Saturday 31 March 2018

Saturday 31st March

A cold, breezy and occasional wet day but with a hint more Spring when the sun did come out. The highlights came from the direction of the northerly wind with a new first winter Glaucous Gull on Finger Point and a new immature Iceland Gull in the estuary. Also from the hide 24 Sanderling, 21 Ringed Plover, 14 Brent Geese, three Dunlin and two Grey Plover.

 Iceland Gull - Lee Collins

 Glaucous Gull - Lee Collins

Elsewhere the Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood; now in full summer plumage, 21 Sandwich Tern and single Eider, Great Northern and Red-throated Diver were offshore and three Wheatear were new arrivals on site.

Friday 30 March 2018

Friday 30th March

The first Willow Warbler of the year was feeding around Dead Dolphin Wood this morning, with at least five Chiffchaff on site and two Redwing in the Entrance Bushes but no other migrants were noted in the cold and wet conditions.

In the estuary the Spoonbill paid another visit to Finger Point over the morning high tide and a beast of an immature Iceland Gull was on Bull Hill as the waters receded. Counts included 43 Curlew, 21 Sanderling, 18 Shelduck and just 11 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, three Bar-tailed Godwit and two Dunlin. Elsewhere an immature drake Eider was offshore with four Sandwich Tern, two Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver.

Wildlife News: A young Grey Seal was offshore, the third recent sighting.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Thursday 29th March

A cold and wet morning with persistent rain didn't produce much in the way of birding highlights, a single Wheatear and seven Sandwich Tern were the only new migrants. Elsewhere an Eider was offshore, three Shoveler were on the Main Pond and wader numbers, including two Greenshank, were mostly in single figures

Wildlife News: Despite the sunny spells from midday there was not enough sunshine to coax out any Sand Crocus. The exceptional cold and wet start to Spring has also delayed butterflies and bees, last year several species of each were on the wing by now.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Wednesday 28th March

A Sandwich Tern was present over the evening tide with 71 Curlew, 21 Shelduck, 19 Snipe, 13 Redshank, 10 Brent Geese and three Greenshank. Elsewhere 26 Great-crested Grebe were offshore.

Wildlife News: The first Sand Crocus of the year was in flower.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Tuesday 27th March

Six Chiffchaff and a Redwing were on site this morning with three Shoveler on the Main Pond and a Greenshank in Shutterton Creek.

Monday 26 March 2018

Monday 26th March

A Great Northern Diver was off John's Watch with a Golden Plover and 20+ Sanderling in front of the hide, four Shoveler on the Main Pond and a Kestrel hunting the Dune Ridge.

Wildlife News: Both Sand and Common Lizard were out today but no sign yet of the Sand Crocus.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Sunday 25th March

A day of spring vis-mig with a high total of 1196 Chaffinch heading NE during the morning, with them at least one Brambling, 27 Siskin, 89 Starling, 52 Wood Pigeon, two Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard. Grounded migrants were limited to just a couple of Wheatear and six Chiffchaff, with 11 Redwing still present.
Nine Pale-bellied Brent Geese dropped in front of the hide late morning, a Little Ringed Plover remained in the Bight with 21 Sanderling, 12 Ringed Plover, five Sandwich Tern and two Greenshank also in the estuary. Elsewhere a Lapwing was on the Golf Course, a single Red-throated Diver was offshore with 21 Common Scoter, 16 Great-crested Grebe and three Eider and three Shoveler were on the Main Pond.
Wildlife News: The first Comma butterflies of the year were on the wing with several Peacock and good numbers of Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

Saturday 24 March 2018

Saturday 24th March

Another grey overcast and occasionally wet day but the species tally of 78 was the highest of the year as a few migrants arrive whilst wintering species linger, albeit in dwindling numbers. The unexpected highlight was the Warren's eighth Great White Egret which flew past the seawall and eventually up the estuary mid afternoon; also moving overhead three Sand Martin, 124 Meadow Pipit and a single flock of 142 Wood Pigeon, the largest ever spring count. The previous record being 63 in early-Apr 2006. Other migrants included seven Chiffchaff, five Wheatear, a Firecrest and the year's first Coal Tit.

