Another very wet month with water levels on both marshes reaching heights not previously seen in the last 10 years.   Only 1 short cold spell of 3 days in the month, winds recorded up to F10 on 29th almost always with a westerly direction.


With a female GOLDENEYE arriving on the 1st taking the years total to 198 expectations were high that 200 would be achieved for the first time – it was not to be, however even 198 is very good for the habitat that makes up the patch – there is no estuary.

Total species recorded for the month were 101 (c/f 2011 – 100)




Significant sightings for the month:-


BRENT GOOSE – the juv spent up to the 29th with the CANADA flock

SHELDUCK  - single in the Bay on 1st and 2 on Thurlestone Marsh on 21st.

WIGEON - With good feeding conditions numbers built up to a max of 150 on 29th.

TEAL - peaked at 215 on both 12th and 27th.

GADWALL - numbers built up towards the end of the month to 22 on 28th (a patch record for me).

SHOVELER - Good totals exceeding 10 all month with a max 16 on 29th.

PINTAIL - Another good month – recorded on 6 dates, although 2 was the max these were female on 2nd with a pair on 6th and 28th.

GOLDENEYE - female present from 1st to 3rd.

EIDER - female flew east on 21st.

COMMON SCOTER   - Only 2 records, max only 3 on 3rd.

RED THROATED DIVER - Singles on 17th, 20th and 21st.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - recorded on 4 days, singles on 3 with a max of 3 on 20th.

FULMAR - First returning bird on 17th.

LITTLE GREBE - With high water levels 1 bird all month moved between the 2 marshes.

HEN HARRIER - A male flew over fields near Huxton Cross on 1st – this was my first male on the patch.

WATER RAIL - Difficult to know how many winter on the marshes, a total of 12 on 18th was the highest of the year.


WADERS - Nothing out of the ordinary:-

OYSTERCATCHER - peaked at 44 on 16th.

RINGED PLOVER - max 12 on 1st.

GOLDEN PLOVER - 35 over the fields on 7th.

LAPWING - good totals even though no really cold spell with a max of 100 on 7th.

SANDERLING - 3 on the beaches on 16th and 18th.

DUNLIN - recorded on 3 days max 2 on 9th.

JACK SNIPE - AJL had 1 on 15th.

SNIPE - good feeding conditions produced a max of 150 on 11th.

WOODCOCK - 1 flushed at South Milton Ley on 12th.

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT - only 1 record but it was a flock of 14 on South Huish Marsh on 2nd.

TURNSTONE - present all month with a max of 12 on 16th.


GULLS -   KITTIWAKE – a total of 55 moving east on 17th,



CHIFFCHAFF - wintering flock of up to 40 at South Milton Ley included several abietinus and at least 1 tristis (SIBERIAN) on 12th.

BLACKCAP – 3 in a local garden on 2nd and a male on 19th.

CETTIS WARBLER - Several on South Milton Ley.

BRAMBLING - 2 attracted to the feeding station at South Milton Ley on 2nd.

SISKIN - 2 overflying the Ley on 2nd and 8th.

BLACK REDSTART - Recorded on 7 dates – all singles, at least 3 different birds.

WATER PIPIT - Singles on 3 dates.  

REED BUNTING - up to 10 on the feeders.

STARLING - Roost started to build up again with 7.500 on3rd reaching a max of 175.000 on 12TH – All departed by 18th.

































A very wet month particularly from 21st with both marshes reaching the highest level

of water for many years.   Very few sunny days and only 2 days with SE winds 14th/16th.   On 29th and 30th the first frost of the winter.

Four species were added to the year list – SHORT-EARED OWL, BRAMBLING, SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF and BITTERN taking the total to 197 which equals the 2011 total. If December turns out to be cold as predicted 200 species for the year becomes distinctly possible – as I write this report GOLDENEYE now added with a female on South Huish Marsh.


Total species recorded on the patch was only 108 (cf 2011 122) due to the lack of wader passage.


Significant sightings for the month:-


BRENT GOOSE - 1 Juv spent all month in with the CANADA flock passage birds were 3 on 5th, 2 on 14th, 1 on 27th and 30th – all DB.

WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE - the 4 birds from October last seen on 3rd.

SHELDUCK - first since the juveniles departed in July were 2 flying west on 30th.

WIGEON - numbers built up significantly towards the end of the month with 80 on the marshes on 30th when a further 60 flew west in small flocks.

TEAL - numbers increased with the marshes flooding with a max of 145 on 25th..

GADWALL - Never more than 2 all month.

PINTAIL - 3 on South Huish Marsh on 25th increased to 8 (3 males) on 27th.

SHOVELER - Increased from 6 on 1st to 10 on 26th/27th.

EIDER - A female in the Bay on 11th and 26th.

COMMON SCOTER - Only recorded on 5 days with a max of 7 flying east on 30th.

RED-BREASED MERGANSER – 2 flew east on 15th also a male on 30th.

RED-THROATED DIVER - Singles on 1st and 27th.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - first was a single on 5th also one recorded on 6 other days.

BITTERN - bird of the month, seen on South Huish Marsh on 29th gave good views from only 50 yards.

LITTLE GREBE - single on 5th.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE - singles in the Bay on 6th and 29th.   On 27th 1 watched diving on South Huish Marsh – a first record for that site.   Illustrates how much water the floods produced.

A MERLIN on 28th and a SHORT-EARED OWL over the Golf Course on 4th (reported by a visiting birder) were the only raptors of note




WADERS – A relatively poor month with no distinct passage, maximum were :

OYSTERCATCHER 26 on 8th, RINGED PLOVER 12 on 15th LAPWING – 41 on 17th, DUNLIN 9 on 15th, JACK SNIPE – 1 on 14th, SNIPE – 75 on 11th and 65 on 29th , CURLEW – 1 on 26th, TURNSTONE – 12 on 25th.

WOODCOCK – Bob B had one on the road near South Milton Ley on 11th.


KITTIWAKE – 120 east on 9th was one of the highest totals for the year.



WOOD PIGEON - Early Nov on a clear morning is when the birds start moving through. On 3rd 10.000 smaller numbers on 4th/5th with the max of 27.000 on 6th - all flying SE.  

Last SWALLOW were 2 at South Milton Ley on 7th (Bob B and Vic T)

AJL found a MARSH TIT in Mallards Lane on 1st ( a scarce bird on the patch)

South Milton Ley is one of the premier sites for wintering CHIFFCHAFF – numbers built up to 30+ on 28th.   Several Tristis types were seen (and ringed) whilst on 14th Bob B had a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF which was in full song.

BRAMBLING – 2 on 5th were the years first, recorded on3 more days with 3 coming to the feeding station on 29th.

CROSSBILL -   Bob B had 2 over South Milton Ley on 8th.

BLACK REDSTART – Singles recorded on 4 days, 2 on 3 days and a record 5 on 5th.

FIELDFARE – Only notable numbers were 50 on 3rd, 20 on 4th and 30 on 11th.

WATER PIPIT – Singles on Thurlestone Marsh on 4 days from 11th.

STARLING ROOST – Max of 210.000 on 2nd had reduced to 10.000 by 9th and then down to 75 by 16th.   At the end of the month, Bob B had 20.000 going to roost at South Milton Ley.


