August 2008

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Report sightings



Sunday 31st:


The juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper was still present over the morning high tide but was only showing distantly on Warren Point. It remained there or in the Bight until 14.30 at least and was then on the beach until 19.20 at least. Offshore a Black-throated Diver was the second record for the year, also there 50+ Common Scoter, two Arctic Skua and two Balearic Shearwater. Other records so far today included the second Nuthatch and Treecreeper of the year, in the Cuckoo's Nest and Entrance Bushes, at least 10 Wheatear, three Spotted Flycatcher and two Whinchat. Overhead a group of at least three Crossbill, seven Grey Wagtail, 500+ House Martin and several small groups of waders including seven Black-tailed Godwit, two Turnstone and a Greenshank. In the the estuary the Red-throated Diver was still present along with 55 Teal and two Wigeon and a Shoveler..



Saturday 30th:


The juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper was still present over the morning high tide showing well on the beach and then the Bight until 1pm at least, it was present again on the beach from 6pm. Also in the estuary the first two Wigeon of the autumn, a Red-throated Diver, 12 Knot, three Mediterranean Gull (ad & 2 juv), three Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank and a Black-tailed Godwit. At least 120 Common and a flock of seven Little Tern moved south down the estuary and out to sea. The Surf Scoter was also still present although often distant, also offshore three Great and two Arctic Skua, 250+ Shag, 70 Common Scoter, 50+ Gannet, six Teal and a Great Northern Diver flew south. Migrants on site included two Pied Flycatcher by the Main Pond, the first of the year, three Whinchat, three Wheatear, three Goldcrest, a Garden and a Sedge Warbler. Overhead a single Crossbill, four Grey Wagtail, Buzzard and in off the sea seven Pale-bellied Brent Geese, seven Canada Geese and a Grey Heron.


Semi-palmated Sandpiper 30/08/08 © Andrew Cunningham



Friday 29th:


The juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper remained on site present around the beach and Bight until at least 12.30. It was seen again over the evening tide favouring the beach from 5.30 until 8pm at least. Also around the estuary the Slavonian Grebe, 140 Redshank and a Greenshank with a Ruff in off the sea. The second year male Surf Scoter was seen offshore again in the evening along with a juvenile Red-necked Grebe, the first for the year. A small fall of migrants included only the second Whinchat of the year on Warren Point, a Spotted Flycatcher also there, the first three Goldcrest of the autumn, just one Wheatear and a Sedge Warbler by the First Pond. Overhead two Siskin, the first ever August record for the reserve, three Yellow and a Grey Wagtail. Elsewhere three Mediterranean Gull (ad, sw, fw) were hawking ants over Greenland Lake and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the Entrance Bushes.


Semi-palmated Sandpiper 29/08/08 both © Dave Stone



Thursday 28th:


The only news for today is of a juvenile Semi-palmated Sandpiper on the beach with Dunlin and Sanderling over the evening high tide. This is the first record for the reserve and only the sixth for Devon, with all previous county records from Lundy. This bird has been present since Tuesday, but has been masquerading as a Little Stint for two days.


Semi-palmated Sandpiper 26/08/08



Wednesday 27th:


The Stint sp remained onsite but along with the other waders was constantly flushed by a combination of canoeists, walkers and Peregrine! Also  still on site the juvenile Little Gull, but tern numbers had dropped, although 10 Common Tern were still present. Elsewhere migrants included a Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler with 50 House Martin and a Swift overhead.



Tuesday 26th:


The first Little Stint of the year, a juvenile, finally made an appearance today, but see above!! Also from the hide 317 Sandwich Tern, a Roseate Tern, the  juvenile Little Tern and Gull and a marauding Peregrine. Elsewhere two Arctic Skua were offshore.


Little Gull 26/08/08 © John Fortey



Monday 25th:


Wader numbers remained high with 401 Dunlin and 325 Ringed Plover in the Bight, also in the estuary juvenile Little Tern, juvenile Little Gull, 160 Sandwich Tern and the Slavonian Grebe. Other records included a Roseate Tern offshore with two Arctic Skua, a Tree Pipit overhead, three Mediterranean Gull feeding on flying ants, a Kingfisher was at the Main Pond and 10 Teal in the estuary.



