Devon Bird Sightings from 15th–21st December 2018

2019 Descriptions still outstanding

Many thanks to all observers that submitted their records for 2019. However there are still a number of records that require descriptions before they can appear in the Bird Report.

If you were fortunate enough to find (or see) any of these birds below please could you submit a description to the County Recorder Many thanks, stay safe.

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, Topsham 02 Aug Sabine's Gull, Thurlestone 14 Aug
Cory's Shearwater, Berry Head 19 Jul Serin (2), Harrowbeer 19 Apr
Glossy Ibis, Otter Est 11-13 Mar Tree Sparrow (2), Berry Head 20 Mar
Hooded Crow, Baggy Point 10 May  


Posted May 2nd at 3:27 pm by Kevin Rylands in General Birding

Coronavirus update - Daily exercise and Bird Hides

Please be aware that in line with Government guidelines on non-essential travel and social distancing, the Devon Birds hides at Beesands, Fernworthy and Roadford, in addition to hides elsewhere in the County including Bowling Green Marsh, Dawlish Warren and Seaton Wetlands are closed until further notice. Whilst some people may be fortunate enough to be within walking/cycling distance of these sites, others should not be making special journeys to visit these areas at this time. Thank you for your co-operation and stay safe.

Please follow NHS guidelines:

Posted April 16th at 12:04 pm by Mike Daniels in General Birding

Sightings page guidelines & rare breeding bird posting restrictions

We welcome contributions from Devon Birds members and the general public. Please follow the guidelines on this page if you have something to post on the blog, remembering to use the relevant subject.

Please post responsibly, never post details of rare breeding, or winter roosts of vulnerable, species. If you are unsure of what to - or not - to post, there are guidelines on the restrictions  here.

Please note:-

1. That Wood Warbler in probable breeding areas should also not now be published

2.  Posts which breach these guidelines may not be published at all. Editors do this job on a voluntary basis and cannot commit to editing out rare breeding bird information in posts which which include wider sightings. Please help us to avoid the need to delete or not admit posts. Thanks.

For help with ID email photos to

Posted January 8th at 9:12 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


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 General Birding

Friday 21st December 2018

Med gull at Broadsands

Ist winter Med Gull on the rocks from Broadsands today. Also Black-Necked Grebe and many Great-Northern Divers in bay and towards Brixham, and two Chiffchaff and a male and female Blackcap in the first car-park. The Surf Scoter and Common Scoters were seen heading towards Broadsands from Goodrington mid-afternoon.

Posted December 21st, 2018 at 5:08 pm by Mark Brandon in General Birding


An early morning look from Goodrington. Surf Scotor 1st wint, Common Scoter 4, Red-throated Diver 1, Great Northern Diver 2, Shelduck 7 & Great Crested Grebe 48.


Posted December 21st, 2018 at 4:46 pm by Steve Cox in General Birding

scaup at Fremington Pill

The scaup is still at Fremington Pill - seen on this afternoon's incoming tide.


Posted December 21st, 2018 at 3:56 pm by Colin Dracott in General Birding


Water Rails in the flooded area to the left of the hide.Arlington woodland.

Water Rail   both rails poor photo
Water Rail                                      both rails poor photo

Posted December 21st, 2018 at 3:37 pm by john elvin in General Birding


At Broadsands today the Surf Scoter could be picked out at distance with 4 Common Scoter, also 1 Red-throated Diver and 3 Great Northerns off Broadsands beach. The Yellow-browed Warbler and 3 collybita Chiffchaffs were in the marsh at the back of the 1st car park.

Over at Preston/Paignton the 3 Eider reported below were feeding off shore.

Posted December 21st, 2018 at 2:46 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Northern visitors at Marine Parade

Three GND's fishing and minding their own business till the gulls spotted how successful they were being and started mobbing them. I assume the dark bird is a female but could find no reference to plumage in Hamlyn?


Eds: These are Eiders Philip - a good record in recent years in Torbay -  I'm on my way to see them now!

Posted December 21st, 2018 at 11:33 am by pHILIP l. FAIRCLOUGH in General Birding

Thursday 20th December 2018

Mediterranean Gulls, Marine Parade, Paignton

Two Mediterranean Gulls at Marine Parade, Preston, Paignton this morning.

Twenty two Turnstone, Little Egret, Oyster Catcher, Pied Wagtail and four Great Crested Grebe well out at sea.


Posted December 20th, 2018 at 3:51 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

Teignmouth Pier

Still a Great Northern Diver and a 1W Little Gull near the pier this lunchtime.

Posted December 20th, 2018 at 3:04 pm by Simon Bates in General Birding

Red Necked Grebe

Elberry Cove Broadsands

1 Red Necked Grebe and 2 Black Necked Grebe close to the shoreline this morning together with good number of Great Northern Divers scatted around the bay.. 

