Devon Bird Sightings: Bird News from 15th–21st December 2017

Coronavirus - Devon Birds bird hides

During the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak the use of Devon Birds bird hides should be in line with Government guidelines to individuals on how to protect themselves.

Please follow NHS guidelines:

Thank you for your co-operation and stay safe.

Posted August 25th at 9:58 am by Mike Daniels in Bird News

Changes to Devon Bird Sightings

This page was initially set up to give a concise news summary of birds of interest seen in Devon. Anyone noting interesting species, passage and counts could post the details to inform other birders what was going on around the county. Photos could also be added for interest and to enliven the posts. It was accepted that because other wildlife was of interest, this would also appear especially when included in a birding post.

However, in the last year, more posts have been appearing purely on subjects other than birds. Whilst of interest to some observers, this is detracting from the aim of the pages, i.e. principally bird sightings.

Devon Birds has therefore taken the decision to require contributors of other wildlife to post this in the Other Wildlife subject. However it’s accepted that occasional, exceptional, other wildlife seen during a birding outing justifies inclusion in the bird sightings post. This should, however, be a minor part of the post.

Photos are often appearing as a gallery, or even acting as a personal photo blog, rather than of county-wide sightings of interest. Devon Birds has a Gallery which members and other birders are welcome to submit their often stunning photos to, for others to see. Many of these photos need not then appear on this page. From now on, only two photos per post will be accepted to help keep posts more concise.

Devon Birds very much welcomes posts that already meet these criteria and those that will continue to do so. It would also be great to widen the input from keen birders who currently don’t contribute, including some old friends who have dropped out. Hopefully the changes will encourage wider participation, so if you look at the site but don’t post, please consider doing so.

Our aim is to provide a concise daily news summary of bird sightings around Devon, and these changes should fulfil this goal.

Below is a summary of the changes:

  • Bird News (bird sightings of interest, with added occasional other wildlife) will be the default subject when visitors arrive at this page.
  • Other Wildlife posts therefore won’t initially be shown unless visitors click Other Wildlife under Subjects on the right-hand side.
  • Only two photos can now be submitted per post.
  • General bird photos should be posted in our Gallery please.
  • Co-authors should now only use the Submit a Blog Post form, to ensure a more consistent format for posts.

Posted August 21st at 3:53 pm in Bird News

2019 Descriptions - last call

The deadline for the 2019 Bird Report is rapidly approaching. If you found (or saw) any of these birds please could you submit a description to to ensure your records are published. Many thanks. 

Alpine Swift, Dawlish 11 Jun  Long-tailed Skua, Dawlish Warren 11 Oct
Barred Warbler, Thurlestone 30 Aug Purple Heron, Slapton Ley 07 May
Caspian Gull, Thurlestone, 08 Feb Sabine's Gull, Thurlestone 14 Aug
Caspian Gull, Topsham 02 Aug Serin (2), Harrowbeer 19 Apr
Cory's Shearwater, Berry Head 19 Jul Tree Sparrow (2), Berry Head 20 Mar
Hooded Crow, Baggy Point 10 May  


Posted May 2nd at 3:27 pm by Kevin Rylands in Bird News


If you follow our Blog but are not currently a member of Devon Birds please consider joining Devon Birds to help 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 in Bird News

Thursday 21st December 2017

South Huish Marsh

Late afternoon, of note: 1 Spoonbill and 1 Water Pipit.

Posted December 21st, 2017 at 8:39 pm by Andy Smith in Bird News

B3186 Yealmpton/ Noss Mayo

Black Kite over B3186 at Naton Hall turn. Shallow fiorked tail very dark body and wings. Seen on a number of occasions in this area by others. confirmation of i/d would be appreciated. This individual has been around for a number of weeks in the Naton Hall area.

Noss Mayo Blackcap.m. at feeders, Greenshank, Redshank in creek.