Sunday 24th:


In the less than promising conditions, 13 Balearic Shearwater and a juvenile Little Gull south during the early afternoon were a surprise. Also offshore two Arctic Skua, 35 Common Scoter, 15+ Common Tern and a Great-crested Grebe, with the first Merlin of the autumn heading west low over the waves and two Grey Heron in off high north. Two Mediterranean Gull (ad & 2nd w), were in the estuary along with the Slavonian Grebe, a Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, four Teal and a Greenshank. Other counts included 540 Curlew, 269 Great Black-backed Gull, 192 Ringed Plover, 107 Redshank and 21 Sanderling. Light migration overhead included 185+ House and two Sand Martin, 120+ Swallow, 10 Swift,  two Grey Wagtail, a Tree Pipit and a high flying Great Skua, heading west. In the bushes there were 14 Whitethroat, 10 Blackcap, eight Chiffchaff, five Willow and two Garden Warbler. Elsewhere three Wheatear were on site and a Kingfisher was at the Main Pond.


Common Tern 23/08/08 © Joe Ray



Saturday 23rd:


A drake Surf Scoter offshore late morning was a surprise find, probably the bird seen in June. It however flew off east after less than an hour. Also offshore 15+ Common Scoter, 14 Guillemot, two Great-crested Grebe and a pale phase Arctic Skua, chasing the tern flocks. These consisted of 100+ Sandwich, 38+ Common, two Arctic and a Roseate Tern. Two Mediterranean Gull (adult and juv), were in the estuary along with the Slavonian Grebe, a Red-breasted Merganser and 20 Little Egret. Wader counts from the estuary included 340 Dunlin, 242 Ringed Plover, 15 Sanderling, three Knot, single Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Turnstone and the first Snipe of the autumn. Waders were also on the move during the morning with at least 30 Ringed Plover, 12 Redshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, seven Greenshank and three Whimbrel heading high south. Other visible migration today included single Crossbill, Grey Wagtail, Collared Dove and Kestrel, with 300+ Swallow, nine Swift, nine Sand and three House Martin heading west. Grounded migrants included a good count of 20 Blackcap, nine Whitethroat, nine Chiffchaff, four Wheatear, three Stonechat, two Willow Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat. On a busy day other records included two Kingfisher and a Great-spotted Woodpecker on site and the first 10 Teal of the autumn in off the sea.



Friday 22nd:


There was no sign of the American Herring Gull today. On a quiet day records were limited to the Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood, two Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Common Tern and two Common Sandpiper in the estuary, with 11 Wheatear on site and a Collared Dove over.



Thursday 21st:


Offshore there were 20 Common and an adult summer Black Tern. A Lesser Whitethroat was along the Back Path along with 15 Blackcap and two Garden Warbler, also on site 10+ Reed Warbler, four Wheatear and the first Grey Wagtail of the autumn. Counts from the estuary included 345 Dunlin, 174 Sandwich Tern and 145 Redshank. Late news was received of a moulting 3rd summer/4th winter American Herring Gull. This, if accepted, would be the first record for the Warren and Devon, although previous records are still under consideration. Between 18.45 to 19.00 it was watched swimming, bathing and in flight down to c100m from the seawall. The bird seemed to arrive with a large gull movement from the direction of the estuary and eventually flew off SW around Langstone Rock. Other birds seen from there during the evening included five Mediterranean Gull (3 ad, 2nd winter & juv), an adult Roseate and juvenile Arctic Tern, four Arctic Skua and 26 Common Scoter.

Common Sandpiper and Little Tern 20/08/08 © Andrew Cunningham



Wednesday 20th:


The two Little Tern were again in front of the hide along with 80 Sandwich and four Common Tern. Also in the estuary nine Common Sandpiper and the Slavonian Grebe. Offshore single Pomarine and Arctic Skua and a distant Manx Shearwater. At least five Wheatear were on site.


