Devon Bird Sightings from 1st–7th October 2017

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 7th October 2017

Southdown Farm/Soar Mill Cove

Nice views of one female Ring Ouzel with Blackbirds and Song Thrushes at Southdown Farm this afternoon.

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 7:16 pm by Andy Smith in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Quick look across Instow harbour at low tide showed 4 Ruff in with the small Redshank flock.

At Home Farm Marsh, a flock of 8 Common Snipe over. Sparrowhawk in the garden.

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 7:04 pm by Lowell Mills in General Birding

Bowling green marsh

Watched from 07:30 till 12:30

the day of 2 Firecrests the first was by the bridge over the railway at the top of the hill on the way to the hide it was very vocal with a good size group of goldcrests a good way to start the day a few blackcaps and chiffchaffs along the lane to the hide.

from the hide 9+ Ruff was a good increase on the last few days, a new in Curlew sandpiper , 4 bar tailed godwits, 2 avocet, among the usual black tailed godwits, redshank and curlews, 5 dunlin, 2 grey wagtails, 4 jays, 70+ pintails, 600+ teal , 3 tufted duck and good numbers of wigeon, 3 little grebes. Also of note was another kill from the local sparrowhawk this time a redshank the new spit has over the last few weeks become a very dangerous place for the smaller waders as the local birds of prey have learnt that the cover of the hide and the trees gives the waders very little time to escape. 

the second Firecrest eventually showed well by the viewing platform amongst 8+ chiffchaffs, 7+ goldcrests, 2 blackcap, also 2 stonechat, 4 grey wagtail, small movement of meadow pipits and my first 4 Siskin over of the Autumn. 200+ dunlin, 2 water rail, 35+ greenshanks and 2 kingfishers.

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 6:21 pm by Keith Birchall in General Birding


Plymouth RSPB undertook a walk along the coast path from Wembury west this morning in damp conditions but managed to see a number of cirl buntings and a lonely swallow struggling in the wind; plus several gannets quite close into the shore, curlew, oystercatchers, little egrets, rock and meadow pipits, linnet etc.

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 5:16 pm by Vince Bedford in General Birding


First Fieldfare of the year seen this morning outside my garden at Uffculme.

Also a House Martin and a Swallow at the same time!!

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 11:19 am by Francis Welland in General Birding

Bideford Bar - opposite The Skern

Single Common Scoter diving/fishing at low tide. Seen at 15:30 6/10/17 from beach, southern end Braunton Burrows, in Taw Estuary. It was surprised by an Atlantic Grey Seal, which surfaced with fish in it's mouth, right next to the Scoter! Bird flew off a short distance, settled again on the water. Unfortunately no photo.

Posted October 7th, 2017 at 9:47 am by Tim Smith in General Birding

Friday 6th October 2017

Lyme Bay boat trip from Brixham

A couple of pictures of the common dolphins from this morning's trip.

Common dolphins  Common dolphins under the boat
Common dolphins                             Common dolphins under the boat

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 8:30 pm by Chris Proctor in Other Wildlife

Lyme Bay boat trip from Brixham

Addtional to Nigel's post we had 2 definite arctic skuas and another small skua probably this species, also there were 2 kittiwakes. Fulmars notably absent. Views of great skuas were superb with a flock of 6 on the water and some sitting very close to the boat - a superb end to a great pelagic season.

Great skua, adult Great skua, adult Arctic skua, 2nd summer
Great skua, adult                                   Great skua, adult                           Arctic skua, 2nd summer

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 8:17 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding

Scadson Woods - Paignton

Visible migration of hirundines over the house tonight at 18.00 hours. Flying in from a SW direction and dispersing NE. 600+ House Martins with 200+ Swallows. First Firecrest of the Autumn yesterday (5th October) in the usual holly tree in the garden! 

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 6:25 pm by Clive Mason in General Birding

Wrafton, part two (and 3)

Went back to the reserve to finish the strimming this afternoon, but stopped along the Tarka Trail to view the scrape. Still plenty of Godwits, and 3 Ruff, with a lone Little Stint.

When I had finished I set up the scope in the reserve to have a final look, and all the Godwits had gone! A close look at the grass near the scrape however revealed that the Ruff have been breeding - there are 6 there now!

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 5:15 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Lyme Bay boat trip.

A 4 hour Birdwatching charter out into Lyme Bay this morning in sunshine and fairly calm seas gave us some very good sightings. Reached a 10 mile mark and chummed!! Not much action and then things got busy. During our time at the mark we had: - 8 + Great Skua, spent a long time with the boat,  2 Artic Skua, Greater Black-backed gull, Gannets, 2 Wagtail, 2 Swallow. other birds seen on the trip : - 2 Manx Shearwater, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Razorbill, 20 Guillemot and 1 Kittiwake. 3 pods of Common Dolphin as well. Hope some good pictures will follow soon!!  

