Devon Bird Sightings from 8th–14th March 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  Posts which breach these guidelines may not be published at all.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

Wednesday 14th March 2018

Otter Scrapes, Budleigh Salterton

A Spoonbill on the scrapes this afternoon and still present this evening, courtesy of Ian Waite.
More on the blog:

Eurasian Spoonbill by Chris Townend


Posted March 14th, 2018 at 8:41 pm by Chris Townend in General Birding

Pale-bellied Brent Geese update

I've just heard that the ringed Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Starcross on Sunday (11th) have returned to France! Today they were located at Urville, Normandy, back at the same estuary where they spent the winter. It's very odd that they went back south, given that we've had southerly winds and yesterday was really quite nice. Perhaps it was just a practice run!

Posted March 14th, 2018 at 6:37 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Tuesday 13th March 2018

Dartington Hall

At least 5 Hawfinches still around the school. Also Goosander on the river.

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 8:00 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Cadover area

This afternoon: 4 Wheatear, 7 Teal, 2 Stonechat, 4 Raven, 2 Moorhen, 17 Canada Geese, 2 Skylark, 3 Meadow Pipit, flock of 15+ Starling, 2 Reed Bunting.

In the garden in north Plympton: 1 male Blackcap on fat balls

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 7:24 pm by Chris E in General Birding

Brixham to Dartmouth

Kayak trip Brixham to Dartmouth:

6 Purple Sandpipers on Brixham Breakwater

3 Purple Sandpipers (with 3 Turnstones) on Eastern Black Rock, small island off Froward Point.

c100 Common Scoter

20 Common Dolphin off Berry Head

3 (2+1) Harbour Porpoise off Froward Point

Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone
Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 6:09 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Hollicombe & Preston beaches, Paignton

2.15pm, close to high tide. Usual flock of turnstones at N end of Preston seafront. At Hollicombe, 1 gannet, 4 Gt crested grebes on the sea, plus 9 oystercatcher and a heron roosting on the cliff on the north side.

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 5:28 pm by Chris Proctor in General Birding


Hummingbird hawk moth.

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 4:51 pm by Sylvia Tucker in Other Wildlife


Eight Common Buzzards mid-morning over the West Soar area inc.the resident pair plus three soaring off Westcliff (inc.two very white birds) and three soaring high over Southdown Farm. Typical spring migration for this species and bang on time! Also had a close encounter with a Stoat!

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 3:25 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding


Had a new species while ringing in the reserve this morning. Unfortunately it was a Frog!. Left in the net by the Tawny Owl I heard in the half light. Makes a change - it's usually half a Rat!

The only evidence of migration were two Goldcrests ringed early on and a Chiffchaff seen shortly before leaving.

The resident Canada Geese have arrived to claim the pond for another season.

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 2:19 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding


1 new arrival male Wheatear at Baggy am.

Posted March 13th, 2018 at 12:55 pm by Rob Jutsum in General Birding

Monday 12th March 2018

Plym Estuary

This afternoon’s sightings: Goosander 6 redheads, Red-breasted Merganser 6 (3 pairs), Snipe 2, Oystercatcher 6, Peregrine, Stonechat, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush 2, Kingfisher, Mandarin Duck 6 (3 pairs), Grey Wagtail, Curlew 32, Common Gull 18 & Common Sandpiper.

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 8:23 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Heathfield Starling Roost

And so, the Heathfield Starling roost comes close to its final days.  Just 1,500 were estimated (yet to be confirmed from a photograph taken to help calibrate my previous estimates) this evening (12th March).  The first birds were seen at 17.26 followed by a trickle of flocks of no more than 100 birds (most less than 50) all coming from the Ashburton/Newton Abbot direction and heading towards the Bovey Tracey/Haytor direction where there has  clearly been a pre-roost site.

At 18.05, birds began to return from this site to the Heathfield roost with some additional small fllocks still arriving from both the Ashburton/Newton Abbot and Haytor directions.  Birds circled over the roost site building up until 18.30 when the last birds entered the roost.  Interestingly, birds entered the trees nearest the main road through the industrial estate as on 10th suggesting they were either new to the area or the previous roost trees were  badly fouled by droppings from the many thousands of birds using them on previous occasions.  

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 7:50 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Cadover Bridge

A wander around Cadover Bridge 4pm to 6pm. Good number of Carrion Crows, Rooks, Ravens and Magpies. A handsome Dipper (ringed pale blue on right leg white ring on left leg) a mini murmuration of Starlings 100+ and pair of Goosanders on Shaugh Lake.   

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 7:50 pm by Val Grehan in General Birding

R.Caen + Sharpa Marshes

Single Avocet on the R.Caen again this afternoon

Female Marsh Harrier over reed beds - Sharpa Marshes

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 6:39 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


Single wheatear on the dunes near the old oil jetty at 4pm. 