Wheatear 20/08/08 © Dave Stone                                                             Little Tern 20/08/08 © John Fortey



Tuesday 19th:


A Ruff in front of the hide was the highlight, only the second of the year, also there two Little Tern with 345 Dunlin, 138 Great Black-backed Gull, 135 Ringed Plover, 80 Sandwich Tern, 15 Sanderling, 12 Whimbrel, five Knot, three Mediterranean Gull and a Greenshank also in the estuary. Elsewhere at least six Arctic and one Pomarine Skua  were offshore with 20 Common Tern, four Wheatear were around the reserve and seven Turnstone flew high south.


Little Tern (ad & juv) 19/08/08 © Lee Collins



Monday 18th:


Seawatching during the day produced 16 Manx and six Balearic Shearwater south, with 80 Gannet, 40 Fulmar and a minimum of 20 Arctic, three Pomarine and a Great Skua, many of which lingered offshore. Also offshore 30 Common and two Little Tern, with 12 Grey Plover south.  In the estuary there were 130 Sandwich Tern, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, six Knot, five Grey Plover and a Greenshank. Elsewhere three Wheatear were in front of the hide.



Sunday 17th:


The weather improved overnight and as a consequence there was virtually nothing offshore, other than one Arctic Skua, two Guillemot and 17 Common Scoter. There was however plenty of activity in the bushes with a good total of 25 Blackcap on site along with three Willow and a single Garden Warbler and one Lesser Whitethroat.  There were also at least 14 Whitethroat and eight Reed Warbler, but not all were migrants as both these species were still feeding fledged young on site. In the estuary an adult and a juvenile Little Tern were new, also there a Yellow-legged Gull, three Mediterranean Gull (ad & two juv), just one Common Tern, the Slavonian Grebe and a Red-breasted Merganser. Wader counts included 600 Curlew, 320 Dunlin, 170 Ringed Plover, 159 Redshank, 11 Turnstone, eight Sanderling, two Knot, two Greenshank and a Black-tailed Godwit. Other records included an Osprey over the estuary early morning, one Wheatear and a flock of 20 Long-tailed Tit.


Osprey 17/08/08 © John Lee



Saturday 16th:


Seawatching was again the favoured option with the highlight another Sabine's Gull, today's bird flew south close in mid afternoon, the year's first Sooty Shearwater would have otherwise taken top billing. Totals from watches through the day produced 10 Balearic and nine Manx Shearwater, c45 Arctic Skua, seven Great and five Pomarine Skua, two Yellow-legged Gull, 285 Kittiwake, 125 Fulmar, <100 Gannet, c60 Common Scoter and 11 Redshank. Terns were also moving in some numbers and along with those in the estuary the combined totals were 485+ Sandwich, 142 Common, two Arctic and two Black Tern. Also in the estuary two Mediterranean Gull (ad & juv), the Slavonian Grebe, 107 Redshank, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Sanderling, nine Whimbrel, five Knot and three Greenshank. An immature Moorhen was an odd site foraging on the mudflats. Three Wheatear were the only passerine migrants noted in the conditions.



Friday 15th:


A Sabine's Gull was offshore late afternoon, only the 19th site record and the first since Nov 2000. Seawatching late afternoon also produced at least 22 Arctic and two Pomarine Skua and three Balearic Shearwater amongst large numbers of feeding birds, many of which appeared to roost in the bay. Elsewhere two juvenile Mediterranean Gull were on the beach and the Slavonian Grebe was still in the estuary along with three Greenshank and a Knot.



Thursday 14th:


The Slavonian Grebe was still in the estuary but no other news was received.



Wednesday 13th:


Seawatching during the morning produced 23 Storm Petrel, 15 Fulmar, seven Arctic and two Great Skua all south. The only shearwater of day, a Balearic flew south late afternoon when Storm Petrel were passing more regularly. In the estuary there were fewer terns, with just 139 Sandwich and eight Common Tern. Waders included several hundred Dunlin, 150+ Ringed Plover, 30 Sanderling and two Common Sandpiper. Also in the estuary six Kittiwake and the Slavonian Grebe.


