Thursday 27 December 2018

Marsh Tit

On a fine winter's morning the woods at Decoy Country Park held plenty of birds including at least one Marsh Tit, a Treecreeper, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and three Nuthatches. On the lake the Great Northern Diver was still present alongside just four Tufted Ducks; one wonders what has caused the latter to decline from a regular wintering flock of 30+ just a few years ago.

A late afternoon look from the yacht club at Teignmouth saw two Great Northern Diver, four Eider, 13 Common Scoter and an adult Mediterranean Gull with two Great Skua sat further offshore.  

Sunday 23 December 2018

Little Gulls

Three first-winter Little Gulls appeared along Teignmouth seafront on Monday, and one of them had the courtesy to stay until the weekend to allow myself and Kev to catch up with it yesterday. Although it went missing for short periods, it spent the majority of the time foraging along the shoreline either side of the pier, giving exceptional views in flight. Two Eiders were still present on the rocks at the foot of the Ness, and four Great Northern Divers, two Red-throated Divers and nine Common Scoters were offshore towards Holcombe.

Elsewhere, 15 Lapwings at Passage House was the highest count this month of this declining winter visitor. On Friday the female Goldeneye was still in the channel there at high tide alongside the female Wigeon, a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers and Little Grebes, four Greenshanks and three Common Sandpipers.

A Great Northern Diver was still on Decoy Lake with a lone Tufted Duck having first been reported a week ago.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Ducks unlimited

The floods at Teigngrace produced an unexpected variety of dabbling ducks this morning with three Shovelers, 11 Gadwalls, 12+ Teal and 40+ Mallards alongside 11 Mute Swans, nine Little Egrets and a female Stonechat. At the other end of the patch three Eiders - a male and two females - were in the mouth of the estuary off Teignmouth along with a Great Northern Diver. A further three GNDs were to the north of the pier, including two giving great views together off the yacht club; one was also seen on Decoy Lake this morning.

Monday 10 December 2018

Goldeneye & WeBS

A female Goldeneye in the channel off Passage House was the standout bird of this morning's count, which was postponed by a day after a wet and very windy weekend. This is the first Goldeneye on patch since January 2013, up until which time it was a regular wintering bird on the estuary. Other totals included 302 Oystercatchers, 86 Curlew, 72 Redshanks, 32 Dunlin, four Greenshanks, three Common Sandpipers, three Ringed Plovers, 25 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Shelducks, eight Mute Swans, seven Little Egrets, five Little Grebes and a female Wigeon.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Mazy Sunday Afternoon

Spent the afternoon checking various sites around the Teign with varying rewards. Starting at the east of the patch in Teignmouth there was still no sign of any wintering Black Redstart and a no show from the Firecrest along the railway. Viewing from the Yacht Club three Eider were offshore, an immature male of Sprey Point and a female and a second immature male almost under the pier. Also on the sea 67 Common Scoter and a Red-throated Diver.

Next stop was Teigngrace at the far western end of the patch, here the flooded fields held six Little Egret, 90+ Mallard and two Teal but nothing could be unearthed in the tit flock along the Templar Way. A quick stop at Hackney Marshes revealed another couple of warblerless roving tit flocks.

A final low tide stop at Passage House saw a Water Pipit and half a dozen Snipe flushed from the Saltmarsh by a couple of dogs, two Common Sandpiper in the channel and 13 Little Egret heading downriver to roost.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Bold Brent Goose

No luck with finding a Black Redstart around Teignmouth port this morning, but a juvenile Dark-bellied Brent Goose foraging around the foot of the slipway was a belated first for the year. Initially it appeared to be hanging its right wing slightly, suggesting an injury, but after waddling up to the Polly Steps car park it readily took flight and landed randomly in a park on the opposite side of the railway. After almost being attacked by a dog it clearly thought better of it and flew back to the estuary, where it was still present on the Salty this afternoon. Also around Polly Steps today 10 Turnstones and a Firecrest in the scrub by the railway.

