Wheatear in the cafe field.

Bob B watched the Little Bunting for 30mins at 08.15 - it was in sub song ( confirming it is a male )
also 3 Willow warbler, 2 Reed Warbler.

This evening Thurlestone Marsh held 22 Teal, 1 f Wigeon, 1 f Gadwall, 3 Swallow over.

Exminster marshes

Friday 13 turned out lucky for me. I started the walk at 4.00 pm ahead of rain clouds, almost immediately c200 hirundines descended as the clouds thickened, about 3/4 were sand martins and the rest swallows. A immature female peregrine had a couple of unsuccessful swoops onto the small group of teal (only about 30 left). Other ducks counted included gadwall (4), shoveller (4) and c30 shelduck. The 6 greylags appear to have paired up. A few curlew flew onto the marsh and joined 2 oystercatchers. Then 6 whimbrel flew over, calling, before heading north. At 4.50 a sub-adult female marsh harrier appeared quartering the marshes. She flew briefly over to Powderham marshes before soaring high (with 2 buzzards) and then drifting out of sight to the NW at 5.30. Shortly after an osprey appeared over head carrying a fish. It slowly gained height and then also drifted north west still carrying its snack. Elsewhere a few chiffchaffs and willow warblers moving through.

Grand Western Canal

First SEDGE WARBLER of year during WeBS count today. Other warblers included 3 Willow Warblers together with good numbers of Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Also 2 Swallow seen.

3 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Orange Tip and a Green-veined White also seen.

Rillage Point to Watermouth

06.55 to 08.55 today: light but steady passage of hirundines, mainly before 08.00, most hugging the coastline and heading W, a few going NW straight out to sea. Totals of 107 Swallows, 33 House Martins, and 15 Sand Martins. In the scrub: 6 Blackcaps (5m, 1f), 6 Willow Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs. Flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets passing W again, with 4 calling Redpolls. A Canada Goose and 2 Shelducks flying W offshore were patch rarities!

12/04/12 - English Channel

Yesterday fishing about 25nm south of Start Point: lots of Manx Shearwaters (most about 16nm offshore) and my first 2 European Storm-petrels of the year. Around the boat while fishing, gulls were dominated by Lesser Black-backs (c120 presumed migrants) and a few Great Black backs ad Herring Gulls. Otherwise one Common Tern and a constant trickle of Swallows crossing the channel.

Berry Head

Around the headland 9 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, Sparrowhawk and 7 Wheatear.

[I left the site after Bill and counted the following: Willow Warbler 23, Chiffchaff 5, Blackcap 5, Meadow Pipit 3, Swallow 1, House Sparrows (flying around end of head) 4, Linnet 11 appearing to be on the move at end of headland, Wheatear 6 (3 Southern Fort & 3 Northern Fort) ML

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Even more gaudy than usual today! A couple of photos from Barry Rankine...

Drake Mandarin
Drake Wood Duck

Velator Duck

The duck I heard this morning was possibly a Pintail, but more likely a Pochard, of which there are three on nearby Wrafton Pond. Two Swallows by my house this evening.

Thurlestone Bay

At long last a Swallow passage. 10.00-12.30 and 15.00-16.00 73 logged over the car park, later 17.00-18.00 another 15 over Thurlestone Marsh.

8 Sandwich Tern in the bay, 12 turnstone on the rocks and a lone Snipe at South H Marsh.


Exe Estuary - probable purple heron slowly north upriver @ 1610. Picked up cicling very high, well north of my vantage point in Belle Vue Rd, it slowly lost height until it disappeared from view behind a large tree. Impossible for me to get plumage details but it looked pretty good structurally and always very dark. Perhaps now on Exminster Marshes?
Orcombe Point - 0850 - 11+ chiffchaff, 16+ willow warbler, 7+ blackcap, 1 wheatear, 4+ meadow pipit, 3+ swallow, 1 eider, 6+ razorbill, 7+ great crested grebe, 3+ common scoter.


