Thurlestone Bay is a bird rich area of the South Hams (part of devon). Although not having an estury the patch has several sites which produce a wide diversity of species.


Any comments you wish to make can be entered in the guestbook.

APRIL 2012 Review

Will be posting the April monthly review later today ( 14/5 ) ,the full monthly postings now appear on the arcive section

WED 13 JUNE 2012

A nice fine sunny day with a mod S breeze, very good viz.


Day got off to a good start with a BLACK TAILED GODWIT on Thurlestone Marsh at 07.30 only stayed 30 mins. ( last year i had 2 on 15 June ), this was in first summer  plumage . Also a female TEAL ( very early returning bird or more likely the one seen at the back end of May which has stayed over ). First SAND MARTIN for some weeks .


Bob B had the female MARSH HARRIER over South H Marsh - both agree this is not the Slapton bird


Seawatching from near Yarmer Beach from 09.30 proved very interesting- 270+ GANNET ( 2 big feeding flocks ), 27 MANX SHEARWATER, 6 FULMAR, 2 KITTIWAKE

3 SANDWICH TERN  and at 11.25 a male NIGHTJAR  ( 169 )   flew in off the sea at a height of 35 feet and passed only 20 yards to my right then flew east low over the Golf Course . I could not believe my eyes at first Last one on the patch was in Aug 2008 when one flew over my garden at 22.00.


TUES 12 JUNE 2012

A visit to the bay before the summer rain arrived resulted in 4 TURNSTONE on the rocks and a feeding party of GANNET which was in excess of 210.


This morning on Thurlestone Marsh  first views of the MUTE SWAN with 4 cygnets , at 15.30 brief views of a female MARSH HARRIER .

MON 11 JUNE 2012

With calm winds and sunshine decided to have another visit to the West Buckland valley - yes got totally soaked again when is our usual June weather going to arrive ?


A total of 50 species recorded with the highlights being :-


2 GOLDCREST, 19 CHIFFCHAFF ( inc 4 young ), 10 BLACKCAP ( 2 juv ) 1 COAL TIT , 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODY, 14 STOCK DOVE, 3 SONG THRUSH, 2juv MISTLE THRUSH ( a diificult bird to find on the patch )1m YELLOWHAMMER and a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHER by a nest ( the first breeding record I have had on the patch ).


Makes you realise there are birds worth the effort to go out and find

FRI 8 JUNE 2012

Ater 2 attempts to do some seawatching on Thursday- got very, very wet - there is no shelter on Warren Point, the scope was unusable.


 Main problem was the poor viz less than 250 yds in the afternoon.


Much better viz this morning - lack of birds- 10 GANNET, 2 FULMAR, 1 KITTIWAKE then at 09.10 a STORM PETREL (168 ) came into the Bay and fed only 50 yards off the car park. Nice addition to the year list as we missed out last year.


This morning there was  more water on the Marsh than at any time over the winter, only new arrivals were a pair of GADWALL

TUES 5 JUNE 2012

 Main reason for no postings over the weekend was a complete lack of birds .


On Sunday morning 40 GANNET, 1 FULMAR, 9 KITTIWAKE.


Monday morning took me some time to realise there was a passage of SWIFT ( even Portland couldn't work out if it was non - breeders or migrants ) By the time I realised the birds were moving through to the north  I logged 115 over less than an hour - actual numbers moving through must have been much higher. This was the largest number recorded this spring.


Today the weather was abyismal- this morning a really wet WHIMBREL on South Huish Marsh was the only bird logged - tonight what a change , went down to the Bay at 16.30 just as the rain cleared - I spent the next 105 mins with one eye down the scope which produced:- 70 GANNET, 88 MANX SHEARWATER, 7 FULMAR, 12 KITTIWAKE 1 RAZORBILL + 7 AUKS , 6 SANDWICH TERN  and a GREAT SKUA which flew east at 17.35


The winds are anticipated to increase by Thursday and still have an easterly  direction, could be  a good few days  even if the temps  suggest early March rather than June- how the fledglings will get on we will have to wait and see

Sat 2 JUNE 2012

After a fine morning the day got more overcast , however only a few showers by 17.00


Quite a surprise to find a GREYLAG GOOSE on the back marsh at 12.00, we had one spend some time on South Huish marsh in Jan/ Feb , whist there are 35 Canada Goose as well this is the first ' summer ' record for me.


