Devon Bird Sightings from 15th–21st February 2018


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Posted October 10th, 2016 at 9:14 am in Bird News

Wednesday 21st February 2018

Plym Estuary

Just to add to Pete Aley’s post. 208 Dunlin, 148 Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 49 Curlew & 10 Redwing.

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 8:10 pm by Martin Phillips in Bird News

Heathfiedl Starling Roost

21st February 2018:  An estimated 20-25,000 into roost.  This was my first visit to the site and is a much higher estimate than the 7,000 or so quoted by several people.  I may have over-estimated and was sussing the site out as part of a wider study in South Devon.  I have had considerable experience estimating large flocks as a regular WeBS counter on the Mersey Estuary for 15 years and  have been monitoring the Starling roost at Slapton on an almost daily basis for the last 6 years and a roost (in bamboo - shades of South Brent) at Ashprington which began in early December 2017 and has now finished.

Estimating at Slapton can  be done by estimating individual flocks as they arrive making an overall estimate more accurate - none come in from the sea!  However, both the Ashprington and Heathfield roosts are less easy to use this technique as there is no overall view from all directions that birds could be coming from.  However, it would be possible to estimate birds coming into Heathfield from the Dartmoor direction although clearly that is primarily because of where the roost is generally viewed from.  It is well known that people tend to under count such large roosts/flocks but I may have lost my touch!

It is possible that there were more birds tonight at Highfield ahead of the arctic airstreams over Scandinavia & the Continent and that over the North Atlantic coalescing  over the UK.  Numbers at Slapton fluctuate depending on weather conditions and always peak ahead of cold northerly airstreams dipping again as the cold spell hits the UK only to rise again ahead of the next cold airstream.  Birds are clearly migrating through Slapton in a similar way to Wood Pigeons and finches  and possibly follow the south coast in a similar way after breaking off from the main flyway down the Danish, Dutch, French coast and crossing the English Channel at Dungeness.  Work is currently in hand to see if there is evidence for this from datasets held by British south coast county ornithological societies and Scandinavian/European datasets, particularly long term datasets from Falsterbo and Ottenby in Sweden.  There clearly seems to be a correlation with data from Dungeness BO.

The Slapton roost has regularly been used for at least 213 years and, in recent times, always finishes before Christmas (although extending into mid- January in two of the last three years and showing changes in behaviour, particularly in relation to site fidelity within the Slapton reed beds depending on weather conditions and the need for greater shelter, possibly as a result of climate change).  I would be interested in meeting anyone who regularly counts the Highfield roost to see if data from there may be of use to this study as well as to see if I have lost my touch (!) although I'm pretty clear there were more than 7,000 tonight.

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 8:10 pm by Dennis Elphick in Bird News

Northernhay Gardens

Firecrest feeding and flitting around the city wall in Northernhay gardens.

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 7:50 pm by Benjamin Rousseau in Bird News

Orgy in the garden pond!

Well, it's that time of year folks for our charismatic google - eyed smiling happy faces to emerge from hibernation & do their thing, produce the next generation. Expect most of the frogs spawn will be food for other species.

I think the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly had also just emerged from hibernation.


Posted February 21st, 2018 at 6:37 pm by Rob Jutsum in Other Wildlife

Labrador Bay

Merlin seen chasing breakfast this morning above Shaldon close to RSPB Reserve

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 5:39 pm by Steve Cox in Bird News


Ringing this morning produced 18 Greenfinch, 5 each of Chaffinch and Reed Bunting 2 Blue Tits and singles of Great Tit, Bullfinch, Wood Pigeon and Robin. Best bird was a Fieldfare - the first I have seen in the reserve for a couple of years. Sadly it departed without finding a mist net! Redshank and Greenshank on the scrape, and the Little Grebe in the reserve started calling this morning for the first time this year.

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 4:42 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

Plym Estuary

Beautiful sunny day - Siskin, Kingfisher, 10 Goosanders (2 drakes), 30 Turnstones, 1 or 2 Common Sandpipers & 5 Little Grebes.

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 3:10 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News

Labrador Bay

Flock of 37 Common Scoter in the bay this morning.

Common Scoter
Common Scoter

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 12:42 pm by david cawthraw in Bird News

Upper Torridge Estuary

12 Common Sandpipers

Posted February 21st, 2018 at 12:07 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Bird News

Tuesday 20th February 2018

Lower Tamar Lake

Sightings for this morning at the Lake,

13 Goosander 8m 5f, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Little Egret, 1 Cormorant, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Fieldfare.

