Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

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  Posts which breach these guidelines may not be published at all.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

Wednesday 7th March 2018

Heathfield Starling Roost

An estimated 27,000-30,000 - certainly fewer than 4th March.  What was interesting was that large numbers  (17,000-20,000) came in very high from the SW (Ashburton/Newton Abbot) direction suggesting they may have travelled some distance, possibly from more accessible feeding areas (although Dartmoor seemed free of snow after the recent rapid thaw), or birds from further south returning north.   Much smaller numbers arrived from the NE.  Most of the early flocks (17.30-17.55) headed towards Bovey Tracey/Haytor without stopping and were undoubtedly mostly the same birds (ca 20,000) that later (18.00-18.10) came from that direction into the roost.  However, some small flocks may also have come in from feeding areas in that direction where it was possible/likely that there was a pre-roost gathering site.

Only 50 or so were seen from 17.15-17.30 and the last ones were in by 18.10.  There was minimal murmuration/display compared with none on 4th March making it more difficult to estimate numbers although the incoming high flocks were discrete and generally in their thousands and thus marginally easier to estimate on arrival.  Also birds entered conifers adjacent to the A38 before finally moving to the regular roost trees, possibly suggesting birds from further south returning north which were not sure of the actual roost site.

A Peregrine was patrolling the site and seen several times.

Posted March 7th, 2018 at 10:36 am by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Tuesday 6th March 2018


On the sea this morning: 1 Red-necked Grebe, 13 Great Northern Divers, 44 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Common Scoter. 12 Cirl Buntings and 3 Reed Bunting on seed in 2nd car park and a 'grey goose' flew over heading for Brixham possibly a Greylag but didn't see it well

Posted March 6th, 2018 at 10:13 am by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Monday 5th March 2018

South Huish Marsh

Male Garganey hidden away in rushes with Teal. Spoonbill feeding at back of marsh. Also male Pochard, Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 130 Lapwing & 100 Redwing.

Back at the garden feeders in Harleston, now 3 male Bramblings!

Posted March 5th, 2018 at 2:34 pm by Rob Macklin in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Broadsands: 1 Black-throated Diver, 4 Great Northern Divers, 1 Black-necked Grebe and 11 Grreat Crested Grebes.

Brixham: 11 Great Northern Divers, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 ad Meditterranean Gull from 'Asta Zenica' car park

Posted March 5th, 2018 at 12:31 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Sunday 4th March 2018

Heathfield Starling Roost

Visited Heathfield again tonight (4th March) not knowing whether it was still in operation or not.  It was, although there was heavy rain and very overcast skies.  On arrival at 17.00 there were clearly already birds in the roost (the first arrivals on 26th Feb were at 17.20 and we are now nearly a week on).

Flocks then came in and entered the roost immediately - there was no murmuration.  This made estimating very much easier than dealing with birds constantly joining a murmuration as had previously been the case.  An estimated 2,335 entered the roost until apparently all flew out for some reason (Sparrowhawk?) and headed towards Bovey Tracey.  My quick estimate was 1,500+ although I hadn't totalled up my estimates at this point and goes to show how easy it is to underestimate.  There must have been at least 2,500 allowing for birds already in the roost.

By this time, it had stopped raining and estimating incoming flocks continued.  it seemed clear that all the arrivals were new flocks based on their speed of arrival or because they were coming in from a height having presumably come from quite a distance (up to 20Km).  At no time did it seem that the 2,335 above returned but I can't be sure of that.  Estimating arriving flocks continued until about 17.55, by which time it was raining again.  At this juncture, several very large flocks arrived from the Haytor direction - two of an estimated 3,500 and two of 8-10,000.  The last birds were in by 18.15.

The overall estimate was 35,000-38,000, a large increase on my previous estimates and almost double those of 24th Feb.  Clearly some birds had moved on by then and others had moved into the area as a result of the severe weather conditions during the last week.  Estimates can be subjective but what is important is monitoring the fluctuations as birds move on and others arrive in the area with each cold spell.  Birds came into the roost from all directions although by far the majority came from the Haytor and Ashburton directions.  Some birds also used the four conifers closer to the main road through the estate as well as those usually used further back.  I understand that the roost was checked as birds left one morning a few weeks ago and most headed towards Dartmoor although undoubtedly some will have splayed out into the surrounding countryside to feed.

Posted March 4th, 2018 at 8:50 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Firecrest - Exeter

A very approachable Firecrest about 13.30 today in bushes at the car park at the end of Clapperbrook Lane

Posted March 4th, 2018 at 4:18 pm by stephen gardiner in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Torridge estuary at Instow:

2 flypast Avocets

Posted March 4th, 2018 at 3:38 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Saturday 3rd March 2018

Sherpa / Wrafton scrape

2 Spoonbill on the scrape early am including one colour ringed which was ringed in the Netherlands as a nestling on 10 June 2007 & has earned the name of 'Ye Old Faithfull' because it has overwintered on the Taw Estuary every year since 2007.

Posted March 3rd, 2018 at 5:44 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Watching the Gulls with Andy Plumb this morning was productive with 12 Mediterranean Gulls 11 adults and 1 fw plus a very showy juv/fw Iceland Gull different from the dark bodied and billed bird two days ago and not the Brixham/Berry Head bird from Jan/Feb (see comparison shots below). There have been at least 3 different juv/fw birds in Torbay so far this winter. video clip link here: 

Iceland Gull juv/fw Broadsands 3 March 2018 ML  Iceland Gull Brixham 15 Feb 2018 ML

   Iceland Gull juv/fw Broadsands 3 March                         compare Iceland Gull juv/fw Brixham 15 Feb                                       


Posted March 3rd, 2018 at 9:34 am by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Friday 2nd March 2018

Clennon to Broadsands

Some evidence of cold weather movement along the coast with 21 Golden Plover on Clennon playing fields, two Snipe and a Water Rail. 40+ Redwing and 12 Fieldfare between there and Broadsands.

Broadsands: 14 Reed Bunting on seed in 2nd car park with at least 20 Cirl Buntings but I didn't stop long after dropping the seed. lots of gulls in the flooded green area of Broadsands and on the beach 600+ Common Gull, 6 Mediterranean Gulls one fw the rest adults. There are 4 Med Gulls in the photo below!

4 Mediterranean Gull in flooded Broadsands car park 2 March 2018 ML 

Posted March 2nd, 2018 at 12:55 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Flock of redwings

We have a flock of beautiful redwings currently appear to be feeding well on the berries on our cotoneaster tree. A magpie just swooped down and scared some away to nearby gardens. Most are still happy to stay hidden in our tree! One daring redwing even came down onto our snow covered pond, maybe searching water. Tried to attach photos but I’m sorry it didn’t work.

Posted March 2nd, 2018 at 11:54 am by Chris Gray in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Thursday 1st March 2018


A juv/fw Iceland Gull was on the rocks with Herring Gulls this morning. on seed in the 2nd car park 45 Cirl Buntings and 8 Reed Buntings. video link:  

    Cirl Bunting Broadsands 1 March 2018 ML   

                        Cirl Bunting Male                                                              Iceland Gull and Herring Gulls     


Posted March 1st, 2018 at 12:00 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

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