Devon Bird Sightings from 15th–21st December 2019

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  Hooded Crow, Baggy Point 10 May
Barred Warbler, Thurlestone 30 Aug Long-tailed Skua, Dawlish Warren 11 Oct
Caspian Gull, Thurlestone, 08 Feb 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


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  Posts which breach these guidelines may not be published at all.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

Saturday 21st December 2019

Torquay harbour area

On arrival an unexpected Kestrel low over the Torquay harbour car park and out over Living Coasts.

Eight Shag on the harbour side and nearby rocks with a GBB Gull.

Twelve Purple Sandpiper, Twelve plus Turnstone, one Rock Pipit, two Pied Wagtails.

Two Gannet out over the sea.


Posted December 21st, 2019 at 7:55 pm by Steve Hopper in General Birding

ID Please

We think it is a Juvenile Arctic Skua, could you please ID for us

Shoalstone Sea Water Pool
Shoalstone Sea Water Pool

Eds: An Actic skua this late in the year would be extremely unusual, several historical published records almost certainly were mis-identifications. This bird is a Pomarine Skua and a much more likely candidate for any smaller skua at this time of year. It's either a juv or a fw without seeing the underwing it's difficult to age (more likely a juv). Arctic are generally more rusty in colour (this bird is colder toned) but also slimmer winged, longer tail ended. You can see the beginnings of the distinctly blob ended extended central tail feathers diagnostic of a Pomarine Skua.  

Posted December 21st, 2019 at 3:36 pm by Barry Rankine in General Birding

Goldcrest barnstaple

8 Goldcrest spotted yesterday pm on the Tarka trail in Barnstaple.


Posted December 21st, 2019 at 1:02 pm by richard yeats in General Birding

Slapton Ley

Highlight this morning a first winter Glaucous Gull with Great Black-backs in the field behind the fishing hut. Surprisingly getting a lot of grief of a young Black-back and soon headed out into the bay. Elsewhere Black-necked Grebe, Wigeon, just 2 Gadwalls, 8 Pochards, 6 Goldeneyes and a Firecrest.  No sign of Scaup or Ring-necked Duck. Offshore big southerly passage of auks early on, c60 per minute and a noticeable passage of Kittiwakes. Also south Red-throated Diver ( another off Memorial Car Park ) and 7 Common Scoter.

Posted December 21st, 2019 at 12:53 pm by Perry Sanders in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Teign Estuary

A flock of 13 Red - breasted Mergansers, just upstream of Shaldon Bridge this morning, with some of the males exhibiting their Courtship Display.

Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Mergansers

2 Male Red-Breasted Mergansers displaying to a female.
2 Male Red-Breasted Mergansers displaying to a female.

Posted December 21st, 2019 at 11:26 am by Steven O'Donoghue in General Birding

Friday 20th December 2019

Teign Estuary

9 Avocets Upper Teign Estuary this am


Posted December 20th, 2019 at 4:42 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Plym Estuary & Saltram

In much improved conditions today: 2 Great Northern Divers, 4 Jack Snipe, 7 Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshanks, Common Sandpiper, 6 Little Grebes, 4 Goosanders (3 drakes + redhead), 8 Wigeon (4 pairs), 15 Little Egrets, pair of Mandarin Ducks, Kingfisher, 4 Shags, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail, Green Woodpecker & 5 Roe Deer.

Posted December 20th, 2019 at 4:00 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Longdown & Ide

Went to Dennaford Farm S. of Longdown to look for the Hawfinches reported a couple of days ago. No success, but did see a Brambling among the Chaffinches. In the background, 200+ Redwings provided a chattering chorus, with a Mistle Thrush leading the soloists. Two Crossbills passed in the distance.

In the hedges along the lane running down to Ide, met a straggling mixed flock of seed-eaters, maybe 200 in total, mainly Linnet and Chaffinch, leavened with Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch and Goldfinch, with 20+ Skylark in the fields on either side and a dozen or so Fieldfares chuckling in an Oak. A happy sight and sound.

Posted December 20th, 2019 at 3:31 pm by James Camden in General Birding

Thursday 19th December 2019

Topsham & Exminster

At BGM this morning, a Bittern popped up from the reeds, flew about 30 yards, and disappeared again. We only get two seconds! On the water a Scaup was feeding actively, in company with 3/4 Tufteds and a Pochard, with at least 75 Pintail scattered around. Twelve Anseriformes, but still no Gadwall. Have not seen one here or at Matford yet this Autumn/Winter, although there are plenty at Weymouth. Twelve Common Gulls on Goosemoor were the biggest group I've seen recently.