Posted February 20th, 2018 at 7:47 pm by Rod Mudge in Bird News

Matford marsh

American Wigeon still present among Wigeon flock on the main pool at 11.00 today also 7 snipe.  view it from the first information board close to the Exminster roundabout. It was much easier to pick out when the ducks were on the water rather than feeding on grass at the back of the pool

Posted February 20th, 2018 at 12:33 pm by Jeff Hacon in Bird News

Dartington Hawfinch

15 hawfinches feeding on the ground this morning 9.30 am with chaffinches and 2 redwings in park school playing field best viewed down at the field gate in between the office's In aller park (school is on half term so no kids about)

Posted February 20th, 2018 at 9:41 am by Hamish johnson in Bird News

Monday 19th February 2018


Smart female Kingfisher in the reserve this afternoon, and the female Marsh Harrier perched on a bush in the reed-bed in Sherpa Marsh again.

Posted February 19th, 2018 at 7:32 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

South Milton Reserve - Second Reed Cut, 3 March

We cut an area of reeds near the South Milton Reserve boardwalk on 7 January but had to postpone the second cut due to poor weather.  We are now planning to cut an area adjacent to the first cut on 3 March, starting at 9:30am.

We meet at the sewage works and please bring wellies, wear warm, old clothes and if you have a long-handled fork please bring that along too.  Please park at the top of the lane leading down to the sewage works.  We will finish by lunchtime.

If you would like to help, please contact either Vic Tucker (01752 216887) or Nick Townsend (01548 560243 or email

Posted February 19th, 2018 at 7:24 pm by Nick Townsend in Bird News

Glaucous Gull Brixham

Seen today at 1pm halfway along Breakwater, nearby fisherman on boat cleaning nets kept gulls close by. 

Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull

Posted February 19th, 2018 at 5:33 pm by Gary Bolton in Bird News

Plym Estuary & Saltram

A mild morning produced - Firecrest, 2 Stonechats, 6 Stock Doves, 5 Bullfinches, c45 Meadow Pipits, Green Woodpecker, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 202 Dunlins, 111 Redshanks, 49 Curlews, 4 Greenshanks, 5 Oystercatchers and 7 Goosanders (1 drake). 

Posted February 19th, 2018 at 5:02 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News


0945. Watching a swan coming in off the sea, [unusual enough at this venue] but as it landed on the pond was blown away to find it was a Whooper! It stayed around for half an hour then after some rather disconsolate honking, it took off and landed on the sea quite close in. Still there when I left at 10 am. This bird knew I'd left my camera at home.

Posted February 19th, 2018 at 12:01 pm by John Lusher in Bird News

Bramblings ~ South Brent

Female and male Brambling on the garden feeders this morning, initially the female just before 9am followed by female and male at 10am.

Trio if Siskin (2F ~ 1M), two Greenfinch, pair of Song Thrush, Nuthatch, male Bullfinch, BTO ringed Blue tit checking out a nest box and a low flying Heron passing over the garden.



Posted February 19th, 2018 at 11:19 am by Steve Hopper in Bird News

Sunday 18th February 2018

Taw and Torridge branch outing

The Taw and Torridge branch had a successful outing today to Darts Farm, Goosemoor, Bowling Green Marsh, Goat Walk, Exminster Marshes and Powderham despite the awful weather forecast. Saw 57 different birds including water rail, goldcrest, bullfinch, red breasted merganser, and large gatherings of wigeon and black tailed godwits.

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 10:48 pm by Brian Sims in Bird News

Braunton Burrows

The Tundra Bean Goose was still visible from the Sandy Lane Car Park today, albeit quite a distance and still hanging about with the Mute Swans. Definitely needs scoping. (apologies for poor quality)


Posted February 18th, 2018 at 8:58 pm by Steph Murphy in Bird News

South Dartmoor

Very little to be seen in the way of bird life on the upper moors other than a Buzzard and Corvids but dropping down the bird life started to appear.

Dartmeet gave three male Yellow Hammers and a partly leucistic female House Sparrow.

Holne three Mistle Thrush on overhead wires.


Posted February 18th, 2018 at 8:56 pm by Steve Hopper in Bird News


Female blackcap in our Bideford garden today.Good to see some birders saw the black redstarts I posted.Nice shot of the male Kim. 

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 8:28 pm by Robert Marshall in Bird News


Pair of common redpolls niger feeders today 

Eds - "Common" Redpoll is the species including Mealy and Greenland (or North-western) Redpolls - rarities in Devon. Presumably these were Lesser Redpolls, a relatively common sight in the county? The naming is confusing! 

