Tuesday 30 June 2015

Tuesday 30th June

The resident Slavonian Grebe, still in summer plumage, remains off Cockwood but no other news was received.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Sunday 28th June

A Wheatear in front of the hide was the earliest ever juvenile on site (and the first June record) but more expected was the midsummer build up of Curlew and Sandwich Tern with 268 Curlew (and two Whimbrel) in the Railway Saltmarsh and at least 53 Sandwich Tern around the site. Elsewhere the Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and seven Common Scoter were offshore.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Saturday 27th June

A slight increase in wader passage today with two Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel joining yesterday's Grey Plover. Elsewhere 24 Sandwich Tern, a first summer Mediterranean Gull and five Common Scoter were offshore.

Wildlife News: The first Gatekeeper of the year was along the Dune Ridge along with several busy leafcutter bees Megachile leachella. Elsewhere a couple of Fox were around the Buffer Zone and Marsh Helleborine are in flower in Greenland Lake.

Friday 26 June 2015

Friday 26th June

With the exception of the summering Oystercatcher flock and 189 returning Curlew a single Grey Plover was the only wader present over the high tide. Elsewhere 40 Common Scoter were offshore with a feeding flock of 110 Kittiwake and 30 Gannet.

Monday 22 June 2015

Monday 22nd June

No sign of the Curlew Sandpiper today with wader counts including 105 Curlew, eight Dunlin, three Sanderling, and a Redshank. Elsewhere 12 Sandwich and a Common Tern were offshore and 27 Swift flew through, a feature of recent days.

Wildlife News: A Common Seal was in the estuary and the first Marbled White of the year was on the wing, a scarce species on the Warren.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Sunday 21st June

The Curlew Sandpiper remains on site with eight Dunlin, five Sanderling and three Ringed Plover. Returning waders included 129 Curlew, three Whimbrel and single Greenshank, Redshank and Common Sandpiper. Elsewhere 14 Manx Shearwater were offshore with 11 Sandwich Tern and a Mediterranean Gull.

Wildlife News: A male Red-veined Darter was reported in the dunes.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Saturday 20th June

The Curlew Sandpiper remains around the Bight and beach with 15 Dunlin, five Ringed Plover and a Sanderling. Elsewhere 67 Curlew and a Redshank were in Shutterton Creek, 22+ Sandwich Tern and five Common Scoter were offshore and a first summer Mediterranean Gull was along the beach with 25 Black-headed Gull.

Curlew Sandpiper - Alan Keatley

Friday 19 June 2015

Friday 19th June

An unexpected highlight was a first summer Curlew Sandpiper, only the fourth June record for the site. Other returning waders included 97 Curlew, 16 Dunlin, six Ringed Plover and three Sanderling. Elsewhere 18 Sandwich Tern were offshore, a French ringed Mediterranean Gull was along the beach and an unseasonal Yellow Wagtail flew over.

Curlew Sandpiper - Lee Collins

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Wednesday 17 June 2015

The morning tide produced 2 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Shelduck, the Slavonian Grebe, 310 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Sanderling, 13 Dunlin, 4 Redshank, 69 Curlew, 11 Great Black-backed Gull and 10 Black-headed Gull.  Ten Swift flew south. Numerous fledged Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, tits and other passerines about. The first Coal Tit of the year was unseasonal, as were two Rock Pipit up at groyne 12.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Tuesday 16th June

A lone Grey Plover was present over high tide along with five Sandwich Tern, five summer plumaged Dunlin and three Ringed Plover.

Saturday 13 June 2015

Saturday 13 June 2015

On the dropping early morning tide,  3 Little Egret,  the Slavonian Grebe, 385 Oystercatcher, a Grey Plover, three Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 46 Curlew, 4 Turnstone, 36 Sanderling and 22 Dunlin. At sea, 29 Common Scoter, 3 Fulmar, 15 Gannet, 12 Sandwich Tern, 30 Kittiwake, 13 Black-headed Gull, 10 (5 ad, 5 fs) Mediterranean Gull all flew south.  Overhead 4 Swift. A singing male Chaffinch again in the bushes, where otherwise the standard complement of mid summer passerines were in residence.

Wildlife News:

Brown Argus - Simon Thurgood 

Sand Lizard - Simon Thurgood

Friday 12 June 2015

Friday 12 June 2015

On the dropping evening tide, 3 Little Egret, 226 Oystercatcher, 6 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 61 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and 8 Turnstone. Four Mediterranean Gulls (3 fs, 1 ss) flew in off the sea, and on the sea, a raft of 24 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Sandwich Tern, 5 Gannet and 2 Kittiwake. Floating off Starcross the Slavonian Grebe remains. Nothing noted on land, just a feeding flock of 131 Starlings, Stonechat carrying food and a Collared Dove over the car park.

Thursday 11 June 2015

Sanderling in May 2015

The month of May this year was outstanding for Sanderling at Dawlish Warren with record numbers stopping off to refuel en-route to their breeding grounds in Greenland. With almost daily birder coverage it became apparent that the numbers were far greater than the comparable historic data held in the recording group's database.

The last two weeks of May has always been a key period onsite for this species, with numbers peaking during this period. Most years see treble figure counts, although counts of 150+ are not common and 200+ have been recorded on fewer than 10 occasions.
Below is a table that gives a full breakdown of counts made between 8th & 31st May 2015.

