THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
An outstanding months birdwatching on the patch with several records achieved including 2 new birds for South Huish Marsh and a superb wader passage, particularly for BAR TAILED GODWIT for a new Devon day record of 2,200 birds logged.
The month was also surprising for the weather, light showers on 12th and 28th and only appreciable rain on 30th. It was also a cold month mainly due to almost continuous days of easterly/north easterly winds which resulted in more dawn frost than the whole of the winter period.
A new monthly record of 148 species was achieved (previous was 143 in April 2017 (c/f 2020 - 134, 2019 - 129).
During the month 31 new species were added for the year taking the total to 170 (c/f 202 - 161, 2019 - 160)
Unusual additions were - GREY LAG GOOSE, BARNACLE GOOSE, EGYPTIAN GOOSE, MARSH HARRIER, HOOPOE, LITTLE TERN, ARCTIC TERN, GARDEN WARBLER, WHINCHAT, REDSTART, RING OUZEL, BLUE HEADED WAGTAIL, GREY HEADED WAGTAIL, REDPOLL.
GOOSE, DUCKS and GREBES
GREYLAG GOOSE - 1 flew in of the sea from South on 21st.
BARNACLE CLOSE - 1 ( of questionable parentage but nicely marked) with CANADA flock from 21st.
BRENT GOOSE - A DB on the Marsh on 17th and 18th.
EGYPTIAN GOOSE - 2 landed on South Huish marsh briefly on 18th.
SHELDUCK - Spring build up from 16th with 18 present on South Huish Marsh through to 25th. On South Efford Marsh up to 24 by 25th.
WIGEON - Final record were a pair on South Huish Marsh on 1st.
TEAL - A max of 36 on South Huish Marsh on 8th had reduced to 12 by 29th.
GARGANEY - A pair watched flying in off the sea on 23rd, spent the rest of the day on South Huish Marsh.
SHOVELER - A max of 2m and 1f on 25th.
TUFTED DUCK - A male flew SE on 5th, a pair flew SE after a spell on the sea on 14th.
COMMON SCOTER - Surprisingly no big passage this year. Only one good count of 103 SE on 14th.
GOOSANDER - Near Hatch Bridge a pair on 9th and a male on 29th.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE - 1 on the sea on 4th.
DIVERS - A good month for the Bay - a total of 95 logged.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - A total of 32 logged mostly singles, max of 5 on 5th and 8th with 3 on 4th and 11th. On 15th the Albino bird which wintered in Kingsbridge Estuary flew SE across the Bay.
RED THROATED DIVER - A total of 52 logged with a max of 14 on 5th other good counts were 8 on 4th and 7 on 8th.
BLACK THROATED DIVER - A total of 11 - a max of 3 on 5th. Birds on the sea in full summer plumage locked stunning on 3rd and 7th.
GANNET, SHEARWATERS, EGERET and SPOONBILL
GANNET - 3 figure counts of 180 SE on 1st and 191 on15th.
FULMAR - A max of 18 on 14th.
MANX SHEARWATER - Max of 126 SE on 18th.
CATTLE EGRET - 3 on South Huish Marsh on 26th and 27th.
LITTLE EGRET - Up to 4 on South Huish Marsh all month.
SPOONBILL - A 1st winter bird on South Huish marsh on 20th, 21st and 26th also present on South Efford Marsh on 25th.
RAPTORS - A male flew over Aveton Gifford on 18th.
No change in Status of BUZZARD, SPARROWHAWK, KESTREL, PEREGRINE, TAWNY OWL and BARN OWL.
WADERS - An absolutely fantastic month particularly from 20th to 28th with strong E/NE winds up to gale force 8. Last big passage like this was in 1990 for BAR TAILED GODWIT.
20 species were recorded -
OYSTERCATCHER - Max was 23 on 14th.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER - Singles on South Huish Marsh on 10th, 11th and 26th.
RINGED PLOVER - Only recorded on 6 days with a max of 4 on 15th.
GREY PLOVER - recorded on 6 days with high counts of 18 on 24th and 10 on 25th ( 7 of which in summer plumage) - A total of 36 recorded.
KNOT - 2 flew in with the GREY PLOVER on 25th.
SANDERLING - recorded on 3 days - max 17 on 25th.
PURPLE SANDPIPER - 1 on the rocks on 16th.
DUNLIN - A max of 15 on 25th.
SNIPE - Max of 10 on South Huish Marsh on 7th.
BLACK TAILED GODWIT - 2 on South Huish Marsh on 1st, with up to 4 on South Efford Marsh.
BAR TAILED GODWIT - Passage started with 7 on 16th last being 1 on 29th.
On 22nd an exceptional passage started with a flock of 50 at 08.05 during the next 11 hours, a total of 38 flocks logged flying in off the sea and up the South Milton Valley - several contained over 100 birds with the largest 435 at 16.45 (counted from photos). Incredibly the day total was 2200 - a new Devon record. By the 29th the total birds logged was 2492.
