Sunday 26 January 2014

Not a lot to sea

Given the impressive numbers and variety of birds off Dawlish Warren at the moment, I was hoping there would be something interesting on the sea off Teignmouth on Saturday morning. In the end it turned out to be rather disappointing with a 30-minute watch from the yacht club producing just one Great Northern Diver, one Great Crested Grebe and a/the Razorbill - the latter was off Sprey Point again and diving frequently, suggesting any oiling effects were minimal.

Later on a scan from the Salcombe Dip viewpoint revealed a group of 40 Teal circling over the estuary - by far the highest number here this winter. The flock split in two with one party heading up towards Coombe Cellars and the other pitching down on the lagoons behind Flow Point. I drove to Jack's Patch nursery and climbed through a tangle of undergrowth to get some nice views of the Teal before they took flight again.

Sunday 19 January 2014

WeBS Weekend

Yesterday I had a walk along the estuary from Passage House to Coombe Cellars in the pouring rain in the hope of seeing some good gulls, but the best I could do was three probable intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a possible distant argentatus Herring Gull.

When the rain finally stopped, there was a magical moment as the rain departed and the sun came out.

Sadly this did not point to an American Herring Gull!
I then had a look at the racecourse. Can you find the Kingfisher in this picture?

There's also four Snipe
Today, Will and I did the WeBS count. We met up at 8:15 and headed to the fields south of Bishopsteignton where we found some nice Cirl Buntings.

Don't know why some of the twigs have turned blue!
The Jacks Patch car park (entrance to Flow Point) was closed until 10:30 so we when to count the Turnstones on The Salty. There were 11 roosting on the boats. No sign of any divers or grebes on the water though.

Offshore, there were two Great Northern Divers, a flying diver sp. off Exmouth, a Great Crested Grebe, and an oily looking Razorbill.

On to Flow Point, we counted 391 Oystercatchers, 51 Curlew, 9 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin (first for the year), and 21 Red-breasted Mergansers (males all displaying now).

At Passage House, we quickly found the two Avocet which were reported earlier in the week. They are annual on the Teign but are always nice to see. A total of 90 Redshank and 10 Greenshank were on the estuary, roughly half of each roosted at Flow. The Lapwing count stood at 29, the Little Grebe at 12, and the Common Sandpipers at three (a good winter count).

So, over the weekend, we managed five additions to the year list, which you can find in the 2014 year list tab at the top of the page.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Just thirty minutes in the field...

..did however produce a new bird for the year on patch with nine Wigeon in the estuary from the Salcombe Dip viewpoint. Also present on the river a Common Sandpiper and 29 Lapwing at Passage House with 45 Shelduck and a Great Northern Diver at the Salty.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Black Redstart on my roof!

Having missed out on the Black-necked Grebes midweek (they were gone the morning after they were discovered) I was hoping for some better fortune this morning. In beautifully sunny, calm conditions it felt almost spring-like as I walked around Decoy Country Park; Goldcrests and Song Thrushes were singing , with Great Tits and Nuthatches also particularly vocal. A Marsh Tit showed nicely by the lake, and three Raven passed overhead. On the lake itself, little change - the drake Scaup, drake Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe remain with 31 Tufted Duck, while 23 Mute Swan seemed like a good count.

With other plans for the day I headed home mid-morning and as I pulled into my driveway a small dark bird flew up from the front garden onto my roof - a female type Black Redstart! Scrambling for my phone to take a record shot, it flew into the tree beside my car before proceeding to forage in a neighbour's garden. Not a bad bird for the house list!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Thanks for the Grebes Steve!

So, I've just arrived back at university in Plymouth, but an hour before I had to catch my train, I found out that Steve Waite (thank you so much!!) had found two Black-necked Grebe on Decoy Lake!!! At first I was like, "I'm I reading this message right!" Black-necked Grebe on Decoy is an insane record, and a patch lifer!

So I pleaded my dad to take me to Decoy before dropping me off at the station. We arrived at about 12:30pm, and after a pretty tense few seconds scanning the lake, I picked them up on the far side.

I only had about 10 minutes, so I quickly took one photo through my scope, and spent the remainder of the time admiring the birds.

Hopefully the birds will stay long enough to let the other locals come to see them.

Anyway, a nice way to mark this blog's hundredth post!

Monday 6 January 2014

Work stops play

A far too brief 10 minute seawatch off Teignmouth early morning gave two Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver south along with c20 Kittiwake, five Gannet, a diver sp and an auk sp.

Sunday 5 January 2014

Sunday seawatch

An hour's seawatching off the yacht club in Teignmouth this morning before the latest band of rain arrived produced 5 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Common Scoter and 1 auk sp. south.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Ringed GBBG

Lee Collins saw this ringed Great Black-backed Gull (96N) today at Coombe Cellars. It was ringed as pullus on the 2nd July 2013 in Northern France and has been seen at Dawlish Warren three times since. The albino Herring Gull was also present.

