Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Missing Devon rarity records 2018

Unfortunately no descriptions have been submitted for the following records of ‘A’ species reported in 2018. This means, as things stand, they will not make the official record as part of the 2018 Devon Bird Report. It would be a great shame to lose these records.

If anyone saw these birds (you don’t have to be the finder) please can you submit a description and/or photos asap to Kev Rylands: Thank you.

Chough Northam 17-18 July  

Corn Bunting Beer Head 25 August

Cory’s Shearwater (2) Ilfracombe 28 July

Cory’s Shearwater Thurlestone 26 August

Glossy Ibis Exe Estuary 21-27 October

Golden Oriole Blaxton Meadow 18 April

Great Shearwater (2) Berry Head 20 September

Great White Egret (2) Bridge Marsh, Axe Estuary 13 January

Great White Egret Black Hole Marsh, Axe Estuary 22 August

Great White Egret Exminster Marshes 30 March

Great White Egret Exmouth 06 May

Great White Egret Stover 01 October

Honey-buzzard Dartmoor 21-22 May

Little Bunting Slapton 21 October

Montagu’s Harrier Dartmoor 19 Aug

Pectoral Sandpiper Upper Tamar Lake 13 August

Ring-necked Duck Lee Moor 14 October

Rose-coloured Starling Beesands 27-28 August

Serin South Hallsands 24 April

Tree Sparrow Haldon 20 May

Posted September 24th at 8:44 am by Pete Aley in General Birding

Dawlish Warren

Please take extra care when visiting Dawlish Warren. We have been informed that due to the recent bad weather there has been significant erosion from Groyne 10 eastwards. This means that access along the site, to and from Warren Point (and the bird hide) will be via the beach only, with a risk of being cut off for a period either side of high water! Signs have been put up to alert people to the hazards, but people need to be aware that access routes that they have become used to may not be available and they need to exercise extreme caution,  with the possibility of being cut off by the tide, and people are strongly urged not to try climbing the sand cliffs. Further information is available on the Teignbridge District Council website.

Posted November 9th, 2018 at 11:08 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

Friday 21st December 2018


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

Thursday 20th December 2018


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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