THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
A really wonderful month for the sun worshipers, warm, only one really heavy period of rain (and that was an overnight thunderstorm on 18th) and many days of light winds and calm conditions.
Only 6 new species for the year but 2 of them were patch ticks for me – PURPLE HERON (first ever for the site) and ORTOLAN BUNTING also, KNOT, LITTLE STINT, WRYNECK, SISKIN taking the years total to 173 (c/f 185 - 2013 and 188 – 20120. However the number of species recorded at 132 is the joint second highest total. (c/f 125 – 2013, 122 – 2012).
The record is 135 achieved in April 2014.
During the month I undertook 17 Garden Watch surveys usually 45 mins to 1 hour from my balcony which overlooks the back of Thurlestone Marsh and a Copse which has bushes and trees up to a height of 20 feet. Most mornings total species recorded was around 30, with the highest on the 27th when a total of 45 observed.
On the 6th we undertook the first of what hopefully will become an annual event.
Bird Race Day
The intention is to record the number of species which are seen on the patch from 6.00 – 18.00 . 9 Observers plus ringers Alan Pomroy and Dave Scott took part. A respectable total of 81 species recorded. There were 5 other reserves all based in the Midlands who have participated in this event for a number of years. We came joint 3rd the winners achieving 90 species.
A detailed report of the species recorded is on the web site for the 6th.
Significant sightings for the month:
SWANS AND GEESE
CANADA GOOSE – Present most days with up to 200 birds.
BRENT GOOSE – First returning passage birds were 4 flying east on 22nd (Bob B) and 5 east on 24th.
MUTE SWAN – A single record of one flying down the valley at 07.00 on 9th
TEAL – Numbers on South Huish Marsh built up to a max of 70 on 14th. Present in small numbers on Thurlestone Marsh.
MALLARD – Large numbers roosting on Thurlestone Marsh which flew out at first light to feed in the recently harvested stubble fields max 255 on 9th.
WIGEON – First returning bird on 5th, with singles on 4 other dates and 2 on 17th.
GADWALL – A male on South Huish Marsh on 18th (Bob B).
PINTAIL – A male on South Huish marsh on 17th (Bob B)
COMMON SCOTER – Only recorded on 3 days – 4 east on 8th, 2 on 29th and a flock of 35 on the sea on 22nd.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER – Bob had the first (and only) record for the month with 2 flying into Hope Cover on 14th. Not many past September records.
SHEARWATERS, GANNET, EGRETS, HERONS, GULLS TERNS AND SKUAS
A very poor month for these maritime species – there were several days when none of them were recorded, very unusual for September.
MANX SHEARWATER –Only two records, 1 on 3rd and 3 on 6th.
BALEARIC SHEARWATER – Again only two records, singles on 2nd and 30th.
FULMAR – Last record was a single on 17th
GANNET – The max was 55 in a feeding party on 24th
LITTLE EGRETS – Normally up to 6 will be present on the patch. Evidence of some birds roosting on Thurlestone Marsh with 16 on 25th and 12 on 29th.
HERON –Again an increase in numbers with a max of 8 on both marshes and the rocks.
PURPLE HERON – The star bird of the year – so far. At 06.30 on10th Paul Boulden picked up a Juv at the back of South Huish Marsh – a patch first. Good views (and photo) obtained by Alan D, MBP and Eric W. before the bird flew into the reed/scrub at the far end of the Marsh despite its reluctance to come out into full view the best times were around 11.00 and 17.00. It was seen to fly into South Milton Ley on several occasions and was last seen at 11.30 flying into the back of Thurlestone Marsh by Bob B on 18th.
Many Devon Birders managed to see the bird over the 8 days (not seen on 17th) it was present, although some had to make several visits.
KITTIWAKE – Only 2 records with a max of 2 on 24th.
BLACK HEADED GULL – Numbers very low, only 1 count above 50 when 85 on 29th.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL – Only recorded on 5 days with singles on 4 and a max of 3 on 27th (There were over 40 on Kingsbridge Estuary.
SANDWICH TERN – Only recorded on 3 days – single 18th and 2 on 21st and 22nd.
COMMON TERN – Singles on 6th and 11th.
ARCTIC TERN – a juv on 1st only record.
ARCTIC SKUA - No records for any SKUAS until the afternoon of 29th when Graham Daw had a dark phase flying east.. Coincided with a passage of 45 GANNET in less than 20 mins at 13.15.