© Lee Collins

GND in estuary

I began this morning with a scan of the lower estuary off Polly Steps, and soon picked up a Great Northern Diver swimming close to the Back Beach along with 10 Red-breasted Merganser. Once the tide had fallen slightly, a look offshore produced another GND, three auk sp. south and a Great Crested Grebe. Moving up the estuary to Flow Point, 26 Shelduck, 53 Linnet and two Rock Pipit were foraging on the saltmarsh and a Common Sandpiper flew upstream.

Yesterday late afternoon the flooded fields at Teigngrace held 79 Canada Goose, 65 Mallard, 4 Little Egret, 3 Mute Swan and a drake Gadwall (the Decoy Gadwall was also seen yesterday so this is a different bird).

Teign rares still present

This afternoon both the Glaucous Gull on the estuary and the Scaup at Decoy were still present. Earlier two Common Scoter flew north in a quick look off Teignmouth.

Friday 3 January 2014

Teignmouth update

Still no sign of the Glaucous Gull at the east end of the estuary. Searching on the dropping tide midmorning did reveal a Great Northern Diver south offshore and the afternoon watch showed the albino Herring Gull (returning for at least its third winter) on the Salty with 29 Shelduck and seven Ringed Plover.

Glaucous Gull photo

Haven't been out today (got loads of work to do!), but Lee Collins was. He's sent me a picture of the Glaucous Gull, which I'm sure you will agree is pretty damn good! Thank you Lee :-)

© Lee Collins

Thursday 2 January 2014

Water water everywhere

(Update: News from Kev this afternoon of a 1st winter Iceland Gull briefly on The Salty. This, along with the Glaucous Gull still reported off Netherton means it was a double white winged gull day on patch!!! Laurie)

Parts of the cycle path and most of the meadows at Hackney Marshes were under water this morning, the first time I've seen it like this. The flooded pools on the racecourse were attracting an interesting mix of birds, including 22 Lapwing, a Grey Heron, a Water Rail and a Common Gull, with eight Mistle Thrush and a Kingfisher on nearby fenceposts and two Kestrel overhead. Hackney Marshes held two, possibly three vocal Cetti's Warbler, two Reed Bunting, two more Water Rail and singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Siskin in the wooded area near the road.

Wellies required

After a successful trip to Brixham Harbour which yielded White-billed, Black-throated and numerous Great Northern Divers, Red-necked Grebe, Black Guillemot and Purple Sandpipers, I stopped off at Teignmouth where four Great Northern Divers were on the sea north of the pier; this would be a decent count if it weren't for the exceptional numbers currently residing in Torbay!

Wednesday 1 January 2014

New Year's Day

A day of near-constant rain and strong winds meant that birding was always going to be a struggle, but despite the adverse elements a decent total of 67 species was recorded around the Teign on the first day of 2014. Highlights included yesterday’s first-winter Glaucous Gull, a possible adult Yellow-legged Gull, the wintering Scaup and three Brent Geese in the estuary mouth (scarce here).

( Edit: Mike Langman has just let me know that the YLG looks more like a Herring x LBBG hybrid. I do agree with him, however I really did think it looked good. Thanks Mike. Does anyone else have an opinion on it? Laurie)

I started the New Year with a bit of dawn birding from the car at Passage House, where a Common Sandpiper was drifting downstream on some floating debris and flyover Little Egret were among a dozen species recorded in the first five minutes. I then drove to Teignmouth for a short seawatch, which didn’t produce anything special but Kittiwakes and Gannets were heading south in fair numbers close inshore, with 106 and 57 noted respectively inside 40 minutes along with a Fulmar. Moving on to Polly Steps got me the hoped-for small flocks of Turnstone and Ringed Plover, along with singles of Grey Wagtail and Rock Pipit.
A search for passerines at Bishopsteignton proved a waste of time given the conditions, so I headed round to Coombe Cellars to check the gulls on the estuary. I then received a call from Laurie informing me that the Glaucous Gull was off Hackney Lane near Passage House along with a possible adult Yellow-legged Gull. I turned around and drove back to meet Laurie where we obtained good views of both gulls, often in the same scope view (see Laurie’s photos below).
A brief visit home for lunch followed, before I was back out at a saturated Hackney Marshes. Locating passerines was no easier but I got lucky with a small party of finches containing Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Bullfinch, whilst on the racecourse Starlings, Lapwings and Curlews were foraging in the flooded areas. Laurie texted to say he’d just had three Brent Geese at Teignmouth but they’d flown off north. My final stop of the day was Decoy Country Park, where the drake Scaup and drake Gadwall showed with 36+ Tufted Duck on the lake and two Raven and a Buzzard appeared overhead during a break in the downpours. (Will)
First-winter Herring Gull (left), adult Great Black-backed Gull (centre), first-winter Glaucous Gull (right)
First-winter Glaucous Gull (fourth from left), possible adult Yellow-legged Gull (second from right)
Adult Yellow-legged Gull?? (centre)