Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter #139

NB: The following is reproduced by kind permission of Axe Estuary Birds. Full credit goes to the team that produces the newsletter (see the bottom of the post for specific details). Photographs are credited throughout the text although we are working to preserve the original layout wherever possible in the future.

Photos: Cattle Egret, Ruff and Redstart – Karen Woolley; Turnstone and Curlew Sandpipers – Sue Smith;
Little Stint and Pied Flycatcher – Steve Waite. Bank Vole at Black Hole Marsh – Sue Smith Curious Cormorant – Sue Smith

The Birds

The Axe birders have enjoyed a good few weeks, with a rarity and a few scarcities, along with a good variety of waders, some decent falls of passerines on Beer Head and a couple of days of sea watching.

The rarity was our first Cattle Egret of 2010, a species which a few years ago invaded the UK en masse, but since have become somewhat scarce! Mid morning on 28th one flew southwest over Black Hole Marsh then spent the rest of the day with cattle near Seaton Marshes.

Black Hole Marsh has been superb, despite the fact the construction of the walk way and main hide has begun. The flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover (numbering on average 40 of the latter, and 40 of the former) have included two Little Stints (15th – 24th), a Turnstone (21st), a Sanderling (26th) and three Curlew Sandpipers (29th onwards). Other waders on the marsh have included two Ruff, up to four Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank (27th) and up to ten Green Sandpipers. On the other side of the tram way, two Wood Sandpipers have been present on Colyford Marsh for a week or so, but are very elusive as they feed in small pools near to the main scrape.

Wildfowl interest peaked with an unseasonal record of seven Pochard in off the sea on 25th, they landed briefly on the Estuary north of Coronation Corner. As I predicted in the last newsletter when I said “the first Wigeon is probably only days away”, a lone Wigeon first seen on 16th remained throughout. Up to 30 Teal have been noted, and the Red-crested Pochard was last seen on The Estuary on 19th.

There were two good sea watching days. The 20th offered the main highlight, when a juvenile Black Tern flew west offshore in company with a Common Tern just after 8am. The first record of the year. The 26th was the other good day for ‘wave watching’, with totals from morning sea watches being: one Great Crested Grebe, four Balearic Shearwaters, two Great Skuas, three Arctic Skuas and one Pomarine Skua.

Now to Beer Head – where two days have stood out in particular. On 16th, a nice selection of Flycatchers in one hedgerow included three Pied and six Spotted! Another Pied and three more Spotted were in the fields above Beer Cemetery on the same morning. Three Tree Pipits were also noted. The 28th was the best day of the autumn up here so far with totals of: 71+ Yellow Wags, 12 Tree Pipits, one Redstart, two Whinchat, 50 Wheatears, three Garden Warblers, eight Blackcap, one Sedge Warbler, one Lesser Whitethroat, four Whitethroat, 40 Willow Warblers, 20 Chiffchaffs, one Pied Fly and four Spotted Flies.

The Trivia

Kate Tobin has moved on from EDDC, and has joined “Making it Local”, a charitable organization that aims to make the most of local resources, not least in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Kate has made a tremendous difference to our local scene since she has been with The Countryside Service of EDDC, helping to move forward many of the improvements we are now seeing coming to fruition on the reserves, and will be sadly missed. Thank you Kate, we all wish you well, and hope that you will be seen on our patch in your new role.

The Wet and Wild Weekend lived up to its name, but was nevertheless well attended, with pond dipping particularly popular.

News from Holyford Woods

The Woods are very quiet now. Apart from the wind in the trees, bird calls are dominated by those of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, the young Buzzards, Jay and the croaking of Ravens, none of them very tuneful! Twice I have enjoyed watching a flock of 6+ Long Tailed Tits. More blackberries are ripe now, and the hazel nuts are turning brown. I am now looking out for Fungi. The recent heavy rain and wind brought down a dead tree trunk and two big branches on the paths, so I decided to check the North boundary fence against Pratt’s Hill. I came across pretty young Roe deer twins on the track. They boldly walked towards us out of curiosity but Paco’s excited panting brought the doe who took them off into the gorse. For once he was no help.


The public session over the Wet and Wild Weekend, although short, went down well with the public, with good numbers in attendance, several from previous sessions. The tally of birds caught was 15 as follows:

Chiffchaff 3; Robin 1; Black-headed Gull 1; Kingfisher 1; Dunnock 3(1); Great Tit 2; Blackbird 2; Wren (1); and Sedge Warbler 1.

Diary Dates

Thursday 2nd September 10am – Noon Meet the Birds, Colyford Common Hide. Everyone welcome.

Sunday 5th September 5pm-7pm Birds from the Tram, with Don Cotton.

Saturday 18th September 8am – Noon Ringing Breakfast at Colyford Common.
Approx (If weather is very wet, this will be cancelled)

Saturday 18th September 5pm-7pm Birds from the Tram, with Ian Waite.

Sunday 19th September 10am – Noon Seaton Beach clean. Meet Fisherman’s Gap. Wear gloves
and bring a pencil.

Thursday 23rd September 10am – Noon Meet the Birds, Seaton Marshes Hide. Everyone welcome.

Saturday 25th September 9am to 1pm Bird Watch at Dawlish Warren with Ian Waite. Meet at
Dawlish Warren Car Park.

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 me 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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