Friday 31 January 2020

Friday 31st January

Over the high tide over counts included 1000+ Dunlin, 140 Grey Plover, 70 Brent Geese and 26 Ringed Plover, also present the Slavonian Grebe and a foraging Peregrine. Elsewhere the female Eider and seven Razorbill were offshore.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Thursday 30th January

The Red-necked Grebe had the decency to move south into the Recording Area on the dropping tide before returning to Shelly Beach, Exmouth. Also in the estuary the Slavonian Grebe, 170 Common Gull and 80 Brent Geese. Elsewhere four Shoveler were on the Main Pond.  

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Wednesday 29th January

The Red-necked Grebe remained in the estuary, just north of the Recording Area, with 51 Shelduck, 34 Ringed Plover, five Greenshank, a Goldeneye and the Slavonian Grebe also present. Elsewhere six Red-throated Diver and single Common Scoter and Eider were offshore and a Sparrowhawk landed on the Visitor Centre roof.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Tuesday 28th January

The Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and a Kingfisher was hovering over the saltmarsh but no other news was received. 

Monday 27 January 2020

Monday 27th January

The Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood with 1200 Herring and two Mediterranean Gull roosting on sandbars, 280 Brent Geese and three Greenshank. The Red-necked Grebe was seen distantly in the river but at best flirted with the Recording Area boundary. Elsewhere five Red-throated Diver, 16 Great-crested Grebe and the female Eider were offshore.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Sunday 26th January

A wet start to the day saw estimated counts of 200 Snipe, 200 Grey Plover, 180 Bar-tailed Godwit and 150 Knot in the estuary with 249 Brent Geese, 62 Teal, 28 Ringed Plover, two Mediterranean Gull, three Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere just four Great-crested Grebe and the female Eider were offshore.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Saturday 25th January

Counts from the estuary over the morning high tide included 2770 Dunlin, 202 Brent Geese, 174 Grey Plover, 128 Bar and five Black-tailed Godwit, 128 Common Gull, 119 Knot, 98 Redshank, 94 Teal, 54 Shelduck,  12 Wigeon, three Greenshank, a female Shoveler and the Slavonian Grebe

Elsewhere an Eider, a single Red-throated Diver and 28 Great-crested Grebe were offshore and five Shoveler were on the Main Pond. 

Friday 24 January 2020

Friday 24th January

The first Black Redstart of the year was on Warren Point, presumably the male currently wintering in Exmouth. It was seen from a Stuart Line Cruise, the same trip also saw the Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Thursday 23rd January

A morning visit saw the first two Black-tailed Godwit of the year off Cockwood with 79 Brent Geese and 43 Shelduck also in the estuary. Elsewhere three Red-throated Diver and three Pintail, also new for the year, were offshore, 13 Snipe and two Teal were in the flooded Greenland Lake and a pair of Collared Dove were in Dead Dolphin Wood. 

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Wednesday 22nd January

The Slavonian Grebe and eight Sanderling were off Cockwood but no other news was received. 

Sunday 19 January 2020

Sunday 17th January

A cold sunny day with a flat calm sea, the conditions helped confirmed there was very little offshore, with no divers, a handful of Great-crested Grebe and the returning female Eider. Counts of the high tide included 172 Snipe, 131 Grey Plover, 108 Teal, 85+ Shelduck, 84 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 82 Common Gull, 79 Knot, six Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe

Saturday 18 January 2020

Saturday 18th January

Cattle Egret remain a feature with a couple of birds again in the Railway Saltmarsh early morning but late afternoon a new record flock of 26 were present on the mudflats. The estuary fog limited visibility all morning but cleared by early afternoon and counts on the receding tide included 950 Dunlin, 878 Oystercatcher, 168 Knot, 164 Grey Plover, 87 Teal, 76 Bar-tailed Godwit, 71 Redshank, 69 Brent Geese, 55 Shelduck, just 18 Wigeon, three Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe

Elsewhere 46 Great-crested Grebe, two Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver were offshore with both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker vocal on site and the first Kingfisher of the year in Eales Dock. 