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 4:29 pm by Nigel Smallbones in General Birding


At least 140 Black-tailed Godwits with 2 Ruff this morning; many of them feeding just outside the reserve!

In the reserve, a Raven took off as I arrived, only the second time I have seen one in the reserve. 6 Bullfinches feeding in the Willows.

Posted October 6th, 2017 at 1:22 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Thursday 5th October 2017

Sherpa/Wrafton scrape

John, further to your post earlier, I had a very similar experience myself with the BT Godwits & the Ruff. Starting with a count of 2 then 3 & then 4!

Digiscoped them & when looking at the photos on the pc at home later another one showed up which I had not seen through the telescope!

Posted October 5th, 2017 at 8:59 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Green Woodpeckers

A pair of Green Woodpeckers were grubbing around a bramble bush at Occombe this afternoon. Often seen, or heard this bird around Occombe this year, but this is the 1st time I've seen a pair together.

Posted October 5th, 2017 at 8:12 pm by Stephen Huggins in General Birding


At least 150 Black-tailed Godwits on the scrape this morning. Also 3 (or possibly even 4) Ruff. All the birds were spooked at one point and as they landed all the Ruff came in together, but the fourth one looked a bit bigger, then almost immediately they flew again and I lost the subject bird in the confusion. Could have been a Bar-tailed Godwit.

Posted October 5th, 2017 at 6:13 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Barnstaple Gannet

Late post for Wednesday. On my way to the Leisure Centre in Barnstaple I saw a Gannet circling over the Old bridge in the centre of the town. I didn't have binoculars with me but think it was a juvenile.

Posted October 5th, 2017 at 7:46 am by Martin Unwin in General Birding

Wednesday 4th October 2017

Marsh Green (East Devon)

Breakfast at 7.45am was interrupted by sight of a small warbler very active and flitting about an apple tree ten feet from the window.  Two conspicuous cream wing bars and a supercilium confirmed Yellow-browed Warbler much to my surprise.  Alas, it had gone by the time I found my camera and has not been seen since.  A first for Marsh Green I think.

Posted October 4th, 2017 at 4:28 pm by Jonathan Ruscoe in General Birding

Brent Geese Skern(3rd October)

4 Brent Geese on Skern at the afternoon high tide.

Also present 11 teal, 31 golden plover, two bar tailed godwit and numerous curlew and oyster catchers.

Posted October 4th, 2017 at 1:41 pm by Richard Yeats in General Birding


Looked over the scrape this morning from the reserve  (which seemed to be alive with various Tit species) and counted 106 Black-tailed Godwits, 60+ Canada Geese, 2 Ruff, 1 Little Stint and a Green Sandpiper.

Posted October 4th, 2017 at 1:13 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Tuesday 3rd October 2017


Wryneck showing well again this afternoon in private garden at Saltash Passage 

Posted October 3rd, 2017 at 11:02 pm by stephen gooding in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Red Backed Shrike - Wembury

A juvenile Red Backed Shrike found by John Gyllenship early afternoon, about 400 yards west of the National Trust car park, in scrub at the back of the second grass field (just west of the two obvious pine trees) and still present mid afternoon ( did dissapear briefly over the brow of the hill)

for pictures see

On way home the juvenile Little Stint still on River Teign on spit off Passage House Inn car park on the incoming tide late afternoon

Posted October 3rd, 2017 at 6:10 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding

Shipley car park up to the Avon dam, South Brent

A walk from Shipley car park up to the Avon dam, South Brent with Keith Male this morning, no part of the walk overly busy with birds but not a bad list at the end of the trip twenty plus species that included Mistle Thrush,Dipper (2) Long Tailed Tit (several tit flocks) Goldcrest, Buzzard,Raven, Kestrel, Wheatear, Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Peregrine and Nuthatch.

Of note is that non of the Rowan trees and very few of the Hollies on the walk have berries this year, so the hoped for autumn Ring Ouzel's may not be there this season, only the Hawthorne's have an abundance of berries.


Posted October 3rd, 2017 at 6:00 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

Instow (Sat 30th Sep)

Late news of 10 Brent Geese on the beach NE of the cricket club at Instow, Sat 30th Sep. First sighting of these on the estuary this autumn perhaps.

Posted October 3rd, 2017 at 1:20 pm by Lowell Mills in General Birding


Early morning and plenty to see; Pied Wagtail, 3 Buzzards (2 adult, 1 juv), several Chifchaff, Blue Tits, Great Tits, 4-5 Robins, several Wrens, 4 Goldcrest, at least 15 Swallows flying over in a westerly direction, Jay and a Blackbird.

