THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
A month that has not been like any other in the 10 years I have been covering the patch. Days of gales and storm force winds, rain which never seemed to stop at times. Damage to the coastal strip and roads by the Rock Flats and Leasfoot Beach completely washed away. Gusts of 80 mph+ (F12+) and mountainous seas on 5th – waves crashing over the dunes and onto the 1st hole of the Golf Club. At times it was difficult to stand up. Gales F11+ from 11th to 15th and further rain saw both marshes in flooded state.
Surprising a very mild month with only a light frost on the morning of 16th.
Six new birds for the year - WATER PIPIT (99), LITTLE GULL (100), PUFFIN (101), TREE CREEPER (102), PINTAIL (103) and COOT (104),
The total species recorded was only 91 (c/f 97 in 2013) – this is the lowest monthly total since these reports started in 2011.
GULLS were probably the highlight of the month with a total of 10 species recorded and at least 4 different GLAUCOUS GULL with 3 together on 23rd.
Significant Sightings for the month.-
MUTE SWAN – with pairs holding territory on both marshes a total of 9 on 21st was a years maximum.
MALLARD numbers rose with the increased water level with a max of 60 on 17th.
SHELDUCK started to be on the marshes earlier than previous years with a max of 12 on 20th. WIGEON numbers on the marshes peaked at 115 on 4th, same day that 300+ flew west (patch day total of 415 is a very high total). TEAL numbers fairly static with a max of 70 on 16th. Only a single record for PINTAIL with a pair on the sea on 16th. SHOVELER numbers very low with a max of 5 on 7th and none thereafter. (No GADWALL recorded at all). TUFTED DUCK are scarce birds here normally 2/3 records a year, the female from January returned on 7th and present until 20th. On the 8th it was joined by a male (for 1 day)
Only a single record for COMMON SCOTER with 5 flying east on 13th.
DIVERS AND GREBES
Only records occurred on 4th when a single RED THROATED and 4 GREAT NORTHERN were through the Bay.
A LITTLE GREBE on Thurlestone Marsh recorded on 5th, 7th and 21st.
Still only the regular local species of SPARROWHAWK, BUZZARD, KESTREL and PEREGRINE.
Increase in LITTLE EGRET noted with 5 on 16th and years max of 6 on 20th. WATER RAIL noted and calling on both marshes. MOORHEN numbers totalled over 20 and finally the first COOT of the year at South Huish marsh on 23rd/24th.
Whilst the storms did result in some AUKS being washed up dead the numbers were’nt as high as other coastal areaS with up to 10 GUILLEMOT and 5 RAZORBILL (also 1 KITTIWAKE). A PUFFIN in a very tired state picked up by a local resident on 9th and taken to a vets (not known whether it survived). A significant AUK passage on 4th with 235 logged flying east.
Only 7 species recorded – OYSTERCATCHER max 40 on 7th. RINGED PLOVER – 6 on 24th. SANDERLING max 2 on 1st, SNIPE max 13 on 16th. CURLEW 1 on 11th, TURNSTONE max 25 on 6th and finally a WOODCOCK in Nick T’ s garden on 24th.
The month will be long remembered for the numbers of GULLS brought into the Bay by the Storms in particular KITTIWAKE with over 250 on 8th, 125+ on 14th, up to 30 on South Huish Marsh.
Several days with counts above 100 for BLACK HEADED GULL and a max of 300+ on 18th. On the afternoon of 8th a flock of GULLS on Thurlestone Marsh contained several KITTIWAKE and an adult LITTLE GULL.
Some of the MEDITERRANEAN GULL starting to look resplendent with summer plumage hoods starting to show, recorded on 5 days with a max of 5 on 19th.
Resting LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL reached 30 on 14th and 25 on 27th.
A remarkable 4 different GLAUCOUS GULL records started with an adult on 16th, a biscuit coloured 1st W on 17th, single adult from 18th to 21st and finally 2 Ad and a 2nd W together on 22nd/23rd.
WARBLERS – Still no BLACKCAP records a few CHIFFCHAFF by the sewage works with a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF in my garden on 18th.
TREE CREEPER recorded twice at West Buckland – 11th and 24th.
No flocks of THRUSHES – no FIELDFARE so far this year, REDWING only 5 on 1st and 4 on 7th. A single MISTLE THRUSH on 5th.
A single WATER PIPIT on 8th. A male CIRL BUNTING in a local garden on 16th and a pair on 18th. Single YELLOWHAMMER at Huxton Wood on 24th. Max REED BUNTING on my feeders were 6 on 16th.