Devon Bird Sightings

Recent Winter Weather

I should like to include a piece on the effects on birds of the recent severe cold snap (26 February to 3 March) in the next 'Devon Birds'. Please send any accounts, observations and anecdotes to me ( and I will try and compile a single account (with of course, full acknowledgement of all contributors). Please include some weather notes - for instance, here in East Devon it was the glazed frost on the morning of 2 March that did the most damage, covering everything with a layer of ice and forming an icy crust on the lying snow. Many thanks.

Mike Lock

Posted March 9th at 11:52 am by Mike Daniels in General Birding

Devon Birds Records Committee

After serving as a member of the Committee for five years, Chris Townend will be standing down at the end of June 2018. Chris, who leads wildlife watching holidays through his own company 'Wise Birding', has been an active member of the Committee, and his consistently pragmatic approach to assessing records has proved invaluable. The Society would like to thank him for his contribution over the past five years and wish him well in the future.

A formal application to fill the vacancy has been received from Andrew Smith, from Buckfastleigh, which is supported by members of the Committee. Andy has been birding for over forty years and moving to Devon in 2015, Andy has since explored the County, regularly visiting Soar and South Huish during migration, whilst more locally he spends his time and surveying at Hembury and Holne Woods.

Over the last 20 years Andy has led over 130 bird and natural history tours, mainly for Naturetrek. His experience and knowledge from birdwatching in over 50 countries including much of the Western Palearctic will be especially useful to Devon Birds and the Records Committee.

Unless the County Recorder receives any other applications before 15th April 2018, Andy will be formally elected to fill the vacancy for a five year period.

For more information and/or an application form please contact: Kevin Rylands, County Recorder. Email:

Posted February 21st at 11:01 am by Mike Daniels in General Birding


If you follow our Blog but are not currently a member of Devon Birds please consider joining Devon Birds to help us with the upkeep of running the website and this service as well as our valuable conservation work .

Posted October 10th, 2016 at 9:14 am by George & Julia Harris in General Birding

Sightings Page Changes

Acting on comments to Devon Birds some changes have been made to this page. To the right of this header post you'll see there are now several subjects for you to choose to read and post on. Just click your chosen subject and use as previously.

Please be careful not to post under the wrong subject. If you do, you can still easily go back to edit and change the subject yourself so it appears on the right page.

Please try and keep posts short, particularly in the Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts page. Photographs are still very welcome.  

For help with ID email photos to

Posted June 30th, 2016 at 9:24 pm by George & Julia Harris in General Birding

Saturday 17th March 2018

Heathfield Starling Roost

Just to confirm the finish of the Heathfield Starling roost.  I checked it out tonight (17th March) and saw only 20 or so birds!  The data gleaned from this roost since late February and that at Ashprington (in bamboo) since late January will, in time, be used to compare with the six years (2012-2017), almost daily, data from the Slapton autumn roost (Oct-Dec) along with reference to datasets from UK south coast counties and long-term datasets from Falsterbo and Ottenby BOs in Southern Sweden and other datasets available from Northern Europe/The Baltic.  The plan is for a further years' fieldwork at Slapton (Oct-Dec 2018) as well as further monitoring of any roosts within 30 mins of Dartington for comparison during Oct-March 2018/19.

Posted 51 minutes ago by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Beesands Iceland gull

A nice Iceland gull at Beesands this morning

Posted 7:15 pm by Richie Moore in General Birding

Taw Estuary

Plenty of interest on my WeBS sector (which takes in Velator, Wrafton Pond, left bank of R Caen and Chivenor foreshore as far as Heanton corner): 4 Spoonbills on Wrafton Scrape; Firecrest, Water Pipit and singing Chiffchaff at Velator; Tundra Bean Goose on Sherpa Marsh (with Canada Geese); male Red-breasted Merganser on the Caen (rare in N Devon), 2 male Wheatears along Chivenor foreshore (my first of the year).

Posted 2:31 pm by Tim Jones in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Rillage Point to Watermouth 13th–16th

Four consecutive early morning visits revealed light visible migration of typical mid-March species, including Grey Wagtail (singles on 14th & 15th), alba Wagtail (max 8 on 15th), Meadow Pipit (max 39 on 16th), Linnet (max 11 on 15th), Siskin (max 15 on 15th), Goldfinch (max 16 on 15th) and Reed Bunting (max 2 on 16th). Grounded migrants included two Chiffchaffs on 13th, and a scattering of Stonechats (max 3 on 13th) and Goldcrests (singles only).