Friday 17 January 2020

Friday 17th January

Three Cattle Egret were again in the estuary early morning with 1500 Dunlin, 190 Grey and 34 Ringed Plover, 180 Bar-tailed Godwit, 134 Knot, 90 Common Gull, 80 Teal, 73 Shelduck, 30 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 21 Sanderling and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere three Great Northern Diver and a Common Scoter were offshore.

 Cattle Egret - Lee Collins. A record shot but award winning compared to the only other Dawlish Warren Cattle Egret photo from February 2008.

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Alan Keatley

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Wednesday 15th January

Four Cattle Egret were again in the Railway Saltmarsh early morning with 330 Dark and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese. 80+ Snipe and the Slavonian Grebe in the estuary amd single Great Northern and Red-throated Diver off the seawall. 

Wildlife News: A very early Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum queen was on the flowering Hebe by the seawall. 

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Tuesday 14th January

An seawatch in the first hour of light saw seven Red-throated Diver head south with 132 Kittiwake, 95 Gannet, 15 Guillemot, five Fulmar and four Razorbill.

Monday 13 January 2020

Monday 13th January

A flock of 20 Cattle Egret were again in the Railway Saltmarsh early morning before heading north just after 9.30am. No other news was received. 

Sunday 12 January 2020

Sunday 12th January

Early morning saw four Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver head south with four diver sp in just ten minutes, but attention was then diverted to the high tide. Ten Cattle Egret were again in the Railway Saltmarsh with a Whimbrel, 65 Curlew and 38 Bar-tailed Godwit. Other counts included 1350 Dunlin, 279 Common Gull, 209 Wigeon, 84 Teal, 54 Redshank, just 28 Shelduck, three Goldeneye, a Little and the Slavonian Grebe.  

Elsewhere the female Eider was off the estuary mouth, a Grey Wagtail was around the Entrance Bushes and the first Reed Bunting of the year was in front of the hide. 

 Sanderling - Lee Collins

Reed Bunting - Lee Collins

Saturday 11 January 2020

Saturday 11th January

The highlight was a flock of 25 Cattle Egret in the Railway Saltmarsh early morning, only the sixth site record, but not unexpected as this flock has been present on the Exe for several weeks. 

Very high numbers of gulls were present with c3000 Black-headed and a minimum of 272 Common Gull, both the largest counts since the 1980s, with them five adult Mediterranean and 52 Great Black-backed Gull. Also in the estuary 338 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 65 Redshank, 12 Red-breasted Merganser, two Goldeneye and the Slavonian Grebe.

Elsewhere six Red-throated and 41 Great-crested Grebe were offshore, a Golden Plover flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and two Shoveler were on the Main Pond. 

Friday 10 January 2020

Friday 10th January

A look from the seawall this morning showed nine Red-throated Diver and 54 Great-crested Grebe offshore with four Shoveler on the Main Pond and single Cirl Bunting and Chiffchaff in the Buffer Zone. 

Wildlife News: A Water Vole was at the Main Pond, an increasing but elusive sighting. 

A well hidden Water Vole - Alan Keatley

Thursday 9 January 2020

Thursday 9th January

The Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood but no other news was received. 

Tuesday 7 January 2020

2019 Wildlife Review: Other Species

This is a round up of other taxonomic orders not covered in the rest of the Review. With at least 4125 species recorded at Dawlish Warren there is always plenty to discover, with over 150 new species found in 2019.


Unfortunately the failed sea defence works have meant large quantities of sand are circulating offshore. This means sediment clouds the rockpools at Langstone Rock during low tide. Combined with an increase in the invasive Wireweed Sargassum multicum this has reduced the range of species present.