Offshore 19 Sandwich Tern were new arrivals, with two Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver, 29 Common Scoter, two Eider, two Shoveler and an adult Mediterranean Gull also present. Elsewhere two Little Ringed Plover were on the flooded Golf Course, counts from the estuary included 97 Dunlin, 85 Turnstone, 54 Knot, 54 Grey Plover, 40 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 30 Sanderling,11 Red-breasted Merganser and a third Eider; with at least 14 Siskin, 10 Redwing and a Fieldfare were in the Entrance Bushes.

Little Ringed Plover - Lee Collins

Friday 23 March 2018

Friday 23rd March

Spring is slowly arriving, but when Redwing are song it is clear the seasons are still delayed, at least half a dozen were in the Entrance Bushes with several in full voice. Other migrants on site were limited to three Chiffchaff and two Wheatear.

In the estuary the Slavonian Grebe was in Shutterton Creek, a Stock Dove was in the Railway Saltmarsh, a Golden Plover was in front of the hide and counts included 410 Oystercatcher (29 ringed birds still), 120 Curlew, 57 Redshank, 57 Turnstone, 39 Shelduck, 32 Grey Plover, 31 Sanderling, 25 Brent Geese, 22 Knot, 10 Dunlin and an Eider. Elsewhere two Sandwich Tern were off John's Watch with three Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver and a pair of Shoveler also offshore.

Golden Plover - Lee Collins

Golden Plover - Dave Jewell

Thursday 22 March 2018

Thursday 22nd March

A grey overcast day with little hint of spring but the Little Ringed Plover was still present sharing the 7th fairway with golfers and half a dozen Ringed Plover. Other migrants included a single Wheatear, three Chiffchaff and with c130 Curlew on the Railway Saltmarsh, an early Whimbrel.

Elsewhere the Glaucous Gull was on Bull Hill late afternoon, 31 Common Scoter, an Eider, three Great Northern and two Red-throated Diver were off the seawall, three Shoveler and two Snipe were on the Main Pond, 13 Redwing were in Dead Dolphin Wood and counts from the estuary included 51 Redshank, 40 Turnstone, a Greenshank, an Eider and the Slavonian Grebe.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Wednesday 21st March

A restart to Spring following the snow, but although it looked like Spring with the temperature barely reaching double figures it didn't feel like it. Migrants included at least six Chiffchaff actively searching for food at ground level and a single Wheatear in Greenland Lake, but the Warren's earliest ever Little Ringed Plover was a surprise on the Golf Course.

Little Ringed Plover - Alan Keatley
 In the estuary a Spoonbill was on Finger Point at high tide with 64 Curlew and 11 Sanderling but other counts weren't possible as everything was flushed by people in high vis yellow chemical suits on Warren Point... Elsewhere five Shoveler were on the Main Pond, a Great Northern Diver was off John's Watch and four Redwing remain in the Entrance Bushes.

Spoonbill - Alan Keatley

Wildlife News: The sunny weather brought out a few insects but the temperature limited numbers. Several queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee and a Peacock were on the wing and the early spring hoverfly Cheilosia grossa was foraging on Sallow in the Buffer Zone. This is new species for the recording area, which has very few Devon sites.

Cheilosia grossa - Alan Keatley

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tuesday 20th March

The first winter Glaucous Gull was roosting with 10 Great Black-backed Gull, 147 Curlew, 17 Cormorant and the Eider on Finger Point. Elsewhere two Golden and eight Ringed Plover were feeding on the Golf Course, 70 Dunlin, 60 Brent Geese and 28 Sanderling were in front of the hide. Greenland Lake held two Wheatear, 10 Meadow Pipit and a Stonechat with a Chiffchaff, eight Redwing and two Fieldfare in the bushes and four Shoveler on the Main Pond.

