THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
The dry weather from the previous month continued, also quite sunny and warm. Winds were mainly ENE with 10 consecutive days from 10th. Towards the end of the month sea fog and low cloud produced several days of poor visibility.
Sea passage was poor in relation to recent years with some passerine species late arriving. Even so the month produced a species count of 133 (c/f 2014 – 134, 2013 – 132) which is the second highest monthly total over the last 5 years. The year total was increased by 33 species to 153 (c/f 2014 – 153, 2013 – 153) – Interesting statistic 2011 was also 153 only 2012 being different at 156.
Amongst the additions for this year – GREAT WHITE EGRET, RED KITE, MARSH HARRIER, HOBBY, GREEN SANDPIPER, CUCKOO, LITTLE TERN, EIDER, PIED FLYCATCHER, NUTHATCH.
Significant sightings for the month.
SWANS AND GEESE
Pair of MUTE SWAN at South Huish Marsh sitting on eggs, unfortunately because of the low water level the pair at Thurlestone Marsh have left
SHELDUCK = Significant increase on numbers moving between both Marshes and the cliffs – max of 27 on 12th
RUDDY SHELDUCK – Present on South Huish Marsh until the 26th.
GADWALL – A pair on the sea on 8th.
TEAL – Numbers fluctuated throughout the month, max 30 on 22nd had reduced to 2 on 30th.
MALLARD – Several small broods of duckling unfortunately all predated – some fat HERONS and GBB GULLS around.
WIGEON - A male arrived on South Huish Marsh on 21st, still present on 30th.
PINTAIL – Early evening of 25th a male flew up the Valley.
EIDER – A female amongst a flock of COMMON SCOTER on 19th.
SHOVELER – A pair on 6th on South Huish Marsh.
GARGANEY – A pair watched flying in off the sea early on 7th later seen on South Huish marsh.
COMMON SCOTER – Poor spring passage, only recorded on 9 days with a max of 80 on 19th.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER – Recorded on 8 days, all singles apart from 3 on 9th.
RED THROATED DIVER – singles only on 4th and 23rd.
BLACK THROATED DIVER – Singles only on 7th, 10th and 14th.
GANNETS, FULMAR AND SHEARWATERS
Whilst GANNETS recorded almost daily no significant passage apart from 92 on 9th, 110 on 19th and 150+ on 23rd.
FULMAR – A max of 4 on 21st.
MANX SHEARWATER – Another poor spring passage – first were 2 on 6th, only recorded on 5 days thereafter with a max of 42 on 25th.
EGRETS AND HERON
GREAT WHITE EGRET – Paul Boulden found one very early on 9th on South Huish Marsh, whilst not seen to fly off it could not be relocated.
RED KITE – Whilst ringing at South Milton Ley on 17th Alan Pomroy had 2 different birds fly up the Valley. (lot more records for Devon this Spring)
MARSH HARRIER – Alan Doidge photographed a female over his garden on evening of 21st.
MERLIN – single seen on 25th.
HOBBY – first of the year flew through Thurlestone Marsh on 20th.
WADERS – Poor Spring passage this year with 16 species recorded.
OYSTERCATCHER – Max 21 on 22nd.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – 2 records both on South Huish marsh – singles on 10th and 28th.
RINGED PLOVER - A max of 5 on 19th speaks for itself.
GREY PLOVER – One flew in with WHIMBREL on 23rd.
LAPWING – With no previous April records in the last 5 years – singles on 1st, 4th and8thand again on 17th.
SANDERLING – Only 2 records – 2 on 23rd and 9 on 27th.
DUNLIN - Recorded on 9 days with a max of 7 on 25th and 27th.
RUFF – A female on South Huish marsh on 22nd and 23rd.
SNIPE – Recorded on 3 days, 2 on 10th and 24th and a single on 25th.
BLACK TAILED GODWIT – One bird on South Huish Marsh from 4th to 9th and another on 19th.
BARTAILED GODWIT – Only recorded on 4 days – singles on 7th, 23rd and 25th with a max of 4 on 20th.
WHIMBREL – First were 2 on 5th, recorded almost daily thereafter with totals of 65 on 20th, 61 on 23rd, 54 on 25th and 41 on 27th.
CURLEW – 4 flew east on 6th.
COMMON SANDPIPER – Singles on 20th and 25th.
GREEN SANDPIPER – Rare spring recorded 1 on Thurlestone Marsh on 11th.
GREENSHANK – 1 flew over the bay calling on 16th.
Interestingly for the first April in recent years no TURNSTONE records.
