Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013 Birding Review

2013 was another record birding year on the Warren, although no new species were added to the recording area list, with the site list reaching an all-time high of 201 species despite a lack of autumn seawatching or ‘Vismig’ opportunities.
Highlights included Bonaparte's Gull, four species of American wader, Temminck’s Stint, Red-backed Shrike, Montagu’s Harrier, Stone-curlew, Short-toed Lark and Hoopoe. Breeding species included Shelduck, Feral Pigeon (for the first time), as well as four pairs of Herring Gull (although all unsuccessful) and two pairs of Little Grebe, on the downside both Ringed Plover and Coot continued to be absent.
Other low points include the continuing decline in wintering grebes, sea duck, wildfowl and waders, with many migrants such as Cuckoo, Whinchat, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat again scarce, with no Grasshopper Warbler at all. Other notable absentees included Kentish Plover, Spoonbill, Sooty Shearwater and Pochard.
Ringing returns increased considerably, in 2013 the recording group noted 117 different individual birds of 16 different species. Putting this into some context, the 214 reads made this year account for over 37% of all the recoveries ever made at Dawlish Warren! All of these recoveries were read in the field. The movements noted included the first Roseate Tern recovery (from Coquet Island Northumberland); Ringed Plover from Iceland; Curlew from Germany; Sanderling from Greenland, Iceland and Ghana; Dunlin from Spain, Great Black-backed Gull from Norway, France, Guernsey, Cornwall and Portland; and Sandwich Tern from Holland, Scotland and Wales. A more detailed account will be published online and in Devon Birds shortly.
The year started well with a Serin briefly in Dead Dolphin Wood on New Year’s Day, the seventh site record but the first since 1991, whilst the Bearded Tit and Black-necked Grebe both remained at the Main Pond. Other January highlights included Woodcock, Long-tailed Duck, another Black-necked Grebe, Water Pipit, Goosander and Yellowhammer.
February was a quiet month with a Black-throated Diver offshore and a couple of Water Pipit on the flooded Golf Course the highlights
March started with a lone early Wheatear and ended with a brief Stone-curlew, the fifth site record and the first since 1987, mid-month there was a record spring passage of Chaffinch, and a site record count of Chiffchaff. Many of these migrants were, however, struggling as the winter refused to let go and the conditions meant there was very little insect food available.
April opened with a Hoopoe, the first since 2004, and another brief flyby from the Stone-curlew, whilst a variety of migrants included a Long-eared Owl, Black Redstart and Firecrest began to trickle through and a movement of Jay overhead followed on from the 2012 autumn influx. A Marsh Harrier heading north was followed the next day by a second year female Montagu’s Harrier, the fifth site record and the first since 1979. Passage counts for both Whimbrel and Pale-bellied Brent Geese reached three figures.
Both Jay and Pale-bellied Brent Geese continued to move through in early May, the highlight though were Roseate Tern with numbers peaking at 20, comfortably beating the previous site and Devon record (14 in 1958). Rarities included a returning Bonaparte’s Gull, the fourth record of Short-toed Lark, the third Warren record of Temminck’s Stint, the first for 21 years and two Turtle Dove.
June was quiet and although it was good to have a Cuckoo in residence for a change, it was probably as successful in finding a mate as the Slavonian Grebe which completed its sixth summer on the river. Shelduck did however breed successfully with young seen around Warren Point, although a pair even prospected the Main Pond.
July saw returning waders and terns, although in contrast to spring Roseate Tern had a poor showing, a flock of 400 Common Scoter gathered to moult offshore and an early Long-tailed Skua hinted at autumn.
A Crossbill, early in August, turned out to be the only record of the year; wader passage picked up with three Green Sandpiper records and several Little Ringed Plover from midmonth. A Pectoral Sandpiper made a very brief stop in the Bight whilst the two Wood Sandpiper just flew over. The only Pied Flycatcher of the year was on Warren Point at the end of the month.
September’s highlight was unfortunately suppressed, the site’s second Lesser Yellowlegs that spent a little over an hour in the Bight, however other good birds were soon forthcoming including the first Red-backed Shrike since 1998, the site’s third Black Brant and sixth Rose-coloured Starling, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a Wryneck and a Black Guillemot. Perhaps the most important sighting though was a record count of House Sparrow with 154 birds at roost. An area sadly now altered and no longer suitable.
October couldn’t quite keep up the pace but three Yellow-browed Warbler, a Lapland Bunting and three Whooper Swan, however three frequently overlooked species all weighed in with new record counts: Robin, Dunnock and Wren.
November lived up to its billing as one of the best birding months on the Warren with the third White-rumped Sandpiper (first since 1998) and fourth Great White Egret (first since 2002) turning up on the same day. Seawatching also produced the fourth Warren Red-crested Pochard, the first since 1999, and a Leach’s Petrel. Other highlights included a Snow and a second Lapland Bunting, a reappearance from the Bonaparte’s Gull, a Cetti’s Warbler and a White-fronted Goose.
December was a relatively quiet month although a late Little Auk arrived on Boxing Day and Spotted Redshank finally made an appearance for the year. 2013 drew to a close with Bonaparte’s Gull, Black Brant, Long-tailed Duck and two Velvet Scoter all present, so here’s to a Happy New Year to all.

