Tuesday 9 July 2024

Passage House

In drizzly conditions this morning at least two Mediterranean Gulls, four Black-tailed Godwits, four Common Sandpipers and three Dunlin from the Passage House car park. Also two juvenile Black-headed Gulls among a hundred or so adults.

Mediterranean Gull (centre)

Saturday 15 June 2024

WeBS, Night Heron

A quiet June count last Sunday produced 147 Canada Geese, 27 Mute Swans, 19 Shelducks, 22 Little Egrets, seven Oystercatchers, three Curlew, 300+ Herring Gulls, 15 Black-headed Gulls, two Great Black-backed Gulls, two Cormorants and one Shag. Late news for 6 June - Kev had a great house tick in the form of a Night Heron heard flying over Teignmouth at night.

Tuesday 21 May 2024


It might be approaching the end of May but some of the Teignmouth Turnstones appear to be in no rush to reach their Arctic or Scandinavian breeding grounds. Or, the 15 birds present off the Back Beach this afternoon comprise passage birds that don't form part of the usual wintering population.  

Little else of note over the past week bar a handful of Red Kites over Kingsteignton on the 13th and 15th.

Monday 13 May 2024


Totals from around the estuary on Sunday morning included 47 Oystercatchers, 17 Turnstones, five Whimbrels, two Common Sandpipers, 14 Little Egrets, 30 Mute Swans, 10 Shelducks, six Cormorants, 100 Herring Gulls, three Great Black-backed Gulls and one Lesser Black-backed Gull. Later in the day a Red Kite flew over Kingsteignton at 17:45. 

Saturday 11 May 2024

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Arctic Skua

A fairly productive seawatch (by Teignmouth spring standards) from 07:30 - 08:30 this morning, although there was a sense that a lot more was passing just beyond view. Auks were constantly streaming south in loose flocks, with around 250 recorded in total; those close enough to identify were all Guillemots. Kittiwakes also just about made three figures, with a couple being harassed by a dark phase Arctic Skua. Also noted 50+ Gannets, 21 Manx Shearwaters, five Great Northern Divers, four Red-throated Divers, four diver sp., nine Fulmars, five Common Scoters and three Whimbrel

Sunday 14 April 2024

Birds of prey

Bundle Head was largely devoid of passage migrants on Saturday morning, but four species of raptor were noted including Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and this male Kestrel; also c.15 Linnets, a Willow Warbler, a Green Woodpecker and a Stock Dove. Not much at Passage House either with high tide approaching but six Common Sandpipers were on the spit. Later in the afternoon a Red Kite flew low over my house in Kingsteignton, the first of the year and making it a rare five-raptor day on patch.

Sunday 7 April 2024


Totals from around the estuary this morning included 105 Oystercatchers, 45 Turnstones, 11 Redshanks, two Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, one Black-tailed Godwit, just one Curlew, 22 Shelducks, 10 Mute Swans, seven Red-breasted Mergansers, one Great Crested Grebe, eight Little Egrets, 10 Great Black-backed Gulls and three Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The blustery conditions encouraged Sandwich Terns into the estuary, with at least eight noted including two as far up as Passage House. A couple of Swallows and Sand Martins were also seen battling the headwind up river.

Elsewhere a 45-minute seawatch from Teignmouth produced seven Fulmars (probable local breeders), two Great Northern Divers (one in full summer plumage), one Red-throated Diver, five Common Scoters, five Guillemots, three Sandwich Terns, one Great Crested Grebe and a couple of dozen Gannets and Kittiwakes. There had clearly been a bit of a fall of Willow Warblers at Rackerhayes with seven singing birds present, and at last a Wheatear (a male) was on the racecourse.

Turnstones (Alan Ford)

Sunday 31 March 2024

Spotted Redshank lingers

I figured the racecourse would be a good bet for a Wheatear on Saturday morning, but half an hour scanning revealed just two Stonechats and two Reed Buntings. Onto Passage House where the Spotted Redshank finally did the decent thing and allowed good views from the car park, in the company of four Redshanks and not a lot else. Rackerhayes was also quiet but three pairs of Great Crested Grebes, two Willow Warblers and a leucistic Greenfinch were noted. Lastly a scan of the estuary from Flow Point produced another Great Crested Grebe and at least six Red-breasted Mergansers still.

Redshank (l), Spotted Redshank (r)

Monday 25 March 2024


Showery weather attracted good numbers of Sand Martins to Rackerhayes over the weekend, with c.50 on Saturday and 30+ on Sunday. Single Willow Warblers were present both days but likely to be different individuals, alongside 5+ Chiffchaffs and 3+ Blackcaps. One of the two pairs of Great Crested Grebes already has three fledged young, which seems rather early; there are a further two non-paired adults so six in total. Other waterfowl included just a single Tufted Duck and the Bar-headed Goose still.

Willow Warbler


Great Crested Grebes

Monday 11 March 2024


The tide was so high on Sunday morning that a couple of Shags were able to dive over a flooded Flow Point. The one stretch of vegetation that hadn't been submerged was crowded with waders, with 71 Oystercatchers, 45 Dunlin, 33 Curlew, 15 Redshanks, 11 Turnstones, two Greenshanks, a Grey Plover and the Spotted Redshank jostling for space. Another 65 Oystercatchers and 18 Dunlin were roosting on the railway wall, and a further 45 Turnstones were at Teignmouth. Other totals from the wider estuary included 38 Shelducks, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, 10 Mute Swans, two Mandarins (between Passage House and Netherton), six Little Egrets, 45 Common Gulls, two Kingfishers and single Little Grebe and Snipe. A scan from the top of Teignmouth yacht club revealed at least eight Great Northern Divers on the sea between Holcombe and Shaldon.