By the end of the month WAXWING were being reported in small numbers in Devon, hopefully they may find one of the very few red berry bushes/trees on the patch.   Could this be a fitting end to a fantastic year









A relatively cold month with some periods of heavy rain with very few sunny clear days.   Winds with an easterly element both at the beginning of the month and towards the end again emphasised how important this is to bringing birds into the Bay.


Although I spent 10 days in Majorca (13th-23rd) only appeared to have missed one really good stormy day.   Five days produced those “rare” occasions which make you realise what a fantastic site the Bay is

1stPECTORAL SANDPIPER still on Thurlestone Marsh, at 9.30 a group of 3 EGRETS flew over the Marsh towards South Huish marsh – 2 of them were relocated in a field with a herd of cattle – Yes 2 CATTLE EGRET – only stayed for a few minutes before flying west.

6th and 7th were the Hirundine movement days with a patch tick of a Juv RED RUMPED SWALLOW watched for 30 minutes from 9.10 on 6th from the footbridge in a feeding flock of over 200 SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTIN.   Next day in still conditions Hirundine started moving through in a continuous passage from 10.00 until 11.30 and again for an hour from 15.00 all moving west along the coast.   Final estimate totalled in excess of 50.000 birds of which 90% were HOUSE MARTIN 10% SWALLOW – only a single SAND MARTIN.

Friday 26th was cloudy with some drizzle and brisk 5/6 ENE wind – between 9.30 and 16.30 a noticeable passage of BRENT GOOSE, DUCK – and particularly waders with 12 species recorded. Apart from OYSTERCATCHER and TURNSTONE all the waders flew in off the sea and continued straight up South Huish Valley.   Finally on 29th 4 GREENLAND WHITE- FRONTED GOOSE found on South Huiish Marsh .


A total of 130 species (c/f 122-2011) recorded during the month – this is the highest monthly total since I started doing these monthly reports in October 2010.


5 new species for the year – CATTLE EGRET, RED RUMPED SWALLOW, WOODLARK, BARNACLE GOOSE, GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. Bringing the total to 193 for 2012 (c/f 184 -2011)


Significant sightings for the month:-

MUTE SWAN – A pair on both marshes all month with a further 6 on the sea on 24th.

BRENT GOOSE - On 25th AJL had 6 PALE BELLIED fly into the Bay. On 26th a total of 56 DARK BELLED were seen – largest flock 17.   According to Bob B this is a site daily record. A juv remained until 31st visiting both marshes BARNACLE GOOSE – One flew in with some CANADA’S on 28th – although unlikely to be a “wild” bird – this is the first for 5 or 6 years.

GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE – At 12.00 on 29th received a call from Mike Miller to say he had picked up 4 GREY GEESE flying into the back of South Huish Marsh – unable to fully ID with binoculars, went straight over and found 4 adult GEESE feeding on the marsh. At 13.30 they flew off later found by Bob B in a stubble field by South Milton Ley.   They returned daily until the month end to South Huish Marsh – flying in around 10.30 – 11.00. Classified as a very rare winter visitor to Devon.   Only 2 previous site records – 2 in January 1990 and a single in January 2004.


WIGEON – Small numbers on the marshes – passage of 24 on 6th and 42 on 26th.

TEAL – Around 70 on the marshes all month increased with passage birds to 105 on 26th.

GADWALL – 3 on the sea on 24th.

PINTAIL – 5 flew through on 26th.

SHOVELER – first returning bird a female on 7th by 26th 6 on the marsh with a further 4 east.

POCHARD – Unusual to find a 1st w male on the sea on 24th with the GADWALL.

COMMON SCOTER – Recorded on 6 days with 16 on 11th and 46 on 26th.

RED-BRESTED MERGANSER – A male flew east late on 26th.

GREAT-NORTHERN DIVER – first for the winter an imm on 29th with 2 on 31st.

SOOTY SHEARWATER – Singles on 5th and 31st.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – 6 flew west on 3rd.

GANNET – An estimated 700+ through the Bay on 17th with 370 on 31st.

LITTLE GREBE – Single on Thurlestone Marsh throughout the month.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE – Single on the sea on 9th.

CATTLE EGRET – 2 in field with cattle on 1st – only previous site records were 25th-29th May max 3.

HEN HARRIER – Ringtails in off the sea on 10th and 27th.

OYSTERCATCHER – Max 50 on 7th.

RINGED PLOVER – Max 8 on 8th with 5 on 26th.

GOLDEN PLOVER – A single on 18th with 13 on 26th.

GREY PLOVER – A total of 7 on 26th.

LAPWING – First a single on 7th with 27 on 26th and a max of 30 on 30th.

KNOT – A total of 13 on 26th.

SANDERLING – 2 on 26th.

DUNLIN – Small numbers (up to 12) on 5 days with an incredible total of 141 on the magical 26th.

JACK SNIPE – A single watched doing the “bobbing” feeding action on South Huish Marsh on 11th.

SNIPE – Small numbers throughout – max 12 on 11th and 26th.

WOODCOCK – John King flushed 1 beside South Milton Ley on21st.

BLACK- TAILED GODWIT – Surprisingly only a single on Thurlestone Marsh on 9th for less than 15 minutes.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT – 3 flew in off the sea on 26th.

COMMON SANDPIPER – A single bird on 31st.

REDSHANK – A single on 10th with 3 on 26th.

TURNSTONE – 5 on 10th, 1 on 26th and 2 on 31st.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER – Bird from September last seen feeding on Thurlestone Marsh at 18.40 on 1st.

ARCTIC SKUA – Bob B had 1 through the Bay on 26th, also 3 SKUA sp same day.

KITTIWAKE – Over 200 on 17th and 90 on 31st.

BLACK-HEADED GULL – Over 500 was a large count for the Bay on 6th.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL – Recorded on 13 days with 8 on 3rd, 6 on 13th, 10 on 18th and 8 on 25th. – the count of 10 is a site record.

YELLOW- LEGGED GULL – An adult on South Huish Marsh on 29th.

SANDWICH TERN – Recorded on 3 days max 2 on 7th – last a single on 11th.

ARCTIC TERN – 2 flew east on 2nd.

BARN OWL – Single birds on 9th and 29th.

JAY – Some indication of movement through the patch with 3 on 2nd, 6 on 4th, 3 on 10th max of 7 on 12th.

FIRECREST – Nick T had one in his garden with GOLDCREST on 23rd.

WOODLARK – 2 flew N over Huxton Cross on morning of 27th.

SAND MARTIN – Only record 1 on 7th.

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW – Bob B picked up a Juv feeding on the pool by the footbridge from 9.10 to 9.40 on 6th – with 75+ HOUSE MARTIN and 150+ SWALLOW.   Only the 3rd site record ( previously April 1996 and 6th May 2006).

REDWING – First a single on 13th with a max of 10 on 24th.

BLACK REDSTART – first a female on 10th, almost daily from 24th with 2 on 26th and 4 on 27th included 2 stunning males.

WHEATEAR – Only significant passage 10 on 6th and 9 on 7th Last were 2 on 26th.

