Monday 28 December 2020


While a juvenile Glaucous Gull was giving close views a few miles away at Hope's Nose yesterday, I was picking through the larids between Passage House and Coombe Cellars hoping to find a white-winger, unfortunately to no avail. There weren't actually that many gulls present, and only four species with just 32 Common Gulls and 29 Great Black-backed Gulls among the ubiquitous Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Otherwise totals of 16 Avocets and six Wigeon were both respectable counts for the Teign.

This morning at Rackerhayes there was little indication of a waterfowl influx ahead of the imminent colder weather, although Tufted Ducks had increased to 21 and the two Pochards remained. A pair of Great Crested Grebes, perhaps sensing the increasing day length, performed their courtship display briefly.

Monday 21 December 2020


A Dark-bellied Brent Goose mingling with 27 Shelducks on Flow Point was the highlight of yesterday's count. Wader totals were mixed, with 291 Oystercatchers, 63 Curlew and 27 Redshanks and just one Lapwing all below par for the time of year but 26+ Turnstones, 14 Dunlin, seven Ringed Plovers, seven Greenshanks, seven Avocets and two Common Sandpipers being around or slightly above average. Other totals included 26 Red-breasted Mergansers, 18 Mute Swans, 16 Mallards, three Wigeon, three Little Grebes and one Kingfisher.

Saturday 12 December 2020


 An increasingly scarce winter visitor, this pair of Pochards was still on Rackerhayes this morning along with 16 Tufted Ducks, three Gadwalls and two Great Crested Crebes

Sunday 6 December 2020


The Teign's usual handful of wintering Avocets has arrived, with seven roosting at Passage House this morning alongside c.50 Redshanks, three Greenshanks and 10 Little Egrets, with 28 Mute Swans and six Little Grebes in the channels. A check of Rackerhayes produced 18 Tufted Ducks, two Pochards, two Gadwalls, two Shovelers and two Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday 29 November 2020

Black Redstart

A female/first-winter Black Redstart was playing a game of cat and mouse with me at Teignmouth Port this morning, allowing just three brief views (and one photo opportunity) in almost ninety minutes. It seemed to favour buildings to the east of the weighbridge.

Black Redstart

Earlier, a check of several locations along the southern side of the estuary was fruitful. Passage House held eight Lapwings, six Dunlin, five Little Grebes, three Common Sandpipers and a Greenshank. Arch Brook (opposite Flow Point) yielded a further 11 Dunlin, two Greenshanks, three Wigeon (Laurie had five later at Passage House) and a female Teal. Farmland around Combeinteignhead contained 28 Linnets, half a dozen Skylarks and a couple of singing Cirl Buntings.


Lastly, four Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver and a handful of Guillemots were off Teignmouth at midday.

Sunday 15 November 2020


Some good numbers of birds on the estuary this morning following a very high tide just before dawn. Totals included 296 Oystercatchers, 79 Curlew, 18 Turnstones (11 at Teignmouth and seven at Flow Point), nine Greenshanks, eight Ringed Plovers, four Dunlin, three Common Sandpipers, 34 Mute Swans, 26 Shelducks, 12 Mallards, one Wigeon, one Great Crested Grebe, five Little Grebes, 15 Cormorants, 14 Shags, 13 Little Egrets, eight Common Gulls and two Kingfishers. On Thursday Laurie recorded c.70 Redshanks, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers and four Lapwings

Red-breasted Merganser

Sunday 8 November 2020

Hackney Marshes

A first visit to Hackney Marshes since the last day of May yesterday produced plenty of crests with one Firecrest and 12 Goldcrests dotted around, along with three Chiffchaffs, a male Blackcap, four Grey Wagtails, three Siskins, a Kingfisher, two Fieldfares and c.100 Redwings

This morning there was a bit of movement over a misty Bundle Head with 68 Chaffinches, 54 Goldfinches, 22 Meadow Pipits, five Siskins and three Redpolls noted between 07:15 and 08:00. Two Firecrests and two Chiffchaffs were around the Ness, with three Great Northern Divers on the sea near the mouth of the estuary.

