Saturday, 28 April 2012

Wrafton Black-winged Stilts

A cracking photo from Steve Hatch of one of the two Black-winged Stilts that showed up at Wrafton today...

Interestingly, a quick comparison of photos shows that this is not one of the Exminster birds, so presumably the other isn't either? This evident swarm of Black-winged Stilts covering the British Isles should encourage us all to get out and check every bit of standing water in the county!

Also present at Wrafton - 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpipers.

Braunton Burrows and Velator

4 Swifts
3 Whimbrel (not as many as the Exe)!!
30+ Wheatear
8 House Martin
1 Cetti Warbler
4 Whitethroat
5 Willow Warbler
4 Reed Buntings
6 Skylarks
Numerous Swallows & Sandmartins & Chiffchaffs all around the Burrows.

NW Devon - yesterday 27/4

A circuit of my 'patches' in NW Devon yesterday - Meddon, Harbour Cross, Trew and Bursdon Moor - produced satisfactory numbers of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff but only three Blackcaps in the whole area. A conspcuous absence of Whitethroats with none in any of their customary haunts. A nice Tree Pipit at Meddon was supplemented by the distant Cuckoo calling. Harbour Cross produced a male Reed Bunting, Goldcrest and a couple of Buzzards as well as a Kestrel nearby.

The overriding feature of the whole time was the very large northward movement of Swallows with many hundreds involved while I was out.

Bursdon produced neither the expected Grasshopper Warbler nor any raptors and was disappointing, but a pleasant trip with some warm sun and some good bird

[Harvey Kendall]


Not good but still my best day of the spring so far here! 13 Whimbrel, 1 Barwit, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Whinchat were about the best of it this morning. A few Swift and a Hobby seen over the village during the course of the day.

Lots of whimbrel- but how many?

Readers of this blog will be aware that the Exe Estuary (& in particular Exminster Marshes) have experienced what appears to be an unprecedented number of passage whimbrel so far this spring.  There have been daily treble figure counts since 18 April, estimates of 700-1000 on 25 April and still over 200 today.  John Waldon and I would like to understand this influx a little better and would like to ask for counts from around the estuary over the past 2 weeks (and next 2 weeks), in particular:

1. any counts, especially high tide roost counts where you have a note of the time of the count, as birds have been mobile & we would like to reduce duplication; 

2. did anyone make an accurate count on 25 April at Exminster Marshes (or were we all too distracted  by the stilts?);

3. any other interesting notes on behaviour, visible migration etc

You can send any info you have via email to

We will try to get  a little note on here once the migration is over and ore importantly use it to get better information about the Exe whimbrel into the WeBS recording system.


Exminster Marshes

Just a few of 225+ Whimbrel at Exminster today

Thurlestone Bay

Cool NE f5 wind ensured little over the sea , a female Marsh Harrier in off at 11.25. In the bay 42 Whimbrel.
Passage of Hirundines - 25 House Martin, 25 Swallow, 20 Sand Martin, 5 Swift,.
At 17.30 5 Black Tailed Godwit flew onto Thurlestone marsh

exminster marsh update

In addition to my earlier post also had a short eared owl flying over the lagoon towards turf  just before 13:00 also good number of swallows sand martins and house martins and lots of swifts including one group of 100-150 high over north at least 200+ whimbrel around .

Berry Head

 A wind swept headland this afternoon held virtually no grounded migrants but overhead there was a bit of a Swift movement with small groups >NE totalling 57 in 1.5hrs also, 12 Swallows and 4 House Martins. Interesting wannabe Black Grouse - dark female pheasant in one of the paddock fields see picture - imagine seeing that on a moorland!

Hopes Nose

This morning at Hopes Nose- 1 Bonxie lingering offshore, 1 Sandwich Tern north, 1 + Whimbrel, 2 Diver sp south and 500+ Auks south. Also 1 Wheatear, 3 Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap, several Willow Warblers and 5 Swift north.