REDSTART - Up to 2 1st w males in the Copse on 8th 9th and 10th.

YELLOW WAGTAIL – A single over the Copse on 9th.

ALBA WAGTAIL – Noticeable roosts at Thurlestone marsh were 100 on 6th and 42 on 23rd.

SISKIN – Small numbers passed through max 50 on 13th.

LESSER REDPOL – A single on 7th.

CROSSBILL – A single over my garden on 3rd.

STARLING – Roost at Thurlestone Marsh rapidly built up from 5.000 on 24th to 250.000 on 30th – both SPARROWHAWK and PEREGRINE

in attendance.


Will November produce another series of outstanding records to match 2011 – all will be revealed in next months review.



























Surprising for the start of Autumn a month without any real gales only towards the equinox did we have winds above force 6.   Overcast conditions seemed to be recorded more than any other.


At long last a drier start to the month enabled the maintenance work to be carried out on South Huish Marsh, with the sluice opened in time for the rain on 23rd this site is now looking in pristine condition and produced the bird of the month on 29th.


September is generally the wader month of the year, this year a total of 20 species recorded with a site record of 14 species in one day on 23rd.   Also some significant wader records from fields around Huxton Cross.


During the month a total of 122 species were recorded (cf. 120 – 2011).

6 new species for the year – MARSH TIT, BRENT GOOSE – pale bellied, LITTLE STINT, SPOTTED REDSHANK, CURLEW, SANDPIPER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER. Taking the total to 188 for 2012 (cf. 179 -2011)


Significant sighting for the month:-


BRENT GOOSE – PB – Bob B picked up 4 flying through the Bay on 23rd.   Earliest date for the site by quite a few weeks.

WIGEON – Built up during the month to a max of 18 on 30th. Several small flocks of up to 5 birds through the Bay.

TEAL – From 21 on 1st a max of 85 on both marshes on 26th.   Good numbers returning to South Huish marsh.

COMMON SCOTER – Only one record – 7 flying east on 23rd.

MANX SHEARWATER – One sighting of 6 flying west on 2nd.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – 2 flew west on 26th.

LITTLE GREBE – One on Thurlestone Marsh throughout the month with 2 from 21st.

OSPREY – Singles observed in the Bay on 8th and 27th.

MERLIN – First of the autumn in the Huxton Cross fields on 7th.

HOBBY – Singles attacking the SWALLOW roost on 4th, 13th and 16th.

WATER RAIL – First returning bird on 1st with 2 on 19th.

OYSTERCATCHER – Max of 50 on 7th and 10th.

RINGED PLOVER – At Huxton Cross fields 70 on 2nd, 120 on 3rd, 60 on 5th and 28 on 12th.   On the beaches max of 27 on 7th.

GOLDEN PLOVER – 17 flew across the bay on 23rd.

GREY PLOVER – A single in off the sea and up the valley on 23rd.

KNOT – Single on 5th, with 2 on 23rd.

SANDERLING – Only 4 records with a max of 9 on 23rd.

LITTLE STINT – One amongst the DUNLIN at Huxton Cross on 2nd and 2 on the beach on 23rd.

CURLEW SANDPIPER – A juv on the beach on 21st and 23rd.

DUNLIN – At Huxton Cross , 35 on 2nd, 175 on 3rd and 120 on 5th compared to a max of 26 on the beaches on 23rd.   The 175 could well be a site record for the last 10 years.

JACK SNIPE – A very early record of a single on 23rd which flew up the valley accompanied by a SNIPE – good for size comparison.

SNIPE – A exceptional 11 flew up the valley on 23rd otherwise up to 2 on the marshes.

BLACK TAILED GODWIT – Up to 7 on several dates, however on the morning of the 5th a flock of 28 flew into Thurlestone Marsh which also included the KNOT.

BAR TAILED GODWIT – A single flew on South Huish Marsh with 2 KNOT on23rd.

WHIMBREL – 9 flew up the valley on 4th (NT) and 2 calling at 22.00 hours on11th.

CURLEW – 1 over South Milton Ley calling on 1st.

SPOTTED REDSHANK – 1 on Thurlestone Marsh briefly on the morning of 17th.

GREENSHANK – 1 flew into South Huish marsh on 23rd.

REDSHANK – Singles in the Bay on3rd and 4th.

TURNSTONE – Only 2 records, single on 2nd and 4 on 23rd.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER – Juv picked up flying into South Huish marsh on 29th then moved to Thurlestone Marsh for 30th and 31st.

GREAT SKUA – Only two records, singles on 10th and 26th.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL – Recorded on 4 dates with 2 on 11th and 24th.

SANDWICH TERN – 2 on 15th and 23rd with 6 on 24th.

COMMON TERN – Singles on3 dates with 2 on 23rd.

ARCTIC TERN – 3 flew east during the exceptional morning of 23rd.

TURTLE DOVE – First autumn record for a few years – 1 flying across Huxton Cross fields on morning of 4th.

SWIFT – Honour of recording the latest bird goes to Bob B with 1 over South Milton Ley on 4th.

MARSH TIT – A very rare bird on the patch (only 3 records in last 6 years). One caught and ringed on 1st.

WARBLERS – Good numbers mentioned in the Ringing Report, no understanding passage, however a GROPPA reported on 18th.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER – 3 at South Huish Marsh on 3rd and single on 7th.

WHINCHAT – Singles on 4 dates with 3 on 27th.

WHEATEAR – In comparison with previous years a poor autumn passage, 6 on 1st, 5 on 12th and 7 on 27th were the only counts above 3.

SWALLOW – Roosts of 7500 on 3rd and 10.000 on 4th.   Passage highlight was 1250 on 21st.

HOUSE MARTIN – Several days with 100’s passing through, months max was on 21st when 4350 was probably an underestimate.

SAND MARTIN – Very few birds on passage with a max of 5.

TREE PIPIT – Light passage with a max of 3 on 13th.

GREY WAGTAIL – Passage noted on several days with 10 on 9th and 6 on 21st.

ALBA WAGTAIL – Numbers build up during the month, roosts at Thurlestone marsh max of 110 on 12th and 250 on 13th.

YELLOW WAGTAIL – Small number on many days, max 5 on 13th.

SISKIN – Autumn passage started with 1 on 17th and 3 on 19th.


The most outstanding days birding was the 23rd – a morning with very heavy rain and force 6/7 E wind.   Whilst we missed out on the SHEARWATER and SKUA passage reported from Berry Head and Start Point the Waders will be recounted on many a winters day.

With 3 months of the year to go.   October kept the year list ticking over . 2 CATTLE EGRET on 1st taking it to 189.




Another month with some strong winds and heavy rainfall – very few days of sunshine. Some good sea passage days with a strong S wind gusting to F8 on 15th in particular.


Warblers started moving through mid month but numbers caught by the ringing team were significantly lower than 2011.   Even the SWALLOW roost only reached 6000 at the end of the month.   Something must have happened to SAND MARTIN as we only had 2 records with a max of 5 on 11th.   Waders numbers generally below 2011.


A total of 124 species were recorded (C/F 2011 117) which is only 1 below the years max of 125 in April – bearing in mind we could not find SKYLARK, GOLDCREST or COOT!