RAILS AND COOT
WATER RAIL – heard calling at all 3 main sites – could be up to 6 birds on the patch.
COOT – Up to 3 birds present before all departing by 28th.
HOBBY – Singles on 4 days.
PEREGRINE – Only recorded at the end of the month.
KESTREL – Only one regular bird recorded.
SPARROWHAWK – At least 3 recorded on the patch.
BUZZARD – Light phase birds very evident.
MARSH HARRIER – A juv picked up flying across South Huish marsh on 5th.
SHORT-EARED OWL – On morning of 28th a bird picked up coming in off the sea, made land around Hope Cove. Second patch record this year.
WADERS – A total of 22 species recorded, the best autumn for a number of species for some years.
OYSTERCATCHER – Numbers built up from 5th. Always difficult to work out whether some are passage migrants. Two distinct groups one on South Milton rocks the other on Yarmer Beach flocks max was 52 on 18th.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – Single (juv) on South Huish marsh on 4th – 6th.
RINGED PLOVER – Present throughout the month Again this year Yarmer Beach was their favoured site. Over 40 recorded on 4 days – 70 – 11th, 56 – 12th, 55 – 17th and 42 – 26th.
LAPWING – A single bird flew up the valley at 08.00 on 29th (this was the first patch record since January!)
KNOT – More records than expected – 6 flew in off the sea amongst a mixed wader flock on 3rd which flew straight up the valley. Singles on 9th and 11th with a max of 8 on 15th.
SANDERLING – Record on 9 days with main passage 12th – 18th reasonable daily totals were 10 – 12th, 32 – 17th, 11 – 18th, 8 – 26th.
LITTLE STINT – Best Autumn passage for many years with birds present from 4th – 1 Juv to 29th. Singles on 4 days, 3 on 15th max of 4 on 16th/17th and 19th – 23rd, reducing to 2 on 24th and then a single until 29th. Very good views obtained particularly when feeding on rotting seaweed under the footbridge.
CURLEW SANDPIPER – recorded on 3 days, 2 – 10th, 1 – 11th and 2 – 12th.
RUFF – Singles recorded on 5 days with 3 on 17th.
DUNLIN – Present throughout the month with totals above 40 on 43 – 11th, 70 – 12th, 50 – 18th.
SNIPE – Present on both marshes throughout when flushed by a raptor is when you realise more present than you thought. – 20 – 20th, 12 – 22nd.
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT – recorded on 9 days – a single on Thurlestone Marsh on5th of those, max were 6 – 18th,and 3 on 29th.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT – 4 amongst the mixed flock in off the sea on 3rd and a single briefly on the beach early on 27th.
WHIMBREL – recorded on 4 days – 2 on 1st with singles on 4th, 5th and 8th.
CURLEW – A single on 4th the only record.
COMMON SANDPIPER – AJL had a single on 14th.
GREEN SANDPIPER – Singles on 1st, 2nd and 8th.
GREENSHANK – Singles on 5th and 7th.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER – A bird picked up in flight and calling over South Huish marsh on 14th by Alan D, Eric W and Bob B.
REDSHANK – 2 amongst the mixed flock on 3rd and a single on 15th.
WOOD SANDPIPER – Another species with more records than usual. Singles on 2nd 3rd, 5th, 7th and 11th with 2 on 6th, 8th and 9th.
TURNSTONE – Only recorded on 5 days 1 – 2nd, 4 – 11th and 8th and 2 on 25th/26th.
WOODPECKERS, JAYS and KINGFISHER
KINGFISHER – Recorded on 8 days with 2 on 4 days – best post breeding dispersal for years.
WRYNECK – A single bird on the coast path around the Golf course on 11th (recorded by a visiting birder).
GREEN WOODPECKER – A remarkable 4 on 2nd with singles on 3 further days.
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER – Singles recorded on several days.
MAGPIE – Roosts at Thurlestone Marsh of 18 on 17th and 14 on 25th.
JAY – Evidence of post breeding dispersal with records on 5 days 2 – 9th and 19th and 6 – 25th.
LARKS AND HIRUNDINES
SKYLARKS – Evidence of viz mig on 25th when 80 recorded and 27th with 53 all flying south.
SWALLOW – Some early morning viz mig Nos 550 on 3rd, 700 on 4th, 800 on22nd. Highest roosts were 4500 on 7th and 3,500 on 15th.
