December  2010


Wildlife Sightings

Sightings Archive

2010 Year List

 Day by Day

Record Counts 

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2010 was an exceptional birding year on the site with, at the time of writing, the year list on a record 200 species, easily breaking the previous site record of 197 set in 2000 & 2011. The highest individual year list was also broken with Lee Collins (185) and Ivan Lakin (194) both beating the previous record of 182 set in 2005. The day list record was also broken with 100 species recorded on site for the first time on 28th August.


2010 saw four new species for the recording area: Pink-footed Goose, Penduline Tit, American Golden Plover and Waxwing. Other highlights included the continuing return of the female Surf Scoter, the second records of Red-rumped Swallow and Semi-palmated Sandpiper, third records of Goshawk and Mandarin, sixth ever Bittern and Yellow-browed Warbler, seventh to ninth Lapland Buntings, eighth Black Guillemot and ninth record of Smew. There were also no less than 18 new peak counts during the year.


Against this, despite the cold weather at both ends of the year, wintering wildfowl and wader numbers continue to fall, Lesser Whitethroats were once again very scarce with no spring record and only one Spotted Redshank was reported. Other notable absentees were Turtle Dove and Marsh Harrier.



Without doubt the loss of John Fortey in January cast a huge shadow over the year. His absence is still keenly felt on every visit and it is painfully ironic that this record year should have occurred following his death. I would like to think however he will have been watching over proceedings with a wry smile. His obituary was published in Devon Birds 63 (1): 43-45 and can be found here.




Friday 31st:


The Surf Scoter was offshore with 29 Eider and three Slavonian Grebe, with a seawatch before 10.30 recording 30+ Red-throated and seven Great Northern Diver, a Goldeneye and a Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere 171 Skylark headed NE, two Gadwall, two Shoveler and a Water Rail were on the Main Pond and 41 Lapwing and four Pale-bellied Brent Geese were in the estuary.



Thursday 30th:


A seawatch showed the Great Skua was still present offshore along with at least 25 Eider and the Surf Scoter. Passing east there were  a site record 87+ Guillemot in a passage of c350 auk/hr, 40+ Kittiwake, 20 Red-throated Diver, three Gadwall, two Pintail and two Golden Plover. Elsewhere 368 Skylark headed NE, 230 Knot were in the estuary and two Shoveler were on the Main Pond.



Wednesday 29th:


No news was received.



Tuesday 28th:


The Great Skua remains offshore being seen several times during the day, also two Velvet Scoter flew east, and despite poor viewing conditions five Red-throated Diver, two Slavonian and two Black-necked Grebe, 29 Eider and the Surf Scoter. Elsewhere four Pale-bellied Brent and the two escaped Red-breasted Geese were in the estuary with five Scaup and five Goldeneye, 11 Pochard flew in off, at least three Woodcock were still on site, 180+ Skylark were overhead, a drake Shoveler was on the Main Pond and 30 Siskin were in the Entrance Bushes.


Pale-bellied Brent Geese 28/12/2010 Simon Thurgood



Monday 27th:


Offshore 14 Red-throated and a Black-throated Diver flew south before 9am with a Great Skua also south and two Slavonian Grebe, 18 Eider and the Surf Scoter on the sea. In the estuary there were 270+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese with a family group of five Pale-bellied Brent and the two escaped Red-breasted Geese with 89 Shelduck, two Shoveler and a Greenshank. Elsewhere eight Woodcock were still on site with 31 Skylark and seven Fieldfare overhead.


Greenshank 27/12/2010 Lee Collins



Sunday 26th:


The freezing fog lingered on site until late morning, but visibility improved slightly later on. The highlight was a site record of at least 10 Woodcock with birds present in almost any patch of scrub, other cold weather species included 45 Lapwing, 40+ Fieldfare, 25+ Skylark and 20+ Redwing with a group of seven Coal Tit more unexpected. Records from the estuary included 780+ Wigeon, 748+ Teal, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Gadwall, a Greenshank, the Slavonian Grebe and on the mudflats single Water Rail and Moorhen. Offshore there were at least 14 Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, seven Eider and single Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe.


Dunlin 26/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Turnstone 26/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Redshank 26/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Black-tailed Godwit 26/12/10 Simon Thurgood



Saturday 25th:


No news was received, but not expected due to the date and weather.


26/12/2010 Lee Collins



Friday 24th:


The Surf Scoter was distantly off the sea wall along with 15+ Eider, four Slavonian Grebe and a Red-throated Diver. Elsewhere at least one Red-breasted Goose was still present this morning with two Goldeneye and a Little Grebe in the estuary.