SKUAS and GULLS
ARCTIC SKUA – Single dp on 23rd and 2 on 25th
GREAT SKUA – Single flew east on 23rd. A new patch day record count on a very foggy 25th. A total of 25 flew east including a single flock of 15 found resting on the sea which immediately flew off as the fog temporarily lifted.
KITTIWAKE – Max 3 on 12th.
BLACK HEADED GULL – Very few records max 30 on 7th
MEDITERRANEAN GULL – Singles on 7th, 9th and 20th.
COMMON GULL – Only recorded on 3 days.
KUMLIENS GULL – The bird from March recorded on 4 days between 3rd and 8th – usually with HERRING GULLS and feeding in recently ploughed field.
TERNS – Another species with a poor Spring passage.
LITTLE TERN – 3 flew into the bay on 18th and moved on within 10 mins.
SANDWICH TERN – first were 4 on 4th, thereafter recorded on 15 days with highest totals of 27 on 9th, 50 on 12th, 35 on 18th (this compares with daily totals of up to 300+ in recent years).
COMMON TERN – first were 4 on 9th thereafter only 2 on 11th and 3 on 18th.
ARCTIC TERN – Only record was 3 in the bay 22nd.
HIRUNDINES AND SWIFT
SWALLOW – first was a single on 2nd, no big passage highest count 125 on 8th. Roosts of 40 and 20 at Thurlestone Marsh late in the month.
SAND MARTIN – Regularly recorded, max 50+ on 16th.
HOUSE MARTIN – First a single on 5th, max 14 on 20th.
SWIFT – Singles only on 23rd and 25th
WARBLERS, FLYCATCHERS and CUCKOO
CHIFFCHAFF – Recorded daily, plenty of territories being held judging by calls.
SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF – 1 caught and ringed at South Milton Ley on 17th.
WILLOW WARBLER – few records with daily totals no more than 3.
GARDEN WARBLER – Singles on 21st and 28th.
BLACKCAP – In flux around the middle of month with 14 recorded on the patch on 14th.
WHITETHROAT – first arrived on 16th with 3 on 21st.
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER – Singles heard calling on 13th, 25th and 27th.
SEDGE WARBLER – first were 2 on 13th increasing thereafter.
REED WARBLER – first a single on 14.
PIED FLYCATCHER – Nick Townsend had a female in his garden on 19th, a rare spring record.
CUCKOO – 2 records 1 seen flying on 14th, another heard in Buckland Valley on 25th.
REDWING – last were 2 at South Milton Ley on 5th.
MISTLE THRUSH – Recorded at 3 different sites on the patch.
SONG THRUSH – Heard and seen at 4 locations.
CHATS AND WHEATEAR
STONECHAT – At least 4 pairs at their regular breeding sites.
WHINCHAT – First 1 on 19th and then singles on 26th and 27th.
WHEATEAR – Another specie with very low passage number highest total only 6 on 19th and 21st.
PIED WAGTAIL – Roosts on Thurlestone Marsh were 30 on 18th, 40 on 19th and 35 on 21st.
WHITE WAGTAIL – Up to 3 at South Huish marsh on several dates.
YELLOW WAGTAIL – first was a male at South Huish Marsh on 10th recorded on 8 days thereafter mostly singles. Wagtail roost at Thurlestone Marsh included 3 on 18th and 2 on 19th.
PIPITS, LARKS AND BUNTING
TREE PIPIT – singles on 6th and 24th.
WATER PIPIT – Last record a single on 1st.
BULL FINCH – Small numbers reported from South Milton ley and Village gardens.
CIRL BUNTING – Reported in local gardens on 2nd and 15th
YELLOWHAMMER – Reported from the lanes from 25th
REED BUNTING – On both marshes and still coming to feeders.
CORN BUNTING – A very experienced visiting birder reported ,1 flying over the South Huish marsh of 4th – first recorded for some years.
BIRD RACE DAY – SATURDAY 25TH APRIL.
High expectations leading up to the day with 11 observers taking part, unfortunately no ringing team.
A promising start from 06.30 unfortunately not maintained as sea fog rolled in from 08.00 and did not clear until mid afternoon – at times even Thurlestone Rock was out of view.
Despite the weather we achieved a total of 89 species which placed us 3rd. Totals from other sites in the Midlands which took part were:-
91 – BELVIDE
91 - UPTON WARREN.
89 - THURLESTONE BAY
88 – GRIMLEY
83 – SANDWELL VALLEY
82 – MARSH LANE
76 – VENUS POOL
A very enjoyable day for all who took part.
Next occasion will be early September.
May usually turns up some surprises, I will be away until 9th so hope the rarities arrive afterwards.