Wednesday 28 February 2024

Wednesday 28th February

A grey day with rain from mid-morning, although a singing Chiffchaff didn't seem mind. Difficult to know this time of year, whether it's an early spring migrant or a wintering bird. 

Over high tide most of the small waders weren't roosting, spending the high tide circling around offshore with just a few resting on the groynes. 

Grey Plover, Knot & Sanderling - Dean Hall

Nearly all the Oystercatcher were roosting off site on the railway wall north of Cockwood, with just 20 around the Bight. Other counts included 239 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 93 Curlew, 70 Grey Plover, 31 Turnstone, 30 Sanderling, 27 Bar-tailed Godwit, 21 Knot, the nine Eider, two Red-breasted Merganser and a Great Northern Diver

Turnstone - Dean Hall

Dunlin - Dean Hall

Elsewhere a second Great Northern Diver was offshore, a pair of Shoveler were on the Main Pond and late in the day the 2cy presumed Glaucous x Herring Gull again appeared on Bull Hill preroost. 

Other Wildlife: No insects were to be found on the Alexanders in the damp weather, however, two weevils made on appearance; a gorse weevil Sitona striatellus, and a clover leaf weevil Hypera postica on a shop front wall early morning.

Sitona striatellus - Alan Keatley

Monday 26 February 2024

Monday 26th February

Counts from the estuary included 600+ Dunlin, 354 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, c190 Black-tailed Godwit, 92 Curlew, 63 Redshank, 22 Sanderling, 22 Teal, 18 Ringed and 10 Grey Plover, just 14 Oystercatcher at mid tide, with only singles over high tide, the nine Eider, eight Red-breasted Merganser and a pair of Pintail.

Elsewhere just two Siskin noted in the scrub in the cold NE wind, with four Shoveler on the Main Pond and single Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter offshore.

Other Wildlife: Numerous Aphodius dung beetles were blown off the Dune Ridge and swept along the beach in the strong sand-blasting NE wind. Amongst them were the red dung beetle Aphodius fimetarius.

Aphodius fimetarius - Alan Keatley
It was a spider that stole the show with the nationally rare Bleeding-heart Spider Nigma puella, plus a Tibellus species, most likely T. oblongus.

Tibellus maritimus - Alan Keatley

Sunday 25 February 2024

Sunday 25th February

An early morning two hour seawatch saw 48 Red-throated Diver head SW along with 1558 auk sp., 134 Kittiwake, 19 Gannet, four Common Scoter and three Fulmar, with a Great Northern Diver close inshore.

Counts from the estuary included c700 Dunlin, 333 Dark and the Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 204 Black-tailed Godwit densely packed in the saltmarsh, 116 Bar-tailed Godwit around the Bight, 88 Knot, 86 Redshank, 75 Grey Plover, 57 Curlew, 31 Teal, the nine Eider and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Saturday 24th February

Counts from the estuary included c920 Dunlin, 76 Bar and 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 75 Redshank, 53 Grey Plover, 35 Turnstone, 32 Knot, 20 Teal, the nine Eider, five Sanderling, two Greenshank and two Red-breasted Merganser. Also present a Water Pipit in the saltmarsh, the Pale-bellied Brent Goose and an injured Great Northern Diver sat on the mudflats by Shutterton Creek. Elsewhere hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit in huge flock were stood on Cockle Sands, Exmouth on the ebbing tide.

Offshore nine Great Crested Grebe, three Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, with four Siskin and single Chiffchaff and Goldcrest in the bushes and three Shoveler on the Main Pond. 

Stonechat - Alan Keatley

Other Wildlife: The Grey Squirrel was still in the Entrance Bushes and the spring-like weather saw Common Spotted Field Syrph Eupeodes luniger and the kelp fly Coleopa frigida on the wing for the first time this year.

Common Spotted Field Syrph Eupeodes luniger - Alan Keatley

Friday 23 February 2024

Friday 23rd February

The highlight came late in the day with a 2cy presumed Glaucous x Herring Gull, found earlier from Exmouth on Cockle Sands, flying out to sea over Warren Point with a single Herring Gull at 16.52. This is just the first site record. Pictures from Exmouth can be found here

Counts from the estuary included 643 Dunlin, 524 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 111 Redshank, 106 Bar and a single circling Black-tailed Godwit, 36 Knot, 36 Teal, 21 Turnstone, 12 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Ringed Plover, five Sanderling and five Greenshank. The nine Eider (six ♀ & three imm ♂) continue to favour the area inshore around Warren Point.

