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31 December 2015

The Warren

Had a visit of about a hour to the entrance bushes at the Warren with an attempt to see the Firecrest. It was still sunny but the wind was picking up and the forecast said it would turn to rain. Luckily almost immediately lots of small birds around me, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits with several Goldcrests. A Grey Wagtail sat preening over the first pond then just above it the Firecrest!! Just wouldn't sit still to have its photo taken, so frustrating!! Also saw a pair of Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Wren and a very mobile Treecreeper.

Also saw what looked like a Red Admiral being blown along in the wind.

Plenty of humans about enjoying the fresh air, nice to see Phil and Steve.

Want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy New Year and hope you get all you wish for!



29 December 2015

Dawlish Warren and Exminster Marshes

Up early and down the Warren to see the sun come up, always special to watch a new day start!

Went straight to the hide as high tide was about 8.30am, the light was great but all the birds were at finger point with the Brent Geese the only bird in good numbers near the hide, about 25 Grey Plover, Oystercatchers, Carrion Crows, a few Turnstones and Shelduck were on the mound in front of the hide, a couple of Redshank joined when the tide had gone out. A few Wigeon dotted around and plenty of Shelduck on the water, counted 70+ and 100+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Also another 50+ Brent Geese and 20+ Canada Geese on the golf course. When the tide had gone out a bit, Skylark, Linnet and a Rock Pipit were feeding around the rocks and grass. On Finger Point which was full of birds had Cormorants, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Dunnock, Godwits, Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

On the way back to the car I saw Great, Blue, Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Wren, Woodpigeons, Stonechat, Collard Dove, Magpie, House Sparrow and while I was looking for the Firecrest that had been on site for a while I saw 5 Goldcrest around the first pond and there could have been more!

Steve the Warden said he had seen a Swallow and a Female Golden Eye, sadly missed the both as well as the Cirl Bunting seen on Greenland Lake seen by Dave J.

The Cattle Egret had been reported back at Exminster Marshes so after a Bacon Sarnie off I went. Typically it had gone by the time I had arrived, so I walked to Turf and lots of birds on view with Canada Geese, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Mute Swan, Little Egret, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Buzzard, Blue, Long-tailed and Great Tit, Wren, Peregrine, Robin, Woodpigeon, Lapwing, Curlew, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe and Pheasant.

At Turf the tide was out and the birds were well spread out but none close for some reason, all on the far mud banks with Avocet, Curlew, Godwits, Dunlin, Redshanks, Shelduck, Mallards, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and a male Red Breasted Merganser.

Met plenty of humans today and good to see you all, lots of friendly birders about and a good day had by all!



28 December 2015

Exminster Marshes

Unfortunately another late start arriving at 1pm at the RSPB carpark, at least it wasn't raining, dark but not raining! I walked off towards the Turf via the back path which was muddy but passable. A few Mute Swan and plenty of Canada Geese in this section with Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Mallard in good number with a few Pintail spotted in the middle. A couple of Pheasant and fewer numbers of Carrion Crows than in previous visits, Female Sparrowhawk flew over sending some of the smaller birds for cover. A couple of Bullfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, 2x Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Pied Wagtail also seen in this section.

At Turf the tide was out and the birds were spread wide over the mud flats and would be difficult to give numbers but Avocet, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Shelduck, Cormorant, Herring and Black-headed Gulls all seen. Also Grey/Golden Plovers seen on the other side-couldn't ID positively, might have been both? Also a Red-breasted Merganser close to the Canal entrance-smart bird but sadly flew off when someone on the other bank got too close?

On the way back I went along the cycle track were a Cettis Warbler who came into song, other birds seen on the way back, a lot more Canada Geese, about 100 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Little Egret, Woodpigeon, Magpies, Carrion Crow, Rook, Starling, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Good numbers of Curlew, Lapwing, Mute Swans and ducks! Wigeon being the main with Teal, Mallard, Shoveler and Shelduck in supporting role, in the ditches there was a few Coot, Moorhen and a single Little Grebe.

Plenty of wild Flowers look like they are going to come into flower, not surprising with the mild weather.

Saw plenty of humans today, with Birdwatchers, Dog Walkers, Cyclists, Parents and just people out walking, all seem happy and that's the way I like it!!



27 December 2015

Torbay Boat Trip

After last nights gales and the heavy rain early morning I was expecting the trip to be called off, but on it was! Myself and 7 other soles joined Nigel and the Captain all waterproofed up on the boat. Like yesterday as it was so dark I wasn't expecting any pics and the ones I took of the pair of Peregrines in their roost were quickly deleted! Plenty of birds about with good numbers of Cormorant and Shags on the rocks and cliffs, Gannets making forays close to the shoreline and making spectacular dives. A few small Grebes with 2 Slavonian and 3 Black-necked Grebes and 3 of the larger Great Crested Grebes seen close to Broadsands Beach.