Posted 2:22 pm by Tim Jones in General Birding

Plym Estuary

Signs of Spring with 2 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. Also Black-tailed Godwit, Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Kingfisher, 55 Jackdaws, 11 Stock Doves, 3 Mandarin Ducks, 23 Turnstones & 2 Nuthatches.

Posted 1:54 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Osprey on Kingsbridge Estuary

During the WeBs count on the Kingsbridge Estuary on Friday 17th, Jo Lapthorn saw an early osprey in Collapit creek. Chris Klee

Posted 1:17 pm by KleeCA.DJ in General Birding

Budleigh Salterton

Black Redstart(Female/Juvenile) still at back of beach above fishing boats on wall and in gardens at 09.00 hrs.

Posted 9:20 am by Paul Reynolds in General Birding

Friday 16th March 2018

Red Kite over A361

A lone Red Kite low over the viaduct on A361 near Aller Cross South Molton at 1730 Friday 16th March.

Posted yesterday at 10:48 pm by Phil Plant in General Birding

Aylesbeare and River Otter

Yellowhammer, Dartfords and Green Woodpecker best birds at Aylesbeare Common. Not much on the very flooded Otter and adjacent fields best tawny Owl. Camera fell in the water so no pics!

Posted yesterday at 10:45 pm by Martin Rooney in General Birding


Spring moves on - another (or the same?) Small Tortoiseshell this morning. Warm enough for there to be 6 Buzzards soaring high over the reserve. On the pond, now 2 Little Grebes, one of which was being chased (half-heartedly) by a Coot, which in turn was being given a hard time by a Moorhen. 6 Mallards (two pairs and 2 separate Drakes) were soon reduced to a single pair by the male of one of the pairs. No sign of the Geese today. Cetti's Warbler calling again. Looks like the weather will put a short dent in the progress of spring over the weekend, but should warm up again next week.

Posted yesterday at 8:22 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Northam Burrows

Male Wheatear this afternoon.

Posted yesterday at 7:31 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Budleigh Salterton

Black Redstart (Female/Juvenile) 16.00 hrs on handrail and path at the back of Budleigh beach west of fishing boats.

Posted yesterday at 4:16 pm by Paul Reynolds in General Birding


First migrant Chiffchaff in Soar Mill Valley. 8 Song Thrush feeding in oilseed rape - obvious migrants. Several Cirl Buntings in song. Still no Wheatears!

Posted yesterday at 11:39 am by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Thursday 15th March 2018

Wheatear on Braunton Burrows

Male Pintail on Wrafton Pond with Little Grebe and 5+ Pochard. 6+ Sanderling on Crow Point and my first 2 (m&f) Wheatear this Spring on the Braunton Burrows, with a male Reed Bunting alas no camera for the afternoon walk

Posted March 15th at 11:03 pm by Derek Carter in General Birding


Tundra Bean Goose with 8 Canada Geese at 0716 this morning. 4 Spoonbills on the Scrape.

Posted March 15th at 10:21 pm by Derek Stacey in General Birding


Heard a Goldcrest in a holly tree in Torquay town centre in Abbey Road, opposite the Central Cinema this morning.

Posted March 15th at 8:45 pm by Stephen Huggins in General Birding

Veletor - Tundra Bean Goose

Good views of the Tundra Bean Goose at Veletor at 4.30. Just passed the pontoon and over the first stile (on car park bank)


Posted March 15th at 4:51 pm by Kelvin Irwin in General Birding


A Yellow-browed Warbler in my garden (Mount Gould) this afternoon. The 32nd species this month.

Posted March 15th at 4:27 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


No Sand Martins around Wrafton Pond this morning, but the drake Pintail still - settled enough to be asleep!

In the reserve, finally saw Cetti's Warbler after hearing one a couple of days ago. Kingfisher whizzed along the pond past the Canada Geese.

Pleased to see the first Butterfly of the year in the reserve too - surprisingly, it was a Small Tortoiseshell.


Posted March 15th at 1:44 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Barnstaple Red Kite

Red Kite over Barnstable Hospital @ 13.15 being mobbed by gulls , headed off towards Loxhore.

