Tuesday, 15 September 2020
In the bushes six Chiffchaff, four Blackcap and a Whitethroat, plus the expected notable residents - the pair of Collared Dove, two Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a Bullfinch, and irregular visitors from the mainland - a Coal Tit and a Green Woodpecker. Around Greenland Lake (Note to new readers: it's not a lake) the finch flock grew again to hold 67 Goldfinch and seven Greenfinch. Also three Cirl Bunting. In the evening as the last golfers departed, 80+ Linnet, a dozen Pied Wagtail, a Wheatear and a brighty-coloured male Yellow Wagtail foraged the 6th and 7th fairways; then towards dusk, 70 Starling descended to roost in the adjacent Golf Course Pond sallows.
Offshore just a few Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe.
The evening tide saw in the estuary corner 85 Wigeon and 79 Teal; three Snipe lifted from the golf course saltmarsh; the Railway Saltmarsh supported a three-figure count of Redshank, 210 Curlew, 12 Little Egret, four adult Mediterranean Gull, two Greenshank, a Common Gull and another Grey Heron; also in the estuary 25 Mute Swan and the resident Slavonian Grebe. On the wader island posts stood six Sandwich Tern, and elsewhere, particularly around The Bight and along the beach were most of the 760+ Oystercatcher, 240+ Dunlin, 125 Ringed Plover, 116 Black-headed Gull, 60+ Knot, 27 Sanderling, 22 Great Black-backed Gull, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, six Turnstone, three Little Stint, a Whimbrel also the Common Scoter roosted on Finger Point.
Monday, 14 September 2020
Sunday, 13 September 2020
Usually more grounded migrants leave than arrive at this site in such conditions and five each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, four Wheatear, two Whitethroat and a Goldcrest were unimpressive, but about as expected. Selected counts of other passerines were 106 Starling, 47 Goldfinch, nine Stonechat, six Skylark, three Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Raven and a Bullfinch.
Warm inviting sunshine and the eve of tighter pandemic-related social gathering restrictions were likely factors that drew out large numbers of visitors to the site whom engaged in all manner of unchallenged land and water-borne activities. Waterbirds that attempted to find refuge in less disturbed areas to roost, and not always successfully, during the mid-afternoon neap tide were c.450 Oystercatcher, 330 Redshank, 195 Black-headed Gull, 142 Curlew, 111 Ringed Plover, 93 Knot, 73 Dunlin, 59 Teal, 47 Wigeon, 47 Great Black-backed Gull, 29 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Mute Swan, 21 Cormorant, 19 Sanderling, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, four Little Egret, four adult Mediterranean Gull, three Turnstone, two Greenshank, the long-staying male Common Scoter and only one Sandwich Tern.
Saturday, 12 September 2020
Overhead 13 Siskin flew west but otherwise only three Grey Wagtail, two Meadow Pipit and later a Buzzard flew over. In the woodland and scrubby areas, 16 Long-tailed Tit, eight Blackcap, six Whitethroat, five Chiffchaff, two each of Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Cirl Bunting. Also today, two Wheatear, two Kestrel and a Raven.
Wildlife news: another new bee species for the reserve, an Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus, a relatively common and widespread species.
|Orange-legged Furrow Bee Halictus rubicundus - Alan Keatley|
|Great Green Bush-cricket - Alan Keatley|
Sunday, 6 September 2020
This, the 250th day of the calendar year, was noteworthy for a series of scarcer bird sightings that was assisted by a larger than usual contingent of birdwatchers to the site today. A Wryneck flushed from a path at 08:50 just beyond Dune Pond promptly disappeared and when later re-discovered near the middle of Greenland Lake, it was mobile and soon made its way along bushes beside the Back Path, unusually sometimes perched atop to look around, then lost behind Dead Dolphin Wood and unfortunately for those that twitched it, was not seen again. This was approximately the 27th individual here since 2001 (elusive long-stayers the pop up days between sightings complicate the estimate) with 2004 & 2009 the last blank years. With three Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker present, this was a 'three woodpecker day'; [Lesser Spotted Woodpecker has never been recorded on site].
This was not the main target for everyone that twitched the site; a Nuthatch that repeatedly called from trees behind Crocus Compound was, again unfortunately for others that twitched it, also not seen or heard again. Less than annual, there have possibly been fewer individuals here than Wryneck (individuals that periodically return to site from the mainland complicate the estimate) and since 2001 there have been five blank years. Most records here occur between late-April to mid-October.