 A couple of shots I forgot to post from Passage House last weekend, in between the downpours

Monday 12 November 2018


In between the torrential showers counts from the estuary over the weekend included 269 Oystercatchers, 74 Curlew, 51 Redshanks, 10 Greenshanks, eight Ringed Plovers, seven Dunlin, six Lapwings, four Common Sandpipers, 36 Mallards, 30 Mute Swans, 23 Shags, 19 Red-breasted Mergansers, six Little Grebes and a Kingfisher.

Elsewhere the floods at Teigngrace held 12 Little Egrets, three Teal, 95 Canada Geese and 500+ Black-headed Gulls on Sunday morning. No Cattle Egrets in the cattle fields - yet.

Sunday 11 November 2018


A quick afternoon look from Teignmouth Yacht Club showed a raft of 34 Common Scoter and two Great Northern Diver. More unexpected though were three immature Velvet Scoter, the first of the year, they kept separate from the scoter flock being closer in off Sprey Point.

Saturday 3 November 2018

Roost reward

The timing of the dropping tide and sunset was ideal for checking gulls pre-roost on the Salty, especially with the windy conditions. The wind meant no birds were roosting offshore so numbers where much higher than normal. I had intended to count the roost but my second scan through the birds scuppered this plan.

The distraction was a smart first winter Caspian Gull, only my second on the estuary. Almost as soon as I found it all the birds were flushed by a helicopter, but they soon settled back down and the bird was easily picked up a second time. although distinctive, refinding was helped but it coming closer and roosting separately from the majority of other larger gulls.

Also on the Salty seven Turnstone and the white-headed Oystercatcher.

Late news for Thursday - an immature Eider was off Teignmouth per Devon Sea Safaris

Sunday 28 October 2018

Returning waterfowl

In a bitterly cold northerly wind this morning, the sheltered southern side of the Ness still held two Firecrests but the bushes between there and Bundle Head were blown out and very little was moving overhead bar a few finches. A scan of the estuary towards Flow Point from Salcombe Dip layby at high tide produced four female Red-breasted Mergansers, four Wigeon and 23 Shelducks - all recent arrivals - plus at least 274 Oystercatchers and 31 Redshanks roosting up against the railway.

Friday 19 October 2018

Yellow-browed Warbler

A Yellow-browed Warbler was around the fringes of Shaldon golf course this morning, initially heard in the hedge by the road before moving to sycamores on the north side where it showed well on and off. Also at least 5,000 Woodpigeons flew south though no doubt I missed more whilst tracking the YBW.

Monday 15 October 2018

WeBS, Firecrests and Spoonbill

An early morning visit to the Ness today produced at least two Firecrests on the south side with a couple of Blackcaps and Goldcrests.

Some respectable counts from the estuary this morning although Oystercatchers were again conspicuous by their near-absence. Totals between Passage House and Salcombe Dip included 17 Little Egrets, 10 Shags, four Cormorants, 25 Mute Swans, 38 Mallards, five Little Grebes, 78 Curlew, 21 Oystercatchers, 39 Redshanks, 11 Greenshanks, eight Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlin, three Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Sandpipers and singles of Wigeon, Snipe and Kingfisher. At Flow Point, two Rock Pipits had returned and there was a light northbound passage of Swallows and Meadow Pipits.

Elsewhere yesterday seven Turnstones were on the lower estuary and a Spoonbill was seen at Rackerhayes; unfortunately this is an area with no public access so hopefully it will relocate to the estuary. Finally a Green Sandpiper appeared on the floods at Teigngrace on Friday afternoon.

Friday 5 October 2018

Decoy Country Park

A mid-morning wander around Decoy yesterday produced seven Tufted Ducks, three Swallows, a Great Crested Grebe, a Grey Heron and a Sparrowhawk. The expected woodland species showed well including several each of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Jay. A possible Firecrest was heard among a loose group of Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits.