Not many waders present, presumably because of the high water level. They seem to prefer Exminster at the moment: yesterday morning, most unusually, 150 Avocets, 40+ Bar-tailed Godwits and a Grey Plover were with the regulars (including the beautiful 750+Golden Plover flock) in the fields S. of Swans Nest Road, all being periodically disturbed by a Marsh Harrier.

Posted December 19th, 2019 at 5:13 pm by James Camden in General Birding

Firecrests still present in Dawlish Warren

Firecrest still present in large holly between the bottom of Millin Way and Shutterton Brook

Posted December 19th, 2019 at 1:26 pm by Carole Leigh in General Birding

Wrafton Pond

The Goldeneye was one of the species which was correctly named which is more than I can say for the Black headed Gull ! (medium chocolate brown to dark chocolate brown in breeding plumage)

Unfortunately, no  sign of the Scaup during the last 3 visits to the pond.

Posted December 19th, 2019 at 12:29 pm by Rob Jutsum in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


47 Great Northern Divers in the south side of Torbay this morning: 27 around Brixham & 20 Broadsands also 1 Pomarine Skua and 1 Great Skua from Shoalstpne. 1 Black-necked Grebe & 1 Firecrest  at Broadsands. another Firecrest above Breakwater beach.

GND's Broadsands 19 Dec 2019 ML GND's Breakwater Brixham 19 Dec 2019 ML

        4 Great N Divers (1 ad 3 fw)  Broadsands              8 Great N Divers off Breakwater, Brixham

Posted December 19th, 2019 at 11:31 am by Mike Langman in General Birding

Wednesday 18th December 2019

Plym Estuary & Saltram

Before the rain: 6 Goosanders (5 drakes + a redhead), 7 Wigeon (4 drakes), 2 Snipe, 153 Redshanks, 209 Dunlins, 6 Greenshanks, Sparrowhawk & 10 Little Egrets.

Posted December 18th, 2019 at 5:27 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding

Firecrest Dawlish Warren village

There is at least 1 Firecrest  in a large Holly between the bottom of Millin Way and Shutterton Brook. It’s in company with goldcrests and Chiffchaff. Currently showing from my window in the holly adjacent to my garden.

Posted December 18th, 2019 at 3:24 pm by Carole leigh in General Birding

Bovey Heathfield

Predictably quiet, even the Stonechats were keeping their heads down, but one thing worth noting. The skeletal, beautifully lichened, much perched-upon Nightjar tree is no more - brought down by high winds/old age. 

Posted December 18th, 2019 at 12:45 pm by John Walton in General Birding

Tuesday 17th December 2019

Velator reserve

Ringing today produced 52 new birds. Majoring in Greenfinch - 24, Chaffinch 7 (all females) 2 Goldfinch and a single male Bullfinch. A Song Thrush and 4 Chiffchaffs were the pick. Probably 5 Water Rails around the reserve.

News from the BTO of a Chiffchaff ringed here on November 8th which was controlled by another ringer in Hampshire just a few days ago. I often wonder where they go.

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 7:27 pm by Jon Turner in General Birding

Brisworthy Plantation

Merlin, 5 Brambling with 90+ Chaffinch, 2 Green Woodpecker, 3 Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 200+ Woodpigeon feeding and usual woodland sps.

Green Woodpecker  Treecreeper
Green Woodpecker                                               Treecreeper

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 6:44 pm by Chris E in General Birding

Plymouth Breakwater

a couple more pics

Knot    Purple Sandpiper
Knot                                                          Purple Sandpiper

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 5:47 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in General Birding

Plymouth Breakwater

Breakwater 10 am this morning:

43+ Purple sandpiper

5 Knot

650+ Dunlin

15 turnstone

plus 1 Harbour Porpoise (in western tide race)

1 Common Dolphin (yesterday, off Drake's island)

2 Great Northern Diver (off Drake's Island)

Common Dolphin
Common Dolphin

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 5:45 pm by Rupert Kirkwood in General Birding


Water Rail,gs Woodpecker,Bull Finch female, Greenfinch,4Goldfinch,6lt tit,2 Mistle Thrush, tree creeper, nuthatch,large flock pigeons,10 Redwing and Marsh Tits. Really good numbers of usual woodland birds all looking well and fit for winter.

GS Woodpecker.  Water Rail  llong tailed tit
GS Woodpecker                   Water Rail                                                   long tailed tit

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 3:59 pm by john elvin in General Birding

Lower Tamar Lake

Lower Tamar Lake this morning.

15 Goosander 8m 7f, 4 Ring-necked Duck 3m 1f, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Cormorant, Tufted Duck, 3 Willow Tit

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 1:39 pm by Rod Mudge in General Birding

Bursdon Moor

Female Hen Harrier quartering over moor in the sunshine (at 1300hrs) - super views

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 1:27 pm by Steve Wheale in General Birding


Another run around the beaches in Torbay this morning produced 22 Great Northern, 5 Red-throated, and 1 Black-throated Diver (off Broadsands), also 18 Common Scoter, 1 Black-necked Grebe (Preston), 4 Great Crested Grebes, approx 20 Guillemot & 2 Razorbills.