Tuesday 31st December

The Black Brant was again with Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Golf Course early morning with the Bonaparte's Gull again present in the estuary. Elsewhere two Velvet Scoter, two Great Northern Diver and a Mediterranean Gull were offshore, five Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe were in the estuary and a Grey Wagtail was around the Entrance Bushes.

Wildlife News: A Common Seal was in the estuary.

Grey Wagtail © Simon Thurgood

Monday 30 December 2013

Monday 30th December

Seawatching mid morning after the rain moved through produced 10 Red-throated and five Great Northern Diver with 13 others too distant to identify. Also passing 70 auk sp, 54 Gannet, 15 Kittiwake, 12 Fulmar, nine Guillemot and three Razorbill. The Bonaparte's Gull and female Long-tailed Duck were feeding in the estuary mid morning with the Slavonian Grebe, a Goldeneye and 30 Red-breasted Merganser. Also on site two Siberian Chiffchaff, two Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a Greenshank.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday 29th December

The adult Bonaparte's Gull was along the beach again with the Velvet Scoter, two Eider and nine Great-crested Grebe. Elsewhere a Siberian Chiffchaff and three Cirl Bunting were on site with the Slavonian Grebe, four Greenshank and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose in the estuary.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Saturday 28th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was reported along the beach mid afternoon but the only other news came from Langstone Rock where in flat calm conditions there were four Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, 16 Common and a Velvet Scoter, eight Great-crested Grebe and three Guillemot.

Friday 27 December 2013

Friday 27th December

Counts from the estuary included 201 Grey Plover, 160+ Dark-bellied and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 67 Bar and two Black-tailed Godwit, 56 Shelduck, c50 Turnstone, 31 Ringed Plover, 23 Sanderling and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere the Bonaparte's Gull was off Langstone Rock, a Great Northern Diver was near the estuary mouth, a Velvet Scoter was off the seawall and seawatching before 11am saw four Red-throated Diver, 40+ auk sp, 25+ Kittiwake, 13 Fulmar and a Long-tailed Duck heading south.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Thursday 26th December

Little Auk, an unseasonal first of the year, was close inshore off Groyne 14 early morning before flying west, also offshore 12 Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver, a Velvet Scoter and the Bonaparte’s Gull. Elsewhere the Black Brant and Long-tailed Duck were in the estuary with a Greenshank and a Peregrine also from the hide.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Wednesday 25th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was feeding offshore early afternoon with two Velvet Scoter, single Great Northern and Red-throated Diver, 40+ Wigeon and 15 Common Scoter. Elsewhere an Avocet was off Cockwood with a Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe also in the estuary.