Wednesday 28 February 2024

Siberian Chiffchaff

Rackerhayes delivered this morning with a Siberian Chiffchaff that showed extremely well by the main pond. Also three Blackcaps (one in song), six Tufted Ducks, five Great Crested Grebes and the Bar-headed Goose.

Monday 26 February 2024

Spot Red pinned down

Since its arrival the wintering Spotted Redshank has proved difficult to catch up with, making sporadic appearances at Passage House and Flow Point at high tide only. Its favoured foraging areas had remained a mystery, but earlier this month it was seen between Coombe Cellars and Shaldon, feeding around the old oyster beds. On Saturday Mark Bailey located it on the south side of the estuary east of Arch Brook, where it showed well (both photos below are Mark's). It has been known to roost just west of Arch Brook Bridge from time to time, so this is likely the best area to try and see it as the tide rises or falls (there's a small car park at SX909720).

Monday 12 February 2024

WeBS, Mergansers, Egyptian Geese

With the ongoing decline on the Exe Estuary, the Teign Estuary is now probably the most important wintering site for Red-breasted Mergansers in Devon, with numbers relatively stable and peaking in the high 20s in recent years. At least 28 continued to grace the estuary on Sunday morning, with 26 fishing together off Flow Point and two near Passage House. Gull numbers are beginning to rise with at least 43 Common Gulls and and six Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the upper estuary a sure sign that spring is on its way. Numbers of other species were generally disappointing, perhaps attributable to the mild weather: 271 Oystercatchers, 41 Turnstones, 28 Curlew, 25+ Redshanks, 20 Dunlin, five Greenshanks, three Ringed Plovers, two Avocets, one Common Sandpiper, 51 Shelducks, 17 Mallards, seven Teal, six Mute Swans, two Wigeon, two Little Grebes, eight Cormorants, four Shags, seven Little Egrets, five Grey Herons, one Kingfisher and one Great Northern Diver.

A brief wander round Rackerhayes revealed a/the Bar-headed Goose in with the Canadas, and a massive female Peregrine flew low overhead.

Late news for 1 February - two Egyptian Geese were at Passage House.


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Bar-headed Goose

Sunday 14 January 2024


Plenty to see on the estuary this morning, aided by a very high spring tide shortly after sunrise. The wintering Spotted Redshank popped up on Flow Point but only allowed brief views while foraging around the fringes of the the submerged saltmarsh. The flock of Avocets, now up to 24 birds, roosting at Passage House was a welcome sight after no records at the tail end of 2023, and Turnstones continue to increase with 56 at Teignmouth, six on Flow Point and one at Passage House. Oystercatcher numbers were down (249) but this was probably due to them vacating their usual roost location on the estuary wall. Other totals included 69 Curlew, 40+ Redshanks, 11 Greenshanks, 41 Dunlin, five Ringed Plovers, two Black-tailed Godwits, one Common Sandpiper, 14 Little Egrets, 34 Shelducks, 29 Red-breasted Mergansers, 20 Mallards, 12 Mute Swans, six Teal, two Wigeon, two Little Grebes, one Kingfisher and one Great Northern Diver (by Shaldon bridge).

A brief check of the sea off Teignmouth revealed a party of five Red-throated Divers, three Great Northern Divers and at least eight Fulmars on the cliffs towards Holcombe.

Friday 12 January 2024

Newton pit-stops

 A visit to Newton on Monday 8th allowed for quick checks of Decoy and Passage House. At Decoy, pairs of Shoveler and Teal were notable, as for the opposite reason, were just three Coot and two Tufted Duck. A flock of 20 Avocet were unexpected at Passage House.

Back east, up to six Great Northern Diver have been in the estuary off Teignmouth.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Cirl Buntings

A late morning visit to RSPB land east of Bishopsteignton under a cloudless sky produced c.20 Cirl Buntings, 30+ Skylarks and 20+ Linnets on the winter stubbles, with four Buzzards, two Peregrines and two Ravens overhead enjoying the conditions. Earlier in Kingsteignton a Firecrest had given incredibly close views near the entrance to Hackney Marshes.

Monday 1 January 2024

New Year's Day

A respectable 74 species to start the year despite the arrival of yet more rain by midday. First stop was Rackerhayes where the woodland delivered Marsh Tit, Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers although the standout sighting was a Weasel by the boardwalk. The ponds themselves held 10 Tufted Ducks and four Great Crested Grebes, and back in Kingsteignton a male Blackcap was near the church. Switching to the estuary, a Rock Pipit was on Flow Point and 29 Red-breased Mergansers and 21 Dunlin were in the vicinity of Arch Brook. Poor visibility hampered a brief lunchtime seawatch off Teignmouth although single Kittiwake, Gannet and Great Northern Diver were noted, two Ravens flew over and a party of Turnstones was on the Salty. Water Rail, Little Grebe and Lapwing were later added at Passage House and a pair of Stonechats was on the racecourse. 

Rock Pipit

Marsh Tit