THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS
At last a calm and relatively dry month particularly from 21st when the Bay had 9 days of flat seas. Only appreciable rain occurred on 5th and 8th. The first 10 days we experienced some strong to gale force winds particularly from 4th to 6th.
Some drainage maintenance work carried out on Thurlestone Marsh which has resulted in a small reduction in water levels, impact of these clearer channels will not be known until we have some heavy rain.
Total species recorded was 114 (c/f 2012 – 108) with 4 new species for the year – BEARDED TIT, GOOSANDER, SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF and RICHARDS PIPIT taking the years total to 194. Unless there is a severe cold spell resulting in some unexpected species we are likely to close 2013 again just short of the magical 200 species target. Someone somewhere on the patch must have had a MARSH TIT visiting a feeding in their garden.
Highlights this month.
BRENT GOOSE (db) singles in the Bay on 6th and 20th.
SHELDUCK made a welcome return, first since the breeding birds departed in July with singles on 6th and 29th (both flyovers).
WIGEON – Present all month, numbers on the Marshes rarely above 30, however from 17th to 20th flocks flew in to rest on the sea with a patch maximum of 170 on 19th.
TEAL – Numbers built up to around 100 on the marshes with a max of 140 on 29th.
PINTAIL – Singles on 10th, 26th and 28th all female.
SHOVELER – Present all month with most preferring Thurlestone Marsh with a max of 11 on 23rd.
TUFTED DUCK – A scarce species here with usually only 3 to 5 records a year – a female on South Huish Marsh from 14th to 17th was the third record this year.
EIDER – Another scarce species – 2 females flew west on 12th.
COMMON SCOTER – Surprisingly few recorded – largest flock 30 west on 11th.
GOOSANDER – A very scarce species – a REDHEAD flew into the Bay on 22nd and spent time feeding just off the rocks.
RED-THROATED DIVER – 2 offshore on 26th were the first of the winter.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER – Recorded on 7 days with singles on 6 and 2 on 29th. With flat calm seas birds feeding closer inshore giving some great views.
SHEARWATERS AND GANNET
BALEARIC SHEARWATER - 1 flew east on 18th.
GANNET – Significant numbers in the Bay on 14th – 215, 15th – 110 and 18th – 140.
LITTLE GREBE – singles on Thurlestone Marsh on 6th and 12th with 2 on South Milton Ley on 16th.
MARSH HARRIER – A 1 cy female over South Milton Ley on 14th.
HEN HARRIER – A male over South Huish Marsh on 16th (AFD, EW and BRUCE C) and a ringtail over fiels near Huxton Cross on 28th.
MERLIN – Females over the marshes on 6th and 21st with a male on 21st (AJL)
OYSTERCATCHER – Maxima 19 on 5th.
RINGED PLOVER – max 5 on 17th.
GOLDEN PLOVER – Started appearing in fields around Huxton Cross. With 10 on 21st and 30 on 23rd.
GREY PLOVER – 2 on the rocks on 25th.
LAPWING – Numbers starting to build up with a max 45 on 16th.
SANDERLING – 2 on 8th were the maxima.
PURPLE SANDPIPER – An early record of 1 on the rocks on 1st.
DUNLIN – An unexpected movement on 22nd when 46 recorded flying west.
JACK SNIPE – Always a very secretive bird – singles flushed on the marshes on 7th and 28th.
SNIPE – Usually up to 10 recorded, as an idea of what is skulking in the reeds – HEN HARRIER flushed 100+ on South Huish Marsh on 16th. 50+ on 13th and 28th.
WOODCOCK – First returning bird on South Milton Ley on 30th.
BLACK- TAILED GODWIT – Only a single record of 3 on 16th on South Huish marsh.
REDSHANK – Another common wader which is an irregular visitor – 1 on Thurlestone Marsh on 27th.
TURNSTONE – Present throughout the month with a max of 6 on 17th.
PHALAROPES SKUAS and GULLS
GREY PHALAROPE – AJL had one in the Bay close inshore on3rd.
GREAT SKUA – On 14TH – 3 attacking feeding Gulls, a single flew east on 18th.
KITTIWAKES – 35 flying west on 12 would normally be a good count, however 140 on 14th and 150 on 15th included a flock of 125+ feeding on the sea.
BLACKHEADED GULL – A flock of 160+ on 24th was the largest for some months.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL – Adults in the Bay on 3rd and 27th.
LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL – A flock of 30 by South Huish Marsh was a large total for this time of the year.
YELLOW LEGGED GULL – A 1st winter present on 8th.
BARN OWL – A local farmer reported one flying near Horswell House on 26th.
TAWNY OWL – Reports of birds calling from at least 3 locations.
KINGFISHER – One spent 12 days around South Huish Marsh and South Milton Ley from 14th to 26th.
BEARDED TIT – A pair at South Huish Marsh on 16th found by Bob B and AJL, on 26th a pair on South Milton Ley which gave excellent views down to 25 feet. This pair were caught and ringed by Bob B and Dave Scott.
SWALLOW – A November record is not unusual however this year birds recorded in last week with 2 on 25th/26th and the last by AFD on 28th.
CHIFFCHAFF – Numbers at the sewage works built up to 16 on 17th and again 12 on 27th. On 25th out of a group of 10 one was a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF.
STONECHAT – Usually up to 6 around the marshes and coast path on 28th a max of 9 recorded.
WATER PIPIT – 5 at South Huish Marsh on 26th was a high count for this time of the year.
BLACK REDSTART – A 1st w male on 12th and a female on 16th.
WATER RAIL – A total of 6 recorded on both marshes on 15th.
REED BUNTING – 12 on 7th and 10 on 23rd were highest counts.
WOOD PIGEON – Clear skies and calm conditions at first light can produce some good counts – started with 2200 on 7th, 30.000 on 10th, 10.000 on 12th and 40.000 on 13th. Observers – MBP Thurlestone and Bob B at Huxton Cross
JAY – 5 over Thurlestone on 10th were more likely migrants than local birds.
SKYLARK – 45 on 7th and 70 on 10th were maxima.
CHAFFINCH – Also peaked on 10th at 85, BRAMBLING – singles on 12th, 13th and 25th.
MEADOW PIPIT – Peaked at 60 on 7th.
REDPOLL – Singles on 4th, 16th and 28th, SISKIN – A single on 4th.
YELLOW HAMMER – 9 on 12th was a good local count.
GREENFINCH – A large flock of over 70 with up to 20 GOLDFINCH around South Huish Marsh.
CROSSBILL – Singles on 12th and 16th.
THRUSHES – Single Mistle on two dates, FIELDFARE – max 25 on 10th.
REDWING – 22 on 15th.
A flyover RICHARDS PIPIT was picked up on call by Bob B on 26th
Finally the STARLING roosts seen this Autumn to have moved to Slapton
Significant counts at Thurlestone Marsh were 10.000 on 25th and 12.500 on 27th.