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 7:32 pm by Peter salter in Bird News

Brixham Breakwater

A bit drizzly and murky, but the first winter Iceland Gull was still about this morning, around the last third of the breakwater, as previously.  Out at the end there were a couple of (second winter?) Common Gulls and a few Kittiwakes.  No sign of the Glaucous Gull.  A solitary Purple Sandpiper was on the rocks on the seaward side of the breakwater. 

Common Gull Common Gull
Common Gull                    Common Gull

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 4:44 pm by Alistair King in Bird News

Ilfracombe Redstarts

The male and females still on houses behind Lidl

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 1:56 pm by Paul king in Bird News

Colour ringed Dipper

Seen on the river Plym by McDonalds. Right leg; orange on tarsus, red on tibia. Left leg; black over white on tarsus. I didn’t see a metal ring. It flew back up the Plym after about 5 minuets.

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 1:30 pm by Martin Phillips in Bird News

Ilfracombe Lidl Redstarts

Good views of the male this morning.  One female made a brief appearance but was chased off by the male.  The male was spending most of its time at the top of the tree just to the right hand side of the property with the scaffolding and making regular flights to adjacent houses to catch insects.  A pied wagtail also present and it was good to see good numbers of sparrows collecting nesting materials.

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 11:46 am by Kim Beaver in Bird News

Brixham Glaucous Gull


Posted February 18th, 2018 at 11:40 am by Lloyd in Bird News

Brixham Glaucous Gull

A Video link to this weeks Glaucous 

Eds: the link doesn't seem to work Lloyd...

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 10:37 am by Lloyd Gray in Bird News

Stuart Line Cruise on Exe 17th February

Three Great Northern Divers, Slavonian Grebe, two Goldeneye and two adult Med Gulls were the highlights

Posted February 18th, 2018 at 10:20 am by Ian Waite in Bird News

Saturday 17th February 2018


Hi john and others the black redstarts were in ilfracombe,doh!!!!.

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 11:39 pm by Robert Marshall in Bird News

Stover and Brixham

There were 19 Goosanders (3 adult drakes) at Stover at first light, continuing to give exceptionally good views around the lake and in the channels. Also a pair of Mandarins, 2 Pochard, 7 Tufted Ducks, 2 Kingfishers and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

The adult Glaucous Gull flew along Brixham Breakwater this afternoon, heading off towards Berry head, while the first winter Iceland Gull patrolled up and down for some time.

 First winter Iceland Gull Purple Sandpiper, Brixham Breakwater

First winter Iceland Gull and Purple Sandpiper at Brixham Breakwater

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 10:54 pm by Dave Smallshire in Bird News

Ernesettle Creek at low tide

Good numbers of Oystercatchers and  at least 8 Curlew on the tideline as the creek enters the Tamar. Shelduck x 4 and a little egret on the mud flats. Kingfisher on the Mill Pond. 20+ Teal with a small group of Mallards, Redshanks a plenty, one lone Greenshank along the creek. A small flock of Goldfinches, long tailed tits and a solitary Goldcrest in the hedgerow. 

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 8:51 pm by Val Grehan in Bird News


Cycled back to Brauntion from Croyde this afternoon and detoured across Braunton Marsh and the great field. Found a huge flock of several hundred Chaffinch, but unable to find a Brambling among them. Didn't find the Goose, nor any Owls, but as I looked across at Sherpa Marsh, perched on a small bush in the reed-bed was a (or the?) female Marsh Harrier. This was at about 4.20.

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 6:51 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News

Exe & Yarner

A good day on the River Exe estuary today.

Cockwood ~ Eider duck and Great Norther Diver on the Exe, on the roadside fields, Oyster Catcher, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Wigeon, Teal, Brent Geese, Lapwing and Sparrow Hawk.


Powderham to Turf Lock on the dropping tide ~ Large numbers of Black Tailed Godwit (three colour tagged birds) and Brent Geese, Curlew, the reported two Snow Geese still with a small flock of Canada Geese but some 400 yards from the footpath , Redshank, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Red Breasted Merganser (6) Dunlin, Grey Plover, Oyster Catcher, Avocet, Heron and Lapwing.

Yarner ~ A good day for raptor watching with at least six Buzzards soaring over the valley.

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 6:08 pm by Steve Hopper in Bird News

Beesands Ley Scaup

Scaup still present at Beesands Ley this afternoon.