Its appearance coincided with the arrival of a large mixed roaming flock of c.20 Blue Tit, c.14 Long-tailed Tit, two Great Tit and some warblers, with site totals of those being eight Chiffchaff, five Whitethroat, three Blackcap, and a Sedge Warbler. There were also roaming flocks of 107 Starling, 70+ Linnet, 31 Goldfinch, 20+ Greenfinch; also present eight Stonechat, four Cirl Bunting, a Wheatear and a White Wagtail with the Pied Wagtails.
A flock of 13 Pale-bellied Brent Goose briefly in The Bight, later seen off Powderham, were the first of the autumn. A flock of 54 Wigeon flew in off the sea but other than single figures of Gannet and Common Scoter, nothing else of note was offshore.
On the high tide, the best of WeBS and other available counts were 750+ Oystercatcher, 335 Redshank, 332 Dunlin, 132 Ringed Plover, 27 Knot, 24 Mute Swan, 24 Great Black-backed Gull, 23 Cormorant, 13 Little Egret, nine Greenshank and also nine each of Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach where also 20 Sanderling ran about on the dropping tide; also seven Sandwich Tern, a Whimbrel, and the Slavonian Grebe.
A Hobby passed straight through west; up to 45 Swallow, six Grey Wagtail, three Meadow Pipit, two House Martin flew northeast; and a Yellow Wagtail flew southwest.
On the Main Pond, seven Teal, seven Mallard, some Moorhen and a Little Grebe.
Wildlife news: single figures of Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly and brief views of what were likely to be Blue-tailed Damselfly. Another Wall flew along the dune ridge, one Red Admiral and the usual range of regular species were on the wing between the heavy downpours.
Saturday, 5 September 2020
Some gregarious species continued to grow in numbers with 81 Goldfinch and 28 Greenfinch being the biggest counts of the year so far; also c.70 Linnet and c.60 Starling present. Most of the eight Wheatear noted were on the golf course.
Attempts to count the hundreds of Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin, and the tens of Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot were dashed by a the presence of birds-of-prey rather than by tourists today; an adult Peregrine snatched a Ringed Plover from above the beach and scattered small waders that were roosting beyond groyne 9; three Kestrel were over Warren Point and elsewhere, and the final straw that pushed most waders to abandon the site altogether was a juvenile Osprey that cruised over Warren Point at c.11:00, drifted southwest down to Dawlish Warren village then turned north to follow the wooded ridge-line. This was perhaps the same bird seen later around Powderham.
The only wader count was of 41 Sanderling along the beach, and of the gulls there were 24 Great Black-backed Gull, 16 Common Gull and six Mediterranean Gull.
Rain on more days than not over the past month has risen water levels on ponds and saw the welcome return of a Little Grebe to the Main Pond (last seen on 1st August), joined by eight Teal, a few Moorhen and a Mallard.
Overhead northeast passed 60+ Swallow, some House Martin and a Sand Martin, also three each of Meadow Pipit and Siskin, two species not recorded here since the spring, and three Grey Wagtail.
Wildlife news: apologies are in order, a dragonfly initially identified as a Lesser Emperor was later retracted and relabeled (for now) as an emperor Anax sp. Also present single figures of Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter. A Wall was the first in months, otherwise regular butterflies in the form of Common Blue, Small Copper, Small White, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown; and also a Red Admiral. A few Silver Y flew out from the meadows. A Lesser Hornet Hoverfly Volucella inanis, not to be confused with its larger and more familiar relative V. zonaria, was again on flowering Water Mint Metha aquatica around Crocus Compound.
A frenetic Stoat was 'squeaked' out from hunting in bushes along the Back Path
|Wall - Alan Keatley|
|Stoat - Alan Keatley|
Not wildlife news: a Spitfire twice passed overhead and still anchored inshore between Teignmouth and Hope's Nose, the luxury Cunard liner 'Queen Mary II' (345 metres length), and P&O's sister cruise liners 'Ventura' and 'Azura' (both 289 metres in length).
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
There was a noticeable swell to c.975 Oystercatcher and the best of other counts were 403 Dunlin, 255 Curlew, 198 Redshank, 109 Ringed Plover, 59 Canada Goose, 52 Knot, 41 Great Black-backed Gull, 23 Sanderling, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Wigeon, ten Mute Swan, only seven Sandwich Tern, six Turnstone, some Greenshank, three Shelduck, three Curlew Sandpiper, three Little Egret, two Grey Heron, two Teal, the reliably sedentary Slavonian Grebe; the juv Little Stint again and the male Common Scoter was asleep with the Oystercatcher flock on Finger Point.
An Arctic Skua approached close enough to photograph; other noted migrants were 16 Swallow, seven Chiffchaff, three Wheatear, two Whitethroat and singles of Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail and White Wagtail.