Monday 19 March 2018

Monday 19th March

Around 20cms of snow was on site first thing but soon started to melt, other evidence of yesterday's weather was included a Woodcock, 37 Golden Plover, including a flock of 25 west, 11 Redwing and two Fieldfare; though a record count of seven Cirl Bunting may also have been linked to the cold.

 Fieldfare - Simon Thurgood

Golden Plover - Simon Thurgood

Elsewhere a/the? Cetti's Warbler, four Chiffchaff and three Shoveler were around the Main Pond, the immature male Eider was on Finger Point and counts from the estuary included 546 Oystercatcher, 220 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, c200 Dunlin, 141 Curlew, 63 Grey Plover, 51 Knot, 37 Bar-tailed Godwit, seven Sanderling and four Wigeon.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Sunday 18th March

A day of heavy snow from 10.30am to dusk although not as bitterly cold as earlier in the month. A lone Golden Plover hiding behind a bramble clump in Greenland Lake was the prelude to another extraordinary and unseasonal cold weather movement. Flocks of Golden Plover passed through SW, regularly all day from c.11:00. In the evening, small flocks returned NE to join a massive roost in The Bight, which at dusk had reached on unprecedented 689. The day's total of 1686 is the second highest count ever and surpasses the site's total bird-days up until the end of 2017.

Also moving west during the day two Woodlark, a Yellowhammer, 2161 Fieldfare, 1290 Redwing, 175 Meadow Pipit, 130 Black-headed Gull, 20 Snipe, 15 Skylark, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, just nine Lapwing and a Mistle Thrush.

Elsewhere four Chiffchaff were attempting to find food in the snow, the Glaucous Gull was on Finger Point, counts from the estuary included 496 Oystercatcher, 214 Dunlin, 102 Curlew, a notable increase, 73 Grey Plover, 47 Knot, 13 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Saturday 17th March

The first winter Glaucous Gull was again around the seawall in the afternoon with single Eider and Great Northern Diver also offshore. Elsewhere the arrival of snow did not result in any noticeable movement but a littoralis Rock Pipit was in the Bight and counts from the estuary included 404 Oystercatcher, 139 Brent Geese, 110 Dunlin, 74 Grey Plover, 54 Knot, 31 Shelduck, 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Sanderling and the Slavonian Grebe.

Ringing News: Two recoveries from the Oystercatcher Project in the last week, both from overseas.  V7 was at Zwevegem, Belgium on 16 Mar, having been recorded three times at the Warren since ringing, most recently on 18 Feb. The second (7K) was at Eastern Scheldt, Netherlands on 12 Mar which was at the Warren on 05 & 20 Feb.

Friday 16 March 2018

Friday 16th March

A single Swallow flying east along the Dune Ridge and a couple of singing Chiffchaff hinted at the arrival of spring but a first winter Iceland Gull that joined last weekend's first winter Glaucous Gull on Langstone Rock and a Woodcock flushed from the Golf Course showed that winter is not done yet. Elsewhere 240 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 47 Knot and the Slavonian Grebe were in the estuary, two Great Northern Diver were off John's Watch and two Rook and a Siskin passed overhead.

 Iceland Gull - Dave Jewell

 Glaucous Gull - Dave Jewell

Sanderling - Dave Jewell

Thursday 15 March 2018

Thursday 15th March

A single Wheatear was along the seawall with six Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the Golf Course the only other obvious migrants. Elsewhere two Great Northern Diver were offshore, a Siskin was in the Entrance Bushes and counts from the estuary included 64 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 24 Shelduck and a Greenshank.

 Wheatear - Alan Keatley

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Alan Keatley

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Tuesday 13th March

A quick morning visit showed four Great Northern Diver off John's Watch with two Rook overhead and the overdue first migrant Chiffchaff in the Entrance Bushes.

Monday 12 March 2018

Monday 12th March

At least two Wheatear made landfall with singles by the Main Pond and along the seawall. Elsewhere a Great Northern Diver was offshore but no other news was received.

