Saturday, 9 June 2012

Dawlish warren

A great day down on the warren watched from 09:15 till 16:00 A little stint on the beach with a group of 47 sanderling and 5 Dunlin was a good find then turned my attention to the sea with a summer plumage great northern diver not far out and the first 2 storm petrels drifting south Made way to the sea wall and watched from the life guard hut with Ivan and later stan for a few hours resulted in the following totals 76+ storm petrels all south my best Devon count, 3 great northern divers, 3 pomarine skuas, 1 arctic skua, 38+ Manx shearwaters, 1 or 2 little tern, 1 guillemot, 6 great crested grebes, and a pod of 8+ bottlenose dolphins right in close to the seawall and still in bay just before I left. A cracking day

Downend(Saunton Down)

07:25 - 08:30

15 Common Scoter flying north towards Baggy Point.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Thurlestone Bay

On Thursday made 2 attempts to do some sea watching - only picked up  around 200 Gannet, 17 Kittiwake,
2 Manx Shearwater, 3 Fulmar- main problem was the very poor viz ( c250 yds ) and no shelter , scope unusable.

This morning dry conditions but very few birds , however at 09.10 a Storm Petrel came into the Bay and fed offshore less than 50 yds away.


Seawatch from 05:00 - 08:00 was very disappointing. Apart from a trickle of Gannets, the only birds noted were 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Great Northern Divers, 15 Manx Shearwaters, 8 Common Scoter, a couple of auk sp. and a handful of Kittiwakes. A flock of 20+ small waders zipped through also - looked like a mix of Dunlin and Sanderling.

David Walters and the Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter

Many readers of this blog probably subscribe to the 'Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter', compiled and published by David Walters, so Mike Lock has suggested posting the following note...

David Walters has had a slight stroke which has made it impossible for him to continue to prepare the Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter, and he has decided to discontinue it. However, I am looking into the possibility of finding an alternative editor so that this valuable newsletter can continue.

with best wishes

Mike Lock

Saunton Down

A late morning watch from the point here only showed about 25 Manx Shearwaters and a Fulmar in an hour. So not exactly thrilling, but the sea was impressive!

Exminster Marshes

Drier this morning but still very windy. The nearest I could get to the sea watching excitement were several house martins impersonating storm petrels amongst the waves on the water storage lagoon. Elsewhere there were lots of house martins and only a few swifts. Water levels are high with no exposed mud, so few waders - only the long staying single black-tailed godwit and avocet. Ducks included 49 shelduck, 5 gadwall, one tufted duck, one male wigeon and c30 mallard including recently fledged young.


Lifeboat Station - 0515 - 0900 - 4 great northern diver, 1 sum plum black-throated diver (flew in from east at 0525 and landed, still sat on sea 0815 at least), c30+ fulmar, 6+ manx shearwater, 8 common scoter, 5+ storm petrel, 1 whimbrel, 1+ dunlin, 2+ sanderling, 15+ common tern, 2+ guillemot. Also several gannets, kittiwakes and a few sandwich terns.
Yesterday - 5 little tern off seafront and later off Mudbank with 1 pale-bellied brent goose still and 8+ great crested grebe.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Dawlish warren

After work made way over to Dawlish Warren and watched from 15:15 till 19:55 from beside the life guard hut on the sea wall

Turned out to be a Tern afternoon but the first birds were 2 Arctic Skuas close in a good start then 2 storm petrels soon followed again fairly close in , around 18:20 a Black tern made slow progress south into the gale force south west wind with 5 common terns then around 19:30 a group of terns flew out from exmouth mostly common terns but at the back 2 Roseate terns was a good find to end the day

Final totals for the afternoon were 3 storm petrels, 3 arctic skuas, 1 great skua, 2 roseate terns, 1 black tern, 6+ arctic terns,35+ common terns, 15+ sandwich terns , 32+ commic terns , 4 common scoter, 4 great crested grebes, 1 guillemot, 76+ manx shearwater.

