Wednesday 28 December 2022

Goosander, Green Sandpiper

 A low-tide visit to the Passage House area this afternoon produced a redhead Goosander (the 150th species of the year), three Greenshanks and 46 Dunlin. Goosanders are barely annual visitors to the estuary despite regularly occurring (and breeding) on the River Teign. A check of the flooded meadows at Teigngrace revealed this Green Sandpiper.

Tuesday 13 December 2022


Totals from around the estuary across a bitterly cold weekend included 342 Oystercatchers, 87 Redshanks, four Greenshanks, 61 Dunlin, just 38 Curlew, 24 Turnstones, 10 Avocets, eight Ringed Plovers, three Knot, two Common Sandpipers, 27 Little Egrets, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 15 Mallards, 12 Shelducks, 10 Teal, seven Wigeon, eight Mute Swans, three Little Grebes and singles of Kingfisher, Lapwing and Snipe. The Knot, and increased Dunlin and Little Egret numbers, probably point to a slight influx from the freezing conditions.

Friday 2 December 2022

Spot Red again

The Spotted Redshank was at Passage House on the dropping tide with 42 Redshank, 14 Curlew and 10 Oystercatcher. Also present three Red-breasted Merganser, two Kingfisher and a Common Sandpiper. 

At Decoy Lake another Kingfisher and eight Tufted Duck.

Monday 28 November 2022

Black Red again

Teignmouth Port has traditionally been the most reliable place to find Black Redstart around the Teign, and on Sunday morning one duly obliged after a short search - possibly the same bird seen on the roof of the Jolly Sailor a couple of weeks ago. A quick scan off the seafront produced two Common Scoters, at least one Great Northern Diver and a very close Kittiwake foraging along the shore with Black-headed Gulls.

Black Redstart

Saturday 19 November 2022

Marsh Tit

A first visit to Rackerhayes since the spring was rewarded with a Marsh Tit, seen and heard twice in scrub on the eastern side, along with two Chiffchaffs, three Bullfinches, 10+ Siskins and singles of Grey Wagtail, NuthatchGreen Woodpecker and Kingfisher. Waterfowl numbers were disappointing with just three Tufted Ducks and two Great Crested Grebes of note.

Monday 14 November 2022

WeBS, Spotted Redshank, Black Redstart

A Spotted Redshank roosting with c.50 Redshanks at Flow Point was the highlight of Sunday morning's count; hopefully it'll remain on the estuary for the winter. Other totals included 320 Oystercatchers, 61 Curlew, 18 Turnstones, six Dunlin, four Ringed Plovers, 21 Mute Swans, nine Shelducks, eight Red-breasted Mergansers, six Teal, four Wigeon, three Little Grebes, 15 Cormorants, six Shags, two Common Gulls, one Lesser Black-backed Gull and one Kingfisher. A Black Redstart on the roof of the Jolly Sailor pub in Teignmouth (photos here) and on Saturday, a Dipper was singing on the River Lemon in Newton Abbot by the Albany Street bridge.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Pom Skua

A lingering Pomarine Skua was the highlight of a seawatch from Teignmouth yacht club from 07:00 - 08:30 this morning. It briefly hassled a passing Gannet, one of 430 logged going south which included a good number of immature birds; reassuring to see after the year the species has had. The hoped-for Great Shearwater failed to materialise but a late Balearic Shearwater flew past along with one unidentified distant shearwater. Also noted were five Great Northern Divers (four south, one on the sea), two Mediterranean Gulls, two Red-breasted Mergansers, one Common Scoter, c.300 Kittiwakes and c.100 auks.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Brambling, Redpoll, Firecrest

A terrific hour of vis mig from the top of Bundle Head yesterday morning, with an almost constant stream of passerines heading south from before sunrise. Goldfinches and Linnets dominated proceedings with 262 and 185 respectively; Redwing (138) and Meadow Pipit (136) were the other species to make three figures. A bit of quality was provided by eight Bullfinches, five Siskins, a Brambling and a Redpoll. Also noted were 49 Chaffinches, 22 Pied/White Wagtails, four Song Thrushes and two Swallows. Nearby a Firecrest was calling in The Ness. 