On the way to Berry Head I counted 24 Great Northern Divers with another 4 seen when we went to Preston Beach on the way back to Paignton Harbour. Surprisingly we didn't see any other species of Diver? Did see several times 7 Common Scoter and always at a distance.

Saw another Peregrine and plenty of Grey Heron, Raven, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Flyover Curlew, Guillemot, Razorbill, 3 Purple Sandpiper, Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, a few Kittiwakes and Fulmar.

Also saw a couple of Grey Seals on our travels.

Great morning out in good company!



26 December 2015

Dull Day Out!

I know the forecast wasn't brilliant, but it has been a dull miserable day! Hence NO pictures.

Started the day off at Yarner, luckily there was one space left as everybody seemed to be out, kids and dogs all having a good time in there new coats and toys, parents, grandparents a real family atmosphere about the place. To be fare the birds didn't seem to care as they were all over the place. 5 Mandarins (3m1f)on the pond with plenty of birds on the feeders both at the pond and the higher hide. Plenty of Great, Blue, Long-tailed, Coal and Marsh Tits. Also Chaffinch, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker all seen. Thought I would venture over to Challacombe thinking it would be more sheltered in the valley as the wind was picking up. My timing was great, as I went past Haytor I got caught up with the Boxing day Meet, stacks of people out and standing on every available viewing point. The wind seemed to be picking up as there was very few birds in the air, just a couple of Ravens who seemed to enjoy the ride. A Kestrel was having difficulty with the gusts while hunting, plenty of Herring Gulls of all ages sat on the fields out of the wind. Rooks, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Magpies, Fieldfares, Redwings, Blackbirds, Woodpigeons around the moor. House Sparrows, Starlings, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail and Robin around houses and farm buildings. Got to Challacombe which was a waste of time as the bushes were all blown out.

On my way home I decided to pop into Stover, the M25 for dogs! It always depresses me here as they have ruined it! First the birds, in the lake and surrounding streams, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Male Red-Breasted Merganser, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Black-headed, Herring and Lesser-black Backed Gull. Other birds around Blue, Coal, Great Tits, Woodpigeon, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Blackbird, Wren and Chaffinch.

It was quite depressing walking around the lake, they have taken out a lot of shrubs that used surround the lake and put this path, Dogs out of control as I witnessed 2 unsuccessful attacks on water foul. One a Mute Swan and another a group of ducks also a dog in a fenced off area and no one about to manage the place.



24 December 2015

Exminster Marshes

After getting some Xmas stuff sorted and the rain had stopped I went off to Exminster Marshes, decided that I would give the back path a miss due to all the water and stick to the road to Turf and return via the Canal.

Nice bright sun with plenty of wind and loads of birds! The reserve was full of Canada Geese, 1000+ spread over the fields on both sides of the road, 40+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese and a single Greylag goose. Mute Swans, Moorhen, Grey Heron and good numbers of ducks, I have seen more but still a lot, Shelduck, Widgeon, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler. A few Snipe flew over and hundreds of Curlew in the fields ether side of the road. 100+ Lapwing quite mobile as well as Jackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow looking for food in the pasture. Wood Pigeon and good numbers Pheasant again around the Red Lion buildings.

Plenty of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits in the hedges. 4 Goldcrests very mobile with the Tit flocks as well as Blackbird, Starling, House Sparrow, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch and 2 Fieldfare flew over.

At Turf is was quite windy and the birds were all tucked in by the waters edge, south of Turf large numbers of Curlew,150+ and 100+ Black-tailed Godwits. Just North of Turf there was 150+ Avocets, most stood by waters edge but some had ventured towards the pub giving great views, plenty of Redshank, Dunlin, Shelduck, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant, Mute Swans, Mallard and 6 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Not that many people about, so almost had the place to myself.



23 December 2015

Birding around Topsham

The weather was supposed to be good today, the sun was out and I hadn't been to Topsham in a while so off I went. Understandably with Xmas around the corner Darts Farm was quite busy but still managed to park up, a lot more birds around in the sun with House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Robin, Pied Wagtail in the bushes and on the buildings with Carrion Crow and Black-headed Gull on the fields.

Down the Cycle track found lots birds in the bushes with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Robin, Collard Dove, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie and Wren.

Not much on the creek with singles of Green and Redshank, Little Egret and a few Black-headed Gulls.

Goosemoor was also quiet with singles of Curlew and Greenshank and plenty of Black-headed Gulls. All the action was in the bushes between the railway and the walkway with Wren, Robin, Blue and Great Tit, Reed Bunting and 3 Goldcrests which were too mobile for me to get a pic, a bit frustrating when they were together-just not quick enough!

