Saturday 31 December 2016

End of year

Seawatching from Teignmouth yacht club from 12:40-13:40 failed to add anything new to the patch year list, which stands at 150 - the same as in 2015 but below the recent high of 158 in 2013. I was again unable to locate the Long-tailed Ducks but my Eider hot streak continued as seven birds - three males and four females - flew in from the north and landed on the sea at 13:30. Also noted during the hour four Great Northern Divers, nine Red-throated Divers (five on the sea, four in flight) and a Razorbill. At the same time four Cattle Egrets were seen at Teigngrace, with six reported there on the 29th.

A 2016 review will appear here at some point in January. Happy New Year!

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Eiders return

No sign of the Long-tailed Ducks during a very brief look from Teignmouth yacht club this afternoon, but it was good to see some Eiders offshore - a pair and a separate group of three - for the first time this month. Also two Red-throated Divers still.

Late news for Christmas Eve - four Cattle Egrets were still in the cattle/solar panel field at Teigngrace.

Monday 26 December 2016

Long-tailed Ducks

Flat calm conditions offshore merited an afternoon look off the yacht club. There was a lot of distant activity (Gannets, gulls & auks) but the two birds closest in took the attention - a couple of fem/imm Long-tailed Duck. They remained for at least an hour drifting slowly south and feeding regularly. Also offshore two Great Northern and two Red-throated Diver, but there was no sign of last week's Velvet Scoter or indeed any other seaduck.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Welcome back

The Bonaparte's Gull made a reappearance this morning feeding around the estuary mouth before roosting on the Salty with a single Black-headed Gull on the rising tide. It was last seen on the Exe two weeks ago and is the first sighting on the Teign since 9th September.


Poor visibility and disturbance hampered the WeBS effort this past weekend, with numbers of waders in particular thought to be under-estimated. Notebook totals included 340 Oystercatchers, 80 Curlew, 60 Redshanks, 37 Dunlin, 17 Lapwings, nine Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, three Bar-tailed Godwits, two Greenshanks, 119 Canada Geese, 47 Shelducks, 25 Red-breasted Mergansers, 19 Mute Swans, eight Teal, five Little Grebes and a Kingfisher.

Sunday 11 December 2016

Cattle Egrets

Seven Cattle Egret were still present this morning at Teigngrace after one was seen on Wednesday, with a further six were found on Friday. This morning in thick fog, they were initially in a field of cows near the solar farm on the Teigngrace road, but gradually made their way over to the fields north of Twelve Oaks Holiday Park. They were clearly wary of passers-by and would frequently hop from field to field. Also present were at least four Little Egret, a Firecrest by Twelve Oaks, with further Firecrest present with a Chiffchaff in Jetty Marsh.

Saturday 3 December 2016

Large Dunlin flock

A very large flock of 82 Dunlin was at Passage House this morning. Looking back through the WeBS records, this is the largest since 1991, but still insignificant compared to the 1000-1500 the estuary was getting during the 1970s. With being able to count the wintering flock of Dunlin on one hand over the last few winters, one wonders what's changed?

Other waders included three Bar-tailed Godwit, six Greenshank and two Common Sandpiper. The gulls included 80 Greater Black-backed Gulls, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 12 Common Gulls.

Saturday 26 November 2016


Despite choppy conditions off Teignmouth late morning the sea produced seven Great Northern Divers, two Red-throated Divers and two diver sp. The 10 Eiders were still around, but more spread out and frequently disturbed by a couple of jet skiers. Later on Decoy Lake just a handful of Tufted Ducks, a Little Grebe and a Kingfisher of note.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Eiders and divers

The party of 10 Eiders was still present this morning although slightly further south just off The Ness. At least eight Great Northern Divers were between here and the yacht club, including two very close in near the mouth of the estuary, although there was no sign of the Long-tailed Duck.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

All at sea

With the weather clearing and it looking calm offshore a quick look off Teignmouth seafront seemed appropriate - and so it proved. Before getting out the car a Great Northern Diver was seen around the groynes and distant flock of duck were visible.

