Sunday 14 April 2024

Sunday 14th April

Few seabirds moving offshore early morning but a ♀ Garganey flying E with six Common Scoter just after 7am was a welcome surprise, also from the seawall at least five Great Northern and five Red-throated Diver on the sea with 18 Sandwich and a Little Tern feeding off the estuary mouth. 

A moulting ♂ Ruff that joined the mixed wader roost on Finger Point over high tide was the second new species for the year. Also in the estuary counts of 207 Oystercatcher, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 10 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, seven Eider, six Grey & three Ringed Plover, five Redshank, and threes of Dunlin, Knot and Sanderling 

Elsewhere at least 16 Wheatear and a Willow Warbler were on site, with migrants overhead including four Swallow, four Rook and singles of Jackdaw, Sparrowhawk and Siskin.

Wheatear - Martin Overy

Year list additions:

138. Garganey
139. Ruff

Other Wildlife: Single Orange-tip and Peacock were on the wing and the first Southern Marsh Orchid of the year was in flower. 

Saturday 13 April 2024

Saturday 13th April

Counts from the estuary included 45 Sandwich and a Common Tern, 22 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Pale and 14 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, six Eider, six Whimbrel, five Grey Plover, two Redshank, a Sanderling and a Dunlin.

Elsewhere a one hour 45min seawatch saw 17 Common Scoter, six Red-throated Diver and a Little Egret head SW with a Great Northern Diver offshore; and grounded migrants included six Wheatear and a Willow Warbler with 14 Chiffchaff and seven Blackcap a mix of new arrivals and birds holding territory.

Other Wildlife: A good selection of insects on the wing prompted by the warmest day of the year, including the first Holly Blue of the year, at least ten Orange-tip and four Peacock.

Red Mason Bee - Alan Keatley

Bees included Short-fringed Mining Bee Andrena dorsataRed Mason Bee Osmia bicornis and Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis, with Marsh Tiger Hoverfly Helophilus hybridus, a few Spring Epistrophe E. eligansseveral displaying and mating Celery Fly Euleia heraclei, the ichneumon wasp Ichneumon stramentor and the sawfly Aglaostigma aucupariae all making their first appearances of the year.

Marsh Tiger Hoverfly Helophilus hybridus - Alan Keatley

Celery Fly Euleia heraclei - Alan Keatley

A new species for the Recording Area, Harpactea hombergi, a largely nocturnal woodlouse hunting spider, was found near the station.

Harpactea hombergi - Alan Keatley

Friday 12 April 2024

Friday 12th April

A smart ♂ Ring Ouzel on Warren Point was the highlight, only the fifth spring record for the Warren. Other migrants included eight Wheatear and four Willow Warbler with three Rook overhead and a Kestrel offshore.


Ring Ouzel - both Lee Collins

In the estuary a day of Brent passage, with large mobile flocks of Pale-bellied present, eventually 139 settled in the Bight along with 15 Dark-bellied birds. Other counts included 42 Sandwich Tern,  21 Bar-tailed Godwit, seven Knot, six Grey and two Ringed Plover, five Sanderling, four Whimbrel, a Dunlin and a Redshank.

Elsewhere a two hour 15 min seawatch saw 23 Red-throated Diver, c50 Kittiwake and 20 Common Scoter head SW with two Little Tern and two Great Northern Diver offshore.

Year list addition:

137. Ring Ouzel

Other Wildlife: The first Orange-tip of the year was on the wing along with single Peacock and Speckled Wood.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Thursday 11th April

Early morning single Arctic and Common Tern were offshore with 26 Sandwich Tern, three Red-throated and Great Northern Diver.

Elsewhere counts from the estuary included 210 Oystercatcher, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, seven Eider, six Grey Plover, four Knot, two Dunlin and two Sanderling.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Wednesday 10th April

The only news came from an hour seawatch early morning with counts including 24 Kittiwake, 22 Sandwich, two Common and a Little Tern, 21 Gannet, two Great Northern and a Red-throated Diver.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Tuesday 9th April

Storm force winds and high spring tides over recent days have caused considerable damage to the Dune Ridge along the length of the spit, with Warren Point particularly badly hit, with tens of metres of fixed dune habitat lost to the sea. A continuing failure of the Beach Management Scheme with gabion baskets last seen over 50 years ago now fully exposed. 


Erosion - both Alan Keatley

Early morning seawatching saw another early Storm Petrel, an Arctic Tern and a Red-throated Diver south with two Little Tern and three Great Northern Diver offshore. 

Few birds were recorded at low tide although 25 Sandwich Tern were roosting on an offshore sandbar and a Great Northern Diver was in the estuary off Cockwood. There was also an unconfirmed report of a Black-throated Diver offshore.

Late afternoon there were c40 Sandwich, five Little and an Arctic Tern feeding offshore.