Ringing at the reserve this morning produced a veritable flood of migrants:

1 Cetti's Warbler (well ok it may be a resident!)
3 Chiffchaffs
16 Willow Warblers
5 Reed Warblers
21 Sedge Warblers and
43 Blackcaps
The only resident bird ringed was a Goldfinch.
This went well with the 49 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins ringed last night and released this morning.
The morning was finished off in excellent fashion by finding 2 Black-winged Stilts just outside the reserve on the flooded field by the Tarka Trail, along with a fine summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpipers. Strangely, I was sure I heard a Stilt 'yelping' a while before I saw them. A small crowd soon arrived!
I see the 2 at Exminster/BGM seem to have gone, so presumably those birds?

Rillage Point to Watermouth

06.00-09.00 this morning, with strong and biting onshore NE making it feel more like January...  41 Whimbrels flying up-Channel in small groups, mostly very close to shore; a few Swallows and Sand Martins battling to make headway into the wind; Grasshopper Warbler (reeling), Whitethroat (3 singing), Sedge Warbler (singing) and a female Greenland-looking Wheatear in the scrub. 110 auks, mostly Razorbills, all flying up-Channel, presumably to the small breeding colonies along the Exmoor coast.

Seaton Area

Yesterday morning there was a Cuckoo calling at Steadcombe Vale east of the River, also a Grasshopper Warbler in the same spot by the roadside.

At Seaton marshes were 3 Wheatear with another 3 at Colyford Common also a Whinchat,
Today at the fields by Beer Cemetery were another Whinchat, Whitethroat, 11 Swifts, 6 House Martins & decent numbers of Swallows.

Exminster marsh

In the rain 11:30 2nd winter Iceland gull in field by s-bends before being flushed by a birder trying to cross the field lost in flight towards topsham thanks to Paul a visiting birder who also had it in flight Also hobby over north sedge & reed warblers very vocal and 2 yellow wagtails and an Egyptian goose

Bowling green marsh

A quick look in this morning produced an Egyptian goose,3 common sandpiper, 8+ whimbrel, 1 greenshank, pochard(m), cetti's, sedge warbler, reed warbler, lots of swallows,sand martins, house martins, 30+ black tailed godwits, 2 tufted duck, 7+ blackcap, 12+ chiffchaffs, 4+ willow warbler.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Exminster marshes

Early evening produced a hobby perched on wires making short hunting sorties. Lots of hirundines including a few swifts. A bright male yellow wagtail feeding under the hooves of brown cows. a male pintail, flighty teal, lots of small groups of vocal whimbrels and the odd curlew, a mobile group of black tailed godwits and a lone bar headed goose. A fox wandered around the marshes out in the open for at least an hour.


Observations: Plymouth 27/04/2012 07.45
One of our pair of Swifts was back on the IR camera monitored nest site at Peverell early this morning. By many days the earliest return date we have ever seen. It was very keenly preening all over and doing various wing stretches, including the high wing stretch. How long will we have to wait for the other half of the pair to return?
It's well worth keen swift watchers checking out any larger colonies of swift sites they know towards dusk as there may be other early returnees back on their nesting sites

[Robert Hurrell]

Pottington to Ashford Sewage Works.

14:20 - 15:45
8 Bar-tailed Godwit; 1 Black-tailed Godwit; 8 Common Sandpiper; 11 Whimbrel; c60 Shelduck and  plenty of Chiff Chaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.
Also Peacock, Orange-tip and Small Blue butterflies about.

Slapton Ley

13:30-16:30, Walk from the bridge to Torcross and back.

Redshank, 2 Sandwich Terns, 7 Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtails. ( No sign of yesterdays Nightingale )



21 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 2 Sandwich Terns and 3 Wheatear.

Start Point

08:10-12:00, Light and Farm only.

Sandwich Tern, Tree Pipit, 2 Redstarts, 13 Wheatears, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, 8 Blackcaps, 30 Willow Warblers and 5 Chiffchaffs.


Orcombe Point - 0550 - 0745 - 5 blackcap, 12+ willow warbler, 6+ chiffchaff, 10 'Greenland' wheatear, 3 whitethroat, 4 goldfinch, 1 yellow wagtail, 1 swift, 2+ swallow, 1 house martin, 2 whimbrel, 13 common scoter and 1 great northern diver.
Orcombe Point - 26/4 - 14+ fulmar, 21 whimbrel, 11+great northern diver, 2 great crested grebe, 12+ common scoter, 1 arctic skua, c40+ pale-bellied brent goose, 3 manx shearwater, 1 turnstone and 1 sand martin.
Mudbank - 26/4 - drake eider on sandbar - house tick no 132.
Mudbank - 25/4 - little tern and c40+ sandwich tern.
Mudbank - 23/4 - 28 pale-bellied brent goose and 1 common tern.