Along the road again more small birds with a female Bullfinch putting in a few passes between the bushes as I walked down the road, also seen House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon on view.

Lots of ducks at Bowling Green with Shelduck,Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted, Mallard, Gadwall and Pintail. Moorhen, Coot and Grey Heron with Mute Swan, Canada, Greylag and Dark-bellied Brent Geese around the reserve. Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Lapwing and Redshank were the Waders I saw. Plenty of small birds around the hedges with Blackbird, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Dunnock and Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Magpie. Also a Sparrowhawk quartered over the back reeds before disappearing over the railway track.

Again very quiet from the platform with the exception of some Redshank and a Spotted Redshank nothing else!

When I got to the Goat walk I was surprised to see 20+ Turnstone close to the wall, a first for me. It then rained and I got soaked! should have brought my waterproofs, never mind so didn't hang around but still saw Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Avocets, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Mallard and Pied Wagtail before heading back to the car.

Met lots of humans about today, all seem happy if not wet!!



21 December 2015

Dawlish Warren

A really wet start to the day so didn't get out until the afternoon to catch the high tide when the rain had stopped. It was 3.5m at the hide so I was hopeful to see plenty of birds. In the Bight just before there was plenty of Shelduck and Wigeon, I counted 74 Shelduck, but Iam sure there was more further around. Plenty of Dark-bellied Brent Geese with a further 50+ on the golf course. In front of the hide there was Oystercatchers, Grey Plover, a single Knot, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone, Shelduck, Wigeon, Cormorant, Carrion Crows, Great-black Backed and Herring Gulls with Curlew and Godwit sps on finger Point. Also a few small birds around with Pied Wagtail, Linnet and Water Pipit quite mobile in front and right of the hide.

Not much on the beach with Pied Wagtails and a single Turnstone, out to sea there was just Herring Gulls and Cormorants.

Around the rest of the reserve I saw Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Wren, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat.

Did notice lots of Pied Wagtails, 24 on one green alone on the golf course!

Not bad I thought for a couple of hours.

Good to see Phil and the ever happy Steve, not many other people about and not surprised considering the conditions.



20 December 2015

Exminster Marshes

Thought I would try out Exminster Marshes as there had been reported large numbers of birds including the American Wigeon which I had seen in Topsham last week.

The weather was supposed to be sunny with occasional showers, but went prepared as they always get it wrong!!

So with wellies and waterproofs I left the RSPB carpark down the footpath towards Turf.

Plenty of birds down here especially Finches with a small flock of 20+ Greenfinches a few Chaffinch, Goldfinch and 2 very smart Bullfinch who sadly wouldn't sit still long enough to get a pic. The Peregrine was sat on the Pylon looking around and with all the birds around it was spoilt for choice which one would be breakfast!

Several hundred Canada Geese in this section of the marshes with 200+ Wigeon, 50+ Teal and smaller numbers of Shoveler and Mallard. Grey Heron, Mute Swans, Coot and Moorhen also seen. Carrion Crow, Magpie, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Starling, Robin, Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits, Wren and the sound of a Cettis was a welcome sound.

By the time I got to Turf it was raining and I had found out my waterproof coat wasn't very water proof?? Anyway plenty of waders on the edge of the tide, not going to give numbers as I couldn't honestly give it with all the movement but there was very large numbers of birds with Avocet, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey and Golden Plovers, Lapwing, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank, Cormorant, Black-headed and Herring Gulls, Mallard, Shelduck and a single Snipe flew over. Also 5 Red-breasted Mergansers where the males were displaying-great site!

Making my way back to the car along the road in the rain, there was very few birds but as the rain eased off Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits, Fieldfare, Redwing and Stonechat were around the hedges with Rooks, Carrion Crows and Jackdaws in the pasture looking for food. Large numbers of birds around the ponds and wet areas of the marsh with Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Redshank, Dunlin and Lapwing. Again large numbers of Canada Geese in this section with a few Mute Swans. Some of the fields had large gatherings of Pheasants especially between the Red Lion and the Railway Bridge, also saw a electric blue flash of a Kingfisher fly down the ditch. I didn't though see the American Wigeon as it had flown off somewhere.

Saw quite a few humans and plenty of birders and very nice they were too! It is great to be around such a happy bunch, more of it please!!



13 December 2015

Torbay Boat Trip

Another trip out into Torbay, this week though the weather was a lot better, very little wind and not raining!!

Paignton Harbour was full of water at 9am and the Turnstones were sat on all the boats and the Kingfisher was flying from perch to perch in search for breakfast.