Elsewhere a Buzzard appeared to land in Dead Dolphin Wood, six Shoveler were on the Main Pond, two Chiffchaff and two Goldcrest were in the bushes and offshore four Red-throated and three Great Northern Diver, 29 Great Crested Grebe and 18 Razorbill.

Year list addition:

Glaucous x Herring Gull

Other Wildlife: The persistent rain of the last couple of days turned to sunshine and heavy showers. With a drop in temperature insect activity was minimal, even in the sunny spells, with just a few Common Dronefly braving it out. Elsewhere a Fleecy Jumper Pseudeuophrys lanigera was at the Visitor Centre.

Monday 19 February 2024

Monday 19th February

The usual few divers offshore early morning with four Great Northern (one on sea and three SW) and three Red-throated (two on the sea and one SW). Less expected were a pair of Pintail with the roosting flock of 37 Great Crested Grebe

In the estuary on a low tide, 192 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose84 Redshank, 39 Teal, seven Greenshank, four Red-breasted Merganser, two Wigeon and the pair of Goldeneyewith 43 Dark-bellied also feeding on the exposed reefs below Langstone Rock.

Elsewhere eight Eider were sat offshore on Pole Sands at low tide, two pairs of Shoveler were at the Main Pond, five Rook flew overhead, four Reed Bunting on site after a winter max of one, with 12 Siskin, three Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff in the bushes.

Other Wildlife: The continuing early spring weather saw three Red Admiral on the wing along with increased numbers of Tapered Dronefly Eristalis pertinax, hovering territorial males, typically a few feet above the ground, unlike the plentiful Common Dronefly E. tenax.

Red Admiral - Alan Keatley

Tapered Dronefly - Alan Keatley

New insects for the year included 24-spot and Harlequin Ladybird, and an early record of Kelisia sabulicola, a Sand Sedge planthopper.

24-spot Ladybird - Alan Keatley

Harlequin Ladybird - Alan Keatley

Kelisia sabulicola - Alan Keatley

Sunday 18 February 2024

Sunday 18th February

An impressive count of 124 Siskin commuted between Alders across the site and the mainland, the highest count outside the period 20 Sep - 05 Nov, all from vismig with the previous best 100 on 6 Jan 1994. Also on site a Firecrest in sallows near the Dune Pond, with five Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff in the bushes. 

In the estuary very low numbers for WeBS an hour before the lowest high tide of the month with just 214 Oystercatcher, 27 Sanderling, 19 Turnstone, 14 Curlew, five Dunlin and three Bar-tailed Godwit present. Later counts included 276 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 93 Redshank, 44 Teal, nine Greenshank, eight Eider, six Lesser Black-backed Gull, five Red-breasted Merganser and two Goldeneye.

Elsewhere an hour seawatch saw 42 Gannet, three Kittiwake, a Great Northern Diver and a Common Scoter flew SW with 23 Great Crested Grebe, eight Red-throated and three Great Northern Diver on the sea; a Jack Snipe flushed from Greenland Lake, six Shoveler on the Main Pond and four Rook and two Jackdaw flew overhead.

Other Wildlife: A single Red Admiral was on the wing with a few Common Dronefly and a migrant Rush Veneer

Hebrew Character - Kevin Rylands

Feverfly - Alan Keatley

Saturday 17 February 2024

Saturday 17th February

The two immature Spoonbill reappeared from the top end of the estuary to roost on Finger Point over high tide before feeding in the Bight. Also in the estuary, c1665 Dunlin, c470 Oystercatcher, 329 Dark and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 166 Common and a Mediterranean Gull, 137 Bar and eight Black-tailed Godwit, 91 Knot, 87 Redshank, 81 Grey and 22 Ringed Plover, 32 Teal, five Greenshank and five Red-breasted Merganser.

A quiet 1h 45 minute seawatch saw 17 Kittiwake, 10 Gannet, eight Red-throated Diver and a Fulmar offshore with 21 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Common Scoter, nine Eider and a Great Northern Diver on the sea.

Elsewhere the pair of Gadwall, two pairs of Little Grebe and a pair of Shoveler were on the Main Pond, where four of the Mallard ducklings survived the week. 

Friday 16 February 2024

Friday 16th February

A fine day with some spring wildfowl movement early morning with a pair of Egyptian Geese SW past the seawall, a pair of Gadwall circling the site before later visiting the Main Pond, five Tufted Duck (four ♂ & a ♀) on the sea off Warren Point and two ♀ Pintail in the Bight.