From the roof of the yacht club the duck were soon confirmed as a flock of 10 Eider, a great patch record. With them was a second Great Northern Diver and a proper scan showed at least seven birds across the bay. Whilst scanning a small bird was picked up distantly off the Ness, once on full zoom it could be identified as an immature Long-tailed Duck, presumably the bird reported on Saturday. Later on a much better view was obtained from Ness beach were it showed well until flushed by a surfacing Great Northern Diver and flew north.

Sunday 20 November 2016


No sign of the Long-tailed Duck (s) that were seen last week and possibly yesterday, but two Great Northern Divers and a Red-breasted Merganser were offshore with what was seemingly a very distant flock of about 12 Tufted Duck. A small bird flew south which could well have been a Little Auk, but again it was way too distant to be sure.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Firecrests still

A look around The Ness showed at least two Firecrest were still present, with 50+ Wood Pigeon and three Jay feasting on Holm Oak acorns. Otherwise quiet with an adult Mediterranean Gull and half a dozen Shag offshore and a couple of Skylark overhead.

Saturday 12 November 2016


Some decent totals between Passage House and Flow Point this afternoon included 122 Redshanks, five Greenshanks, 375 Oystercatchers (good to see them back), 97 Curlew, 30 Dunlin, 14 Lapwings, 10 Ringed Plovers, three Common Sandpipers, two Bar-tailed Godwits, a Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Shelducks, 23 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Mute Swans and 11 Little Grebes.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Black Reds and Shovelers

A good sized flock of 28 Dunlin was at Passage House this morning with three Common Sandpipers, two each of Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, 70 Redshank, one Greenshank, 78 Curlew, three Snipe, eight Little Grebe and the first returning flock of 11 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Three female Shovelers were on Decoy Lake with c. 10 Tufted Ducks, but no sign of the Scaup yet.

A couple of Black Redstarts have been around my house in Newton Abbot over the last few days including an adult male. Here's a female/1st winter...

Sleeping Shovelers

Monday 31 October 2016

Morning at the Ness

An early morning look for the Yellow-browed Warbler at the Ness was unsuccessful with just a few Goldcrest around the wood and a group of 17 Redwing dropping in from high. A walk round to the viewpoint proved worthwhile though with a group of eight Eider sat offshore, an excellent patch record. The lone Wigeon sat with them was also looking slightly out of place.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Yellow-browed Warbler

A brief, unseen, but very vocal Yellow-browed Warbler was around the entrance to Shaldon Zoo at 2.40pm this afternoon. It then presumably disappeared like a needle into the haystack that is The Ness and wasn't seen or heard thereafter. Also one Firecrest.

Thursday 20 October 2016


Totals from between Passage House and Salcombe Dip this morning included a Pintail, four Wigeon, eight Little Grebes, 27 Little Egrets, 103 Curlew, 38 Redshanks, nine Greenshanks, eight Ringed Plovers, five Lapwings, four Snipe, three Turnstones, three Common Sandpipers and singles of Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Kingfisher. Oystercatchers were again conspicuous by their absense with just seven noted.

Sunday 16 October 2016


There were at least two Firecrests at The Ness this afternoon (Will had three on Wednesday) keeping well hidden in the Holm Oaks. Apart from that, just three Goldcrests.

Sunday 9 October 2016


Yesterday, there were two Wigeon on the estuary off Netherton. One Black-tailed and two Bar-tailed Godwit remain with 90 Curlew, and other counts include eight Greenshank, five Redshank, three Common Sandpiper, four Lapwing and five Lesser Black-backed Gull. The first three Tufted Duck of the autumn were also on Decoy Lake.

Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull
Wildfowl on the Teign
This morning, a check of Teigngrace didn't produce many birds, just a small flock of Canada Geese and a few gulls.

This afternoon, a look around The Ness was quiet at first, but soon a tit flock moved through containing two Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, two Goldcrest and five Coal Tits. A quick scan over the sea revealed three Dark-bellied Brents flying around distantly offshore, the first of the year.

