Saturday, 25 January 2020

Pochard Pair

A pair of Pochard was a nice surprise on Decoy Lake this morning, this species being an irregular visitor, the last record being a few winters ago I believe. The male Scaup was still with the Tufted Duck flock that seemed to have reduced in number to around 17, but an accurate count was not possible due to birds roosting behind cover.


Monday, 20 January 2020

WeBS & Goldeneye

Counts from the estuary on a glorious winter's day on Sunday included 263 Oystercatchers, 93 Curlew, 71 Redshanks, 13 Avocets, nine Ringed Plovers, five Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 42 Shelducks, 36 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mute Swans, two Little Grebes, five Little Egrets and eight Cormorants (including one sinensis).

On Saturday afternoon a check of Rackerhayes produced a fine male Goldeneye along with nine Tufted Ducks, six Gadwalls, a Great Crested Grebe and at least one Marsh Tit.


Friday, 10 January 2020

Nice Ice Baby

A first winter  Iceland Gull was a welcome find on The Salty this afternoon, arriving with other gulls pre-roost. Also from the window today at lest four male Blackcap in the garden and the Black Redstart put in one of it's intermittent appearances.  

The drake Scaup was reported as still present on Decoy Lake. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Year's Day

Will and I were out all day on patch and managed to amass a very respectible total of 85 species.

First off, a walk around Decoy produced the male Scaup, a Firecrest showing excellently in a bush around the far side, a couple of Marsh Tits and a Treecreeper.

A Water Rail and Reed Bunting were heard calling from Hackney Marshes, a Chiffchaff was seen in the bushes and a Siskin flew over. The low cloud and drizzle made observing birds on the estuary very difficult over the high tide, but the 10 Avocet were roosting on the islands at Passage House and four Dunlin flew in from further down river.

On to Teigngrace, and three Green Sandpiper were on the flooded fields to the north-west of the Exeter Road along with large numbers of Pied Wagtails and a Little Egret. A Stonechat was on nearby fenceposts and a Kingfisher perched over the small stream that runs through the fields.

Two Dippers and a Grey Wagtail were on the River Lemon running through Newton Abbot.

A quick look in at Rackerhayes fishing lakes gave three useful additions to the day's tally; a male Shoveler, six Gadwall (scarce elsewhere on patch of late), and two Great Crested Grebe.

The next stop was Teignmouth where at least 34 Common Scoter were offshore. Close inspection of the flock revealed a male Wigeon which was surprisingly inconspicuous until the scoters dived. Three Great Northern Divers were also offshore with two 1st winter Mediterranean Gulls in a distant flock of Kittiwakes, and 17 Fulmars flew around the cliffs off to the north. A final stop off at Passage House saw 10 Snipe flying around and a Common Sandpiper.


A male Blackcap and imm Black Redstart were present in a Teignmouth garden early morning. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2019


On the last day of 2019 a male Scaup on Decoy Lake was a welcome late addition to the year list. A relatively small individual with a roundish head, it was clearly a different bird that returned for several consecutive winters up to 2015/16. Also present a Kingfisher and a good total of 29 Tufted Ducks, and in the woods a Firecrest and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Passage House

There was a nice mix of birds off Passage House this afternoon on the rising tide, viewed from below the sewage works. The Avocet flock had increased to 11, the first double-figure count on the estuary for several years; other waders included 35 Redshanks, six Greenshanks, nine Lapwings and two Common Sandpipers. Also noted were 19 Common Gulls, six Red-breasted Mergansers, five Little Grebes, two Water Rails and a Kingfisher.

Saturday, 21 December 2019


A walk down through Kingsteignton, around Hackney Marshes and back again this morning produced two Firecrests; one in holly bushes in the churchyard, and the other in the woods at the back of the Marshes. Both birds allowed prolonged, close-up views. It's amazing to think that barely a decade ago this species was a relatively scarce winter visitor in Devon; now it can almost be expected in suitable habitat near the south coast. With confirmed breeding in the Dart Valley and Torbay in the last few years, a breeding territory on patch in the near future seems a distinct possibility.

Also noted around Hackney Marshes: Chiffchaff, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, a singing Song Thrush and a couple of squealing Water Rails.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

WeBS, Avocets

This morning's count produced some very similar totals to last month's survey, although six Avocets at Passage House (present since 22 November at least) were the first to be recorded during WeBS counts this year. Other totals included 325 Oystercatchers, 63 Curlew, 13 Dunlin, 13 Turnstones, eight Greenshanks, seven Ringed Plovers, two Common Sandpipers, 28 Shelducks, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers, 12 Mute Swans, eight Mallards, seven Canada Geese, two Little Grebes and a Grey Seal. The conspicuous absentee was Redshank with just five noted at Passage House; presumably many were roosting on the inaccessible pools behind the railway due to the high spring tide.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019


Nothing outstanding to report on the estuary on Monday morning, though there were some good counts with 109 Redshanks and 74 Great Black-backed Gulls being most notable. Other totals between Passage House and Salcombe Dip included 320 Oystercatchers, 62 Curlew, 14 Dunlin, seven Greenshanks, seven Lapwings, six Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, two Turnstones, two Snipe, 21 Shelducks, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mute Swans, four Little Grebes, 12 Shags, eight Cormorants and singles of Kingfisher and Water Rail. A further 11 Turnstones were at Teignmouth on Sunday.

A check of other sites around the patch turned up a few bits and pieces. Off Teignmouth a Brent Goose on the sea towards Holcombe was a belated first for the year; also present four Common Scoters, a Red-throated Diver and a Mediterranean Gull. A vocal Firecrest was in the woods at Decoy Country Park, with 16 Tufted Ducks on the lake. Finally two Green Sandpipers were still hanging about at Teigngrace along with eight Lapwings.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019


First reported yesterday, this Spoonbill was on the estuary a few hundred metres east of Passage House first thing this morning, although it wasn't seen during the afternoon. Yesterday while scanning for the Spoonbill Kev had a Firecrest opposite the Salcombe Dip layby.