Thursday, 23 December 2021
Monday, 20 December 2021
Feeling a bit under the weather following a Covid booster jab, I managed a short walk around Hackney Marshes yesterday morning and was stopped in my tracks when an Otter lumbered across the path near the screen. It then proceeded to fish in the channel between the railway and the racecourse for about ten minutes, swimming right up to the edge of the cycle path and giving memorable views just a few metres away. I cursed the fact that I didn't have my proper camera with me, although not trying to get the perfect shot allowed me to enjoy the experience more. There was no sign this morning unfortunately, although a couple of passers-by commented that they had seen recently an Otter in the same area.
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
After no patch records at all so far this year, the sudden appearance of 14 Cattle Egrets at Passage House this morning was something of a surprise; see video here. There was no sign of them there or at Teigngrace at lunchtime, although a Goosander on the estuary was the first in almost exactly four years.
On Sunday the Spoonbill was still present east of Passage House, joining a group of Little Egrets and Cormorants foraging along the falling tide; estuary-wide counts of the latter were 35 and 16 respectively. Other WeBS totals comprised 330 Oystercatchers, 71 Redshanks, seven Greenshanks, just 37 Curlew, 23 Turnstones, six Dunlin, five Ringed Plovers, two Common Sandpipers, 300 Black-headed Gulls, 120 Herring Gulls, 34 Greater Black-backed Gulls, 16 Cormorants, 23 Mallards, 19 Shelducks, 17 Mute Swans, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, four Little Grebes, two Wigeon, two Kingfishers and singles of Lapwing, Teal, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and Canada Goose.
|Spoonbill (Laurie Allnatt)|
|Spoonbill (fourth from right) with Little Egrets (Laurie Allnatt)|
Thursday, 11 November 2021
Spoonbill mid channel from Shaldon bridge 10.45. pic.twitter.com/is364nudPn— Chris Gladman (@AnchorBirder) November 11, 2021
Monday, 1 November 2021
..of sorts. A sign of the changing seasons with a Snow Bunting west over Teignmouth this afternoon, a great patch, let alone garden, bird. Hopefully it has pitched down somewhere around the estuary...
Late news includes the first Red-breasted Merganser of the winter on 20 Oct when two Balearic Shearwater and two Arctic Skua flew south off Teignmouth, two Mediterranean Gull were on The Salty and a Golden Plover flew over calling at 23.20pm.
Friday, 22 October 2021
Woodpigeon passage really got going today, with 23,500 counted from Bundle Head between 07:45 - 09:15. While around half of the birds flew south overhead, just inland or west over Teignmouth/Little Haldon, half were seen crossing Lyme Bay/Babbacombe Bay in a broad arc, with several flocks numbering over a thousand birds picked up distantly over towards Hope's Nose. Much closer was a Brambling which called loudly overhead then turned back around north. Also on the move 168 Goldfinches, 119 Meadow Pipits, 67 Linnets, 34 alba Wagtails, 30 Chaffinches, 26 Siskins, 14 Greenfinches, five Skylarks, two Grey Wagtails, two Mistle Thrushes, two Jays and a Swallow.
Sunday, 17 October 2021
Another hour watching migration over Bundle Head from 07:40 - 08:40 this morning. Going south: 139 Meadow Pipits, 102 Linnets, 63 alba Wagtails, 37 Goldfinches, 32 Siskins, 21 Chaffinches and 10 Greenfinches. Small flocks of Jackdaws and Woodpigeons were also on the move just inland but weren't counted. A Firecrest was heard briefly by the road.