Tuesday 11 September 2018


Totals between Passage House and Salcombe Dip this morning included 55 Canada Geese, 22 Mute Swans, 21 Mallards, four immature Shelducks, five Little Grebes, 10 Shags, 27 Little Egrets, 61 Curlew, six Greenshanks, six Common Sandpipers, five Ringed Plovers, three Dunlin, three Redshanks and singles of Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit. Only 78 Oystercatchers were noted; presumably the rest had chosen to roost elsewhere, possible due to disturbance or the very high tide.

Yesterday morning a juvenile Whinchat was on the central barriers on the racecourse.

Sunday 2 September 2018


Bundle Head was pretty quiet this morning; 10+ Blackcaps, 7+ Chiffchaffs and a couple of Whitethroats in the hedges, two vocal Kestrels and two Grey Wagtails south. On the way back I stopped at Passage House and noted 25 Little Egrets, and a check of Birdguides revealed an Osprey reported between Wear Farm and Coombe Cellars. I got round to the latter at 10:45 where there were a couple of other birders searching but after half an hour there was no further sign, possibly because most of the estuary was now covered by dinghies, jet skis and other watercraft. Ten Wigeon circling overhead were evidently struggling to find somewhere quiet to land.

Monday 27 August 2018

Spot Flys, Tree Pipits, Yellow Wag

A decent scattering of migrants at Bundle Head this morning, the pick being two Spotted Flycatchers (in bushes by the golf course before moving into the valley), five Tree Pipits (including four together in trees by the road) and a Yellow Wagtail (heading north!). Also in the hedgerows at least a dozen Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, two Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler, and overhead c.50 House Martins.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Slow seawatching

From Teignmouth yacht club 09:00 - 11:10: Two Arctic Skuas, one Great Skua, one skua sp, seven Manx Shearwaters, eight Common Scoters, c.50 Common Terns (in two flocks of c.30 and 20), 34 Sandwich Terns, 61 Kittiwakes, two Med Gulls and a Whimbrel. The late arrival meant I missed any chance of catching the Velvet Scoter and scarcer terns that passed Dawlish Warren before the rain arrived.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Bar-tailed Godwit, Wheatears

The first Bar-tailed Godwit of the year was with the Curlew flock at Passage House this morning along with a couple of Dunlin and Common Sandpipers. Two Whimbrels remained at Flow Point with a further six Common Sandpipers. Elsewhere two Wheatears were on the central barriers at Newton Abbot Racecourse around midday.

Sunday 12 August 2018

Pom skuas

Short seawatch from Teignmouth yacht club 09:55 - 11:45. On arrival the rain had cleared and the light was was pretty good, and I almost immediately picked up a couple of adult / near-adult Pomarine Skuas powering their way south albeit fairly distantly. Had the skuas passed five minutes later I would have missed them as the low cloud soon rolled back in, dramatically reducing visibility just as news of three large shearwater sp. passing Dawlish Warren came through. At about 10:05 I got very brief views of two large shearwater sp. before they disappeared back into the murk, never to be seen again. Things were pretty quiet thereafter, with just a lone Balearic Shearwater, two Arctic Skuas and a skua sp. lingering offshore and finally a Great Skua through at 11:15 shortly after the visibility had begun to improve. In stark contrast to a fortnight ago, no Med Gulls.

Saturday 11 August 2018


Totals between Passage House and Flow Point on a grey and drizzly morning included five Grey Herons, 23 Little Egrets, 25 well-grown juvenile Shelducks, 38 Mute Swans, seven Sandwich Terns, 600+ Black-headed Gulls, two Shags, one Little Grebe, 268 Oystercatchers, 65 Curlew, eight Common Sandpipers, three Redshanks and two each of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Whimbrel.

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Sofa seawatching

A 10 minute look off Teignmouth this evening coincided with two Balearic Shearwater heading south close inshore with 30+ Manx Shearwater and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull doing the same further out. On the Salty two Redshank were amongst the more usual Oystercatcher.