Sunday 11 March 2018

Sunday 11th March

The first two Sand Martin of the year flew in off the sea this morning, with 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull and a highflying Grey Heron also on the move north; a male Wheatear in front of the hide was further evidence of the changing seasons.

Counts from the estuary included 201 Dunlin, 95 Dark-bellied and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 70 Knot, 40 Snipe, 30 Turnstone, three Sanderling and single Slavonian Grebe, Lapwing and Golden Plover. Elsewhere three Great Northern Diver were off John's Watch, two Red-throated Diver were off the seawall and two Siskin, a Jay and a Redwing were in the Entrance Bushes.

Saturday 10 March 2018

Saturday 10th March

An immature Glaucous Gull was off Langstone Rock until mid afternoon, a different bird to last week so the fourth of the winter. Also offshore two Great Northern Diver, 24 Great-crested Grebe and 18 Common Scoter. Elsewhere the Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and a Shoveler remains on the Main Pond.

Glaucous Gull - both Luke Harman

 Gull or hybrid gull considered to be or involve Larus glaucoides spp - all Luke Harman

Present for a couple of hours and very confiding at times, this striking gull foraged among a melee of mixed gulls around Langstone Rock this afternoon.  Structurally like Iceland Gull, 10% smaller than Herring Gull with a more rounded head, kind expression, small dark eye, light built bill and long primary projection, but plumage-wise, clearly not.  That said, these features do indicate lineage from somewhere along the Larus glaucoides cline.
The dark primaries suggest Thayer's Gull but the scallop-banded tail, mottled tertials and various other things eliminate this subspecies. The rather dark, broad and faintly block-barred secondary bar, and some smudginess and speckling on the inner and primary webs are an added complication.  As was the contrast between its pure white mantle and flanks with its faint grey-brown hood and small speckled head and neck, although the colour of the mantle and some other feathers suggest partial albinism. This is a bird seemingly made up of random parts, but what is it? Is it a dark Kumlien's, Kumlien's x Thayer's or even Iceland x Herring hybrid?  Thoughts welcome, thanks.

Friday 9 March 2018

Friday 9th March

An adult Iceland Gull was off the seawall around midday with an Eider and six Great-crested Grebe also offshore. In the estuary three Snipe and two Lapwing were in front of the hide with 146 Knot, 59 Grey and nine Ringed Plover.

Lapwing - Alan Keatley
 Snipe - Alan Keatley
Elsewhere a drake Shoveler was on the Main Pond and a few cold weather refugees still on site with a Fieldfare and six Redwing in Dead Dolphin Wood.

 Redwing - Alan Keatley

Thursday 8 March 2018

Thursday 8th March

A brief visit today saw a couple of Great Northern Diver offshore, plenty of resident breeding species in song and at least six of the Warren ringed and an Icelandic ringed Oystercatcher still present.

 Oystercatcher 9U - Alan Keatley

Linnet - Alan Keatley

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Wednesday 7th March

No news from today but some images from recent days.



 Lapwing - Dave Jewell

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Tuesday 6th March

The first Wheatear of the year was on Warren Point, along with 17 Golden Plover. A Sandwich Tern remained around the hide with 390 Dunlin, 160 Bar-tailed Godwit, 121 Grey Plover, 64 Brent Geese, 36 Shelduck, 10 Sanderling and a Lapwing also in the estuary. Elsewhere  three Great Northern Diver, the Eider and nine Great-crested Grebe offshore, a Cirl Bunting was singing along the Back Path and the three Great-spotted Woodpecker continue to chase each other around site.

 Eider - Martin Rooney

Stonechat - Martin Rooney

Monday 5th March

Four Woodlark were reported today but no other news was received.

Sunday 4 March 2018

Sunday 4th March

Three Woodlark in the Buffer Zone most of the day were the highlight, this species is most often recorded here passing overhead and these were the first since 2014.