From the viewing screen at Hackney Marshes this afternoon, a pair of Mandarins and two showy Water Rails.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Woodpigeon movement

Looking north from Bundle Head from dawn and with excellent visibility, great clouds of Woodpigeons soon started to appear from the direction of the Pebblehead Heaths, following the coast towards Teignmouth. Unexpectedly, the majority of birds then turned inland or followed the line of the estuary west, although some continued south where a couple of Peregrines were on the hunt and caused the flocks to swirl like murmurations of starlings. Overall, an estimated 30,000 Woodpigeons were recorded between 07:00 and 08:00 before passage abruptly tailed off. Few other birds were on the move overhead with just small numbers of finches and a couple of unidentified bunting-like passerines, and a thorough check of the Ness and northern end of the golf course failed to produce anything of note.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Diver fest

Teignmouth seawatching with Laurie this morning from 07:05 - 08:20 (when the sun glare became too strong) failed to produce any storm-driven seabirds but was surprisingly excellent for divers, with a remarkable 26 Great Northern Divers on the sea and flying south, including several summer-plumaged birds; 14 distant unidentified divers (most probably Great Northern) and three Red-throated Divers (including one calling bird close to shore). There was little else of note other than a male Common Scoter and a steady southbound trickle of Kittiwakes and Common Gulls.

Red-throated Diver

Great Northern Diver

Sunday 25 October 2020

Even more Crossbills and Firecrests

Fewer birds were on the move between squally showers at Bundle Head this morning, but did include seven Crossbills south at 07:14 along with 82 Goldfinches, 38 Meadow Pipits, 36 Chaffinches, 26 Linnets, eight Siskins, two Redpolls and a Redwing between 06:50 -07:40. A check of The Ness shortly afterwards turned up three Firecrests, two Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap

Friday 23 October 2020


Chaffinches were the main feature at Bundle Head yesterday morning with 204 heading south between 07:50 - 08:50, joined by at least one wheezing Brambling . Other totals included 141 Goldfinches, 72 Meadow Pipits, 29 Pied/White Wagtails, 21 Linnets, 16 Siskins, four Redpolls and four Swallows.

Sunday 18 October 2020

More Crossbills and WeBS

A notable movement of  26 Crossbills (22 N, 4 S) was the highlight of another Bundle Head vis mig watch yesterday morning between 07:50 - 08:40, which also produced 77 Goldfinches, 23 Meadow Pipits, 20 Pied/White Wagtails, 11 Chaffinches, nine Siskins, eight Swallows, two Skylarks, two Song Thrushes and a Redpoll. Later in the morning Laurie had another couple of Crossbills fly over The Ness, which contained two Firecrests, 12 Goldcrests and three Chiffchaffs.

Counts from the upper and middle estuary yesterday included 357 Oystercatchers, 72 Curlew, 67 Redshanks, 14 Dunlin, five Ringed Plovers, three Greenshanks, one Lapwing, 34 Mute Swans, 16 Shelducks, 10 Teal, three Wigeon, one Red-breasted Merganser, 31 Little Egrets, 14 Cormorants, seven Shags and a Kingfisher. Alan Ford recorded 20 Turnstones and another couple of Cormorants on the lower estuary this morning.

On Thursday a Great White Egret was reported opposite Coombe Cellars; this was possibly the same bird seen at Powderham the following day.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Vis mig

Yesterday morning there was a fair bit of movement going on over Bundle Head first thing; totals from 07:30 - 08:30 comprised 185 Goldfinches, 141 Meadow Pipits, 55 Linnets, 29 Siskins, 16 Chaffinches, 35 Swallows and 22 Pied/White Wagtails, mostly heading south. Two Peregrines were seen working together to take down a Woodpigeon just offshore. Today was quieter in terms of numbers although there was a bit more variety with another Crossbill, a House Martin and a couple of Grey Wagtails overhead. The bushes held very little except for a good total of three Firecrests; two in hedgerows at Bundle Head and one in The Ness.