Other Wildlife: Sand Crocus took advantage of the sunny weather to emerge in numbers across the site, along with several early St. Mark's Fly Bibio marci (St Mark's Day is 25th April). 

St Mark's Fly - Alan Keatley

Also, active for the first time this year, Parsley Blacklet Cheilosia pagana and Rhombic Leatherbug Syromastus rhombeus.

Parsley Blacklet Cheilosia pagana - Alan Keatley

Rhombic Leatherbug Syromastus rhombeus - Alan Keatley

Monday 8 April 2024

Monday 8th April

The first two Arctic Tern of the year flew SW past the seawall early morning along with 68 Gannet, 29 Red-throated Diver, 20 Common Scoter, 18 Common Gull, eight Whimbrel, three Little Egret and an Arctic Skua

Three Great Northern Diver and at least 43 Sandwich and two Little Tern were offshore, the terns later roosting on Finger Point, where they were joined briefly by a 3cy Little Gull that arrived from upriver. 

Other counts from the estuary included 204 Oystercatcher, 25 Turnstone, 17 Redshank, seven Pale and two Dark-bellied Brent Geese, seven Knot, the seven Eider (three imm ♂ & four ♀), seven Grey and two Ringed Plover, six Bar-tailed Godwit, four Whimbrel, two sinensis Cormorant and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Elsewhere two Stock Dove were in the Railway Saltmarsh and four Swallow flew through.

Year list addition:

136. Arctic Tern

Sunday 7 April 2024

Sunday 7th April

Seawatching for two hours 15 mins early morning saw the following head SW, 216 Kittiwake, 152 Gannet, 46 Guillemot, 35 Fulmar, seven Manx Shearwater, six Whimbrel, three Great Northern and three Red-throated Diver and a pale phase Pomarine Skua, although also identified as an Arctic. 

Also offshore during the day the first two Little Tern of the year, two Great Northern Diver, a 2cy Mediterranean Gull and a Peregrine unsuccessfully hunting terns. 

Counts from the estuary over the high tides included 240 Oystercatcher, 43 Sandwich Tern, 32 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Redshank, 21 Turnstone, 21 Dark and 12 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 12 Knot, eight Grey Plover, seven Eider, five Red-breasted Merganser, five Great Crested Grebe, four Whimbrel and single Dunlin and Greenshank. Just outside the Recording Area, the Spotted Redshank again roosted in Cockwood Harbour.

Elsewhere five Swallow flew through and two Wheatear were on site, one of which was of the Greenland race - leucorhoa.

Year list additions:

134. Pomarine Skua
135. Little Tern
        Greenland Wheatear 

Other Wildlife: An adult Slow-worm, the first since 2021, was found on the estuary bank. Unfortunately it had clearly been recently attacked but escaped by dropping its tail. 

Slow-worm - Lee Collins

Saturday 6 April 2024

Saturday 6th April

Plenty of activity offshore during the day with counts from a three hour seawatch first thing including a Great Skua, 20 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, a Black-throated Diver (considered a RtD by one observer) and a diver sp SW along with 101 Gannet, 40+ Kittiwake and five Fulmar.

Late afternoon a flock of five Scaup, four male (one considered to be a hybrid, perhaps with Lesser Scaup by some observers) and a female, were close inshore with two Great Northern Diver, two Arctic Skua were harrying gulls, c.30 Brent Geese sp flew into estuary from around Orcombe Point and heading SW, a female Velvet Scoter, 40 Gannet and a Manx Shearwater.

Counts from the estuary included c.60 Sandwich Tern, 26 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 17 Redshank, 15 Turnstone, 12 Knot, seven Eider, seven Red-breasted Merganser, six Great Crested Grebe, four Grey and a Ringed Plover, four Teal, four Whimbrel, two Greenshank and two winter plumaged Dunlin.

Elsewhere migrants included the Warren's earliest ever Grasshopper Warbler flushed on the Golf Course, the previous earliest date was 11th April 2004, with two Wheatear and a Willow Warbler on site, 16 Swallow, five Sand and three House Martin flew west and two Common Sandpiper were on the end of Warren Point.

Year list additions:

130. Common Sandpiper
131. Velvet Scoter
132. Arctic Skua
133. Grasshopper Warbler

Other Wildlife: Tough going in the strong southerly wind, even in the bright periods insects were keeping low, with just a few literally clinging on in the more sheltered areas. These included the first 10-spot Ladybird for the year in the Buffer Zone, a Common Carder Bee, a few Lesser Variable Bibio B. lanigerus, a lone Speckled Wood and a buffeted Red Admiral.

