MARCH 2013


A month that was remarkable for the lack of sunshine and also the coldest March for years due to a predominance of Easterly winds.   A the end of the month the marshes were iced over. Only appreciable rain was early on 7th and 21st/22nd which resulted in both marshes being flooded.


The first of the summer migrants was again SAND MARTIN with 3 on the afternoon of the 9th (3 days earlier than my previous years records) followed closely by LITTLE RINGED PLOVER on 11TH. WHEATEAR 12th WILLOW WARBLER 13TH, SANDWICH TERN 21st, COMMON TERN 21st SWALLOW and HOUSE MARTIN on 23rd.


A total of 19 new species were added to the year list which finished on 132 (c/f 2012 – 136)

During the month a total of 121 species recorded (c/f 2012 – 115).


Highlights were our second record of SPOONBILL this year, SLAVONIAN GREBE, RED KITE, REDBREASTED MERGANSER.


Significant sightings for the month:-


BRENT GOOSE – A total of 18 flew E on 23rd, a single first winter arrived on 24th and was still around on 31st.



WIGEON – max was 35 on 2nd which gradually reduced to 6 by months end.

SHELDUCK – evidence of spring passage with 11 on 3rd, pairs holding territory on both marshes.

GADWALL – 3 on 11th were the last and monthly max.

TEAL – totals on both marshes started at 95 on 1st fluctuated to a low of 30 on 21st before increasing to max of 145 on 28th.

PINTAIL – single male 6th to 8th, pair on 11th, 5 flew through 25th and another 4 on 29th.

SHOVELER – low numbers throughout max was 17 on 8th.

COMMON SCOTER – recorded on 7 days with a max of 28 on 29th.

RED BREASTED MERGANSER – first for the year a female on the sea on 24th.


DIVERS – A very good month with all 3 species recorded –

RED THROATED – recorded on 10 days with a max of 6 on 14th.

BLACK THROATED – singles on 3rd and 8th.

GREAT NORTHERN – recorded on 11 days 3 on 14th and 23rd with a max of 4 on 20th.


GANNET – highest passage was 100 east on 21st.


SPOONBILL – Highlight of the month – 2 adults arrived on Thurlestone Marsh late afternoon of 25th.   Spent the rest of the month on both marshes and recorded on the Kingsbridge Estuary.   On the morning of 31st they were joined by a 1st winter bird.   Only previous patch records have all been singles – my records cover 9 years and makes this the 4th record.

One of the adults wore a blue ring on right leg and a white ring (V4) on left.   Awaiting information back from BTO Ringing Centre for the birds history.

A single bird has been recorded on Kingsbridge Estuary for a few weeks, highly likely this is the bird found by Nick on 20th February.



LITTLE – on Thurlestone Marsh on 3 days with 2 on 14th.

GREAT CRESTED – A single on 1st and 6th with 2 from 14th to the month end – all on the sea.


RAPTERS – a superb month with regular sightings of local BUZZARD, KESTREL and SPARROWHAWK, supplemented by:-

MARSH HARRIER – Single female (Slapton bird) on 5th, 16th and 20th.

Bob B found a pair at South Milton Ley on 24th with the female overnighting at Thurlestone Marsh – last seen on the morning of 25th.

HEN HARRIER – A ringtail seen quartering over South Huish Marsh on 13th.

MERLIN – Only record – a female on 2nd.


WADERS – a total of 17 species recorded.

AVOCET – 1 found sitting on the rocks with OYSTERCATCHERS on 10th only my 3rd record in 9 years.

OYSTERCATCHERS – max 15 on 19th.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – A remarkable spring passage, first arrived on 11th, then recorded on a further 9 days, with a site record of 7 on 25th being increased to 8 on 26th.

Daily totals were 36 – in previous three years the total in March, has never exceeded 1.

Early April produced higher totals with 14 on 4th.

RINGED PLOVER – Never more than 2 recorded.

GOLDEN PLOVER – 6 flew in off the sea on 11th.

GREY PLOVER – recorded on 8 days, mostly singles max 3 on 25th.

LAPWING – max 9 on 1st, last a single on 28th.

SANDERLING – single on 1st with 3 on 14th.

PURPLE SANDPIPER – 2 on Warren Point rocks on 15th.

DUNLIN – recorded on 4 days with 4 on 11th and a years highest of 12 on 21st.

SNIPE – max 25 on 6th.

WOODCOCK – 1 flushed by Nick T on 12th.

BLACK TAILED GODWIT – first of the year were 2 on 23rd with a max of 4 on 25th.

BAR TAILED GODWIT – first of the year picked up coming in off the sea and flying up the valley by Bob B were a flock of 18 on 29th.

CURLEW – first of the year a single on 5th max 5 on 28th.

REDSHANK – first of the year 2 on 25th increasing to 3 on 27th.

TURNSTONE – max 14 on the rocks on 10th.


GULLS – Evidence of passage particularly on 7th when 42 LESSER BLACK BACKED and 80+ BLACK HEADED flew in off the sea and up the Valley.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL – 2 Ad on 15th, 1 – 17th, 2 – 21st and 22nd, 1 sub ad 23rd all flew up the Valley.



SANDWICH TERN – first of the year 3 on 21st increasing to 24 on 22nd and 23 on 24th and 24 on 28th.

COMMON TERN – Another first for the year was a very early arrival on 21st, when a single bird joined the 3 SANDWICH TERN in the Bay.   Late afternoon of 25th – 1 seen flying over Thurlestone Marsh.


FIRECREST – Single on 10th and 16th.

SAND MARTIN – first were 3 found late afternoon of 9th over Thurlestone Marsh – this is a few days earlier than in previous years.   Only sizeable passage was 60+ which Bob B had on 23rd.

SWALLOW – first arrival were 6 on 23rd.

HOUSE MARTIN – Only bird recorded was a single over South Huish marsh pick up by Bob B on 23rd.


CHIFFCHAFF – a remarkable spring passage with numbers exceeding 50 on many days towards the end of the month.   Because of the cold weather many were found feeding on the ground in fields and gardens.   One of the first sunny days was 28th when Bob B had a feeding frenzy by the pumping station with over 150 birds present in a small area – he caught and ringed 80 in 3 hours – a spring site record.

WILLOW WARBLER – An early bird near my garden on 13th only 2 other records by the month end.

BLACKCAP – Up to 3 recorded in local gardens.

FIELDFARE – A flock of 45 at Huxton Wood on 1st, on 31st Bob had 25 in the same area.

REDWING – Last sizeable flock was 14 on 28th over Thurlestone marsh.

BLACK REDSTART – recorded on 5 days with 2 on 23rd and 25th which included a male.

WHEATEAR – first of the year 3 on the beach on 12th.   Small numbers regularly after that, but significant passage started with 25 on 24th, 17 – 25th, 20 – 26th and a max of 40 on 28th.

WATER PIPIT – Singles on 5 days on Thurlestone marsh.

CIRL BUNTING – Up to 3 birds around the patch from 8th.

REED BUNTING – Max on my feeders 15 on 8th.

MEADOW PIPIT – Several days of passage with a max of 250 on 22nd.


April is always one of the best Spring months with SKUAS and SHEARWATERS, PASSERINES and WARBLERS and hopefully a surprise or two.