Sharkham Point

After the school run this morning, 9 Blackcap, 5 Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (singing) 8 Chiffchaff, 11 Swallow, 2 House Martin, singing Skylark and a mix of Linnet and Greenfinch.

Lundy 26th April

A bit of very late news from yesterday - didn't get back until late last night and have been at work all day, so... anyway, a good fall of passerines on Lundy yesterday, and with an hour after an all-day meeting on the island, I managed to see (all in Milcombe valley & the road to the boat): 2 Grasshopper Warbler, single Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Swift, House Martin and White Wagtail, 60+ Blackcaps and similar numbers of Willow Warblers, and many small parties of Swallows (being snacked on by the local Peregrines: how many swallows make a meal?). Aside from that, other people with a bit more time mentioned a couple of Ring Ouzel, at least 2 Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, several more gropper and lashings of Blackcaps and Willow Warblers everywhere.

BBS near Chudleigh Knighton

No, not a Buff-backed Shrike (if one exists), but my first Breeding Bird Survey visit of the year. Finally found a dry morning to do it! Nothing new for the list (74 species since 1994, but only 31 today - the average is 45 species over the two survey visits). Perhaps best were 6 Stock Doves, of which 4 were at an isolated garden feeder! Other notables were Canada Geese with 6 goslings, Marsh Tit (actually singing), 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Grey Wagtail, 4 Skylarks and a Yellowhammer. The last two are remnants of a small 'farmland bird' population, originally on four arable fields; three of these are now grassland and two are horse-grazed. 'Horsiculture' has fundamentally changed big areas around here and bird populations seem to have changed as a result, possibly for the worse. However, Yellowhammers seem to be closely associated with stables around here and presumably utilise feed put out for horses. I think the Skylarks hang on partly because there are quite large, sloping or hilltop fields in open country - just right for them. Sadly, the 1-2 pairs of Woodlarks that used the arable and set-aside in the past are now gone - I doubt whether Devon's farmland population of this species (I think 50 pairs was the last survey estimate) has been maintained in recent years. Oh, and as I was leaving a Swift flew over.

Exminster marshes

Lots of water but not as deep as predicted; some cars are getting through the flood on Station Road. Unfortunately the swan's nest next to the road, with 7 eggs, was washed away in the night. James Diamond and I  counted the whimbrel at high tide - two or three flocks totalling 305 birds. Still impressive but not as much as the counts earlier in the week.

The main drama was a female peregrine that took a female gadwall on the water. She tried to drown the duck and then swam, using her wings, to the bank. The duck was still alive as she began to pluck it. A few minutes later the peregrine flew onto a post to dry out. Later still we could find no trace of the duck just a pile of feathers. Did the duck escape?

Elsewhere 3 wheatear, 2 bullfinches, 5 tufted ducks, 10 wigeon, 5 (-1?) gadwall and lots of swifts.


Early (ish) walk down to Sherpa revealed my first Wheatear, 2 Common Sandpiper, an arrival of Sedge Warblers in song and chasing about already, several singing Reed Warblers, Swallows and Sand Martins in good numbers, several House Martins, and 2 or possibly even 3 Swifts.  What was probably a Yellow Wagtail flew away before I could be 100% certain. One Whimbrel. On Wrafton pond, the pair of Pochard remain.

Berry Head

0630-0900hrs although there was relatively little moving overhead the headland did have several grounded migrants, it was good to see a few Whitethroats back on territories - at last. Noteable birds today: 3 Grasshopper Warbler (singing), 22 Willow Warblers, 9 Blackcaps, 5 Whitethroat, 6 Chiffchaff (on territories), 7 Wheatear several of the males looking very bright on underside and brownish backs (Icelandic/Greenland birds), 2 Swift, 12 Swallow, 1 White Wagtail on ground at headland early on, 1 Great Skua > high N over headland, 13 Rooks > high N over headland they are usually fairly scarce on the headland with no colonies very close by.