Posted March 15th at 1:28 pm by David Paterson in General Birding

Wednesday 14th March 2018

Otter Scrapes, Budleigh Salterton

A Spoonbill on the scrapes this afternoon and still present this evening, courtesy of Ian Waite.
More on the blog:

Eurasian Spoonbill by Chris Townend


Posted March 14th at 8:41 pm by Chris Townend in General Birding

Pale-bellied Brent Geese update

I've just heard that the ringed Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Starcross on Sunday (11th) have returned to France! Today they were located at Urville, Normandy, back at the same estuary where they spent the winter. It's very odd that they went back south, given that we've had southerly winds and yesterday was really quite nice. Perhaps it was just a practice run!

Posted March 14th at 6:37 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Tuesday 13th March 2018

Dartington Hall

At least 5 Hawfinches still around the school. Also Goosander on the river.

Posted March 13th at 8:00 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Cadover area

This afternoon: 4 Wheatear, 7 Teal, 2 Stonechat, 4 Raven, 2 Moorhen, 17 Canada Geese, 2 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit, flock of 15+ Starling, 2 Reed Bunting.

In the garden in north Plympton: 1 male Blackcap on fat balls

Posted March 13th at 7:24 pm by Chris E in General Birding

Brixham to Dartmouth

Kayak trip Brixham to Dartmouth:

6 Purple Sandpipers on Brixham Breakwater

3 Purple Sandpipers (with 3 Turnstones) on Eastern Black Rock, small island off Froward Point.

c100 Common Scoter

20 Common Dolphin off Berry Head

3 (2+1) Harbour Porpoise off Froward Point

Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone
Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone

Posted March 13th at 6:09 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Hollicombe & Preston beaches, Paignton

2.15pm, close to high tide. Usual flock of turnstones at N end of Preston seafront. At Hollicombe, 1 gannet, 4 Gt crested grebes on the sea, plus 9 oystercatcher and a heron roosting on the cliff on the north side.

Posted March 13th at 5:28 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding


Hummingbird hawk moth.

Posted March 13th at 4:51 pm by Sylvia Tucker in Other Wildlife


Eight Common Buzzards mid-morning over the West Soar area inc.the resident pair plus three soaring off Westcliff (inc.two very white birds) and three soaring high over Southdown Farm. Typical spring migration for this species and bang on time! Also had a close encounter with a Stoat!

Posted March 13th at 3:25 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding


Had a new species while ringing in the reserve this morning. Unfortunately it was a Frog!. Left in the net by the Tawny Owl I heard in the half light. Makes a change - it's usually half a Rat!

The only evidence of migration were two Goldcrests ringed early on and a Chiffchaff seen shortly before leaving.

The resident Canada Geese have arrived to claim the pond for another season.

Posted March 13th at 2:19 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding


1 new arrival male Wheatear at Baggy am.

Posted March 13th at 12:55 pm by Rob Jutsum in General Birding

Monday 12th March 2018

Plym Estuary

This afternoon’s sightings: Goosander 6 redheads, Red-breasted Merganser 6 (3 pairs), Snipe 2, Oystercatcher 6, Peregrine, Stonechat, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush 2, Kingfisher, Mandarin Duck 6 (3 pairs), Grey Wagtail, Curlew 32, Common Gull 18 & Common Sandpiper.

Posted March 12th at 8:23 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Heathfield Starling Roost

And so, the Heathfield Starling roost comes close to its final days.  Just 1,500 were estimated (yet to be confirmed from a photograph taken to help calibrate my previous estimates) this evening (12th March).  The first birds were seen at 17.26 followed by a trickle of flocks of no more than 100 birds (most less than 50) all coming from the Ashburton/Newton Abbot direction and heading towards the Bovey Tracey/Haytor direction where there has  clearly been a pre-roost site.

At 18.05, birds began to return from this site to the Heathfield roost with some additional small fllocks still arriving from both the Ashburton/Newton Abbot and Haytor directions.  Birds circled over the roost site building up until 18.30 when the last birds entered the roost.  Interestingly, birds entered the trees nearest the main road through the industrial estate as on 10th suggesting they were either new to the area or the previous roost trees were  badly fouled by droppings from the many thousands of birds using them on previous occasions.  

Posted March 12th at 7:50 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Cadover Bridge

A wander around Cadover Bridge 4pm to 6pm. Good number of Carrion Crows, Rooks, Ravens and Magpies. A handsome Dipper (ringed pale blue on right leg white ring on left leg) a mini murmuration of Starlings 100+ and pair of Goosanders on Shaugh Lake.   