Posted December 20th, 2018 at 3:02 pm by Roy Adams in General Birding


Not a full count this morning but from Broadsands Beach seawall  5 GND, 30+ Great Crested Grebes, Surf Scoter and 4 Common Scoter. The Yellow-browed Warbler was again in the back of the 1st car park and 3 collybita Chiffchaffs too.

In Youngs park, conservation area, Goodrington 1 Firecrest, 1 Goldcrest and 1 collybita Chiffchaff.

Posted December 20th, 2018 at 2:28 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Wednesday 19th December 2018

Plym Estuary & Saltram

Treecreeper (only my second of the year here), Firecrest (now probably 5 wintering on the patch), Jack Snipe, Snipe 2, Shag 2, Little Grebe 3+, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring-necked Parakeet, Dunlin 148, Black-tailed Godwit, Wigeon 9 & Oystercatcher 9.

Posted December 19th, 2018 at 9:25 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Northbrook, - Salmon Pool

A quick pre-dentist visit this afternoon - usual Green Sands and (possibly) two pairs of Dipper (one pair near Lethbridge Road and the others nearer Topsham Road). A Little Egret on the flooded pitch and putt course and a lone Redshank on the similarly flooded Duckes Marsh Playing Fields.  A Treecreeper near Salmon Pool was the first I've seen there for over a year and was the highlight.

Dipper  Little Egret  Redshank
Dipper                              Little Egret                        Redshank

Posted December 19th, 2018 at 4:11 pm by Martin Rooney in General Birding

Teignmouth seafront

Still two 1W Little Gulls  and a GN Diver in the river entrance.

Posted December 19th, 2018 at 3:12 pm by David Cope in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


A nice build up of divers especially Great Northern over toward Brixham and Berry Head this morning after yesterdays storm.

Brixham: 41 Great Northern Divers, 1 Red-throated Diver, 62 Guillemots &17 Razorbills. Also several hundred Gannets and Kittiwake in the middle of Torbay.

Broadsands: 10 Great Northern Divers, 5 Red-throated Divers, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 14 Guillemot. Looking toward Goofrington 48 Great Crested Grebes and the fw Surf Scoter with 4 Common Scoter. (MD saw the Red-necked Grebe looking back from Brixham breakwater earlier in the morning)

The Yellow-browed Warbler was again present in the back corner of the 1st car park.

Paignton: 2 Great Northern Divers 

Posted December 19th, 2018 at 2:54 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Tuesday 18th December 2018

Ilfracombe Pier

Today still several Black Redstarts around the seafront. A few rareties on the sea, 2 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver were feeding off the Pier. Further out a Skua sp was chasing Kittiwakes and Gannets off Capstone point. The storm drain has been attracting masses of Gulls, counts of up to 1000 are regular. 3 Porpoise were showing well and a large Bull Grey Seal was snacking on a Small eyed Ray. 

Shag aka Colin Bull seal breaking up a Skate
Shag aka Colin                                                    Bull seal breaking up a Skate

Posted December 18th, 2018 at 10:06 pm by Martin Thorne in General Birding

Scaup - Fremington Pill

The greater scaup still at Fremington Pill North Devon this morning at 10:30 however could not be found again on the return pass 40mins later.

Posted December 18th, 2018 at 3:56 pm by alan craddock in General Birding

Fremington Pill

The greater scaup was still at Fremington Pill at high tide today.

Posted December 18th, 2018 at 2:48 pm by Colin Dracott in General Birding

Monday 17th December 2018

Yellow Browed Warbler at Broadsands Car Park

A couple more photos of the YBW still in Broadsands car park this morning. Thanks to Bob Carpenter who helped me follow the bird across the tree.

Yellow Browed Warbler Yellow Browed Warbler
Yellow Browed Warbler                                        Yellow Browed Warbler

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 9:57 pm by Bill Coulson in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Kingswood hill/ Challacombe Moor

A before sunset trip out over in the hope of seeing some seo's saw 5 red kite, a kestral, peregrine and numerous buzzards.sadly no seo's. There were large murms of many hundreds possibly thousands of starling and a large flight of golden plover which finally settled on the Moor. 

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 9:08 pm by Philip worth in General Birding

Blaxton Meadow (Plymouth)

A excellent event today organised by the National Trust, saw five volunteers and a ranger pointing out birds to over 50 interested visitors. Some 600 birds of 32 species visited the meadow during the high tide including 2 showy Kingfishers, 4 Goosanders (a drake & 3 redheads), 10 Wigeon, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 52 Curlews, 8 Oystercatchers, Common Sandpiper & 32 Shelducks.

All the visitors seemed very appreciative of the efforts to reduce disturbance which has led to positive effects for birds and birdwatchers. Many thanks to everyone involved.