Spot the Firecrest

Friday 9 October 2020


 An enjoyable couple of hours between Bundle Head and The Ness this morning produced one Crossbill (over the conifer plantation just inland), one Firecrest (possibly Laurie's bird from Wednesday in The Ness), one Stonechat, 10 Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, nine Swallows and a House Martin. Overhead, small numbers of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Siskins and Linnets were on the move and butterflies still on the wing included Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood.


Wednesday 7 October 2020


The trees at The Ness seemed alive with birds when I visited at midday. A Firecrest was in sycamore and holm oaks at the top of the golf course, and walking down the path to The Ness there were around five Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests amoung numerous species of tit.

Wednesday 30 September 2020


 A belated count between Passage House and Salcombe Dip on Sunday afternoon was fairly productive with totals including 350 Black-headed Gulls, a Mediterranean Gull, 23 Mute Swans, three Wigeon, 32 Little Egrets, 12 Cormorants, three Shags, 355 Oystercatchers, 32 Curlew (probably an underestimate), nine Ringed Plovers, nine Greenshanks, four Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and a Grey Plover. The Med Gull and Wigeon were off Passage House and the Grey Plover was associating with Ringed Plovers roosting up against the railway east of Flow Point.

Wigeon (Laurie Allnatt)

Saturday 26 September 2020


There was a fair bit of audible migration going on overhead at Bundle Head this morning, although it was almost impossible to pick most birds out against the clear blue skies. Redpolls were heard on at least half a dozen occasions and were joined by by regular movements of Linnet, Siskin, Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch, plus two Swallows. In the bushes was fairly typical late September fare - 17 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps, five Goldcrests, four Song Thrushes and single Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Monday 7 September 2020

Uncommon waders on the Teign

An hour spent at Flow Point yesterday morning failed to show the Osprey which had been seen the previous afternoon, however reward came in the form of a Knot in with the Oystercatcher flock. Knot is scarce on the Teign, with only a few records in the last 20 or so years. A Bar-tailed Godwit, found by Kev on The Salty this morning is another less than annual bird on the Teign. On Friday Kev also found a White Stork flying over Teignmouth; likely one of the re-introduced birds from the Knepp Estate in West Sussex.

Sunday 30 August 2020

Bundle Head

Early morning visits to Bundle Head both yesterday and today in sunny conditions with a gentle northerly breeze revealed a few birds in the bushes and hedgerows. The highlights came today, with a Spotted Flycatcher in an ash tree briefly, and a Tree Pipit flushed from long grass. Around 15 Chiffchaffs were seen on both mornings, many of which were following a roving Long-tailed Tit flock. Other counts included one Willow Warbler, two Whitethroat and seven Blackcap. Very little passed overhead, however singles of Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail were recorded today with a trickle of Swallows.

Spotted Flycatcher
Bundle Head in morning sunshine with recent scrub clearance

Sunday 23 August 2020


Totals from today's WeBS count included 60 Curlew, three Whimbrel, three Black-tailed Godwit, two Dunlin, one Snipe, 12 Greenshank, nine Common Sandpiper, 304 Oystercatcher, seven Turnstone, 30 Mute Swan, 29 Little Egret and c.18 Sandwich Tern.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Yellow-legged Gull?

Waders at Passage House this morning included three Greenshank, three Common Sandpipers and four Whimbrel, with a handful of Sandwich Terns, including a couple of juveniles, fishing down river.

This gull caught my eye when it took flight:

The dark wings, inner primaries, and pale white rump looked spot on for Yellow-legged Gull, however, when it landed, the notched tertials and speckling in greater coverts, as well as the rather 'soft' look suddenly left it looking like 'just' a Herring Gull. I'd be grateful for any opinions.

Monday 13 July 2020

Med Gull influx

At least 23 Mediterranean Gulls - comprising five juveniles, a first-summer and 17+ second-summers and adults - were with the Black-headed Gull flock off Passage House on the falling tide this afternoon. This is probably a record for the Teign, and coincides with a record count this evening on the upper Exe Estuary at Topsham Rec where 62 have been counted. At the other end of the patch Kev recorded two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls on the Salty.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Juvenile Meds and LRP

A juvenile Little Ringed Plover was a nice surprise to find at Passage House this morning, loosely associating with a group of six Dunlin. A Whimbrel and three Black-tailed Godwit also suggested the beginning of return wader passage.