Posted March 12th at 7:50 pm by Val Grehan in General Birding

R.Caen + Sharpa Marshes

Single Avocet on the R.Caen again this afternoon

Female Marsh Harrier over reed beds - Sharpa Marshes

Posted March 12th at 6:39 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Single wheatear on the dunes near the old oil jetty at 4pm. 

Posted March 12th at 6:38 pm by Paul Bearman in General Birding

Exminister Marsh

A good three hours on Exminister this morning. Ducks and waders much reduced from last week but still saw 500+ Wigeon, 250+ Teal, 55+ Shoveler, 30 Pintail, 14 Tufted, 4 Pochard, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers on the canal and 1 Gadwall. Also c300 Lapwing and 33 Golden Plover. Black-necked Grebe still on the canal. Imm Marsh Harrier flew over at 8.40 and 2 Wheatear (M & F) north from the railway bridge. One Cetti’s Warbler singing under motorway bridge. Otherwise 3 Chiffchaff, 2 singing, and a pair of Stonechat again north of Railway bridge.

Posted March 12th at 6:19 pm by Steve Cox in General Birding

Meddon Green Nature Reserve

A very misty and boggy reserve this morning, but I had 1 Willow Tit, 2 Marsh Tit, 2 Great and 4 Blue Tit, 2 Wren, 1 Dunnock.

Posted March 12th at 5:25 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Exminster Marsh

The Marsh Harrier by the lagoon at 1.50pm then drifted off south. Also c500 Golden Plover

Posted March 12th at 2:42 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding

Otter Estuary

Two Sand Martins at 1pm

Posted March 12th at 1:11 pm by Dave McKeown in General Birding

Wrafton Pond

Male Pintail still on the pond.

Posted March 12th at 1:08 pm by Rob Jutsum in General Birding

Slapton Ley

Black necked grebe in ireland and first sand martin 3 in total near bridge 

Posted March 12th at 10:54 am by Roger Backway in General Birding

Sunday 11th March 2018

Exe Pale-bellied Brents

I've just heard that the 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still in Normandy on Friday 9 March, so perhaps they arrived here yesterday, or even early today. They overwintered about 25km SE of Jersey, at Havre de Regnéville.

Posted March 11th at 10:44 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Thatcher Rock - Torbay

An unusual sighting of four Mallard, two male/two female, sitting amongst the vegetation on the lower slopes of Thatcher Rock this afternoon.

Posted March 11th at 9:09 pm by Cliff Parrott in General Birding

Mediterranean Gulls

At South Huish this morning, some 6 (perhaps more) Mediterranean Gulls coming into summer plumage.

Posted March 11th at 8:59 pm by Michael Woodman Smith in General Birding


Selection of photos of Ring-necked Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Red-necked Grebe taken from the hide just after the weather cleared this Saturday.

Posted March 11th at 8:41 pm by Michael Woodman-Smith in General Birding

Exe Estuary: Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Today's WeBS count was rather unexciting, compared with the position just over a week earlier. However, I was pleased to read the colour ring codes on two of four Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Starcross golf course (blue on the right legs, yellow on the left; codes U2 and IZ, respectively). The ringing information (courtesy of Graham McElwaine, Irish Brent Goose Research Group) shows that they had been ringed together in October 2015 at Strangford Loch, Northern Ireland and wintered in Normandy each year since. Clearly a pair keeping together, they have also been seen several times in May in SW Iceland, where they stop to refuel en route to the Canadian Arctic. A fantastic series of re-sightings!

Posted March 11th at 8:37 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Lower Tamar Lake

Sightings for Lower Tamar Lake this morning.

8 Goosander 1m 7f, 1 Grey Heron. 1 Little Egret, 2 Gadwall 1m 1f. 1 Goldfinch, 1f Goldeneye.

Posted March 11th at 7:47 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Morte Point House Martins

This afternoon I watched 3 House Martins head due west, disappearing out over the sea, straight towards Lundy. Around Morte Stone 3 Red-throated Divers.

Posted March 11th at 7:37 pm by Martin Thorne in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


A Shag at end of Paignton beach near harbour.

Posted March 11th at 5:52 pm by Chris Godfrey in General Birding

Light phase Buzzard ~ Cornwood

Buzzard plumage and colouration are on occasion topics of discussion within the membership of DBWPS, this first winter female was found grounded at Cornwood late this morning.