Sunday 9 October 2022

WeBS, Osprey

Totals from the estuary this morning included 314 Oystercatchers, 68 Curlew, c.40 Redshanks, 20 Turnstones, 19 Dunlin, 15 Greenshanks, three Ringed Plovers, 51 Little Egrets, 36 Mute Swans, c.30 Mallards, six Wigeon, four Teal, two Shelducks, two Little Grebes, 18 Cormorants, two Kingfishers and single Mediterranean and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. An Osprey flew north-east over Flow Point at 08:20, seemingly escaping the detection of most roosting birds before heading inland.

Forty minutes at the top of Bundle Head from sunrise yesterday morning produced 76 Linnets, 34 Goldfinches, 19 Meadow Pipits, 12 Pied/White Wagtails, eight Chaffinches, seven Swallows, six Siskins and three Starlings all heading south, with a Firecrest seen briefly in clifftop scrub.

Monday 19 September 2022

Spotted Flycatchers

At least three, possibly as many as five Spotted Flycatchers were at Bundle Head this morning; birds kept dipping in and out of hedgerows making it difficult to confirm numbers. Also two Stonechats, two Blackcaps, c.10 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest, with three Grey Wagtails, 40+ Swallows and small numbers of Linnets, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits moving overhead.

At Flow Point the 40-strong small wader flock looked promising but turned out to comprise just Dunlin (26) and Ringed Plover (14). The immature male Eider was still present. Three Black Swans were an unusual sight at Passage House.

Friday 16 September 2022

WeBS, Great White Egret

The recent mini-purple patch continued on Tuesday morning with a Great White Egret east of Passage House the highlight of a belated WeBS count of the upper and middle estuary. Unfortunately it remained distant and didn't linger, and was last seen flying towards Coombe Cellars at 7.50am. A good number and variety of waders were present, with 408 Oystercatchers, 60 Curlew, 16 Greenshanks, 12 Dunlin, 10 Common Sandpipers, nine Redshanks, eight Ringed Plovers and singles of Knot, Avocet and Bar-tailed Godwit all noted. The immature male Eider was still at Flow Point, along with a couple of early Teal, a Wheatear and a Kingfisher. Other totals included 45 Little Egrets, 34 Mallards, 16 Mute Swans, two Little Grebes and two Shelducks. On Sunday morning there were 21 Turnstones at Teignmouth.

Saturday 10 September 2022

The tide is high

A quick stop at Passage House on the rising tide initially appeared quiet with just two Common Sandpiper amongst 168 Canada Geese, until a shout announced the presence of an Osprey (and Pete Stevens)! The Osprey, a juvenile, made a failed fishing attempt and then was lost to view behind the reedbed, reappearing a short while later. 

Previously hidden waders were then revealed by the rising tide and over the next half hour two Curlew Sandpiper, the first since 2014, 11 Dunlin, two Green Sandpiper, a Knot, a Black-tailed Godwit and a high count of 22 Greenshank flew down the estuary to search out new roost sites. 

Also present at least three Water Rail, a Kingfisher and a Bar-headed Goose

On the Salty, a first winter Yellow-legged Gull and a juvenile Common Gull

Monday 5 September 2022


Watching from Teignmouth yacht club from 06:30 - 09:15 yesterday morning was initially massively disappointing, with little except a steady stream of Gannets for the first hour or so (205 logged between 06:30 - 08:00 when they started doubling back). Eventually things began to improve, with six Balearic Shearwaters, five Manx Shearwaters, four unidentified small shearwaters, two Arctic Skuas, three Common Terns, 16 Sandwich Terns, nine 'commic' terns, seven Kittiwakes, six Fulmars and two Mediterranean Gulls making the notebook (all heading south); not bad but better was expected given the conditions and time of year.

On Saturday a single Sooty Shearwater flew south just after 4pm with 10 Balearic Shearwater between 3-5pm. Monday morning saw a Bar-tailed Godwit on the Salty with 262 Oystercatcher.

Saturday 27 August 2022

It's the Little things

An increase in variety during the week as autumn arrived, the clear highlight an adult Little Tern at Passage House on the Saturday (20th) morning high tide. A very rare species on patch, mostly offshore, this may even be the first Passage House record.  Unfortunately there was no sign later in the day, but a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit was present.

The highlight at the east end of the estuary was a breeding plumage Cattle Egret, roosting with gulls, on the Salty early Wednesday morning (24th), whilst nocturnal migrants over Teignmouth included Green Sandpiper on the 21st & 27th and Black-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel on 22nd. A first winter Yellow-legged Gull feeding offshore on 22nd was an overdue first for the year.

Mid estuary the immature male Eider remained off Flow Pont throughout. 

