Devon Bird Sightings from 8th–14th December 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

Thursday 14th December 2017

Goosemoor RSPB - 14/12/17

6 bearded tit (inc. at least 2 Males) at 10.00AM, showing very well in reedbed closest to the River Clyst (heard in same place 08/12/17)... also 6 Greenshank, 34 Snipe, 7 Avocet, Kingfisher, 3 Cetti's warbler, 7 Water rail...

Posted December 14th, 2017 at 5:53 pm by Nick Patel in General Birding

River Taw, Sticklepath

Male Goosander with 5 shelduck and 6 mallard in River Taw, near Sticklepath at 3pm. 

Posted December 14th, 2017 at 5:43 pm by Paul Bearman in General Birding


Looking toward Goodrington from Broadsands produced the following: 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 19 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 13 Common Scoter. Over toward Paignton 800+ Gannets diving and on Harbour Porpoise.

In the Marsh at Broadsands 1 Firecrest 2 Chiffchaff & 1 Water Rail.

Posted December 14th, 2017 at 12:05 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


What a terrific morning on Marine Parade, Preston, Paignton, cold but full of surprises. A huge flock pof gannet feeding out in the bay  on anchovy's? same as last year, one unknown shearwater diving among them, also one great northern diver and an unknown grebe which I'm sure someone will be able to identify as well as another unknown bird flying overhead. Top cap it all there were also two seals just off the shore plus about 8 or 10 oyster cathchers and the same number of turnstones feeding around my feet. Just goes to show you don't have to travel far for excitement.

Posted December 14th, 2017 at 11:17 am by Philip L. Fairclough in General Birding


In the garden in Exmouth parakeet feeding on nut feeder 9.45 am Thurs 14th December,  not seen one in 20 years in exmouth

Posted December 14th, 2017 at 10:25 am by david in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Wednesday 13th December 2017


1 Firecrest, Bossell Park, Buckfastleigh this afternoon; in the same small maple tree as last week's Yellow-browed Warbler.

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 9:13 pm by Andy Smith in General Birding


Must be spring - Great Tits have been calling the last few days' although I didn't see any today. Cetti's  Warbler calling too. A Kingfisher has been in the reserve the last couple of days. Out on the scrape today a Shelduck a Water Pipit and a Greenshank. No Godwits.

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 8:03 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Plym Estuary

On the pool at high tide - 54 Curlews, 8 Oystercatchjers, 3 Greenshanks & c130 Redshanks. On the estuary, Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, 20 Grey Herons and c100 Dunlins.

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 6:21 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Stover Country Park

17 Goosanders - 7 male and 10 female types this lunchtime. 1 male Tufted Duck. 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 1:35 pm by Nick Potter in General Birding

Paignton Zoo

I met up with Simon Tonge in Paignton Zoo this morning to look for a Yellow-browed Warbler that has been present on the Howler Monkey Island and lakes around the area since Friday last week. The bird showed very well after about 30 mins - but no calls. Apparently it has been calling in the mornings and evenings. The island is opposite the hot houses and restaurant just over the board walk as you exit the shop and entrance.  

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 9:50 am by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Fulham lake ivybridge

Eight female goosanders together  this morning at 0.800.

Posted December 13th, 2017 at 8:23 am by Patrick hawkins in General Birding

Tuesday 12th December 2017

Cowick Street Hawfinches

Two Hawfinch in tree tops for half an hour in St Thomas Churchyard on Cowick Street, Exeter. Also 9 Greenfinch, 8 Redwing & a few Chaffinch 

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 6:12 pm by Steve Cox in General Birding


Feeding on sunflower hearts in our Stoke Rivers garden.

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 6:02 pm by Karen Sims & John Towers in General Birding

Woodbury Common

A flock of well over a hundred Reed Bunting a few hundred yards north of Woodbury Castle at midday. 

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 5:25 pm by David McKeown in General Birding


From Oyster Cove, 10 Common Scoter. From Preston Seafront 13 Great Crested Grebe in a raft, snoozing, 2 Great Northern Divers hunting very close to shore, 20+ Gannet, 8 Razorbiills, one of which was nearly all white with just black head markings. Unusual. Very good flat sea today.

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 4:13 pm by Steph Murphy in General Birding

Great Haldon

Just one Hawfinch visible at the top of the pylon ride this morning, close to the Belvedere to Trusham road. Later, 25 Crossbills feeding in larches and pines near the first gateway on the right down the Chudleigh road. I checked calls and as many of the feeding birds as possible through the scope, but sadly none of them sounded or looked like Parrot Crossbills! One immature male (see below) had faint pale wing bars.

