THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
Probably one of the coldest Aprils for many years caused by over 12 days of winds from the East. Light snow on 4th was definitely an April first with night frosts well into the month. Despite the cold it was a month with little rainfall.
Early spring migrants must have found great difficulty finding food – particularly HIRUNDINES and WARBLERS. Many observers reporting CHIFFCHAFF in good numbers feeding on the ground – in my garden where 2 or 3 would by a high count up to 10 were picking anything they could find in the grass.
Highlights were the continued presence of SPOONBILL with the first winter remaining until 18th. Passage of LITTLE RINGED PLOVER produced a new site record of 14 on 4th.
Very low passage numbers of SKUA, SHEARWATER and TERNS, the expected Wader passage at the end of the month did not materialise.
Despite all the concerns as a result of some concentrated effort by Bob B, AJL, Nick T and myself we achieved a new monthly specie record of 132 (previous highest was 130 in October 2012). During the month we recorded 21 new species for the year nearly all of them being summer visitors. Of particular interest were LITTLE GULL, GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, BLUE HEADED WAGTAIL, LITTLE TERN, HOBBY, GARDEN WARBLER and LESSER WHITETHROAT. This takes the year list to 153 (c/f 155 in 2012).
Significant sightings for the month were:-
BRENT GOOSE – single DB birds on 2nd and 4th.
WIGEON – max 8 on 5th with the last a male on 11th.
SHELDUCK – Holding territories on both marshes with a max of 6 on 14th and 30th
GADWALL – pairs on 5th and 17th (both on the sea).
TEAL – numbers high throughout the month – max 67 on 5th with still 20 on 29th.
SHOVELER – throughout the month max 11 on 5th.
TUFTED DUCK – first of the year, a pair on the sea briefly on 4th.
COMMON SCOTER – Passage very poor compared with previous years although recorded on 10 days, max 28 on 2nd and 24 on 20th.
Another good moth for DIVERS
REDTHROATED - - recorded on 6 days with 4 on 5th and 3 on 6th and 7th.
BLACKTHROATED – singles on 4 days with 2 on 25th.
GREAT NORTHERN – singles on 7 days with 2 on 6th.
Where have MANX SHEARWATER gone? – very few recorded from the South Devon seawatching points (even Portland have commented on how few). Only a single record with 175 flying east in under 2 hours late afternoon of 17th.
SPOONBILL – Both adults and the 1st winter together on 2nd, one of the adults departed leaving the remaining two until the 8th. A surprise on 12th when the 1st winter returned, last seen on 18th. Details of the ring have been submitted but no response so far.
A pair of LITTLE GREBE on Thurlestone marsh on 7th and a single on 16th – has never previously bred at this site. GREAT CRESTED GREBE – 3 in the bay on1st with 2 remaining until 8th.
Only rapters of note were a MERLIN on 11th and the first HOBBY on 28th.
WATER RAIL still at South Milton Ley until the middle of the month.
WADERS – max for the month
OYSTERCATCHER – 28 on 8th, RINGED PLOVER – 7 on 8th.
GOLDEN PLOVER – 2 on 1st. GREY PLOVER – singles on 1st and 8th.
SANDERLING – single on 4th and 14th. DUNLIN – recorded on 13 days, max 16 on 25th when all in s/pl. JACK SNIPE – Bob B flushed one on 10th, SNIPE – 4 on 7th – last a single flushed by AJL on 27th. BLACK TAILED GODWIT – fist of the year on 2nd with a group of 7 of SHM on 5th and 6th, 5 remaining until 11th.
A colour ringed bird amongst them details will be in the ringing report.
BAR-TAILED GODWIT – only recorded on 4 days – first on 25th and a max of only 3 on 26th and 29th.
WHIMBREL – first 1 on 11th daily from 14th only significant passage was 120 on 21st and 90 on 30th. CURLEW – recorded on 5 days max 3 on 14th. COMMON SANDPIPER – singles on 26th and 29th. REDSHANK – singles on 1st and 8th, TURNSTONE- recorded on 7 days max 17 on 14th.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER – A record spring passage with new site records of 9 on 3rd surpassed with 14 on 4th recorded on 9 further days. The new site record of 14 is probably more than the total from the last 7 years.
SKUA were scarce – only 1 ARCTIC on 21st and GREAT SKUA single on13th with 4 together on 14th. Only GULLS of note – a single LITTLE and single MEDITERRANEAN both on 14th.
Very poor numbers of TERNS on passage whilst SANDWICH recorded almost daily max only 27 on 5th, ARCTIC TERN arrived earlier than expected with 5 on 17th and a single on 26th. COMMON TERN only recorded on 3 days with a max of 20 on 14th.
HIRUNDINE passage slow in the early part of the month.
SAND MARTIN max of 50+ on 15th, HOUSE MARTIN – 2 on 10th and a max of 14 on 17th, SWALLOW – 3 figure counts of 200 on 17th and 280 on 25th. First SWIFT a single on 25th, then almost daily but a max of only 3 on 28th.
A FIRECREST on 7th and a male BLACK REDSTART (AJL) on 2nd were the last.
WARBLERS – A significant fall occurred on morning of 9th with 370+. CHIFFCHAFF – and 70+ WILLOW WARBLER recorded. Bob B caught and ringed a “ACREDULA” WILLOW – this is the grey northern sub species – only the second site record.
WHITETHROAT – 2 on 19th (AJL) were the first – a max of 6+ late month..
LESSER WHITETHROAT – Bob B recorded one at South Milton Ley on 30th.
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER – Bob B had a single on 20th.
GARDEN WARBLER – AJL had a single in Mallards Lane on 27th.
SEDGE WARBLER – First 1 on 19th at Thurlestone Marsh , but never more than 6/8 on the patch. REED WARBLER 2 on 17th were the first, again only a few males singing by 30th,
BLACKCAP – Max was only 3 – still most records from gardens.
REDWING – last were 3 over South Milton Ley on 6th (Bob B)
WHEATEAR – Light spring passage – max 20 on 5th, WHINCHAT – Vic T recorded the first – a male on South Huish marsh on 23rd.
One of the best spring passages of YELLOW WAGTAIL, first were 4 on 20th, then recorded daily with up to 5. Also on 20th a male BLUE HEADED WAGTAIL, also seen on 21st and 23rd and then what is certainly a second male on 28th and 29th. A few WHITE WAGTAIL recorded from 20th.
First TREE PIPIT at South Milton Ley on 6th (Bob) with singles on 3 more dates.
Finally WATER PIPIT – singles on 4th and 11th.
With no SE winds forecast for the first week of May whether the passage of sea birds occurs this year will hat to wait until the next report.