Counts from the estuary included 945 Dunlin, 598 Oystercatcher, 273 Dark and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 119 Common Gull, 113 Curlew, 108 Bar-tailed Godwit, 85 Redshank, 62 Grey and 21 Ringed Plover, 41 Knot, 34 Teal, 31 Sanderling, nine Eider, eight Greenshank and four Red-breasted Merganser. The roost was disturbed by two different Sparrowhawk, one of which successfully caught a Dunlin

Elsewhere 27 Great Crested Grebe, eight Red-throated Diver and two Common Scoter were offshore, six Shoveler were on the Main Pond, 67 Siskin were again in the Alders and single Jackdaw and Rook were overhead.

Year list additions:

110. Tufted Duck
111. Gadwall

Thursday 15 February 2024

Thursday 15th February

The high spring tide left few exposed roosting areas with Dunlin and other small waders almost constantly in the air, before eventually settling on Finger Point. A flock of 60 Black-tailed Godwit flew into the saltmarsh but didn't stay for long, other records included a single Pale-bellied with 390 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 120 Bar-tailed Godwit, 60 Redshank, 37 Grey Plover, a Greenshank and an immature male Eider

Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Alan Keatley

Eider - Dean Hall

Elsewhere 12 Siskin and a Goldcrest were in the bushes, four Shoveler were on the Main Pond and single Common Scoter and Great Northern Diver were offshore.

Cirl Bunting - Dean Hall

Other Wildlife: A dry and bright morning saw the second butterfly species of the year on the wing, a Peacock. The Alexanders continue to attract good numbers of flies including Common Dronefly and a Marmalade Hoverfly.

Common Damselbug Nabis rugosus - Alan Keatley

Hypera arator a sea-spurrey weevil - Alan Keatley

Monday 12 February 2024

Monday 12th February

Sadly no sign of the Scaup flock today, or elsewhere on the estuary, with nine Eider, six Red-breasted Merganser and the Goldeneye pair present. An exceptionally high tide limited roosting opportunities for waders with low numbers returning as Finger Point became exposed. Counts included 1249 Dunlin, 132 Grey and 11 Ringed Plover, 87 Curlew, 84 Redshank, 64 Knot, 43 Turnstone, 29 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank.

Also in the estuary the intermediate adult Brent with 330 Dark and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 45 Teal and a Wigeon, with the adult Little Gull flying over the spit from offshore and the Scandinavian littoralis Rock Pipit around the Bight is starting to moult. 

Elsewhere eight Red-throated Diver and five Great Crested Grebe were offshore, a Firecrest was by the station, 67 Siskin were in the Alders before heading back to the mainland, three Chiffchaff and three Shoveler around the Main Pond and c50 Linnet on Warren Point was a notable increase.

Other Wildlife: The sunshine again tempted a Red Admiral onto the wing. 

Sunday 11 February 2024

Sunday 11th February

The Warren's first record of Lesser Scaup, an immature ♂, was the clear highlight, followed by the three Greater Scaup (♂♀♀) it was with! They were found in the estuary corner late morning, moving along Shutterton Creek on dropping tide, before flying to the main Exe channel briefly and then flew N up estuary @ 12:10. 

Lesser (2nd bird) and Greater Scaup - Lee Collins

Lesser (2nd bird) and Greater Scaup - David Flack

Also in the estuary, a pair of Goldeneye, eight Eider, five Red-breasted Merganser and a Great Northern Diver, with wader counts including 930 Dunlin, 125 Bar-tailed Godwit, 120 Knot, 111 Grey and 12 Ringed Plover, 27 Sanderling, 21 Curlew and two Greenshank.

Offshore 535 auk sp., 108 Kittiwake, 11 Common Scoter and three Red-throated Diver flew SW in a 1hr 45min watch from the seawall, with eight Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver on the sea.

Elsewhere, after an absence last year, 10 Mallard duckling were at the Main Pond along with six Shoveler, a flock of c60 Siskin were around Dead Dolphin Wood, three Chiffchaff and two Goldcrest were around the bushes and a Buzzard drifted over early afternoon.

Mallard - David Flack

Year list additions:

108. Greater Scaup
109. Lesser Scaup

Other Wildlife: Plenty of insect activity between the showers with a Red Admiral and five Buff-tailed Bumblebee queens on the wing. The flowering Alexanders hosted over 20 Common Dronefly, with similar numbers of Yellow Dung Fly and around a dozen Common Bluebottle Calliphora vicina. Amongst them an Orange-bearded Bluebottle C. vomitoria, a couple of greenbottles Eudasyphora cyanella and the picture-winged fly Tephritis neesii. 

Common Dronefly - Kevin Rylands

Also out in the warming sunshine several Green Shieldbug, a Dock Bug and a Seven-spot Ladybird.