Male Hawfinch  Common Crossbill immature male, with pale wing bars

Male Hawfinch                                                     Immature male Common Crossbill with pale wing bars

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 2:11 pm by Dave Smallshire in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Southdown Farm, Bolberry

Good numbers today highlight being 63 Yellowhammer. Also: 4 Snipe, Sparrowhawk, 230 Woodpigeon, 440 Skylark, 17 Song Thrush, 160 Rook, 93 House Sparrow, 200 Linnet & 4 Reed Bunting.

Posted December 12th, 2017 at 2:06 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Monday 11th December 2017

Redwings and fieldfare at River Yeo fields, Crediton.

On the River Yeo walk at Crediton between Fordton and Salmonhutch: 2 goldfinch charms, lots of blue tits. Very close views of c.30 redwings along the length of lane between railway crossing at Great-Parks Farm, Fordton and the first river field aka: Bullmarsh field (SX 83490 99200). Some redwing and 2 fieldfare were spotted along with blackbirds feeding in the fields north side of path by River Yeo (SX 83150 99105).

Posted December 11th, 2017 at 6:20 pm by Andrew Head in General Birding

Escot Park, Talaton, East Devon

10 members attended the last of our East Devon Branch field meetings this year and 20 later sat down to Christmas lunch.  In spite of the cold and poor light a good number of birds were found. Highlights being c300 Golden Plover and c130 Lapwing in the fields near the A30, (south east of Escot, a traditional area for these species).  Redwings were present in hundreds and a lesser number of Fieldfare in The Orchard.  A distant raptor was believed to be a  Peregrine and 3 Stock Dove flew over.

Geoff Green, our Branch Chairman wished everyone a Happy Christmas and on behalf of Geoff and the Branch Committee, could I thank everyone for supporting our Branch in 2017.  The 2018 Programme of fieldtrips and other events is now to be found on the Devon Birds website if you go to 'News' > Branch Events.

Happy Christmas from me also. 

Posted December 11th, 2017 at 4:18 pm by Jonathan Ruscoe in General Birding

Clennon Lakes

One of the Siberian Chiffchaffs is still around today present on the stream down below the lower lake, at least 9 'collybita' Chiffchafs also present, 1 Firecrest and 6 Goldcrest. 

Posted December 11th, 2017 at 3:39 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Winkleigh (Sports Centre)

6 Brambling feeding with 4 chaffinch on leaf litter 08.15, on verge immediately on left as you come out of sports centre onto the main road.

Posted December 11th, 2017 at 8:27 am by Lowell Mills in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Sunday 10th December 2017

Exminster Marshes

The marshes were impressive, especially for waders, over this morning's high tide, probably including some refugees from Dawlish Warren, where the strong winds must have made it an unpleasant place to roost. There were 60-65 Grey Plover, c25 Bar-tailed Godwits and 12 Knot - I think the first Knot I've ever seen here. James Diamond had counted over 1000 Black-tailed Godwits and 500 Dunlin, plus there were lots of Lapwings, a few Golden Plover, dozens of Redshanks and Curlews and a single Ruff (which was also present last Wednesday). c30 Pintail was a good total for the marshes (the estuary towards Lympstone must have been very choppy today). Brent Geese were up to c300. Not surprisingly, small birds were keeping low, though 2 Cetti's Warblers showed themselves briefly.

Posted December 10th, 2017 at 5:55 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Plym Estuary & Saltram

2 Jack Snipe, 2 Snipe, 7 Oystercatchers, 110+ Dunlins, 27 Shelducks, 4 Greenshanks and a Green Woodpecker. 

Posted December 10th, 2017 at 4:19 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


Doing WEBS survey on River Dart this morning, there was a Spoonbill with the Herons on the beach on opposite bank to the entrance of Bow Creek. 

Spoonbill Dart Est 101217 KDr

Posted December 10th, 2017 at 12:07 pm by Kay and Gary Deare in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Saturday 9th December 2017

Firecrest Plymouth

Firecrest seen in the Richer Sounds car park, Exeter Street.11a.m.

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 6:42 pm by Stephen Turner in General Birding

Haldon Crossbills

Seen in trees just south of the "Go Ape" zip wires. 6 seen reports from other birders were of up to 30.

