January 2009

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Saturday 31st:


Seawatching produced a new species for the year in the shape of Little Gull, with at least 11 adults being seen through the day, also offshore 19+ Red-throated Diver, three Slavonian Grebe, both the Surf and Velvet Scoter, 20+ Kittiwake, just six Gannet, six Fulmar and 150 auk sp. The Spoonbill was seen again feeding in Shutterton Creek at low tide, with an adult Mediterranean Gull, the Slavonian Grebe, three Goldeneye and a Great Northern Diver also in the estuary. Wader counts included 289 Grey Plover, 223 Knot, 48 Bar-tailed Godwit and six Sanderling. Other records included seven Rook and a new site record of 11 Feral Pigeon at Langstone Rock.



Friday 30th:


No news was received for today.



Thursday 29th:


The Spoonbill was in front of the hide at high tide, whilst offshore in the brisk southeasterly wind 887 auk sp flew south along with 14 Red-throated Diver, 52 Kittiwake, 24 Gannet and four Fulmar.


Wednesday 28th:


Four Slavonian Grebe and both the Surf and Velvet Scoter were offshore with 611 auk sp and 20 Red-throated Diver south. A Great Northern Diver, a Whimbrel and the Slavonian Grebe were in the estuary. Two Raven were overhead and a male Pheasant by the Visitor Centre was the first of the year.


Velvet and Surf Scoter 13/01/09 © Brian Heasman



Tuesday 27th:


The female Surf and immature male Velvet Scoter remain offshore along with a Shearwater sp. The Slavonian Grebe was around Cockwood wreck and a Greenshank was in the estuary.


Redshank 27/01/09 © Simon Thurgood                                                                   Slavonian Grebe 27/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Monday 26th:


The female Surf and immature male Velvet Scoter remain offshore, where three Black-throated Diver were also reported. Also reported a Red-necked Grebe in the estuary, favouring the area usually frequented by the moulting resident Slavonian Grebe.



Sunday 25th:


Despite the strength of the overnight wind there were no surprises during an hour long seawatch early morning with 200+ auk sp, 120+ Kittiwake, c30 Gannet, 18 Red-throated Diver, 10 Common Scoter and two Fulmar all heading south.  Also offshore the female Surf and immature male Velvet Scoter. In the estuary the Spoonbill was present on the morning tide before moving to Starcross. In the evening it returned to the Warren via Cockle Sands. At least four Goldeneye, three Pale-bellied Brent Geese and two Greenshank were also in the estuary. Elsewhere six Siskin and a Great-spotted Woodpecker were in the Entrance Bushes, a Little Grebe and 34 Mallard were on the Main Pond and a Peregrine was on Bull Hill.


Red-breasted Merganser 25/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Saturday 24th:


The Iceland Gull was seen distantly from the hide mid afternoon flying down river before heading towards Exmouth. Also in the estuary the Spoonbill at high tide, the moulting Slavonian Grebe, 204 Brent Geese, 35+ Turnstone, 31 Lapwing, 10+ Snipe, three Goldeneye, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. Offshore the female Surf, immature male Velvet and three Common Scoter were off the seawall with four Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver. Elsewhere the Dartford Warbler was in the Buffer Zone, five Rook flew over and a drake Shoveler flew into the Main Pond from upriver. A Peregrine briefly caught a Wood Pigeon, before dropping it in the estuary. After sitting on the water for a couple of minutes the pigeon got up and flew off inland.


Goldeneye (male) 24/01/09 © Simon Thurgood                              Goldeneye (female) 24/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Friday 23rd:


Offshore the female Surf, immature male Velvet Scoter, two Red-throated Diver and a Slavonian Grebe were off the seawall. Elsewhere a Peregrine was in front of the hide.



Thursday 22nd:


A Great Northern Diver, the Slavonian Grebe, three Goldeneye and a Greenshank were in the estuary. Offshore the female Surf and immature male Velvet Scoter were off the seawall.


