THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS MARCH 2020 R0SS’S GULL, 9 MARCH    The month started with plenty of anticipation and some expectation of the arrival of the first spring migrants.    Little did we realise it would end with very restrictive outdoor activities with many following social isolation recommendations. The weather continued with the almost daily bursts of heavy rain - a blocked outlet pipe at South Huish Marsh didn’t help with the site in the first two weeks renamed South Huish Lake.   From the 24th main birding activity centred on Birds from my Balcony, a lockdown list commenced from 24th. A total of 125 species recorded (c/f 2019 - 114, 2018 -125) 21 new species for the year, taking the total to 139 (c/f 2019 - 139, 2018 - 141).   Outstanding among the new species was a patch first - ROSS`S GULL, also interesting were ICELAND GULL, EIDER, AVOCET, RUFF, PUFFIN,  GARGANEY, CATTLE EGRET, SHORT EARED OWL, TUFTED DUCK and LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. Highlights:- DUCKS, DIVERS and GREBES SHELDUCK - Max at South Huish Marsh 8 on 22nd. WIGEON - Max at South Huish Marsh 90 on 2nd reducing to 22 on 25th (no visits after this date) GADWALL - 2 on South Huish Marsh on 9th. TEAL - Max of 50 on 11th. PINTAIL - A male on River Avon with MALLARD on 29th. GARGANEY - First were a pair on a private village pond on 22nd.   At South Huish Marsh a pair reported on 24th and a male on 28th. MALE GARGANEY- 22 MARCH  SHOVELER - 5 on South Huish Marsh on 20th and 22nd, with a total of 22 offshore on 20th. TUFTED DUCK - A pair flew out of South Milton Ley on 27th. EIDER - A female flew SE on 19th.  COMMON SCOTER - Recorded on 12 days, numbers increased towards the end of the month with 27 on 26th and 24 on 31st. GOOSANDER - 6 reported on the River Avon on 20th. RED THROATED DIVER - Recorded on15 days - highest were 4 on 27th, 3 on 11th and 29th with an exceptional passage of 12 on 17th included on flock of 7.   A total of 39 birds logged. BLACK THROATED DIVER - Recorded on 4 days - max of 2 on 17th and 24th. GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - Recorded on 8 days - a total of 11 birds logged with a max daily total of 3 on 24th, 2 on 26th otherwise all singles. GREAT CRESTED GREBE - A single bird in the Bay on 6th and from 17th to 21st. GANNET, FULMAR, MANX SHEARWATER and EGRETS GANNET - 3 figure totals of 152 on 12th, 140 on 19th and 165 on 25th. FULMAR - Max of 13 logged on 22nd. MANX SHEARWATER - First for the year were a flock of 50+ NW on 17th.   Small number logged on 3 later days. LITTLE EGRET - Max of 4 on South Huish Marsh on 19th. CATTLE EGRET - 1 on South Huish Marsh on 22nd. RAPTORS MERLIN - A male over South Huish Marsh on 3rd. BUZZARD - On 24th a total of 45 logged over Thurlestone mostly flying S/SE between 10.00 and 13.00.   The following day 17 logged. WADERS - A total of 18 species recorded with 6 being new for the year. OYSTERCATCHER - A max of 15 on 2nd. AVOCET - 2 on South Huish Marsh on 21st/22nd  LITTLE RINGED PLOVER -1 reported from south Huish Marsh on 31st. RINGED PLOVER - On South Huish Marsh 4 on1st and 2 on 22nd. GREY PLOVER - A total of 6 flew in off the sea on 21st. LAPWING - 2 in off the sea on 21st. DUNLIN - Only recorded on 3 days - single on 20th/21st with 3 on 22nd. RUFF - A male showing early signs of summer plumage on South Huish Marsh from 21st to 24th. SNIPE - Due to the floods only a max of 5 on 11th. BLACK TAILED GODWIT - Up to 3 present throughout the month, however on the evening of 19th, 13 flew into the Marsh. BAR TAILED GODWIT - Part of the Wader passage on 21st brought a total of 9 in off the sea, at South Efford Marsh 2 on 22nd. WHIMBREL - 1 in off the sea