Below: Icelandic/Greenland Wheatear left. Grasshopper Warbler right.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Bowling Green Marsh - update

The Black-winged Stilt was present until 2050hrs at least, in fading light. When I left it was directly in front of the hide. Also an Osprey was seen circling briefly to the north of the marsh at about 1950hrs, before drifting off towards the Exe. Several Whimbrel were present and 19 Greenshank flew in at 2020hrs but found it difficult to settle. 8 Gadwall on the main pool. Cetti's and Sedge Warblers were also heard.

Out and about

Exminster marsh arrived early in hope of seeing the Black Winged Stilts. No sign of them but spotted my first swift of the year. Whimbrel numbers were around 300. Lots of warblers about. Reed, Willow and Cettis. Dawlish Warren set up my scope just as some Pomarine Skuas were passing. Was only here 10 minutes and spotted borh Arctic and Great Skuas when I received news that a Black Winged Stilt had been spotted at Bowling Green Marsh so headed straight there. Bowling Green Marsh got there to quite a crowd gathered looking in to the field to the left of the hide. The Black Winged Stilt was showing very well and we all got great views and photos. Yarner Wood popped along to see if I could see the Wood Duck. Fab views of him and he has paired with a female Mandarin. He has his work cut out fighting off all the other drake Mandarins!!! A walk around the wood produces a Solitary Wood Warbler and 3 Pied Flycatchers! All in all a good day out!

kenwith n.r.

  Male mandarin duck on lower pond.

Thurlestone Bay

Another day wherethe main highlights were the Skua's.

Between 9.30-12.3- 12 Arctic Skuas ( 7 dark & 5 light phased) - at 12.00 5 flew over the car park and proceeded to fly up the valley. A sinle Bonxie recorded.

6 Sandwich , 6 Arctic and 3 Common made up the Tern count. A single Manx Shearwater, 6 Fulmar 
5 Kittiwake. Waders -just 15 Whimbrel.

2 large male Wheatear at South Huish Marsh looked to be of the Greenland race.
On Thurlestone marsh -1 Swift, 15 swallow, 1 Sand  Martin, 14 Teal and the male Wigeon

Beesands Ley

Red-crested Pochard X Tufted Duck hybrid present this afternoon. Also a couple of hundred Swallows and a couple Whimbrel.

Berry Head seawatches yesterday 25th

A few shots taken in dull light-the Black Guillemot flying and swimming, a Bonxie and a rather distant Pom Skua

Slapton Ley

Miserable weather on arrival, southwest wind and rain with little shelter at Torcross. Good numbers of Gannets and Fulmars in Start Bay but nothing matching the excitment elsewhere, all i saw were a couple of Sandwich Terns and a couple of Brent Geese ( too distance to assign to race ) heading south. Walked down the beach towards the central car park and came across 20+ Wheatears, the males were big and bright suggesting they were Greenlands. Good numbers of Swallows moving through with some House Martins and Swifts.The highlight of the day was a singing Nightingale unseen in the bushes and trees on the leyside of the road c 400 metres south of the central car park.First heard at 10:00 it never sang with great vigour but still giving out odd snatches until 12:00 at least.  Other noteworthy birds were the suspected usual female Marsh Harrier and a great compact flock of 4 Great Northen Divers c200 metres offshore which included 3 in summer plumage.

Bowling green marsh

After hearing the news of black winged stilt on bowling green marsh this morning had to hope that the bird would stay until I finished work at 2 and luck was in not great views as it stayed down to the right of the hide flying a couple of times a stunning bird and a first for Bowling green marsh. Thanks to some visiting birders had a report of hobby over Between 12:00 and 12:30 also 117 whimbrel This afternoon there was 8 gadwall, 1 pintail(m), 4 tufted duck 8+ whimbrel, good numbers of swallow, sand martins, and house martins

Exminster marshes

A bit quieter today. Also Station Road is partially flooded. Lots of swifts, I counted well over 100 and saw one flock of 23. Whimbrel numbers were well down, about 330 in 3 discreet flocks. However  by 10.30 most of these had moved north or east due to repeated attacks from at least one female peregrine. A flock of 48 bar-tailed godwits reacted in the same way. There was also one greenshank and one common sandpiper.

Sedge and reed warblers were singing well and a lesser whitethroat sang briefly along the railway path. (Note- this path is flooded and impassable near Turf).