Sunday, 10 October 2021
A busy autumn day started with an hour of vis mig at the top of Bundle Head from 07:30 - 08:30. Overall numbers were lower than last week but there was greater variety, with 29 Stock Doves probably the best count; also 66 Goldfinches, 42 Meadow Pipits, 35 Linnets, 19 alba Wagtails, 16 Chaffinches, 10 Greenfinches, five Skylarks, three Swallows, three Bullfinches, a Jay, a Grey Wagtail and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
The WeBS count from 08:00 until late morning produced 349 Oystercatchers, 78 Curlew, 28 Turnstones, 11 Ringed Plovers, 11 Redshanks, eight Dunlin, three Common Sandpipers, three Greenshanks, two Bar-tailed Godwits, 49 Little Egrets, 16 Cormorants, 88 Canada Geese, 37 Mute Swans, 20 Mallards, four Shelducks, two Kingfishers and a Wigeon. Gulls included single Mediterranean Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
At around 12:45 a Great White Egret was discovered in one of the channels south-east of Passage House (found by Paul Darlington; thanks for the text Mark Bailey); this is believed to be the first confirmed record for the Teign. It was still present from 5pm until dusk and gave excellent views at times, including side-by-side with some of the local Little Egrets.
|Great White Egret by Laurie Allnatt|
|Turnstones by Alan Ford|
Sunday, 3 October 2021
After yesterday's rain, today dawned bright and calm and the visible migration floodgates were well and truly opened over Bundle Head. Meadow Pipits dominated proceedings with a whopping 780 logged going south between 07:10 and 08:10, with a supporting cast of 165 Linnets, 112 Goldfinches, 94 Swallows/hirundine species, 12 alba Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail. The next few weeks should see Skylarks and Chaffinches begin to feature in overhead movements, along with (hopefully) a few scarcities such as Crossbill and Brambling, followed by some big movements of Woodpigeons in early November.
|Looking north from the highest point on Bundle Head, above Smugglers Cove. |
The steep ground means that passerines often fly over at just above head height
when moving south in the autumn.
Saturday, 2 October 2021
Seawatching from Teignmouth yacht club from 07:15 - 08:45 this morning produced a heavy passage of 1050 Kittiwakes, with birds moving south at a rate of 100 every five minutes from 07:20 - 08:05 before tailing off. Just one Balearic Shearwater went through but eight Arctic Skuas was a good total, the majority of which were following the trail of Kittiwakes. Also two late Common Terns, an adult Mediterranean Gull, five Common Scoters, 200+ Gannets and 30+ auks.
Thursday, 30 September 2021
A second winter Caspian Gull was on the Salty this evening, the third patch, and Salty, record and the first since 2018. Recent seawatching counts include six Balearic Shearwater, three Arctic Skua and 40 Kittiwake south past Teignmouth in 20 minutes mid evening on 27 Sep and on 29th, 11 Balearic Shearwater, an Arctic Skua, 80 Kittiwake in just half an hour mid afternoon.
Other recent Teignmouth highlights include a Moorhen on 25 Sep and a Coot on 1 Sep, both calling overhead at night.
Sunday, 12 September 2021
A productive morning started with a look around Bundle Head, which revealed singles of Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear and Whitethroat, plus numerous Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. Overhead passage showed signs of getting going with three Grey Wagtails, c.30 each of Swallow and House Martin and a trickle of Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches.
Onto the WeBS count, where the standout bird was a flighty Little Stint at Passage House, although the bizarre sighting of a Grey Squirrel swimming across from the spit as it became stranded by the rising tide also caught the attention. Other (bird) totals included 377 Oystercatchers, 68 Curlew, 15 Greenshanks, 10 Turnstones, six Dunlin, five Common Sandpipers, four Black-tailed Godwits, two Ringed Plovers, 30 Mallards, 21 Mute Swans, 24 Little Egrets, 16 Cormorants, a Kingfisher, a Whimbrel and a Wigeon.
At least one Yellow Wagtail and a couple more Grey Wagtails were heard overhead while counting at Flow Point.
Saturday, 4 September 2021
A wildlife cruise of Labrador Bay with Devon Sea Safari this morning produced outstanding views of a pod of six Common Dolphins, which swam around and under the boat and followed in its wake for some time. Few seabirds were noted, with just a few Kittiwakes, Gannets and a Mediterranean Gull, and no terns which was surprising given the numbers around the Exe recently. Later on, a couple of Turnstones were roosting off Teignmouth back beach and just outside the patch, two Tree Pipits flew over Holcombe.