A very good afternoon

Berry Head

Sooty Shearwater
The day's final totals: 05:15-18:00: 2 Pomarine Skuas, 4 Arctic Skuas, 4 Bonxies, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 2360 Manx Shearwaters, 6  Storm Petrels, 51 Puffins, Great Northern Diver,  12 Common Terns, 7 Sandwich Terns. 3 Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seal, Ocean Sunfish.

I missed Mike's Macaronesian Shearwater (see below) by 7 minutes!!! But could not have been found by a more deserving seawatcher - well done. This one's been along time coming as a Berry Head (or Devon) seawatched bird.

We hoped it might come back around for a second showing given the strong winds and rain, but alas it was not to be.

Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton

Taking respite from the appalling weather in one of the shelters on the front, I could scope the birds sitting out the high tide/conditions at the end of Dawlish Warren. An impressive 250+ oystercatchers, 2 sanderling, 50+ dunlin, 7 turnstone, 6 ringed plover, 4 common terns, 7 sandwich terns, a single black headed gull and 5 arctic terns flew out of the estuary and close to the sea wall.
Budleigh Salterton
Sea watching from 12.30 until 3.15 p.m resulted in 4 storm petrels, 15 guillemot, 12 fulmar, 16 kittiwake, 3 commic terns, 2 arctic skuas, 30 manx shearwater and 1 sooty shearwater

Berry Hd

Little Shearwater - presumed Barolo's moved south at 0545hrs with Manxies and fed for a short time before moving off slowly south again with the Manx Shearwaters. Despite looking really hard for the whitish/silvery greater covert patch there was no sign of it, that part of the wing was uniformly black with rest of wing, notes here:

Sadly no one present at the time to share the sighting with.

Other birds from 0515 -10.30: 1140 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Baleric Shearwater, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 5 Storm Petrels,  2 Pomarine Skuas  including close 3rd cal year bird, 3 Arctic Skuas, 1 Bonxie and 29 Puffins. Also 1 Ocean Sunfish and at least 2 Harbour Porpoises.

Update: Fascinating link from Chris Townend:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Walking back from Berry Head, Hobby flying low over Burton Street, Brixham. Must add an amazing count of Bee Orchid this evening with a total of 141 spikes around the site.


12 crossbills flew over eastwards, mid-morning.

Exminster Marshes

Another wet morning. At least 3 Med gulls with c100 black-headed gulls on the pool nearest to the canal-side car park. Otherwise 9 little egrets, 1 black-tailed godwit and the avocet.

Yesterday evening at about 10.30 pm two flocks of waders flew on to the marshes from the estuary. Together about 120 birds, it was too dark to identify them but they looked about whimbrel size and I could hear whimbrel calls. Interestingly this was after high tide and the water was falling, so did they just arrive or had been disturbed from a high tide roost elsewhere on the estuary. No sign this morning at high water.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Thurlestone Bay

Very quiet weekend  took me some time on Monday  morning to realise a passage of Swift was moving through - 105 north in less than an hour.

Tuesday morning only a very wet Whimbrel on South Huish Marsh . What a change  this evening ., went down to the bay at 16.30 - the next 105 mins produced -

70 Gannet, 88 Manx Shearwater, 7 Fulmar, 12 Kittiwake, 6 Sandwich Tern, 1 Razorbill + 7 Auks. . a Great Skua flew east at 17.35

Dawlish warren

Seawatch from 09:35 till 12:40 Wet and windy but worth it with 2 arctic skuas Coming in close to the sea wall by the life guard hut one pale phase and one dark phase and 5 common terns, also 18 Manx shearwater, 26+ sandwich terns, 9+ commic terns, 35+ gannets, 13+ fulmars and several groups of kittiwakes all heading south west, 3 guillemots and a great crested grebe.

Spoonbill - Exminster Marshes

Yesterday the Spoonbill was beside the lagoon near the canal car park until about 11-15 when it took off, circled higher and higher over the marshes and eventually flew towards Haldon where I lost it to view.