Posted February 17th, 2018 at 5:56 pm by Samuel Gray in Bird News

Plym Estuary

My first Mediterranean Gull of this year here (adult), 9 Goosanders (2 drakes), Common Sandpiper, 37 Common Gulls & 2 Greenshanks.

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 3:17 pm by Pete Aley in Bird News


11.00a.m. there were 5 SPOONBILLS on the scrape. None of them seemed to have any rings.

Rob Marshall: Which LIDL?!!

Posted February 17th, 2018 at 1:43 pm by Jon Turner in Bird News



Posted February 17th, 2018 at 11:56 am by Robert Marshall in Bird News

Friday 16th February 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday's Canada Goose casualty was still very much whole at mid-day, but just one day later, the carcass has been totally stripped to the bone by scavengers.  Geese are known to be faithful for life, and this appears to be the case here with its mate still staying close by in the background, even though it's been reduced to a skeleton. 

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 8:13 pm by Chris Marcol in Bird News

Cockwood and Dawlish Warren


At Cockwood:

Slavonian Grebe, Greenshank and 2 Great Northern Divers. 


At Dawlish Warren:

A lone Eider in front of the hide, 3 R B Mergansers, 3 Common Scoters on the sea, 2 Stonechats, Great Northern Diver on the sea, 4 G C Grebes on the sea, Snipe on the main pond. 

A large supporting cast of wintering waders and wildfowl at both locations. 

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 7:18 pm by Paul Darlington in Bird News

Brixham Breakwater this afternoon

Very quiet on arrival, but the adult glaucous gull appeared just before 2pm, spending a few minutes flying around the end and preening on the water. The juvenile/1st winter iceland gull appeared at the same time, and hung around flying up and down the breakwater for about an hour. Also present; 3 purple sandpipers, 3 turnstone and rock pipits on the breakwater; 1 great northern diver distant off the end on arrival; and gannets diving out in the bay. I looked for dolphins under them but didn't see any.

Glaucous gull, adult Iceland gull, juvenile/1st winter
Glaucous gull, adult                                    Iceland gull, juvenile/1st winter

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 6:35 pm by Chris Proctor in Bird News

Torbay and Berry Head

50+ Common Dolphins in 3 or 4 groups,off Paignton this am, including one adult with strange bellyflopping surfacing action which I saw on 23 Dec.

Also another 20, maybe the same ones, off Berry Head later.

Common Dolphins, Torbay Adult and juvenile Common Dolphin, Torbay Adult bellyflopping Common Dolphin
Common Dolphins, Torbay    Adult and juvenile Common Dolphin, Torbay  Adult bellyflopping Common Dolphin

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 3:18 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Other Wildlife

Reply to "One less Canada Goose"

I was there on Tuesday afternoon and the goose was laying down and not moving ,  apart from occasionally lifting it's head. We were wondering if it would make it to the next day.  Looks like it didn't.

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 2:15 pm by Peter Castle in Bird News

Scaup at Beesands 15th Feb

Scaup at Beesands with what appears to be a peak at the rear of head. A trick of the wind or could it be a Lesser Scaup !!!


Eds: On the Scaup the green head, lack of coarse vermiculation on back,head shape - not high enough crown, black nail a little too extensive would all rule out lesser scaup.

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 10:22 am by Barry Rankine in Bird News


Have now worked out why the Blackcaps in my Paignton Garden have taken to ground feeding this winter - they need earthing after their meditation!

(Have included a record shot of both males together for sheer novelty value.)

Om mani... ...padme um Both Males
Om mani...                              ...padme um                                   Both Males

Posted February 16th, 2018 at 1:25 am by Dave Holloway in Bird News

Thursday 15th February 2018

One Less Canada Goose

At lunchtime at Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham, this Buzzard spent a lot of time plucking a Canada carcass before it could get to the juicy bits.  Didn't see if the Buzzard actually made the kill, but it seems like a big prey item for a Buzzard?  Four Foxes were sunbathing at the other side of the marsh, so it doesn't look like it was their kill.

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 11:52 pm by Chris Marcol in Bird News

Venford Reservoir

2 Woodcock mid-pm.

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 9:20 pm by Andy Smith in Bird News

Exmouth Beach 15/02/18

Washed-up on the beach - probably the result of the latest storms

Barrel Jellyfish   Squid eggs    Whelk egg-cases
Barrel Jellyfish                          Squid eggs                             Whelk egg-cases

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 7:54 pm by Chris & Sally Bollen in Other Wildlife

Brixham Breakwater Gulls

Adult Glaucous Gull still on the breakwater today. Joined by a juv/1w Iceland Gull

Glaucous Gull   Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull                                     Iceland Gull

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 7:44 pm by Samuel Gray in Bird News

South Efford Marsh

Spoonbil at South Efford very close to the hide

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 7:33 pm by Roger Backway in Bird News

South Molton

A sighting of a red kite flying low over farm land north of Aller Cross roundabout. 

