Wednesday 31 December 2014

2014 Review

2014 was another great birding year on the Warren, with the site year list reaching 198 species, the third highest tally ever and two new species added to the recording area list, Caspian Gull & Black Stork.

In addition to the new species a new subspecies was also recorded with the first record of Kumlien's Gull. Other records included 2nd - 4th Great Shearwater, 4th Woodchat Shike, 5th Great White Egret, three Bonaparte's Gull, two Surf Scoter and a Black Brant.

Breeding records included the first records for both Cirl Bunting and Collared Dove, three pairs of Little Grebe and probable breeding Ringed Plover but Coot continued to be absent.
Other low points include the ongoing decline in wintering grebes, sea duck, wildfowl and waders, with many migrants such as CuckooGarden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat again scarce. For the second year in a row autumn vismig (pigeons & corvids aside) was poor with only 11 Siskin (compared to daily counts of 50+ in an average year) and just a single Brambling.

Ringing returns continued to increase with 185+ different individual birds of 21 different species recorded from 12 different countries. All of these recoveries were read in the field, many from the hide.
The movements noted included the first Little Tern recovery from Ireland; Ringed Plover from Denmark; Sanderling from Greenland and Iceland; Grey Plover & Turnstone from Spain, Great Black-backed Gull from Norway, France, Guernsey, Cornwall and Portland; Common Gull from Norway and Sandwich Tern from Holland, Belgium and Scotland. A more detailed account will be published online shortly.

January started with the wintering Bonaparte’s Gull, Black Brant, Long-tailed Duck, Siberian Chiffchaff and six Velvet Scoter still present.

Bonaparte's Gull - Lee Collins
Other January highlights included unseasonal Sandwich Tern & Balearic Shearwater, two Glaucous Gull, a lingering Red-necked Grebe and a Water Pipit. On the downside this was the first ever January without a single wintering Slavonian Grebe. Only the injured resident saw this species make it onto the early year list.

Red-necked Grebe - Lee Collins
February was notable for the extreme weather at the beginning of the month. This saw considerable damage to the sandspit and was the impetus for change on site including the as yet unfinished seawall by the Main Pond. Birdwise the first confirmed Kumlien’s Gull for the recording area (and the Exe) was present briefly, the only two Scaup of the year flew south, the January highlights remained throughout and the first migrant Sandwich Tern arrived on the final day of the month.

Black Brant - Lee Collins
March arrived on cue but spring was again a long time coming but ahead of the first Wheatear and Swallow midmonth, one of the wintering Siberian Chiffchaff occasionally broke into song but was drowned out by a site record nine Little Grebe displaying on the Main Pond, another site record 76 Red-throated Diver were counted offshore. Although the Bonaparte’s had departed singles Glaucous, Iceland and Kumlien’s Gull were recorded and a lone Spoonbill was noted late month.

Glaucous Gull - Lee Collins
April saw Glaucous, Iceland and Kumlien’s Gull appear occasionally, but the overdue first Caspian Gull for the recording area was the month’s highlight.

Caspian Gull - Lee Collins
This was followed a couple of days later by a Surf Scoter offshore, the 12th record and the first new individual at the Warren since 2009. The biggest surprise of this mini purple patch however was a Snow Bunting on Warren Point, the first April record since 1867.

Snow Bunting - Lee Collins
Other sightings included the earliest ever Little Tern, a Kentish Plover, the first since 2011 and the first male since 2007, a Grasshopper Warbler amongst the arriving migrants was a welcome sound following a blank 2013 and single Red Kite and Marsh Harrier passing over within a couple of hours of each other mid-month.

Kentish Plover - Lee Collins
May started well with a drake Garganey on the Main Pond, the first there since 1993. Passerine highlights were limited but the second ever May Firecrest was seen, the second ever May record of Pochard was also notable.

Garganey - Dave Jewell
Two more Kentish Plover were recorded in a welcome return to form with a couple of brick-red Curlew Sandpiper also recorded on spring passage. Despite the lack of migrants the month ended on a high with a Black Stork heading NW over the spit, the first site record.