Great Black-backed Gull 13/08/08 © John Fortey



Tuesday 12th:


Seawatching produced three Balearic and two Manx Shearwater south with two Arctic Skua, 12 Common Scoter, 20 Common and a Little Tern also offshore. A Roseate Tern remained in front of the hide along with six Knot and six Black-tailed Godwit. Migrants around the reserve included two Wheatear,  eight Willow, a Garden and a Sedge Warbler. This young Skylark was photographed on a path through Greenland Lake.


Skylark 12/08/08 © John Fortey



Monday 11th:


At least one Roseate Tern remained in front of the hide with 350 Sandwich, 20 Common and a Little Tern. Also in the estuary the Slavonian Grebe, 200 Dunlin, 135 Redshank, 125 Ringed Plover, 31 Sanderling, nine Whimbrel, four Knot, two Greenshank, a Turnstone and a Black-tailed Godwit. Migrants included at least five Willow Warbler and four Wheatear.


Roseate (and Sandwich) Tern 11/08/08 © Andrew Cunningham


This sequence of photographs show a evenly matched avian struggle, described here by the photographer.

Sparrowhawk and Magpie 11/08/08 © Dale Cooper
"Before I arrived with the camera the Sparrowhawk was holding onto, and plucking feathers from, the breast of the Magpie while it struggled. The Magpie managed to grab the Sparrowhawk's face with its foot and they lay there relatively still. At times the Sparrowhawk managed to get its head free and they went at each other beak to beak, followed by a period of calm again lying still while holding one another, as if recuperating before the next strike. On one occasion it looked like the Magpie definitely had the upper hand as it stabbed repeatedly at the belly of the Sparrowhawk, much to the horror of onlookers! More alert to the presence of a gathering crowd and probably regretting its' choice of breakfast, the Sparrowhawk looked around and struggled as if trying to get away, but the Magpie continued to hold it at foot length. After some more struggling, the Magpie again got hold of the Sparrowhawk by face and they stayed in this position for some 12 minutes, despite some people now being right over them! Finally the fear of humans got the better of them and they separated. The Sparrowhawk flew into a nearby tree, and the Magpie flew briefly and then hopped low into nearby bushes. Despite the Magpie initially looking like it may have been injured in the melee, it was later seen flying around the same area just a little ruffled and sporting a small bald patch on the breast."


Sunday 10th:


At least one Roseate Tern remains on site with the first Black Tern of the autumn. Also recorded today the Slavonian Grebe, five Mediterranean Gull, an Arctic Skua and a group of 11 Shoveler. Migrants on site included one Garden and at least three Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 55 Swallow west and three Wheatear. The seven Whitethroat, four Reed Warbler and female / imm Reed Bunting, could also have included migrants. In the estuary 15 Little Egret were in the Railway Saltmarsh along with 460 Curlew and two Whimbrel. Small waders were widely scattered due to the low hide tide, but included 350 Dunlin and 130 Ringed Plover with a few Sanderling and Knot. Other records included an adult Osprey fishing, unsuccessfully, in front of the hide, a sinensis Cormorant in the Bight and a Raven overhead.



Saturday 9th:


Seawatching early morning produced a Balearic and 25 Manx Shearwater south along with 100+ Kittiwake, 43 Fulmar and two Arctic Skua. Another nine Fulmar and a third Arctic Skua passed by in a short spell later afternoon with 23 Common Scoter also offshore. Counts from the estuary included 310 Common, 200+ Sandwich, three Roseate and two Arctic Tern, an adult Mediterranean Gull, just 80 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover, 14 Sanderling, six Whimbrel, three Turnstone, a Knot and a Common Sandpiper. Six Wheatear were around the Bight and several Blackcap and Willow Warbler were also autumn migrants. An influx of at least 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull included a colour-ringed adult. This bird was ringed as an adult at Gloucester landfill site on 21/04/07 and had previously been near Faro in Portugal on 26/09/07 before today's sighting. It was no doubt just stopping over in the Bight on it's way back south for another winter. Many thanks to Peter Stewart, the Colour-ring Coordinator of the Severn Estuary Gull Group for the details of this record.