Brent Geese

Wednesday 5 October 2016


Robin Shute found two Spoonbills roosting at Passage House this morning, the first record since 2009. I managed to whizz down to see them at midday, and they were later reported at 14:15 having just been flushed by another Osprey! Whether or not they'll have stayed on the estuary, we'll have to see.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Osprey catches a fish

Wader counts from the high tide roost at Passage House included 14 Greenshank, six Bar-tailed Godwits, four Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Sandpipers and 81 Curlew.

At 14:25, all the gulls and waders flushed and a glance up revealed an Osprey overhead, seemingly having just flown in from the west. It circled around for a couple of minutes before diving down and catching a fish in the shallow water just off the bottom of Hackney Lane. It then flew off down estuary and up towards the hills to the north, presumably to find a quiet perch to enjoy its meal away from crows and gulls.

Sunday 18 September 2016


Nothing outstanding but a good variety present during this morning's count: 105 Curlew, five Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Redshanks, three Greenshanks, 10 Dunlin, seven Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, three Turnstones, 43 Little Egrets, three Grey Herons, 20 Mute Swans, four Little Grebes and three Kingfishers (including one that flew over the road by McDonalds). The only notable absentee was the usual large flock of Oystercatchers with only seven noted at Flow Point; one wonders if they've been flushed one too many times by the recent Osprey and temporarily relocated.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Raptor fest

A rare five raptor day around the patch, with the Osprey in the dead tree at Netherton Point just before 09.00 this morning and Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Peregrine all recorded over Netherton Park cricket ground at various points this afternoon.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Osprey again

A juvenile Osprey was circling over the upper estuary from 09:20-09:30 this morning before landing out of sight in a tree near Netherton Point. At least five Whinchats remain on Newton Abbot Racecourse and a Tree Pipit flew over calling.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Whinchat flock

Finally, after regular checks over the past month, the first Whinchats were on the central railings of the racecourse. There was a minimum of 10 birds, with at least four Wheatear and five Stonechats. It was quite a sight scoping up the fence line with birds (including lots of Linnets) constantly flitting about and flying down to the ground to feed! A Clouded Yellow butterfly also flew across the meadow.

On the upper estuary, two Black-tailed Godwit and three Bar-tailed Godwit were among 71 Curlew, and elsewhere; three Common Sandpiper and three Greenshank. The only gull of interest was a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.

Friday 9 September 2016

Bonaparte's and Balearics

Three Balearic Shearwaters flew south in an hour during early afternoon, however there was very little else passing. The Bonaparte's Gull put in a brief appearance flying by with a Black-headed Gull, it's first of the autumn, and three weeks after it was first seen to return at Dawlish Warren. The Osprey was also reported again from the estuary.

Monday 5 September 2016

More nocturnal birding

At one o'clock this morning a Wood Sandpiper was calling over Teignmouth. Night migrants are the norm for this scarce patch bird. Earlier in the day the Oystercatcher and gulls were twice flushed from the Salcombe Dip area suggesting the Osprey was still present on the estuary.

Saturday 3 September 2016


The highlight from this morning was a juvenile Osprey that Will and I picked up circling over the lower estuary at 09:15 having sent the gulls and waders roosting at Flow Point into panic. It remained on view for about ten minutes, at one point flying up and performing an aborted dive right in front of us. It then gained height and flew off NW over farmland. This is possibly the same bird that Kev saw over Teignmouth yesterday.

A distant flock of c.20 small waders contained approximately half each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, and a Turnstone and a Common Sandpiper were at Flow Point.

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Tree Pipit

Fewer birds up at Bundle Head this morning but one of the Spotted Flycatchers was still present and showing well. I assumed it was one of the pair from last week as it was favouring exactly the same perches. Overhead a Tree Pipit and two Grey Herons flew south, and the hedgerows held seven Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat and a loose group of around a dozen Blackcaps.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Spot Flys

I didn't get up to Bundle Head until after 9:00 this morning and initially things were very quiet, but the hedgerows eventually produced a nice little selection of migrants with the pick being a couple of Spotted Flycatchers. Also present were two Garden Warblers, five Whitethroats, 8+ Blackcaps, 10+ Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Goldcrest. Two Wheatears were on the fences at Newton Abbot Racecourse at midday.