Woodlark - both Luke Harman

Other cold weather arrivals included at least two Woodcock, 87 Lapwing, 32 Golden Plover, 15 Redwing, six Fieldfare and two Mistle Thrush. The year's first Sandwich Tern, the earliest migrant since 2008, hinted at the promise of Spring, whilst other counts from the estuary included 622 Oystercatcher, 497 Dunlin, 166 Bar-tailed Godwit, 48 Knot, two Avocet, a Great Northern Diver and the Slavonian Grebe.

 Sandwich Tern - Alan Keatley

Elsewhere large numbers of gulls were feeding around the beaches with 95 Lesser Black-backed and 55 Common and three Mediterranean Gull; two Great Northern Diver and an Eider were off John's Watch, single Jackdaw and Raven were overhead. A count of dead birds following the cold weather revealed 109 Lapwing, 34 Golden Plover and single Redshank, Little Egret and Avocet. The totals of the first two species exceed the number of live records here between 2011 & 2017.

Saturday 3 March 2018

Saturday 3rd March

The thaw started overnight but was too late for many with at least eight Lapwing and Golden Plover found dead on Warren Point alongside birds still clearly struggling. Small groups of both species were across the site with minimum counts of 54 Golden Plover and 45 Lapwing. Thrushes also remained from the freeze with 25 Redwing and 14 Fieldfare present. The conditions had also brought in another cold weather species with six Woodcock around the ponds and wooded areas, the first at the Warren since 2013.  

The melting snow had flooded large areas of the Golf Course with 50+ Dunlin, 15 Grey and a Ringed Plover feeding alongside 200 Brent Geese and more unusually 40 Wigeon and three Pintail. Elsewhere a second winter Glaucous Gull was on the beach, a Great Northern Diver was offshore, four Shoveler were on the Main Pond and counts from the estuary included 92 Bar-tailed Godwit, 56 Shelduck and 27 Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Glaucous Gull

Friday 2 March 2018

Friday 2nd March

Due to a combination of blocked roads and a flooded railway no one was able to visit the site. The conditions were however having a far greater impact on the natural world.

Golden Plover

Storm Emma also took a toll on the Dune Ridge with massive volumes of sand lost and the new groynes now up to three metres from the dune face in places.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Thursday 1st March

An incredible day of weather and birding extremes as 'Storm Emma' met the 'Beast from the East' overhead producing drifting snow and a white-out blizzard in strongly easterly winds.

Observers were on site from 9.15 but the first half hour was relatively quiet with a handful of Golden Plover, Lapwing and a single Fieldfare overhead, but two Avocet on the Main Pond suggested something unusual was happening. Walking up site numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover passing SW overhead steadily increased and they continued through the day with the thrushes not arriving until early afternoon. Birds were still moving during the heaviest snow right up till dusk.

Lapwing - Luke Harman

A total of 9180 Lapwing was a new site record, very few alighted at first, but when the blizzard took hold in mid-afternoon, small flocks were landing on site with birds in the Crocus Compound, along the track by the visitor centre, the seawall and Langstone Rock.  Since 1980, there have been only three huge cold weather movements of Lapwing at the Warren: Dec 1981 (max 4000), Jan 2010 (max 3317) and Dec 2010 (max 996), even combined this eclipses them all.

Golden Plover - Luke Harman

A total of 3154 Golden Plover was also a new site record, unlike Lapwing few landed, even during the blizzard. The previous record was 150 in 1965. However since the first report in 1936, there have only been 1572 bird-days at the Warren, so in other words, there were twice as many Golden Plover recorded today as have ever been recorded on site! 

Fieldfare - Luke Harman

Other totals included 2400 Redwing, 1520 Fieldfare, (both dropping in in large numbers), 15 Snipe, 12 Dunlin and single figures of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Redshank, Chaffinch, Linnet and Blue Tit. Elsewhere 347 Brent Geese and 280 Wigeon were in the estuary, the Eider and a Great Northern Diver were offshore, eight Shoveler were on the Main Pond and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was drumming throughout the day.