Devon Bird Sightings from 8th–14th February 2018

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

Wednesday 14th February 2018

Grey Squirrel - Garden

Great balancing act. Occasional visitor to the Garden feeder.

Posted February 14th at 3:28 pm by Rob Jutsum in Other Wildlife

Brixham Harbour, yesterday

Close examination of photos of yesterday's "adult" glaucous gull shows that while the plumage is adult type, the basal 2/3 of the bill is flesh-coloured and there are traces of a dark band on the lower mandible. Both characters would appear to indicate a 4th winter bird - comments appreciated.

Glaucous gull, 4th winter?
Glaucous gull, 4th winter?

Eds. Adult Glaucous Gulls often have pinkish toned bills in winter, also quite obvious dark bill marks can be shown by much older known age large gulls and presumably also in Glaucous.  Plumage looks to be entirely adult - white tail and underwing with no darker marks on primary covs - so most likely adult, i.e. older than 5th cal year.

Posted February 14th at 12:59 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding

Braunton Marsh & Fremington Pill

the tundra bean goose is still with the swans on Braunton Marsh best seen from Sandy gate car park.

then went to Fremington Pill to look for the glossy ibis but didn't find the bird, but at the bridge by the quay we found a pair of spoonbills , one bird was ringed.

Posted February 14th at 9:33 am by roger jewell & mike gibson in General Birding

Tuesday 13th February 2018

Brixham Breakwater

Pics of today's two glaucous gulls. The immature (probably the one photographed also by Alistair King) would seem to be a 2nd winter bird - pale eye, pale bill tip and pale secondaries.

Glaucous gull, 2nd winter Glaucous gull, adult Glaucous gull, adult
Glaucous gull, 2nd winter                       Glaucous gull, adult                        Glaucous gull, adult

Posted February 13th at 9:52 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding

Ludwell Valley Park, Exeter

One Hawfinch at lunchtime in the hedge bordering the annual flower meadow.

Posted February 13th at 8:28 pm by Martin Elcoate in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Jetty Marsh LNR and Bowling Green Marsh

Trip to Jetty Marsh this this morning produced a stunning Hawfinch showing really well on footpath near entrance. Also saw 12 greenfinch 4 bullfinch and water rail calling. Single female brambling in garden area at Bowling  Green Marsh this afternoon 

Posted February 13th at 7:37 pm by Tim Frayling in General Birding

Matford Marsh

American Wigeon Male showing well amongst 144 Wigeon. Also 60 Teal, 10 Shoveler, Kingfisher and a stunning 50+ Snipe. The Snipe were all on the marsh feeding, so how many more were there as I doubt I saw them all. 

Posted February 13th at 7:11 pm by Steve Cox in General Birding

Brixham Breakwater glaucous gulls

A visit to Brixham harbour 2-4.30pm produced 2 glaucous gulls on the breakwater. The first bird, a 1st or 2nd winter, did not hang around but flew off in the direction of the fish market (could not be located there 20 minutes later). On return to the breakwater we found an adult bird (which had beeen glimpsed from the far side earlier) hanging round with a flock of herring gulls near the end. This individual was quite confiding, flying by very close and several times perching near us on the breakwater wall. Photos later.

Posted February 13th at 6:17 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding

Brixham Harbour

Froze in the wind and showers this afternoon for 45 mins looking for the adult glaucous gull that has been about.  Finally rewarded - but with a 1st winter gull that cruised about for a few minutes before heading further out again.  I think I had some distant views of the adult too - interesting to see if anyone else saw them both today. 


Posted February 13th at 4:23 pm by Alistair King in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Plym Estuary


c70 Redwings, Jack Snipe, Snipe, 9 Goosanders, 4 Wigeon, Kingfisher & Common  Sandpiper this morning.

Earlier, a Chiffchaff, probably tristis , in my garden , Mount Gould.

Posted February 13th at 3:00 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Beesands Ley

Ring-necked Duck and Scaup still present.

Posted February 13th at 2:09 pm by Perry Sanders in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Monday 12th February 2018

Matford Marsh and Haldon Forest Park


The American Wigeon showed well on the first pool at Matford. Viewed from area close to the information board and next to the road.  Nearby Exminster Marshes was buzzing with winter birdlife.  Several small Starling murmurations and clouds of Lapwing and Golden Plover aloft.    

Later at around 15.45, a lone female Brambling visiting the feeders close to the main car park at Haldon Forest Park. 


Posted February 12th at 6:06 pm by Paul Darlington in General Birding

Lustleigh Cleave

Great views of a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in with a Tit flock, early pm. Called once. Typically active but unobtrusive.