Friday 8th:


The number of small waders had dropped overnight but 40 Sanderling, six Knot, three Turnstone and a Greenshank were still present in the estuary along with five Mediterranean Gull (4ad & juv). Elsewhere 15 Common Scoter were offshore, 24 Long-tailed Tit and a Stock Dove were on site and and migrants included the first Wheatear, six Willow Warbler and a Swift.



Thursday 7th:


There were still plenty of small waders including 206 Ringed Plover, over the high tide along with 11 Black-tailed Godwit that dropped for 15 minutes before carrying on south. Also in the estuary 265+ Sandwich and up to 20 Common Tern with 25 Little Egret and two Mediterranean Gull in the Railway Saltmarsh. A Peregrine was again preying on the waders over high tide, a Red-breasted Merganser was in the estuary and a Kingfisher was on the Main Pond.


Wednesday 6th:


The highlight was the first Ruff of the year, a female briefly in the Bight before heading south, also passing through nine Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank. Also in the estuary there were four Roseate Tern, one Little, 20+ Common and 200+ Sandwich Tern with the Slavonian Grebe, five Mediterranean Gull (adult and four juveniles), 300+ Dunlin, 70 Redshank and 27 Little Egret. Six Turnstone and four Knot joined the flocks of small waders. Elsewhere an Arctic Skua was offshore and a Peregrine was causing disturbance over the high tide as were many people.



Tuesday 5th:


An increase in wader numbers with 428 Dunlin and 200 Ringed Plover in the estuary along with 20+ Sanderling, three Knot and three Common Sandpiper. Also in the estuary there were 100 Common Tern, along with three Arctic and single Little and Roseate Tern, a crèche of 21 Shelduck accompanied by two adults, and single juvenile Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gull. over 150 Common Tern also flew south offshore along with an Arctic Skua and 20+ Common Scoter.


Monday 4th:


The Slavonian Grebe was again in the estuary with five species of tern in front of the hide, one Roseate, one Arctic, one Little, 22 Common and 213 Sandwich Tern. Wader counts over high tide included 1170 Oystercatcher, including the return of the partial albino bird, 689 Curlew, 130 Dunlin, 80 Ringed Plover, 22 Sanderling, 11 Whimbrel, seven Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Common Sandpiper. Also on site two Sedge, two Garden and 11 Willow Warbler, a Kingfisher, a Green and a Great-spotted Woodpecker, an Arctic Skua and an adult Mediterranean Gull.


Common and Little Tern 04/08/08 © John Fortey                                                                Arctic Tern 04/08/08 © John Fortey


Common and Sandwich Tern 04/08/08 © John Fortey                                                         Roseate Tern 04/08/08 © John Fortey



Sunday 3rd:


A site record 15 Mediterranean Gull (5 ad, 3ss & 7 juv) were in the estuary as were the Slavonian Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. Also there a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 150 Sandwich, 15 Common and two Little Tern, 110 Dunlin, 35+ Ringed Plover, 30 Sanderling, 10+ Whimbrel, eight Bar-tailed Godwit, eight Common Sandpiper, six Turnstone and a Knot. Migrants included eight Willow and three Garden Warbler, with 40 Swallow, five Swift and two House Martin overhead. Also passing over  an Osprey heading north and three Raven. Elsewhere two Kingfisher and a Green Woodpecker were on site, an Arctic Skua was chasing a Sandwich Tern over Greenland Lake and offshore there were 20+ Guillemot, 20 Common Scoter and a Great-crested Grebe.



Saturday 2nd:


A Balearic Shearwater was offshore with two Great-crested Grebe. The Slavonian Grebe was again in the estuary, the first August record for the reserve, also there a Red-breasted Merganser, seven Mediterranean Gull (ad, 2ss, fs & 3 juv), 220 Sandwich, 30 Common, two Arctic and two Little Tern. Waders included  72 Dunlin, 20+ Ringed Plover, seven Turnstone, five Black-tailed Godwit, two Sanderling and a Common Sandpiper. Elsewhere a Coal Tit was in Dead Dolphin Wood with two Willow Warbler and overhead there were 40 Swallow, 20+ Swift, and Sand Martin and a Buzzard.



Friday 1st:


No news received.




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