Green Shieldbug - Kevin Rylands

Saturday 10 February 2024

Saturday 10th February

The first Little Gull of the year, a presumed adult was foraging inshore on flotsam with Black-headed, Common and an adult Mediterranean Gull. A 45min watch saw just two Red-throated Diver, two Gannet, a Fulmar and a diver sp. heading SW, although a huge, dispersed and distant foraging flock of 485+ Kittiwake were across horizon, with three Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver on the sea. 

The high tide roost was again frequently disturbed by an immature male Sparrowhawk, but selected counts included c1200 Dunlin, eventually roosting offsite, 622 Oystercatcher, 90 Redshank, 64 Teal, 48 Knot, 38 Turnstone, 17 Ringed Plover, 11 Wigeon, eight Eider, five Red-breasted Merganser and two Greenshank.

Elsewhere four Siskin and a Chiffchaff were in the bushes and six Shoveler were still on the Main Pond.

Year list addition:

107. Little Gull

Other Wildlife: More clumps of Common Frog spawn were found, this time in the flooded areas of Greenland Lake. Beetling again proved productive with a Dromius quadrimaculatus in the entrance bushes and the rove beetle Phytosus balticus, about the size of a springtail, was under driftwood in The Bight. 

Dromius quadrimaculatus - Alan Keatley

Phytosus balticus - Alan Keatley

Friday 9 February 2024

Friday 9th February

A wet and windy day saw attention focussed over the two high tides in the estuary, with peak numbers generally over the evening tide. Counts included c1450 Dunlin, 533 Oystercatcher, 505 Dark and two Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 148 Bar-tailed Godwit, 121 Curlew, 91 Grey and 24 Ringed Plover, 56 Knot, 42 Turnstone, 27 Shelduck, nine Sanderling and nine Wigeon.

Nine Great Crested Grebe were also in the estuary with another seven offshore, with six Shoveler and three Little Grebe at the Main Pond. A Treecreeper was a notable find in the Entrance Bushes.

Year list additions

103. Treecreeper
Late news.
104. Redwing
105. Marsh Harrier
106. Red Kite

The 2023 Dawlish Warren Bird Report is now available to downland from the website.

Pallas's Warbler - John Walters

Thursday 8 February 2024

Thursday 8th February

The forecast morning rain didn't amount to much and the stronger winds didn't produce much offshore passage aside from 30 Gannet. On the sea were eight Great Crested Grebe. a single Red-throated Diver and a small flock of 14 Common Scoter, with five Eider off Warren Point.

At low tide, 30 Shelduck and a Greenshank were feeding in the estuary, 85 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were on the Golf Course, five Shoveler were on the Main Pond with Sparrowhawk  18 Meadow Pipit and 14 Cirl Bunting on site.

Sparrowhawk - Alan Keatley

Other Wildlife: Fewer beetles were beneath the geotubes, able to escape on the damp sand with the darkling beetle Phylan gibbus and the dung beetle Aphodius foetidus.

Phylan gibbus - Alan Keatley

A further new beetle was recorded at the geotubes on Tuesday, the nationally rare dung beetle Melinopterus consputus.

Melinopterus consputus - Alan Keatley

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Tuesday 6th February

Another large movement of auks SW across the bay early morning with at least 1500 in an almost continuous movement, many in flocks 50+, in just 45 minutes from dawn. Also passing 170 Gannet but little else with no divers recorded. A single migrant Lesser Black-backed Gull was also watched coming in from the south.

At low tide 95 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were in the estuary, four Eider were loafing on an offshore sandbar and six Teal and five Shoveler were on the Main Pond. 

Other Wildlife: The first Common Frog spawn was in temporary pools around the Entrance Bushes. A varied selection of beetles were found on the windswept beach beneath the geotubes. The best of which was a new species for the recording area, the dung beetle Onthophagus medius. This species is rarely recorded in the south west. 

Onthophagus medius - Alan Keatley

Other beetles included Marram Weevil Philopedon plagiatum, a few Dune Scarab Aegialia arenaria, a Common Springtail Stalker Notiophilus biggutatus and a Helophorus brevipalpis.

Marram Weevil - Alan Keatley

Common Springtail Stalker - Alan Keatley

Away from the beetles there were a few flying insects on the Alexanders with a Tephritis neesii the best.

