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.