HOUSE MARTIN – Viz mig nos up to 250 on 4 days. Over South Huish Marsh, 500+ - 20th, 2000+ - 22nd and 1000+ on 23rd.
SAND MARTIN – Viz mig early morning – 35 -3rd, 70 – 4th, 50 – 9th last were singles on 27th and 30th.
SWIFT – 3 Sept records – singles on 3rd, 6th and 16th.
WARBLERS – Best records from the early morning Garden Watch.
CHIFFCHAFF – from 15 - 2nd to 27 - 6th, 27 again on 19th and 11 on 27th.
WILLOW WARBLER – 6 – 2nd, 3 – 4th and a max of 11 – 5th.
BLACKCAP – 3 – 2nd, 2 – 19th, 5 – 22nd. ~Several daily records of singles
GARDEN WARBLER – single on 2nd.
WHITE THROAT – 3 – 6th, singles on 19th and 22nd.
GROPPA – a bird ringed on 6th and one by the footbridge on 25th.
SEDGE WARBLER – South Milton Ley 6 ringed on 6th and 4 on 19th.
REED WARBLER – 8 – 6th and 4 – 23rd at South Milton Ley.
SONG THRUSH – Have been very scarce this summer – only 1 record of 2 in Buckland Valley on 6th.
MISTLE THRUSH – 2 in Buckland Valley on 6th.
NUTHATCH – In Buckland Valley on 6th (only second patch record of the year)
STOCK DOVE – 10 in fields at Thurlestone Marsh on 17th.
CREST, FLYCATCHERS AND CHATS
GOLDCREST – 2 on 22nd and singles on 27th and 29th (no evidence of breeding this year)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER – Recorded on 5 days – 2 – 5th and 7th, 1 – 8th and 15th and 2 – 22nd.
REDSTART – a Garden Watch tick – 2 Juv on 2nd
WHINCHAT – Good numbers recorded on 8 days – 1 – 3rd, 7 – 4th and 6th, 2 – 7th, 3 – 8th, 5 – 9th, 2 – 15th and 1 - 20th.
STONECHAT – Evidence of passage birds with a max of 14 – 4th
WHEATEAR – Recorded on 10 days max were 14 – 7th, 18 – 8th, 16 – 11th.
WAGTAILS PIPITS AND BUNTINGS
WHITE WAGTAIL – Max 4 – 22nd. Good numbers of PIED with plenty of Juvs.
YELLOW WAGTAIL – Another good passage, on 1st – 25 on South Huish Marsh and at 17.30, 40 flew through Thurlestone Marsh . Also 10 – 3rd, 11 – 4th, 13 – 5th, 19 – 8th with the last 5 on 22nd.
GREY WAGTAIL – Seen regularly with a max of 4 on 5th and 30th.
TREE PIPIT – 2 – 2nd and 1 – 4th were the only records
MEADOW PIPIT – Viz mig built up from 8 – 15th, to over 100 – 30th.
ROCK PIPIT – Max were 16 – 26th. Breed on Warren Point.
FINCHES, LINNETS AND BUNTINGS
GOLDFINCH – Larges flocks were 50 – 8th and 65 – 30th.
SISKIN – 1 – 4th and 4 – 27th (both on Garden Watch surveys)
REDPOLL – 2 – 30th.
BULLFINCH – Only record a single on 2nd
LINNETS – Evidence of passage with 100 on 5th, 150+ on 8th and 250 – 29th.
YELLOWHAMMER – singles on 2nd and 6th.
CIRL BUNTING – A pair by South Huish Marsh on 10th.
REED BUNTING – Very few records.
ORTOLAN BUNTING - At 11.55 on 18th whilst Bob B and MBP were counting the waders on Yarmer Beach. A Bunting flew east 10 foot above and 30 foot away from us – identity clinched from the diagnostic call. First patch record for some years (at least 3 singles in the past) and a patch tick for me.
RINGING - With Roger and Helen away for 2 months only visits were by Alan Pomroy and Dave Scott.
RECOVERY – Interestingly another French control.
SEDGE WARBLER – D433103 ringed on 10th August 2013 at Thurlestone Marsh by Bob B.
CONTROLLED – on 21st August 2013 at RESERVE PIERRE CONSTANT, LOIRE – ATLANTIQUE IN FRANCE – Covered 347 Km in 11 days.
Hopefully October will see a return to a more normal weather pattern with gale force winds and some driving rain!