Monday, 24 April 2017

More migrants

Three female Wheatears were on the racecourse yesterday morning, visible from the path on the southern side. Nearby Hackney Marshes produced six Reed Warblers but still no Sedge Warblers. In the evening the first three Swifts of the year flew over my house in Kingsteignton along with five House Martins.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Grasshopper Warbler

An early morning walk around Bundle Head was initially quiet with just two Willow Warblers and 10 Blackcaps noted in the bushes, and three Sandwich Tern out at sea. That was until walking back along the golf course, when five Wheatears seemed to drop out of the sky, remaining very flighty until moving off north a few minutes later. After walking a few more metres across the golf course, a Grasshopper Warbler started to reel from the hedge bordering the road, remaining stubbornly hidden deep within cover. It stayed until at least 11am when Will and Kev both found it in the same hedge, with the first Yellow Wagtail of the year also flying over.

Cirl Bunting

Saturday, 15 April 2017


A quiet morning on the estuary with the best birds being four Whimbrel - two at Passage House and two at Flow Point, with the former joining the latter at high tide. Other counts included five Common Sandpipers, 74 Oystercatchers, three Redshanks, one Greenshank, 12 Little Egrets, 15 Mute Swans, 18 Shelducks and five Sandwich Terns. Despite the overnight cloud and rain few passerine migrants were evident with Laurie reporting just two Willow Warblers at Bundle Head.

The first Reed Warbler of the year appeared at Hackney Marshes on 12th April, when three House Martins were just outside the patch at Sandygate and 50+ Sand Martins were at Teigngrace the previous day (thanks Cilla Ingram). 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Cattle Egrets remain

Despite the warm temperatures and sunshine of recent days the Teigngrace Cattle Egrets don't seem to be in any hurry to move on; four were still present at noon today, the first time I've seen them without any Little Egrets for company. Also three Stock Doves and c.20 Sand Martins.

The past week has been pretty quiet with just a handful of Willow Warblers at Hackney Marshes on a couple of mornings and two late Fieldfares over Netherton Park cricket ground on Thursday evening. Another Osprey was reported off Coombe Cellars yesterday afternoon.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Evening @ Passage House

An evening visit to Passage House was fairly quiet as the tide was still out but a pair of Teal, three Common Sandpiper and a dozen Redshank were present on the mudflats with a couple of Reed Bunting and Water Rail on the islands. At around 7.15 a group of four Little Egret flew over the A380 bridge and headed east up the estuary to roost, these were followed five minutes later by a 10 more egrets but eight of these were Cattle Egret. These birds are presumably the same ones seen on patch earlier this month now joined up as a single flock.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Gulls Aloud

The alarm calls of the local Herring Gulls revealed the second Osprey of the year which lingered over the Salty for 10 minutes late afternoon before heading north along the coast. On Thursday a Great Northern Diver was in the estuary at Teignmouth.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

LTDs and Eider

Today, four of the Labrador Bay Long-tailed Ducks were distantly visible from the bottom of the smugglers tunnel at Shaldon with c.130-140 Common Scoter. A female Eider was off The Ness before flying off unseen.

Yesterday, Will had the seven Cattle Egrets and 16 Little Egret at Teigngrace, with an impressive flock of 150+ Sand Martin hawking over the same fields.

Friday, 17 March 2017


Three Lesser Redpolls were feeding quietly in a silver birch alongside the cycle path by the racecourse this morning. The hoped-for Wheatear failed to show but there were a few more Meadow Pipits on the move and the resident male Pheasant has increased his harem of females to three.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Cattle Egrets at Passage House & WeBS

The discovery of two Cattle Egrets roosting with the gulls at Passage House was the surprise highlight of this morning's WeBS count. They stayed until 09:40 (allowing Kev and Robin to catch up with them) before flying south and appeared to land just beyond the sewage works; a brief search of the fields at Buckland drew a blank. Forty minutes later the five Teigngrace Cattle Egrets were in trees at Blatchford Farm; this site is approximately 1.5km to the north-west so the Passage House sighting almost certainly involved different birds.

Other counts around the estuary included a male Gadwall at Flow Point, three Teal, 38 Shelducks, 14 Mute Swans, 17 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Great Crested Grebes, 155 Oystercatchers, 47 Redshanks, 12 Snipe, eight Curlew and four Common Sandpipers. Gull passage continues with an impressive 144 Common Gulls at Passage House, which I understand is the highest count on the estuary for almost a decade. Kev also had a Great Black-backed Gull that had been ringed in Looe and was previously seen at Dawlish Warren in October 2016.

Yesterday there were four singing Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap at Hackney Marshes, and Robin had the first four Sand Martins of the year over Rackerhayes.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Early spring at Hackney Marshes

Signs of spring abounded during a couple of visits to Hackney Marshes this week, with many of the resident species now in song including Reed Bunting, Treecreeper and GoldcrestSkylarks have been audible over the racecourse and small numbers of Redwings have been passing through, one or two of which gave bursts of their rather uninspiring song. Nothing unusual has been noted although two Siskins overhead yesterday were my first there this year.

 This Robin at Hackney Marshes frequented an area where people regularly feed birds and was so bold it could be approached to an arm's length.