Kentish Plover - Lee Collins
June was mostly spent in an ultimately unrewarded quest for the Bowling Green Ross’s Gull - it failed to remember its pelagic roots. The two Bonaparte’s Gull found there had no such qualms and were both recorded on site midmonth. Other records included the 19th site record of Nuthatch with two dispersing Coal Tit the same day and a brief visit by an adult Spoonbill 
Spoonbill - Dave Cawthaw
July saw the 5th site record of Great White Egret pass through the recording area. Returning migrants included a decent number of juveniles indicating a good breeding season for many species. Three Little Ringed Plover, single Ruff and Wood Sandpiper were notable records, a couple of Little Gull summered on the estuary and Herbert the resident Slavonian Grebe completed its seventh summer on the river. 
Little Gull - Lee Collins
August saw another Exe rarity, a mobile Caspian Tern,  avoid the Warren and terns were a feature of the month with six species on many days and a peak of 865 Common Tern

Sandwich Tern - Lee Collins
Ex-hurricane Bertha produced perhaps the most unexpected record of the year when the 2nd record of Great Shearwater was picked out just off the seawall sat with a small group of gulls. The site’s 3rd & 4th records flew south a short while later. Other records included the only Coot of the year on the Main Pond one evening, a site record 21 Mediterranean Gull and on the final day of the month Grey Phalarope, Nuthatch and the Warren’s 7th Rose-coloured Starling.
Nuthatch - Lee Collins
September’s highlight was not the record counts of 731 Canada Geese or six Sedge Warbler but the 4th Woodchat Shrike for the Warren, the first juvenile and autumn record.

Woodchat Shrike - Lee Collins
Two Wryneck and a second Rose-coloured Starling also arrived during the month, so both outnumbered the total of Lesser Whitethroat recorded all year.  

Wryneck - Lee Collins
October saw another two Wryneck arrive, at least four Dartford Warbler, a now expected Yellow-browed Warbler, flyover Lapland Bunting and Yellowhammer, max counts of 305 Skylark and 714 Jackdaw overhead and the Bonaparte’s Gull returning for a third winter. Seawatching late in the month saw record counts of 22 Pomarine Skua alongside a couple of Long-tailed Skua, Grey Phalarope and Sooty Shearwater.

Bonaparte's Gull - Simon Thurgood
November once again lived up to its billing as one of the best birding months on the Warren opening with a Woodlark and next day a site record 1106 Gannet south in just over an hour. Another site record fell a few days later when an amazing 53,400 Wood Pigeon flew west. Seawatching conditions returned and the short standing Pomarine Skua record was beaten with 25 heading south along with four Purple Sandpiper, three Grey Phalarope and two Sooty Shearwater. The year’s second Surf Scoter flew past midmonth, four Spoonbill flew over, two more Yellow-browed Warbler turned up and the Warren’s latest ever Hoopoe was discovered. More local rarities later in the month included the year’s only Spotted Redshank, Black Redstart and two small flocks of Goosander

Water Pipit - Gary Reeves
December was a relatively quiet month with Jack Snipe the only addition to the year’s list and the Hoopoe preferring gardens and caravan parks to the recording area but with Bonaparte’s Gull, Long-tailed Duck and a Water Pipit all still present at the close, here’s to a Happy New Year to all.

Long-tailed Duck - Lee Collins


Wednesday 31st December

The Bonaparte's Gull was again in Shutterton Creek for most of the morning, also in the estuary 320+ Wigeon, 82 Cormorant, 50+ Great Black-backed Gull, 16 Ringed Plover, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, three Shoveler, two Mediterranean Gull, two Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide, two Shoveler were on the Main Pond, the Long-tailed Duck and a Slavonian Grebe were off John's Watch with 13 Red-throated, a Black-throated and a Great Northern Diver south along with 116 Gannet and c15 Kittiwake.

Wildlife News: A Common Seal was in the estuary with at least one Grey Seal off the seawall.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Tuesday 30th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was again in the estuary during the morning along with 674+ Teal, 280+ Wigeon and eight Greenshank, all presumably frozen out from further up river. Offshore two Slavonian Grebe were the winter peak, also 27 Great-crested Grebe, nine Common Scoter, four Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver.  Elsewhere a Jack Snipe was on the Main Pond, the Water Pipit was in front of the hide, a female Cirl Bunting was briefly in Greenland Lake and a Siskin flew south.

