THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
In comparison with recent years March will be remembered for being very dry and quite sunny. Easterly winds were noticeable however the strongest winds were on 31st NW 7/8.
A low monthly species count of 103 (c/f 2014 – 105, 2013 – 121) with the year’s total increasing to 120 (c/f 2014 – 120, 2013 – 132) with the addition of 10 new species – highlighted by GARGANEY, LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, and the first patch record for KUMLIENS GULL.
After a brief influx of spring migrants around the middle of the month passage petered out. The first March I can remember when we did not record a SWALLOW or a SANDWICH TERN.
Significant sightings for the month:-
SWANS AND GEESE,
WHITE FRONTED GEESE – the two birds from February were last seen on the 5th.
GREYLAG GOOSE – 3 arrived on South Huish Marsh on 22nd with 2 remaining until 31st. First record for many years of more than a single (usually in with the CANADA flocks).
MUTE SWAN – Pairs nest building on both marshes. Birds looking for a territory don’t stay very long.
SHELDUCK – Whilst present for most of the month a surprising build up from 25th when 8, 26th – 21, 28th – 30. This latter count is a patch record.
RUDDY SHELDUCK – Remained on South Huish Marsh all month.
GADWALL – A male on 1st.
TEAL – Max on the Marshes 68 on 8th.
MALLARD – Large number of unattached males still hoping for a female to arrive. No chicks recorded this year..
GARGANEY – A male watched arriving from the sea on 17th by Graham and Nick, later found on South Huish Marsh to the delight of a number of Devon birders.
WIGEON – Last record were 22 on 6th.
SHOVELER – A pair on South Huish on 2nd..
COMMON SCOTER – Only two records to report 3 on 3rd and 9 on 22nd.
DIVERS, GREBES, COOT AND RAILS
Very few Diver records this year only 3 singles.
RED THROATED – 1 on 19th.
BLACK-THROATED 1 on 4th.
GREAT NORTHERN 1 on 24th.
LITTLE GREBE – 1 – 2 Feeding on Thurlestone Marsh during the month.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE –Singles in the Bay on 9thand 17th.
COOT –One on Thurlestone Marsh on 9th.
WATER RAIL – Always difficult, to calculate how many birds on the patch – probably at least 8-10 . One gave very good views on several days at South Huish Marsh.
GANNET, EGRETS AND FULMAR
GANNET – No large movements during the month with a max of c 60.
LITTLE EGRET – Up to 4 on Thurlestone Marsh, 3 on South Huish Marsh plus birds feeding on the rocks gives a patch total of 10.
FULMAR – Present most of the month max4 on 31st.
HERON – Up to 6 on both Marshes.
BUZZARD – Not unusual to see up to 6 on the patch, however on 10th, Graham Daw and myself realised birds were arriving from Bolt Tail in groups of between 3 and 5, gaining height and heading East up the valley between 10.30 – 14.00 a total of 33, on that day 3 local birds gave a patch total of 36.
MERLIN – A single over South Huish Marsh on 24th.
SPARROWHAWK – Up to 3 on the patch.
KESTREL – 1 bird on the cast, also 1 In Buckland Valley.
PEREGRINE – Regularly sighted.
WADERS – Only 9 species recorded.
OYSTERCATCHER – Max 12 on 8th.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – First was a single from 18th – 20th with another on 31st.
RINGED PLOVER – 3 on 9th.
GOLDEN PLOVER – Small flock near South Milton on 15th.
PURPLE SANDPIPER – singles on the rocks on 4th and 9th.
DUNLIN – 2 on 9th were the first for the year!
SNIPE – Rapidly reduced numbers max 5 on 6th.
CURLEW – Single on 17th and 2 on 25th.
TURNSTONE – Max 8 on 14th.
Highlight of the year so far was the arrival of an adult.
KUMLIENS GULL – first found by Mike Langman on 15th but only positively identified from photos by Alan Doidge on 28th both occasions at South Huish Marsh.
KITTIWAKE – Max 10 on 2nd.
BLACK HEADED GULL – Max 60 on 14th.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL –Only record a 1st w on 17th (AFD)
LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL – 2 large flocks on South Huish Marsh, 65 on 2nd and 50+ on 29th.
SAND MARTIN – traditionally the first to arrive – this year again a single over Thurlestone Marsh on 8th (my earliest date) with 5 on 12th, 40+ on 17th then very few up to 31st.
WHEATEAR – first were 2 on 12th, a fall with 30+ on 17th and 9 on 19th then sparse numbers
CHIFFCHAFF – Max 18 at South Milton Ley on 10th.
SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF – At least 1 still on site during the month.
CETTIS WARBLER – At least 2 males on Thurlestone Marsh most of the month.
CRESTS AND STARTS
GOLDCREST – Only small numbers recorded at South Milton Ley and Buckland Valley.
FIRECREST – A first for the year was ringed by Alan Pomroy on 10th.
BLACK REDSTART – a male and a female recorded on several dates in gardens in Thurlestone Village, last on 20th.
WAGTAILS AND PIPETS
PIED WAGTAIL – Spring passage noted with roosts on Thurlestone Marsh of 100+ on 6th and 40+ on 8th.
WHITE WAGTAIL – Small numbers recorded, first was a single on 4th.
WATER PIPIT – A max of 4 on 19th at South Huish Marsh.
JAY – 3 around Thurlestone Marsh on 19th, singles in South Milton Village and Buckland Valley.
KINGFISHER – Single on Thurlestone Marsh on 8th.
BULLFINCH – 5 in Nicks Garden on 17th.
CIRL BUNTING – Both Males and Females visiting gardens in Thurlestone.
MISTLE THRUSH – 2 in Buckland Valley on 25th.
REDWING – 3 at South Milton Village on 17th.
April is always a Birders month of the year – passage migrants and the possibility of some overshoots can bring the unexpected.