There were 11 additions to the year list which has now reached an exceptional 182 – these were SABINES GULL, BLACK TERN, ROSEATE TERN, AQUATIC WARBLER, CROSSBILL, KINGFISHER, OSPREY, PIED FLYCATCHER, WRYNECK, RUFF and RED KITE.


Significant sightings for the month:-


WIGEON – a female on 10th joined by a male on 21st, still present at the end of the month.

TEAL – Numbers on the marshes built up from a single on 4th, 18 by 21st and a max of 31 on 26th.

SHOVELER – Not normally recorded until end of October, so 2 Juv on Thurlestone Marsh on 10th were a surprise.

COMMON SCOTER – Recorded on 5 days with a max of 7 on 10th.

FULMAR – 29 flew through during the 15th.

MANX SHEARWATER – A flock of over 500 feeding on the sea on 4th with 600 passing through on 5th. 200 also recorded on 19th.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – Recorded on 7 days – mostly singles except for 4 on 1st, 3 on 15th and at least 12 feeding with the MANX on 4th.

GANNET – Recorded almost daily, 250 on4th, 290 on 17th and the highest daily total this year of 980 on 15th.

RAPTORS – First RED KITE over AJL’s house on 27th, Vic T had on OSPREY near South Milton on 18th, first Autumn MERLIN flew through on 30th.   Single HOBBY on 5 days usually causing mayhem with the roosting SWALLOW flocks. Vic T had a second summer bird over South Huish on 18th. An increase in number of SPARROWHAWK with up to 4 on some days.   KESTREL, PEREGRINE and BUZZARD all recorded.

WADERS – Apart from DUNLIN, numbers on the beaches well below previous years.

OYSTERCATCHER – max 32 on 10th, RINGED PLOVER 26 on 15th, 22 on 24th and max of 27 on 28th.   SANDERLING – gradually built up from 5 on 4th to 36 on 22nd with 30 on 28th,   KNOT – a flock of 11 flew in off the sea and up the Valley on 13th with a single on 26th.

DUNLIN in small numbers with an exceptional influx on the afternoon of 28th – a flock of 24 over Thurlestone Marsh and then another 86 on the edge of the South Milton Ley Pool – holiday makers were swimming within 10 feet and they did not move.

A total of 112 is a site record (well broken on 3rd September with 175).


2 RUFF on South Huish Marsh on 30th.   First returning SNIPE were 3 on 11th, 4 BLACK TAILED GODWIT on 21st with a max of 8 on South Huish Marsh ON 30TH and 31st.  

Only record for BAR TAILED GODWIT were 2 on the beach on 11th.   WHIMBREL max was 10 on 1st reducing to 1 on 22.   Only 2 records of CURLEW flying over singles on 4th and 22nd.   Single COMMON SANDPIPER on 5th and 9th. 3 GREEN SANDPIPER on 4th with singles on 5 other days. GREENSHANK – Singles on the marshes/flying over on 4 days.

A WOOD SANDPIPER on South Huish Marsh on 22nd stayed until 28th.

REDSHANK are recorded infrequently so 1 on 12th and 2 on the rocks on 31st were welcome. Finally TURNSTONE – recorded on 9 days with a max of 6 on 21st.   A total of 17 species of waders recorded during the month.


Offshore – Some poor weather and strong winds made seawatching worthwhile even if very wet at times.   This year SKUA’s have been recorded more often than in recent years, whilst we don’t see the large numbers recorded at Berry Head/Prawle Point we managed – POMERINE – sub adults on 4th and 27th, GREAT singles on 3 days with 2 on both 17th and 19th and a nice light phase adult ARCTIC on 2nd.

The weather also resulted in a sub adult SABINES GULL flying east close inshore on 2nd, LITTLE GULLS on 6th (Juv) and 15th.

Single MEDITERRANEAN GULL on 4 days with 2 on 13th.

TERN passage also very good with 5 species recorded (only LITTLE missing) As usual SANDWICH were most regular – seen on 14 days with 12 on 5th, 11 on 13th and 8 on 24th – these included some juvs. COMMON TERN recorded on 6 days with 10 on 1st and also on 17th.   Single ARCTIC on 5th and 30th (Juv)   AFD had a ROSEATE in the Bay on the evening of 5th whilst a single BLACK flew east on 15th.


SWIFT - 15 on 2nd and a few stragglers thereafter with finally 3 on 31st.

KINGFISHER – A Juv on Thurlestone Marsh early on 14th was the first of the year.

WRYNECK - One in John Kings garden on the evening of 26th.

HIRUNDINES SAND MARTIN continue to be scarce only 2 records with a max of 11 on 5th.   SWALLOW roost still below last year only 200 on 2nd but increased to 6000+ on 28TH and 30TH HOUSE MARTIN up to 50 on the patch.

WARBLERS – Again the ringing team numbers were lower than 2011 – 2 GROPPA,1 LESSER WHITETHROAT – 1 AQUATIC on 10th at South Milton Ley – Bob B, 40 SEDGE and 18+ REED on 12th WHITETHROAT still on the patch – 6 on 7th and a GARDEN WARBLER.    WILLOW – max 38 on 12th.


SPOTTED FLYCATCHER – the pair at South Milton failed with their second brood, however 2 Ad + 4 fledged young were on Thurlestone Marsh on 6th.

PIED FLYCATCHER   - Singles at the sewage works on 19th and 23rd.

WHEATEAR   - Single on 3rd numbers increased with 7 on 11th and a max of 15 on 31st.

YELLOW WAGTAIL - First returning bird a juv on the Golf Course on 27th with a flock of 30 Alba’s.

CROSSBILL - Singles overhead on 11th and 30th.


A very enjoyable months birding for the patch.





JULY 2012


A month of contrasting weather with some of the heaviest rainfall of the year particularly the weekend of 7th/8th with from 21st a really hot and sunny spell up to 29th.   No significantly strong winds.


Concerns for the breeding marsh warblers continued, very few young reported some territorial singing indicated an attempt at second broods.

At the end of the month the SWALLOW roost failed to reach the four figure mark.


During the month a total of 107 species recorded (c/f 113 2011) with only a single new specie for the year SOOTY SHEARWATER taking the total to 171.

Some evidence of returning waders, from early in the month – could indicate failed breeders.


Significant sightings for the month –


MUTE SWAN – the female took the cygnets round to South Milton Ley and soon after to the Avon Estuary.   Only 4 appeared to survive.

SHELDUCK – The 3 young all fledged and together with their parents had left the marsh by the end of the month.

TEAL – first returning was a male on 5th, 3 on 8th increasing to 4 on 24th.

COMMON SCOTER – recorded on 5 days with a max of 45 on 5th.

MANX SHEARWATER – recorded on 6 days with 125 on 5th, 90 on 15th and 100+ on 29th.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – only dates when more than 1 were 2 on 5th and 5 on 16th.

SOOTY SHEARWATER – A single bird flew west at 11.25 on the 18th – gloomy conditions with restricted horizon viz.

GANNET – fishing parties daily with largest passage 330 on 3rd and 385 on 5th.

HOBBY – On 26th 1 causing mayhem in the SWALLOW roost.

