The overnight fog and rain brought in small numbers of migrants, but the fog never really lifted and hampered viewing for most of the day. The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, the earliest ever site record, was around the Main Pond, with three Sedge Warbler, two Garden Warbler, a Wheatear and a Cuckoo other notable migrants. Overhead there was a light passage of 50+ Swallow with two House and Sand Martin, a single Swift and at least two Yellow Wagtail. During a break in the weather 12 Sandwich Tern could be seen in the estuary, with c30 Common, six plus Arctic and three Little Tern offshore, this flock dispersed after being harried by a Peregrine which succeeded in catching a Common Tern. There were again few waders with c25 Dunlin, a Grey Plover, seven Whimbrel and 14 Turnstone around the Bight with 11 Sanderling on the beach. Other news included a single Collared Dove east, the first Jay of the year briefly around the Back Path and Golf Course and a dark phase Arctic Skua offshore in the afternoon.
Six Reed Warbler are now on site with five around the Main Pond and a single on the Golf Course. Whitethroat seem to be well established with nine birds present. Migrants included two Swift west over the Bight, a Cuckoo east along the Dune Ridge and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Five Little Tern were offshore, with 68 Whimbrel coming in off the sea, during the day. Waders numbers remain low with only 30 Ringed Plover and 25 Dunlin on site. A possible first winter American Herring Gull, was in front of the hide for half an hour before flying up river towards Topsham at 11am.
Seawatching produced some good counts of birds heading south including 39 Manx Shearwater, c70 Fulmar, 50+ Gannet, seven Red-throated Diver, 348 Kittiwake, five Arctic and one Great Skua, 11 Razorbill and 20 Whimbrel. In the estuary there were 40 Sandwich, six Common, an Arctic and a Little Tern with 23 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 79 Whimbrel, 29 Turnstone, 26 Dunlin and 11 Sanderling. 20 Swallow, four House Martin and a Wheatear was the only other news reported.
There just 32 Sandwich Tern present today with 10 Common Tern in the estuary. A single Great Northern Diver was offshore with three Red-throated Diver, 30 Kittiwake and 24 Common Scoter east. Whimbrel are still passing through in numbers with 50 on site today, other waders are however thin on the ground with only a handful of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and three Sanderling recorded. The bushes were also very quiet with just a few Willow and two Reed Warbler seen. The only other migrants seen were a few Swallow, House Martin and two Wheatear. An immature female Peregrine on the beach was the only other report.
A Pale-bellied Brent Goose was with small numbers of Herring Gull at the east end of the reserve. In the estuary nine Little Egret were on the Railway Saltmarsh with 28 Dunlin and two Sanderling in front of the hide, where a Peregrine scattered the 200+ Oystercatcher present. Small numbers of “Commic” Terns were offshore with Sandwich Tern but were too distant to be positively identified, also offshore a single Red-throated Diver. A Wheatear was on the Golf Course but few other migrants were around early on, although a Grasshopper Warbler was reported later. The Willow Tit is still on site being seen in brambles along the Back Path and around the First Pond. Off site two Spoonbill could be seen distantly from the hide, sat in trees at Bowling Green Marsh.
Wader numbers are increasing with 150+ Dunlin, 43 Ringed Plover, 36 Turnstone, 28 Whimbrel and 24 Sanderling. Nine Little Tern were in front of the hide with an Arctic Tern on Cockle Sands, later on at least 26 Common Tern were present and eight Arctic Tern flew in off the sea and continued high north up the estuary at 18.40. 12 Whitethroat were on site with 18 Wheatear between Greenland Lake and Warren Point. Undoubtedly the highlight of the day were the three Pied Flycatcher on site, two males at the east end of Greenland Lake and a female on Warren Point. Warren Point also produced at least nine Willow Warbler, with the first Garden Warbler and Tree Pipit of the year. Another Tree Pipit was on the Wryneck Path mid evening. A count of 10 Blackcap was noteworthy, other migrants included seven Chiffchaff, four Reed and one Sedge Warbler. The Willow Tit remains on site and small numbers of Swallow were moving throughout the morning and a Sand Martin circled the Main Pond.