on 21st and 1 at South Efford Marsh on 22nd. CURLEW - Just 2 records at South Huish Marsh, 1 on 6th and 2 on 11th. COMMON SANDPIPER - 1 reported from the Avon Estuary throughout the month. GREEN SANDPIPER - 1 reported from North Marsh on several dates. GREENSHANK - Max of 5 on River Avon on 1st. REDSHANK - Max of 4 on River Avon on 1st, 1 on South Huish Marsh on 22nd/23rd. TURNSTONE - Max of 9 on the rocks on 2nd. GULLS and TERNS A remarkable month with the outstanding bird of recent years found at 12.15 on 9th at South Huish Marsh - an Adult ROSS`S GULL, showing partial summer plumage, gave outstanding views on one of the flooded ponds down to 30 yards.   A first for the site - only the 6th record for Devon. This is a GULL which breeds in the high Arctic region mainly in SIBERIA and GREENLAND even in Winter rarely leaves the permanent ice flows. It was last seen flying out to sea at 15.00. Only a small number of local birders managed to see it on the Marsh - thankfully it was relocated a few days later on the Plymouth Estuary giving more birders the chance to see this iconic GULL . BLACK HEADED GULL - A max on the Marsh of 70+ on 9th. KITTIWAKE - largest count for some years off Hope Cove of 200+ on 11th. MEDITERRANEAN GULL - recorded on 5 days with 11 in the Bay on 26th and 8 resplendent adults on 27th.   An adult with a ring 7KT1 was part of the Belgium ringing scheme. LESSER BLACK BACK GULL - Sheltering on the Marsh were 130 on 10th and 100+ on 14th. HERRING GULL - A total of 650 on the Marsh on 14th. YELLOW LEGGED GULL - An adult on the Marsh on 20th. ICELAND GULL - A 2W flew NW across the Bay on 18th. SANDWICH TERN - First of the year were 2 on 21st with 5 on 28th. AUKS  Some flocks on the sea from 18th daily totals were 62 on 18th (RAZORBILL) 135 on 25th and 115 on 26th were deemed  RAZORMOT PUFFIN - First of the year, 1 flew SE on 21st. OWLS BARN OWL - reported from 2 sites. TAWNY OWL - Night calling reported from 3 sites. SHORT EARED OWL - 1 flew NW across the Bay on 23rd. HIRUNDINES - very few records this year due to the Lockdown SAND MARTIN - First were 3 at South Huish Marshon 17th. Near Aveton Gifford a flock of 19 on 23rd. SWALLOW - First was 1 at Aveton Gifford on 29th. HOUSE MARTIN -  3 flew up the Valley at Aveton Gifford on 26th. CRESTS and WARBLERS GOLDCREST - Still at 2 sites with a max of 5 at Aveton Gifford. FIRECREST -  recorded from 2 sites with a max of 3 on 4th. CHIFFCHAFF - 6 ringed at South Milton Ley on 16th with 15+ present there on 2nd.  At Aveton Gifford at least 10 on 22nd. WILLOW WARBLER - First of the year at Aveton Gifford on 19th with1 in a Thurlestone Garden on 25th. BLACKCAP - Only record a female at Aveton Gifford on 27th. CETTIS WARBLER - 3 Ringed at South Milton Ley on 16th when at least a further 3 singing. THRUSHES FIELDFARE - Only record were 5 at South Efford Marsh on 8th. MISTLE THRUSH - Reported from 2 sites. WHEATEAR, WAGTAILS, PIPITS and BUNTINGS WHEATEAR - First was at SouthHuish Marsh on 20th with 3 males there on 22nd and a female at South Efford Marsh on same date. ALBA WAGTAIL -On morning of 20th a total of 130 logged a South Huish Marsh in Just over an hour - at least 25 were WHITE WAGTAIL. WATER PIPIT - A max of 3 at South Huish Marsh on 20th when also 1 at South Efford Marsh. CIRL BUNTING -  A male recorded in a Thurlestone Garden throughout the month. REED BUNTING - 3 visiting feeders in Aveton Gifford regularly.  1 ringed at South Milton Ley on 16th. With only 1 daily outdoor walk allowed for April records are going to be scant.   All car parks have been closed down.   Hopefully we will be able to resume our visits to the Marshes and coast in the not too distant future. Keep safe and well everyone.