July 2004


Saturday 31st:


Today one Roseate Tern was again present with eight Common and 100+ Sandwich Tern.  In the evening, 100+ Kittiwake were feeding offshore with the terns.  Mediterranean Gulls were much in evidence today, with at least six birds present [3+ juvenile, a second-summer and 2 adults].  Good numbers of waders [200 Dunlin,  50+ Ringed Plover and 81 Sanderling] were present although largely dispersed around site.  In the bushes, two Garden Warbler were the only signs of migration, although 60+ Linnet indicate a good breeding season.



Friday 30th:


No Roseates were seen but there were still c10 Common and 100+ Sandwich Tern present, also at the high tide 150 Dunlin and 70 Ringed Plover. Other birds of interest included a Red-breasted Merganser offshore and a Sedge Warbler in the Dune Pond.



Thursday 29th:


Two Roseate Tern were present with seven Common and 100+ Sandwich Tern, also at the high tide, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover still and an adult Mediterranean Gull.  Other sightings included: along the back path two Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler.



Wednesday 28th:


There was no further sign of the Caspian Tern, but a single Roseate Tern was again present today along with at least one Little Ringed Plover. Overhead there was a noticeable exodus of Whimbrel, small parties often leave south at this time of year, but the count of 60 today is the highest autumn count for the reserve.



   Little Ringed Plover adult (left) and juvenile (right) 27/07/04

Images © Dave Stone



Tuesday 27th:



Caspian Tern Photos © Mike Langman


The undoubted highlight of the year so far was discovered today - by a visiting birdwatcher looking for Roseate Terns! An adult CASPIAN TERN, the first reserve record, was present in front of the hide from 12.20 to 14.10. Despite its brief stay over 30 people were able to catch up with this bird, only the second for Devon, the previous record being 38 years ago. The bird appeared on the rising tide and eventually flew off southwest along the spit. Although there were still good numbers of Sandwich and Common Tern, no Roseates were reported today. Earlier in the morning, nine Arctic Tern were still present feeding offshore, two Arctic Skua presumably attracted by the tern flocks, were also present. At the high tide several Dunlin and Whimbrel were largely ignored in the excitement, but a small increase in Ringed Plover numbers also included at least six (4 ad, 2 juv) Little Ringed Plover, the highest ever reserve count for this scarce migrant. 



Monday 26th:


Two Roseate Tern were present today with 10 Common and 250 Sandwich Tern. With them were 17 Arctic Tern; this is the second highest autumn count on the reserve, in what is already a record year for the species.



Sunday 25th:


Three Roseate Tern were present today, distantly offshore around high tide, but coming close in front of the hide after 14.45.  As well as the Roseates the 300 strong Sandwich Tern flock also held 11 Common and 2 Arctic Tern and the juvenile Mediterranean Gull. The monthly BTO count recorded 560 Curlew, 20 Whimbrel, a Greenshank, 67 Dunlin and 22 Sanderling amongst the waders. 10 Grey Heron were in the railway saltmarsh with seven Little Egret, two others were seen, a juvenile in front of the hide and another bird recorded flying in off the sea. Away from the estuary a Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat remained with at least eight Willow Warbler and good numbers of young Reed Warbler.



Saturday 24th:


Highlight today was an Osprey flying North over the spit in the morning, this is the earliest autumn record for the reserve and the first in July.  At the high tide 80 Dunlin and two Whimbrel with 10 Common Tern, but no Roseates.  There was some evidence of passerine migration with good numbers of Blackcap and Reed Warbler around the entrance bushes.  With them, two Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and a reported Hippolais warbler.  Also on site four Sand Martin and a Wheatear.



Friday 23rd:


Two Roseate Tern were again present. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull and eight Little Egret were also onsite.



Thursday 22nd:


At least one Roseate Tern was again present amongst 100 Sandwich and 10 Common Tern, also onsite 30 Sanderling and 8 Little Egret.



Wednesday 21st:


No news has been received for today.



Tuesday 20th:


At least one Roseate Tern was reported today, but there was no other news.