Dark-bellied Brent Goose 22/01/09 © Simon Thurgood            Red-breasted Merganser  © Simon Thurgood



Wednesday 21st:


An immature/second winter Iceland Gull reported in the estuary off Cockwood late afternoon was the first site record since March 2001. Early morning two Slavonian Grebe were close in off Langstone Rock with single female Surf, immature male Velvet and immature Common Scoter. Also offshore a Guillemot and 50+ Great-crested Grebe between the Warren and Dawlish. A record count of seven Feral Pigeon were on Langstone Rock.



Tuesday 20th:


The resident Slavonian Grebe was in the estuary with 20+ Red-breasted Merganser and two Kingfisher.


Kingfisher 20/01/09 © Simon Thurgood                              Slavonian Grebe 20/01/09 © Simon Thurgood    



Monday 19th:


The Surf and Velvet Scoter remain off the seawall with a Great Northern Diver also offshore. In the estuary the Red-necked Grebe was off Cockwood. After the storms over the weekend several Great Black-backed Gull and at least two Kittiwake were seen heavily oiled, unfortunately a regular occurrence at this time of year.


Great-Black-backed Gull 18/01/09 © Lee Collins 



Sunday 18th:


Despite the overnight winds seawatching early morning was uneventful with the notable exception of a site record 74 Red-throated Diver south, also flying south three Great Northern Diver and c50 auk sp. The Surf and Velvet Scoter remain off the seawall. In the estuary the Spoonbill again roosted on Railway Saltmarsh, with the Slavonian Grebe, six Goldeneye, two Greenshank and in front of the hide a sinensis Cormorant. Other wader counts included 2300 Dunlin, 228 Grey Plover, 174 Knot, 12 Sanderling and nine Turnstone. Elsewhere the male Shoveler was again on the Main Pond.


Grey Plover 17/01/09 © Lee Collins                                                         Shoveler 18/01/09 © Lee Collins 



Saturday 17th:


The Spoonbill roosted on Railway Saltmarsh at high tide, with the Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, three Goldeneye, an immature sinensis Cormorant, a Pale-bellied Brent Goose and a Greenshank in the estuary. Offshore the Surf and Velvet Scoter remain off the seawall with at least 22 Red-throated Diver, seven Common Scoter, a Slavonian Grebe, 12 Kittiwake and at least 30 Guillemot with many more auks passing south. Elsewhere at least one Dartford Warbler remains on site, a Kingfisher was reported and a Buzzard flew over.


Bar-tailed Godwit 17/01/09 © Lee Collins                                                                         Redshank & Greenshank 17/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Friday 16th:


The Spoonbill roosted on Finger Point at high tide also in the estuary 1622 Dunlin, 908 Oystercatcher, 171 Grey Plover, 129 Knot, 91 Brent Goose, 81 Shelduck, 65 Redshank, 48 Ringed Plover, 38 Red-breasted Merganser, 18 Turnstone, 16 Sanderling, 11 Curlew, four Goldeneye and singles of Greenshank, Great Northern Diver, Little and Slavonian Grebe. Offshore the Surf and Velvet Scoter remain off the seawall with five Red-throated Diver, three Guillemot and a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere the Firecrest, five Goldcrest and two Chiffchaff were by the First Pond.



Thursday 15th:


The Spoonbill again roosted on Finger Point at high tide before moving to Shutterton Creek to feed at low tide, also in the estuary a Whimbrel in front of the hide. Elsewhere a few Red-throated Diver, Kittiwake and auks were passing offshore in windy conditions and a drake Shoveler was on the Main Pond.


Whimbrel 15/01/09 © John Fortey



Wednesday 14th:


The female Surf Scoter was offshore with single Velvet and Common Scoter, three Slavonian Grebe, at least nine Red-throated Diver and 11 Great-crested Grebe. Elsewhere the Spoonbill remains in the estuary with a Dartford Warbler by the Visitor Centre, four Bullfinch and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker on site.