Monday 6 August 2018

Changing seasons

A vocal juvenile Green Woodpecker on the neighbour's roof in the middle of Kingsteignton was a surprise first thing this morning. Yesterday my first Kingfisher of the autumn flew over Hackney Marshes, and it seems the local Swifts have departed for another year, hopefully having had a successful breeding season.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Med Gulls galore, Storm Petrels, Balearics

Seawatching from the yacht club 05:50 - 12:10 failed to produce any large shearwaters but the variety was pretty decent by Teignmouth standards for late July. Totals were as follows:

Mediterranean Gull - 64+
Storm Petrel - 2 (one close in at 11:40, another briefly and more distant 10 minutes later)
Balearic Shearwater - 4 (all single birds)
Manx Shearwater - 51
Yellow-legged Gull - 2 (juveniles)
Arctic Skua - 10 (several very close in chasing Kittiwakes)
Whimbrel - 3
Common Tern - 6
'Commic' Tern - 9
Sandwich Tern - 50+
Kittiwake - 107

Plus a slow trickle of Gannets and Fulmars. Unfortunately the visibility was often poor so no doubt many birds were missed further out. The Med Gull total comprised approximately 80% juveniles and is almost certainly a record count locally.

Arctic Skuas
Storm Petrel

Sunday 15 July 2018


A juvenile Little Ringed Plover at Passage House was the highlight of this morning's count. It took flight as the tide pushed it off, giving its distinctive call. Other totals from around the estuary included 41 Mute Swans, 31 Canada Geese, three adult Shelducks with a total of 13 young, 21 Little Egrets, c.500 Black-headed Gulls, one juvenile Mediterranean Gull, two Sandwich Terns, 69 Oystercatchers, 63 Curlew, 6 Whimbrel, 6 Common Sandpipers and singles of Redshank and Greenshank.

Friday 6 July 2018

The ants are back

The first large emergence of flying ants this saw hundreds of gulls hawking offshore and over the estuary at Teignmouth, including three Mediterranean Gull, two adults and a first summer. Also feeding high above the estuary a flock of at least 95 Swift, a very welcome sight although sadly very few of them will have been local birds.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Et 2 brute

The second juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was on the Salty this evening, this one a beast of a bird dwarfing adjacent Herring gulls.

Monday 2 July 2018

Autumn arrivals

The birding seasons are changing even if the weather isn't. The first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the year was on the Salty, fresh in from continent. The other sure-fire sign of autumn was a returning Common Sandpiper also at the east end of the estuary.

Sunday 17 June 2018


Returning waders are already starting to make an appearance with eight Curlew joining 13 Oystercatchers on Flow Point at high tide yesterday morning. Other totals between there and Passage House included 40 Mute Swans, 10 Little Egrets, three Grey Herons, three Shags, two pairs of Shelducks with three and seven young, 100 Herring Gulls and six Black-headed Gulls.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Passage House

Over the high tide yesterday evening were 39 Mute Swans, two pairs of Shelducks with six and eight young, a female Mallard with seven young, a pair of Canada Geese with five young, four Little Egrets and a lone Oystercatcher.

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Breeding Ravens

Very little of note over the bank holiday weekend although there was confirmation that a pair of Ravens nesting in a tree at Teigngrace had successfully raised at least two young.

Sunday 20 May 2018


Counts from around the estuary included, one Whimbrel, 21 Oystercatcher, two Dunlin, six Little Egret, one Grey Heron, 25 Mute Swan, 13 Shelduck, 44 Herring Gull and one Black-headed Gull.


Friday 11 May 2018

Manx Shearwaters

Seawatching 16:15 - 19:00 saw a good sustained passage of 664 Manx Shearwaters, even with the encroachment of mist over the horizon halfway through the watch. Three Arctic Skuas also flew south, the latter two dark phase birds passing fairly close at 18:30. Other totals included 31 Kittiwake, 20 Sandwich Tern, four Fulmar, seven Whimbrel, c.50 auk sp. and a Red-throated Diver.