Ringing News: Great Black-backed Gull JA700 was recorded on site for the 19th time yesterday. It was ringed as a chick at Odd, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway in July 2008, and has also been noted in Essex in May 2010, back in Norway in May 2012,  Kent in August 2012 and was first seen here in September 2012 before wintering on site. It returned for another winter this September.

View Great Black-back Gull in a larger map


Tuesday 24 December 2013

Tuesday 24th December

The Bonaparte's Gull again but in a couple of brief appearances this morning, first from the hide and 15 minutes later off the seawall. Seawatching before 10.30 was, considering yesterday's weather, quiet but 22 Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver flew south along with 95 Gannet, 70+ auks, mostly Guillemot, 19 Kittiwake and a Fulmar; the two Eider were also still present off Exmouth. Elsewhere records from the estuary included the Black Brant and two Pale-bellied Brent with 260+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 192 Grey Plover, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Sanderling, a high site count of 12 Greenshank, four Goldeneye, the Slavonian Grebe and briefly in the Bight, the female Long-tailed Duck. 

Long-tailed Duck © Lee Collins

Monday 23 December 2013

Monday 23rd December

A foul day with heavy rain and strong southwesterlies throughout. Seawatching produced two Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver south with 40+ Gannet, 25+ Kittiwake and 12+ Fulmar in the bay. Elsewhere two Pale-bellied Brent Geese were in the estuary.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Sunday 22nd December

The Bonaparte's Gull made a couple of brief reapperances off the seawall during the morning, also offshore a Velvet Scoter on the sea and heading south 37 Red-throated and six Great Northern Diver along with eight others that were too distant to identify. Counts from the estuary included 209 Wigeon, 193 Grey Plover, 145 Redshank. 82 Curlew, 74 Shelduck, 34 Knot, 27 Ringed Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Sanderling, a Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere at least 17 Siskin were with Goldfinch in the Entrance Bushes and four Little Grebe were displaying on the Main Pond.

Curlew © Simon Thurgood

Wildlife News: At least one Harbour Porpoise was offshore.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Saturday 21st December

Seawatching up to 11am provided interest between the showers with a Great Skua, a female Eider, a Velvet and 87 Common Scoter, 12 Red-throated and six Great Northern Diver, 141 Gannet, 57 Kittiwake and six Fulmar either on the sea or heading south. Elsewhere the Black Brant was in the estuary, also present 287 Wigeon, 148 Redshank, 120+ Great Black-backed Gull, four Greenshank, four Pale-bellied Brent, three Goldeneye, a Mediterranean Gull and the Slavonian Grebe.

Sparrowhawk © Lee Collins

Friday 20 December 2013

Friday 20th December

Two Long-tailed Duck were in the estuary with 44 Red-breasted Merganser, other counts included 144 Grey Plover, 76 Shelduck, 43 Knot, 35 Ringed Plover and just three Sanderling. Elsewhere three Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver were offshore with 45 Gannet passing in just 20 minutes mid-afternoon and large numbers of gulls on the beach included three darvic ringed first winter Great Black-backed Gull, two from Portland and one from Northern France.

Great Black-backed Gull (French bird 24N) © Lee Collins

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sunday 15th December

The WeBS count on a fairly wet and miserable day revealed the continued presence of the Black Brant with 239 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in the Bight, other counts on the rising tide including 1450+ Oystercatcher, 850+ Dunlin, 82 Redshank, 59 Shelduck, 53 Grey Plover, 38 Knot, 20 Bar and eight Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Turnstone, 17 Red-breasted Merganser and the female Long-tailed Duck. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and a Pomarine Skua flew south offshore.