Knot 13/01/09 © Simon Thurgood                                                                                     Spoonbill 14/01/09 © Dave Stone


Tuesday 13th:


The Spoonbill was again present, roosting on Finger Point over high tide, before moving to Shutterton Creek and then up the estuary on the dropping tide. Also in the estuary the Red-necked Grebe and two Goldeneye. Elsewhere the Surf Scoter, a Velvet Scoter and six Common Scoter remain offshore, with two Red-throated Diver on the sea and 12+ flying south. a Cirl Bunting was reported singing along the Back Path, a Redwing was on Warren Point and a Green Woodpecker was by the Visitor Centre.


Spoonbill 13/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Monday 12th:


Offshore the female Surf Scoter remained off the seawall with a Velvet Scoter, the Red-necked and a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere three drake Shoveler were on the Main Pond and a Dartford Warbler was in the Buffer Zone.



Sunday 11th:


An adult Spoonbill in the estuary on the morning tide was a welcome first for the year, as was a third winter Yellow-legged Gull present briefly in Shutterton Creek before heading off SW. Also in the estuary an Avocet, the Slavonian Grebe, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 119 Bar-tailed and 37 Black-tailed Godwit, 82 Shelduck, seven Shoveler, four Pintail, four Snipe, three Goldeneye, two Greenshank and a Whimbrel. The female Surf Scoter remained off the seawall with now four Common and three Velvet Scoter, also offshore two Slavonian Grebe and at least 16 Red-throated Diver south. Despite the conditions there was little else flying past. Elsewhere at least one Firecrest again roosted by the First Pond with three Chiffchaff and 10 Long-tailed Tit, two Snipe were on Warren Point and a pre roost corvid gathering on the mudflats included 101 Rook and 15 Jackdaw.



Saturday 10th:


The three scoter remain offshore, at times even feeding together, although the Common Scoter is usual separate from the female Surf and Velvet Scoter. Also offshore at least 38 Red-throated and a distant Great Northern Diver, two Slavonian Grebe, a flock of 15 Pintail and from Langstone Rock a record count of 88 Great-crested Grebe, although most were south of the recording area. Wildfowl counts included 526 Teal, 448 Wigeon, 72 Shelduck, 20+ Red-breasted Merganser, seven Shoveler, five Pintail and a Goldeneye. Also in the estuary a Red-necked and Slavonian Grebe, 31 Black-tailed Godwit, three Lapwing, a Whimbrel and a Greenshank. On the reserve two Firecrest and two Chiffchaff were by the First Pond late afternoon, other firsts for the year included three Siskin by the Main Pond, three Reed Bunting on the Dune Ridge and a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Entrance Bushes. Elsewhere a Dartford Warbler was in the Cuckoo's Nest and two Redwing flew over.


Details have come through of a colour ringed Knot recorded here on 03/01/09. An adult female it was ringed at Igaldas, Porsangerfjord on the north coast of Norway on 19/05/08.



Friday 9th:


Again just three scoter offshore, the female Surf and female Velvet Scoter were off Langstone Rock with a female Common Scoter off the seawall. Also offshore two Red-throated Diver, a Slavonian Grebe, five Gannet and the first Great Northern Diver of the year flew east. Elsewhere four Pintail and a Greenshank were in Shutterton Creek on the dropping tide.



Thursday 8th:


Today saw a another influx, this time offshore, were there were a near site record of 47 Red-throated Diver, also on the sea seven Shoveler, 20+ Great-crested and two Slavonian Grebe, 12 Common Scoter, as well as the Velvet and female Surf Scoter. A pair of Pochard in off from the south were the first, and perhaps only, record of the year. In the estuary 32 Black-tailed Godwit were in Shutterton Creek along with 20+ Red-breasted Merganser, two Goldeneye and five Shoveler. The Slavonian Grebe remains off Cockwood. Elsewhere a Collared Dove flew east along the Dune Ridge and a Lapwing was feeding around the Wryneck path.