Posted December 21st, 2017 at 6:31 pm by Jeremy Spooner in Bird News

Northam Burrows

After an uneventful walk around the seaward edge of the Burrows, I tried the rough area between Appledore Gate and Northam Gate. Here there were 3 Common Snipe and 1 Jack Snipe. The latter were previously regular here in winter, but I had not seen one at this site for the last two years. It was also a surprise to see a Spotted Redshank showing well in the watercourse just west of Appledore Bridge.

Posted December 21st, 2017 at 3:42 pm by Roger Doble in Bird News

Velator Quay

Female Marsh Harrier seen at 10.30 am, drifted off over the boundary of Chivenor RMB

Posted December 21st, 2017 at 12:23 pm by Alan Denzey in Bird News

Wednesday 20th December 2017

Cockwood, Haldon, Ludwell, Exminster - 20/12/17

Cockwood this morning: 300 Brents (2 pale bellies), 2 Greenshank, Red throated diver, 4 Red breasted merganser...

Haldon forest: 12+ Hawfinch by pylon ride, also 2 Male Common crossbill...

Ludwell valley: 2 Dipper, 300+ Redwing (on playing fields)...

Exminster marshes RSPB this eve: Raven, Peregrine, Ruff, Jack snipe, 42 Snipe, 1800+ Eurasian wigeon, 800+ Teal, 12 Pintail...

Posted December 20th, 2017 at 6:08 pm by Nick Patel in Bird News


Hundreds of dunlin, oystercatcher, redshank, lapwings, curlew, 5 bar-tailed godwits (no black-tailed), 3 knot, 50+ grey plover, 300+ golden plover, 70+ Brent geese, wigeon, teal, 12 pintail (2m, 10f) and shelduck.

Posted December 20th, 2017 at 4:24 pm by Benjamin Rousseau in Bird News


5 Spoonbill incl 1 juv and the ringed adult GYG/BML off Isley Marsh. Cetti's Warbler singing there. Among Wigeon flock 1 drake Shoveller and 1 drake Pintail.

Posted December 20th, 2017 at 12:35 pm by Lowell Mills in Bird News

Tuesday 19th December 2017

Bearded Tits at Goosmoor

Just to add to Nick's earlier post. The 4 Bearded Tits showed well all afternoon but was nearly taken by a Sparrowhawk which landed on fence post just behind near the Clyst river bank..

Bearded Tit Bearded Tit Sparrowhawk
Bearded Tit                         Bearded Tit                                Sparrowhawk

Posted December 19th, 2017 at 6:42 pm by David Boult in Bird News


4 Bearded Tits showing from the sheltered screen at Goosemoor this lunchtime - 2 males and 2 females. Also a Water Rail and 3+ Reed Buntings.

Posted December 19th, 2017 at 4:18 pm by Nick Potter in Bird News


A pair of dippers feeding together on the weir pools just upstream of the mill, late morning.

Posted December 19th, 2017 at 2:04 pm by Chris Proctor in Bird News


2 Firecrest still around the willows between the two car parks also 4 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaffs. 19 Cirl Buntings on seed in the 2nd car park.

On the sea: 1 Black-necked Grebe, 9 Great Creseted Grebes, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 9 Common Scoter.

Posted December 19th, 2017 at 10:22 am by Mike Langman in Bird News

Monday 18th December 2017

Late News, Goosemoor. Bearded Tits.16th Dec 2017

Showing well in scope from third viewing section coming in under railway bridge, pics heavily cropped

Female  Male
                Female                                                                              Male

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 9:52 pm by Barry Rankine in Bird News

Bearded Tits Goosemoor

Just to add to Terry's earlier post. Had 4 Bearded Tits in the scope mid afternoon from the same location and still showing when I left in the dark.

Some video best watched in HD:

Bearded Tit Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 7:58 pm by David Boult in Bird News


There were three Firecrests and several Chiffchaffs at the edge of the car park this morning. Offshore, at least 10 Fulmars. Earlier, nine Purple Sandpipers on the jetty off Brixham Breakwater.