On the estuary, also 2 drake Red-breasted Mergansers & 3 Little Grebes, and earlier a Firecrest by The Ride.

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 7:40 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Early Christmas dinner at Exminster Marsh

One less Canada Goose or an early Christmas dinner. Not much of any note on the marsh for a brief afternoon visit today. 4 Greylags and 4 Barnacles in with the Canada's and a Peregrine (as usual) on the pylon.

Canada Goose carcass Barnacle Goose (distant)
Canada Goose carcass                         Barnacle Goose (distant)

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 6:49 pm by Martin Rooney in General Birding

fremington quay and Barnstaple

Glossy Ibis, 2 Greenshank,many Redshank, Kingfisher,teal 3 common Snipe and 1 cattle egret from the stubble and then over the river towards Braunton.


Eds: a reminder to label photographs some viewers will not know what the birds are.. Here Glossy Ibis with Greenshank, Kingfisher and 2 Snipe with Redshank.

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 5:12 pm by john elvin in General Birding

west Charleton marsh

Please note that access to hide is impossible at present due to high level of water

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 4:16 pm by lesley goonesekera in General Birding


On the sea from Broadsands: 2 Red-necked Grebes (1 ad w & 1 juv winter) video link here:  . 2 Black-necked Grebes, 19 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Surf Scoter, 4 Common Scoter 3 Great Northern Divers 1 Red-throated Diver.

The Yellow-browed Warbler was again in the back corner of the marsh, with 1 Chiffchaff.

Preston: 8 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Great Northern Divers, 4 Red-throated Divers.

Red-necked Grebe juv winter Broadsands 17 Dec 2018 MLRed-necked Grebe juv

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 3:03 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

R.Taw, Barnstaple. Pottington to Bradiford Water. 1045-1145. High Tide 1327.

Black-tailed Godwit 41; Bar-tailed Godwit 2; Dark-bellied Brent Goose 138; Teal 4; Shelduck 4;

Goosander 9 (6M,3redheads) and just 1 Sanderling.

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 3:00 pm by Maurice Clements in General Birding

Teignmouth Seafront

Three 1W Little Gulls together feeding close in over the shoreline by the pier this lunchtime

Posted December 17th, 2018 at 1:49 pm by David Cope in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Fremington Pill this morning

Greater Scaup


Posted December 17th, 2018 at 12:58 pm by David Paterson in General Birding

Sunday 16th December 2018

Starling Roosts

For the information of Dennis, who posted on this subject earlier, the starling roost in bamboo at South Brent is in my garden. It has been regular for the past couple of Autumn's, as the bamboo has matured. This year in October there were regular roosts of up to 60 birds most evenings, that grew to over 200 in November, as recorded. Even today at least 60 birds performed a mini murmuration before roosting. However of particular interest for Dennis, twice in December ( first on 3rd) I have seen and on one occasion when they flew up the road and surrounded my vehicle been part of a larger murmuration of at least a 1000 birds on the Kingsbridge - Wrangaton road , between the California Inn and Marriage Farm. Hope that is of interest to Dennis.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 10:56 pm by Dave Pakes in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Plym Estuary & Saltram

On Blaxton Meadow - 2 Snipe, 2 Goosanders (redheads), 10 Wigeon, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Greenshanks, 32 Shelducks & c40 Curlews,  Also Ring-necked Parakeet(s) heard, 2 Little Grebes and a Shag. 

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 7:53 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Starling Roosts

Heathfield:  An embryonic murmuration of 350+ evening of 16th December - all birds in by 16.20.

Ashprington: None recorded to date (2018).

South Brent:  200 recorded in bamboo one evening in November.

Slapton Ley:  Not watched regularly in 2018 although apparently very low numbers this autumn (Oct-Dec) with no counts greater than 20,000 (up to 120,000 and regularly 70,000 in November during last 5-6 year intensive study) and then on only one or two dates.  Seldom more than 5,000 recorded in 2018 and on some evenings there were no birds at all. The 2018 autumn roost was initially at Torcross where a roost of local birds regularly forms in July. Otherwise roosts were in the reed fringe opposite the Middle car park and latterly in Ireland Bay.  Normally birds arriving in October roost at Strete Gate and the roost then moves towards Slapton Bridge ending up in Ireland Bay as more shelter is sought as a result of autumnal storms and much colder conditions.  The roost has typically been vacated by Christmas. 

An autumn passage roost has existed at this site for some 200 years but during the last 3-4 years there have been notable changes in the pattern of passage and roost sites.  Birds have also moved further south at dusk to Beesands (and beyond?) and roosts of up to 1-2,000 have "dribbled" on into mid January.  It is thought that these changes are due to Climate Change with very much milder, less stormy conditions during Oct, Nov and Dec.  Autumnal storms (often tail ends of US East Coast hurricanes) have increasingly passed northwards through Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland and less frequently affecting England and Wales.