Monday 22 August 2016


A very disappointing August WeBS yesterday both in terms of numbers and variety. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the estuary is not a well-funded wader scrape on the east coast! Counts of herons and waders in particular were down on what I've come to expect at this time of year, especially at Passage House. Totals from here to Salcombe Dip included just 24 Little Egrets, one Grey Heron, ten Cormorants, five Little Grebes, 30+ Sandwich Terns, 500 Black-headed Gulls, 314 Oystercatchers, 87 Curlew, four Whimbrel, three Dunlin, two Ringed Plovers and two Common Sandpipers. I'm sure there were more waders about, as on Friday there were six each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin as well as two Redshanks at Flow Point.

Saturday 20 August 2016


I watched from Teignmouth from 13:45-16:45 this afternoon with Laurie and we logged 13 Balearic Shearwaters (all south), 150+ Manx Shearwaters (some north, some south, some circling which made counting difficult), three Mediterranean Gulls (ad & 2 juvs), three Common Terns, four commic terns and a female Common Scoter plus a steady trickle of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Sandwich Terns. Yesterday Laurie put in couple of hours early morning and had an Arctic Skua, a distant Arctic/Pom Skua and small numbers of Manx Shearwaters and commic terns passing.

Monday 15 August 2016

Nocturnal sofa birding

An under-rated form of birding, with relatively little effort Green Sandpiper was added to the year list as it flew noisily over Teignmouth late yesterday.

Sunday 7 August 2016

Flow Point

Signs of wader passage picking up this morning with 10 Dunlin foraging on the beach at Flow Point along with six Common Sandpipers and four Whimbrel (another two Dunlin were at Passage House). Several family parties of Sandwich Terns were making plenty of noise fishing in the middle part of the estuary.

Monday 1 August 2016


The horizon remained hidden by mist and drizzle throughout a seawatch from 15:45 - 17:45, however despite this, a good count of 305 Manx Shearwaters flew south. The highlight came at 17:01, when an obvious dark Balearic Shearwater flew by fairly close. Other counts include four Mediterranean Gulls (1 Ad, 1 1S, 2 juvs), five Fulmars, four Kittiwake, six Sandwich Terns and 40+ Gannet.

Balearic Shearwater (If I photographed the right bird!)

Saturday 23 July 2016


Good numbers of birds were present on the estuary this morning though there was a slight lack of quality. Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls were particularly abundant with conservative estimates of 1000+ and 300+ respectively between Flow Point and Passage House; among them was a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a moulting adult Mediterranean Gull. Other counts included 32 Mute Swans, 41 Little Egrets, 23 Shelducks, 132 Oystercatchers, 74 Curlew, 13 Whimbrel, nine Common Sandpipers and a Little Grebe. The best bird of the morning was a Hobby that flew west over Flow Point, upsetting the local hirundines.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Passage House

A few more birds around today during high tide, with six Common Sandpipers, five Whimbrel, and singles of Redshank and Dunlin. Four Mediterranean Gulls (one 2nd-summer and three adults) eventually appeared within the flock of gulls, one of which was wearing a red ring from Poland.

Along Aller Brook there was some good plant diversity with several Pyramidal Orchids. Also a few Marbled Whites on the wing.

Thursday 14 July 2016


At Passage House just before the high tide, there were 84 Curlew, a Whimbrel, five juvenile Black-headed Gulls and a juvenile Herring Gull. At Newton Abbot Quay, a slight surprise were two female Mandarins.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Med Gull

This 2nd-summer Mediterranean Gull was at Passage House yesterday lunchtime along with four Common Sandpipers and a Whimbrel.