OYSTERCATCHER – numbers gradually increased during the month with a max of 23 on 29th.

LAPWING – Unusually 2 records – a single on Thurlestone Marsh on 4th ( H. & J. Huggins) with 4 in off the sea and up the valley on 21st.

RINGED PLOVER – first a single on 16th with a max of 5 on 29th.

SANDERLING – 2 on 4th, max of 12 on 21st and 8 on 29th.

DUNLIN – 5 on 7th and 15th with a max of 6 on 22nd.

BLACK TAILED GODWIT – Single on Thurlestone Marsh on 1st, 9 briefly on 3rd 2 on 6th and 8th and 3 on 16th.

WHIMBREL – 2 on rocks on 8th, max of 7 on 20th.

CURLEW – flyover recorded on 2 dates.

GREEN SANDPIPER – traditionally the first returning wader but not this year – 3 on Thurlestone Marsh on 21st, 26th and 28th.

REDSHANK – Nick Townsend had the only record, a single on 7th.

GREENSHANK – 1 flushed from Thurlestone Marsh at 07.15 on 7th following a very stormy night.

TURNSTONE – 2 on 4th and 1 on 22nd.

ARCTIC SKUA – A single l/p flew through on 13th.

POMARINE SKUA – A sub adult d/p flew east on 18th.

PUFFIN – One flew west on 18th.

BLACK HEADED GULL – First Juv on South Huish Marsh with 6 Ad on 9th.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL – A 1st s flew through on 5th.

SANDWICH TERN – Recorded on 3 dates, 3 on 22nd incl 1 Juv.

COMMON TERN – A single in the Bay on 18th.

SAND MARTIN only recorded on 2 days – 2 on 19th and 1 on 30th. (this compares with 220 in 2011).

SWALLOW – Largest roost 500 on 24th – this compares with 5000+ IN 2011.

SWIFT – Moving through in small numbers at the end of the Month.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER – A pair bred in South Milton Village – 3 young died due to wet and cold weather and lack of suitable food.   2nd brood attempted.

WHEATEAR – first Juv found by AFD on evening of 19th.

REED/SEDGE WARBLER – Almost total failure of birds to reach fledgling status – only 15 and 18 birds caught and ringed.

GRASSHOPPER WARBLER – One at South Milton Ley on 30th.

YELLOW WAGTAIL – An early returning male on Thurlestone Marsh on 26th.



Mike Passman –









JUNE 2012


JUNE 2012


A remarkably wet and cool month with some days providing gale force winds – not usual to have force 9+ at this time of the year.   The Marshes hold more water than they did in winter


Breeding Warblers on the marshes have lost all their first broods there are very few staking out territories for a second attempt.   Even our WHITETHROATS have all disappeared by the end of the month.


During the month a total 103 species recorded (C/f 2011 – 100) with 3 new species for the year – BLACK-NECKED GREBE, NIGHTJAR and STORM PETREL taking the total to 170.


June is traditionally the quietest month of year so I went off to visit La Brenne in France from 20th -29th. I do not appear to have missed anything apart from some diabolical weather.


Significant sightings for the month were:-

MUTE SWAN – Pair on Thurlestone Marsh produced 5 cygnets – all survived to the end of the month.

GREYLAG GOOSE – One on Thurlestone Marsh on 2nd was a surprising summer record.

SHELDUCK – One pair successfully raised 3 young on Thurlestone Marsh.

GADWALL – A pair on Thurlestone Marsh on 8th.

TEAL – A female on Thurlestone Marsh on 13th was either a very early returning bird or one who had stayed over from May and been in the reeds.

COMMON SCOTER – Only one record – a single in the Bay on 9th.

MANX SHEARWATER – Recorded on five days with high numbers of 88 on 4th and 27 on 13th.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – 2 moved east on 13th.

STORM PETREL – Overnight gales on 7th/8th produced 1 feeding only 20 yards off the car park on morning of 8th.

BLACK-NECKED GREBE – Found in the Bay on 16th still in partial summer plumage last seen on morning of 30th. A summer first for the patch.

GANNET – Significant movements through the Bay were – 155 on 7th, 200 on 12th, 272 on 13th and a max of 295 on 15th.

PUFFIN – One flew east on 15th (part of the best seawatching movement for some time.

MARSH HARRIER – A female over both marshes from 12th until 20th.

Only waders recorded were:-

SANDERLING – 1 on 1st, WHIMBREL 7 on 1st with the last a single on 7th.

This year the first returning wader was a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT on Thurlestone Marsh on 13th.   TURNSTONE - 4 on 12th and 2 on 18th.   33 OYSTERCATCHER on 1st must have included birds still migrating as our summer residents rarely above 10.


Our good year for SKUAS continues with sightings of 3 species on 15th.

ARCTIC SKUA – 3 on 15th and 2 on 29th, GREAT SKUA 1 on 5th and 2 on 15th, POMARINE SKUA – a single on 15th.


First returning MEDITERRANEAN GULL were 2 1st summer on 29th and 2 ad and 1 1st summer on 30th.   Adults still looked outstanding in their full summer plumage.

TERNS were few and far between – SANDWICH TERN 3 on 13th and 1 on 15th. COMMON TERN – 12 east on 15th.

FULMAR – 22 on 15th along with 11 KITTIWAKE..


A most remarkable record was a male NIGHTJAR which flew in off the sea on 13th – passed within 20 feet at a height of 30 feet whilst seawatching at Warren Point.


On 4th several flocks of SWIFT flew over Thurlestone Marsh at least 135.

Very few SWALLOW and SAND MARTIN compared with previous years, HOUSE MARTIN numbers have been maintained.


Walking through the West Buckland Valley has provided some good breeding records:-

BLACKCAP – 11 on 11th (included 3Juv) CHIFFCHAFF 16 on 11th (4 juv).

GOLDCREST – 5 on19th (plus 5 Juv) GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER – 3 nests with young calling on 11th, SONG THRUSH 6 on 19th, MISTLE THRUSH 3 plus 4 Juv on 19th and most interestingly 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER territories.


NUTHATCH – Mid month reports of an adult and Juv on feeders in local gardens, also calling in the Valley on 19th


GREEN WOODPECKER – Has become scarce on the patch – one in a local garden on 27th.


Warblers breeding on the marshes have lost all their first broods numbers of REED/SEDGE well down on recent years.


If you need confirmation of how bad the weather has been the total birds ringed this month was 4 – CHIFFCHAFF 3 and REED WARBLER – 1.

No controls or recoveries to report this month.



May 2012


MAY 2012


A mixed month weather wise – cool wet and windy particularly between 6th and 11th (I managed to miss being away in sunny Corfu). Only warm spell was towards the end of the month.


Warblers in particular appear to be well down on numbers compared with recent years.

Highlight of the month (and one to add to a memorable year so far) was the sighting on Thurlestone Marsh of a first summer GREAT WHITE EGRET at 10.00 a.m. on 24th May by Harry and June Huggins. A long anticipated site first.   Thankfully the EGRET stayed until I could get back from Caversham on the Saturday evening. Last sighting was 21.00 on Monday 28th.