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 6:36 pm by Valerie Horne in Bird News

Starcross, Dawlish Warren etc.

Up and down the Exe today. Eider off the Warren (at low tide) along with RB Mergansers and 3 Great Northern Divers. At Starcross the usual Turnstone and views of the Slav Grebe and some Avocet and 4 more RB Merg close in.. From the cycle bridge near Powderham Church, distant views of the Snow Geese with some Canada Geese roughly at grid ref SX964851.


Posted February 15th, 2018 at 6:33 pm by Martin Rooney in Bird News

East Budleigh

The putative Italian Sparrow still showing well on the feeders in Cadbury Gardens late afternoon. Also a fleeting male Bullfinch and a fly over Buzzard.

more details

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 6:30 pm in Bird News

Braunton Marsh Thursday 15th Feb

Heard my first skylark of the year also celandines in flower - Spring can't be far away!

The devastation on Horsey Island due to breach in sea wall has to be seen.  The area is unrecognisable from what was there before. It's doubtful that it can ever be reinstated.

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 5:53 pm by Patrick Case in Bird News

Teignmouth Seafront and Bowling Green Marsh

Early this morning off the point car park two Great Northern Divers. Off the yacht club towards Sprey Point - one Great Crested Grebe and nine Common Scoter. Still the morning at Bowling Green Marsh notables included five Gadwall, a Kingfisher and a Ruff. Afternoon at Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth docks sadly didn't produce much else. Forty eight species in all.

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 5:44 pm by Simon Bates in Bird News

Brixham and Broadsands



The adult Glaucous Gull showed very well, sat on one of the roofs of the old oil terminal at the breakwater for 15 minutes.  It then flew off back along the breakwater towards the beach and car park. 

Also close to the end of the breakwater were; 2 Guillemots, 2 Rock Pipits and a Turnstone.  Large numbers of Gannets out in Torbay.



Several Cirl Buntings coming to seed in the second car park with two Greenfinches.  1 Firecrest, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Chiffchaff and a GSW around the first car park. 

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 5:30 pm by Paul Darlington in Bird News

Exe Estuary (Powderham Church - Turf)

The East Devon fieldtrip  (East Devon Branch) attracted 19 members (with an unusual ratio of 13 women and 6 men present). With a low tide good numbers of geese and waders were present on the estuary and fields and gave a memorable show as they flew overhead.  Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Grey Plover and Brent Geese being the main species in numbers.  Several Red breasted Merganser and Pintail were present and a small group of Sanderling were seen at a distance.  Some members walked on to the viewing hide on the canal where other duck and Golden Plover were added to the list giving a total of c50 species. Thanks to Colin Randall for leading the group.  

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 4:17 pm by Jonathan Ruscoe in Bird News

Yarner Wood

Morning visit to Yarner: Siskins, 2 Redpolls, Green, Greater and 1 Lesser  Spotted Woodpecker. 1 Treecreeper and 1 Kingfisher from the new hide overlooking the old settling pond.

Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 2:12 pm by david cawthraw in Bird News


Broadsands this morning: 14 Great Northern Divers, 30 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Common Scoter and 70+ Common Dolphin.

Brixham: The adult Glaucous Gull was commuting back and forth along the breakwater, spending some time on rocks back by the lifeboat station. Also the' Berry Head' juv/fw Iceland Gull was spending a lot of time out at the end of the breakwater.

 GlaucGulladBrixhn150214ML blog   GlaucGulladBrixhn150214ML blog 2

Glaucous Gull adult

 Iceland Gull juv/fw Brixham 15 Feb 2018 ML  Iceland Gull juv/fw Brixham 15 Feb 2018 ML2

Iceland Gull juv/fw

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 2:11 pm by Mike Langman in Bird News

Plym Estuary

Seen on the estuary this morning and a long the “narrows”. 2 Dipper, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Kingfisher, 4 Wigeon, 13 Goosanders (4m 9f), 6 Red-breasted Mergansers (3m 3f), 2 Med Gulls ad moulting into sp. A digger started to work on Blaxton meadow putting most birds up!

Posted February 15th, 2018 at 11:43 am by Martin Phillips in Bird News

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