Ringing this morning was disappointing (specially compared to Lundy!) Only 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, and a Chiffchaff the only migrants caught, unless the male Blackcap ringed last April has been off to Africa since I last saw him! His plumage was certainly pretty bleached-looking. A female Cetti's Warbler was a treat, as was hearing the first Reed Warbler, which stayed in deep cover. The only other bird of note was the strange-sounding Duck that departed before dawn - I'll listen to my tapes and see if I can identify it.

Lundy 11th & 12th April

Chris & Mandy Dee, staying on Lundy this week, ringed 74 Willow Warblers yesterday morning (11th) and 64 this morning (12th). Today's haul included, somewhere along the line, the 100,000th bird ever ringed on Lundy - quite a landmark! Chris & Mandy also report steady Swallow passage through the island today, after only small numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bolberry Down to West Soar

Still relatively quiet with just:

18 swallows, redstart, blackcap, 33 chiffchaffs, nine willow warblers and 60 linnets.

The ringers caught & ringed a very noisy jay!

Berry Head

Around the headland this morning 17 Willow Warblers, 8 Wheatear (including my first female this spring) 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 2 Bullfinch and finally 2 Swallows :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sharkham Point

An evening walk produced the first Swallow of the year for me, also a few Willow Warblers kicking about still.

Orcombe Point, Exmouth.

   The first Little Tern of the year off here mid-morning.  The first last year was April 11th., and the first Common Tern last year  was April 10th., as this year.  Spooky..or spot on!

Thurlestone Bay

A quiet day -at least some Swallow - 3 flew north. Bob B rang to confirm 30 over Kingsbridge..

Waders at high tide 15 Turnstone , 1 Curlew .

In the bay 3 Sandwich Tern and 3 Razorbill.

This evening on Thurlestone Marsh a Little Ringed Plover, 5 Teal.1 Water Rail

Early morning S M Ley - Willow Warblers and a Reed Warbler

The Mounts

Work collegue of mine saw, whilist driving by, what from his description had to be a White Stork stood in a grass field right beside the A381 Totnes to Kingsbridge road in the small hamlet The Mounts ( Grid Ref SX 755488 ) at roughly 09:30 this morning. If only i'd gone back to get the bit of gear that was missing ! Was looked for after by some local birders but no sign, hopefully give itself up somewhere in Devon.

Berry Head

Between 0700 & 1000hrs around the headland this morning, 16 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff,
12 Wheatear, 4 Blackcap, 2 Bullfinch and a mix of Greenfinch, Goldfinch & Linnet. Also 4 Sandwich Tern and a 1st summer Med Gull.


Just a few ducks left on the pools today inc 3 Gadwall and 2 Teal. On the sea, 3 Great Crested Grebes and a Razorbill.

Rillage Point to Watermouth

Early this morning: fairly quiet for migration with a cold on-shore NW wind. About 90 Linnets and 35 Goldfinches in small flocks, plus 10 Meadow Pipits, 5 Swallows, 1 Pied Wagtail and 1 calling Tree Pipit – all heading WNW along the coast and/or out to sea. Just 2 Willow Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs & 1 Blackcap in the scrub.

Has anyone else read the entry for 31 March on Portland Bill Observatory's newsblog? Looking through the entries in Devon Bird News, it doesn't look as if this mega fall was reflected in Devon; shows how localised these things are.

Beer Head

2 Redstarts (male and female), 6 Wheatears, 20 Willow warblers and 10 Chiffs this morning.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bucks Mills (Easter Sunday)

Dipper and Grey Wagtail, both in stream passing through Bucks Mills, on Easter Sunday

Kingsbridge Estuary

Walked down Charleton Marsh this afternoon , very quiet apart from 10 Teal still present. Lone Sandwich Tern out in the bay.

Slapton Ley

Very brief look this morning, 8 Sandwich Terns in Ireland Bay with a lone Swallow. In Start Bay a Great Northern Diver off the central car park.