Tuesday 8 May 2018


A census of warblers at Hackney Marshes yesterday morning included eight singing Reed Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, four Blackcaps and three Chiffchaffs. A pair of Reed Buntings was seen gathering nest material. Later an hours' stroll along The Lea between Bishopsteignton and Teignmouth produced four House Martins, two Swifts, three Skylarks, four Buzzards and a pair of Sparrowhawks.

Sunday 29 April 2018

Hobby and Redstart

Despite reports from elsewhere in Devon indicating a fall of migrants, it never really felt that busy on the coast by Shaldon first thing this morning. The bushes and hedges around the golf course and Bundle Head held only c.10 Blackcap, one Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler, however, the highlight came when a Hobby flew purposely through at 7am, giving great close views.

Walking back to the car along the lanes above the golf course, a female Redstart flashed past my shoulder, disappearing into a hedgerow. Over head were 15+ Swallow and a Swift.

A look over the racecource revealed five Wheatear feeding on the recently cut areas. Two Sedge Warblers were singing from the marshes, the first of spring having been seen yesterday by Will, with five Common Sandpipers also recorded at Passage House on the evening tide.


Tuesday 24 April 2018


The first two Swifts for the patch flew over Teigngrace together yesterday. Will had five singing Reed Warblers at Hackney Marshes on Sunday, and a small flock of House Martin were over Newton Abbot on the 20th. A good passage of Manx Shearwaters was off Teignmouth on the 15th, with Kev also having an immature Iceland Gull on The Salty on the 13th, and a Red Kite over on the 8th.

Monday 16 April 2018


A fog-affected survey on Saturday afternoon was pretty disappointing both in terms of numbers and variety, with a lack of migrants particularly evident. Totals included 71 Oystercatchers, 46 Shelducks, eight Curlew, six Mute Swans, four Lesser Black-backed Gulls (including an intermedius bird), two Red-breasted Mergansers and singles of Redshank and Common Sandpiper.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Sandwich Terns

Nine Sandwich Terns were fishing off Teignmouth this morning; the first of the year. A Green Woodpecker called in the woods above Shaldon, but no sign of any migrants along the coast. Ten Tufted Ducks were still on Rackerhayes.

Tuesday 20 March 2018


Totals from Passage House to Salcombe Dip this morning included 94 Oystercatchers, 54 Curlew, 23 Redshanks, 56 Shelducks, 25 Red-breasted Mergansers, three Little Grebes and and singles of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. The pick of the gulls was a second-summer Mediterranean Gull at Passage House, where a solitary Fieldfare performed well.

A couple of bits from the weekend: Alan Ford recorded an impressive 38 Turnstones at Teignmouth on Sunday, and I had a pair of Pintails near Flow Point from the train on Saturday.


A Hawfinch was in attendance at the feeding area in the south-west corner of Hackney Marshes this morning. It gave great close views, coming down to eat the seed put out on the wooden fence before perching up in the surrounding trees and scrub.


Sunday 11 March 2018


A Scaup was found on Rackerhayes by Robin Shute today, which I believe is a 1st winter female, however please let me know if I've got it wrong. Also there were 10 Tufted Duck and a pair of Great Crested Grebe, the later of which made repeated aggressive attempts to see the Scaup off when it approached too close, diving under the water and swimming up from beneath the Scaup to peck its underside!

Tufted Duck (left), Scaup (right)

Sunday 4 March 2018

Many Meds

No sign of either the Iceland or Glaucous Gull this morning in a large gathering of gulls around the estuary mouth and on The Salty, however Will counted an impressive 18 Mediterranean Gulls (14 adults, two second-summers and two first-winters) on the southern side of The Ness along with 380 Common Gulls and 67 Lesser Black-backed Gulls suggesting spring gull passage is well underway. Two Great Northern Divers were also offshore.