Tuesday, 31 August 2021
Sunday, 22 August 2021
Last Sunday's count produced 215 Oystercatchers, 66 Curlew, 14 Greenshanks, five Whimbrels, three Dunlin, three Common Sandpipers, two Turnstones, 71 Mute Swans, 27 Canada Geese, 12 Mallards, 11 Cormorants, 30 Little Egrets, two Sandwich Terns, 600 Black-headed Gulls, 150 Herring Gulls, three Great Black-backed Gulls and a Kingfisher. A White Wagtail was also noted.
Saturday, 31 July 2021
Tuesday, 27 July 2021
Totals from Sunday morning included 70 Mute Swans, 60 Canada Geese, 14 Mallards, 53 Little Egrets, 108 Oystercatchers, 37 Curlew, 11 Greenshanks, five Turnstones, three Whimbrels, three Common Sandpipers, two Sandwich Terns, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Common Gull and a Moorhen.
|Turnstone (Alan Ford)|
Monday, 5 July 2021
A nice selection of waders at Passage House on Sunday evening confirmed that return passage is well underway, with two adult Little Ringed Plovers, five Common Sandpipers, four Greenshanks, three Redshanks, 47 Curlew and a Whimbrel noted. The annual summer buildup of Mute Swans is reaching its peak with an impressive 71 recorded; based on WeBS data this appears to be the highest estuary count since 1983/84.
Monday, 14 June 2021
Monday, 31 May 2021
The highlight of a delayed WeBS count yesterday morning was a Little Ringed Plover on the spit at Passage House, although three Great Crested Grebes off Flow Point was perhaps more unexpected for the time of year. Other totals included 13 Oystercatchers, seven Cormorants, four Sandwich Terns, 45 Mute Swans, 42 Canada Geese, 36 Shelducks (plus seven young with one pair), 10 Mallards and a/the Bar-headed Goose.
Today a Red Kite flew north over Kingsteignton just after 10:00.
Thursday, 20 May 2021
During a two hour seawatch this morning between 09:30 and 11:30, a pale-morph Arctic Skua flew south along with 110+ Manx Shearwater, c.20 Kittiwake, c.20 Fulmar, 200+ Guillemots and three Common Scoter. Three Great Northern Diver (including two in summer-plumage) were on the sea a fair way out, and four others flew south.
Kev reported a flock of 12 Sanderling and five Dunlin on The Salty on Monday after a heavy rain shower. Also a first summer Mediterranean Gull there today with 725 Herring Gull.
Saturday, 8 May 2021
Quantity over quality was the order of this morning's seawatch (07:05 - 08:45). Guillemots were a major feature with numerous small groups and occasional parties of up to 20 loafing on the sea and flying south, with 200+ recorded in total. Kittiwakes (c.100) were also on the move, joined by smaller numbers of Gannets (including two very close in) and a handful of Fulmars. Also noted were a Great Skua (flew north then lingered off Holcombe), a Common Scoter, two Manx Shearwaters, three Dunlin, nine Swallows and three Swifts.
News filtering through from social media indicated that there was an arrival of passerine migrants elsewhere along the South Devon coast, and Laurie suggested that the racecourse might hold something interesting. This proved to be a great shout as a pair of cracking male Whinchats were discovered early afternoon along the southern side by the footpath. Also present were four Whimbrels foraging near the grandstand.
Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Friday, 30 April 2021
One of two Whimbrels present just before high tide at Passage House this morning. The other flew up from dense vegetation and both birds then flew down the estuary, calling loudly. Also four Dunlin and two Common Sandpipers on the spit.
|Whitethroat back on territory at Bundle Head yesterday|
Wednesday, 28 April 2021
Sunday, 18 April 2021
Very quiet at Bundle Head this morning with three Willow Warblers the only migrants noted; along the clifftops a pair Shelducks and a male Kestrel showed well. Yesterday the first couple of Reed Warblers were back at Hackney Marshes and single Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were on the spit at Passage House.