Ephemeroptera: Mayflies
Pond Olive Cloeon dipterum, a widespread species, is one of just two Mayfly species recorded on the Warren. One was seen in June.

Pond Olive - Alan Keatley

Trichoptera: Caddisflies 
The caddisfly Limnephilus affinis was rediscovered this year having gone unnoticed or unrecorded on site since 1862!

Psocoptera: Barkflies 
The first record of the barkfly Valenzuela burmeisteri, common in Britain, was seen in March.

Five new species were found this year. A pair of Leopard Slug Limax maximus in Dead Dolphin Wood, Tramp Slug Deroceras invadens, Three-banded Garden Slug Ambigolimax valentianusGarlic Snail Oxychilus alliaris and the marine mollusc Blue-rayed Limpet Tectura virginea.

Leopard Slug - Alan Keatley

Three new species recorded, all woodlice; Southern Pill Woodlouse Armadillidium depressum, a striped woodlouse Porcellio spinicornis and Common Pygmy Woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus.

Collembola: Springtails
Eight new springtails were found bringing the site total up to twelve. All were widespread species including Dicyrtomina saundersiOrchesella villosa and Entomobrya albocincta.

Myriapods: Milipedes and Centipedes 
With only six species recorded on the Warren, this is another very under-represented group. Three new species were found this year; Blunt-tailed Snake Millipede Cylindroiulus punctatus, Bristly Millipede Polyxenus lagurus and Common Flat-backed Millipede Polydesmus angustus.

Cnidrians: Jellyfish 

Amongst the many washed up Barrel Jellyfish Rhizostoma pulmo mid summer a few Blue Jellyfish Cyanea lamarckii were found. New for site.

Myxomycota: Slime moulds

Two new species were recorded on site, doubling the total; False Puffball Reticularia lycoperdon and Raspberry Slime Mould Tubifera ferruginosa

False Puffball

Monday 6 January 2020

2019 Wildlife Review: Flies


Hook-banded Wasp Hoverfly - Alan Keatley

A total of 54 species of hoverfly were recorded this year, easily higher than any total recorded in any previous year. Hoverfly numbers in several tribes were boosted. There were four species of Volucella, five species of Platycheirus, six species of Eristalis (drone flies) and six Cheilosia species for instance. Of those recorded this year, ten were new for site, the most noteworthy of these being Tooth-thighed Hoverfly Tropidia scita, Hook-banded Wasp Hoverfly Chrysotoxum festivum, Lesser Hornet Hoverfly Volucella inanis and Yellow-barred Peat Hoverfly Sericomyia silentis.

Yellow-barred Peat Hoverfly - Alan Keatley


It was also a good year for cranefly recording with four new species added to the list - Spotted Cranefly Nephrotoma appendiculata, Tiger Cranefly Nephrotoma flavescens, Nephrotoma guestifalica and Nephrotoma quadrifaria. After a worrying no show last year, the continued presence of the nationally rare Geranomyia bezzii around the Bight was welcome with several found in August.

Geranomyia bezzii - Rob Walton

Other Diptera

Although there are always some fly species present on site the year really starts with the emergence of Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, with several vying with each other in the Spring sunshine. 

Dark-edged Bee-fly - Lee Collins

A build up of other species included the picture-winged Celery Fly Euleia heraclei and several Empid and Bibio species. Soldierflies emerged with the Broad Centurion Chloromyia formosa and the impressive looking and nationally scarce Ornate Brigadier Odontomyia ornata. Several species of robberflies could be found seeking prey on the sand dunes and in the undergrowth, with beegrabbers searching for hosts in the meadows. 

Waisted Beegrabber Physocephala rufipes - Alan Keatley

Other new species included the muscidae flies; Phaonia pallida and Phaonia tuguriorum, plus Orange-beard Bluebottle Calliphora vomitoria, Dark-winged Fleshfly Nyctia halterata and the tachinid fly Gymnocheta viridis.