A few of the adult Mediterranean Gulls briefly alighted on Ness Cove Beach

The now flooded racecourse continued to hold large numbers of birds, including 40 Black-tailed Godwits, 100+ Golden Plover, 130+ Lapwing, a Mediterranean Gull and many thrushes still.

The six remaining Avocet were roosting at Passage House and the Teal was still on Decoy Lake.

Golden Plover
Black-tailed Godwits

Saturday 3 March 2018

Glaucous Gull

Large numbers of gulls continue to feed around the estuary mouth with the Bonaparte's Gull still present this morning alongside a welcome new arrival in the brutish form of a first winter Glaucous Gull, but the Iceland Gull could not be located today. also around Teignmouth still seven Golden Plover and three Dunlin on the Salty and a Redshank on the Rugby pitch with 20 Redwing and five Fieldfare.

Woodcock, Bramblings, Pintails

Another exceptional day on patch, with persistent rain and above-zero temperatures starting to thaw the snow and frozen ground. Early morning at Hackney Marshes was productive with a Woodcock flushed by a dog-walker and a pair of Bramblings by the feeding area near the second bridge. A dead Avocet floating in the main channel was a sign of just how hard things have been over the past few days.

Venturing out again after lunch, I stopped initially at Passage House car park where three very weak looking Golden Plovers were at least having some success pulling worms out of the thawed turf along with a couple of Snipe and Mistle Thrushes. Two Pintails flew over, briefly looking like they were going to drop in before continuing up river.

I then spent the next couple of hours focusing my attention on the racecourse which was crawling with birds. Totals of 'wetland' species included:

Lapwing - c.50
Golden Plover - c.50
Black-tailed Godwit - 29
Snipe - 8
Curlew - 1
Teal - 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 49

A group of approx. 25 Black-tailed Godwits were seen near Jetty Marsh yesterday, so the core of today's flock was almost certainly made up of those birds. It almost goes without saying that there were also hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares on the racecourse. Finally on the walk back through Hackney Marshes a pair of Yellowhammers and presumably the same female Brambling from this morning were by the feeding area.

Friday 2 March 2018

Feeding Fieldfares

I too was mostly restricted to occasional watches from the house today in Kingsteignton, where masses of Fieldfares were searching for any available food source. I chopped up an apple and sprinkled some suet on the pavement, then watched in awe as dozens of birds dropped out of the sky to feed. A 15-minute stroll to the Old Rydon Inn for some lunch produced at least 500 Fieldfares, mostly in people's front gardens where they were stripping berry bushes clean.


A female Shoveler and Teal on Decoy Lake was evidence of a little cold weather duck movement, the Tufted Duck population also being boosted back up to 18.

Unlike Teignmouth, there were thousands (easily 8,000+) of Redwings and Fieldfares in a constant stream all day flying south-west, sometimes in large flocks of up to 100. A local Peregrine was hunting in the morning, making short work of an exhausted Fieldfare. Lapwings and Golden Plover were also seen, but not near as numerous as yesterday.


Working from home

Unable to get to the office, the day was spent indoors with occasional watches from the window. The weather though was having a far greater impact on birdlife. In my Teignmouth garden a single Fieldfare kept other birds off the apples but a couple of female Blackcap managed to feed elsewhere with Redwing and Mistle Thrush on Ivy but birds were worryingly less obvious than recent days.

Although Redwing and Fieldfare were conspicuous, with birds even amongst the Oystercatcher on the estuary, unlike further east there was no evidence of large flocks over Teignmouth.

On the Salty 15 Dunlin, three Lapwing and up to five Golden Plover were clear cold weather refugees, with a singles of Lapwing and Golden Plover also on Teignmouth Rugby pitch. Gulls were also much in evidence, the Iceland Gull was around the estuary mouth and roosting on the Salty were five adult Mediterranean Gull and notable counts of 53 Lesser Black-backed and 50 Common Gull.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Lapwing and Golden Plover

A total of 2195 Lapwing and 525 Golden Plover flew south-west over Newton Abbot this morning from 09:30 - 12:00 in an exceptional cold weather movement. The greatest passage took place in the first hour, with flocks of up to 200 Lapwing and 60 Golden Plover, some of which flew within 100 metres of my house. Also seen were 100+ Redwing and 30+ Mistle Thrush.