Near Ivybridge

Cuckoo heard calling very clearly just north of ivybridge, near Harford at about 11am this morning.[Michael Nott]


Male Pied Flycatcher today, busily inspecting nest boxes! [Joe Martin]

Also a Wood Warbler present [Tim Clyburn]


The following were viewed this evening 1915-2000 hrs from the side of the Harbour View cafe on the seafront:

Red-throated Diver (winter plum - on sea), 32 Manx Shearwater (in small groups all south-west), 100+ Sandwich Terns, 6 Common Terns and 25 Common Scoter.

Purple Heron heads East!

Watched the Purple Heron this evening fly out of ditch at 18.25hrs calling regularly as it gained height. At first it seemed a little unsure about leaving as Herring Gulls mobbed it but I watched it for 15 mins gradually circling higher and higher and then head east out along coast/over sea until it was a distant speck in my scope!
Some nice flight shots from the weekend here :

Thurlestone Bay

This morning in the Bay - 1 Great Northern Diver, 70 Gannet, 3 Fulmar , 4 Kittiwake. 20 Sandwich Tern, 4 Auks.

Waders at high tide 54 Oystercatcher (usually around 25 ) & 2 Turnstone.A female Wheatear on the Golf Course

Thurlestone marsh held 20 Teal, 2 Shelduck, 1 female Wigeon.

Late afternoon visit to S M Ley produced 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Cettis Warbler and a calling Tawny Owl. No sign of the Little Bunting.

Another day without any Hirundines

Purple Heron

The Purple Heron was on view for at least 30 minutes late morning along the right hand edge of the third field up from White's Bridge, viewed from the riverbank footpath. It was close to the pile of cut down tree branches.

Exminster Marshes

Exeminster 10:15-10:45
The spoonbill was showing fairly well around the pools from the canal bank by the 3rd car park.
Sorry for the terrible digiscope shot.

Bowling Green Marsh
Interesting birds were ad winter spotted redshank, whimbrel and a single ad summer Med gull.

Roadford (weekend WeBS count)

The Roadford WeBS count produced a selection of expected birds plus a Swallow, 30 Sand Martins, a male Garganey, a male Scaup and something I've never seen there before - excellent close views of four male Common Scoter - the first in twenty five years of counting!
(Antony John)

Monday, 9 April 2012


Forced myself out into the murk for an hour late afternoon. Rewarded with 5 Water Pipits, 3 Gadwall (2 drakes) about 40 Sand Martins and a dozen Swallows, many of which were huddled on reed stems, dripping gently.


First marathon seawatch of the year - 06.30 - 17.30 (JL,PM,TM). Very productive if you like Manx Shearwaters - and who doesn't! 8500 (give or take a few) passed west, smashing the previous site record of 5000 (set in April 1998). In contrast, given the 11 hours put in, other seabird numbers were less than impressive, totalling just 157 Gannets, 108 Fulmars, 86 Kittiwakes, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1 Common Gull and 59 Razorbill/Guillemots. Welcome variety was provided by 12 Common Scoters, Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 12 Sandwich Terns, 8 Puffins and an unidentified Diver. No Skuas though!

Seaton - Round Two

The 1st-winter Caspian Gull was on Seaton Marshes briefly around 12:30.

Seawatch 16:40 - 18:20
512 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Kittiwakes, 20+ Sandwich Terns.

Thurlestone Bay

A 2 hr seawatch from 13.45 produced - 10 Sandwich Tern , 3 Common Tern, 5 Manx Shearwater, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Great Skua and a dark phase Arctic Skua.

Have posted some notes on the blog about the lack of hirundines compared with recent years - do these match up with anyone elses records ?