Ashley the skipper took us out towards a couple of small fishing boats that were gutting fish and the boats were surrounded by 100+ gulls, lots of Great-black Backed and Herring Gulls with a few Gannets. We then went down towards Goodrington, 2 Peregrines in their usual roost with several pairs of Fulmar looking like they are already set up to nest? a bit early?

We saw quite a few Divers and Grebes with 5 Great-northern Divers, 1 Black-throated Diver flew behind the boat,11+ Great-crested Grebes, 6 Black-necked Grebes, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 3 small Grebes sp that we couldn't positively id. 4 Common Scooters around the Mussel Farm with plenty of Gulls around with Fulmar, Kittiwake, Herring, Black-headed, Great-black Backed Gulls, also 12+ Gannets, Cormorants, Shags, 12+ Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatchers, 3 Razorbills and good numbers of Guillemots, 2 Ravens with Carrion Crow and Jackdaws also seen, 2 Mute Swans close to the beach and 4 Purple Sandpipers in Brixham Harbour with Turnstone, Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtails on the Harbour wall. At Berry Head we were lucky to see 2 Harbour Porpoise which sealed the day for me.

Had a really good morning with some lovely people.

Shame to hear some "Birders" criticising the boat trips because we are disrupting the birds? Today the Scooters were put up by a Gig and Grebes were put up by pleasure boats and a Trawler, do we here you complaining to them? Because pictures have been put on Devon Birds of birds flying it doesn't mean we have put them up! Have you not heard of "Cropping"? To me its just sour grapes from so called "Elite" Birders who want to keep it all to themselves!! Instead of complaining why don't you support someone local trying make a go of it! Rant over!



12 December 2015

Birding around Topsham

Not been to Topsham in a while so parked up at Darts Farm on a very blustery and dark afternoon and walked towards the cycle path. Plenty of xmas shoppers about but not that many birds with just Pied Wagtails, Rooks, Carrion Crows, Black-headed Gulls and House Sparrows to wet my appetite.

Down the cycle track found again a little sparse until you got out of the wind at the end of the track where it meets a road, too the left is a copse with Alder and these trees were full of birds with Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Treecreeper, Great, Spotted Woodpecker and Dunnock. Just a bit further on there was Magpie, House Sparrows, Woodpigeon and Carrion Crows.

The tide was out and there was Greenshank, Curlew, Redshank, Teal, Black-headed and Herring Gulls with plenty of Jackdaws over head.

At Goosemoor there was Mute Swan, 100+ Widgeon, 30+ Teal, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Redshank, Curlew, Cormorant and Carrion Crow on the mud with Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tits and 2 Goldcrests in the bushes.

Along the road there was Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren, Starling, Carrion Crows and Collard Doves on the wires, a lot of these birds were around the feeders by the hide enjoying the food put out for them.

Around the reserve there was good numbers of Widgeon as well as the visiting American Widgeon, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck, 14 Greylag Geese, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits, Stonechat, Jay, Magpies, Kestrel and a fly over Great-spotted Woodpecker.

There wasn't much on offer from the platform except a bit of quality with a Spotted Redshank to go with a couple of common Redshank and some Curlew.

The Avocets were putting on a show from the Goatwalk with Godwits, Curlew and Redshanks on view.

Met lots of humans out on this windy dark day but all seemed happy enough, must be xmas!!!



06 December 2015

Torbay Boat Trip

To be honest after such a stormy night I thought the trip would be cancelled but thankfully it went ahead. It was grey, overcast and raining so there was never going to be any award winning pictures but was hoping that the bad weather would bring in some quality birds.

Because of the weather we couldn't go to the north or venture the other side of Berry Head.

Out of Paignton Harbour and headed towards Brixham harbour via Broadsands and the Mussel Farm.

We passed the Peregrines in their normal place, both huddled up on a ledge trying to stay out of the wind.

Plenty of Gulls about with Great-black, Herring, Black-headed, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. Gannets also close in and coming over the boat. The usual Cormorants and Shags on the rocks with Oystercatchers, Turnstones, Carrion Crows, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Rock Pipits. One bird we didn't see was Purple Sandpiper? Not in the harbour at Brixham or on the sea wall so don't know ere they disappeared to?

On the water I counted 8 Great Northern Divers, 2 Great Crested Grebes, 6 small Grebes which I thought were all Black-necked but others thought 1 was a Slav? I did see a small Grebe later that was a Slav closer to Broadsands. Also a small Auk flew by that brought some excitement that it was a Little Auk but waiting on the photographic evidence. Saw a few Guillemots and a couple of Razorbills, 7 Common Scooter were seen the sea would side of the Mussel Farm.

A good couple of hours out in pleasant company and looking forward to the next trip.



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