Bibio lanigerus - Alan Keatley

10-spot Ladybird - Alan Keatley

Friday 5 April 2024

Friday 5th April

A one hour 15min seawatch early morning saw 74 Sandwich Tern, c60 Guillemot, 35 Gannet, eight Fulmar, four Red-throated Diver, three Kittiwake and two Common Scoter head SW, with a Great Northern Diver offshore and two Manx Shearwater S early evening.

A Guillemot found exhausted on beach by Groyne 2 was killed by spaniel early morning. Local dog-walkers had intervened to initially protect the Guillemot, grabbing the dog and returning it to the owner. He however refused to put his dog on a lead and it ran off again, evading onlookers and killing the Guillemot. The owner was unconcerned, explaining he was training the spaniel as a gun dog! The relevant authorities have been informed and hopefully will take appropriate action.

The afternoon tide again saw a decent gathering of at least 124 Sandwich Tern, most either feeding in the estuary or roosting around The Bight. Amongst the waders a few new migrants with counts including, 181 Oystercatcher, 55 Curlew, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Knot, nine Redshank, six Ringed and five Grey Plover, four Whimbrel, four Greenshank, two summer plumaged Dunlin and a Sanderling.

Also in the estuary, 22 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, seven Eider and pairs of Teal and Red-breasted Merganser.

Elsewhere the first two House Martin of the year flew W across the estuary with seven Swallow and two Sand Martin. Grounded migrants included six Wheatear, four Willow Warbler and three Blackcap.

Year list addition:

129. House Martin

Ringing News: Three of the Sandwich Tern in The Bight were new colour-ringed birds, from The Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. The latter is only the second Spanish recovery for the Warren and the 10th for the UK. 

Thursday 4 April 2024

Thursday 4th April

The first Merlin of the year, a female, flew S during an early seawatch, along with an early Storm Petrel34 Gannet19 Sandwich Tern, eight Kittiwake, four Canada Geese and a Fulmar.

Another first for the year flew through early afternoon with an Osprey north up the estuary. Later at least 82 Sandwich Tern were in the estuary over a wet afternoon tide with a single Whimbrel again present. Other counts included 21 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 15 Turnstone, 11 Redshank, nine Curlew, six Eider, four Grey and a Ringed Plover, two Sanderling and two Greenshank.

Year list additions:

127. Merlin
128. Osprey

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Wednesday 3rd April

A one hour 15min seawatch early morning saw 96 Gannet, 25 Sandwich Tern14 Kittiwake, two Fulmar, single Red-throated and Great Northern Diver and a Kestrel head S. The first five Common Tern of the year were offshore from Exmouth early morning.

A low high tide saw The Bight devoid of small waders, although 10 Sandwich Tern were present, with 20 Dark and the seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Pale-bellied Brent Geese - Alan Keatley

Elsewhere three Eider and a couple of Great Northern Diver were close offshore.

Great Northern Diver - Alan Keatley

Year list addition:

126. Common Tern

Other Wildlife: A bright sunny afternoon encouraged insects to appear with a male Sandpit Mining Bee Andrena barbilabris  and a pair of dagger flies, Empis femorata attached to flowering Dandelion, with a Hairy-eyed Syrphus S. torvus on Alexanders.

Sandpit Mining Bee - Alan Keatley

Basking on fresh Nettle leaves were a very early Nettle-tap, Devon's earliest ever being 2nd April 2014, and a Red Poplar Leaf Beetle Chrysomela populi.

Nettle-tap - Alan Keatley

Red Poplar Leaf Beetle - Alan Keatley

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Tuesday 2nd April

The low high tide only revealed a few waders with a lone Whimbrel in the Bight the highlight, the first record of the year. Also present up to 25 Sandwich Tern, 18 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 16 Turnstone and single Grey Plover and Sanderling.

Turnstone - Alan Keatley

A further twenty Turnstone were busy feeding on the beach, seven of the wintering Eider were split between the estuary and the sea, a pair of Teal were on the flooded Greenland Lake and despite the inclement weather eight Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were vocal in the bushes.

Chiffchaff - Alan Keatley

Blackcap - Alan Keatley

Year list addition:

125. Whimbrel

Other Wildlife: Despite the bright start few insects were on the wing with just a few Common Dronefly and a Speckled Bittersweet Moth Acrolepia autumnitella moth on the Alexanders.

Acrolepia autumnitella - Alan Keatley

Monday 1 April 2024

Monday 1st April

The year's first Swallow fed around Warren Point but other migrants were thin on the ground with 11 Chiffchaff, two Blackcap and a Willow Warbler on site and two Meadow Pipit overhead.

Elsewhere two Great Northern and two Red-throated Diver were offshore and counts from the estuary included 103 Curlew, 28 Turnstone, 18 Dark and seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 11 Grey Plover, seven Eider, four Sanderling, four Teal, at least four Sandwich Tern, three Knot, three Greenshank and a Dunlin.

Year list addition:

124. Swallow