Sunday 10 July 2016

MId-summer records

It has been quiet on patch this summer but a few records do stand out. A Barn Owl reported hunting fields to the north of the estuary mid June was welcome news, with a first summer Black-throated Diver later in the month off Bundle Head (from a boat) more unexpected. More recently a Bar-tailed Godwit was over Teignmouth on 3rd July, the first juvenile Sandwich Tern was with three adults on the Salty on 8th July and an adult summer Mediterranean Gull there today.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Corfu trip

It's been an exceptionally quiet few weeks on the Teign, so in a departure from this blog's usual content I thought I'd do a brief post on some of the avian highlights of my holiday to Corfu last week. This was not a 'birding trip' and the island isn't well known for its ornithological diversity, but without trying hard at all I recorded 27 species, mostly around my hotel at Nissaki Beach on the north-east side of the island. Olive groves covered the land and Pantokrator, Corfu's highest peak, was just a few kilometers away. The best birds were:

Scopoli's Shearwater - often present in small numbers offshore towards dusk, viewed from hotel balcony. At least a dozen seen on boat trip from Sarande (Albania) to Corfu on 5th, one passing within 20m.
Yelkouan Shearwater - one seen from boat between Sarande and Corfu.
Honey Buzzard - pair flew east over hotel driveway on 6th.
Short-toed Eagle - pair often seen distantly over foothills of Pantokrator. One appeared over hotel driveway on 7th.
Levant Sparrowhawk - male flew over hotel driveway on 7th.
Yellow-legged Gull - common offshore and around coast; several juveniles seen.
Turtle Dove - one heard along hotel driveway on 7th.
Alpine Swift - frequent single figure counts around the hotel; 250+ over Corfu town on 4th.
Red-rumped Swallow - common around hotel grounds, sometimes in double figures.
Sardinian Warbler - often heard but rarely seen around hotel grounds.

There are weekly flights from Exeter airport to Corfu during the summer season with Thomson.

Tuesday 7 June 2016


There is a reasonable sized flock of Oystercatchers spending the summer on the estuary with 53 roosting at Flow Point this morning; June counts in recent years have generally been in single figures. Also there single Whimbrel and Curlew, both also presumed summering. Other totals included 34 Little Egrets, three Grey Herons, 27 Mute Swans, eight Black-headed Gulls, 150 Herring Gulls, seven Cormorants, six Sandwich Terns, 16 Shelducks, 26 Mallards and 6 Canada Geese; the latter three species were all seen with young in attendance.

Monday 6 June 2016

All quiet

On two high tide visits to Passage House over the last few days, the only birds of note were five Black-tailed Godwits that dropped in to roost on Friday evening. Today, four Painted Ladies were around the patch - there's obviously been an arrival over last couple of days.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Spring Dunlin passage

Small numbers of Dunlin continue to pass through the patch; yesterday there were a pair at Passage House and three at Flow Point, all displaying individual variation. Also noted around the upper estuary 38 Oystercatchers, 25 Little Egrets and singles of Greenshank and Curlew.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

White Stork

During a scan of the sky from my house today at 16:45, I picked up a White Stork above Buckland. I watched it complete a couple of circles before deciding to run downstairs to grab my camera, but on my return I couldn't re-find it. I guess it was probably the same bird that had been seen previously during the day, first over Abbotskerswell at 13:20 and then at Haldon at 14:00, although the possibility of it being a second bird can't be ruled out.

Saturday 7 May 2016


Not a great deal of note around the estuary this morning. Waders included five Whimbrel, two Curlew, 90 Oystercatchers, four Common Sandpipers, three Dunlin and a Greenshank; 15 Little Egrets, 22 Mute Swans and two Sandwich Terns were also noted. Another Whimbrel was foraging on Newton Abbot Racecourse, and seven Reed and two Sedge Warblers were singing in the reedbeds at nearby Hackney Marshes.

Friday 6 May 2016

Antipodean (or maybe even Dutch) vagrants...

Just after 8pm on Wednesday 4th May a flock of five Black Swan flew south past Teignmouth, a slightly odd record, but Black Swan is an occasional sight around the patch. These have been presumed to originate either from the captive Dawlish birds or the feral breeding pair that were on the Exe for a couple of years.

What makes these birds slightly different is that they have been tracked along the south coast from Hampshire at least. The flock was at Keyhaven in 2nd May, stopping off at Christchurch Harbour and then Dawlish on the 4th May before flying past Teignmouth that evening and then pitching up at Slapton Ley on the 5th. Where next?

Saturday 23 April 2016

Common Whitethroat

On another late afternoon walk around Hackney Marshes, the year's first Sedge Warbler gave a short burst of song from one of the reedbeds. No sign of yesterday's Lesser Whitethroat, but a Common Whitethroat was briefly in the same bush. Eight Common Sandpipers were at Passage House.