Firecrest at Broadsands

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 7:47 pm by Dave Smallshire in Bird News


A male Common Crossbill, Siskin and 2 Green Woodpeckers at Belliver. Two Woodcocks and a Siskin at Soussons.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 5:35 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News

Coombe Cellars, Teign Estuary

1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Greenshank as well as the usual Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Cormorant and gulls.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 5:31 pm by roger duggleby in Bird News

Partially leucistic Canada Goose?

This partially leucistic bird was in amongst the Canada Geese on Exminster Marsh on Sunday. Aside from the obvious leucism, the bird seemed overall smaller than the others, with a shorter neck and slightly darker upper breast feathers.

Canada Geese, Exminster
Canada Geese, Exminster

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 4:40 pm by Mike Sampson in Bird News

Tarka Trail - Green Sandpiper

Walked the Tarka Trail between Bideford and Torrington this morning, with little of note - except that on the way back to Bidefor, just after crossing the old railway bridge over the Torridge, my dog (a GSP) pointed a bird in one of the side channels on the trail.  This turned out to be a very nice adult Green Sandpiper, busily feeding and apparently not bothered by the proximity of my dog (about 10mtrs away). Great views- and another nice Devon "first" for me!  I passed a guy with a very long lens attached to his camera about 30 minutes before I saw the bird, so he may send in some nice pics.   

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 2:08 pm by Tony Mercer in Bird News


Bearded Tits (or Reedlings if you prefer) (one male) were showing reasonably well at 1315hrs from the viewing screen nearest to the Exe Trail bridge over the River Clyst. They were in the far reedbed on the nearest edge.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 2:06 pm by Terry Smith in Bird News

Southdown Farm, Bolberry

Peak counts were 2 Snipe, 12 Stock Dove, 475 Skylark, 24 Meadow Pipit, 16 Song Thrush, 120 House Sparrow, 80 Chaffinch, 210 Linnet, 28 Yellowhammer, 33 Cirl Bunting & 5 Reed Bunting.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 2:03 pm by Rob Macklin in Bird News


Maybe the same birds I saw yesterday, but at least 4 Siskins in the reserve this morning. Also a Kingfisher again and both Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler calling. Good to see a Goldcrest is surviving the cooler weather. 3 Reed Buntings coming to seed.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 1:40 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

South Hams Hawfinch

South Huish marsh surprisingly empty of birds overall, reasonable number of Wigeon, two Black Tailed Godwit, mix of Rock and Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Wren, Greenfinch, a single Lapwing, two Oyster Catchers, Herring Gull and Black Headed Gull , six Canadian Geese flew over, on leaving a female Sparrow Hawk.

Aveton Gifford tidal road Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret, Heron, Kingfisher, and a reasonable number of gulls.

High light of the trip was at the entrance to Stockadon farm between California Cross and Aveton Gifford where a single Hawfinch was seen amongst a flock of Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit, also Redwing, Song Thrush and Yellow Hammer in the nearby hedgerows, on the way back the Hawfinch was seen again very briefly but neither sighting gave us time to catch it on camera

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 12:44 pm by Steve Hopper in Bird News


Red-necked Grebe again off Preston,  also in bay 2 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Great Northern Divers, 24 Common Scoter, 2 Tufted Ducks, 1 Teal and 14 Great Crested Grebes. Some distant Dolphins (about 8) out in bay - I guess the Common Dolphin that have been seen over the weekend.

Posted December 18th, 2017 at 10:00 am by Mike Langman in Bird News

Sunday 17th December 2017


Firecrest in the garden this morning. 

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 10:24 pm by Gerry Hooper in Bird News


Half a dozen Siskins in Alders along the Tarka Trail near Tesco this morning. In the reserve a Kingfisher again (still catching Sticklebacks) and a Tawny Owl with an accompanying band of mobbing Chaffinches.

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 7:58 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News


Half a dozen Siskins in Alders along the Tarka Trail near Tesco this morning. In the reserve a Kingfisher again (still catching Sticklebacks) and a Tawny Owl with an accompanying band of mobbing Chaffinches.