Wednesday 7th:


Just three scoter were offshore, the long staying female Surf and Common Scoter being joined by a single Velvet Scoter. Also offshore three Red-throated Diver, the Red-necked Grebe, two Slavonian and 30+ Great-crested Grebe. The cold weather had iced over large areas of mudflats and also brought an increase in wildfowl with 400+ Teal, 17 Gadwall, the highest ever count, 16 Shoveler, the highest count since 1983, nine Pintail and two Pale-bellied Brent. Also in the estuary an Avocet, a Greenshank and the Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere a Green Woodpecker was in the Entrance Bushes.



Tuesday 6th:


The female Surf Scoter was again off the seawall with a Red-throated Diver and a Slavonian Grebe. Elsewhere a Jack Snipe performed well in front of the hide, three Bullfinch were in Greenland Lake and 36 Lapwing flew in off the sea - the start of some cold weather movement...?


Jack Snipe 06/01/09 © Andrew Cunningham



Monday 5th:


The Surf Scoter was still offshore but no other news was received.



Sunday 4th:


The female Surf Scoter, three Red-throated Diver and two Slavonian Grebe were offshore with three Shoveler, two Lapwing and the resident Slavonian Grebe in the estuary. Elsewhere a Dartford Warbler was again present neat the Visitor Centre. Also of interest Friday's drake Surf Scoter was relocated in East Devon today.


Curlew 04/01/09 © Simon Thurgood                                Turnstone 04/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Saturday 3rd:


The only news received was from offshore with the long staying female Surf Scoter and four Red-throated Diver.


Wigeon 02/01/09 © Lee Collins



Friday 2nd:


A first winter male Surf Scoter briefly offshore before flying east was an unexpected highlight, the 11th site record. Also offshore the long staying female Surf Scoter, three Red-throated Diver, seven Great-crested and a Slavonian Grebe, two Common Scoter and the year's first Kittiwake and Fulmar.  In the estuary the resident Slavonian Grebe was joined by the Red-necked Grebe, previously seen off Exmouth, also in the river two Goldeneye, single Little and Great-crested Grebe, two Greenshank, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, a Kingfisher and a Jack Snipe.   Elsewhere six Rook and Buzzard were overhead, a Kestrel was hunting on Warren Point, a Green Woodpecker was on the Golf course and the Chiloe Wigeon has returned to the Main Pond.


Redshank 02/01/09 © Lee Collins                                                       Slavonian Grebe 02/01/09 © Simon Thurgood



Thursday 1st:


The second best ever New Yearís Day tally of 81 species got the site off to a good start with quality mixed into the total.  This was despite the gloomy darkness that persisted all day and a bitterly cold easterly wind throughout the morning. The highlight was the female Surf Scoter off Langstone Rock, where itís been seen regularly since its return on 27th Oct last year. The sea offered little else in choppy conditions, two Red-throated Diver, about four each of Great-crested Grebe, Gannet and Guillemot, three Common Scoter, a Razorbill and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Typical wader and slightly elevated wildfowl numbers, 520 Wigeon and 110 Teal, were present at high tide, however more interest emerged in Shutterton Creek on the ebbing tide with two male Pintail, a Shoveler, two Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, just two Lapwing and a Jack Snipe.  A Little Grebe and five Goldeneye were found in the main channel.  At low tide nearing dusk, a corvid flock descended onto the mudflats, which held 21 Rook and two Jackdaw amongst the crows, an unusual sighting here. There were only meagre pickings amongst the bushes, the best being a brief Redwing and a Dartford Warbler calling from gorse near the visitor centre at dusk, its first appearance for some days now, also present four Stonechat, two Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff and a Chaffinch. Elsewhere three Snipe on Warren Point was unusual, a Kingfisher zoomed around the reserve and two Water Rail were heard calling from the Main Pond.




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