Sunday, 11 April 2021
Totals from around the estuary this morning included 45 Oystercatchers, 25 Redshanks, six Greenshanks, 20 Turnstones, eight Curlew, two Dunlin, two Ringed Plovers, four Common Sandpipers, 29 Mute Swans, 24 Shelducks, eight Mallards, two Red-breasted Mergansers (down from nine on 4th April), 22 Little Egrets, six Shags, five Cormorants and five Sandwich Terns.
|Shags (Alan Ford)|
On Wednesday there were five Willow Warblers and two Mandarins at Rackerhayes along with first broods of Mallard and Coot, and on Thursday an Osprey flew over Kingsteignton.
Wednesday, 7 April 2021
Saturday, 3 April 2021
Very little of note around Hackney Marshes and the racecourse this morning, although this was hardly surprising at the latter since preparations were underway for the first race meeting of the year. A Water Rail showed well from the Hackney Marshes viewing screen and there were numerous territorial Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Onto Rackerhayes for the first time since pre-lockdown three months ago, where a large flock of Sand Martins (c.100) were feeding low over the water, joined by two Swallows and a House Martin. Around the lakes three Willow Warblers were singing away from their namesake trees and two Roe Deer foraged in an adjacent meadow.
Sunday, 21 March 2021
A few years ago I could never have imagined writing a blog post with this title, but with birds starting to wander from the Isle of Wight release scheme and satellite tracking showing that one had previously crossed patch airspace, the prospect of seeing a White-tailed Eagle around the Teign had actually become a realistic scenario. After the bird first seen near Exmouth on Friday had flown inland from Dawlish late this morning, I headed out to Flow Point to see if I could intercept its path. As I got in the car just after 11:00 the phone rang; Laurie had picked up the White-tailed Eagle from his house, soaring over Netherton/ Combeinteignthead! A quick change of plan and I soon located the bird from the Passage House car park, and watched it track slowly westwards towards Buckland/Newton Abbot. My camera chose the perfect moment to play up so I only managed a dreadful phonescoped shot, although the eagle was always high and never particularly close. Laurie soon arrived along with several other passing birders who got onto it, although by this time the eagle was over Newton Abbot and moving ever further away. It was eventually lost in the direction of Abbotskerswell/Kingskerswell at 11:40.
Certainly a memorable day and hopefully just the first of many local sightings of this magnificent raptor!
|White-tailed Eagle (honestly!)|
Saturday, 20 March 2021
A fair variety of birds around the patch this morning that was typical of the changing seasons. A look off Teignmouth first thing produced little other than two Great Northern Divers and the unusual sight of two Carrion Crows sat together on a buoy. Onto Bundle Head, where there were a few grounded migrants including three Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and a Firecrest, with a handful of Chaffinches, Linnets and Meadow Pipits moving north overhead. A scan of the sea around the Labrador Bay mussel farm revealed just a Great Crested Grebe and weirdly a Canada Goose, with six Mute Swans flying south (around this time last year was the famous trio of Surf Scoter, Velvet Scoter and Long-tailed Duck!). A pod of 18 Common Dolphins continued the good run of sightings in Babbacombe Bay this winter.
I arrived at Passage House around the (neap) high tide where there were decent numbers of waders for late March including 31 Redshanks, seven Greenshanks, 28 Curlew and four Snipe, plus 12 Little Egrets. Another 10 Curlew and eight Little Egrets were roosting on Flow Point, and a total of 25 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered about the estuary. The last stop was Teigngrace, where surprisingly there were no Sand Martins but the Bar-headed Goose and its companion the Swan Goose x Greylag hybrid were in with the Canada Geese after having made an appearance on the racecourse yesterday.