As the tide rose, Mediterranean Gulls kept appearing in the Black-headed Gull flock, with a total of nine (3 ad., 2 2S, 3 1S and 3 juv.) eventually being seen.

A juvenile Water Rail also busily fed on the edge of the reedbed.

Dunlin and Little Ringed Plover
Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull and Little Egret
Black-tailed Godwits
Black-tailed Godwits

Monday 6 July 2020

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull

A classic juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Passage House was the standout bird of this morning's WeBS count; it may be the first juvenile to be recorded in Devon this year. Three adult Mediterranean Gulls were roosting with c.200 Black-headed Gulls at Flow Point although no terns could be picked out. Other totals included 84 Canada Geese, 38 Mute Swans, 10 Little Egrets, 31 Curlew, 15 Oystercatchers and two Common Sandpipers. Plastic waterfowl included presumably the same Bar-headed Goose seen in April back at Passage House.

Yellow-legged Gull

Saturday 4 July 2020

Late to the party

Arriving at Teignmouth at 9.30am, having seen a surprisingly good haul of seabirds up the coast at Dawlish Warren, I knew that the majority of passage would already have passed. Over the following 1.5 hours, six Balearic Shearwaters, six Arctic Skuas, one Fulmar, 10 'commic' terns, six Common Scoter and a Swift flew south, and a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull showed close off the seafront.

Sunday 7 June 2020


A typically quiet June count this morning produced 81 Canada Geese, 35 Mallards, 22 Mute Swans, 16 Little Egrets, 150 Herring Gulls, 53 Black-headed Gulls, two Great Black-backed Gulls, five Cormorants,10 Oystercatchers and a Ringed Plover. Shelducks appear to be having a mixed breeding season; there was just one chick alongside 14 adults at Flow Point, whereas at Passage House a single pair was accompanied by no fewer than 19 young! Typical clutch size is 8-10 although Shelducks are known to leave their offspring to be supervised by other parents.

A visit to Rackerhayes last Monday for the first time since pre-lockdown produced three Tufted Ducks, five Sand Martins, a Kingfisher, numerous Coots with chicks and a pair of Mute Swans with seven young.

Just before midnight a vocal Bar-tailed Godwit was flying over the Salty at Teignmouth, presumably a new arrival as not picked up on the count.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Back to work benefits

The first day back at the laptop provided a long awaited patch tick, when a female type Marsh Harrier was found flying low north over Teignmouth beach early afternoon, presumably driven into the coast by the foggy conditions.

More surprises followed after dark when in the space of 15 minutes a Common Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover and a Greenshank flew over after 10pm.

Monday 18 May 2020


Despite the large number of people milling around the estuary it felt good to be out doing the WeBS count yesterday afternoon, after the April survey was suspended due to Covid-19. Totals included 23 Oystercatchers, 28 Mute Swans, 36 Shelducks, nine Mallards, eight Canada Geese, seven Cormorants, 12 Little Egrets, 70 Herring Gulls, 10 Great Black-backed Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Common Gull (unusual for May) and a Ringed Plover.

After the wintering population has departed, small numbers of Ringed Plovers 
stop by on passage during May.

On 12th May Alan Ford remarkably heard a Cuckoo calling from the middle of Teignmouth. Although regularly recorded only a few miles away, it is an exceptionally scarce bird around the estuary.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Red Kites

Two separate Red Kites flew south over Kingsteignton at 09:45 and 10:30 this morning; a bigger movement was anticipated but did not materialise with no further sightings by 13:00. Several Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and small parties of Swifts and House Martins were also noted overhead before the cold front pushed through this afternoon. Yesterday's walk around Hackney Marshes and Passage House was uneventful with a very high tide pushing most birds off the estuary, although an increased number of invertebrates were on the wing including this female Orange-tip.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Swifts return

Five Swifts were foraging over Fore Street in Kingsteignton yesterday morning, forming a mixed flock with at least a dozen House Martins and one or two Swallows. Nearby an adult Grey Wagtail was feeding a juvenile in the churchyard, and on Sunday nine Reed Warblers, two Sedge Warblers and two Ravens were around Hackney Marshes and the racecourse.