Numbers of the commoner warblers had dropped overnight but they increased during the day and good numbers were again present by mid afternoon, including three Reed and a Sedge Warbler. New migrants included seven Wheatear, four Stonechat and the first Yellow Wagtail of the year. The Willow Tit was still present around Greenland Lake and was even singing at times, it is thought to be a different individual to the one recorded in March. There was a steady passage of hirundines during the day with at 100+ Swallow, 30+ House Martin, 5+ Sand Martin joined by 30+ Swift, the first of the year. Offshore there were three Red-throated Diver, 20+ Great-crested Grebe, two Arctic Skua, a dark phase early morning and a pale phase in the afternoon, and 19 Manx Shearwater flew west. There were 100+ Sandwich, 12 Common and three Little Tern on site with an early Roseate Tern in the Estuary, found sat on one of the buoys mid-channel, the first of the year. Waders continue to move through with 50 Turnstone, 25 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plover, 15 Whimbrel, 15 Sanderling, five Grey Plover and two Bar-tailed Godwit.
The overnight rain and misty conditions produced the first good fall of spring. On site, there were 23 Willow Warbler, 17 Blackcap, 16 Whitethroat, 13 Chiffchaff, three Reed Warbler, two Wheatear, two Grasshopper Warbler, a Cuckoo and the first Sedge Warbler of the year. The highlights though were found late in the day; a male Pied Flycatcher near the Main Pond and a Willow Tit at the eastern end of Greenland Lake. This is either the second reserve record or the bird seen on 21-22 March. Other migrants included seven Swallow, three Chaffinch and small numbers of Goldfinch. Offshore, two Arctic Skua were lingering early morning also 13 Great-crested Grebe, two Manx Shearwater and two Red-throated Diver. Wader numbers had also increased with c.70 Dunlin, 44 Ringed Plover, 31 Whimbrel, 16 Grey Plover, two Knot and single Turnstone, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit. Also in the Estuary five Little Egret, 120 Sandwich and four Common Tern.
30+ Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on site today with 80 Sandwich Tern, 15 Whimbrel, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, seven Turnstone and four Little Egret. Offshore, a Black-throated Diver and two Eider flew east. Also on site Reed Warbler and only the second House Martin of the year.
A few more signs of spring migration today with four new species for the year. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling near the windmill early morning, a Reed Warbler was at the Main Pond, a Cuckoo was around Greenland Lake all day and a pair of Gadwall were offshore in the evening. Other records included a Red-throated Diver, 20 Great-crested Grebe, a Razorbill and a drake Red-breasted Merganser offshore with 30 Sandwich and a Common Tern late evening. These birds being harassed by a pale phase Arctic Skua. Elsewhere there were five Buzzard over, two Wheatear, 15+ Whimbrel, but only single figures of Dunlin and Ringed Plover over high tide.
The summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe remains offshore. Four Little Egret and six Knot were in the Estuary with 74 Whimbrel arriving from the south during the morning and eight Eider flying east. Tern numbers are much reduced on site with only 20 Sandwich and three Common Tern present today. Six Chiffchaff, two Blackcap, a Whitethroat, a Wheatear and two Willow Warbler remain around Greenland Lake with two of the latter also on Warren Point.
Whitethroat 20/4/05 © Dave Stone
Today from hide there were 27 Ringed Plover, three Sanderling, three Dunlin, two Knot and four Pale-bellied Brent Geese. A two hour seawatch produced two flocks of 19 and 23 Pale-bellied Brent Geese in from south, the flock of 23 had earlier been seen in Torbay. Also past the first two Great Skua of the year, an early record, 15 Common and 50 Sandwich Tern, two Manx Shearwater, nine Eider, two Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver. At least 20 Common Scoter were off the seawall. Good numbers of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler remained around the Main Pond, with five Teal, Little Grebe, a Swallow and the second Mallard brood of the year also there.
After yesterday’s southerly blast, 11Chiffchaff and 15 Willow Warbler were on site with three Blackcap singing from the Greenland Lake area. A small increase in Whitethroat numbers was also evident with five on site. A 1st year Glaucous Gull, presumably the River Otter bird, was seen to take off from Maer Rocks and was viewed flying out with other gulls to a trawler offshore. Also offshore three Red-throated Diver, a smart summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe, 30+ Sandwich and 25 Common Tern. Elsewhere four Little Tern were in the Estuary, 40+ Ringed Plover with the first Common Sandpiper of the year on the Main Pond. This is only the second record from here, with most birds seen on site on the beach or Railway Embankment.