Friday 22 April 2016

Lesser Whitethroat

A Lesser Whitethroat was feeding in bushes in the south west corner of Hackney Marshes this afternoon, remaining there for the next couple of hours at least. The pollen around the base of its beak suggest it's a recent migrant, but hopefully it may stay to breed. Also, around the marshes were a Blackcap, three Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest, however still no Reed or Sedge Warblers.

Also no Wheatears on the racecourse, but good numbers of hirundines, with c.50 Swallow, c.25 Sand Martin and c.10 House Martin.

Kev had 12 Common Sandpipers and four Whimbrel at Passage House at high tide.

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Wheatears and House Martins

Hackney Marshes was devoid of new migrants this morning so I was glad that the adjacent racecourse provided some interest with four Wheatears - two males and two females - and the first three House Martins of the year on patch. Laurie later saw seven of the latter from the railway station.

Yesterday I was working to the west of Newton Abbot, just outside the patch boundary and recorded two reeling Grasshopper Warblers and a Swift, with plenty of Swallows moving through.

Thursday 14 April 2016


An early walk around Bundle Head didn't really deliver the hoped for fall. The 15 or so Blackcaps and 10 Chiffchaffs seemed to be predominantly resident birds, and the visit was eventually rescued by two Redstarts. One gave good views before flying off out of view...

... unfortunately my camera couldn't focus!
The only real 'vis mig' bird was a Swallow. A quick look out to sea saw six Sandwich Terns and a single distant wader sp., with the size and feel of a Redshank, flying high to the south.

Monday 11 April 2016


With the overnight wind and rain clearing to leave a calm, overcast dawn, I nipped into Hackney Marshes before work and it was soon evident that an arrival of migrants had occurred. As I walked along the cycle path beside the racecourse almost every bush had a warbler in it; I barely covered the western half of the reserve yet recorded 20+ Chiffchaffs (some territorial birds), 7+ Willow Warblers, 6 phyllosc sp, 12+ Blackcaps and a Goldcrest. The racecourse produced the first two patch Wheatears of the year plus a mixed flock of seven Swallows and nine Sand Martins, and on the rising tide at Passage House three Whimbrel and seven Common Sandpipers suggested spring wader passage is now properly underway.

Sunday 10 April 2016


Seawatching from 9:30-13:00 today, joined for a while by Will, was tricky at first, with lots of glare, and spray getting blown up onto the seafront.

Totals were 25+ Manx Shearwaters, 20+ Fulmars, 13 Great Northern Divers, 15 Common Scoter, three Great Crested Grebe, 30+ auks, one 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, 27 Common Terns, five 'commic' terns, 20+ Sandwich Terns. Most of the Common Terns came through in flocks at about 12:30, with a possible Arctic Tern passing by earlier in the morning.

Saturday 9 April 2016


Early April is not a great time for wetland birds on the Teign - many of the wintering species have departed and it's a bit early for passage waders such as Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit. This morning's totals were typically unexceptional but included 82 Oystercatchers, six Curlew, three Turnstones, a Common Sandpiper, two Teal, 23 Shelducks, 14 Little Egrets and three Sandwich Terns. A brief look at the racecourse produced nothing other than eight Skylarks and this Roe Deer.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Passage at High Tide

A quick post work look at Passage House showed just two waders but one was the first Black-tailed Godwit of the year, a smart summer plumaged individual; the other was a Redshank. Also there squealing Water Rail but none of the hoped for summer migrants.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Willow Warblers

The first Willow Warbler of the year was heard singing from by my house in Newton Abbot this morning, and later at Bundle Head, another was present along with 8+ Chiffchaffs. Two Sand Martins flew through, and two Sandwich Terns were out at sea.

