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.