Another garden first

A further addition to the Teignmouth garden list with a Little Ringed Plover calling over the estuary early on Monday morning. Recently a flock of 20 Whimbrel on the Salty on 2nd May were notable with birds heard most nights,  33 Manx Shearwater south offshore in half an hour late on 1st May and up to seven Sandwich Tern around the estuary mouth throughout.

Friday 1 May 2020

Sedge Warblers

A Sedge Warbler was performing its display flight over an isolated patch of reeds on the racecourse this morning, and presumably a different bird was singing on the northern side of Hackney Marshes on Wednesday. Sedge Warblers are scarcer than Reed Warblers locally and also seem to arrive later, so these may still be birds passing through rather than establishing territories. Other sightings today included five Shelducks flying high west, a Common Sandpiper and a Whitethroat, and up to three pairs of Reed Buntings (male below) between Hackney Marshes and Passage House.

Monday 27 April 2020

Like buses...

Not only blog posts but lockdown and garden firsts. Early morning saw single House Martin and Swift but before them a long awaited garden first, Firecrest. I can see an area of Holm Oaks and some trees by the docks that have both held wintering birds in the past and always expected one to eventually pass through the garden. I didn't however expect a singing bird in late April to be my first!

Shortly after a single Yellow Wagtail flew north, perhaps flushed off the rugby pitch. Another garden first, two in an hour after three in two years - and my first two tick day since September 2013. 123 for the garden, 72 for the year and 65 during lockdown. 

Sunday 26 April 2020

Lockdown update - Teignmouth

Some clear wader passage on Sat 25 Apr with two summer plumaged Dunlin on the Salty on the morning tide and a Ringed Plover there in the evening. These combined with a vocal Common Sandpiper at 10pm moved the lockdown tally up to 61.

Recent days have seen up to half a dozen Sandwich Tern around the estuary mouth, a distant Jay in Shaldon and a pair of breeding Swallow back around the Rugby Club. Although reported in Teignmouth no Swifts overhead yet.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Wheatears, Yellow Wagtail

The past two mornings have produced single Wheatears on the racecourse - a female yesterday and a fine ochre-breasted male this morning. On Thursday a Yellow Wagtail flew over the rapeseed fields north of Passage House, a Green Woodpecker was calling at Hackney Marshes and Reed Warblers reached double figures (eight singing, plus two presumed migrants 15ft up an oak tree). Up to 24 Mute Swans have been congregating around Passage House.

Some photos from this week:

Early Purple Orchid

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Bar-headed Goose

There were a couple of additions to the various weird and wonderful waterfowl that frequent the Passage House area this morning in the form of a Bar-headed Goose and its companion, a presumed Swan Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid. Both were first seen at Teigngrace a couple of weeks ago and had obviously decided to broaden their horizons, but clearly didn't like what they saw and soon took off up the estuary, possibly heading back to Teigngrace.

Bar-headed Goose

Presumed Swan Goose x Greylag Goose hybrid 

"The Three Amigos"

Following the return to high pressure and north-easterly winds, migrants have been thin on the ground so far this week. A kettle of eight Buzzards was over Kingsteignton yesterday and small numbers of Swallows and House Martins have been seen moving north.

Saturday 18 April 2020


Cloud and rain overnight did the trick in dropping a nice little selection of migrants into Hackney Marshes and the racecourse this morning, the pick being a couple of Wheatears on the racecourse (I suspect more were present in areas that were not visible). Also noted were three Whitethroats, two Sedge Warblers, a Willow Warbler, a dozen or so Swallows and several more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in addition to the territorial birds.


Thursday 16 April 2020

Whimbrels, Osprey, Whitethroat

As has been the case all week, this morning's walk was generally dire in terms of passage migrants and was just about saved by a party of three Whimbrels off Passage House, along with an obliging Greenshank (below). Kev had another Whimbrel at Teignmouth and also recorded a Bar-tailed Godwit there yesterday.