During the month a total of 112 species recorded (of 113 – 2011).   The year total increased to 167 with the addition of GREY PLOVER, GARGANEY, LESSER WHITETHROAT, GREENSHANK (June Huggins again). SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, POMARINE SKUA, KNOT, TURTLE DOVE and the GREAT WHITE EGRET.


Significant sightings for the month were:-

Duck numbers well down this month as they move back north to their breeding grounds:-

WIGEON – a male on 2nd and TEAL in female on 13th both on Thurlestone Marsh.

GADWALL a pair on 5th and 12th.

TUFTED DUCK are a scarce visitor so a pair on South Huish Marsh on 13th were unexpected (R.Bu) as was a female POCHARD on Thurlestone Marsh from 28th – 30th.

GARGANEY are annual spring visitors but not this year until evening of 3rd with a male found by Bob.Bu. on South Huish Marsh another male spent a short time resting on rocks off Warren Point on 13th.

COMMON SCOTER were recorded on 4 days with 45 on 17th, 50 on 18th and 30 on 27th.

Another unexpected find were 2 GREAT CRESTED GREBE in the Bay on 2nd.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER coming into summer plumage make a lovely sight so 2 on 1st, 1 on 2nd and 3 on 3rd were most welcome.   On the latter date a single RED THROATED DIVER flew west.

MANX SHEARWATER only recorded on 2 days with 5 on 15th and 25 on 18th.


RAPTERS (apart from the resident birds) were a single HOBBY on 27th and an adult female MARSH HARRIER from 13th – 17th and again on 30th.

Latter bird was thought to be different to the former as it had a full tail.

Wader passage continued throughout the month which produced 3 additions to the year list. Species maxima were:-

RINGED PLOVER 4 on 18th, GREY PLOVER 2 on 2nd and 1 on 27th, KNOT 2 on 24th (1 in full summer plumage until 27th). SANDERLING – 13 on 18th, DUNLIN 20 on 17th, WHIMBREL 185 on 1st, 170 on 2nd, 140 on 3rd with small numbers to the month end.  

BAR TAILED GODWIT 75 on 2nd, GREENSHANK a single on 6th, TURNSTONE 7 on 27th and WOOD SANDPIPER 2 on 18th.   See comments in the ringing report about a colour flagged SANDERLING.

Single ARCTIC SKUA in the Bay on 2nd and 7th.   An early evening passage on 18th produced 3 POMARINE SKUA flying east.

SANDWICH TERN as 4 days with a max of 24 on 7th during a spell of poor weather.


Both REED AND SEDGE WARBLER numbers down on previous years.   Bob B had a LESSER WHITETHROAT at South Milton Ley on 6th.   2 GARDEN WARBLERS held singing territory from the 18th onwards.

The 1st saw a small fall of passerines with 7 WHINCHAT, 34 WHEATEAR, GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, LESSER REDPOLL and CUCKOO (also one heard on 28th)

SPOTTED FLYCATYCHER- single birds on 12th and 20th whilst Bob B had a TURTLE DOVE over the car park on 27th.


First big hirundine movement occurred during first few days – SWALLOW 400+ on 1st, HOUSE MARTIN – 125 on 2ND, SAND MARTIN 100+ on 3rd.   First SWALLOW roost on 14th with over 500 over the Marsh.


A walk through West Buckland Valley 31st produced a GREEN WOODPECKER (scarce this year) 3 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER nests, and 8 BLACKCAP.   Will be trying to make more regular visits during the breeding season, some good looking sites.




APRIL 2012

April is always the month when Spring migration dominates with new arrivals of our summer visitors and offshore migration of seabirds.   This year the month seemed to stutter rather than get into full flow, whilst some migrants appeared early the main arrivals were much later and in less numbers particularly Hirundines and Warblers – probably due to the weather conditions.


Weather for the month could be summed up as Cool and Wet 17th and 18th were stormy with NW winds F8 gusting 9, with 29th and 30th producing gales of 8+.

Some very good seawatching days – particularly 17th, 18th, 23rd, 25th, 26th and 30th.

Whilst the Wader passage was reasonable this year it was SKUAS that stood out with a highest daily total for some years of 28 ARCTIC SKUA. On 30th.

The LITTLE BUNTING was last reported on 16th at least 100 visitors came to the patch and almost all of them connected with it even if it took several hours of patient waiting.


During the month a total of 125 species were recorded (c/f 124 in 2011) the total for the year increased by 20 to 156 (C/F 153 in 2011) notable firsts for the year were HOOPOE, LITTLE GULL, LITTLE TERN, WOOD SANDPIPER and CUCKOO.


Significant sightings for the month:-

BRENT GOOSE (DB) – a single on 25th and 2 on 30th were the only records (further along the coast large numbers of light bellied were recorded flying east unfortunately none flew through the Bay).

WIGEON in April are unusual a female this year on the Marshes until the 18th and then a male arrived on 23rd – still present at the end of the month.

SHELDUCK max was 23 on 14th.   COMMON SCOTER still only small numbers recorded on 7 days with a max of 31 on 23rd (many Aprils would record daily totals of 200+)

DIVERS again thin on the ground.   RED-THROATED 2 on 4th with singles on 3 further dates, GREAT NORTHERN singles on 10th and 25th – latter in summer plumage also singles 29th and 30th.

FULMAR don’t normally get special mention – 74 on 18th is my largest total.

First MANX SHEARWATER arrived on 8th with 65 recorded, maxima 240 on 30th.

Largest GANNET movement days were 18th – 320 and 30th – 470.

GREAT CRESTED GREBES on the sea in April are irregular 2 on 5th and a single on 29th.

An early HOBBY over South Milton Ley on 4th and a female MARSH HARRIER in off the sea on 28th were the only migrant raptors

Wader passage in April is always something to look forward to, although we did’nt get the numbers compared with last year it was still very enjoyable.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – singles on 3 dates, RINGED PLOVER only one record a single on 23rd, even DUNLIN were sparse with a max of 3 on 30th.

A single SANDERLING on 1st whilst PURPLE SANDPIPER recorded on 3 dates with 2 on 6th.

A single WOOD SANDPIPER flew through on 29th.

Last SNIPE reported on 24th.   TURNSTONE present throughout with a max of 14 on 5th WHIMBREL and BAR TAILED GODWIT are the main migrants, this year because the marshes were still very wet some of the flocks stayed for more than 1 day so it has been difficult to difficult to calculate the totals passing through.   WHIMBREL passage commenced with 3 on 17th and gradually built up to 63 on 25th and a max of 92 on 30th.

BAR TAILED GODWIT commenced with 3 on 20th with the only large daily total on 30th with 75 (many of which in summer plumage). Only BLACK TAILED GODWITS were 5 which flew into Thurlestone Marsh on the evening of 28th with 1 still present on 29th.

First COMMON SANDPIPER arrived on 24th with another on South Huish marsh on 30th.

With some good gale force winds it was the SKUA passage that was the highlight.

GREAT SKUA recorded on 7 dates with a patch record of 11 on the 25th the latter included 2 groups of 4 – total logged 21 (3 or 4 would be a good year.