Will also counted nine Sand Martins, eight Chiffchaffs and three Blackcaps around Hackney Marshes and the racecourse this morning.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Sandwich Terns galore

A scan out to sea from Teignmouth yacht club early evening yesterday revealed at least 23 Sandwich Terns, around a dozen of which were fishing by the pier before moving south. Nothing else of note offshore.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Sand Martins

At least five Sand Martins were visible from the entrance to Rackerhayes behind Tesco this afternoon; there were probably more over the main lake but the gate was locked. A Greenshank in summer plumage was in the channel at Passage House and, after 87 days, I finally added the notoriously shy and elusive Collared Dove to my patch year list.

Saturday 26 March 2016


...three Sandwich Tern on the Salty this evening take the prize as first summer migrants of the year on patch (if you overlook the Chiffchaffs and Lesser Black-backed Gulls that have arrived over the last couple of weeks). Also present at least six Red-breasted Merganser still and 19 Shelduck.

Friday 25 March 2016


Despite three visits to Decoy, the racecourse and Passage House, and a single visit to Bundle Head over the past week, I still haven't managed to see a single migrant.

The Gadwall remains on Decoy along with 10 Tufted Duck and two Great Crested Grebes. My first singing Chiffchaff was in the woods.

Two Common Sandpipers were at Passage House with a pair of Red-breasted Merganser and a Kingfisher.

One of two Kestrels at Bundle Head
Bundle Head

Thursday 10 March 2016


A good morning around the estuary in glorious sunshine, with counts between Passage House and Salcombe Dip including 209 Oystercatchers, 76 Curlew, 74 Redshanks, a Greenshank, five Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, two Turnstones, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, seven Little Grebes, a Great Crested Grebe, 58 Shelducks, eight Little Egrets, 575 Black-headed Gulls, 10 Common Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Also of note two Lesser Redpolls in scrub beneath the sewage works at Buckland.

Monday 29 February 2016


On a quick look off Teignmouth this afternoon, I failed to find the Velvet Scoter, but was rewarded for my efforts with amazing sustained views of a pod of at least ten Bottlenose Dolphins. As they moved off very slowly to the north, I watched them playfully splashing about, with around a dozen breaches seen.

The only birds of note were a Great Northern Diver and a Great Crested Grebe.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Velvet remains

The Water Pipit remains at Flow Point showing well this afternoon, also there a Common Sandpiper and a smart Scandinavian (littoralis) Rock Pipit which was starting to show the blue cast of summer plumage.

Elsewhere a late look off Teignmouth Yacht club saw the reappearance of the drake Velvet Scoter. It was sat alone close inshore rather than with the raft of 20+ Common Scoter further out. Also offshore single Great Northern and Red-throated Diver but it was othrsise very quiet offshore.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

More Firecrests

Two Firecrests were seen from my house today, both giving lovely close views. Tufted Duck numbers are dropping off now on Decoy, with eight seen a week ago and three today. Another Firecrest was also reported there yesterday.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Missing Velvet

There was no sign of the Velvet Scoter off Teignmouth in a quick look late afternoon but two Great Northern Diver and a single male Common Scoter were present. An even quicker look at the other end of the estuary saw very little at Passage House on the low tide but an albino Herring Gull was of interest, a potential Iceland Gull pitfall and a smaller individual to the one that wintered in previous years.

Monday 15 February 2016

Velvet Scoter

A male Velvet Scoter was present distantly off Teignmouth seafront late afternoon; this is likely to be the same bird seen off Dawlish Warren earlier this month. Also a Great Northern Diver.

Saturday 13 February 2016


Had to do the WeBS a week earlier than scheduled, and this coincided with a very high tide that completely covered Flow Point (allowing a trio of gits in kayaks to paddle straight across it and flush all the birds roosting up against the railway). The Water Pipit was still in the area however. Counts were generally lower than average, perhaps due to the tide, but included a Great Northern Diver (just upriver from the Shaldon Bridge), a Great Crested Grebe, five Little Grebes, 28 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Teal, 35 Shelducks, 283 Oystercatchers, two Avocets, four Common Sandpipers, 56 Redshanks, a Greenshank and a Ringed Plover.

Elsewhere on patch a Chiffchaff was calling from the reeds at Town Quay, and several Fieldfares were amongst a flock of c.100 Redwings at Lower Netherton.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Scaup still

The male Scaup was back on Decoy Lake this afternoon, though it stayed elusive on the far side with a group of Tufted Ducks. Also the male Gadwall.