Posted March 11th at 5:39 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

Torcross and Beesands

No early spring migrants this morning but the Black-necked Grebe still present on the Ley at Torcross and nice views of an Otter in open water, also 2 Grey Plover and a Dunlin. At Beesands Ley - the Ring-necked Duck, drake Scaup and Red-necked Grebe all present.

Posted March 11th at 11:42 am by David Cope in General Birding


Where have all the Redwings gone to? Less than half the number I counted midweek with about 15 seen this morning. Plenty of Jay activity all over Occombe this morning, I certainly identified 2 groups of 3, plus a pair of vocal Buzzards, pair of Mallards & Pied Wagtails, 5-7 Long-tailed Tits, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Greenfinch and plenty of Great Tits & Blue Tits. The highlight of the morning was a Tawny Owl, clearly being pestered by some of the Jays.

Posted March 11th at 10:14 am by Stephen Huggins in General Birding

Totnes Garden

Female reed bunting that first appeared during the snow is still hanging around the garden. Bramblings still turning up with chaffinches too.

Posted March 11th at 10:09 am by Jon Flynn in General Birding

Saturday 10th March 2018

Crossbills - Underdown, Haldon.

Flock of 20-25 crossbills feeding in beech tree outside our house in Underdown, Haldon this morning

Posted March 10th at 11:12 pm by John Gale in General Birding

Heathfield Starling Roost

A further decline to an estimated 10,000-12,000 this evening (10th March).  Small numbers from 17.33 although larger numbers (flocks of up to 250+ from 17.38 with most birds from the Ashburton/Newton Abbot direction but heading towards Bovey Tracey/Haytor until 17.57 when a similar number (ca 3,500) to those counted in, returned to Heathfield circling around quite high at times across a large area as far as the A38 (and beyond?) and the Bovey Tracy area.  Numbers then built up over a period of 20-mins with some good display during the next 10 mins (17.58-18.20).  Small groups continued to arrive from both the Ashburton/Newton Abbot and Bovey Tracy/Haytor areas until 18.30 with the last birds into the roost by 18.38 - quite a bit later than previous observations.

Posted March 10th at 7:55 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Fingle Bridge / River Teign.

5 members of DB met for the fieldtrip (East Devon Branch).  In spite of poor weather conditions in the first half of the morning we made the most of our visit taking the riverside footpath west as far as the footbridge below Castle Drogo. A few good birds presented early in the walk with a pair of Dipper seen taking nest material to a nest site.  Several Grey Wagtail were present foraging along the swollen river.  A Treecreeper plus a flock of mixed Tits (including Long tailed and Marsh Tits) gave a little excitement with the prospect of finding the elusive Lesser spotted Woodpecker but none of the latter were found. A couple of Buzzards came out once the rain passed and the air temperature increased.  No woodpeckers were seen or heard above the sound of the river and conditions were made worse by the presence of a marathon run which we had not expected!  

Posted March 10th at 4:33 pm by Jonathan Ruscoe in General Birding

Glaucous Gull

 Just taken these photos of a Glaucous Gull off the sea wall next to the coast guard bridge Dawlish. 

Posted March 10th at 4:14 pm by Nick Workman in General Birding

"The Beast from the East in Plympton?"

Last weekend after the wind had blown through I spotted an unusual tit in the backyard.  Good news is that it's back.  The most noticeable thing, as it was flying away was the rich chocolate hind crown and nape (like a Dipper's belly). The scapulars show a fair bit of variation from brown, through greyish to whitish fringing and a definite pale look to the secondaries..  It has a small neat bib, as expected for a Marsh Tit, which are regular garden visitors. The other features are more reminiscent of Siberian Tit, which I'm sure it is not. Is it possibly a Marsh/Siberian hybrid blown in by the storms, or just a very unusual plumage variation? poor pics, will try to get better.

Eds: Certainly an interesting bird. Chris' comments seem to sum the situation up well. Willow x Siberian Tit hybrids are well known eg  However, given that their ranges barely overlap, Marsh x Siberian seems less likely. In any case as suggested above, the plumage details do not support a hybrid. Views welcome!

Posted March 10th at 3:29 pm by Chris Marcol in General Birding

Beesands Ley

Ring-necked Duck and Red-necked Grebe still present. Also 10 Pochards.

Posted March 10th at 12:17 pm by Perry Sanders in General Birding

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