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 6:38 pm by Paul Bearman in General Birding

Exminister Marsh

A good three hours on Exminister this morning. Ducks and waders much reduced from last week but still saw 500+ Wigeon, 250+ Teal, 55+ Shoveler, 30 Pintail, 14 Tufted, 4 Pochard, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers on the canal and 1 Gadwall. Also c300 Lapwing and 33 Golden Plover. Black-necked Grebe still on the canal. Imm Marsh Harrier flew over at 8.40 and 2 Wheatear (M & F) north from the railway bridge. One Cetti’s Warbler singing under motorway bridge. Otherwise 3 Chiffchaff, 2 singing, and a pair of Stonechat again north of Railway bridge.

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 6:19 pm by Steve Cox in General Birding

Meddon Green Nature Reserve

A very misty and boggy reserve this morning, but I had 1 Willow Tit, 2 Marsh Tit, 2 Great and 4 Blue Tit, 2 Wren, 1 Dunnock.

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 5:25 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Exminster Marsh

The Marsh Harrier by the lagoon at 1.50pm then drifted off south. Also c500 Golden Plover

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 2:42 pm by Mark Bailey in General Birding

Otter Estuary

Two Sand Martins at 1pm

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 1:11 pm by Dave McKeown in General Birding

Wrafton Pond

Male Pintail still on the pond.

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 1:08 pm by Rob Jutsum in General Birding

Slapton Ley

Black necked grebe in ireland and first sand martin 3 in total near bridge 

Posted March 12th, 2018 at 10:54 am by Roger Backway in General Birding

Sunday 11th March 2018

Exe Pale-bellied Brents

I've just heard that the 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still in Normandy on Friday 9 March, so perhaps they arrived here yesterday, or even early today. They overwintered about 25km SE of Jersey, at Havre de Regnéville.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 10:44 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Thatcher Rock - Torbay

An unusual sighting of four Mallard, two male/two female, sitting amongst the vegetation on the lower slopes of Thatcher Rock this afternoon.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 9:09 pm by Cliff Parrott in General Birding

Mediterranean Gulls

At South Huish this morning, some 6 (perhaps more) Mediterranean Gulls coming into summer plumage.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 8:59 pm by Michael Woodman Smith in General Birding


Selection of photos of Ring-necked Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Red-necked Grebe taken from the hide just after the weather cleared this Saturday.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 8:41 pm by Michael Woodman-Smith in General Birding

Exe Estuary: Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Today's WeBS count was rather unexciting, compared with the position just over a week earlier. However, I was pleased to read the colour ring codes on two of four Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Starcross golf course (blue on the right legs, yellow on the left; codes U2 and IZ, respectively). The ringing information (courtesy of Graham McElwaine, Irish Brent Goose Research Group) shows that they had been ringed together in October 2015 at Strangford Loch, Northern Ireland and wintered in Normandy each year since. Clearly a pair keeping together, they have also been seen several times in May in SW Iceland, where they stop to refuel en route to the Canadian Arctic. A fantastic series of re-sightings!

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 8:37 pm by Dave Smallshire in General Birding

Lower Tamar Lake

Sightings for Lower Tamar Lake this morning.

8 Goosander 1m 7f, 1 Grey Heron. 1 Little Egret, 2 Gadwall 1m 1f. 1 Goldfinch, 1f Goldeneye.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 7:47 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Morte Point House Martins

This afternoon I watched 3 House Martins head due west, disappearing out over the sea, straight towards Lundy. Around Morte Stone 3 Red-throated Divers.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 7:37 pm by Martin Thorne in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


A Shag at end of Paignton beach near harbour.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 5:52 pm by Chris Godfrey in General Birding

Light phase Buzzard ~ Cornwood

Buzzard plumage and colouration are on occasion topics of discussion within the membership of DBWPS, this first winter female was found grounded at Cornwood late this morning.


Posted March 11th, 2018 at 5:39 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

Torcross and Beesands

No early spring migrants this morning but the Black-necked Grebe still present on the Ley at Torcross and nice views of an Otter in open water, also 2 Grey Plover and a Dunlin. At Beesands Ley - the Ring-necked Duck, drake Scaup and Red-necked Grebe all present.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 11:42 am by David Cope in General Birding


Where have all the Redwings gone to? Less than half the number I counted midweek with about 15 seen this morning. Plenty of Jay activity all over Occombe this morning, I certainly identified 2 groups of 3, plus a pair of vocal Buzzards, pair of Mallards & Pied Wagtails, 5-7 Long-tailed Tits, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Greenfinch and plenty of Great Tits & Blue Tits. The highlight of the morning was a Tawny Owl, clearly being pestered by some of the Jays.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 10:14 am by Stephen Huggins in General Birding

Totnes Garden

Female reed bunting that first appeared during the snow is still hanging around the garden. Bramblings still turning up with chaffinches too.