Back at home the local gulls raised the alarm again at 13:50 and I managed to get on to an Osprey gliding eastwards in the direction of the estuary; unfortunately there was no time for a photo. A Whitethroat was a surprise find in the front garden hedge, which (although native and mainly hawthorn) was only planted in December 2018.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Reed Warblers

Another clear, calm morning produced a couple of surprises in the form of a calling Tawny Owl and an unseasonal Snipe flushed at Hackney Marshes. Reed Warblers have now returned with at least five singing between Hackney Marshes and Passage House, where waders included 13 Oystercatchers, three Common Sandpipers and a Greenshank. Elsewhere a pair of Stonechats were on the racecourse and seven House Martins were circling over Fore Street in Kingsteignton. Robin recorded another Red Kite over the town during the afternoon.

Butterflies on the wing today included Holly Blue, Orange-tip and Peacock (photo).

Late news for Thursday - Laurie was able to take a closer look at the geese at Teigngrace and confirmed that the possible White-fronted Goose is in fact a hybrid, probably a Greylag x Swan Goose.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Red Kite

This Red Kite flew east over the southern side of Kingsteignton at 09:45 this morning, seen from my garden and causing the local gulls to kick up a fuss.

House Martins have been reported from several locations since Monday, which is a slightly earlier arrival than in previous years. Elsewhere Robin reported a Bar-headed Goose and a possible White-fronted Goose from Teigngrace yesterday and Kev heard a Whimbrel over Teignmouth, where several Sandwich Terns were present offshore.

Monday 6 April 2020

Willow Warblers

A band of rain cleared through overnight to leave a wonderfully fresh-feeling morning and there was an increase in warbler numbers, with 11 Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers and nine Blackcaps dotted about, mainly around Hackney Marshes. Lingering winter visitors off Passage House included 13 Redshanks and six Black-headed Gulls, with four Reed Buntings and three Water Rails either seen or heard. Yesterday evening a Swallow flew over my garden in Kingsteignton as the clouds gathered.

Friday 3 April 2020

Teignmouth lockdown

Still quiet at the eastern end of the patch, although I missed an Osprey on 23 Mar and a Red Kite on 27 Mar, best I have managed is a couple of Buzzard.

The window lockdown list is currently on 41 with Guillemot added today. Yesterday a late Red-breasted Merganser was the highlight but two scoter included a probable Velvet but too distant to confirm. Two black dots remain at Labrador Bay today so both rare scoter are presumably still present with a separate flock of 75 Common Scoter off Holcombe. 

Waiting for migrants

Expectations were high for at least a Willow Warbler or Swallow on this morning's walk, but despite promising conditions there was very little change compared to yesterday, with mainly territorial Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs the only summer migrants noted. Counts from the past two days included 18 Mute Swans, 10 Mallards, six Canada Geese, four Little Egrets, 17 Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and the Dunlin still, with just the odd Buzzard, Sparrowhawk or Raven overhead to disturb the peace. A pair of Shelducks appear to be prospecting for a nest site on the racecourse, no doubt encouraged by the lack of activity there as of late.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Lockdown birding

I have now been placed on furlough leave, but intend to use my 'one form of exercise a day' to walk from my home in Kingsteignton down to Hackney Marshes, out to Passage House and back via the racecourse (with my binoculars of course) and will continue to post sightings here. The highlight of today's circuit was a Dunlin at Passage House; they have been scarce on the estuary so far this year. Also noted were 31 Curlew, 14 Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper, two Red-breasted Mergansers, three Little Egrets, two Grey Herons, two Reed Buntings, seven Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. Back at home there was a steady northbound trickle of Meadow Pipits and a couple of Lesser Black-back Gulls and Ravens overhead late morning.

Late news: on Sunday a pair of Stonechats and three Pheasants were on the racecourse.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Sand Martins

A brief but productive visit to Teigngrace this morning produced half a dozen Sand Martins over the ponds and wet fields, plus a Green Sandpiper, 12+ Little Egrets, seven Mute Swans, four Teal and a couple of Meadow Pipits and Grey Wagtails.