Dark-winged Fleshfly - Alan Keatley

Monday 6th January

The Scandinavian Rock Pipit remains on the seawall but no other news was received. 

Sunday 5 January 2020

Sunday 5th January

Two Whooper Swan that flew north over the spit around 11am, the first on site since Oct 2013, were the highlight. Offshore 16 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver were off the seawall with 70 Great-crested Grebe and the female Eider

Elsewhere 349 Wigeon, 70 Teal, 61 Turnstone, 21 Sanderling, eight Red-breasted Merganser, six Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe were in the estuary and three Redwing were on site.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Saturday 4th January

Offshore, 69 Great Crested Grebe, five Red-throated Diver, four Razorbill, three Fulmar, the regular female Eider, a Guillemot, a Common Scoter, and far way to the south a large feeding flock of Gannet and Kittiwake mingled.  The colour-ringed Scandinavian Rock Pipit was again on rocks below the seawall.  The neap high tide precluded meaningful counts of waterbirds in the estuary, with 203 Wigeon, 103 Redshank, 28 Shelduck and two Greenshank the only counts noted.  During the neap state of the tide cycle (often after heavy precipitation), it's not unusual to see larger numbers of some waterbird species utilising alternative feeding grounds on terrestrial habitats, so it was not unexpected today to see 147 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 77 Oystercatcher and five Little Egret on Eastdon Fields, just west of the recording area.  

Small flocks of passerines foraged from Greenland Lake to Warren Point comprised of 46 Goldfinch, 33 Linnet, 20 Greenfinch and 11 Meadow Pipit.  Scrubby areas remained quite flooded and there were noted seven Long-tailed Tit, three Bullfinch, three Chaffinch, singles of Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and various typical resident species.

In the village, being struck in the forehead by a bumblebee was a stark reminder of how mild it has been.

Friday 3 January 2020

Friday 3rd January

A pair of Goldeneye in the estuary were the first of the year with 114 Common Gull, 54 Shelduck, eight Red-breasted Merganser and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere a Red-throated Diver, 20 Great-crested Grebe and the female Eider were offshore and six Siskin were in the Entrance Bushes.

2019 Wildlife Review: Bugs and Beetles

Bugs - Hemiptera

Fifteen new species were recorded on the Warren this year bringing the overall total to 125. In this diverse group of insects the new species consisted of aphids, damsel bugs, planthoppers and leafhoppers. These new species included Pea Aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, Water Mint Leafhopper Eupteryx thoulessi, Ant Damselbug Himacerus mirmicoides, Bay Sucker Trioza alacris, Elaeaganus Psyllid Cacopsylla fulguralis and Plain Tamarisk Bug Tiponia brevirostris.

Bishop's Mitre - Alan Keatley

Alongside these new records familiar species present included Bishop’s MitreParent, Green and Gorse ShieldbugsDock Bug congregated in some numbers with the occasional Rhombic and Denticulate Leatherbug found in the short grassland.

Parent Shieldbug - Alan Keatley 

The Warren also provides a home for the local Dune Spurge Bug Dicranocephalus agilis and the ground bug Beosus maritimus both of which were found in good numbers along the Dune Ridge.

Dune Spurge Bug - Alan Keatley

Beetles - Coleoptera

It was also good beetle year with seventeen new species recorded. These included rove beetles, ground beetles, chafers and leaf beetles amongst others.

Opatrum sabulosum

Notable finds include Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus, which had emerged from a Yellow-legged Mining Bee colony, the nationally scarce Opatrum sabulosum, Summer Chafer Amphimallon solstitialis, Dune Chafer Anomala dubia, Figwort Weevil Cionus scrophularieSea Rocket Flea Beetle Psylliodes marcidaOedemera femoralis - a false blister beetle, Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana and the Bronze Leaf Beetle Chrysolina banksii.