Wednesday 20 January 2016


There were four Shovelers on Decoy Lake this afternoon; one male and three females. Tufted Duck numbers were down to eight with no sign of the Scaup, Wigeon or Teal, however the Gadwall was still present along with a Muscovy Duck.

Eight Mistle Thrush were feeding on the football field and 15+ Redwings and a Siskin flew over.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Water Pipit and WeBS

David Cawthraw and I had good views of a Water Pipit at Flow Point this morning (photo here), alongside a couple of Rock Pipits for comparison. Attempts to do the WeBS were hampered by a paraglider flushing all the waders, resulting in a sub-par count of 277 Oystercatchers, but there was still a decent variety on show with totals including 12 Little Grebes, a Great Crested Grebe, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 48 Shelducks, 16 Little Egrets, two Grey Herons, two Kingfishers, 91 Curlew, 14 Lapwings, six Ringed Plovers, eight Turnstones, five Common Sandpipers, 64 Redshanks and a Greenshank.

The Bonaparte's Gull was again reported along Teignmouth seafront this afternoon.

Friday 15 January 2016


A visit to Hackney Marshes produced two Kingfishers, a few flyover Siskins, two Water Rail, and best of all, three Lesser Redpolls feeding on willowherb on the eastern side of the reserve. It was such a privilege to watch these beautiful little birds for a sustained period at just two metres range. Here are some photos...

Monday 11 January 2016

A trip to the West End

Two quick stops early morning showed a Common Sandpiper and the feral Greylag Goose (with the two hybrids) at Passage House on a very high tide, whilst over at Decoy the drake Scaup and Gadwall had been joined by a drake Wigeon with two Kingfisher also on the lake.

Sunday 10 January 2016

Belated Bonaparte's

The wintering Bonaparte's Gull made its first appearance of the year inside the patch boundary on Tuesday when it showed along Teignmouth seafront. In other late news I saw a female Black Redstart last Sunday on a rooftop at the nearby docks.

Passage House at low tide this lunchtime produced four male Red-breasted Mergansers fishing in the channels, 21 Snipe in the saltmarsh and 14 Lapwings on the mudflats.

At Decoy, a Firecrest was again present in the woods, and the Scaup remains on the lake with 18 Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Teal and Kingfisher. (Laurie)

Four Great Northern Diver reported off Sprey Point this afternoon, yesterday one was inside the estuary at Teignmouth with 30+ Kittiwake south in 15 minutes late afternoon.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Hackney Marshes

A walk round a particularly soggy Hackney Marshes this morning produced six Goldcrests, eight Reed Buntings, a Grey Wagtail and a Treecreeper, with an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the adjacent racecourse. This was followed by a check of some stubble fields on the southern side of the estuary where 10+ Cirl Buntings, three Stock Doves and a flock of 150 Linnets were noted.

The two Avocets were again at Passage House late morning.

At Teignmouth, a female Black Redstart was on the roofs of houses at the bottom of Dawlish Road and eight Great Northern Divers were on the sea, a few of which were close into the Yatcht Club. (Laurie)

Friday 1 January 2016

Sooty Shearwater

A good start to the year with 73 species recorded on patch. After a cloudy but dry start heavy rain moved in by 10:00 and lasted until 13:30, by which time the wind was strong to gale force SE. Bird of the day was the Sooty Shearwater that bombed its way north distantly past Teignmouth at 14:00, fifteen minutes after Laurie and I had settled into a seawatch that also produced 14+ Great Northern Divers (6+ on the sea and 8+ in flight), 150+ Kittiwakes, 40+ Fulmars, two Common Scoters, three Guillemots, a Razorbill, 10+ auks and numerous Gannets by 15:45.

Earlier in the day Decoy Country Park provided the hoped-for year ticks with the male Scaup, Gadwall and Teal all still present and a decent selection of passerines in the woods including Marsh Tit, NuthatchTreecreeper and a vocal Firecrest. Passage House was also productive with two Avocets bobbing about on the water alongside the usual selection of waders and gulls. Nearby Newton Abbot Racecourse held a pair of Stonechats.