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


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