Tuesday 16 August 2022

A hint of autumn

The welcome change in weather provided some overnight movement with single Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover calling over Teignmouth. Otherwise quiet, still waiting for the first autumn Yellow-legged Gull...

Monday 15 August 2022

WeBS, Eider

It was nice to catch up with the juvenile/first-winter male Eider on Sunday morning, loafing with gulls off Flow Point. It has been present on the estuary for at least a month (photo on Devon Birds here). Good numbers of waders and other waterbirds were present despite the inevitable throngs of paddleboarders causing disturbance to roosts; totals included 263 Oystercatchers, 86 Curlew, 21 Ringed Plovers, 15 Common Sandpipers, 12 Greenshanks, four Whimbrels, eight Cormorants, six Shags, two Sandwich Terns, 31 Little Egrets, 67 Canada Geese, 29 Mallards, 21 Mute Swans, and singles of RedshankDunlinTurnstoneWater Rail and Kingfisher.

Sunday 17 July 2022


On the estuary this morning before the heat kicked in: 76 Oystercatchers, 42 Curlews, 10 Whimbrels, nine Common Sandpipers, seven Greenshanks, three Dunlin, 600+ Herring Gulls, 350 Black-headed Gulls, four Mediterranean Gulls (three juveniles and a first-summer), a Great Black-backed Gull, four Sandwich Terns, 107 Canada Geese, one Bar-headed Goose, 28 Mute Swans, 27 Mallards, 38 Little Egrets, four Cormorants and the female Red-breasted Merganser still. 

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Ring-necked Parakeet

A Ring-necked Parakeet flew south over my garden in Kingsteignton at 8.00pm last night. Possibly a wandering bird from the small Exmouth population, it was first picked up on call and it provided an unexpected midsummer house and patch tick. 

Friday 8 July 2022

Summer RB Merganser

This female Red-breasted Merganser has been present on the upper estuary since at least May. It seems healthy enough with no apparent signs of injury. Red-breasted Mergansers are rare in summer in Devon, although breeding is not unheard of and was last confirmed in 2003. 

Monday 16 May 2022

WeBS, more kites

Quiet on the estuary on Sunday morning, with second-year Mediterranean Gull at Passage House the only bird of note. Totals included 34 Mute Swans, 20 Shelducks (no juveniles seen), eight Mallards, four Cormorants, 14 Little Egrets, 52 Herring Gulls, four Black-headed Gulls, two Great Black-backed Gulls, 24 Oystercatchers, two Turnstones and singles of  Red-breasted Merganser (female, possibly an injured bird) and Whimbrel. There was also a small movement of Red Kites noted from mid-morning, with four west over Kingsteignton from 09:30 - 09:45.

On Friday a White Stork was circling over Kingsteignton (details here although unclear as to whether it was ringed or not). Last Wednesday a Wheatear was on the racecourse and a Bar-headed Goose was associating with the Canadas at Rackerhayes.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Patch mega... sadly now the status of Cuckoo on patch, one calling at dusk from Broad Meadow, Teignmouth on 2 May was just the third record in the last ten years. 

Nocturnal wader migration was also notable on the 2nd with a Whimbrel calling over Teignmouth early morning and a Bar-tailed Godwit over late evening. On the dropping overnight tide both Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit were vocal on or over The Salty with a couple of Dunlin and a Sanderling. The latter a scarce bird on the Teign, but the second this year after one at Passage House on 12 April. 

The bank holiday weather did not finish there, with the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year singing occasionally in Bitton Park, Teignmouth on the morning of the 3rd and the year's first Swift over the town

Saturday 30 April 2022

LRP, Red Kite

A couple of patch scarcities from the past few days: on Tuesday Kev had a Little Ringed Plover at Passage House, and yesterday a Red Kite went south over Kingsteignton at 10:35 in the company of four Buzzards.

House Martins are back over the centre of Kingsteignton but no sign of any Swifts yet this morning around the church. Greenfinch numbers seem to be up slightly this year; hopefully the start of a recovery from their recent decline.

Monday 18 April 2022

A darker shade of pale

The Spotted Redshank remains on the estuary and is moulting rapidly into breeding plumage. Its favoured area has seemingly been finally pinned down with it feeding on the north shore between Loxton's Steps and Passage House. 

A Red-legged Partridge at Netherton was a scarce patch bird although no doubt released; at least the Golden & Lady Amhurst's Pheasants had the presence of mind to escape!