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 7:58 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

Stover Park - 17/12/17

10.00AM... 22 Goosander, Great crested grebe, 3 Marsh tit...

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 7:54 pm by Nick Patel in Bird News

Haldon Hawfinch

Down to one bird but the sun came out for it

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 6:29 pm by John Deakins in Bird News

Avian Flu

This is the latest advice for reporting possible incidents of avian flu. 

Please report any incidents directly to DEFRA. The virus has not yet been reported in the UK and the risk level for an incursion in wild birds remains as medium for now. However in light of the outbreaks in Europe, birders should remain vigilant for dead birds and report these where required. Please call the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Current advice on the DEFRA website states that they require reports of any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), gulls or birds of prey. For all other species, please only report if five or more are found in the same place. Helpline staff will advise on whether or not they wish to collect the birds for further testing. Members of the public are advised not to touch sick or dead wild birds.  Only touch sick or dead birds if absolutely necessary and one must wear protective gloves if doing so. 

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 5:50 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News


Firecrest in Lipson today.

Yesterday, the Plym Estuary produced: Dipper, 2 Kingfishers, a pair of Goosanders, 2 Grey Wagtails, Common Sandpiper and 5 Little Grebes. The majority of these were showing well around Weighbridge Cottage.

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 5:37 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News

West Hoe Plymouth

Lesser Whitethroat (at 11:00 south entrance to West Hoe Park, feeding in Palm near info' sign), Great Northern Diver (distant to the west from rusty anchour), Turnstones (12), Song Thrush, Oystercatcher(2)

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 5:16 pm by Colin & Joyce Hannaford in Bird News

Torbay boat trip

Here's a couple of pics from todays trip around Torbay with Nigel.

Black-necked Grebe Great Northern Diver
Black-necked Grebe                           Great Northern Diver

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 5:15 pm by Simon Thurgood in Bird News

Slapton Ley

2 male pochards amongst the Tufted Ducksat the entrance to Ireland bay at 3.00 and a single male Goosander from Torcross car park at $.00

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 4:28 pm by Jeff Hacon in Bird News

Finlake and Stover Goosanders

Five Goosanders flew out from Finlake in the direction of Stover this morning. By mid-afternoon, there were 27 Goosanders (10 drakes) at Stover - the most ever recorded there.  Also three Snipe and a Great Crested Grebe.

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 4:00 pm by Dave Smallshire in Bird News

Torbay Boat Trip

Boat trip out of Brixham this morning started with 6 Grey Seals by the Marina. Only 2 Purple Sandpiper seen by the Breakwater. A further 2 seals seen as we progressed around the Bay. Elberry Cove and  Broadsands area we sighted 3 Black-necked Grebe, 11 + Great Crested Grebe, 3 Great Northern Diver. Other birds seen in this general area are 17 Common Scoter, 3 Kittiwake, some Gannets, 1 Common Gull and on the foreshore 12 + Grey Heron. Nice and calm in the Bay. Still places available for Saturday 23rd December, if interested email

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 1:42 pm by Nigel Smallbones in Bird News


Single Hawfinch, siskins and a group of goldcrests 

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 1:12 pm by John Deakins in Bird News

Slapton Ley

A black necked grebe on the sea at the middle carpark quite close in, Firecrest in the bushes near the little bridge. From the bridge sparrowhawk and a kingfisher.

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 1:07 pm by Richard Moore in Bird News


1firecrest in garden 

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 12:16 pm by Gerry Hooper in Bird News

Peregrine hunting on Horsey Island

Caught this pic whilst photographing Teal recently

Peregrine  Horsey Island
Peregrine Horsey Island

Posted December 17th, 2017 at 6:54 am by Andy Leat in Bird News

Saturday 16th December 2017

Haldon Forest

At least three brambling. Single Hawfinch, goldcrest and long tailed tits all around.