It shows that during the last week of May we witnessed some very big counts, that would culminate in the largest ever count onsite on the very last day of the month.

Although not tabulated, counts during the first two days of June also recorded 253 & c.160, numbers dropping off substantially thereafter with the onset of a high pressure weather system.

The recording group have a particular interest in this species, as in the last six years we have found 18 readable colour-ringed birds pre-2015 that have given us a fascinating insight into this long distant migrant. With such an abundance of birds passing through site it was perhaps of no surprise that by diligently scanning through the flocks some more colour-ringed birds would be picked up, however finding eight colour ringed birds, far exceeded expectations.

These were broken down as two Icelandic ringed birds and six from Mauritania. Of the 26 now recorded, 14 have been found during the month on May. The other  spring individuals have been found in early June (four), while returning birds have been noted in July (six) and August (two).

Of the eight noted this year, five had four colour rings and an additional flag. Having three on one leg and two on the other. Flag colouration is a useful clue to knowing the birds origins, those with green flags are from Greenland and Iceland, red from Ghana, and white from Mauritania.

Of the three remaining individuals, one had a missing flag, another missing a colour ring and one missing two rings. Missing rings it appears is a problem and sadly not that uncommon. Reporting such a bird will in many instances lead to an unsuccessful outcome in identifying it to a specific individual.

But to overcome this pitfall Lee Collins went to great efforts to get a read or partial read of the metal ring number! On colour ringed Sanderling this is administered to the tibia (above the knee joint) on either leg. This is by no means an easy task, but likewise one that Lee has proved is not impossible, and the only way of ensuring a positive outcome in such instances.

Our first  colour ringed bird was found on the 9th May, staying just a single day and was our earliest ever Spring sighting, beating one found in 2014 by one day (10th). It was ringed at Gardskagi, SW Iceland during the spring of 2010, ours the first confirmed resighting of it. It had a missing green flag and this was probably the reason why it may have gone unrecorded for so long.

Numbers would start to build from the 12th, with the 13th seeing our first treble figure count. Numbers would fluctuate daily from then on, but remain high and continue to build.

On the 25th, we’d count at least 182 birds and were delighted to find two more colour ringed birds. Both were fully ringed and both Mauritanian, ringed at Iwik village, one in 2010, the other in 2011. Neither bird was noted the following day.

Our fourth was found on the 30th, it was missing a colour ring but identified as an individual ringed during November 2013 at Iwik village, Mauritania and was also recorded during the spring of 2014 in Holland. This bird also noted on 31st May and 2nd June, its stay of four days making it our longest recorded stayer on site.

The 31st was a crazy, crazy day that just kept giving. The day count of c.326 individuals, was the site record count. Within them we found and identified five different colour ringed birds. Four being new birds, three Mauritanian and an additional Icelandic bird.


Its also worth highlighting that most of the colour-ringed birds were seen on just a single date, this not unusual as per pre-2015 recoveries. This helps us conclude that although Sanderling numbers were very high during the latter part of May, individual birds wouldn’t stay long and indicate a high turnover.

Dawlish Warren was not alone in recording big numbers, as 280+ were recorded by Keith Birchall several kms upriver at Goatwalk on the 29th, an outstanding count for that far upriver.

Monday 8 June 2015

Monday 8th June

A few late hirundines continue to trickle north with 20 Swallow and two House Martin today. Also moving a few waders with 17 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and seven Sanderling probably northward bound whilst 35 Curlew presumably included birds returning south.

Wildlife News: A Painted Lady flew north today with many other invertebrates now emerging in the summer weather.

 Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) - Alan Keatley

Thick-thighed Pollen Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) - Alan Keatley

Sunday 7 June 2015

Sunday 7th June

Waders counts over high tide included 37+ Sanderling, 20 Ringed Plover, eight Dunlin and the lone Knot.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Saturday 6th June

Small numbers of waders continue to head north with 30 Sanderling, 20 Ringed Plover, eight Dunlin and a Knot present over the high tide. Elsewhere a Hobby flew through and two first summer Mediterranean Gull headed into the estuary.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Wednesday 3rd June

The summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood over the high tide but no other news was received.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Tuesday 2nd June

The continuing summer storm again saw some delivered some good seawatching conditions. Totals from the day included at least one Storm Petrel, single Pomarine and Great Skua, 370 Manx Shearwater, 49 Gannet, 12 Fulmar and six Great Northern Diver. Elsewhere 160 Sanderling were around Warren Point, with 51 Ringed Plover, 50+ Dunlin, 15 Whimbrel and two Grey Plover in the estuary.

Monday 1 June 2015

Monday 1st June

Summer began with a distinctly autumnal low pressure system producing ideal conditions for an evening  seawatch. The highlight were the first three Storm Petrel of the year with a Puffin and two Arctic Skua heading south along  with 482 Manx Shearwater, 96 Guillemot, 60 Gannet, 26 Kittiwake, 14 Fulmar and two Common Tern. Elsewhere over the morning high tide wader counts included 253 Sanderling, 85 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plover, four Grey Plover, a Turnstone and a Knot.