THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS  APRIL 2020 Lockdown which started on 24th March was expected to have a severe impact on both the number of species recorded and the possibility of not being able to track the arrival of our summer migrants. My permitted walks were limited to a total of 15 visits to the coast whilst my ‘Birds on the Balcony” were observed on 23 days during which Logged a total of 50 hours.   My lockdown list now stands at 87 species and on the 11th a STONE CURLEW was watched in an adjoining field, a first record for the patch. April was one of the driest months on record with rain on 2 days 29th and 30th.  High pressure which resulted. In it being the sunniest for many years brought both warm temperatures and almost continuous wind from an Easterly direction. A total of 134 species were recorded (c/f 2019 - 129, 2018 - 139) with 22 new species for the year taking the total to 161 (c/f 2019 - 160, 2018 - 169). Outstanding among the new species were RED KITE, HOBBY, MARSH HARRIER, RED B.MERGANSER, SPOONBILL, LITTLE TERN, ARCTIC TERN, CUCKOO, ARCTIC SKUA, GREAT SKUA, POMARINE SKUA, REDSTART, YELLOW WAGTAIL. Considering there were no ringing activities undertaken these totals were outstanding. Highlights GEESE and DUCKS GREYLAG GOOSE - 4 flew. SE across the Bay on 23rd (note the ones we record on the Marsh are often of questionable heritage) BARNACLE GOOSE - 3 flew onto South Huish Marsh on 13th, 2 remained until the end of the month. SHELDUCK - Max of 10 on South Huish Marsh on 20th and 9 on South Efford Marsh on 26th. WIGEON - Only record a Female on South Huish Marsh on 1st. GADWALL - A pair on the sea on 4th, a Female flew SE with SCOTER on 5th. TEAL - Max of 36 on the Marsh on 1st. PINTAIL - A male in with MALLARD on South Efford Marsh most of the month. SHOVELER - A flock of 10 on the sea on 5th, only other record - a male flew SE on 23rd. TUFTED DUCK - 4 flew SE across the Bay on 7th. EIDER - A male with SCOTER flying SE on 4th. COMMON SCOTER - A max of 328 flying SE on 5th, other notable totals were 174 on 4th and 121 on 16th. RED B MERGANSER - A male flew SE on 15th. DIVERS RED THROATED DIVER - A total of 18 birds logged over 8 days best - 6 on1st and 4 on 4th. BLACK THROATED DIVER -  2 in the Bay on 7th. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - 14 birds logged over 5 days - max were 4 on both 2nd and 3rd.   GANNET, FULMAR, MANX SHEARWATER and SPOONBILL GANNET - Day counts of 3 figures on 4 days - max were 435 on 29th and 335 on 5th. FULMAR - Max of 19 on 29th. MANX SHEARWATER - Highest totals were 340 on 28th and 220 on 29th. SPOONBILL - Another garden tick!   2 flew in off the sea and up the valley on 29th. RAPTORS RED KITE - Singles recorded on 8th, 15th and 23rd latter 2 over Aveton Gifford. MARSH HARRIER - 1 flew NW across the Bay on 21st. SHORT EARED OWL - 1 near Bolt Tail on 16th. HOBBY - 2 singles on 22nd - 1 in off the sea,the other over Aveton Gifford,  No change in status of BUZZARD,  SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL or PEREGRINE . WADERS - A total of 16 species recorded with one being a. Patch first. OYSTERCATCHER - A max of 11 on the rocks on 26th. LITTLE RINGED PLOVER - 2 on South Huish Marshon 23rd with one remaining on 24th. RINGED PLOVER - A max of 10 on the Marsh on 28th. GREY PLOVER - An evening count of 23 on the rocks on 15th is a  patch day record for recent years, 3 recorded on 17th and 26th with 1 on 27th.  