Posted March 11th, 2018 at 10:09 am by Jon Flynn in General Birding

Saturday 10th March 2018

Crossbills - Underdown, Haldon.

Flock of 20-25 crossbills feeding in beech tree outside our house in Underdown, Haldon this morning

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 11:12 pm by John Gale in General Birding

Heathfield Starling Roost

A further decline to an estimated 10,000-12,000 this evening (10th March).  Small numbers from 17.33 although larger numbers (flocks of up to 250+ from 17.38 with most birds from the Ashburton/Newton Abbot direction but heading towards Bovey Tracey/Haytor until 17.57 when a similar number (ca 3,500) to those counted in, returned to Heathfield circling around quite high at times across a large area as far as the A38 (and beyond?) and the Bovey Tracy area.  Numbers then built up over a period of 20-mins with some good display during the next 10 mins (17.58-18.20).  Small groups continued to arrive from both the Ashburton/Newton Abbot and Bovey Tracy/Haytor areas until 18.30 with the last birds into the roost by 18.38 - quite a bit later than previous observations.

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 7:55 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Fingle Bridge / River Teign.

5 members of DB met for the fieldtrip (East Devon Branch).  In spite of poor weather conditions in the first half of the morning we made the most of our visit taking the riverside footpath west as far as the footbridge below Castle Drogo. A few good birds presented early in the walk with a pair of Dipper seen taking nest material to a nest site.  Several Grey Wagtail were present foraging along the swollen river.  A Treecreeper plus a flock of mixed Tits (including Long tailed and Marsh Tits) gave a little excitement with the prospect of finding the elusive Lesser spotted Woodpecker but none of the latter were found. A couple of Buzzards came out once the rain passed and the air temperature increased.  No woodpeckers were seen or heard above the sound of the river and conditions were made worse by the presence of a marathon run which we had not expected!  

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 4:33 pm by Jonathan Ruscoe in General Birding

Glaucous Gull

 Just taken these photos of a Glaucous Gull off the sea wall next to the coast guard bridge Dawlish. 

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 4:14 pm by Nick Workman in General Birding

"The Beast from the East in Plympton?"

Last weekend after the wind had blown through I spotted an unusual tit in the backyard.  Good news is that it's back.  The most noticeable thing, as it was flying away was the rich chocolate hind crown and nape (like a Dipper's belly). The scapulars show a fair bit of variation from brown, through greyish to whitish fringing and a definite pale look to the secondaries..  It has a small neat bib, as expected for a Marsh Tit, which are regular garden visitors. The other features are more reminiscent of Siberian Tit, which I'm sure it is not. Is it possibly a Marsh/Siberian hybrid blown in by the storms, or just a very unusual plumage variation? poor pics, will try to get better.

Eds: Certainly an interesting bird. Chris' comments seem to sum the situation up well. Willow x Siberian Tit hybrids are well known eg  However, given that their ranges barely overlap, Marsh x Siberian seems less likely. In any case as suggested above, the plumage details do not support a hybrid. Views welcome!

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 3:29 pm by Chris Marcol in General Birding

Beesands Ley

Ring-necked Duck and Red-necked Grebe still present. Also 10 Pochards.

Posted March 10th, 2018 at 12:17 pm by Perry Sanders in General Birding

Friday 9th March 2018

Plym Estuary

This morning - Snipe, Jack Snipe, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers (3 pairs), 10+ Stock Doves, Grey Wagtail, 32 Turnstones & 2 Greenshanks. 

Again, Blaxton Pool providing great refuge for hundreds of waterbirds including big flocks of Redhanks and Dunlins (not counted today).  

Posted March 9th, 2018 at 6:50 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Along the Exe

An adult Iceland gull was going back & forth along the shore between the coastguard hut & Langstone Rock at midday. The Black-necked grebe was on Exeter canal down from the M5.

Posted March 9th, 2018 at 5:10 pm by Martin Elcoate in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Beesands Ley

Arrived at Beesands fairly early in search of Ring-necked Duck, Scaup and the Red-necked Grebe. Saw two out of the three but maybe the Scaup was out of sight or at Slapton. A few pochard and tufted ducks bobbing about with the usual mute swans, but not much else happening. Weather was terrible so we cut it short. 

Red-necked Grebe 

Posted March 9th, 2018 at 3:24 pm by Steph Murphy in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Thursday 8th March 2018


Yet another Wader taken by a raptor. Snipe this time - mostly plucked and left on the plucking stump.

