Tuesday, 20 March 2018


Totals from Passage House to Salcombe Dip this morning included 94 Oystercatchers, 54 Curlew, 23 Redshanks, 56 Shelducks, 25 Red-breasted Mergansers, three Little Grebes and and singles of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. The pick of the gulls was a second-summer Mediterranean Gull at Passage House, where a solitary Fieldfare performed well.

A couple of bits from the weekend: Alan Ford recorded an impressive 38 Turnstones at Teignmouth on Sunday, and I had a pair of Pintails near Flow Point from the train on Saturday.


A Hawfinch was in attendance at the feeding area in the south-west corner of Hackney Marshes this morning. It gave great close views, coming down to eat the seed put out on the wooden fence before perching up in the surrounding trees and scrub.


Sunday, 11 March 2018


A Scaup was found on Rackerhayes by Robin Shute today, which I believe is a 1st winter female, however please let me know if I've got it wrong. Also there were 10 Tufted Duck and a pair of Great Crested Grebe, the later of which made repeated aggressive attempts to see the Scaup off when it approached too close, diving under the water and swimming up from beneath the Scaup to peck its underside!

Tufted Duck (left), Scaup (right)

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Many Meds

No sign of either the Iceland or Glaucous Gull this morning in a large gathering of gulls around the estuary mouth and on The Salty, however Will counted an impressive 18 Mediterranean Gulls (14 adults, two second-summers and two first-winters) on the southern side of The Ness along with 380 Common Gulls and 67 Lesser Black-backed Gulls suggesting spring gull passage is well underway. Two Great Northern Divers were also offshore.

A few of the adult Mediterranean Gulls briefly alighted on Ness Cove Beach

The now flooded racecourse continued to hold large numbers of birds, including 40 Black-tailed Godwits, 100+ Golden Plover, 130+ Lapwing, a Mediterranean Gull and many thrushes still.

The six remaining Avocet were roosting at Passage House and the Teal was still on Decoy Lake.

Golden Plover
Black-tailed Godwits

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Glaucous Gull

Large numbers of gulls continue to feed around the estuary mouth with the Bonaparte's Gull still present this morning alongside a welcome new arrival in the brutish form of a first winter Glaucous Gull, but the Iceland Gull could not be located today. also around Teignmouth still seven Golden Plover and three Dunlin on the Salty and a Redshank on the Rugby pitch with 20 Redwing and five Fieldfare.

Woodcock, Bramblings, Pintails

Another exceptional day on patch, with persistent rain and above-zero temperatures starting to thaw the snow and frozen ground. Early morning at Hackney Marshes was productive with a Woodcock flushed by a dog-walker and a pair of Bramblings by the feeding area near the second bridge. A dead Avocet floating in the main channel was a sign of just how hard things have been over the past few days.

Venturing out again after lunch, I stopped initially at Passage House car park where three very weak looking Golden Plovers were at least having some success pulling worms out of the thawed turf along with a couple of Snipe and Mistle Thrushes. Two Pintails flew over, briefly looking like they were going to drop in before continuing up river.

I then spent the next couple of hours focusing my attention on the racecourse which was crawling with birds. Totals of 'wetland' species included:

Lapwing - c.50
Golden Plover - c.50
Black-tailed Godwit - 29
Snipe - 8
Curlew - 1
Teal - 12
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 49

A group of approx. 25 Black-tailed Godwits were seen near Jetty Marsh yesterday, so the core of today's flock was almost certainly made up of those birds. It almost goes without saying that there were also hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares on the racecourse. Finally on the walk back through Hackney Marshes a pair of Yellowhammers and presumably the same female Brambling from this morning were by the feeding area.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Feeding Fieldfares

I too was mostly restricted to occasional watches from the house today in Kingsteignton, where masses of Fieldfares were searching for any available food source. I chopped up an apple and sprinkled some suet on the pavement, then watched in awe as dozens of birds dropped out of the sky to feed. A 15-minute stroll to the Old Rydon Inn for some lunch produced at least 500 Fieldfares, mostly in people's front gardens where they were stripping berry bushes clean.


A female Shoveler and Teal on Decoy Lake was evidence of a little cold weather duck movement, the Tufted Duck population also being boosted back up to 18.

Unlike Teignmouth, there were thousands (easily 8,000+) of Redwings and Fieldfares in a constant stream all day flying south-west, sometimes in large flocks of up to 100. A local Peregrine was hunting in the morning, making short work of an exhausted Fieldfare. Lapwings and Golden Plover were also seen, but not near as numerous as yesterday.


Working from home

Unable to get to the office, the day was spent indoors with occasional watches from the window. The weather though was having a far greater impact on birdlife. In my Teignmouth garden a single Fieldfare kept other birds off the apples but a couple of female Blackcap managed to feed elsewhere with Redwing and Mistle Thrush on Ivy but birds were worryingly less obvious than recent days.

Although Redwing and Fieldfare were conspicuous, with birds even amongst the Oystercatcher on the estuary, unlike further east there was no evidence of large flocks over Teignmouth.

On the Salty 15 Dunlin, three Lapwing and up to five Golden Plover were clear cold weather refugees, with a singles of Lapwing and Golden Plover also on Teignmouth Rugby pitch. Gulls were also much in evidence, the Iceland Gull was around the estuary mouth and roosting on the Salty were five adult Mediterranean Gull and notable counts of 53 Lesser Black-backed and 50 Common Gull.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Lapwing and Golden Plover

A total of 2195 Lapwing and 525 Golden Plover flew south-west over Newton Abbot this morning from 09:30 - 12:00 in an exceptional cold weather movement. The greatest passage took place in the first hour, with flocks of up to 200 Lapwing and 60 Golden Plover, some of which flew within 100 metres of my house. Also seen were 100+ Redwing and 30+ Mistle Thrush.

A small flock of Lapwing flying past Highweek phone mast.