A small flock of Lapwing flying past Highweek phone mast.

Monday 26 February 2018

Bonaparte's in flight

The Bonaparte's Gull was again showing well along the seaward side of The Point with 20+ Black-headed Gulls and eight Common Gulls, however there was no sign of the Iceland Gull.

Bonaparte's Gull - all shots digiscoped.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Iceland Gull

A second-winter Iceland Gull was loafing about on the sea just of The Point in Teignmouth this morning. Thanks to Mark Bailey for the find. The Bonaparte's Gull was also present throughout; at times, perching right next to the Iceland Gull - a nice pairing, and a rare sight together in Britain.

Eight Tufted Duck were on Decoy Lake along with a pair of courting Great Crested Grebes.

Iceland Gull (2W)
Iceland Gull (left), Bonaparte's Gull (right)
Iceland Gull (left), Herring Gull (right)

Thursday 22 February 2018

Whitewinger at last

Despite the regular sightings in Brixham and a couple of records from the Exe so far this winter has seen no hint of any Glaucous or Iceland Gull on the Teign. However the obligatory scan of Herring Gull pre-roost on the Salty this evening was rewarded by an Iceland Gull, probably third-winter, amongst the throng.

Saturday 17 February 2018


A Mediterranean Gull and seven Avocets provided the highlights on a chilly but calm morning of counting. The Med Gull - an adult with a partially developed black hood - was loafing about at Passage House, where the Avocets flew to forage after roosting at Flow Point. Other totals as far as Salcombe Dip included 65 Shelducks, four Teal, three Wigeon, 27 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Great Crested Grebes, 15 Mute Swans, 278 Oystercatchers, 64 Curlew, 42 Redshanks, nine Dunlin, seven Greenshanks, seven Ringed Plovers, six Snipe and singles of Common Sandpiper and Lapwing.

Mediterranean Gull (ad)
Sinensis Cormorant

Tuesday 13 February 2018


Despite the record influx into Devon and the UK, this species has been conspicuous by its absence on patch. So news of one visiting a feeder somewhere in Newton Abbot recently is welcome despite not being available for others to see or indeed knowing if it is within the patch boundary!

Today however news on Devon Birds reveals a Hawfinch was near the entrance to Jetty Marsh this morning, perhaps giving a second chance to fill in the gap on the patch list.

Elsewhere the Bonaparte's Gull was reported again off Teignmouth with at least six Great Northern Diver.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Water Pipit

A Water Pipit showed well at Flow Point this morning at high tide; I'd suspected there was one a few weeks ago but failed to get decent enough views. Also between there and Salcombe Dip were 387 Oystercatchers, 45 Shelducks, 31 Dunlin and seven Ringed Plovers. A further 14 Shelducks were at Passage House along with eight Greenshanks, six Little Grebes, 400 Black-headed Gulls, 30 Common Gulls and the lone male Wigeon.

Saturday 27 January 2018

Big Garden Birdwatch

A watch in Teignmouth produced no unexpected surprises but four Blackcap was the winter peak so far alongside a few Long-tailed Tit. Outside the garden the 'usual' species were visible on the Salty but still no white-wingers.

Elsewhere three Avocet were at Flow Point and two Common Sandpiper and a Wigeon were at Passage House.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Rarity returns

The Bonaparte's Gull made a brief return to the patch this morning feeding in the mouth of the estuary with other gulls. There was no sign later but it was refound mid-afternoon back on the Exe Estuary at Shelly beach, Exmouth. Also in Teignmouth at least five Great Northern Diver were offshore but still no sign of any white wingers in the 5-600 Herring Gull on the Salty.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Black-throated Diver & WeBS

A Black-throated Diver on the estuary between Flow Point and Coombe Cellars was a surprise during this morning's WeBS count. Foraging constantly, it was mobile under the water and only surfaced for a matter of seconds between dives but the glass-like surface allowed for good views. It's over a month since Kev saw one off Shaldon so this was quite possibly a different bird.