In the bay were a KITTIWAKE a few GANNET and 6 WHIMBREL

FRI 1 JUNE 2012

June is traditionally the quietest bird month of the year- started out quite good on the patch today with 68 species recorded. Highlights were - Adult female MARSH HARRIER  over the marsh from 06.30- 10.00( full tail ), 1 SANDERLING flew east,    7 WHIMBREL on the rocks along with  31 OYSTERCATCHER, 3 GUILLEMOT, 2 RAZORBILL, 23 GANNET, 1 YELLOWHAMMER, 2 GARDEN WARBLER, 1 GOLDCREST,   2 MANX SHEARWATER ( EAST ) 1 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, 4 COMMON GULL

THURS 31 MAY 2012

One type of habitat we are short of on the patch is a wooded valley- found the answer after walking through the minor road leading through the West Buckland valley - so the patch has been extended to include this adjacent area .


There is nowhere to park a car so I got Anne to drop me off at Clannacombe Cross- what an enjoyable walk through the valley back to Thurlestone - sometimes you just don't realise what is almost on your doorstep.


During the morning I logged 36 species and met a local lady who is into birds - she records CUCKOO every spring , MERLIN in autumn and this year had a HOOPOE !


My interesting birds were - 8 BLACKCAP, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER ( nest with 2 young calling ) GREEN WOODPECKER ( my first patch sighting this year )  10 + GOLDFINCH , 3 LONG TAILED TIT, 1 GOLDCREST


Coming back through the village  I had a singing GARDEN WARBLER and a GOLDCREST

WED 30 MAY 2012

Very quiet morning in the bay - went for a long walk around South Milton Ley and Horswell House -  Speaking to Bob B he is concerned at the very small numbers of REED / SEDGE compared with previous years . I split the area into 4 Segments  the totals were -




Has anyone elase noticed reductions on their local patch ?


Thurlestone Marsh - last night at 20.30 the first flock of STARLING -50 on the wires.


This morning the female Pochard still around , at 12.15 the adult female MARSH HARRIER over the reeds- the SHELDUCK young reduced from 6 to 3 overnight 


So far we have 2 GRET SPOTTED WOODPECKER Nests with 5 young

TUES 29 MAY 2012

Last sighting of the GREAT WHITE EGRET was 21.00 Mon . No sign of it today. Female POCHARD still on the front pool this morning. SHELDUCK with 6 young this morning.


Had a walk from Mid Soar to East Soar this morning (off patch ) A GROPPA reeling, 1m WHEATEAR, 10 + WHITETHROAT, 4 BLACKCAP, 2 SEDGE WARBLER, " CHIFFCHAFF, 6 YELLOWHAMMER , 8 SWIFT -south

Mon 28 MAY 2012

GREAT WHITE EGRET  showed well from 06.30 until 17.00. Big surprise this morning was a female POCHARD on the front pool


Waders on the beach - 12 WHIMBREL, 1 BAR TAILED GODWIT.


Both AJL & myself heard a CUCKOO in the South Huish valley

27 May 2012

The GREAT WHITE EGRET showed well for most of the day , although for some of the time it was on the back of the marsh. Consenus amongst visitors is that it is a 1st summer bird as the yellow on the bill is quite light , lacking of noticable plumes and flesh coloured legs.


Waders on the beaches were - 16 WHIMBREL, 7 TURNSTONE, 6 SANDERLING , 1 BAR TAILED GODWIT , 1 RINGED PLOVER ,. Vic & Eric had a GREY PLOVER and a flagged SANDERLING - left leg - Red Flag over green ring , right leg - Green / Yellow

They also had 30 COMMON SCOTER.


Whiist we were away looking at the Egret / waders Bob B was raking in the car park money and was rewarded with a flyover TURTLE DOVE(  167 ) at 11.30


Only report from South Huish Marsh was a single Dunlin

SAT 26 May 2012

Been away on Grandparenting duties - Son and his wife were exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show ( they got a Silver Gilt 1 point off a Gold )


There is nothing worse than being 200 + miles away when news breaks of a first for the patch and also a year tick - all you can do is get the prayer mats out and HOPE !!!