Wildlife News: Two Grey Seal, a male & female were close in off groyne 3 early morning.

Monday 29 December 2014

Monday 29th December

The Bonaparte's Gull flew past the seawall and into the estuary early morning, it then fed in Shutterton Creek until early afternoon before heading off towards Warren Point and the estuary mouth. Elsewhere the female Long-tailed Duck and 13 Red-throated Diver were offshore, the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and counts from the estuary included 780 Dunlin, 150 Grey Plover, 56 Knot, 10 Ringed Plover, three Shoveler and an Avocet, a scarce Warren bird.

 Avocet - Lee Collins

Wigeon - Simon Thurgood

Sunday 28 December 2014

Sunday 28th December

The female Long-tailed Duck and Water Pipit were still in situ with counts from the estuary including 900+ Dunlin, 125+ Bar and 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 60+ Shelduck, including a new Seaton ringed bird, two Greenshank and a drake Goldeneye. Elsewhere the seven Gadwall and five Shoveler remain on the Main Pond with six Pintail and several small flocks of Wigeon and Teal heading south offshore.

Wildlife News: The Grey Seal remained close inshore off the seawall.

 Long-tailed Duck - Lee Collins

Water Pipit - Simon Thurgood

Shelduck (UC) - Lee Collins

Saturday 27 December 2014

Saturday 27th December

The Bonaparte's Gull made a brief reappearance flying past Warren Point early afternoon, also off the Point the female Long-tailed Duck, with six Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver offshore. Counts from the estuary included 213 Bar-tailed Godwit, 144 Grey Plover, 140 Redshank, 85 Cormorant, 85 Shelduck, 25 Turnstone, 23 Sanderling and three Goldeneye. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and seven Gadwall and five Shoveler were on the Main Pond.

 Long-tailed Duck - Lee Collins

 Shelduck - Simon Thurgood

Linnet - Simon Thurgood
Shoveler - Lee Collins
Wildlife News: The Grey Seal was again off the beach.
 Grey Seal - both Colin Avery

Friday 26 December 2014

Friday 26th December

Before the rain arrived a couple of hours from the seawall revealed 25 Great-crested Grebe, four Common Scoter, 17+ Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver on a flat calm sea. Also offshore three Gadwall were on the sea briefly before heading south and nine Shoveler also flew south.

Wildlife News: At least two Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal were again offshore.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Thursday 25th December

The female Long-tailed Duck had reappeared off John's Watch this morning with the immature Velvet Scoter, five Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver also offshore. Counts from the estuary included 451 Wigeon, 334 Teal, a pair of Pintail and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere a Yellowhammer in Greenland Lake briefly was an unseasonal record, only the second of the year, a female Shoveler was on the Main Pond, a Dartford Warbler was on the Golf Course and the Water Pipit was around the hide.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Wednesday 24th December

An immature Velvet Scoter was briefly offshore early morning with two Black-throated, five Great Northern and 10 Red-throated Diver. The Water Pipit was still in front of the hide with counts from the estuary including 171 Bar-tailed Godwit, 169 Teal, 151 Grey Plover, 61 Shelduck, 48 Great Black-backed Gull, 45 Knot, 26 Turnstone, 22 Sanderling and five Greenshank. Elsewhere two female Cirl Bunting were in Greenland Lake briefly, Little Grebe were trilling away on the Main Pond and the Hoopoe was again seen in private gardens offsite.

Wildlife News: At least four Harbour Porpoise and a Grey Seal were offshore early morning.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Tuesday 23rd December

A drake Velvet Scoter was from the seawall early morning with 60+ Gannet also feeding offshore. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide with 76 Cormorant on Finger Point, 37 of these were first winters suggesting 2014 was a good breeding season.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Sunday 21st December

The Bonaparte's Gull was again in the estuary off Warren Point over low tide with the Slavonian Grebe and Water Pipit also still present. Elsewhere the female Long-tailed Duck was distantly offshore.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Saturday 20th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was in the estuary off Warren Point much of the afternoon with five Red-throated Diver, 12 Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe offshore. A flock of 11 Avocet that arrived from the east, settled on the sea for a short while and then headed south were the first records of the winter.

