Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter #137

The following is reproduced with permission. Thanks to the team!

Axe Estuary Birds No 137 3rd August 2010

The Birds

The birding effort will step up now, as August can be an exciting month for passerine migration – not to mention wader, gull and sea passage. Next month should be a good one, but the end of the last month – covered in this newsletter – showed that things are just starting…

Waders have continued to pass through the area, and Blackhole Marsh has been pulling them down. A lovely Ruff was a nice highlight on 29th, along with a Little Ringed Plover (with two the previous day, and another single on 24th). Good numbers of Common Sandpipers can be seen along with up to four Green Sandpipers. The odd Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit have also been seen.

The 26th showed a small arrival of duck, with nine Shoveler and a Teal on the Estuary. It’s nice to see Little Grebes have bred successfully on Lower Bruckland Ponds, with three young here during this period.

A windy start to this period meant eyes were trained on the sea on 15th, four Balearic Shearwaters flew west along with 54 Manxies.

Gull numbers remain high on the Estuary, two Yellow-legged Gulls were found – a juvenile on 17th and a stunning adult on 24th. Two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls have been seen, with the first on 17th. The ‘White One’, a leucistic Herring Gull that was seen towards the end of last winter, was seen again on the Estuary on 17th.

Little effort has been put into looking for migrating passerines as yet this autumn, although it is clear Willow Warblers are moving through now in good numbers. The first returning Wheatear was noted at Colyford Common on 27th, the first White Wagtail on Blackhole Marsh on 21st, and two Crossbills flew over Seaton on 30th.

Hobbies have been very scarce this summer, so several sightings of individuals during this period have been most welcome, maybe they are still breeding relatively close by?

Photos: Ruff, young Little Grebe and White Wagtail – Steve Waite; Wheatear – Karen Woolley.

The Trivia

I am delighted to report that Colyford Common is now accessible to small mobility scooters, thanks to Fraser and his team The gate at the top is somewhat narrow, but my scooter is 22” wide and goes through it quite easily. The path down to the Common is OK if a bit rough, and then the board walk out to the hide and the reed bed is wonderful. There will be further work to the top gate, and ramps to the enlarged hide in due course.

Also, Black Hole Marsh is accessible with care, and again further work will be done down there in due course to make it even more friendly to scooters and wheelchairs.

As you probably know at Seaton Marshes we can even get wheelchairs etc right into the hide. And I speak from experience in stressing how therapeutic simply getting out onto the reserves is – it has made a huge difference to my life (and to Diana’s too!)

Mike Dannat was on a tram trip with his grandchildren and noticed five Herons and four Little Egrets standing in a circle round a small wet patch opposite BHM – all facing more or less inwards. It just struck him as a strange formation.

Today, August 2nd, there was a Common Tern on the scrape at Colyford Common.

And the sane day, Sue Smith was at Colyford Common in the evening, taking photos of Dunlin.

Peter Vernon has sent a few images of a Privet Hawk Moth which he caught in his moth trap the other night. “It is the UK’s largest resident moth with a wingspan of 110mm. Pictured on my hand to give you some idea of the size of the beast but honestly it was a stunning moth and in perfect condition.”

News from Holyford Woods

There are now the first signs of Autumn showing, with plump nuts on the Hazel trees, and shells opened by Squirrels lying on the paths, and the blackberries now about to ripen, though rain is needed to fill them out. Strangely, in the grass either side of the path on the north side of Top Pool, I have disturbed lots of tiny froglets! Considering the spawn was laid earlier than usual; why the delay? There has been some great bird activity. Yesterday a dog-walker joined me to watch the two very noisy young Buzzards, from the nest beneath Seaton Down, calling ‘mummmm mummmm’ while having a lesson from a parent on catching the thermals. A few days earlier I had watched one of them, calling loudly, flap its way across to the conifers, make a crash landing, sort out its wings and flap back to the trees near the nest. From my seat one morning I heard two irate Blackbirds creating a commotion trying to fend off a Jay threatening their young. Walking below the conifers Paco picked up the scent of what I thought would be a Roe deer, but it was a fox, trotting along between the trees. It was very scruffy so was either a vixen after rearing cubs, or worse it was suffering from mange. No going down the Badger setts for a while for Paco in case it was the one using them. Wednesday was an excellent butterfly day, so I did the M & S Butterfly Count. In fifteen minutes on The Hangings I noted 1 Peacock, 5 Speckled Woods, 12+ Meadow Brown, 2 Small Copper, 1 Comma, 3 Common Blue, 3 Green Veined White,12+ Gatekeeper and 2 Large Skippers. A lovely sight as they danced around a bramble bush and a clump of Ragwort.


A couple of recoveries of interest:
Blackbird ringed LA47325 on 13 February 2010 at Colyford became a road casualty at Herselt, Antwerpen, Belgium on 2 April this year, a distance of 558km.
Reed Warbler ringed as a 3J at South Milton Ley on 16 July 2009 was controlled by the Group at Colyford Common on 7 June this year.

Another good session today (Aug 2nd) with a tally of 61 birds as follows:
Reed Warbler 14(1); Willow Warbler 1; Blue Tit 11; Cetti’s Warbler (2); Goldfinch 5; Chaffinch 3; Common Sandpiper 1; Lesser Whitethroat 1; Sedge Warbler 8; Greenfinch 3; Great Tit 6; Robin 1; Chiffchaff 1; Wren 1; Dunlin 1; and Blackbird (2).

Diary Dates

Thursday 5th August 2pm – 4pm Bug Hunting at the Borrow Pit for Junior Rangers.

Tuesday 17th August 9am – 11am Reptile Ramble at Fire Beacon Hill for Junior Rangers.

Friday 20th August 5pm – 7pm Bird Watching Tram Trip with Donald Campbell.

Saturday 21st August 5pm – 7pm Bird Watching Tram Trip with Ian Waite.

Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd August. Wet and Wild Weekend – Events throughout the weekend. More details to follow.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Biodiversity Exhibition at the old TIC in Seaton’s Underfleet Carpark, with various informal walks and talks – more details at the Exhibition or phone 01395 517557.

This twice-monthly email newsletter is freely available to anyone who would like it, as is a periodic one about the activities of the East Devon Local Group of the Devon Wildlife Trust. Just send me an email with Axe Estuary Birds and/or East Devon DWT in the subject line. Also, for those without a computer, I will send a copy by post if you would like to send me some stamps.

Thanks to those who keep we informed – please continue to tell us of any unusual, interesting or amusing sightings, and what is about locally, and send any photos you would like to share.

Steve, Mike, Jean and David. tel. 01297 552616 Mobile 0779 1541 744.

7 Springfields, Colyford, Colyton, EX24 6RE

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