On the Main Pond toward dusk, the snowy white plumaged Aylesbury Duck roosted with regular Mallard.
|Great Spotted Woodpecker - Dave Jewell|
Monday, 31 August 2020
Overhead, mostly of movement northeast involved c.30 Swallow, 16 House Martin, two Sand Martin and three Grey Wagtail. Also three Buzzard drifted over during the hottest part of the day.
Along the beach were 37 Sanderling and out on the sandbars on the ebbing morning tide, c.1,425 Herring Gull, 17 Cormorant and 64 Sandwich Tern, of which a similar number returned in the evening and included the 2018 Ynyslas ringed bird KJB not seen here for a few weeks. On the evening tide arrived c.800 Oystercatcher, c.425 Dunlin including one arctica type, 289 Curlew, 237 Redshank, 179 Ringed Plover, 70+ Knot, 70+ Black-headed Gull, 30 Great Black-backed Gull, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Teal, seven Greenshank, seven Little Egret, five Turnstone, three each of Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and Mediterranean Gull; a juv Common Tern, a Shelduck, a Whimbrel, a Kingfisher, the Slavonian Grebe, a juv Curlew Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, a Grey Heron and yesterday's juv Little Stint still.
Offshore 22 Common Scoter plus the long-staying male still in the estuary; ten Gannet, a few Kittiwake and an immature Great Northern Diver.
Wildlife news; a Grey Seal offshore. One or two each of Clouded Yellow, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.
Sunday, 30 August 2020
A moulting adult Bar-tailed Godwit had multiple colour-rings and an orange-flag. It was ringed as an adult at Réserve Naturelle de Moëze-Oléron, which is located about halfway down the Atlantic coast of France, on 16 May 2018. The same bird was then frequently seen at Dawlish Warren 01 Jun - 08 Sep 2018.
On and near Railway Saltmarsh and in the estuary corner, 362 Curlew, 147 Redshank, 20 Mute Swan, ten Little Egret, six Greenshank, six Common Gull, four Mediterranean Gull, three Grey Heron, a Whimbrel and the Slavonian Grebe.
Other migrants noted today were at least 11 Swallow, six Wheatear and three Whitethroat.
Wildlife news: singles of Clouded Yellow, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.
Saturday, 29 August 2020
Temperatures tumbled to their lowest level this morning since early-July in a brisk north-northwesterly and there was little to whet the appetite waiting for the late afternoon high tide with only seven Chiffchaff, four Blackcap and single Willow Warbler and Whitethroat in scrub and wooded areas, plus the resident species with counts of c.70 Linnet, small numbers of Greenfinch and Goldfinch; also six Stonechat, four Skylark, four Raven and singles of Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Bullfinch.
The tide was worth the wait as two juv Ruff dropped into The Bight, the first record of the year, and three juv Curlew Sandpiper were mixed in with the 326 Dunlin, including two diminutive greyey looking arctica types; also 107 Ringed Plover, 40+ Knot and three Sanderling.
Aside from one over-estimate, counts of Oystercatcher this autumn have been a concern and over the next four weeks when annual maxima tend to occur, the true scale of decline will be revealed. A count of 690 Oystercatcher today is down to only quarter of numbers expected at this time in comparison to counts of the 1980s. Research continues to understand what the underlying drivers are.
Also around The Bight and in front of the still un-repaired hide, 47 Sandwich Tern, including KBV, an annual autumn visitor here since 2017, was ringed as an adult on the Dyfi Estuary, located on the mid-west Welsh coast; also 33 Great Black-backed Gull, 14 Cormorant, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Common Tern, a juv Yellow-legged Gull and a surprise dark-phase adult Arctic Skua that swooped at and chased the male Kestrel for a bit before heading back over the ridge and out to sea. Foraging in the glasswort sp Salicornia sp were four of today's six Wheatear and three overdue White Wagtail, the first record of the year.
On the rising tide along Shutterton Creek there was a three-figure count of Redshank and also in estuary corner at high tide were 188 Curlew, ten Greenshank, most of the ten Mediterranean Gull (2 ss, 8 adult), including white-ringed '3EXH', ringed as a pullus in the Oost-Vlaanderen region, Belgium in June 2013 and re-sighted at Dawlish Warren in July or August in six of the past seven years. Seven Whimbrel flew off SE leaving three behind.
A close in Common Scoter and less than 20 each of Gannet and Kittiwake were offshore. Just 12 Swallow and a House Martin overhead.
Wildlife news: sheltered sun traps attracted two Small Tortoiseshell, a Red Admiral, as well as good numbers of Speckled Wood, Small White, Large White, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Small Copper. Notable were Black Mining Bee Andrena pilipes and White-zoned Furrow Bee Lasioglossum leucozonium. One of two Emperor Dragonfly, Migrant Hawker and a Southern Hawker.