Ringing News: Details have come through of a metal ringed adult Common Tern that was seen on 28th August. It had been ringed as a chick at Dublin Port, Ireland on 28th June 2011. This is the first sighting since ringing and was the first Common Tern recovery in Devon since 1989.  A second one, a colour-ringed juvenile form RSPB Saltholme in Cleveland, was recorded next day.

Friday 19 December 2014

Friday 19th December

The female Long-tailed Duck was off John's Watch, with the Water Pipit in front of the hide and the resident Slavonian Grebe in the estuary.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Tuesday 16th December

The only news received was of the drake Long-tailed Duck off John's Watch and the Water Pipit in front of the hide.

Monday 15 December 2014

Monday 15th December

The two Long-tailed Duck remain off John's Watch with a Slavonian Grebe, a Great Northern and at least seven Red-throated Diver. Also offshore just five Common Scoter and half a dozen Great-crested Grebe.

 Slavonian Grebe - Chris Proctor

Great Northern Diver - Lee Collins

Sunday 14 December 2014

Sunday 14th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was again off Warren Point briefly early afternoon with the two Long-tailed Duck, a Slavonian Grebe, eight Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver off John's Watch. Counts from the estuary included 790 Dunlin, 287 Teal, 262 Wigeon, 204 Brent Geese, 49 Shelduck, 46 Knot, 32 Turnstone, 26 Ringed Plover, four Greenshank and the resident Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and a Cirl Bunting was in Greenland Lake.

 Bonaparte's Gull - Simon Thurgood

Redshank - Simon Thurgood

Saturday 13 December 2014

Saturday 13th December

The Bonaparte's Gull made one of its sporadic appearance off Warren Point early afternoon, where the two Long-tailed Duck showed well, alongside two Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver. Also offshore at least seven Red-throated Diver, six Common Scoter and three Razorbill. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and late news from Thursday when the Hoopoe was still present in private gardens.

 Long-tailed Duck - Lee Collins

 Bonaparte's Gull - Simon Thurgood

Wren - Simon Thurgood

Friday 12 December 2014

Friday 12th December

The drake Long-tailed Duck remains off John's Watch, it has been present all week but went unreported, please send any sightings to Also off John's Watch a fem/imm Long-tailed Duck and a Slavonian Grebe with at least 18 Great Northern Diver heading south. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide with 200+ Bar-tailed Godwit and 100+ Grey Plover.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Sunday 7th December

Activity offshore increased with 23+ Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver present whilst at least 50+ Kittiwake and 40+ Gannet headed south. Much larger numbers were however out on the horizon in a large feeding flock mid afternoon. Also offshore the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe were visible from John's Watch. Counts from the hide included 157 Bar-tailed and 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 156 Grey Plover, 41 Knot, 28 Ringed Plover and 25 Sanderling; with the Water Pipit again close in front. Elsewhere two Blackcap in the Entrance Bushes were unseasonal for the Warren at least and the Hoopoe remained on private land off site.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Saturday 6th December

The Bonaparte's Gull was in the estuary early morning relocating off the beach later on, also offshore a drake Long-tailed Duck, a Slavonian Grebe, five Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver. The resident Slavonian Grebe was in the estuary where counts included 282 Brent Geese, 270 Wigeon, 216 Redshank, 196 Curlew, 153 Teal, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Sanderling, 12 Greenshank and a Pintail. Elsewhere the Water Pipit was in front of the hide and a couple of Chiffchaff were in the Entrance Bushes.

Friday 5 December 2014

Friday 5th December

The Long-tailed Duck remains off Warren Point with 18 Great-crested Grebe and eight Red-throated Diver also offshore.

Reed Bunting - Dave Jewell

Thursday 4th December

The drake Long-tailed Duck remained off Warren Point and a Water Rail was again present in front of the hide.

Monday 1 December 2014

Monday 1st December

The first Slavonian Grebe of the winter was offshore with the Long-tailed Duck, two Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver. Elsewhere the Water Pipit again performed well in front of the hide.

Water Pipit - Gary Reeves