KNOT - 3 on the rocks on 17th and 1 on 26th. SANDERLING - A single record of 1 on the beach on 20th. DUNLIN - Only recorded on 5 days with a max on the Marsh of 13 on 28th. SNIPE - A single bird flushed on the Marsh on 21st. BAR TAILED GODWIT - A max of 20 on 14th, 15 on 15th. WHIMBREL - Some good totals mostly of birds flying in and resting on the rocks - 70 on 15th, 90 on 16th and 115 (1 flock)  on 29th. STONE CURLEW -At 17.00 on 11th I noticed some CORVIDS diving at a bird sat on the ground in an adjoining field - quick dash to the telescope on the balcony confirmed the identification. A first record for the patch. CURLEW - A flock of 6 reported flying up the Valley on 13th. COMMON SANDPIPER -  1 on South Huish Marsh on 26th. GREENSHANK - Max on South Efford Marsh of 5 on 5th. REDSHANK - Max on South Efford Marsh of 4 on 5th.   On South Huish Marsh singles on 17th/18th and 26th/27th. TURNSTONE - Only 2 records with 5 on the rocks on 12th and 3 on the beach on 13th. SKUAS, GULLS and TERNS POMARINE SKUA - An adult picked up by 2 separate observers flying SE on 29th. ARCTIC SKUA - A total of 12 birds logged, mostly dark phase - a max of 6 on 5th with 3 on 29th. GREAT SKUA - 15 birds logged over 4 days from 24, a superb max of 12 on 29th included 2 groups of 3 all SE. KITTIWAKE - Max of 12 on 26th. MEDITERRANEAN GULL - 8 on 2nd, 9 on 4th and a max of 12 on 5th. YELLOW LEGGED GULL - An adult in an adjoining field on 18th was a good lockdown tick. LITTLE TERN  - 1 flew into the Bay on 17th. SANDWICH TERN -  largest numbers on 5th when a total of at least 86 flew through. COMMON TERN - 2 on 8th were the only record. ARCTIC TERN -  2 on 22nd were the only record. COMMIC TERN - 4 on 29th were too for offshore to positively identify. RAZORMOT -  A max of 145 flew SE ON 29TH. PUFFIN - A single bird flew SE on the 20th. CUCKOO, CREST, SWIFT and HIRUNDINES CUCKOO - Has become a scarce bird here - 1 heard calling new Aveton Gifford on 29th. GOLDCREST and FIRECREST - Both watched by Aveton Gifford Sewage Works on 1st. SWIFT - First were 2 over Thurlestone on 18th, 4 on 21st and 2 on 26th. SWALLOW - Max passage was 306 on 18th over Thurlestone SAND MARTIN - Max of 15 over South Huish Marsh on 17th. HOUSE MARTIN - A max of 10 over South Huish Marsh on 17th. WARBLERS - 8 Species recorded.  Because no ringing activities very few visits to South Milton Ley. CETTIS WARBLER - 1 at South Efford Marsh on 20th  CHIFFCHAFF - Lots of birds singing at 4 sites around the Patch certainly in excess of 20 birds. WILLOW WARBLER - Only recorded at 2 sites. BLACKCAP - Lots of males singing at 3 sites - up to 10 birds. GARDEN WARBLER - Singles recorded at Aveton Gifford on 9th and Thurlestone on 20th. WHITETHROAT - Up to 4 birds around the Coast Path with 3 recorded at Aveton Gifford. SEDGE WARBLER - A max of 3 singing at each of 3 sites from 14th, South Huish Marsh, Thurlestone Marsh and South Efford Marsh. REED WARBLER - Recorded at 2 sites from 20th. REDSTART, WHEATEAR,CHATS, and WAGTAILS REDSTART - A male and 2 females at South Efford Marsh on 19th, a single male at Hope Wood on 26th.   Scarce here in Spring. STONECHAT - Up to 6 around the Coast Path. WHEATEAR - 9 watched feeding by the Golf Course on 2nd, 3 by South Huish Marsh on 14th otherwise just singles. GREENLAND WHEATEAR -  A Male at South Huish marsh on 20th and 21st. YELLOW WAGTAILS - 4 males at South Huish Marsh evening of 18th singles on 2 other dates. FINCHES AND BUNTING. BULLFINCH - 2 in a South Milton garden on 1st,   Singles in a Thurlestone Garden on 7th and 11th. YELLOWHAMMER - A male flew over a Thurlestone Garden on 9th only second garden recorded in 12 years. CIRL BUNTING - Regularly recorded from 2 sites. REED BUNTING - Males at Aveton Gifford on 13th and Thurlestone Marsh on 26th. With lockdown set to continue throughout May the emphasis will again be on Birding from the Balcony with additional reports from observers at Hope Cove and Aveton Gifford. The adage that - the birds are there we have just got to find them has never been more appropriate. Mike Passman