Elsewhere Whitethroat and House Martin were at Coombe Cellars and a Great Northern Diver was off Teignmouth with at least 48 Manx Shearwater


Totals from Passage House, Flow Point and Teignmouth on a disturbance-affected Sunday morning count included 31 Turnstones, 12 Oystercatchers, five Greenshanks, four Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers, two Whimbrel, one Curlew, four Sandwich Terns, eight Little Egrets, 24 Shelducks, 24 Mute Swans and three Red-breasted Mergansers.

On Thursday a fine male Wheatear was around the car park at Passage House.

Grey Wagtail

Saturday 9 April 2022

Migrants and raptors

Early rain dropped a small selection of summer visitors into Rackerhayes on Friday morning, with eight Sand Martins, seven Swallows and a House Martin over the main lake, and four Willow Warblers singing in the bushes alongside several (presumably now territorial) Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

Brighter weather on Tuesday saw birds of prey take to the wing, with two Peregrines, a Sparrowhawk and several Buzzards high over Kingsteignton.

Monday 4 April 2022

Team Osprey

An Osprey put up all the gulls on The Salty as it flew up the estuary past Teignmouth mid morning, disrupting a Teams call, almost simultaneously a Black Redstart popped up on a neighbouring roof top.

On Saturday the first Sandwich Tern of the year was off the Back Beach, Teignmouth and last Tuesday a Coot was a scarce nocturnal migrant over Teignmouth.

Sunday 27 March 2022

White Wag

A smart White Wagtail was on Shaldon golf course this morning alongside two (presumably resident) Pied Wagtails. Under clear skies there was little at Bundle Head but singles of Stonechat, Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch and Chiffchaff were noted.

Sunday 20 March 2022

Spotted Redshank, WeBS

A Spotted Redshank at Passage House was the undoubted highlight of this morning's count, although unfortunately it remained quite distant. It wasn't seen during the middle part of the day but appeared again this evening as the tide rose. Other waders were quite well represented with 78 Oystercatchers, 43 Curlew, 31 Redshanks, four Greenshanks, two Black-tailed Godwits and a Bar-tailed Godwit between Passage House and Flow Point, and 33 Turnstones at Teignmouth. Other totals included 19 Canada Geese, 18 Shelducks, 16 Mute Swans, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Little Egrets, 11 Cormorants and eight Shags.

On Friday five Mandarins were at Rackerhayes along with two Blackcaps.

Spotted Redshank


Wednesday 9 March 2022

PFG pics

The Pink-footed Goose is still present at Teigngrace and yesterday morning I managed to get a few shots of it from beside the level crossing. Also a Crossbill flew over.

Sunday 6 March 2022


A Pink-footed Goose was with 180 Canada Geese at Teigngrace this evening, a great find by Tony Blunden. Presumably the bird from Exminster Marshes.

Update on the Netherton pheasants, 12 Golden and a Lady Amherst's Pheasant escaped locally six weeks ago, a couple have since been recaptured.

Friday 25 February 2022

Siberian Chiffchaff

After giving me the run-around earlier this month, I finally got prolonged views of a Siberian Chiffchaff at Hackney Marshes on Wednesday afternoon. It is a strikingly pale bird, with almost white underparts and no warm brown or olive colouration except in the wings. Although it doesn't display warm buff hues around the ear coverts or supercilium, it appears to show many of the other characteristics of tristis (thanks Kev and Laurie for your thoughts). It spent most of the time silent but briefly uttered a slightly downward 'piiiiuu'. The bird seems to favour the vegetation by the stream behind Winners gym, viewable from the cycle path.

Sunday 20 February 2022


Another disappointing count in terms of wader numbers, with species such as Redshank and Oystercatcher apparently deserting their usual high tide roosts. Just 135 Oystercatchers were huddled against the wind on Flow Point alongside 68 Curlew, 52 Shelducks and two Black-tailed Godwits, with four Ringed Plovers distantly towards Salcombe Dip. At Teignmouth, 44 Turnstones were roosting with 27 by New Quay Inn and 17 by Shaldon Bridge. Passage House was quiet but 54 Common Gulls and 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls indicated that late winter/early spring gull passage is underway.

Yesterday afternoon a brief flurry of raptor activity in Bishopsteignton included Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a Kestrel, the latter increasingly scarce on patch, perched by the road opposite Jack's Patch. Last Wednesday the Tufted Duck party at Rackerhayes had reached 30 birds.