Monday 19th:


No further sign today of either rare Sandpiper, but good numbers of terns remain, with single Roseate and a Little Tern remaining with 12+ Common Tern. Two Mediterranean Gulls were again present, but today they were a juvenile and a second-summer. Overnight at least six Common Sandpiper were heard overhead.



Sunday 18th:


Images © Lee Collins

Roseate Tern pictured with Little and Sandwich Tern

Moulting adult summer Mediterranean Gull




No sign today of the Broad-billed Sandpiper, but compensation was afforded to some by the presence of a Pectoral Sandpiper, the ninth site record and the first in July. This bird was only present briefly with c100 Dunlin and was not seen after 9.30. Other waders onsite included 315+ Curlew, 10+ Whimbrel, 60 Redshank and a Greenshank. At least 14 Common Sandpipers were along the railway embankment, the highest count here for several years. Good numbers of terns remain, with 3 Roseate, Arctic and a Little Tern remaining as well as 2 adult Mediterranean Gull.



Saturday 17th:


      Images © Lee Collins


The Broad-billed Sandpiper  [pictured above] remains on-site, being present with Dunlin, in front of the hide and around the Bight from 6.15am at least. It was present throughout the high tide period and returned in the evening being seen around 17.00, but it could not be relocated after 17.45. Also present amongst the waders 9 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper. Amongst the feeding flocks of terns and gulls there were 4 adult Roseate, a single Little Tern and an adult Mediterranean Gull (metal ring on right leg). Other birds present on site today included 9 Little Egret, Lesser Whitethroat, 40+ Swift, Red-breasted Merganser and the autumn’s first Great-crested Grebe. (LC, JEF & KR)



Friday 16th:


The Broad-billed Sandpiper put in an appearance at this end of the estuary this morning, after not being reported at all yesterday. It was found (JEF) on the receding tide and remained on view until 10.15 when it flew out of sight. The fourth record for the site and only the fifth for Devon. Only c40 Dunlin, 13 Sanderling and 8 Ringed Plover were present with the sandpiper.  Also in front of the hide this morning 3 Roseate, 25 Common, 320+ Sandwich Tern and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Offshore there was a Little Tern and a first summer Little Gull, probably Sunday’s bird. (DC, JEF & KR)  The Broad-billed Sandpiper reappeared in the evening at 17.15.



Thursday 15th:


In front of the hide around high tide there were 3 Roseate, 3 Common and 220 Sandwich Terns; 55 Dunlin; 12 Ringed Plover and 3 adult Mediterranean Gulls. Offshore, 12 Common Tern; 100 Gannet; 20 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill were present. In the bushes both Redstarts are still present and a single Lesser Whitethroat.  (JEF) Late evening produced reports of 4 Roseate Tern, Kingfisher and a Common Sandpiper.



Wednesday 14th:


A single Roseate Tern was present again today, but the Broad-billed Sandpiper frustratingly remained at the north end of the estuary. A Garden Warbler was the first of autumn and at least one of the Redstarts is still present.



Tuesday 13th:


One Roseate Tern was still present with 30 Common and 350 Sandwich Tern.  A juvenile Little Ringed Plover and a single Common Sandpiper were the pick of the waders. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was the only notable bird on land. (DJ, NM & JEF)



Monday 12th:


 Two Roseate and a Little Tern were present with the Common Tern, with 720 Curlew roosting on the railway saltmarsh over the high tide. (JEF & BN)



Sunday 11th:


Early on a Little Tern fed offshore along within a dozen Common Terns, whilst watching, 4 Whimbrel were noted coming in off the sea, while Med Gull numbers continue to grow, today 4, all adults were on site. Later in the day a flyover 1st yr Little Gull & Stock Dove were nice, while one of the juvenile Redstarts was refound. (LC & JEF)



Saturday 10th:


2 Juvenile Redstarts were seen today along with nice views of a family party (4) of Lesser Whitethroats. Sandwich Tern numbers continue to grow, a conservative figure of 300 must have been present. Within these 16 plus Common Terns were found, although Roseate Tern wasn't. Otherwise of interest a single adult Mediterranean Gull continues to linger, with 7 Whimbrel & 53 Dunlin. (LC & JEF)



Friday 9th:


A definite improvement today, with more signs of autumn migration, especially over the high tide. 58 Dunlin were joined by single Knot and Turnstone and yesterday’s Sanderling. Also present were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Lapwing, the first this autumn.   Offshore there were 268 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 300 Kittiwake and a Roseate Tern amongst 15 Common Tern. Other species of interest included 11 Sand Martin and a Tufted Duck in off the sea, an unusual midsummer record. (JEF)



Thursday 8th:


The strong winds of yesterday failed to produce anything in the way of rarer seabirds with a single Little Tern amongst 20 odd Common Tern the highlight. The high tide was not much better with a single Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 14 Redshank and 365+ Curlew. Sandwich Tern numbers continue to increase with over 250 present today. (JEF)



Wednesday 7th:


Today’s weather meant little to be seen in the way of passerines, offshore a single Manx Shearwater and 50+ Gannet passed through with 300 Kittiwake, Arctic Skua, 17 Common Tern also present. At the high tide there were 6 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover with 120 Sandwich Tern. (JEF)



Tuesday 6th:


A single Little Tern joined 23 Common Tern feeding offshore, but there was no sign of any Roseates today. A lingering Arctic Skua was also present.115 Common Scoter was a noticeable increase on recent numbers. There are still very few waders on the high tide with only 3 Dunlin and 3 Ringed Plover.  Counts of 58 Carrion Crow and 29 Greater Black backed Gull can be expected to increase over the coming weeks. (DJ)



Monday 5th:


Offshore the feeding flocks of yesterday were much reduced, but 18 Common Tern were present along with a new Roseate Tern.  As the tide dropped these moved into the estuary to join the increasing numbers (100+) of Sandwich Tern roosting on the mudflats. The only new waders were 2 Common Sandpiper on the railway embankment. There was little change elsewhere with 425 Curlew, 3 Ringed Plover plus single Dunlin and Whimbrel over the high tide and family groups of Lesser and Common Whitethroat feeding in woodland around the first pond. (JEF)



Sunday 4th:


Despite the early date, there were continuing signs of migration with 3 Mistle Thrush overhead first thing. Other migrants included another juvenile Redstart, with yesterday’s bird still present. Two Sand Martin were also the first for several weeks. Offshore there was no sign of the Roseate Tern but there were 40+ Sandwich Tern (including several juveniles), 16 Common Tern and an Arctic Tern (probably a first summer).  These terns were feeding in with a large group of 100+ Shag, 25 Guillemot, 5 Razorbill, 290+ Kittiwake and 200+ Black-headed Gulls.  42 Common Scoter flew west but the most interesting movement were 4 Shoveler, which flew in from the east, circled the estuary and saltmarsh before heading back out to sea and continuing west. The high tide produced 31 Redshank, 531 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, a summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin. A single Stock Dove flushed from the saltmarsh was the first record for the year. (JEF, AK, NM & KR)



Saturday 3rd:


A juvenile Redstart behind the visitor centre was the earliest ever autumn record here, also seen were two fledged broods of Lesser Whitethroat and a juvenile Great spotted Woodpecker, which flew in from the mainland at 5.30pm. The high tide produced 438 Curlew, 130 Oystercatcher and a single Bar-tailed Godwit, no smaller waders were present. Offshore the first returning Roseate Tern was present with c.15 Common Tern. (PC, JEF & KR)



Friday 2nd:


No reports.



Thursday 1st:


Today’s highlight, a Nuthatch was only the eighth record for the reserve and the first in July.  It was seen flying from sallows by the main pond towards Dead Dolphin Wood at 8.30am but there was no further sign. This was the first year tick for the site since 18 May! Also still present today a single Treecreeper and two singing Lesser Whitethroat. (JEF & NM)






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