Posted February 12th at 5:50 pm by Andy Smith in General Birding

Black Redstart -Plymouth

Lovely male Black Redstart at 'Rusty Anchor' -West Hoe this afternoon

Posted February 12th at 5:24 pm by Ian Teague in General Birding

Plym Estuary

New winter peak of 60 Shelduck. Also 11 Goosanders (2 drakes), sinensis Cormorant, 9 Oystercatchers, 190 Dunlins, Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper & 10 Grey Herons.

Posted February 12th at 4:50 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Fremington Pill

Glossy Ibis in the pill this morning , showing really well.

Posted February 12th at 2:36 pm by David Paterson in General Birding

East Soar

Highlight 2 Firecrest. Also 5 Snipe.

Non-avian - masses of frogspawn in Starehole Ponds!

Posted February 12th at 2:05 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Sunday 11th February 2018

Prawle point

Probable 1st winter glaucous gull on the reefs just east of Prawle point near Langerstone point. V poor camera phone pic attached, thoughts from others with better Larus ID than me welcome if discernable from pic. Bird was large with heavy bill pale pink with black tip and pink legs. Almost completely white otherwise, other than very faintly discernable greyer back

Eds: Your description and photos (very big bill indeed) all fit Glaucous gull perfectly but if there was grey on the 'back' (which can't be seen in the photo) a 2nd w rather than 1st w. Also tip of bill pale.


Posted February 11th at 8:57 pm by Henry Trollope in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Powderham and Exmouth

Powderham Corner

The 2 Snow Geese of questionable origin were on display (appropriately) in the snow mid afternoon. Viewable from the cycle bridge. Are these the same 2 that were at Maer Lake, St Ives, Cornwall last November?

Exmouth quay

A brief flyby from the Bonaparte’s Gull late afternoon. It headed around to Shelley Beach. A very quick look there was fruitless.

more details

Posted February 11th at 8:48 pm by Spencer Dicks in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Starling Murmuration

After reading Steve's post the other day just had to witness the murmuration for myself. Very impressive, right in the heart of Heathfield industrial development, junction of Battle Road & Cannon Road. There were at least 6,000 birds and amazingly they all roosted in no more than 3-4 leylandi trees.

Posted February 11th at 6:42 pm by Stephen Huggins in General Birding

Arlington court.

After a dismal morning yesterday on exmoor with a few small birds you could have almost reached out and touched as they contended with the weather conditions,  a more sheltered walk around Arlington court woods provided herons, nuthatch, blue great and coal tits, mallards, Robins,Jay greater spotted wood pecker and dunnock.


Posted February 11th at 6:28 pm by Philip worth in General Birding

Red-breasted Merganser Courtship Behaviour

The 'intense display', performed by a male Merganser on Kingsbridge estuary last week, would always begin with the 'Courtship-intent' posture.  The male would then turns sideways to his female partner and briefly adopt the 'Salute' pose.  Finally he would face his partner and execute the 'Curtsey' display by lowering his neck under water, raising his rear and depressing the tail under water.  The bill was opened wide giving (it was assumed) the 2 stage Courtship-calls described in BWP.

Courtship-intent posture Salute posture Curtsey posture
Courtship-intent posture                             Salute posture                             Curtsey posture

Posted February 11th at 6:23 pm by Michael Woodman-Smith in General Birding

Chudleigh Sparrowhawk

Recent photographs of a sparrowhawk on a collared dove kill in a Chudleigh garden.


Posted February 11th at 6:03 pm by Mark Witherall in General Birding

Bowling Green Marsh & EXminster Marshes 11/02/18

Relatively quiet at Bowling Green this afternoon. Nice Ruff showed well in front of the hide. There was another at Exminster marshes with the dunlin flock.


Posted February 11th at 5:54 pm by Mark Witherall in General Birding

Hawfinches Dartington Estate

8-9 Hawfinch flew from wooded area of Park School gardens towards Dartington Gardens at 13:30. Viewed from concrete drive leading to the river.

Posted February 11th at 3:48 pm by Jacob Wood in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Brixham Glaucous Gull

An early start to look for the Glaucous Gull at Brixham Fish Market proved fruitful, and luck was on my side with the weather. After standing in the pouring rain for a while the sun eventually took pity on me and came out for a few moments, giving me the photo opportunity I needed. Size comparison to some Great Black-backed Gulls near it showed me just how big this gull is.

Glaucous Gull 

Posted February 11th at 3:31 pm by Steph Murphy in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Beesands Ley

Ring-necked Duck and Scaup still present

Posted February 11th at 2:54 pm by Perry Sanders in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Victoria Park, Paignton

Yellow-browed Warbler flitting between the trees around the pond in the little small section of the park just off Garfield Rd, behind Lidl carpark.

A nice surprise! 