Exminster Marshes

Brief visit this morning in very wet and cold conditions. It didn't feel like June. Maybe the ibis and spoonbill had similar reservations about the weather and moved on. The ibis left shortly after 9.00 yesterday and the spoonbill was not seen yesterday evening although it was present in the morning, at about 11.00 am.

The rain has filled the pools to the benefit of the waterfowl including - 4 tufted duck, 2 gadwall, 2 teal, 2 wigeon, c20 mallard and lots of shelduck (c35). A few waders were on the pool close to the canal-side car park - 1 dunlin (2 yesterday evening both sp), 1 black-tailed godwit (sp), 1 avocet and 2 lapwings.

Flocks of swallows, house martins, swifts and a few sand martins were busy feeding in the lee of any trees. Roll on summer.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Exminster Marsh

A walk around early afternoon produced 2 Hobby's, sitting around on posts. No sign of the Spoonbill, though I understand it was present earlier in the day. And the Glossy Ibis appears to have gone too, seen over Dawlish at 9.45 flying SE.


Red Kite over Winkleigh airfield this morning.
(Peter Howard)

Sherpa marsh

An odd assortment of ducks were present this afternoon given the time of year: an eclipse drake Shoveler was a surprise, but the pair of Tufted Duck were presumably those seen a few days ago, the trio were completed with a female Teal. Couldn't find the Pochard, so hope they are still around.
On Wrafton pond the male Swan is still shepherding seven cygnets.

Waddeton, Paignton

Singing Quail this morning (but gone quiet late morning)100m from road in one of two fields of rape or oats 300m north of Waddeton triangle SX873575. There is parking but is very restricted on a narrow lane, farmers are using the gates so anyone visiting please park sensibly - not in passing places, under no circumstances enter any of the fields and no tapes. I will be visiting the site from time to time as will other locals.  

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Yalberton, Paignton and Venford

This morning at about 10:00 a distant raptor flew past my house just outside Paignton. It had long wings that were held slightly down in glide. The only plumage I could pick up on was a pale breast and darker wings and tail. I think the bird was probably a late Osprey.

A walk around Venford Reservoir and the woods below produced at least 4 Cuckoo, 5-6 Wood Warblers singing, 5 Pied Flycatchers(3 male, 2 female) and a singing Redstart.

Lundy 29th May to 2nd June

Tim Davis and I have just got back from a short trip over for the Lundy Field Society's excellent "Discover Lundy" week. In between a packed programme of talks and walks, we managed to enjoy some great birding, including f/1st-s m Golden Oriole in Quarter Wall Copse on 30th (was also present but not seen by us on 29th), the two 2nd calendar-year male Subalpine Warblers ringed on 30th (already posted on this site), one of which was glimpsed off and on in Millcombe up to yesterday afternoon, two Greater Short-toed Larks (together) found by Chris & Carol Baillie on the main track at Halfway Wall gate on evening of 1 June and still present yesterday (2nd), a male Red-backed Shrike near Quarter Wall gate on 2 June, and a Black Guillemot which I saw distantly in flight off the East Side on evening of 1 June, with up to 3 seen from Oldenburg as she left the Lundy Landing Bay for the return trip to Ilfracombe yesterday evening. Two had also been seen from the boat, on arrival at Lundy on Saturday 26th – the first ever Tystie records for the island. Other birds included a singing male Firecrest in Millcombe on 30th, a female Treecreeper with a brood patch (!) trapped and ringed, but not seen/heard before or after, and a high count of at least 100 Puffins on 31st – the best one-day total since 1981! All in all a pretty spectacular five days...

Berry Hd

0730-0900: 1 Yellow Wagtail in quarry, 33 Swifts, 8 House Martin & 5 Swallows feeding over headland, 1/2 hr seawatch produced 52 Manx Shearwaters and 1 Harbour Porpoise. A few clumps of Bee Orchids in the quarry.