Sunday, 14 March 2021
Full coverage of the estuary with Alan and Laurie this morning produced 106 Oystercatchers, 36 Turnstones, 25 Curlew, 12 Redshanks, five Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, 48 Shelducks, 19 Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Mute Swans, eight Mallards, four Canada Geese, six Cormorants, five Shags, two Little Grebes, two Great Crested Grebes, 330 Herring Gulls, 160 Black-headed Gulls, four Great Black-backed Gulls, four Common Gulls, eight Little Egrets, a Grey Heron and a Kingfisher.
Two weeks ago, a belated February count was undertaken on the last day of the month (after the BTO confirmed that surveys could continue in lockdown) despite a great deal of disturbance in fine conditions. Totals included 174 Oystercatchers, 30 Turnstones, 49 Curlew, eight Greenshanks, 20 Shelducks, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Mute Swans, six Mallards, 10 Little Egrets, 10 Cormorants, three Shags, 240 Black-headed Gulls, 220 Herring Gulls, 16 Common Gulls, 16 Great Black-backed Gulls, a Kingfisher, a Great Crested Grebe and a Snipe.
Monday, 1 March 2021
An early Whimbrel didn't whistle its way over Teignmouth overnight on 25/26th February. It was actually a Little Grebe, far rarer in Teignmouth. The date was a strong clue, and Little Grebe were recorded overhead elsewhere in Devon that night. Perhaps not the usual confusion species but more information on the Sound Approach website https://soundapproach.co.uk/little-grebe/
Sunday, 21 February 2021
The Grey Plover was still around the roost islands at Passage House today, with 40+ Redshanks, 12 Dunlin, five Avocets, nine Lapwing, 82 Curlew, four Greenshanks, a Common Sandpiper, and two Kingfishers, one being at Hackney Marshes. A total of 45 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 12 Common Gulls were in the gull flock. It felt distinctly spring-like with Skylarks singing over the racecourse and waking up to the sound of my first singing Chiffchaff of the year.
Saturday, 20 February 2021
A few recent records from Teignmouth include up to six Great Northern Diver offshore, a couple of adult Mediterranean Gull, three Knot on the 12th and a vocal Black-tailed Godwit over on the night of the 15th. Continuing the scarce wader theme a Grey Plover was at Passage House on 18th.
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
I braved the bitterly cold weather this afternoon, with the temperature just above freezing, and the easterly wind gusting over 50mph. A very good count of 86 Dunlin were foraging along the northern side of the estuary just to the east of Passage House; clearly displaced birds escaping freezing conditions further east. Ten Avocets were still around with six Wigeon. A count of 28 Red-breasted Mergansers was a surprisingly high count given the choppy conditions. I think they must have been seeking the comparatively calm waters of the western end of the estuary. Six Golden Plovers then suddenly appeared on the mudflats, which I'm sure must have flown in as I was scanning elsewhere. Surprisingly, given the displacement of other species, there were still only three Lapwing present. In the gull flock, there were approximately ten Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 20 Common Gulls. Kev has had 2-3000 gulls on The Salty the last few days, and reports a Mediterranean Gull today. A Black Redstart was also around his house yesterday.
On another check of an empty Decoy Lake, a single Lesser Redpoll flew over calling before landing nearby in a silver birch.
Sunday, 7 February 2021
As Laurie's previous post indicated, Lesser Black-backed Gull numbers typically increase on the estuary in late winter and early spring although they're generally scarce elsewhere on patch, so an individual on the racecourse yesterday morning was noteworthy. In frosty conditions there was little else about except two Stonechats, and there was no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler at its favoured spot nearby; I'm not aware of any sightings since I managed to catch up with it last Saturday, although there's a good chance it's still in the area.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
Thursday, 28 January 2021
Yesterday, I managed to catch up with the Yellow-browed Warbler that was first seen on the 21st January in the patch of scrub and woodland by the railway bridge over the River Teign at Newton Abbot Quay. I was able to give it a couple of hours today and eventually received fantastic close views. It remained silent for most of the time, however, occasianally went through some bursts of call. A Firecrest also showed well there.