Bronze Leaf Beetle - Alan Keatley

Familiar species recorded included Common Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha fulva, the Marram weevils Otiorhynchus atroapterusPhilopedon plagiatum, Black and Yellow Longhorn Rutpela maculata, Red-headed Cardinal Pyrochroa serraticornis, Thick-thighed Pollen Beetle Oedemera nobilis and Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis

Wasp Beetle - Alan Keatley

Despite a good year for the Tree Lupin Aphid, ladybird numbers didn't recover with just five species recorded, unfortunately most of these were the invasive Harlequin Ladybird.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Thursday 2nd January

The Slavonian Grebe and three Red-breasted Merganser were in the estuary off Cockwood.  Offshore, 22 Great Crested Grebe, 25+ Kittiwake, 10 Gannet and a Razorbill.  No other news was received. 

2019 Wildlife Review: Bees, Wasps & Sawflies


The first warm day of the year on 19 January saw several Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terristris and Honey Bee Apis mellifera on early flowering shrubs. Overall however Bumblebee numbers were down this year, with no records of Heath Bumblebee and fewer Tree Bombus hypnorum and Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius.

Spring saw the first gathering of solitary bees near their nesting holes, some with attendant cleptoparasite bees. Fork-jawed Nomad Nomada ruficornis was recorded new for site, a cleptoparasite bee of Orange-tailed Mining Bee Andrena haemorrhoa

Fork-jawed Nomad - Alan Keatley

Other cleptoparasite / host pairings include Painted Nomad Nomada furcata / Yellow-legged Mining Bee Andrena flavipes, Gooden’s Nomad Nomada goodeniana / Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea and Southern Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis / Buff-tailed Bumblebee.  

Southern Cuckoo Bee - Alan Keatley

In mid Summer Black-thighed Epeolus Epeolus variegatus were seen in small numbers with its host Hairy-saddled Colletes Colletes fodiens, as well as Large Sharp-tailed Bee Coelioxys conoidea and its host Coastal Leafcutter Bee Megachile maritima.

Coastal Leafcutter - Alan Keatley

There were also large congregations of Silvery Leafcutter Bee Megachile leachella, Sandpit Mining Bee Andrena barbilabris and Green-eyed Flower Bee Anthophora bimaculata along the Dune Ridge, with several Pantaloon Bee Dasypoda hirtipes in flower-rich grassland. 

Notable finds this year were the first Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes and Long-faced Furrow Bee Lasioglossum punctatissimum for the Recording Area, as well as several sightings of the nationally scarce Black Andrena pilipes and Water-dropwort Mining Bee Andrena ampla.

Black Mining Bee - Alan Keatley

Autumn saw the expected emergence of Ivy Bee Colletes hederae alongside the remaining nectaring Honey Bee and Bumblebees. The season largely ended with the last flowering Ivy, but a few winter active Buff-tailed Bumblebee remained on the Hebe into December.


A number of Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris nests around the site meant there were plenty of activity from these social insects throughout the Summer and into the Autumn. A new site species was a Median Wasp Dolichovespula media found on 18th May, this species has been spreading across Britain since first reported in 1980s, with several Red Wasp Vespula rufa nests also present. The occasional sighting of Hornet Vespula crabro maintained this species fragile presence on site.

Median Wasp - Alan Keatley

A feature of the Summer is numbers of nectaring insects including several species of digger wasps on flowering umbellifers with Astata boops, Ectemnius cavifrons, Ectemnius continuus, Field Digger Wasp Melinus arvensis, Slender-bodied Digger Wasp Crabro cribrarius and Four-banded Digger Wasp Gorytes quadrifasciatus. A few Bee-wolf Philanthus triangulum were also noted, largely favouring Gypsywort, but no nests were located this year.

Four-banded Digger Wasp - Alan Keatley

Other solitary wasps recorded included Ancistrocerus gazella, Ancistrocerus scoticus and Red-banded Sand Wasp Ammophila sabulosa.