Despite the coverage being very poor during autumn 2018, there is considerable anecdotal evidence that it has been a very poor season with very few birds compared with the last 6 years intensive study.  This may indicate that birds are wintering further north and east such as the UK East coast (Dungeness?) and the Netherlands.  (The roost at Dungeness regularly declines in mid November when peak numbers occur at Slapton.  Some birds following the NW European coastal fringe are thought to cross the English Channel at this shortest crossing, along with Wood Piigeons and finches, following the English South coast to S Devon/Cornwall before crossing back to France/Iberia across the Western Approaches)  Further research is being carried out to try and determine whether there is evidence to support this hypothesis by looking at long term data sets from Falsterbo (Sweden) and other Scandinavian and N European sites as well as UK sites.

Similar northward movement of winter ranges are occurring with many other species, in particular wildfowl which are now wintering much further north than 5-10 years ago as the northern oceans become warmer and free of ice at higher latitudes.  Similarly Mediterranean/Southern species of marine life are increasingly being recorded in the North Sea and higher latitudes.  Because many wildfowl are now wintering on open water well away from human habitation and traditional methods of assessing overall numbers (e.g. WeBS), novel methods of obtaining counts, such as satellite images, are being used to obtain accurate estimates of population sizes (BOU Online Newsletter).

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 5:53 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Charleton Marsh / Bay

Out in the bay Great Northern Diver, Pintail, 469 Wigeons, 50 Brent Geese, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Little Grebes, c400 Golden Plovers, Greenshank, 43 Curlews and a Rock Pipit. On a flooded marsh, more a lake, 134 Teals, 2 Gadwalls, Greenshank and Water Rail.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 5:21 pm by Perry Sanders in General Birding


The fw Surf Scoter could be picked out with 6 Common Scoter today from Broadsands. Scanning around the bay also produced: 1 Red-necked Grebe, 2 Black-necked Grebes, 19 Great Crested Grebes, 13 Great Northern Divers, 5 Red-throated Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver, 7 Razorbill and 16 Guillemots.

The Yellow-browed Warbler was again in the top corner of the first car park with 2 Chiffchaffs and 1 Siberian Chiffchaff.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 3:52 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Baggy Point & Down End

At Baggy Point: four Eiders, 27 Common Scoters, two Red-throated Divers, plus single Gannet, Water Rail (first time I've ever recorded one at this site), Mediterranean Gull and female Blackcap. Down End was quiet apart from a pair of Stonechats and a superb male Black Redstart.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 2:43 pm by Tim Jones in General Birding

Exe Estuary divers

A link to video of the divers on YouTube:

Does anyone else think the new, paler bird looks odd?  Upper mandible appears to be dark all along ridge of upper mandible - can White-billed ever show this?

Eds: It is a paler headed Great Northern compared to the other bird it is with and larger billed too but the dark all the way to the tip of the upper mandible rules out White billed Diver. The bill would have looked more yellowish too even in today's light.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 2:02 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Exe Estuary: Cockwood

Started my WeBS count this morning with close views (but awful light) from Cockwood Steps of 2 Great Northern Divers (new one with pale on back of head rather reminiscent of White-billed!) and 'Herbert', the resident Slavonian Grebe; pretty awful phonescoped images below. At least 3 G C Grebes and a Kingfisher also near Cockwood Steps. Rest of count uneventful, apart from a hailstorm!

Great Northern Diver fw Great Northern Divers Slavonian Grebe                                             Great Northern Divers                                    Slavonian Grebe

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 1:45 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Exe Powderham to Turf

Another impressive count of pintail near Greenland Bank - 250, otherwise few birds on the WeBS count today. The big surprise were 2 male cirl buntings feeding alongside 2 linnet and 3 meadow pipits on the sea-wall and at times on the cycle path about 200m north of the new bridge at Powderham.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 1:03 pm by John Waldon in General Birding

Slapton Ley

Ring-necked Duck still at Torcross. Couple hundred Black-headed Gulls included one in summer plumage. Adult Mediterranean Gull and 3 Wigeons in Ireland Bay. On the sea Black-necked Grebe off the Memorial Car Park then flew out to sea. Also Great Northern Diver ( plus one flew south ) and after the strong easterlies Common Scoter down to 16.

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 10:16 am by Perry Sanders in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Decoy Lake, Newton Abbot

A Great Northern Diver was on the lake at Decoy, Newton Abbot, This morning(16-12-18) at 08.45

Posted December 16th, 2018 at 9:49 am by nick hamzij in General Birding

Saturday 15th December 2018


One of the Common Snipe on the scrape.

Posted December 15th, 2018 at 2:00 pm by john elvin in General Birding

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