On the estuary, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls suggested that spring migration was beginning to get going. The continued absence of Tufted Duck was also notable at Decoy Lake.
Sunday, 17 January 2021
No sign of the Eiders off Teignmouth first thing this morning, but 3-4 Common Dolphins were moving south not far off the end of the pier and clearly visible without binoculars, much to the delight of passers-by. There seem to be reasonable numbers in Babbacombe Bay this winter, and I recorded 12-15 hunting just north of Hope's Nose a fortnight ago.
Just outside the patch, a couple of walks to the north of Bishopsteignton over the past two weekends have produced up to 50 Skylarks, 20 Cirl Buntings and a handful of Yellowhammers in fields near Red Rock Brewery, along with the odd Fieldfare, Stonechat and Kestrel. Meanwhile a male Blackcap has been a regular visitor to my garden in Kingsteignton.
Thursday, 14 January 2021
Woodcock is a species that we haven't recorded on the patch for a few years now, so yesterday I went out to purposely look for some. During two hours in good habitat I managed to flush six, but I'm sure a good few remained steadfast on the ground.
Today, a look at the estuary revealed an influx of Common Gull, with 65 at Passage House on the falling tide.
Saturday, 9 January 2021
Alan Ford reported four Eider off Teignmouth today; a good record during a scarce year for this species on the south coast of Devon. In other news, Kev has had a Black Redstart visit his garden since the 5th, Will has found a pair of Goosander a short way upstream from the patch boundary at Teigngrace, and during a visit to the estuary today, there were 16 Avocet, eight Wigeon, three Greenshank, two Common Sandpipers, and within the gulls, a possible 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull, although it failed to open its wings and remained too distant to tell for sure. Eighteen Little Egrets were also feeding in a pig field to the east of Hackney Lane.
|Possible Yellow-legged Gull|
Saturday, 2 January 2021
Friday, 1 January 2021
On one of the coldest New Year's Days in recent memory (the thermometer read minus 6 Celsius in Kingsteignton at 07.00) Laurie and I covered separate areas of the patch and combined for an above average total of 88 species.
Rackerhayes contained a decent variety of wildfowl including 27 Tufted Ducks, four Gadwalls, three Shovelers, two Pochards and a completely unexpected party of 13 Mandarins. Birds in surrounding woodland were obliging with Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Siskin all noted although Marsh Tit could not be found today. Fieldfare, Chiffchaff and Bullfinch were also added to the day list there.
With the tide falling at Passage House late morning, four Avocets, two Lapwings and two Common Sandpipers showed up to forage and eight Wigeon were on the point. A male Stonechat in the reeds was an unexpected bonus. Another look during the afternoon produced a male Teal, Grey Heron and two Little Grebes.
Hackney Marshes was full of walkers and dogs but still produced a Snipe on some frozen mud and Cetti's Warbler, Reed Bunting and Water Rail were all heard in the reeds. A Kingfisher hunted from the railway bridge, a Firecrest was flitting about in the woods and a Buzzard flew over, this being the only raptor recorded today.
Decoy Woods was busy with birds, with several flocks of Long-tailed Tits moving around. A Treecreeper and Firecrest were both seen on the edge of Wolborough Fen, which it itself looked magical in the glistening frost. The lake only held nine Tufted Duck; well below the usual total of around 30. Raven and Stock Dove both flew over and a Mistle Thrush sang from a tree.
A walk around the ditches and flooded areas at Teigngrace failed to produce the hoped for Green Sandpiper, however, five Snipe were flushed and a few Meadow Pipits foraged on the wet fields.
A look over the sea from Teignmouth revealed six Great Northern Divers, one Red-throated Diver, at least two Razorbill and 15 Guillemot, a handful of Gannet and a couple of Fulmar perched on the cliffs at Holcombe. Two each of Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin were also seen.