Tephritis neesii - Alan Keatley

Monday 5 February 2024

Monday 5th February

Five Black-tailed Godwit were new arrivals with other waders, Dunlin & Oystercatcher aside, largely absent on the neap tide. Counts from the estuary included 317 Dark and the Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 152 Teal, 88 Redshank. 23 Shelduck, 14 Wigeon, six Greenshank and on Bull Hill, two Sanderling and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Elsewhere 26 Great Crested Grebe, seven Red-breasted Merganser and six Eider were offshore with an hours seawatch seeing 707 auk sp., 29 Kittiwake, six Red-throated Diver, five Common Scoter, two Gannet and a Fulmar head SW. On site six Shoveler were at the Main Pond and the bushes held seven Siskin, three Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest

Sunday 4 February 2024

Sunday 4th February

Much quieter offshore first thing with 232 auk sp. SW in 1hr 30mins along with 97 Kittiwake, five Red-throated Diver, three Common Scoter and three Gannet, with 31 Great Crested Grebe and 11 Razorbill on the sea.

The neap high tide again saw many waders roosting on increasing sandbanks elsewhere in the estuary, with one Bar-tailed Godwit in The Bight, although 1152 Dunlin arrived after being flushed by a wide ranging Peregrine. Other counts included 297 Dark and the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 232 Teal, 100 Common and an adult Mediterranean Gull, 92 Redshank, 15 Wigeon, nine Red-breasted Merganser, seven Greenshank, six Eider and on Bull Hill, three Sanderling

Elsewhere a ♂ Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the Cuckoo's Nest, the Dartford Warbler was on the Golf Course, 14 Meadow Pipit and nine Stonechat hinted at migration, five Shoveler were on the Main Pond, three Chiffchaff and two Goldcrest were in the bushes and two Rook and a Jackdaw were overhead.

Other Wildlife: A Grey Seal was in the estuary.

Saturday 3 February 2024

Saturday 3rd February

A busy start offshore with over 1125 auk sp. distantly heading SW in 1hr 20min, with hundreds of Kittiwake amongst a mixed gull melee across the far horizon. On the sea, 43 Razorbill and two Guillemot hinting at the potential split further out, 39 Great Crested Grebe and five Red-throated Diver.

A flock of 15 Curlew east showed some movement with two Black-tailed Godwit in the estuary also presumably migrants. Low roost counts on the neap tide with two Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover again, today joined by 37 Ringed Plover and a Lapwing which stood with waders for a spell in The Bight. 

Also in the estuary 246 Teal, 75 Redshank, 15 Red-breasted Merganser, 15 Wigeon, seven Greenshank and two Eider. Elsewhere six Shoveler on the Main Pond with three Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest and two Siskin in the woods.

Friday 2 February 2024

Friday 2nd February

A 1hr 20 min seawatch saw 313 Kittiwake head SW, with another 120+ attending the distant breeding ledge on Straight Point. Also passing 169 auk sp., those close enough all Razorbill, 12 Common Scoter and five Red-throated Diver, with 33 Great Crested Grebe, seven Eider and a Great Northern Diver close inshore. 

In the estuary just two Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover in the Bight on the neap tide, with other counts including 164 Teal, 91 Redshank, 43 Turnstone, 23 Wigeon, five Greenshank, four Red-breasted Merganser and two Mediterranean Gull, including a new 2nd cal yr bird.

Elsewhere another small influx of 27 Meadow Pipit, three Rook overhead, 15 Cirl Bunting, five Goldcrest and three Chiffchaff on site, seven Shoveler at the Main Pond, at least three Siskin in the Entrance Bushes.

Other Wildlife: The Grey Squirrel remains in the Entrance Bushes.

Thursday 1 February 2024

Thursday 1st February

No wader counts over the high tide but 250+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese were in the estuary with 182 Teal, 15 Wigeon, the nine Eider, a male Goldeneye, a Red-breasted Merganser and the Avocet.

Elsewhere the Cetti's Warbler was at the Main Pond with six Shoveler, five Teal and three Little Grebe, a male Blackcap in the Entrance Bushes has been present around a week, with three Chiffchaff, two Siskin and a Goldcrest on site and 17 Great Crested Grebe offshore.

Teal - Dean Hall

Year list addition:

102. Blackcap

Other Wildlife: The lack of a bumblebee or butterfly sighting was unexpected in the conditions with Common Dronefly, Gorse Shieldbug and the first wolf spiders Pardosa sp. of the year seen sunning themselves. The highlight was however found under some rotting wood, the first site record of the nationally scarce Stilt bug Berytinus hirticornis, also sheltering the leafhopper Mocydia crocea and the strandline ground beetle Broscus cephalotes. 

Berytinus hirticornis - Alan Keatley

Mocydia crocea - Alan Keatley

Broschus cephalotes - Alan Keatley