THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS APRIL 2016   A very cool month for what should be the start of Spring migration – the last week being particularly cool – one lunchtime temperature was just 5 degrees.   Rain well below normal mainly NW winds with notable SSE/SE winds on 10th, and E from 20th – 23rd.   With many migrants arriving a total of 27, new species added to the year list, total for the year now up to 157 (c/f 2015 – 153, 2014 – 153). Total species recorded for the month was 130 (c/f 2015 -133, 2014 – 135)   Noteable additions – ICELAND GULL, LESSER REDPOLL, PURPLE HERON, WOOD SANDPIPER, REDSTART, LESSER WHITETHROAT. A particularly good sea passage day on 10th, a good ringing day 17th wader passage 20th and a remarkable day on 23rd with the first record for Devon of 2 adult PURPLE HERON.   Highlights this month:- SWANS AND GEESE MUTE SWAN – Nesting again at South Huish Marsh. BRENT GOOSE – Only record of 2 flying east on 11th.   DUCKS SHELDUCK – Spring build up at South Huish Marsh with 20 on 5th and 22 on 23rd. WIGEON – Last record a  male on 2nd. GADWALL – A pair on the Marsh on 23rd. TEAL – Max 22 on 3rd – reducing to 2 on 30th. PINTAIL – A male on the sea on 10th. GARGANEY – A male on the marsh on 14th. SHOVELER – 8 on the sea on 20th. TUFTED DUCK – 3 flew east on 11th. COMMON SCOTER – 2 days of noticeable passage – 285 flew east in 6 hours on 10th and 93 on11th.   GAME BIRDS GREY PARTRIDGE – 2 at a Buckland Valley from on 4th. RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE – 2 in a Thurlestone garden on 1st.   Both records relate to birds released for shooting parties   DIVERS, SHEARWATERS AND GANNET Poor spring for DIVERS with only 4 birds recorded BLACK THROATED -1 on the sea on 5th. RED THROATED – 1 flew east on 4th GREAT NORTHERN – Single on1st and 29th. FULMAR – Max 20 on 10th. MANX SHEARWATER – 225 flew east in3 hours on11th and 250+ on the sea on 30th. GANNET – Max 140 on 10th.   HERONS AND EGRETS GREY HERON – Up to 5 regularly seen PURPLE HERON – An adult watched landing on South Huish Marsh at 12.00 on 23rd, confirmed 2 adults on site from 24th last sighting of a single bird briefly on 28th.  This is the first record for Devon of 2 adult birds together.   Only the second patch record following a juv in September 2014. LITTLE EGRETS – Up to 6 around the patch RAPTERS Regular sightings throughout the patch of KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK, PEREGRINE, BUZZARD. OWLS – Both BARN OWL and TAWNY OWL reported.   WADERS – 12 species recorded OYSTERCATCHER – Max 25 on 10th. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – Singles on 23rd, 24th and 25th. RINGED PLOVER – 3 on 22nd and 4 on 26th. GREY PLOVER – A patch record on 20th – 2 on the rocks, 1 on South Huish Marsh and late afternoon a flock 12 flew in off the sea. SANDERLING – Singles on 12th and 28th. DUNLIN – Max 21 on both 21st and 28th. BARTAILED GODWIT – Afternoon of 20th flocks totalling 226 flew in off the sea and up the Valley in 90 mins!  A total of 50 recorded on 21st WHIMBREL – first were 81 on17th, other notable records – 68 on 20th, 148 on 21st and 73 on 23rd. CURLEW – 2 on 20TH. COMMON SANDPIPER – On 19th, 4 together on the rocks, singles on 22nd, 25th and 20th. WOOD SANDPIPER – A rare spring record – One on South Huish Marsh on the afternoon of 23rd. TURNSTONE – Max 4 on 2nd.   SKUAS – Very poor passage only 3 records ARCTIC SKUA – First one on 10th and 2 on 21st. GREAT SKUA – 1 flew east on 11th.   