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Beer - Seawatch

Two watches from Beer today 6.00 - 10.30 & 14.00 - 16.30, combined totals - 4 Pomarine Skuas, 13 Arctic Skuas, 44 Great skuas ( maybe a few were the same birds, but there was a lot out there )50 Sandwich Terns, 1 Little Tern, 3 Common Terns, 70+ Kittiwakes, 17 Common Scoter, 2 Velvet Scoter, 100 + Whimbrel, 49 Brent Geese,  2 G N Diver, 1 R T Diver, 1 B T Diver, also a few Manx Shearwaters. 


Can't match the excitement 'down south', but good numbers of Swallows outnumbering the Sand Martins about 5-1. 2/3 House Martins, and a lone Common Sandpiper this evening.

Exminster marshes

Dashed out to the marsh as soon as finished work at 14:00 and glad I did getting good views of the 3 black winged stilts thanks to the use of a scope from the gathered birders. Poped home via matford marsh were the Egyptian goose Was still present. Returned to exminster marsh at 17:00 with bins and scope had 23 wheatear in fields on right of station road and my first swifts for the year with 20+ in 2 hours. No sign of the black winged stilts but large numbers of whimbrel very mobile best estimate was 800-1000 including a group of 130+ high over the estuary. Good numbers of swallows and sand martins and 12+ house martins 30+ little egrets around the marsh, 100+ shelduck, 6+ wigeon, 8+ tufted duck, a brief view of a short eared owl towards the motorway bridge. An excellent afternoon

Orcombe Pt., Exmouth.

Early morning 3 Pomarine Skuas [ 2 LP and 1 DP ] initially seen off  Dawlish Warren "boathouse" arrived off Orcombe Point, settling on the sea but occasionally chasing terns and gulls before disappearing. Mid-morning, and another 3 were seen on the sea off the seafront, all LP this time. After some time, they were joined by a Bonxie, took off, climbed high, facing South , and were blown North up the Exe, backwards! Earlier a group of 5 Bonxies flew West, and a dozen Pale-bellied Brents.   All the Poms were full-spooned crackers!

Exminster Marshes

During a short spell when the rained stopped mid-afternoon, 2 of the 3 Black-winged Stilts flew close to the canal car park for about 10 minutes.

Exminster and Matford Marshes

The 3 Black-Winged Stilts still early afternoon viewable from near the end car park looking towards the lagoon and several hundred Whimbrel.  Nearby, the Egyptian Goose still on Matford Marsh.

Thurlestone Bay

After a very stormy night and some very heavy rain ( there is more water on the marsh than at any time this year) expectations were high- we were not disappointed . Bay watched 06.15 - 12.30 Watchers PaulB , Bob B, AJL, Nick T  Mike Morris and myself.

It was a Tern and Skua morning, probably the largest total of Skua's in a morning for many years.

Common Tern  93,  Sandwich Tern  77 , Great Skua - 10 ( inc 2 groups of 4 ) Arctic Skua 9 ( inc dark intermediate and pale phases ) Whimbrel 63, Bar Tailed Godwit 3 , Gannet 265, Fulmar 9 , Razorbill 16,
Kittiwake 77, Great Northern Diver ( sp )1, Brent Goose ( d b )1 .

A brief look by Nick at South Huish marsh produced 10 Swallow, 5 Wheatear, 1 Sedge Wblr.

At 11.30 news re'cd  of Swift at Thurlestone marsh - quick visit produced 2 (first of the year ) 4 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, and 10 Swallow.

Will post later if any addn'l news

Exminster marshes

Shortly after a very heavy shower at 11.18 I started to count whimbrel. At about 450 I realised I was looking at 3 black-winged stilts. I forgot to count the remaining whimbrel. After another very heavy shower I was unable to re-locate them. They were near the canal-side car park.