WHIMBREL - Another impressive passage - started with14 on 13th with 3 figure counts of 144 on 22nd, 131 on 23rd, 185 on 24th and 127 on 26th final month total was 1120 birds logged.
CURLEW - Only 2 records singles on 26th and 27th on South Huish Marsh.
COMMON SANDPIPER - from 22nd singles at South Huish Marsh with 2 on 25th.
GREEN SANDPIPER - 2 near Hatch Bridge on 26th.
WOOD SANDPIPER - At south Huish Marsh 1 from 25th to 30th. This is only the second Spring record. In the last 15 years.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS - The long staying bird on the River Avon Estuary last reported on the 10th - had been present since 14th October 2020.
GREENSHANK - On South Huish marsh 7 briefly on 26th and 2 on 28th.
On River Avon Estuary up to 2 throughout the month.
REDSHANK - max on River Avon Estuary 8 on 1st.
TURNSTONE - Max on the rocks 14 on 12th.
SKUAS, GULLS, TERNS and AUKS
ARCTIC SKUA - Singles, all dark phase on 14th, 18th, 20th and 23rd.
LITTLE GULL - An adult off Hope Cove on 22nd.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - last passage records were 2 on 6th.
LITTLE TERN - 1 flock of 4 moved SE on 11th.
SANDWICH TERN - reasonable total of 18 on 5th, 15 on 11th, 20 on 23rd and a max of 29 on 25th.
COMMON TERN - 2 flew SE on 2nd.
ARCTIC TERN - first were 3 on11th with a max of 7 on 25th.
COMMIC TERN - Logged off Hope Cover on 5 days with a max of 18 on12th.
PUFFIN - Singles flew SE on 2nd and 11th.
HIRUNDINES - Passage very slow this year probably due to weather systems in North Spain and cold temperatures here.
SWIFT - first was a single on 23rd.
SAND MARTIN - Max of 20 on 1st. A flock of 12 at a known breeding site on 29th.
SWALLOW - 10 on1st, highest totals were 25 on28th and 30 on 29th.
HOUSE MARTIN - first were 2 on 1st, very few thereafter until total of 60 on 28th.
WARBLERS - 10 species recorded.
CETTIS WARBLER - At South Milton Ley 5 on 4th.
CHIFFCHAFF - At South Milton Ley 25+ on 4th was highest coun.
SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF - 1 at South Milton Ley on 9th.
WILLOW WARBLER - Poor passage, on recorded at South Milton Ley in small numbers.
BLACKCAP - Males singing in at least 6 sites, at South Milton Ley 9 on 27th.
GARDEN WARBLER - a surprise with a new day record on 27th with 2 ringed and 2 more singing at South Milton Ley, and 1 in the Copse at South Huish Marsh.
WHITE THROAT - First was 1on the coast path on 14th, by the end of the month at least 5 on territory.
GROPPA - 1reeling at South Milton Ley on 9th.
SEDGE WARBLER - Numbers increased from singles on 5th to a max of 5 at South Huish Marsh on 27th and 8 at South Milton Ley on 30th.
REED WARBLER - 2 singing at South Huish Marsh on 27th with at least 6 at South Milton Ley on 29th.
THRUSHES, STARTS and CHATS, MISCELLANEOUS
RING OUZEL - A male in a paddock at South Huish Marsh on evening of 13th was a site first.
BLACK REDSTART - A female on the rocks on 26th.
REDSTART - A male in Hope Wood on 20th.
WHINCHAT - Males at South Huish Marsh on 24th and 29th.
STONECHAT - At least 3 pairs around the Marsh and Coast Path.
WHEATEAR - Very poor passage - only reasonable numbers were13on 16th, 7 on 17th and 6 on 20th.
CUCKOO - 1 reported calling at Hatch Bridge on 27th.
DIPPER - Reported from Hatch Bridge on 27th and 29th.
HOOPOE - 1 reported in a private garden at Outer Hope on 28th.
WAGTAILS. - a record 6 species recorded this month with a site first.
PIED WAGTAIL - At South Huish marsh up to 20 recorded .
WHITE WAGTAIL. - 4 on 5th, 2 on 26th and several singles at South Huish Marsh.
GREAT WAGTAIL - Pair at Hatch Bridge.
YELLOW WAGTAIL - first were 2 on 16th singles and 2 daily thereafter with 5 on 26th.
GREY HEADED WAGTAIL - found by Andy Smith on the afternoon of 29th a male watched for just over 90 minutes. A site first and the 10th record for Devon.
WATER PIPIT - Last were singles on South Huish Marsh showing summer plumage on 2nd and 6th.
That was a month that will be remembered and talked about for some years - now what will May bring?