Video -

Common Crossbill Common Crossbill 

Common Crossbill                                              Common Crossbill

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 5:44 pm by Martin Rooney in General Birding


One firecrest in the garden this morning. Two were seen on 30/11. One on the 26/11 and two on the 25/11. 

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 5:27 pm by Chris E in General Birding

Plym Estuary

A pair of Goosanders at the top end early afternoon plus 3 Little Grebes. Also 3 Goldcrests.

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 5:01 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

09-12-17 Black Redstart (Female) Ford Park Cemetery

After a 2 hour search in the cemetery and just about to give up, the Female Black Redstart showed very well for about half an hour then disappeared again, no signs of the Male. No Redwings and a few Gold crests amongst the usual Tits ect.


Posted December 9th, 2017 at 3:17 pm by Greg Bradbury in General Birding

Morning in the garden.

As Christmas is coming and it's so mild,I cut the grass in the garden today,  plenty of birds, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits Marillow tits ( not sure. Which) as my identity skills are not that finely honed.chaffinch,greenfinch, goldfinch, dunnock, wren, Robins,  mistle thrush and best of all for me 3 female bullfinch and singular male pheasant and woodpidgeon.

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 2:00 pm by Philip worth in General Birding


From Broadsands: 1 Red-necked Grebe (flushed by the Brixham rowing boat which went in close to Elberry Cove, the grebe headed back toward Preston), 3 Black-necked Grebes, 13 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Black-throated Divers (between Goodrington and Broadsands), 1 Red-throated Diver (Goodrington), 13 Common Scoter (off Roundham Head), 8 Shelduck, at least 12 Great Northern Divers in Torbay at the moment mostly between Goodrington and Broadsands.

Also at Broadsands in the 2nd car park 21 Cirl Buntings on seed, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Firecrest, & 3 Chiffchaff. 

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 11:57 am by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Uphams plantation Woodbury Common

Both myself and Matt have been keeping an eye on the Crossbills on Woodbury and Bicton Commons for a few weeks. We have both noted some deeper sounding calls but have only had fly over sightings or sightings of common Crossbill. However yesterday I finally came across 6 perched on a tree top and was instantly drawn to a female that looked to have a larger head. The views were distant so I slowly edged nearer. Got to a point that I knew I could have good views. Scanned with bins first and noted the larger lower mandible too. So set my scope up and was able to get a positive ID as a Parrot Crossbill. I don’t own a camera so was just putting my phone up to the scope and they flew. The area in question is the Uphams plantation. This is located as follows. From Four firs cross to Yettington road. The second car park on the left (the first one is for the model airplane area). Once in the car park head north and the plantation is just after you go down and up a dip in the path. The birds were on the first fir tree on the plantation you come to and flew towards the aircraft car park.

Posted December 9th, 2017 at 10:54 am by Spencer Dicks in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Friday 8th December 2017

Noss Mayo

Blackcap.m. and Goldcrest in the garden both enjoying the fat blocks.

In the creek Greenshank and Redshank.

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 5:37 pm by Jeremy Spooner in General Birding

Cook worthy Forest

A walk around this underwatched part of NE Devon this afternoon produced 8+ Crossbill, feeding on a very good crop of cones.

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 5:16 pm by Roger Doble in General Birding

Upper and Lower Tamar Lake

Upper Tamar Lake this morning,
1 Little Egret, 1m Goosander, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Snipe, 2 Redwing,, c150 Canada Geese.

Lower Tamar Lake,
9 Goosander 6m 3f, 9 Tufted Duck, 10 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Cormorant.

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 4:39 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Plym Estuary

Back to reality after India - quite a few birds on the pool at high tide. Wigeon 6, Common Sandpiper 2, Kingfisher, Redshank c130, Dunlin 30+, Curlew 52, Greenshank 4, Little Grebe 6, Grey Heron 14 and female Red-crested Pochard.

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 4:12 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Kingsteignton Thursday AM

Approximately thirty redwings and one fieldfare feeding on hawthorn berries on cyclepath between racecourse and railway line. Plus good views of kingfisher from canal bridge.

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 9:23 am by Patrick Case in General Birding

Fremington Quay

1Spoonbill at the mouth of Fremington Pill at 4pm.  5 Little Egrets flew over the Pill. 

Posted December 8th, 2017 at 8:30 am by Paul Bearman in General Birding

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