Teal 24/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Grey Plover 24/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Knot 24/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Wigeon 24/12/10 Simon Thurgood



Thursday 23rd:


Another day of freezing conditions and snow cover brought more overhead movement. The highlight was the site's first ever Waxwing, a single flew in off the sea calling and headed NE along the spit at 11.20am, just five minutes after a ringtail Hen Harrier had headed north over the Visitor Centre and up estuary, only the 15th site record. Also moving (to the west unless stated) 1140 Redwing, 585 Fieldfare, 535+ Skylark, 415+ Lapwing, 62 Linnet, 14 Chaffinch (NE), 11 Pochard (S), four Snipe, four Stock Dove, two Black-tailed Godwit, with single figures of Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Curlew and a Cirl Bunting (NE). Elsewhere 19 Eider, three Goldeneye, at least two Red-throated Diver and a Black-necked Grebe were offshore, four Gadwall and a Greenshank were in the estuary and the ringed Red-breasted Goose was with Brent Geese and Shelduck before flying around solo. Later on a second unringed bird was with Canada Geese on the Golf course.



Wednesday 22nd:


As the cold weather continues to bite at least four Woodcock were on site along with 33 Siskin, 28 Lapwing, eight Snipe, seven Fieldfare and five Redwing. In the estuary there were 540 Wigeon, 20+ Black-tailed Godwit, six Gadwall, a Greenshank and two Bar-headed Geese. Elsewhere the Surf Scoter, two Red-throated Diver, 18 Eider and a Slavonian Grebe were offshore.



Tuesday 21st:


A Woodcock was in Dead Dolphin Wood and six Shoveler were on the Main Pond but apart from a few Skylark, Redwing and a couple of Lapwing overhead nothing else was reported.



Monday 20th:


The highlight was a Green Sandpiper on a small pond on the Golf Course, the first December record for the Warren. There was some continued movement overhead with 270+ Skylark, 160+ Redwing, 81 Lapwing, 38 Fieldfare and three Stock Dove between 11am - 1pm. Elsewhere a drake Tufted Duck was offshore with 19 Eider and two Red-throated Diver and seven Shoveler and two Gadwall were on the Main Pond.



Sunday 19th:


Despite the continued cold weather there was little overhead movement with just a few Skylark and Song Thrush, however a Woodcock along the Back Path and 104 Lapwing were no doubt displaced by the conditions. A light movement of larger gulls was also apparent with a Scandinavian argentatus Herring Gull and an intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull present. Elsewhere three Velvet Scoter were offshore but there was no sign of the Surf Scoter, 46 Shelduck, 31 Black-tailed Godwit and seven Gadwall were in the estuary and four Gadwall, two Shoveler and a Wigeon were on the Main Pond.



Saturday 18th:


The cold weather produced some overhead movement with 1755 Skylark west during the day along with at least one Woodlark, a Yellowhammer and a flock of 111 Lapwing. Offshore new arrivals included a female Long-tailed Duck and a Black-necked Grebe off the seawall with 22 Red-throated Diver, 70 Great-crested and three Slavonian Grebe, 18 Eider and the Surf Scoter. Elsewhere four Gadwall and three Shoveler were on the Main Pond, a Great Skua few south offshore, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, four Greenshank and a Whimbrel were in the estuary and a Jay was in the Entrance Bushes.


Shoveler 18/12/10 Simon Thurgood

Gadwall18/12/10 Simon Thurgood

17/12/10 Lee Collins

18/12/10 Ivan Lakin



Friday 17th:


The adult female Surf Scoter, 18 Eider, 10 Red-throated Diver, 45 Great-crested and three Slavonian Grebe were offshore. Elsewhere 125 Knot, three Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe were in the estuary, with 10+ Siskin, three Redwing and two Lesser Redpoll on site. 


Lesser Redpoll 17/12/10 Lee Collins


Siskin 18/12/10 Simon Thurgood



Thursday 16th:


The adult female Surf Scoter and two Slavonian Grebe were offshore but no other news was received.



Wednesday 15th:


In the calm weather a flat sea revealed a minimum of 22 Red-throated Diver, 18 Eider, the Surf Scoter, 29 Great-crested and at least five Slavonian Grebe. The resident Slavonian Grebe was in the estuary, six is the highest December count since 2005. Elsewhere a Firecrest and 21 Siskin were in the Entrance Bushes, three drake Shoveler, five Teal and two Snipe were on the Main Pond, 14 Jackdaw and two Rook on the mudflats, 93+ Knot, 16 Sanderling and three Greenshank were in the estuary.


Tuesday 14th:


The adult female Surf Scoter remains offshore, and there was no sign of the Snow Bunting but no other news was received.



Monday 13th:


A female/immature Snow Bunting was reported in the Bight briefly mid morning before flying towards Warren Point, the first for the year and the 200th species on the Warren in 2010 - the first time this has been achieved. Elsewhere the Surf Scoter and 10+ Eider were offshore with one Slavonian Grebe and the ever present still in the estuary.



Sunday 12th:


The Surf Scoter was off Langstone Rock, with four Velvet and 45 Common Scoter there briefly. Also offshore 19 Eider, two Red-throated Diver and the first Fulmar for several months. Counts from the estuary included 920 Oystercatcher, 750 Dunlin, 506 Teal, 400 Wigeon, 190 Grey Plover, 170 Brent Goose, 160 Knot,  52 Bar-tailed Godwit and 51 Shelduck with four Goldeneye, two Avocet, two Greenshank, single Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Slavonian Grebe and a Kingfisher. Elsewhere a male Cirl Bunting was along the Dune Ridge, two Lesser Redpoll were in Dead Dolphin Wood, six Siskin and a Green Woodpecker were on site and three Water Rail and two drake Shoveler were on the Main Pond.