Elsewhere five Avocets at Passage House were the first of the year and there was a welcome increase in Red-breasted Mergansers to 29. Other totals included 38 Shelducks, 353 Oystercatchers, 91 Curlew, 50+ Redshanks, 42 Dunlin, 14+ Turnstones, eight Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, two Greenshanks and a Kingfisher.

Mute Swans, Passage House

Sunday 14 January 2018


Three Firecrests put in appearances this weekend - two in the woods at Decoy Country Park this morning, and the Kingsteignton Homebase bird again yesterday afternoon (per Cilla Ingram). Now this species is breeding in Devon one assumes that sightings will continue to increase. Also at Decoy Stock Dove and Lesser Redpoll were new for the year with a couple of each around the fringes of Wolborough Fen, and early signs of spring included a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Sparrowhawks in full display flight.

On Thursday three Cattle Egrets were reported in the solar panel field at Teigngrace although there was no sign of them yesterday or today.

Sunday 7 January 2018


An adult Mediterranean Gull came in to Decoy during a well timed scan of the lake but avoided the bread chasing Black-headed Gull flock, also there 17 Tufted Duck and a vocal Nuthatch.  Again no sign of the Cattle Egret at Teigngrace but eight Little Egret, 60 Redwing and two Mistle Thrush were in the fields. 

Elsewhere an early morning look around Passage House produced ten Little Grebes, two Greenshanks, two Wigeon, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and a good count of 92 Great Black-backed Gulls. Fourteen Teal and 17 Shelducks were on the pond at Luxton's Steps, and eight Ringed Plovers and 59 Dunlin were among the waders roosting between Flow Point and Salcombe Dip.

Saturday 6 January 2018

The past few days

A vocal Raven and two Stonechats were at Teigngrace this morning along with a pair of Sparrowhawks in display flight. There was no sign of the Cattle Egret though it was apparently still present (but elusive) yesterday. On Thursday Mark Bailey had a storm-driven Kittiwake on a flooded pool on the racecourse, and Cilla Ingram saw another Firecrest in vegetation surrounding Homebase in Kingsteignton on Tuesday.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Cattle Egret

A dull, wet morning was brightened by the discovery of a Cattle Egret by Mark Bailey at the now regular haunt of Teigngrace. It was in the large field west of the level crossing with four Little Egrets and a gang of Black-headed Gulls. The road north of the junction to Twelve Oaks is closed for several days, allowing a rare and enjoyable opportunity to view from the road bridge completely devoid of traffic.

Decoy Country Park held the usual assortment of waterfowl and woodland birds athough single Wigeon and Little Grebe were semi-noteworthy. A male Stonechat was on Newton Abbot racecourse along with a mixed flock of thrushes that included 10 Fieldfares (scarce here) and c.15 Mistle Thrushes. A short seawatch from Teignmouth yacht club at lunchtime produced c.40 Common Scoters, seven Great Northern Divers and a handful of Kittiwakes heading south. To the north several hundred Gannets were gathered off Dawlish seafront.

Monday 1 January 2018

New Year

Returning to Devon from the south-east this afternoon meant I only had time for a quick blast around Hackney Marshes in the hour before sunset. I managed just 27 species but this did include a Firecrest in the woods and brief views of a somewhat pale Chiffchaff in bushes by the road. Elsewhere a brief early morning look from a Teignmouth window showed a female Black Redstart, a couple of Blackcap and a Mistle Thrush competing over palm berries. Robin Shute reported five Avocets on the estuary yesterday at Passage House.

Happy New Year to all readers of this blog!