Posted February 11th at 2:47 pm by George Wall in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Stover Country Park

Cold blustery showers this morning at Stover:

18 Goosander (5m 13f), 5 Tufted duck (3m 2 f), 2 Kingfisher,  1 Mandarin, 1 Great spotted woodpecker, 1 Bullfinch.

Posted February 11th at 2:36 pm by Alan Livsey in General Birding

Grey wagtail

Sunday 11 February  -   grey wagtail in our garden (in the company of one of our resident robins), first I have seen here for quite a few years  (Bovey Tracey)  

Posted February 11th at 1:58 pm by Saf Pugsley in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


An early walk around Rock Park Barnstaple caught 6 bullfinches, three Goldcrest and a Goosander on the river amongst others.

Posted February 11th at 12:07 pm by richard yeats in General Birding

Saturday 10th February 2018

Topsham Cemetery

1 male Hawfinch showed briefly at 11am at the water tower end of the cemetery, despite the rain showers.

Posted February 10th at 10:03 pm by Lowell Mills in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Beesands Ley

4pm visit to Beesands in miserable conditions. 1 Male RING-NECK DUCK. And 1Male SCAUP still present 

Posted February 10th at 5:19 pm by Terry Goddard in General Birding

Brixham Harbour

The adult Glaucous Gull still in Brixham Harbour today around fish market roof and outer harbour

Posted February 10th at 3:59 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding


Seven people braved the rain for the Exeter RSPB field trip to Broadsands this morning.  We were rewarded by really good views of an Iceland Gull on the rocky section of the beach (sorry, no photo).  Also out to sea was a small flock of Common Scoter with a Black-necked Grebe. In the back corner of the second car park, some of us were lucky to catch a Firecrest and there were also good numbers of Cirl Buntings feeding (perhaps because there were not so many dogs as sometimes).

Posted February 10th at 2:02 pm by Richard Swinbank in General Birding


Excellent views of an Iceland Gull on the rocks with the main roost  this morning - looks quite settled

Posted February 10th at 12:37 pm by Tim Clyburn in General Birding

Friday 9th February 2018

Heathfield Starling murmaration

I spent 20 minutes from 17.10hrs this evening at Heathfield watching the Starling murmaration, one of the locals watching advised me that the birds have been gathering each evening for several weeks now.

An estimated 6000 plus birds by the time I left at 17.30hrs and still more birds continuing to arrive. 

Of note was the behaviour of a Herring Gull that was clearly trying to snatch birds out of the air with its beak, a number of gulls gathered but this was the only one displaying this type of behaviour, something that I have not heard of or witnessed previously.


Posted February 9th at 8:39 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding


The 'monster' of an adult Glaucous Gull was on the roof of the fish market late this afternoon. It does look like the bird that has been around for some time, as on closer views there are feathers missing from the secondaries.

Glaucous Gull ad 9th Feb 2018 ML

Video link:  

Posted February 9th at 6:34 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Berry Head

Glaucous Gull (without tatty wings - presumably Mike's recent 2nd bird) came in close to cliff, past Coastguard Station then out into Torbay c.12:45.

No sign of any returning fishing boats nor any Iceland Gulls up until c.16:00.

Posted February 9th at 6:26 pm by Dave Holloway in General Birding

Teignmouth 9th Feb pm

Compact flock of twenty Great Crested Grebes approx 50 metres offshore at Holcombe.  Twelve Common Scoters and two Great Northen Divers off Sprey Point.  Numerous feeding Gannets. One Rock Pipit.

Posted February 9th at 5:16 pm by Patrick Case in General Birding


Firecrest feeding on buses very close to the ground in Plymbridge Wood this afternoon.


Posted February 9th at 4:27 pm by Peter Castle in General Birding

River Exe

At least 7 Ringed Plover and 5 Turnstone on the river at the Exton end of the Royal Marine Camp at 1.30pm.

Posted February 9th at 4:26 pm by Richard Jordan in General Birding

Thursday 8th February 2018

Teignmouth 8th Feb pm

Two Great Northen Divers off Teignmouth this afternoon.  One off Eastcliff and one in the river mouth.

Posted February 8th at 5:14 pm by Patrick Case in General Birding

Grey Wagtail, Exmouth

The grey wagtail (see 5th Feb) returned for the fourth day in a row. I've only seen one other grey wagtail in my little back yard in the centre of Exmouth in the 30 years I've lived here.

Posted February 8th at 3:04 pm by Margaret Masckintosh in General Birding


The Bay was busy with 650+ Gannets this morning feeding over 40 + Common Dolphin and several Harbour Porpoise nearby. Around the beaches:  4 Black-necked Grebes, 34 Great Crested Grebes, 7 Great Northern Divers, 5 Red-throated Divers, 6 Common Scoter and 80+ auks. 

At Broadsands: 1 Firecrest, 3 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaffs in the marsh and 18 Cirl Buntings and 3 Reed Bunting on seed in the 2nd car park. 

Posted February 8th at 1:57 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

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