A stormy end to the year.   Only one day (1st) did a frost occur.

Mostly a cloudy and as the month progressed very wet and windy. Whilst the winds were mainly SSW – W they resulted in some of the most severe gales (up to Force 11 gusts).   With some heavy and lengthy periods of rain the marshes soon started to fill up.


Impact of the drainage work at Thurlestone Marsh still being felt as the numbers of wildfowl well down on previous years.


As in the previous two years the additions to the year list were only 2 – GREAT WHITE EGRET and ICELAND GULL resulting in a year end total of 196 (c/f 2012 – 198, 2011 – 198) although the number of species recorded was high at 104 (c/f 2012 – 101, 2011 – 100)


A synopsis of the months sightings:-

BRENT GOOSE – 5 DB flew into the Bay and landed on the sea on 17th.



WIGEON – Very few on Thurlestone Marsh – Numbers built up from 90 on 19th to a maxof 130+ on 27th.

GADWALL – 2 on South Huish Marsh and 2 on the sea on 2nd (scarce compared with 2012)

TEAL – Lowest daily total was 50 on 8th, from 132 on 16th built up to a max of 195 on 30th.

PINTAIL – A male on South Huish Marsh on 19th.

SHOVELER – Much lower numbers than 2012 – single figures only until 30th when 11.

TUFTED DUCK – The female seen in November present from 12th – 27th.

COMMON SCOTER – A female in the Bay up to 14th when 5 present.   Passage flock of 30 on 27th.


DIVERS – A good month with all 3 of the expected species recorded.

RED THROATED DIVER –Recorded on 3 dates with a max of 2 on 7th.

BLACK THROATED DIVER – One in the Bay on 3rd.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER – Recorded on 9 dates.   Singles other than 2 on 1st, 3rd and 19th with 4 on 2nd.   One came very close to the shore on several days to provide some exceptional views.



FULMAR – First returning bird flew east on 20th.

BALEARIC SHEARWATER – Rare winter records of 1 flying east on 3rd and 18th.

GANNET – Present throughout the month – rarely more than 50 per day.

GREAT WHITE EGRET – On the morning of 11th AJL flushed it from one of the ringing rides at South Milton Ley.   Flew around and then landed in an adjoining field next to a Heron before flying off south.   Second patch record – first in May 2012.

LITTLE EGRET – Present all month – max 4.






LITTLE GREBE seen intermittently on Thurlestone Marsh

GREAT CRESTED GREBE – Only record of the winter 3 together on the sea on 1st (Chris Bond and Bob B.)

SLAVONIAN GREBE – Present on the sea 19th/20th giving very good close views – found feeding amongst the shallow channels around the rocks as well as in the Bay.



HEN HARRIER – A ringtail over Thurlestone Marsh on 1st.

KESTREL, SPARROWHAWK and PEREGRINE regularly recorded.



OYSTERCATCHER – Strong winds and high tide resulted in 60 roosting on the beach on 18th (Nick T)

RINGED PLOVER – Max 6 on 2nd.

GOLDEN PLOVER – A flock of 30 over Huxton Cross on 27th (Bob B)

LAPWING – Huxton Cross wintering flock reached a max of 135 on 10th. During the morning of 22nd – five flocks flew over Thurlestone Marsh heading N.E totalling 230 (these numbers usually associated with cold weather movements)

SANDERLING – 2 on the rocks on several dates..

PURPLE SANDPIPER – On the rocks off Warren Point 1 on 6th with 3 on 7th (AFD)

DUNLIN – Only a single record of 1 on the rocks on 2nd.

JACK SNIPE – One flushed on South Huish Marsh on 2nd.

SNIPE – Small numbers on both marshes with a max of 100 on South Huish Marsh on 2nd.

WOODCOCK – One flushed by a local farmer when moving cattle at the back of South Huish Marsh.

TURNSTONE – Counts above 10 were 12 on 2nd and 18 on 16th.



KITTIWAKE – Recorded on several dates with a max of 50 moving east on 9th.

LITTLE GULL – A 1st w in the Bay on 14th (AFD and Bob B)

ICELAND GULL – On morning of 10th a 2nd w flew across the Bay, very close inshore watched until went into Hope Cove.

BLACK HEADED GULL – Normally winter totals are less than 75. On 12th and 13th liquid manure was being pumped into local fields with birds coming into the Bay to clean themselves – 600+ on 12th was followed by the years max of 1450 on 13th.

GREAT B. B. GULL – A total of 38 flew east on 11th.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL – a single on 11th and 15th with 2 on 14th.



REDWING – Max 10 by the Hotel on 7th.

MISTLE THRUSH – 2 at West Buckland on 3rd also 2 at South Milton Ley.

FIELDFARE – Scarce – small numbers near Huxton Cross.



WATER RAIL – Max 6 on South Milton Ley on 1st.




CHAFFINCH – Flock near Huxton Cross reached 300+ on 2nd before dispersing.

GREENFINCH – flock around South Huish Marsh reached 70 on 7th.


SISKIN – A single at South Milton Ley on 7th.



CIRL BUNTINGS – A male in the Copse 1st and 3 in a local garden on 29th.

REED BUNTING – Numbers lower than expected, max on my feeders 8.

YELLOWHAMMER – 4 around South Milton Ley on 1st.



BLACK REDSTART – Only 3 records all on the rocks by the flats a male on 4th and a female on 6th and 11th.

CHIFFCHAFF – max at the Sewage Works 8 on 6th.

BLACKCAP – A female in a local garden on 3rd.

WATER PIPIT – Between 2nd and 8th one gave good views by the footbridge.


I am writing this having got over the excess of the festive period and a lousy cold.   2014 has had a stormy and very wet start, with almost continuous gale force winds most of the smaller birds have gone elsewhere, whilst offshore very little moving through. The patch year total on the 6th is only 65 compared with 88 in 2013.


A Happy and Contented Birding Year to everyone.