ARCTIC SKUA first were 2 on 9th, with 9 on 25th, 12 on 26th and an incredible 28 on 30th.   Again groups of 4/5 not unusual and included all 3 phases.   Almost all these continued their migration by going overland up the Valley.   A monthly total of 51 compared with 3 in 2011.

In poor visibility 2 large flocks of COMMON TERN of 200+ and 150+ passed through in the morning of 23rd with a daily total of 400, on the 25th the total was 115.   During the month 550 birds were logged.

Whilst SANDWICH TERN were recorded almost daily only significant totals were 46 on 23rd and 77 on 25th.   ARCTIC TERN only recorded on 3 days with 6 on 26th the max.   Highlight for the month were 2 single LITTLE TERN on 23rd 1 early morning (MBP) the other late afternoon (RBur) my first spring record.

A single LITTLE GULL on 19th was the first for the year.


HIRUNDINE passage very poor giving cause for concern – first HOUSE MARTIN were 5 on 14th with only reasonable numbers of 50 on 30th.   SAND MARTIN scarce until 8 on 13th with a max of 70 on 30th.   First notable SWALLOW movement was 75 on 12th, 135 on 14th and 200+ on 30th.

First SWIFT arrived on 25th and a max of 30 on 29th.

A CUCKOO (R.Bur) on 3rd was the earliest site record.   With 2 REDSTART on 6th the expected arrival of passerines just dried up.   With a single REED WARBLER on 7th no more than 5 singing by 30th.   First SEDGE WARBLER on 15th but again very few by 30th holding territory.   WHITETHROAT were very scarce – a single on 19th with only another on 28th.

WHEATEAR numbers low with a max of 6 on 25th.   First WHINCHAT were 2 on the evening of 30th (AFD)

Only 2 YELLOW WAGTAIL recorded, both males – singles on 23rd and 30th.

Last WATER PIPIT sighting was on 7th on Thurlestone Marsh.

Finally a LESSER REDPOLL flying over car park on 15th was an unusual Spring record.




MARCH 2012

Month commenced with 2 days of fog/mist.   Only heavy rain was overnight 3/4th and 7th.

Fog again 11/12th.

Only 1 day of F6 + wind – 4th.   High pressure dominated with E winds from 23rd until 31st.

Very poor migrant passage – particularly after 25th.

Excellent sea passage on 24th/25th.


The month will be long remembered as a BUNTING Bonanza.

On 19th Bob B ringed a LITTLE BUNTING – the first record since 1997.

Remarkably on 28th a second one was caught and ringed.   These became only the 10th and 11th mainland record for Devon.   One bird still showing through to 31st with up to 50 visitors leaving very satisfied.

Colin Mills of Soar Mill Seeds had very generously provided Bob with a supply of Bird Food – it was at this food source that both birds were caught and the only place where they could be seen.

Many thanks to Colin and Venessa for their food sponsorship.


During the month a total of 115 species were recorded (compares with 113 in 2011).

The year list increased to 136 (2011 -128) with site firsts of CASPIAN GULL (MBP) and LAPLAND BUNTING (Vic T and Nick T).


Significant sightings for the month;:-

The BEWICKS SWAN which has overwintered at Aveton Gifford started to move to Slapton – on a return journey accompanying 3 MUTE SWAN it was picked up flying over South Milton Ley and across the Bay towards the Avon Estuary.   An noticeable increase of MUTE SWAN movement – there are 3 pairs holding territory, on several days a further 5 to 7 were recorded.


A single DB BRENT GOOSE in the Bay briefly on 25th.

SHELDUCK started moving through from 8th with a max of 9 on 25th.   WIGEON gradually reduced from 46 on 1st to a pair on SH Marsh on 31st.                   


TEAL peaked at 60 on 4th with still 20 on 30th.   AJL had 5 EIDER in the Bay on 5th as well as a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER.

POCHARD is not an annual bird here so a pair on 15th on Thurlestone Marsh were a welcome sight.

A male PINTAIL was on South Huish Marsh on 1st with 1m 2F flying east on 28th.   With single SHOVELER on the marshes it was movement offshore on24th with 5 east and 25th 24 east including one flock of 17.   GADWALL again on 24th with 5 on the sea before flying east, otherwise 2 on the marshes on 5 days.

COMMON SCOTER still only recorded in small numbers – max 17 east on 24th.


DIVERS and GREBES have been scarce this winter – Single RED-THROATED DIVER on 6th and 11th with a single GREAT NORTHERN DIVER ON 20TH.   A single SLAVONIAN GREBE on 6th was the first this winter.   Singles of GREAT CRESTED GREBE in the Bay on 8th, 9th and 15th.

Only raptor outside the usual resident birds was a female MERLIN on 18th.

Small numbers of AUKS recorded on several dates,   on 25th they included a single PUFFIN.

15 species of Waders recorded – main highlights were:-

First LITTLE RINGED PLOVER from 24th – 27th on South Huish Marsh.   RINGED PLOVER recorded on 8 days with a max of 12 on 1st.   A single LAPWING on 6th.

SANDERLING – probably the best winter for many years -7 on the beach from 1st to 14th and still 4 on 25th.   DUNLIN only on 3 days max 5 on 14th.

1 PURPLE SANDPIPER on 10th with 3 on 11th.   A single JACK SNIPE on Thurlestone Marsh on 12th.  

Very few SNIPE recorded however when Vic T carried out his checks on South Huish Marsh on 28th he flushed 30.

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT recorded on 6 days all singles apart from 2 on 6th and 7th.   The BAR-TAILED GODWIT passage is usually from late April with 7 flying up the valley on 24th this was an early start.   Also on the same date 4 WHIMBREL flew east.   Single CURLEW recorded on 4 days.

REDSHANK are few and far between (only 4 records throughout 2011) so to have 2 on 13th and 4 on 14th was a surprise.   Latter record is a recent site record!.

TURNSTONE continue to be seen on the rocks at high tide with 9 on 3rd and 7 on 22nd.

Whilst Thurlestone Marsh regularly has LITTLE EGRET (usually no more than 2) to see 5 on 30th was a surprise.   Regular displaying seen but no hint of breeding.

During a light passage of BLACK-HEADED GULL towards the end of the month MEDITERRANEAN GULL also seen including some adults in full summer plumage – beautiful – max were 4 on 25th.


First SANDWICH TERN were 2 on 17th, with 14 on 14th and 15 on 25th

Hirundine passage very light – SAND MARTIN maintained its record of being the first migrants to arrive with 2 over Thurlestone Marsh on 13th on 15th the max of 13 recorded and then only small numbers through to 28th.   First SWALLOW over South Huish marsh on 21st then only recorded on 22nd – 2, 23rd – 3, 25th -3.   No HOUSE MARTINS at all – where are they?

Only WARBLERS were – WILLOW singles on 25th and 29th, BLACKCAP 1 on 10th and 4 on 27th.   CHIFFCHAFF up to 8 singing by the months end.

My last record of FIELDFARE were 5 on 1st whilst REDWING were 25 on same date with Bob B having 1 at South Milton ley on 29th being the last.

A male WHEATEAR at South Huish marsh on 14th was the first with ones and twos until 25th and 26th when 4 and then none up to the end of the month.