Turnstones (Alan Ford)

Friday 18 February 2022

Fool's Gold

Two male Golden Pheasant just outside Netherton were unexpected, escapes or illegal releases doubt they'll last long. Also there nine Fieldfare and a couple of Redwing

At Decoy Great-spotted Woodpecker were drumming in the woodland with seven Tufted Duck, three Great-crested and a Little Grebe but just the one Coot on the lake.

Sunday 6 February 2022


Pushed off by a very high spring tide, there were few waders at Passage House yesterday morning although singles of Dunlin and Common Sandpiper were on the spit and a Greenshank was heard. A scan of the racecourse produced two Stonechats, a Snipe, 17+ Pheasants, small numbers of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and a couple of Foxes, with two female Blackcaps in some nearby scrub. There was a bit more waterfowl diversity at Rackerhayes with four Great Crested Grebes, four Teal, two Gadwall and a Shoveler with 12 Tufted Ducks still, and the nearby rugby pitches held c.150 Redwings and two Mistle Thrushes.

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Signs of spring

With the mornings now just light enough to fit in a bit of birding before work, a visit to Rackerhayes yesterday morning yielded several vocal Nuthatches and a singing Treecreeper in the woods along with a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker and couple of cooing Stock Doves. On the main lake a pair of Great Crested Grebes were displaying but waterfowl numbers were still below par with just 12 Tufted Ducks and a Shoveler of note. Overhead a couple of Siskins and newly Red-listed Greenfinches were heard.

Thursday 27 January 2022

Back in Black

The overdue first Black Redstart of the winter, a smart male, was on roofs around the Point carpark and pier in Teignmouth. 

Monday 24 January 2022


 A somewhat frustrating count yesterday with many birds scattered about the estuary and not in the usual high tide roosts - perhaps a sign of disturbance the previous day. Nevertheless, totals included 260 Oystercatchers, 73 Curlew, 20 Redshanks (almost certainly an undercount), 10 Greenshanks (on south side east of Coombe Cellars), 17 Turnstones, two Common Sandpipers, 62 Shelducks, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mallards, eight Mute Swans, five Little Grebes, four Wigeon, eight Cormorants, four Shags and singles of Avocet, Kingfisher and Great Crested Grebe.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Weekend Summary

An afternoon visit to Passage House saw the regular Common Sandpiper and Kingfisher with four Greenshank, three Wigeon and most surprisingly two female Pintail, a rare visitor to the estuary. 

A look at Decoy Lake saw a pair of Mandarin outcompeting the Mallard for bread but no Tufted Duck or grebes. 

On Saturday the immature Spoonbill around Teignmouth with all three regular divers off the mouth of the estuary and a Firecrest at Shaldon. On Friday a Cattle Egret was reported in Bishopsteignton, with 23 Avocet, Common Sandpiper, c30 Curlew, 10+ Snipe, c10 Redshank and a Kingfisher were at Passage House on the afternoon high tide. 

Sunday 9 January 2022

Razorbill in estuary

Great Northern Diver was the most abundant species off Teignmouth mid-morning today, even though numbers were down compared with New Year's Day, with seven present along with five Guillemots, a Razorbill and a male Common Scoter. From Polly Steps a huddle of Turnstones on the port quay numbered at least 41 birds, a particularly high count, but more unusual was a Razorbill diving just a few metres away from the quay. Finally a check of the railway wall between Flow Point and Salcombe Dip revealed the roost of the estuary's tiny wintering population of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, with six and five present respectively.

Saturday 1 January 2022

New Year's Day

A four hour (10:30 - 14:30), 10km walk from home in Kingsteignton produced a below-par 57 species, although the late start and low tide conditions combined with the absurdly mild weather did not help the total. Hackney Marshes was pretty quiet bird-wise although it was nice to hear two Song Thrushes in full voice and a Nuthatch showed well. Passage House produced three Lapwings, two Wigeon, a Kingfisher, a Common Sandpiper and a distant group of Red-breasted Mergansers. Waterfowl at Rackerhayes included singles of Gadwall and Shoveler, four Great Crested Grebes but just 10 Tufted Ducks, and the surrounding woodland held Chiffchaff, Redwing, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

At the other end of the patch, Keith Birchall recorded an impressive 18 Great Northern Divers off Teignmouth along with two Red-throated Divers, a single Brent Goose and small numbers of Gannets, Guillemots and Common Gulls.

Great Northern Diver (Alan Ford)