Also c20 swifts, 1 probable little-ringed plover and hundreds of whimbrel. Also c45 geese flew over , probably brents - pale bellied.

poor photo

Berry Head

Updated 2055hrs:

Seawatching 0600 - 2000hrs 1 sum plum Black Guillemot, 7 Puffin, 2 Great Northern Divers, Red-throated Diver, 4 Pomarine Skuas (all full spooned),75 Great Skuas, 7 Arctic Skuas, Balearic Shearwater, 2000+ Manx Shearwaters, 100+ Sandwich Tern, 11 Common Tern, 23 Arctic Terns, 11 Comic Terns, 22 Whimbrel, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Shoveler and Brent Goose. Good passage of Auks including many Razorbills peaking around 500/hr, good movement of c400 Fulmars including 4 dark (intermediate) birds and one double light bird. Also a Swift

Perhaps the Black Guillemot is the same as the East Devon bird last week - if so where has it been for the last week! Dave Norman Managed to get a few photos of the Black Guillemot as it flew past, hopefully they will be published later.


Rillage Point to Watermouth last night

18.00 to 20.00 between the showers on Tuesday evening, 24th April: 2 Swifts offshore were the first of the year here. In the scrub, two singing male Whitethroats, four male Blackcaps and a scattering of Phylloscs. A trickle of Swallow and House Martin passage westward, hugging the shoreline.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Braunton Burrows

Following Tom's post. I went out to the Burrows this evening, and three things happened.
1. Met a non-birding friend who said they'd been seeing up to 4 Owls here for about 6 weeks. (!)
2. Saw a Short-eared Owl.
3. Met Tom, who had seen 2 Owls before I arrived.

So three Short-eared Owls this evening. Lots of Swallows vapouring about, and a few singing Willow Warblers. Got back to the car just before the rain set in.

Exminster Marshes

Cycled along the Exeter canal this evening after work, caught in a long downpour at Exminster but worth it for the flock of whimbrel - counted 132 in the field immediately in front of the canal-side viewing platform, then a further flock out on the river, and a few birds on the sea wall beyond the turf. Recording of the birds, in the rain, here

Upottery Airfield, Smeatharpe

The first wheatears of the spring this afternoon dodging the hail showers - 3 males and 2 females. Also 15 swallows and 8 stock doves.

Exminster marshes

A quick visit between 9.00 and 10.00 this morning coincided with the high tide. The wader roost contained 62 curlew, 9 dunlin, 2 black tailed godwits and 2 whimbrel. I counted another c80 whimbrel elsewhere. Roosting shelduck numbers were very impressive with over 109. A dense flock of 22 little egrets was on the field north of Station Road.

3 swifts were the first I had seen this year and a female wheatear was near the lagoon.


Tawny Owl photographed this morning in Ashclyst Forest by Richard Wellington.

Exminster Marshes

Had a 2 hour walk round the marsh this morning between 9.30 and 11.30 and saw some good birds.

First Swift of the year (always good to see!) also lots of Hirundines about, 150+ Whimbrel and a female Marsh Harrier at 11.08 circling over the main lagoon then gained height and off high to the north.

[Kevin Bainbridge]

Matford marsh

Egyptian goose showing well 14:35 on matford marsh

Skern and Instow

07:00-08:00 Skern.
Very poor showing at high tide in the cold NW wind.
Just 4 Great Black-backed Gulls; 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull; 6 Shelduck; 71 Herring Gulls;
2 Whimbrel; 1 Pied Wagtail and just 5 waders( believed Ringed Plover) in flight off-shore.

08:25 Instow Cricket Ground.
16 juvenile Common Gulls on the green and 8 Whimbrel on foreshore. All put up by dogs.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows

6.50pm, 3 quartering S.E Owls. fairly close to one another. very good views. approx 8min stroll in a SW direction from Burrows Car Park. (main entrance)

No camera I'm afraid but unreal views.

Thurlestone Bay

Evening update - Bob B at 18.00 had another 22 Common Tern and a Little Tern fly through, earlier another 10 Manx S'water offshore and 2 Wheatear in the cafe field

Brixham breakwater

22 Purple Sandpipers under the old fuel pier. Record number, for me anyway! 4 or 5 is more usual.

Thurlestone Bay

Although viz poor at first the conditions and a brisk SE breeze provided a superb viz mig morning . Bay watched from 08.00-13.00 by Bob B & myself.  Tern movement was great . A total of 375 Common Tern through by11.00 included flocks of 100, 200 and 50. A Little tern at 11.40 was my first spring record here. Finally Sandwich Tern were 45.

