A band of rain cleared through overnight to leave a wonderfully fresh-feeling morning and there was an increase in warbler numbers, with 11 Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers and nine Blackcaps dotted about, mainly around Hackney Marshes. Lingering winter visitors off Passage House included 13 Redshanks and six Black-headed Gulls, with four Reed Buntings and three Water Rails either seen or heard. Yesterday evening a Swallow flew over my garden in Kingsteignton as the clouds gathered.
Still quiet at the eastern end of the patch, although I missed an Osprey on 23 Mar and a Red Kite on 27 Mar, best I have managed is a couple of Buzzard.
The window lockdown list is currently on 41 with Guillemot added today. Yesterday a late Red-breasted Merganser was the highlight but two scoter included a probable Velvet but too distant to confirm. Two black dots remain at Labrador Bay today so both rare scoter are presumably still present with a separate flock of 75 Common Scoter off Holcombe.
Expectations were high for at least a Willow Warbler or Swallow on this morning's walk, but despite promising conditions there was very little change compared to yesterday, with mainly territorial Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs the only summer migrants noted. Counts from the past two days included 18 Mute Swans, 10 Mallards, six Canada Geese, four Little Egrets, 17 Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and the Dunlin still, with just the odd Buzzard, Sparrowhawk or Raven overhead to disturb the peace. A pair of Shelducks appear to be prospecting for a nest site on the racecourse, no doubt encouraged by the lack of activity there as of late.
I have now been placed on furlough leave, but intend to use my 'one form of exercise a day' to walk from my home in Kingsteignton down to Hackney Marshes, out to Passage House and back via the racecourse (with my binoculars of course) and will continue to post sightings here. The highlight of today's circuit was a Dunlin at Passage House; they have been scarce on the estuary so far this year. Also noted were 31 Curlew, 14 Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper, two Red-breasted Mergansers, three Little Egrets, two Grey Herons, two Reed Buntings, seven Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. Back at home there was a steady northbound trickle of Meadow Pipits and a couple of Lesser Black-back Gulls and Ravens overhead late morning.
Late news: on Sunday a pair of Stonechats and three Pheasants were on the racecourse.
A brief but productive visit to Teigngrace this morning produced half a dozen Sand Martins over the ponds and wet fields, plus a Green Sandpiper, 12+ Little Egrets, seven Mute Swans, four Teal and a couple of Meadow Pipits and Grey Wagtails.
Prior to the excitement of Saturday afternoon there was the monthly WeBS count to do. As mentioned by Laurie two Grey Plovers were at Passage House but soon disappeared as the tide rose. Other totals as far as Salcombe Dip included 129 Oystercatchers, 37 Curlew, 21 Redshanks, four Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 41 Shelducks, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, eight Mute Swans, seven Little Egrets and two Grey Herons. 14 Turnstones were roosting on boats at Teignmouth on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the pair of Mandarins were still on Decoy Lake yesterday morning and today just three Tufted Ducks remained on Rackerhayes, where the pair of Great Crested Grebes were busy nest-building. The Surf Scoter and Velvet Scoter continue to be reported from Labrador Bay.
A pair of Mandarin were on Decoy Lake this morning, and showed well briefly, before retreating to the cover of overhanging branches on the far side. Also present was a Great Crested Grebe and 24 Tufted Ducks, eight of which were flying circuits around the lake in preparation for their migration north.
No sign of yesterday's Grey Plovers at Passage House, but 25 Common Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls indicated a bit of migration.
At Teigngrace, three Teal were on the marsh and 19 Little Egrets were in a field amoungst some cattle.
A drake Surf Scoter was found off Labrador Bay at around midday today, in the company of a Velvet Scoter and a drake Long-tailed Duck. They were watched all afternoon by a steady stream of admirers, and fed the whole time, diving amongst the mussel farm from which they were presumably feeding off.
It's interesting to note that these birds formed a flock of their own, with the wintering flock of 50 or so Common Scoters only a little way to the north off Teignmouth. Will and I both managed to scope them from The Ness in order to get them on the patch list.
Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter and Surf Scoter
Earlier in the day on the rising tide, Will had two Grey Plovers at Passage House, although these soon flew in to roost with the Curlew and were obscured from view by vegetation. This is the first record for a couple of years.
The male Scaup made a surprise re-appearance on Rackerhayes this morning in the company of 22 Tufted Ducks, most of which will very soon be heading off towards breeding grounds. Also present two each of Kingfisher, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe, and a singing Chiffchaff was a welcome sound amongst the resident chorus.
A brief visit to Hackney Marshes on Wednesday morning produced a singing Blackcap, eight Mallards, two Reed Buntings, a Water Rail and a (silent) Chiffchaff.
As the title suggests, it's very quiet around patch at the moment. A Guillemot was offshore with a Razorbill, five Great Northern Divers, three Great Crested Grebe and 44 Common Scoter. No sign of any of the scarcer ducks on Decoy where there were just 12 Tufted Duck.
I've recently returned from a trip to The Gambia. If you're interested, I've written a trip report here.