The strong south-westerly winds produced the first decent seawatching of the year, at least 150 Manx Shearwater flew west with 40+ Fulmar, 60+ Kittiwake, 50+ Gannet, 27 Eider, a Red-throated Diver and a dark phase Arctic Skua. Also present offshore up to 70 Sandwich Tern, eight Great-crested Grebe, two Little and a Common Tern. Most of the terns moved into the estuary over high tide where a single Arctic Tern was seen roosting on Bull Hill, this along with the skua were the first records for the year. Three Whimbrel flew west offshore and another four were recorded on the beach. At least 15 Chiffchaff were present on site including a pale individual seen briefly near the Tractor Compound, a possible tristis.
The Kentish Plover was still present today on the beach at Warren Point with 34 Ringed Plover and three Dunlin. Several small parties of Whimbrel were on the move, often feeding briefly on the beach before continuing north, at least 57 had been counted by 1pm. Other movement included a few hirundines with c10 Swallow, two Sand Martin and a single House Martin along the Dune Ridge, a White Wagtail over, three Wheatear around Warren Point and a slight increase in warbler numbers, with 15 Chiffchaff and five Willow Warbler present. Two Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew in from the south, with c30 Sandwich Tern, 10 Great-crested Grebe, six Red-breasted Merganser, three Razorbill and two Eider also offshore.
The Kentish Plover was still present today with 33 Ringed Plover. Also present on site 20 Turnstone, 16 Red-breasted Merganser, four Common Tern, five Wheatear, four Raven and two Whitethroat.
The Kentish Plover was still present today with 27 Ringed Plover, it spent most of the day on the beach at Warren Point, although was seen occasionally in the Bight. Other waders present today included five Whimbrel, 71 Curlew, single Dunlin and Sanderling, with at least 50 Turnstone along the beach, another flock of 25 Turnstone later departed northwest over the hide. In the Estuary there were two Common and 30 Sandwich Tern with eight Shelduck, eight Teal and five Little Egret in Shutterton Creek. Offshore there were two Red-throated Diver, 16 Great-crested Grebe, c30 Common Scoter and a Little Tern. Migrants were again thin on the ground with a Blackcap, three Whitethroat, six Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler probably all now holding territory, although four Wheatear were found in the afternoon. Very light passage saw a single Swallow fly through, a Buzzard over to the northwest, a Rook east and a Collared Dove low over the Golf Course. Two Stock Dove seen feeding on the Railway embankment was the first record of the year.
The bushes around the First Pond and Greenland Lake showed a lack of migrants this morning with only four Blackcap, a Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler and eight Chiffchaff present. However the day improved with a male Kentish Plover a welcome find in the Bight, this is the first record here since 2003, it then roosted on the beach with 40+ Ringed Plover before returning to the Bight as the tide receded. This was however almost eclipsed by a sighting of Red-legged Partridge flying east over the Bight. This is only the ninth record for the recording area (four others of which have been between 11-16th April!) and was the first here since 2000. Offshore a female Eider was the third bird of the day, being only the second record of the year, also offshore 50 Common Scoter and 21 Red-breasted Merganser. Over high tide there were also 60 Turnstone, three Dunlin, a Whimbrel, four Little Egret, 30 Sandwich Tern and a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose. A flock of c20 Ringed Plover was seen to leave high north mid afternoon.
Kentish Plover (male) 13/4/05 © Dave Stone
The first Little Tern of the year was in the Estuary and the first House Martin of the year flew over. 23 Pale-bellied Brent Geese was the only other news reported for today.
A single Black-throated Diver remained offshore with five Great-crested Grebe and 40 Shag, 28 Common Scoter also flew south. 38 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were on site, 11 in the estuary and another 27 which flew in from the south. The first Whitethroat of the year were recorded, with a one by the Visitor Centre and another by the Windmill, other birds on site included a White Wagtail on the beach, seven Chiffchaff around Greenland Lake along with four Willow Warbler and two Blackcap with six Reed Bunting, including four males. Elsewhere two Teal, a Grey Heron and two Canada Geese were on the Main Pond with 110 Curlew and two Whimbrel on Finger Point.
The highlight was two Black-throated Diver offshore early morning before flying south, also offshore with 12 Great-crested Grebe, 12 Red-breasted Merganser and 15 Common Scoter. Single Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe were also reported. There were again few migrants around with four Swallow, four Rook and two Buzzard flying over and a Wheatear, eight Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap on site. A third Buzzard was seen later circling low over Greenland Lake and two Peregrine were circling high over the Visitor Centre in the afternoon. Elsewhere at least 91 Sandwich Tern were around the reserve, roosting on sandbars offshore early afternoon with 420 Herring Gull, 49 Turnstone were present over high tide with one Whimbrel, three Dunlin, c30 Ringed Plover and a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose.