 Water Pipit ©  Lee Collins

Saturday 14 December 2013

Saturday 14th December

The Bonaparte's Gull remains on site feeding in the estuary with Black-headed Gull mid morning,also in the estuary 1350 Dunlin, 149 Curlew, 132 Grey Plover, 54 Bar-tailed Godwit, 46 Shelduck, 40 Knot, 20 Red-breasted Merganser, 13 Sanderling, 12 Ringed Plover and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide, two Stock Dove were in the Railway Saltmarsh and two Red-throated Diver were offshore.

Ringing News: A colour ringed Curlew first seen here in September was again present today in the Bight and the full details show it is a female ringed on the nest in Elte county, Steinfurt, western Germany in May 2009 and has returned there to breed each year since.

View Curlew in a larger map

Thursday 12 December 2013

Thursday 12th December

The only news received was of the long-staying Bonaparte's Gull and female Long-tailed Duck both in front of the hide early afternoon.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Wednesday 11th December

A Golden Plover was in the Bight mid afternoon, only the fifth record of the year. Elsewhere a Slavonian Grebe was offshore with six Red-throated Diver and 20 Great-crested Grebe.

Monday 9 December 2013

Monday 9th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was in the estuary early afternoon before returning offshore. No other news was received.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday 8th December

A Water Pipit in front of the hide was a new arrival, with the White-fronted Goose again on the Golf Course (it had been back at Orcombe first light) and a drake Pintail also in the estuary. Elsewhere the Bonaparte's Gull and a Slavonian Grebe were offshore and two Cirl Bunting were on site.

This Shelduck was rung on the Axe Estuary in East Devon on 09/02/2013 and this was the first sighting since ringing. Another ringed Shelduck seen today was here back in January and had been rung at Steart in Somerset on 18/09/2005.

© Lee Collins

Saturday 7 December 2013

Saturday 7th December

Little change on site today with the headline birds still present and showing well. The Bonaparte's Gull was off the sea wall, along with 150+ Common and two Velvet Scoter, 51 Red-breasted Merganser, 40 Great-crested Grebe, nine Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver and the first returning Fulmar. Elsewhere counts from the estuary included 423 Wigeon, 141 Grey Plover, 120 Redshank, 40 Turnstone, 35 Knot, 29 Ringed Plover, 11 Sanderling, two Mediterranean Gull and the Slavonian Grebe. Other records included the White-fronted Goose on the golf course, a male Cirl Bunting in song and late/suppressed news of a first for the year - a Spotted Redshank some when at the end of November.

Bonaparte's Gull © Phil Stidwell

Wildlife News: A pod of seven Bottle-nosed Dolphin were offshore.

Friday 6 December 2013

Friday 6th December

The Warren was birded for the first time this week but it appears nothing much has changed in terms of the birdlife at least. The Bonaparte's Gull was along the beach, the White-fronted Goose was with the Brent Geese and two Velvet Scoter were with 175+ Common Scoter. Counts from the estuary included 235 Curlew, 59 Shelduck, 43 Bar and four Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Ringed Plover and the Slavonian Grebe. Offshore there were 23 Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe, eight Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, whilst an Eider was a new arrival, only the third record of the year.

White-fronted Goose © Dave Jewell

Monday 2 December 2013

Monday 2nd December

The adult winter Bonaparte's Gull was reported offshore again today, the only other news received was of a dead Buzzard on the tideline. This bird had had its feet removed so may have been the victim of illegal persecution, perhaps a pole trap. If you have information on this or any wildlife crime please contact the Police on 101 and ask for the local Wildlife Crime Officer.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Sunday 1st December

Counts offshore from Langstone Rock in flat calm conditions included 223 Common and two Velvet Scoter, 56 Red-breasted Merganser, 34 Great-crested Grebe, 11 Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver. Counts were not possible from the estuary over the high tide due to disturbance, but five Lapwing, a Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe were present. Elsewhere the Long-tailed Duck was off Warren Point at low tide and then close in off the seawall late afternoon, the Bonaparte's Gull was off the beach during the day, and then off Dawlish with three adult Mediterranean Gull late afternoon and three Shoveler and c300 roosting Starling were at the Main Pond.