GULLS and TERNS BLACK HEADED GULL – 23 on South Huish marsh was months max. MEDITERRANEAN GULL – 2 ad on sea on10th. ICELAND GULL – A second winter bird on the sea in Leasfoot Bay on 6th (first record for 2 years). LITTLE TERN – 2 flew east on 10th. SANDWICH TERN – Reasonable passage max were 19 on 10th and 27 on 20th COMMON TERN – Recorded on 5 days max 9 on 10th. ARCTIC TERN – A total of 30 flew east on 10th.   CUCKOO – HIRUNDINES and SWIFT CUCKOO – first was seen flying through South Milton Ley on 19th, a report of one calling at Buckland Valley late in the month. SWIFT – first 1 on21st with 3 on 24th. SAND MARTIN – Max 18 on 21st. SWALLOW – totals above 100 on 15th, 17th and 22nd. HOUSE MARTIN – first arrival on3rd, with a max of 150+ on21st.   WOODPECKERS and JAY GREEN WOODPIECKER – One calling in the copse at the back of South Huish marsh is possibly a first for that site. GREAT SPOTTED WOODY – Seen at 3 locations around the patch. JAY – Regularly seen in a South Milton village garden.   WARBLERS – A reasonable spring with 9 species recorded. Largest BLACKCAP passage for some years. CHIFFCHAFF – At many sites around the patch.   Ringing returns at South Milton Ley – 16 on 4th, 19 on 17th and 15 on 19th. SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF – Singles on4th and 25th. WILLOW WARBLER – A max of 10 on 19th ringed. BLACKCAP – On 16th 5 males through my garden, on 17th, 31 ringed at South Milton Ley LESSER WHITETHROAT – A visitor reported 1 on 25th. WHITETHROAT – An early record of 1 on 7th, max 5 on 30th. GROPPA – Singles at South Milton Ley on 17th and 19th. SEDGE WARBLER – first were 2 on 11th with 5 on 17th. REED WARBLER – first a single on 17th   TREE CREEPER – One caught and ringed at South Milton Ley on 2nd.   CHATS AND WIHEATEARS REDSTART – A male and female at South Huish Marsh on 23rd – my first spring record at this site. STONECHAT – Up to 8 birds on the patch. WHINCHAT – A  male at South Huish Marsh on 22nd. WHEATEAR – Very poor spring passage – only 15 birds recorded some years that number would be in a single day .  A single apart from 2 on 22nd and 4 on 23rd.   WAGTAILS PIED WAGTAIL – Max roost of 20 on 28th. WHITE WAGTAIL – Max 4 on 15th and 22nd GREY WAGTAIL – 1 at South Milton Ley on 7th. YELLOW WAGTAIL – first were 2 on 21st with a max of 9 on 22nd. BLUE HEADED WAGTAIL – Males at South Huish Marsh on 17th and 27th.   PIPITS, FINCHES AND BUNTINGS TREE PIPIT – Only record 1 in the copse on 5th. WATER PIPIT – Recorded on 4 days max 2 on 25th. YELLOWHAMMER – 3 in the lanes on 25th and a female by the café at South Huish Marsh on 30th. REED BUNTING – Pairs at the 3 main sites. CIRL BUNTING – Birds recorded at 2 sites. BULLFINCH – Recorded at 3 sites. LINNET – Max 60 at South Milton Ley 7th.   Several pairs occupying sites along the coast path. LESSER REDPOLL – A rare spring record with one ringed at South Milton Ley on 17th.   Two ringing recoveries to report   CHIFFCHAFF – Ringed on 31st August 2014 at Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear controlled at South Milton Ley on 15th December 2014   REED BUNTING – Ringed on 2nd December 2013 at Abbotsbury Swannery, Dorset and controlled at South Milton Ley on 17th November 2014.   Retraps at South Milton ley – all originally ringed at this site.   CHIFFCHAFF ringed in 2013, 1 as a juv in 2015, 1 in 2015.   SEDGE WARBLER – 3 ringed in 2014. WREN – 1 ringed in 2012.   Mike Passman