Sharkham Point

An hours seawatch between 1520-1620. 98 Manx Shearwaters and 24 Sandwich Tern

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide from 08:30 till 11:20

2 spotted redshank one is nearly in full summer plumage, a mediterranean gull(1w) amongst 150+ black headed gulls, 16+ common hills, 5 lesser black backed gulls, 10+ swallows, 13+ knot, 78+ bar tailed godwits, 100+ black tailed godwits, cetti's, 2 reed buntings, 5+ willow warbler, 1 pintail(m), 6 gadwall, 2 shoveler, 2 roe deer

Darts Farm, Topsham

A first for the wetlands at Darts was the sighting of a Spoonbill. Seen throughout the day but often flying back out towards the Exe over Goosemoor/B.G.M.
The lone Brent goose remains, along with 5 Teal and 3 Wigeon. My first 3 House Martins of the year flew through struggling against the  blustery conditions.

Berry Head

Seawatch 08:00-13:10. Good Manx Shearwater passage with 1,712 heading south. Also 19 Sandwich Terns, 2 Common Scoter and a single Puffin in a very light auk passage. Heading north were 2 Arctic Skuas, 3 Bonxies and an adult Med Gull. Up to four Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal off the headland. Continual arrival of passerines coming in off the sea including one Willow Warbler that made land fall on my tripod!


Highlights of a seawatch 06:40 - 09:30...

1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Bonxie, 18 Brents, 10 Sandwich Terns and 115 Manxies. All flew W except the skua, which went E.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Dawlish Warren

An Osprey was being mobbed by gulls directly above Dawlish Warren Nature reserve at 9.45 before drifting off high NW towards Eastdon Wood.  [Andrew Moore]

Axe Estuary

A 1st-winter Caspian Gull late this afternoon was a bit of a surprise, especially when it turned out to be the same individual that was here earlier in the year, and last seen (by me anyway) on 10 March!

Slapton Ley

15.30 - 17.30
Ad. w. Great Northern Diver 200m offshore from middle car park (near bridge). c.20 Sand Martins and 2 Swallows in off the sea. A 1s. Common Gull with Herrings on Ley, 2+ singing Willow Warblers and Blackcaps into Ireland Bay and 10+ Sandwich Terns close inshore.

Also 35 ad. summer altifrons Golden Plover low north 3 miles NW of Slapton.


Still not seen any Swallows but just had 9 House Martins right over the house

Exe-Powderham Marsh

From the viewpoint early pm, the injured Ruff and a Green Sandpiper still in view on the lagoons.

Berry Hd

06.30-09.00hrs the Head appeared almost birdless initially - but as it brightened up Willow Warblers seemed to appear from nowhere! 25+ Willow Warblers, 9 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcaps, 1 Redstart (male).

A 45 minute seawatch produced: 59 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Puffin, 14 Common Scoter, 6 Sandwich Terns 3 Harbour Porpoise.

Left : Willow Warbler

Exe and yarner wood

Bowling green marsh 09:00 till 10:00

12 greenshank, 25+ bar tailed godwit, 80+ black tailed godwit, 13+ knot, 1 pintail, 6 gadwall, 6 wigeon, cetti's, 5+ willow warbler,4+ blackcap.

Powderham park, missed the osprey but a very pale buzzard flew through harrased by a crow

Yarner wood, 13:00 till 15:00

1 pied flycatcher from hide, also marsh tits, lots nuthatches, great spotted woodpecker, grey wagtail,goldcrests, 4+ swallows.

Powderham park 15:30 till 16:10

Osprey in small tree to the left of the main lake viewed from the road.

Exminster marshes

Mid-morning the spoonbill was still present often feeding within the flock of 82 roosting shelducks. There were other shelducks scattered over the marshes bringing the total to over 90 birds. The only other obvious sign of spring were two wheatears near the lagoon. On the lagoon were 6 gadwall, 3 tufted ducks and a pochard.

This afternoon there were a few sand martins flying west over the village.


An Osprey over the cycle track at Exton at 1000hrs, being mobbed by Herring Gulls, before flying off over the Exe towards Powderham.

Sherpa Marsh

Quiet this morning, just 3 Sand Martins, 8 Shelduck, 2 Snipe, and a female Pintail. Several singing Chiffchaffs, a few Willow Warblers and one Blackcap in the reserve.