Saturday 11th:


The female Surf Scoter was still distantly offshore with 18 Eider, five Red-throated and two Great Northern Diver, 21 Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe. Also offshore 92 auk sp south in 20 minutes mid-morning and a Red-necked Grebe south of Langstone Rock. Counts from the estuary included  1470 Oystercatcher, 1400 Dunlin, 370 Wigeon, 275 Teal, 167 Brent Goose, 144 Knot, 142 Grey Plover, 142 Bar and 31 Black-tailed Godwit, the drake Scaup and single Greenshank and Golden Plover. Elsewhere a Short-eared Owl was on Warren Point, with single Chiffchaff and Snipe.



Friday 10th:


The female Surf Scoter was distantly offshore along with a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere a Woodcock was in Dead Dolphin Wood, a Short-eared Owl was on Warren Point, the drake Scaup was in the estuary, 79 Chaffinch, 30+ Siskin and a Redpoll were feeding in the alders and a Buzzard was in the Cuckoo's Nest. 



Thursday 9th:


A Woodcock was seen late evening. The only other records received were of 18 Eider and six Common Scoter offshore with two Snipe on the Main Pond.



Wednesday 8th:


Some light movement overhead included 52 Redwing, 16 Lapwing and nine Siskin with 18 Eider offshore and three Gadwall in the estuary.



Tuesday 7th:


The female Surf Scoter remains offshore, but no other news was received.



Monday 6th:


No news was received.



Sunday 5th:


The  female Surf Scoter remains offshore, elsewhere two Scaup, c15 Lapwing, the Slavonian and a Little Grebe in the estuary, a Brambling flew over Greenland Lake and a Redshank was a rare visitor to the Main Pond.



Saturday 4th:


The thaw brought a rapid halt to the recent movement with a single flock of 18 Lapwing and a mixed group of 39 Redwing and three Fieldfare the only migrants overhead, although a Woodcock flushed from behind the Main Pond was no doubt forced here by the cold spell. In the estuary wildfowl counts remained high with 1149 Teal and 811 Wigeon with seven Gadwall, four Shoveler, three Scaup and two Goldeneye. Waders included 20+ Turnstone, 15+ Black-tailed Godwit, four Greenshank and four Avocet. Offshore the female Surf Scoter remains off Warren Point now with 18 Eider, 28 Red-throated Diver (mostly heading south) 19 Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere an adult Mediterranean Gull and the resident Slavonian Grebe was in the estuary, a Dartford Warbler was on the Golf Course and 15 Knot were at Langstone Rock.



Friday 3rd:


The cold weather continues and produced more movement, but on a lower scale than yesterday and mostly before midday.  Wildfowl counts included 1140 Teal,  25 Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, nine Gadwall, four Shoveler, three Goosander, two Pintail, a Goldeneye and the drake Scaup. Also on the move two Woodlark, 778 Skylark, 137 Lapwing, 80+ Rook, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 10+ Mistle Thrush, c10 Fieldfare, four Redwing, two Golden Plover, seven Reed Bunting and two Buzzard. Elsewhere an adult Spoonbill was in the estuary with the resident Slavonian Grebe and a Kingfisher, the female Surf Scoter and 16 Eider were offshore with 124 Shag, eight Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe.


Knot 03/12/10 Lee Collins



Thursday 2nd:


The cold weather produced an amazing movement of wildfowl, waders and larks that resulted in four new site records. Wildfowl were arriving in off the sea throughout the day with the record totals being 121 Shelduck, 69 Gadwall, 68 Tufted Duck (both more than double the previous peaks, set in Jan 2010 and Jan 1985 respectively) and 29 Pochard (the previous peak being 17 in Jan 1961). Other totals in off included an immature White-fronted Goose that landed in the Bight at dusk, the first of the year,  550+ Wigeon, 250+ Teal, 51 Pintail, 43 Mallard, 10 Shoveler, seven Goldeneye and four Scaup. In the estuary there were another 800+ Teal, 600+ Wigeon, 190 Brent Geese, the drake Scaup, a Pale-bellied Brent and the Slavonian Grebe. Other species on the move included 996 Lapwing, 473 Skylark, 17 Golden Plover, 13+ Mistle Thrush, 10+ Redwing, four Snipe, at least two Fieldfare and a Grey Heron, with Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Grey Plover also arriving through the day. Away from the skies the female Surf Scoter and 16 Eider were offshore with 11+ Red-throated Diver and the first returning Slavonian Grebe of the winter, four Avocet and the Whimbrel in the estuary, 25+ Siskin were in the Entrance Bushes and three Jay in Dead Dolphin Wood.



Wednesday 1st:


The female Surf Scoter and five Eider were offshore with a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Greenshank and a Whimbrel in the estuary. Elsewhere 13 Lapwing flew south and three Fieldfare and 19 Siskin were in the Entrance Bushes with a high count of 60 Wood Pigeon roosting.




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