Tuesday 17 March 2020


Prior to the excitement of Saturday afternoon there was the monthly WeBS count to do. As mentioned by Laurie two Grey Plovers were at Passage House but soon disappeared as the tide rose. Other totals as far as Salcombe Dip included 129 Oystercatchers, 37 Curlew, 21 Redshanks, four Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 41 Shelducks, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, eight Mute Swans, seven Little Egrets and two Grey Herons. 14 Turnstones were roosting on boats at Teignmouth on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the pair of Mandarins were still on Decoy Lake yesterday morning and today just three Tufted Ducks remained on Rackerhayes, where the pair of Great Crested Grebes were busy nest-building. The Surf Scoter and Velvet Scoter continue to be reported from Labrador Bay.

Sunday 15 March 2020


A pair of Mandarin were on Decoy Lake this morning, and showed well briefly, before retreating to the cover of overhanging branches on the far side. Also present was a Great Crested Grebe and 24 Tufted Ducks, eight of which were flying circuits around the lake in preparation for their migration north.


No sign of yesterday's Grey Plovers at Passage House, but 25 Common Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls indicated a bit of migration.

At Teigngrace, three Teal were on the marsh and 19 Little Egrets were in a field amoungst some cattle.

Little Egrets

Saturday 14 March 2020

Surf Scoter, Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck

A drake Surf Scoter was found off Labrador Bay at around midday today, in the company of a Velvet Scoter and a drake Long-tailed Duck. They were watched all afternoon by a steady stream of admirers, and fed the whole time, diving amongst the mussel farm from which they were presumably feeding off.

It's interesting to note that these birds formed a flock of their own, with the wintering flock of 50 or so Common Scoters only a little way to the north off Teignmouth. Will and I both managed to scope them from The Ness in order to get them on the patch list.

Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter and Surf Scoter

Earlier in the day on the rising tide, Will had two Grey Plovers at Passage House, although these soon flew in to roost with the Curlew and were obscured from view by vegetation. This is the first record for a couple of years.

Friday 13 March 2020

Scaup and first migrant warblers

The male Scaup made a surprise re-appearance on Rackerhayes this morning in the company of 22 Tufted Ducks, most of which will very soon be heading off towards breeding grounds. Also present two each of Kingfisher, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe, and a singing Chiffchaff was a welcome sound amongst the resident chorus.


A brief visit to Hackney Marshes on Wednesday morning produced a singing Blackcap, eight Mallards, two Reed Buntings, a Water Rail and a (silent) Chiffchaff.

Sunday 8 March 2020

First Guillemot

As the title suggests, it's very quiet around patch at the moment. A Guillemot was offshore with a Razorbill, five Great Northern Divers, three Great Crested Grebe and 44 Common Scoter. No sign of any of the scarcer ducks on Decoy where there were just 12 Tufted Duck.

I've recently returned from a trip to The Gambia. If you're interested, I've written a trip report here.

Monday 2 March 2020


A female Pochard was at Rackerhayes this morning alongside 19 Tufted Ducks, 10 Mallards, two Great Crested Grebes and two Kingfishers. No sign of the Scaup although it was back on Decoy Lake last week and may still be present in the area.



 Tufted Ducks

Sunday 23 February 2020

Evening birding returns

The increased daylight meant a chance to go birding post-rugby. A further crake-hunt at Passage House returned the expected blank but a Shag on the river was a rare sight this far up the estuary. Also present an Avocet and at least six Common Sandpiper, an early Spring passage?

At the opposite end of the estuary three Great Northern Diver and 30 roosting Red-breasted Merganser were offshore from Teignmouth.

Saturday 15 February 2020

Another Firecrest

A check of Rackerhayes before work on Friday produced a Firecrest on the edge of the woods, the male Scaup still, 24 Tufted Ducks, a pair of displaying Great Crested Grebes, two Shovelers and two Roe Deer.

Wednesday 12 February 2020


A break in the weather this morning allowed for a thorough count of the estuary between Passage House and Salcombe Dip, though there was nothing unusual of note. Totals included 232 Oystercatchers, 81 Curlew, 30+ Redshanks, six Ringed Plovers, three Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 54 Shelducks (including 50 together on Flow Point), 27+ Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Mute Swans, two Little Grebes, 14 Cormorants, six Little Egrets and singles of Grey Heron and Kingfisher.

