Tuesday 14 July 2020

Tuesday 14th July

News today was dominated by a site record count of at least 223+ Mediterranean Gull.  This is probably a new Devon record count too with the last published record of 215 on Taw/ Torridge Estuary in Aug 2015.  

Approximately 185 of today's birds were on mudflats beside Shutterton Creek, simultaneously nearly another 40 stood on Bull Hill and others were counted as they flew in off the sea during a four hour visit in the middle of the day either side of the neap tide.  However, the actual day's total was likely to be far higher since small groups continued to fly in off the sea late into the evening and everywhere there were Mediterranean Gull with over a 100 present at any one time as birds continued to fly in and up the estuary.  

The expansion of this species in Britain has been well documented with 54-65 pairs in 2000 (Ogilvie & RBBP, 2002) rising to 1,399-1429 pairs in 2017 (Holling & RBBR, 2019).  The near Continent has also experienced massive increases and for instance the Dutch population is now over 2,000 pairs having nearly quintupled during the preceding 15 year period. Due east of Dawlish Warren only 42 miles away, counts in recent years have apparently reached a remarkable four-figures, so breaking the previous modest record count seemed inevitable. 

Also present today, 400+ Black-headed Gull, 280+ Curlew, 67+ Sandwich Tern, five Common Tern and a Roseate Tern and the Slavonian Grebe. Along the shoreline 7 Sanderling and out to sea 40+ Gannet and a raft of 13 Common Scoter. Passage overhead was also heavy with 80 Swift, the largest count of the year, and 35 Swallow through.

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