2 Bonxie, 195 gannet, 13 Kittiwake, 27 Manx Shearwater, 31 Common Scoter, 1m Wigeon, 1 Red T Diver, 15 Whimbrel , 1 Bar Tailed Godwit ,1 sp Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, 1m Yellow Wagtail, 120 Swallow, 2 House martin 2 Sand Martin .

Berry Head

Seawatch 0750-1050. Arrived as an intense belt of rain slackened off, good  numbers of birds moving south as soon as I looked out. Totals Manx Shearwater 1500+, Bonxie 17, Pomarine Skua 3 with full spoons(one very close), Arctic Skua 5 (one pale phase), Puffin 5, Common Scoter 15, Little Gull 1, Mediterranean Gull 3, Sandwich Tern 2, Red-throated Diver 1, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 7. Did not count auks initially as I assumed these would be mostly local, but large numbers then started passing and I estimate 3000 including several large groups of   Razorbills. Passage reduced considerably  after 10.00

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Exminster marshes

This evening between 6.00 and 7.30 bird activity on the marshes was dominated by whimbrels. Shortly after 6.30 pm 77 flew north, in small groups and calling loudly. Another 40 were at the roosting site with about 87 curlew, 2 oystercatchers and 2 knot, but another and larger flock of 203 was feeding on the field next to the canal just south of the viewing platform. This gives a total count of at least 320 whimbrels.

Elsewhere 2 peregrines, including a sub-adult on a kill in the middle of the marsh, 78 shelduck and lots of swallows, sand martins (c30) and house martins (c30).

Exminster Marshes 21-22 April

Whimbrel numbers continue to increase, with 240 by early afternoon on 22nd.  Also: 2 short-eared owl and single swift both days.

Plym Estuary

19 Whimbrel over Blaxton Meadow this evening (2 settled on the meadow last night with a lone Curlew). Otherwise little of note.

Challacombe - yesterday 21/4

Saw & heard my 1st cuckoo of the yr yesterday at challecombe..(Martin Cox)

Fremington Quay

Two immature spoonbills showing very well in creek along with two little egrets and two whimbrels.

Thurlestone Bay

Sunday 22 April

In the Bay - 31 Whimbrel, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Wheatear,, 1 Purple Sandpiper. Staedy passage of Swallow up to 12.30


Orcombe Point - 0620 - 0800 and 1510 - 1700 - 14+ common scoter, 22+ sandwich tern, 30+ manx shearwater, 1+ razorbill, 7+ fulmar, 4 great northern diver, 2 little tern and 1+ arctic skua. Also 55+ whimbrel, 16+ bar-tailed godwit, c30+ wader sp and 1 turnstone. Additionally 1+ siskin and 1 sand martin with a trickle of linnets and goldfinches through.
The last couple of days have been very quiet but yesterday 1 tree pipit over and Friday a single crossbill over. Of note there were at least 170 kittiwake on their Sandy Bay nest ledges on Friday.

Yarner and Trendlebere Down

Another good morning before the showers. Plenty of pied flycatchers in song around Yarner, along with quite a few wood warblers. Up on Trendlebere a distant cuckoo, my first of the year, tree pipit, siskin, redpoll and stonechat. Recording below is wood warbler from this morning. Second phase is the bird's less frequent "piping" song.

Bowling green marsh

Watched from the hide this morning 26 whimbrel, 4 Dunlin, 6+ knot, 90+ black tailed godwit, 50+ bar tailed godwit, 4 tufted duck(3m,f), 3 little egrets ,1m wigeon, small passage of swallow & sand martins, 3 house martins From goat walk 50+ whimbrel


Went out to look for a few this morning. At just after high tide at the Skern, I found about 15, and what I thought was a Ruff, but when I tried to get closer, it moved off and then all the Whimbrels and the Ruff were disturbed by a dog walker, and flew across to near the entrance, but by the time I got there, the rain and wind kept me in the car. Also recorded 2 Dunlin (one in lovely summer plumage) and a dozen or so Ringed Plover. Maybe 10 White Wagtails. A walk along the cliffs past Westward Ho! showed a flock of 13 Whimbrels flying out towards Lundy! Nothing else - too cold. Stopped on the way home at Fremington Creek and saw 3 more Whimbrels. Bradiford reserve was, well, windswept!