Sunday 9 February 2020

The calm before the storm

In sharp contrast to today, Saturday morning was sunny and calm and there was a notable increase in birdsong locally, including two Skylarks high above the racecourse and three Reed Buntings at Hackney Marshes.

On Friday the Scaup was still on Rackerhayes with 29 Tufted Ducks, and a Firecrest was around the Hackney Marshes car park.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Scaup relocated

A male Scaup - presumably the Decoy bird - was present on Rackerhayes first thing on Monday morning alongside 30 Tufted Ducks, enjoying the peace and quiet and lack of watercraft. No sign of the Goldeneye but Shoveler numbers had increased to eight, and there were three Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Around patch

Five Great Northern Divers were offshore at Teignmouth this morning with two Great Crested Grebes, 30+ Common Scoter and six Razorbill. Five Red-throated Divers also flew south.

At flow point, a pair of Teal flew up on arrival and eight Ringed Plover roosted with the Oystercatchers.

No sign of the Scaup on Decoy now, where Tufted Ducks numbered just nine; likely as a consequence of the boating that was taking place on the lake.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Pochard Pair

A pair of Pochard was a nice surprise on Decoy Lake this morning, this species being an irregular visitor, the last record being a few winters ago I believe. The male Scaup was still with the Tufted Duck flock that seemed to have reduced in number to around 17, but an accurate count was not possible due to birds roosting behind cover.


Monday 20 January 2020

WeBS & Goldeneye

Counts from the estuary on a glorious winter's day on Sunday included 263 Oystercatchers, 93 Curlew, 71 Redshanks, 13 Avocets, nine Ringed Plovers, five Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 42 Shelducks, 36 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mute Swans, two Little Grebes, five Little Egrets and eight Cormorants (including one sinensis).

On Saturday afternoon a check of Rackerhayes produced a fine male Goldeneye along with nine Tufted Ducks, six Gadwalls, a Great Crested Grebe and at least one Marsh Tit.


Friday 10 January 2020

Nice Ice Baby

A first winter  Iceland Gull was a welcome find on The Salty this afternoon, arriving with other gulls pre-roost. Also from the window today at lest four male Blackcap in the garden and the Black Redstart put in one of it's intermittent appearances.  

The drake Scaup was reported as still present on Decoy Lake. 

Wednesday 1 January 2020

New Year's Day

Will and I were out all day on patch and managed to amass a very respectible total of 85 species.

First off, a walk around Decoy produced the male Scaup, a Firecrest showing excellently in a bush around the far side, a couple of Marsh Tits and a Treecreeper.

A Water Rail and Reed Bunting were heard calling from Hackney Marshes, a Chiffchaff was seen in the bushes and a Siskin flew over. The low cloud and drizzle made observing birds on the estuary very difficult over the high tide, but the 10 Avocet were roosting on the islands at Passage House and four Dunlin flew in from further down river.

On to Teigngrace, and three Green Sandpiper were on the flooded fields to the north-west of the Exeter Road along with large numbers of Pied Wagtails and a Little Egret. A Stonechat was on nearby fenceposts and a Kingfisher perched over the small stream that runs through the fields.

Two Dippers and a Grey Wagtail were on the River Lemon running through Newton Abbot.

A quick look in at Rackerhayes fishing lakes gave three useful additions to the day's tally; a male Shoveler, six Gadwall (scarce elsewhere on patch of late), and two Great Crested Grebe.

The next stop was Teignmouth where at least 34 Common Scoter were offshore. Close inspection of the flock revealed a male Wigeon which was surprisingly inconspicuous until the scoters dived. Three Great Northern Divers were also offshore with two 1st winter Mediterranean Gulls in a distant flock of Kittiwakes, and 17 Fulmars flew around the cliffs off to the north. A final stop off at Passage House saw 10 Snipe flying around and a Common Sandpiper.


A male Blackcap and imm Black Redstart were present in a Teignmouth garden early morning.