At Broadsands: 1 Roosting Tawny Owl, 2 Firecrest, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff, 11 Cirl Bunting and 1 male Yellowhammer.

At Preston: 36 Turnstones and 28 Oystercatchers

   Firecrest Broadsands 17 Dec 2019 ML  Great Northern Diver 1w Broadsands 17 Dec 2019 ML

               Firecrest in reedy ditch Broadsands                                       1w Great Northern Diver

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 1:01 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts


I am back from Hungary for Christmas and decided to check the traditional roost site at Longdown. It appears to be not in use this winter. However a drive along the ridge from Longdown to the Haldon Belvedere located 3 Hawfinches at Darneford. 1 bird at South Wood and a further 3 at the Butterfly Walk on Haldon. All birds were feeding on Beech seed. Undoubtedly other birds will be in this area as there are many Beech trees with a good seed crop. 

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 12:56 pm by Roy Adams in General Birding

Male Goldeneye Wrafton pond

Male Goldeneye today at Wrafton Pond with the female

Goldeneye male
Goldeneye male

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 11:31 am by Phil & Sue Naylor in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Avon Dam Goosanders - and beyond

21 (5 m) roosting Goosanders at the Avon Dam this morning was typical of recent counts there, but on 14 Dec there were only two. This was the day of a synchronised roost count across Devon, when only 31 were located on Dartmoor and 34 elsewhere (23 at Tamar Lakes, 11 at Clovelly Fishing Lakes and none at Portworthy, Dartington, Stover or Roadford). Wild weather and perhaps the full moon may have affected the counts. Unfortunately there was no count at MEETH, the main Devon roost site in recent years. If anyone has any recent counts for this site and/or is willing to help with future counts there, please get in touch (

Posted December 17th, 2019 at 11:14 am by Peter Reay in General Birding

Monday 16th December 2019

Berry Head - 16th December

Not much activity at Berry Head this afternoon except for the colony of Guillemots that can be best viewed from the hide adjacent to the Guardhouse Café. As well as watching it's good to listen to them as from a distance it sounds like they are laughing.The Guillemot count today, as taken by Torbay Coast and Country Trust, was 953.

The picture was taken by Andrew Barnes.

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 9:59 pm by David Roper in General Birding

Teignmouth Sea Front 15:00ish

At least 4, possibly a few more Great Northern Divers between the pier and the Ness this afternoon, Torbay a whole lot more!!

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 7:16 pm by Simon Bates in General Birding

Brisworthy Plantation nr Cadover

At least 2 Brambling with 90+ Chaffinch. Showing well until flock flushed by Sparrowhawk. 

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 6:31 pm by Chris E in General Birding

Middle Soar/Soar Mill Valley/Southdown Farm

Finally got out in some decent weather but not much going on: Woodpigeon 430W - a late movement, 16 Stock Dove, 240 Carrion Crow, 100 each of Rook & Jackdaw, 25 Robin, 26 Dunnock, 18 Song Thrush, 34 Blackbird, 2 Bullfinch, male Sparrowhawk, 28 Yellowhammer & 25 Cirl Bunting.

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 4:02 pm by Rob Macklin in General Birding

Plym Estuary & Saltram

On this morning's high tide, in much improved weather: 6 Goosanders (4 drakes & 2 redheads), 7 Little Grebes, 8 Wigeon, 4 Mandarin Ducks (2 pairs), 17 Snipe, 5 Greenshanks, 55 Curlews, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Nuthatches & Roe Deer.

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 2:15 pm by Pete Aley in General Birding


A fantastic 45 Great Northern (42 from Broadsands) & 5 Red-throated Divers in Torbay this morning on lovely calm seas.

Also in Torbay: 2 Black-necked Grebes (Preston), 5 Great Crested Grebes, 18 Common Scoter and 20+ Common Dolphins that made their way toward Brixham

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 2:06 pm by Mike Langman in Scarce / Rare Birds & Passage Counts

Great Torrington

Five redwings feeding in holly tree in Great Torrington on 16th December.

Posted December 16th, 2019 at 10:33 am by Aubrey McKenzie in General Birding

Sunday 15th December 2019

Dartington Harrier

Marsh Harrier F. 1500 15.12 19. In large field East of Foxhole.

Posted December 15th, 2019 at 9:40 pm by Denis Doy in General Birding

Firecrest in Plymstock

Firecrest in back garden at Pomphlett, Plymstock. First sighting in over 30 years

Posted December 15th, 2019 at 11:31 am by Jacki Solman in General Birding

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