Arrived back home at 18 .30 this evening a quick scan over the Marsh - no sighting, by 18.50 success the GREAT WHITE EGRET  (165 ) was found on the front pool - cracking result- apatch life tick !!.


Walked over to Yarmer Beach to find a superb summer plumage KNOT (166)  ( a first on the beach in its summer glory) with 8 WHIMBREL, 5 SANDERLING, 3 TURNSTONE, 1 BAR TAILED GODWIT.


Had a good few days in Berkshire- you get used to RED KITE ( eventually ) also picked up year ticks of NIGHTINGALE, LESSER WHITETHROAT, RED L. PARTRIDGE


Harry & June Huggins have been watching this patch for more than 30 years how appropriate that it was June who couldn't believe her eyes at 10..00 on Thurs Morning whe she picked up the GREAT WHITE EGRET on the Marsh , over the years they have been responible for quite a number of BB rarities on the patch,  well into their late 80's and still finding them we all have something to live up to


Many many congatulations to them

SUN 20 MAY 2012

Nothing over the sea.- Good views of the female MARSH HARRIER over both marshes - Tail has only a small defect. Has anyone seen the Slapton bird in the last week and is the tail defect still present.


Only other record of interest was a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER at the top of Mallards lane.


Over South Huish Marsh at least 25 SAND MARTIN  and 20+ SWIFT on the patch.


Have to take over Grandparenting duties next week so next post will be Sunday.


Bob B , Nick T and AJL will still be around , will do a round up next weekend

FRI 18 MAY 2012

A rather quiet week that finished withe a real flourish,.


Waders on the beach this morning were  13 SANDERLING, 7 DUNLIN, 3 RINGED PLOVER, 8 WHIMBREL.


Whilst  sheltering from the wind by the Cafe  Bob B picked up the call of a WOOD SANDPIPER, after 30 mins eventually found it on South Huish Marsh- gave grate views until 10.45 when it flew off  high over Hope Cove .


At 15.30 Bob called round for a chat , we looked over my garden fence and there 20 yds away on the scrape was another WOOD SANDPIPER - this one could not be relocated 10 mins later when AJL arrived.


At 16.30 went down the car park and had a very good 2hrs with a good passage of birds - 210 GANNET, 55 COMMON SCOTER, 25 MANX SHEARWATER and best of all 3 POMARINE SKUA all flying east .

Waders on the beach- 3 WHIMBREL, 7 SANDERLING, 1 RINGED PLOVER 


20.00 Just refound the WOOD SANDPIPER on the back of Thurlestone Marsh


The female Marsh Harrier seen twice this morning

Thurs 18 MAY 2012

Wind from SE gradually increased to a F6/7 late afternoon. The bay was watched from 08.45-1145 and 15.00-18.00.


Bob B had 2 flocks of COMMON SCOTER 30 &15 , otherwise only 1 RAZORBILL, 2 FULMAR , 50 GANNET.


Waders on the beaches - 20 DUNLIN, 8 SANDERLING, 35 WHIMBREL.1 RINGED PLOVER


At 16.30 the adult female MARSH HARRIER over the Marsh

TUES 15 MAY 2012

Nice sunny morning but feeling cold in the strong NNW wind.



At 18.00 at least 100 Hirundines over the Marsh- will be looking out for tonights roost.


This afternoon went over to Warren NT car park and looked at the WOODCHAT SHRIKE great views ,made up for dipping the Soar bird on Sunday

MON 14 MAY 2012


A very quiet day in the Bay- only waders were 15 WHIMBREL and a single DUNLIN


At 21.15 noticed a number of Hirudines flying through the garden , there were over 500 SWALLOW/ SAND MARTIN/ HOUSE MARTIN over the Marsh- the first roost of the Spring. Also a fine adult female MARSH HARRIER flying over- did not see the tail defect which indicates the Slapton bird

SUN 13 MAY 2012

Early start over to East Soar to try and see the Woodchat Shrike- after over 2hrs and no sign returned to the patch.


Waders on the beaches / rocks were 15 WHIMBREL, 8 SANDERLING, 2 DUNLIN, 1 RINGED PLOVER. A big surprise was a male GARGANEY sat on the rocks off Warren Pt- unfotunately it was flushed by a fisherman and was not relocated.