Plucked Snipe
Plucked Snipe

Possible Culprit!
Possible Culprit!

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 9:45 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Heathfield Starling Roost

An estimated 15,000 tonight (6th March) is a 50% drop on estimate for 4th suggesting many birds are leaving for breeding areas in N Europe, N Poland, Russia, The Baltic and Scandinavia.  certainly there were far fewer birds and most again came in from the Ashburton/Newton Abbot area and the early arrivals again headed for the Bovey Tracey/Haytor area before coming into the roost.  Small numbers arrived from 17.23 to 17.35 when larger and more flocks began to arrive, many still heading for Bovey/Haytor until 17.50.  Display then began to take place around the roost site for some while with birds returning from the Bovey/Haytor area.  All birds were in by 18.08 on a colder evening than 4th..

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 8:13 pm by Dennis Elphick in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Bassett's Ridge & Wrafton Pond

Flock of several hundred Golden Plover resting on Bassett's Ridge at low tide.

Unusual to see a male Pintail on Wrafton Pond.

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 6:45 pm by Rob Jutsum in General Birding

Matford Marsh

The American Wigeon was showing well late afternoon. Also of note were 10 Snipe, 1 Stock Dove, 7 Curlew and good numbers of Lapwing. 

For more details please visit

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 6:34 pm by Spencer Dicks in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth

Female type Black Redstart this afternoon.

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 5:25 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Newbridge - Upstream 1 Mile

Numerous Tit family - Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and 5/6 Marsh Tit calling.  5 Nuthatch,  2 Treecreeper, 2 Buzzard, 1 Goldcrest and 8/10 Long Tailed Tit and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit
Marsh Tit


Posted March 8th, 2018 at 5:16 pm by Bill Coulson in General Birding

Plymbridge Woods , plymouth , this afternoon.


Posted March 8th, 2018 at 4:43 pm by Peter Castle in General Birding


 A walk down to the beach end of the marsh and could see the damage snow and “The Beast from the East” had caused. Not as bad as I first thought, part of the reeds had been blown down and some debris amongst the reeds. The marsh has more water in it than usual, so hope it stays like that. As I was surveying the damage, saw this smallish bird flying low along the beach, when it got closer, realised it was a male Merlin, which was brilliant. Flew quite close past me and lost sight of it as it flew below the coastguard cottages. The Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Coot were still here with also the usual Mallards and Teals, acouple of Canada Geese, some Gadwalls and lots of Snipe around the edges of the marsh.     

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 4:38 pm by Paul Albrechtsen in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

River Caen / Velator

At 13.35 today I was very surprised to see a lone Avocet on the shore of the River Caen, just in front of the shipping containers, about 200 yards down from the toll house. Could be the same one that was reported at The Skern earlier today?

Avocet on shore of River Caen
Avocet on shore of River Caen

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 3:13 pm by Colin Dracott in General Birding

Dartington ~ Hawfinch

At long last caught up with the reported Hawfinch at Dartington late this morning, on arrival four birds seen in flight and eventually found two feeding on the ground on the lower side of the playing field of Park school and the woodland that adjoins that field.


Over the time that I was there birds seen feeding on the ground inside the wood and also feeding in ivy covered trees, at any one time a total of nine birds, when on the ground usually in company with Chaffinch and Redwing

Also seen two Nuthatch, one Treecreeper, large numbers of Redwing and Chaffinch, Song and Mistle Thrush, two Jay and a Kestrel flew through the woodland canopy as I left.

At home in South Brent three lots of Canada Geese over between 6.30 and 8am, a Greater Black Back Gull overhead, a male Reed Bunting and a male Brambling on the feeders.


Posted March 8th, 2018 at 2:37 pm by Steve Hopper in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


As I was driving  Skern around 10.30, I met Malcolm Shakespeare who said he had had an Avocet. Sure enough one was resting with Oystercatcher on the falling tide. A first record for me at this site in 30 years. Also a Peregrine eating prey on the Saltings 

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 12:02 pm by Roger Doble in General Birding

Late Entry - 7th Mar.--Lower Tamar Lake

The lake is still partially frozen over.

8 Goosander, 10 Tufted Duck, 2 Mallard,1 pair of Goldeneye, 3 Wigeon, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 8 Canada Geese, 10+ Coot, 2 Moorhen, 1 Jay and another at nearby Thurdon, 2 Willow Tits and several Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tits, 1 Nuthatch, 1 Tawny Owl call in car park, 1 Raven over plus other corvids, numerous Chaffinches, 5 Wood Pigeons.

Harvey Kendall

Posted March 8th, 2018 at 9:00 am by Harvey Kendall in General Birding

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