A TREE PIPIT on 30th was an early arrival with WATER PIPIT – 2 on 4th and single on 8th and 19th.

Only 1 SISKIN recorded flying north on 23rd.

At least 3 different female BLACK REDSTART recorded between 6th and 30th on of which was showing a ring.


Finally the BUNTING BONANZA – Already mentioned the 2 star species to which can be added a male CIRL BUNTING on 21st, several YELLOWHAMMER and finally up to 30 REED BUNTING.








Another month of contrasting weather – the first two weeks providing the coldest nights of the winter with a low of -5C on 11th with the Marshes frozen over on 5 days.   Later some of the warmest February days in years, and then towards the end thick sea fog and generally poor visibility.   Only windy day 22nd SW 7.

A total of 106 birds recorded – compares well with 2011 when only 97.

A first patch recorded of CASPIAN GULL – a 1st w. on 27th with a total of 11 new birds for the year.

Still relatively few DIVER records and only LITTLE GREBE of that family.

GLOSSY IBIS seen daily usually on the back of the Marsh, last sighting 17.15 on 15th.

GREYLAG GOOSE present until 27th, on 15th Mike Miller had 6 BRENT GOOSE fly onto South Huish Marsh.

Brief passage of SHELDUCK from 23rd with a max of 4 on 24th.   PINTAIL (particularly males)

are not annual so 2 on South Huish Marsh on 15th were welcome with 1 staying to the end of the month.   A female TUFTED DUCK on the same marsh on 22nd was a first of the year.

COMMON SCOTER recorded on 5 days with a max of 8 on 24th.

Commoner duck maxima were – WIGEON 76 on 23rd, TEAL 5 on 17th, GADWALL 5 on 9th, SHOVELER 5 on 5th.

Only DIVER record was a RED-THROATED flying east on 3rd.   LITTLE GREBE 1 on Thurlestone Marsh on 13th.

Strong winds on 27th produced an early BALEARIC SHEARWATER flying west.

Unexpected raptors were a single HEN HARRIER mid month reported over South Milton Ley by a visiting birder and a MERLIN on 12th.

4 new wader species for the year – 2 GOLDEN PLOVER on 3rd, AJL had 60 over the marsh on 27th.

Up to 3 PURPLE SANDPIPER between 4th and 14th and a WOODCOCK at South Milton Ley on 24th, with a single REDSHANK at South Huish Marsh on 23rd.

A GREEN SANDPIPER flew into Thurlestone marsh early on 10th.   Only 1 JACK SNIPE recorded on 3rd.   SNIPE peaked at 60 on 12th.

On the beaches SANDERLING peaked at 12 on 15th (a site winter record count), RINGED PLOVER 16 on 15th, DUNLIN 3 on 3rd, TURNSTONE 14 on 12th.

CURLEW came into roost on Thurlestone Marsh with a single on 23rd on 2 on 29th.  

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT – a single bird until 29th also LAPWING 2 all month with a max of 9 on 3rd.

Only MEDITERRANEAN GULLS of the month were 2 on 28th amongst a roosting flock of 200+ BLACK-HEADED GULL.   An adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL recorded on 14th and 23rd.

BLACK REDSTART recorded in frequently with 3 different birds seen.

FIRECREST seen at South Milton Ley on 24th, overwinter CHIIFFCHAFF peaked at 15 on 11th and 28th, several male BLACKCAPS recorded.

WATERPIPT on several dates on the Thurlestone Marsh flood meadows with a max of 3 on 11th.

Finally the REED BUNTING continue to enjoy visiting my garden feeders – maxima 21 on 4th with still 20 on 28th.


JAN 2012 Monthly Report

A month of contrast – mild weather early month followed by some very strong westerly gales – up to force 10 at times then finishing off with the first cold spell of the winter.


A total of 106 species recorded during the month with a number of surprises among them.   The second ever record of GLOSSY IBIS first seen coming in to Thurlestone Marsh to roost at 16.45 on 12th then seen almost daily until the months end.   Spent most of its feeding time at the back of the marsh making it difficult to see from the main road.


At least 4 BEARDED TIT stayed on South Milton Ley last being seen on 13th.


Offshore my first January record of both SANDWICH TERN on 15th and GREAT SKUA on 16th both flying east.   Interesting SANDWICH TERN reported the same day at Dawlish Warren and following day at Penzance

Another first for the patch were 2 GREY PARTRIDGE flushed from a hedgerow near Upton Cross (South Milton) must be from an introduction scheme, probably falconers.


A GREYLAG GOOSE spent the whole month on the patch, sometimes feeding with the large CANADA flock.   AJL had the sole BRENT GOOSE record a DB on 7th.


Duck numbers lower than expected probably due to the mild weather maxima were:

WIGEON - 100 on 1st, GADWALL - 3 on 17th, TEAL - 70 on 14th, SHOVELER – 5 on 4th, COMMON SCOTER – 12E on 4th,       RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, AJL had a female on 28th.   A male GOOSEANDER photographed by a visiting birder swimming across the bay on 15th. I am fairly certain this is the first site record of a Male.


Diver records were all of singles viz:-


RED-THROATED on 1st and 4th, BLACK-THROATED on 1st and 17th, GREAT NORTHERN on 2nd, 4th and 19th.


Raptors consisted of a ringtail HEN HARRIER on 12th, a female MARSH HARRIER on 11th to 16th and 28th, a female MERLIN on 8th and 20th.

AJL had a BARN OWL early one morning, TAWNY OWL calling at both South Milton Ley and Thurlestone Marsh.

11 species of WADER recorded with maxima of:   OYSTERCATCHER - 25 on 2nd, RINGED PLOVER - 12 on 15, LAPWING - 75 on 12th, SANDERLING - 2 all month,

GREEN SANDPIPER singles on 15th and 23rd, DUNLIN – 6 on 5th, JACK SNIPE singles on 11th and 17th, SNIPE 60 on 11th, CURLEW – 1 on 24th, TURNSTONE – 10 on 15th. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT – 1 all month joined by a second on 8th.


Biggest day for sea passage was 16thGANNET - 152, KITTIWAKE – 130, AUKS – 80+.

MED GULL on 12th, 17th and 21st also YELLOW-LEGGED GULL on 4th and 17th.

Bob B trapped a FIRECREST on 11th (same bird on 20th November 2011 – but not seen in between) whilst AJL had one in Mallards Lane on 29th.

Male BLACKCAPS in local gardens on 1st and 14th, with a female BLACK REDSTART on 13th.


A WATER PIPIT on Thurlestone Marsh on 1st and 7th.

Wintering STOCK DOVE flocks peaked at a total of 70 on 5th.

Horswell House Wood provided the only record of NUTHATCH last year and again this year – a single bird feeding on 23rd.

GREEN WOODPECKERS have become scarce – Bob B had one in the Hotel grounds on 28th.


Winter thrushes REDWING a max of 35 with only a few FIELDFARE.   No big gathering of FINCHES although up to 3 YELLOW HAMMER at South Milton Ley.


Finally REED BUNTING – up to 40 at South Milton Ley with 14 on the feeders in my garden on 7th.


So far birds most conspicuous by their absence are GREBES none

at all recorded.