Sunday 30 March 2014

First Willow Warbler

A fantastic spring day was highlighted by the first Willow Warbler of the year along the path on the south side of the racecourse. Also lots of Chiffchaff in song, and at Passage House at low tide there was a pair of Stock Dove.

With also seeing my first Orange-tip butterfly of the year, we can definitely say spring has arrived.

And here's a picture of a Dipper on the River Lemon.

Friday 28 March 2014

First Wheatear

Today was my first day back for the Easter holidays, so I thought I'd make the most of it by going to Teignmouth to look for migrants in Eastcliff Park and the fields above it. Here's a view from the top of the cliff...

The Ness with Bundle Head above it in the middle of the photo, with Hopes Nose over to the left.
After seeing just five Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps on my way up through the park, I felt a little disappointed as I reached the top field. Until...

The patch's first Wheatear popped up on a fence!
It allowed me to approach pretty close and I managed to get some good photos...

This area seems like it could be really good for migrants. Plenty of good habitat with thick hedgerows and lots of fences. If only the grass was a bit shorter though.

I searched the area for a good two hours but couldn't turn up anything better.

When I got back down to the bottom, I had a two hour seawatch from about 12:00 - 14:00. The strong onshore winds meant the sea was pretty choppy, but I managed to pick out three Red-throated Divers on the sea with a further three flying by. Two Common Scoters flew north, two Fulmars flew north and south, a Sandwich Tern was fishing distantly offshore, and two Great Northern Divers flew in high from the north, one of which landed on the sea off The Ness. Also, two or three Harbour Porpoises swam south.

A quick check of the racecourse on my way back didn't reveal anything interesting.

Mark Bailey reports a Dipper on the River Lemon near Albany Street in Newton Abbot which has been there for a while.

Monday 24 March 2014

Full day on patch

A day off work and a chance to spend most of the day birding around the Teign. I started with an early morning walk from The Ness to Bundle Head, where five Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap were in song and a Buzzard drifted high south mobbed by gulls. With little else in the bushes or overhead I didn't linger for long and decided to head to the fields south of Bishopsteignton, where I finally saw my first patch Stock Dove of the year and a scan of the estuary produced a good count of 21 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Onto Passage House, which I viewed from the bottom of Hackney Lane. Surprisingly, Greenshanks outnumbered Redshanks by 10 to 7, and Curlew numbers were down to just 39. Twenty Little Egrets were feeding along the edge of the rising tide with four more nearby, and two Common Sandpipers flew upriver. Next stop was Flow Point, where 8 Teal and 3 Snipe were on the lagoon behind the railway and 58 Oystercatchers roosted on the edge of the saltmarsh. A brief look around Polly Steps, Teignmouth produced 8 Turnstones.

In increasingly wet and blustery conditions early afternoon, I called into Decoy Lake which held 5 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Tufted Ducks but little else of note. After stopping for petrol at Tesco I had a glance through the gates into Rackerhayes where half a dozen Sand Martins were feeding over the nearest pond. Lastly, seawatching from Teignmouth from 15:30 until 16:10 produced 5 Sandwich Terns, a Red-throated Diver and 8 Fulmars all heading south.

Friday 21 March 2014

Early morning reward

An early morning glance at the Salty saw an adult Glaucous Gull sat with a handful of Herring Gull until the rising tide pushed it off at 07.15. Perhaps the same individual as in early Feb? The bird circled around a few times before heading offshore and flying south. Also around the Salty seven displaying Red-breasted Merganser.

Yesterday 30 Sand Martin and a Swallow were at Rackerhayes, the first records of the year.

Monday 17 March 2014

Chiffchaff arrival

A walk around Hackney Marshes on Saturday morning revealed three singing Chiffchaffs and two singing male Reed Buntings. No Wheatears on the racecourse yet, though a small increase in Meadow Pipit numbers indicated some evidence of migrant activity. At Passage House a scan of the gulls produced a good count of 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and waders included singles of Snipe, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Mid March...

...and little to report with no Sand Martin or even a repeat of February's Sandwich Tern. Three Common Sandpiper at Passage House on Friday and a Tawny Owl at the Ness, Shaldon this evening the only notable sightings of late, the latter a rather tardy year tick.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Med Gull

A look offshore from Teignmouth early evening revealed quite a few gulls including a fine summer-plumaged adult Mediterranean Gull. It always remained fairly distant and eventually drifted off south. Also a male Red-breasted Merganser flew in from the north, suggesting it was one of the Exe birds dispersing.

Yesterday afternoon there were singles of Great Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe and Razorbill offshore and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers in the estuary. At Decoy Lake two Great Crested Grebes were present but keeping their distance from each other, with the male Scaup, male Gadwall, 15 Tufted Ducks and 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls also in attendance. The female type Black Redstart continues to show on occasion in the Tarrs Lane/Primrose Close area of Kingsteignton.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Divers off Teignmouth

Seawatching from Teignmouth this morning between 07:50 and 09:10 was quite productive for divers, with five Great Northern Divers on the water and at least four Red-throated Divers heading south. One of the GNDs was consuming a crab right in front of the yacht club and gave great views. Also noted were a Great Crested Grebe, 4 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots, 10+ auk sp. and 25 Common Scoters in flocks of 9 and 16. A brief look up the estuary from Polly Steps revealed 14 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Yesterday morning at Decoy Country Park two vocal Lesser Black-backed Gulls were presumed recently arrived migrants. Tufted Duck numbers on the lake had dwindled to just 16, but the male Scaup and male Gadwall extend their stay into a fifth calendar month.