Bob B had 2 TUFTED DUCK on South Huish marsh ( an unusual May record ).


Ringimg activity produced 3 new SEDGE WARBLER.


On Thurlestone marsh 2 singing SEDGE WARBLER and a f TEAL

SAT 12 MAY 2012

Nice to be back on the patch with the sun shining.




In the copse near South Huish Marsh my first SPOTTED FLYCATCHER  ( 163 ) of the year . Found at 11.30 and was still there at 15.30.


Thurlestone Marsh had 2 GADWALL, 50 SWIFT and 50 SWALLOW

Thurs 4 - Fri 11 MAY

Whilst I was enjoying some fantastic birding in Corfu Bob & Nick T were keeping a watchful eye on the patch .


First some late news from Harry Huggins - on 30 APRIL a neighbour had a HOOPOE  (160 ) in their garden - Harry is happy with the description . Great find of what would have been a patch tick for me and no more than 200 yards away ( ouch ! ).


Other highlights were-










THURS 3 MAY 2012

A rather quiet day livened up late aft. with a cracking male Garganey (159 ) found by Bob b at 17.30 on S H Marsh


Earlier in the morning - 120 + WHIMBREL, 7 BAR TAILED GODWIT, 1 CURLEW , 1 SANDERLING , 1 DUNLIN, 6 TURNSTONE .




Well over 20 WHEATEAR on the patch.


Good passage of Hirundines particularly SWALLOW and SAND MARTIN.


OFF to the sun in CORFU Friday for a week , next update SAT 12 May - au revoir

WED 2 MAY 2012

A cold ENE wind this am - lovely sunshine otherwise.


main activity were the Waders- becoming difficult to decide how many are resting up overnight- unusual here as they normally fly straight through.


WHIMBREL total 170 with around 80 in off. BAR TAILED GODWIT  45, 2 GREY PLOVER  (158 ) on the rocks briefly at 10.45 were the first of the year 1 DUNLIN flew through

On the sea 2 GREAT CRESTED GREBE were an unusual  May record. 6 COMMON SCOTER flew east , 2 SANDWICH TERN offshore and a single GREAT NORTHERN DIVER.


Big passage of HOUSE MARTIN at least 125 in 2 hrs, with 60 + SWALLOW , 10 SAND MARTIN, 15 SWIFT .

Bob B had a LESSER REDPOLLnear the sewage works- another unusual May record


Managed to get the scope on a BAR WIT on the beach which was colour ringed - right leg-RED/ YELLOW/ RED , left leg- large RED. Wiil report further when info rec'd

 6pm update from Bob B- Additional waders late afternoon 35 WHIMBREL, 30 BAR TAILED GODWIT, 7 DUNLIN .1 SANDERLING

Offshore a pale phase ARCTIC SKUA


TUES 1 MAY 2012

With reports of  a significant fall of migrants we participated if not to the same degree as the headlands


First late news from Alan D - he had 2 WHINCHAT  (155 )   at South Huish Marsh yesterday evening


At 06.30 this morning  Thurlestone marsh had quite a few Warblers in full song -    



By the cafe by 7.00and left at 12.30 - 3 partial sp SANDERLING were on the beach,

7 TURNSTONE on the rocks,  plenty of WHEATEAR from the start - days total came to 34. In the bushes were 5 WHITETHROAT, at least 10 SEDGE WARBLER, 2 BLACKCAP, 1 WILLOW WARBLER, 5 CHIFFCHAFF .


Mid morning the first 2 WHINCHAT picked up on South Huish Marsh- late afternoon another 5 males found , also a CUCKOO was picked up by BOB B fling through -last seen heading towards Hope Cove.


THe wader flock on the rocks & Marsh was at least 35 BAR TAILED GODWIT, and 185 WHIMBREL  ( some birds arriving in off during the day )




AJL had a GARDEN WARBLER  ( 156 ) in Mallards Lane .


Bob B went over to South Milton Ley and had a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER ( 157 )


Good passage of Hirundines , particularly SWALLOW with over 400 recorded in less than 2hrs up to 10.00

Photo of the GLOSSY IBIS which spent over 5 weeks on THurlestone Marsh -last seen at 17.15 0n 15 Feb