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 8:06 pm by Stephen Turner in Bird News

East Budleigh

The Italian type Sparrow still present in East Budleigh today and still visiting the feeders as per November post:
Interesting to see the bill has blackened since I last saw it in November.

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 4:48 pm by Chris Townend in Bird News

Stover Park

Goosander count now up to 22 this morning

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 3:18 pm by Lloyd Gray in Bird News

Lower Tamar Lake

An early morning look at the Lower Lake.

3 Little Egret, 5 Grey Heron. 2 Cormorant, 30 Goosander 11m 19f, 12 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Willow Tit, 3 Marsh Tit, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Greenfinch.

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 2:35 pm by Rod Mudge in Bird News

Plympton and Portworthy

North Plympton: One firecrest in the garden again this morning. Also one goldcrest and the first great spotted woodpecker of the winter in the garden. 

Portworthy: One red crested pochard, 42 teal, 3 wigeon, 4 tufted duck, 1f gadwall and 1 little grebe. 

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 2:15 pm by Chris E in Bird News


A splendid Firecrest by the Tarka Trail where it joins Station Road on  my way to the reserve this morning. Nought of note on the scrape, but Kingfisher, Chiffchaff and a few Reed Buntings in the reserve. Also a pile of feathers which looked to me like another Water Rail has paid the price. 3 Mallard (2m 1f) prospecting for nesting sites?

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 1:28 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

St. Thomas churchyard - 16/12/17

1 female Hawfinch in the back limes at lunchtime, showing nicely albeit briefly... Also Greenfinch, 8 Redwing, Fieldfare, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Mistle thrush and 2 Song thrush

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 1:14 pm by nick patel in Bird News

St Thomas Hawfinch

One male Hawfinch in the St Thomas Churchyard (Cowick Street) briefly this morning at about 11am. Also numerous Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Redwing, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Goldcrest

Hawfinch  Hawfinch
Hawfinch                 Hawfinch

Posted December 16th, 2017 at 12:40 pm by Mike Sampson in Bird News

Friday 15th December 2017


2 Hawfinch in garden in Butterleigh, Cullompton this morning

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 10:53 pm by Richard Holmes in Bird News

Plym Estuary & Saltram

2 Kingfishers (m on River Plym near sewage tower, f on River Plym near Macdonalds),M & F Goosanders on Plym, Curlews (Blaxton's Meadow), Oystercatchers (Blaxton Meadow)

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 8:03 pm by Michael Spencer in Bird News


At least 4 Bearded Tits on the reeds far side of the pool from the shelter near the railway cycle bridge this afternoon.

Bearded Tit Bearded Tit Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit


Posted December 15th, 2017 at 7:44 pm by David Boult in Bird News


2 Bearded Tits were present at about 10am, feeding on the reeds immediately to the right of the first viewing screen.  Unfortunately they flew withing a couple of minutes and appeared to go over to the far back of the reed beds where the Clyst is flowing towards the bridges.

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 6:29 pm by Rupert Ormerod in Bird News


A Firecrest and drake Teal at Efford Marsh this afternoon and 23 Turnstones on the Plym Estuary. Also a Stonechat on Blagdon's Meadow, the first one I've seen here for some time. 

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 5:21 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News

Plymouth Sound

Kayak trip round Plymouth Sound

1 Knot

2 Purple Sandpiper

1 Common Sandpiper

3 Black Redstart (Plymouth Ho)

Purple Sandpiper Purple Sandpiper and Knot
Purple Sandpiper                                      Purple Sandpiper and Knot

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 5:04 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Bird News


Out on the scrape a lone Redshank and also 1 Black-tailed Godwit - which looked as if was injured. In the reserve Goldcrest, Kingfisher and cracking views of a Water Rail calling, bathing and feeding.

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 4:52 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

Underwood, Plympton

The Firecrest zipped in and out of the garden again briefly, probably attracted by the calls of a group of five Long-tailed Tits.

Posted December 15th, 2017 at 12:36 pm by Jason Smart in Bird News

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