Posted October 3rd, 2017 at 9:12 am by Stephen Huggins in General Birding

Monday 2nd October 2017

Orcombe Point

Richard's Pipit Found by Dave Stone and understandably first reported as a possible. I was working from home so though "I've got to have a quick look". I got there around 12:40 and searched the top fields and noted c50 Meadow Pipits. Walked through the field with the electric fence (permissive path from Gore Lane to coastal path) and hadn't got far when I flushed 12 Pipits. Heard Meadow Pipit calls and the unmistakable Richard's Pipit call. Managed to get very brief flight views of the bird (which was obviously larger than the Meadow Pipits) it headed off towards Bristol School Camp. I had another search later on in the afternoon (3:00 - 3:45) but couldn't relocate the bird.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 8:06 pm by Spencer Dicks in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Teign Estuary

A possible Pectoral Sandpiper landed very briefly at Passage House before flying down river again this evening. The Little Stint was still present with 5 Common Sandpipers.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 7:50 pm by Laurie Allnatt in General Birding

Hartland point seawatch.08-20 to 11-00.

Great northern diver, Red throated ,3. Manx , one, Gannet, 20 very dark juv. Common Scoter , 40 in two flocks.    Great Skua  2. Uni.ld..Skua ,one .Kittiwakes , 25+. Razorbills, flock of ten.   M.S. With Nigel Hakes.

Note the new owner of the lighthouse will not allow anybody down the access path, we watched from the water tanks at the top of the path.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 4:00 pm by Malcolm Shakespeare in General Birding

Sherpa / Wrafton scrape

3 Little Stint + 2 Ruff on the scrape at lunchtime today. Also a number of Black tailed Godwits, Teal & Wigeon.


Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 3:26 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Start Point

Great bit of vis mig this morning, 07:00-08:00, 1010 Meadow Pipits, ( not sure if I have got over a thousand before ), 17 Swallows, 470 Linnnets and 310 Goldfinches. Job to keep a handle on the pipits. Lots of birds missed going by below cliff top level. Other birds included just 6 alba Wagtails, Grey Wagtail and Siskin. Quiet in the bushes best being a couple of Firecrests in the farm.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 3:08 pm by Perry Sanders in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Bowling Green Marsh

A flock of around 10 Ruff arrived at BGM this lunchtime.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 2:10 pm by Nick Potter in General Birding

Fremington Pill / River Taw

Penhill Marsh/Point. 2 Cattle Egrets , 1 Peregrine , 1 Sparrowhawk & 3 Wheatears . 

Fremington Pill. 1 Glossy Ibis , 1 Kestrel & 1 Curlew Sandpiper.

Posted October 2nd, 2017 at 11:41 am by David Paterson in General Birding

Sunday 1st October 2017

Teign Estuary

A juvenile Little Stint was at Passage House this evening. Also present a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, a White Wagtail and at least 15 Greenshanks.

Posted October 1st, 2017 at 9:58 pm by Will Salmon in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Berry Head

Sea-watch, 0740 to 0940. Of note: 5 Arctic Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua, 5 Skua spp (distant, presumed mostly Arctic), 1 Great Skua, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and 1 Sandwich Tern.

Posted October 1st, 2017 at 9:04 pm by Andy Smith in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Bowling Green Marsh and Goosemoor

BGM Hide - wigeon, black-tailed godwit, little grebe, mallard, lapwing, teal, mute swan, canada goose, shoveler, pied wagtail, wood pigeon, moorhen, coot, pintail, ruff, buzzard, starling, grey wagtail, crow/rook, cormorant, black-headed gull and grey heron.

Viewing Platform - redshank, curlew, crow/rook, black-headed gull and cormorant.

Goosemoor - black-headed gull, curlew, little egret and little grebe.

Posted October 1st, 2017 at 7:49 pm by Samuel Gray in General Birding

south hams

Sat 30th Sept - Decided to have a quick run out after the rain threatened  to ease in Plymouth after a Humming Bird Hawk Moth was on the wing in the garden. Nice Juvenile Wheatear at South Huish in almost Isabelline  pose, and several swallows heading west over Slapton after the morning showers had passed. 19 restless Common Scoter off the shore with some Gannets feeding close in and the Yellow Horned poppies looked refreshed after the rain.       

Juvenile Wheatear, S milton sands    Common Scoter    Yellow Horned poppy
Juvenile Wheatear, S milton sands                Common Scoter                                    Yellow Horned poppy

Posted October 1st, 2017 at 11:27 am by Simon Kidd in General Birding

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