A warm welcome was provided to the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh hide from event leader John O’Connell-Davidson for the 13 other members of Devon Birds taking part in Plymouth branch’s visit on Friday 16 March 2024 on what was to be a day of hellos and goodbyes.

With the high tide at 10:00 the advantage of meeting at the hide meant that there was plenty to do and see whilst people assembled with a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwits, many changing in to summer plumage, actively feeding right in front of the windows. Interestingly the nearest ducks were just in front of the them, a pair of Pintail, giving superb views, with another seven species around the reserve. In the distance Reed Bunting and a Kingfisher were seen in the far reed bed. Two Spoonbill were active allowing really good views to distinguish them as juveniles. The waders were occasionally spooked either by a Sparrowhawk or Peregrine, seen earlier in the morning, or the infamous Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Looking on to the marsh at Goosemoor, and following up on high pitched squeals, the group were fortunate to see two Water Rail in the open. The fleeting glimpses of a Sand Martin and a Swallow were not repeated but plenty of Chiffchaff were viewed, tails dipping and beaks moving in time to the unmistakable rhythmic call that has just burst back into our soundscape this week.

From the Goat Walk and Topsham area what might be final views of wintering waders, notably about 50 Avocet, were enjoyed. Rounding off the day, and with grateful thanks to the posts on the sightings page of the website, some ventured the five miles or so to Cranbrook to bid farewell to our Scandinavian-bound bird, Bombycilla garrulus aka Waxwing. (Not included in the day’s tally as this was after the visit).

Total species (72):
Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brent Goose (dark bellied), Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Cattle Egret (probable – at a great distance), Little Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Pheasant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Lapwing, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker (H), Sand Martin, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler (H), Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Jay (H), Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting

Report by Mary Johnson

Black-tailed Godwit (Mike Longhurst)


Curlew (Chris Marcol)


Spoonbill (Mike Longhurst)


Waxwing (Chris Marcol)