Many of the ichneumon wasps recorded have to go unidentified, but the spectacular looking species, Gasteruption jaculator was photographed.

Gasteruption jaculator - Alan Keatley


These insects are largely unrecorded on site, so it wasn’t a surprise that several relatively common species were found. These include Bramble Sawfly Arge cyanocroceaAlder Sawfly Heterarthus vagans, Macrophya annulataMacrophya duodecimputataOak Sawfly Periclista lineolata, Birch Sawfly Scolioneura betuleti and the recent invasive species Berberis Sawfly Arge berberidis. Other sawflies noted were the similar looking Aglaostigma aucupariae and Aglaostigma fulvipes.

Aglaostigma fulvipes - Alan Keatley

Wednesday 1 January 2020

2019 Wildlife Review: Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians


The once ubiquitous Rabbit had a very poor year with a new strain of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease severely limiting numbers and you were more likely to spot a patrolling Fox during the summer months. 

Fox - Alan Keatley

Most land mammals are however elusive on site, though small rodents, like Bank Vole or Common Shrew are occasionally seen moving stealthy through the undergrowth to avoid the attention of a hunting Kestrel. A Water Vole seen early in the year was probably a wandering individual, though signs were also noted later in the year. There was just one sighting of Stoat but no Weasel were seen but their continued presence of both was often confirmed by tracks on the Dune Ridge. Elsewhere fresh molehills can be seen near to the crazy golf whilst Brown Rat seek shelter amongst the boulders along the seawall. Both Common and Soprano Pipistrelle could be seen hunting over the Main Pond at dusk. 

Grey Seal - Lee Collins

Offshore there has been a complete reversal of fortunes of cetaceans with Common Dolphin living up to their name with several pods seen during the year. Up to 2015 there had only been two records. This compares with previously regular sightings of Bottle-nosed Dolphin; a pod of seven in November was only the second record in the last two years. Occasional sightings of Harbour Porpoise showed this species also on the up. The resident Grey Seal remains faithful to the site, with at least one other individual during the year but the regular Common Seal was not seen.

Reptiles and Amphibians 

Sand Lizard - Alan Keatley

Both Common and the introduced Sand Lizard were frequently seen along the Dune Ridge and Warren Point on warm sunny days, but their breeding areas face constant and ongoing threat from erosion. There were no Slowworm sightings reported this year. However after several lean years Common Toad were back in good numbers with plenty of toadlets seen making their way through the wet meadows during the summer.

Common Toad - Alan Keatley

Wednesday 1st January

2020 got off to a slow start with visibility limited by a persistent drizzle and a speedboat race within the SPA limiting the number of birds offshore. Perseverance however ended up revealing a total of 73 species on site with omissions including Great Northern Diver, Common Scoter, Canada Goose, Razorbill, Guillemot and Goldcrest. 

The highlight was the first Jack Snipe since December 2017 which showed briefly in the Saltmarsh along with a minimum count of 190 Snipe, 12 Golden Plover in the Bight were also unexpected. Counts from the estuary included 1210 Dunlin, 260 Wigeon, 201 Teal, 194 Bar-tailed Godwit, 180 Grey Plover, 137 Knot, 42 Brent Geese, three Greenshank, two adult Mediterranean Gull and the Slavonian Grebe

Elsewhere a Chiffchaff in the Entrance Bushes was the first for a few weeks, the drake Shoveler remains on the Main Pond with a female mobile around site, the Scandinavian Rock Pipit was at the sea wall and offshore there were five Red-throated Diver and the female Eider

Wildlife News: The annual BSBI New Year Plant Hunt saw a total of 32 species in flower including Sweet Violet, Red Dead-nettle, Sticky Groundsel and Summer Snowflake. Several regular species such as Portland Spurge and Fragrant Evening-primrose would have made the list but mowing removed many flowering plants. The same  management has also chopped up a large population of Collared Earthstar Geastrum triplex on Warren Point.