Two Red-throated Diver were offshore with seven Great-crested Grebe, 19 Red-breasted Merganser, eight Gannet and six Common Scoter, but there was little sign of any movement. Over high tide there were at least two Whimbrel on Finger Point with 79 Curlew; six Dunlin and a Grey Plover were on the beach with 86 Ringed Plover, another increase. Other records, on a quiet day, included a first year Mediterranean Gull, single Jackdaw and two Swallow flying through with two Sparrowhawk, a Willow Warbler and 94 Sandwich Tern.
The 17 Pale-bellied Brent Geese were still present but no other news was received for today.
The first two Whimbrel of the year settled in front of the hide with 57 Curlew and 30 Bar-tailed Godwit on Finger Point, 60 Ringed Plover feeding in the Bight and a Greenshank in Shutterton Creek. Sandwich Tern numbers are increasing with 94 feeding in the Estuary, the 17 Pale-Bellied Brent were still to be found, commuting between the Estuary and Pole Sands. Elsewhere two Rook and two Swallow flew through, with three Teal still on the Main Pond, and at least 50 Linnet, seven Chiffchaff, a Wheatear and a Sparrowhawk around Greenland Lake.
Seawatching this morning produced the first three Manx Shearwater of the year, a Great Northern Diver, 53 Kittiwake, 30+ Gannet, 15+ Fulmar, 36 Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Common Scoter, five Sandwich Tern, seven auk sp. and a Peregrine. Wildfowl on the Estuary included 11 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, seven Teal, three Shelduck and a single Canada Goose, with 17 Pale-bellied Brent Geese spread between the estuary and the sea. 42 Ringed Plover were in the Bight with a single Dunlin. In poor weather for songbirds, five Chiffchaff were in Greenland Lake with two Reed Bunting and a Blackcap, a single Wheatear and a Chiffchaff were on Warren Point. Three Swallow and a Jackdaw flew over.
The highlight was unfortunately outside the recording area, a White Stork, which had been found near Topsham, was watched flying south down the Haldon Ridge from Warren Point. The numbers of Ringed Plover had increased again with 43 present, but other waders are not yet moving through with only two Dunlin seen, 30 Sandwich Tern were also present. Other records included four Rook, four Raven, a Jackdaw and a Swallowover.
Single Great Northern and Red-throated Diver flew south early morning, with two Great Northern and three Red-throated on the sea later on with two Slavonian Grebe still offshore from the windmill. Also offshore, 71 Red-breasted Merganser, 39 Sandwich Tern, 28 Common Scoter, 23 Black-headed Gull and the first Common Tern of the year, with six Wigeon surprisingly on the foreshore. The Common Tern record is the second earliest for the site following one on 3rd and 4th April 2004. In the Estuary at least 60 Brent Geese remain with a Pale-bellied Brent. Elsewhere, on Warren Point eight Skylark were on show with a single Wheatear and two Swallow flew east along the Dune Ridge with three more around Greenland Lake.
Four Slavonian Grebe were offshore, all of them in summer plumage, with 11 Great-crested Grebe, 20 Common Scoter, 10 Razorbill, a Guillemot and 62 Red-breasted Merganser. A Greenshank was still in the Estuary with 27 Sandwich Tern, 20 Teal, 27 Brent Geese, 34 Ringed Plover, 31 Curlew, nine Grey Plover, seven Little Egret, seven Dunlin and three Sanderling. At least eight Wheatear were on the beach and in front of the hide, all arriving in the afternoon, other migrants included seven Chiffchaff, four Willow Warbler, a Blackcap and a Goldcrest. Also on site a Peregrine flew low east offshore, a Sparrowhawk took a Blackbird near the Main Pond and on the pond five Coot, four Teal and a Little Grebe.
Two Slavonian Grebe were offshore, along with two Fulmar and 20 Gannet. A Greenshank in the Estuary was a scarce April record, also present, six Little Egret, a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose with 40 Dark-bellied and 12 Sandwich Tern. Migrants included four Buzzard north, including two along the coast and one in off the sea, elsewhere on site 10 Chiffchaff, three Willow Warbler, a Blackcap, six Swallow and three Wheatear.
Three Slavonian Grebe were offshore, two of them displaying and then the mist rolled in ending any chance of further seawatching. Around Greenland Lake 15 Chiffchaff were present with at least seven Willow Warbler and three Goldcrest. Overhead a single Jackdaw and eight Sand Martin.