Axe Estuary Birds Newsletter #142

Axe Estuary Birds No 142 15th October 2010

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.

The Birds

Well, one of those ‘once in a life time’ moments happened during this period on patch. Aside from that there was still plenty to keep the local birders busy!

Early evening on Sunday 10th a Solitary Sandpiper was found on Black Hole Marsh. Much to the relief of twitchers, the bird stayed Sunday night and showed well all day Monday. In fact, it is still present when I write this (Thursday 14th). Solitary Sandpiper is an American wading bird which breeds in central and southern Alaska and across Canada. It spends the winter in Central and Southern America.

This is the 39th Solitary Sandpiper to be seen in Britain, the first one being pre-1869! The most recent records have been Cape Clear Island – Ireland – Aug 2008, Outer Hebrides in 2007 and 2003 and on the Isle of Scilly in 2003 and 2005. This one has proved very popular with UK twitchers as all of these records (as you can see) have been in far-flung places! Our bird also constitutes the first ever record of Solitary Sandpiper for Devon.

One of the birders who came to see the Solitary Sandpiper on 11th then took a wander over Beer Head, and found our first (but hopefully not only!) Yellow-browed Warbler of 2010. There have been several in the UK this autumn so I am sure there will be at least one more.

Time to apologise now – as in the last newsletter I said about the departure of our Osprey and Wryneck – both of which hadn’t gone! The Osprey was last seen on 9th, and the Wryneck the day before. It was fascinating to see how the fishing technique of the Osprey improved throughout its stay. Towards the end of its time with us it was catching some absolutely massive fish on its first attempt!

Aside from the American mega – there was still a nice selection of waders to be seen on patch. A Grey Phalarope graced Black Hole Marsh during the evening of 3rd, the strong winds being the reason for its presence. At least one Little Stint continues to be seen daily on Black Hole Marsh, along with a Curlew Sandpiper (8th-9th) and a couple of Knot 10th. A Ruff spent a few days on flood opposite Axmouth FC, along with a brief Lapland Bunting on 10th, a Water Pipit from 11th and up to 22 Lapwing. To wrap the waders up, on the Estuary two Grey Plovers were present on 4th along with both Black and Bar-tailed Godwits still.

Some notable sightings from Seaton Marshes hide have included a Black Tern on 3rd and a Short-eared Owl being chased by Crows over the Estuary and towards Axe Cliff on 9th. Other odds and ends included a smart Firecrest seen by Axmouth Harbour and a Pochard at Lower Bruckland Ponds on 12th, a Black Redstart at Colyford WTW on 13th and at least one Ring Ouzel in Beer Quarry on 14th. Two Barn Owls continued to show at Black Hole and Seaton Marshes throughout the last few weeks – let’s hope this species is going to start breeding here.

Winter is certainly nearly here, the first Redwing was heard during the night of 7th, with the first ones seen on Beer Head on 13th. Duck numbers are also on the up in the valley with 40 Wigeon and nearly 200 Teal counted during this period.

Photos: Solitary Sandpiper Brett Spencer; Yellow-browed Warbler – Chris Gladman; Osprey – Sue Smith; Grey Phalarope (and Moorhens!) – Steve Waite.

News From The Reserves

Holyford Woods

The recent autumn storms have brought down two trees and ripped leaves off, so the paths are already strewn with the autumnal leaf fall. Everywhere has that musty damp leafy smell so typical of woods at this time of year. Paco tells me there are no Badgers or a Fox about at present. I have managed to linger along the path below The Hangings and pick some blackberries. Today a Blackbird, 2 Nuthatch and several Wrens were kicking up a great commotion around the glade near the fallen Oak, caused by the presence of 3 Squirrels in the trees. Unusual to see them together like that. Michael Jordan lead a Fungus Foray walk last week, attended by Marjorie Waters who reports on a very pleasant and instructive morning. A great find was a wonderful Beefsteak Fungus, the best anyone had ever seen. Other finds were various Honey Fungus, Turkey Tail, Jelly Babies, Russulas, Glistening Inkcap, the aptly named Buttercap, Weeping Mary or Widow fungus, and Puff and Earth Balls – Lycoperdon, the meaning of which Marjorie tells me, is too rude to disclose here. I will leave you to look it up for yourselves! Jean Kreiseler

Colyford Common. Work on the extension to the hide and the ramp is progressing very well, and should be finished before the end of the month.

At Black Hole Marsh, the hide is very nearly finished, and has been opened on a daily basis while the Solitary Sandpiper has been around, a move that has been much appreciated by the many visitors from all over the country who have been to see it. It will have to be closed for a day or two to enable the painting to be finished – but it won’t be long now.

Seaton Marshes will be flooded for a while during October, as part of the annual management plan, but the access to the hide will not be affected

The Trivia

A man has been seen walking his dog round the Borrow Pit! Fortunately these occurrences are very rare, but if you do come across a case, please point out, politely, the notice at the entrance saying No Dogs – and please let Fraser or me know.

Peter Vernon writes “I catch lots of Caddis flies in my moth trap but I think that the one attached is probably the largest. I think it is a Cinnamon Caddis Fly, confirmation would be good.

Approx size is 40mm in length (without the antennae).”

Please let me know if you can confirm. tel. 01297 552616

Mobile 0779 1541 744.

Diary Dates

Sunday 17th October 9.00 am Birds from the tram with Don Cotton.

Saturday 23rd October 9.00 am Birds from the Tram for Juniors with James Chubb.

Thursday 28th October 10 am to 12 Noon Meet the Birds at Seaton Marshes.

Thursday 28th October 7.30 pm at All Saints Church, Sidmouth. Illustrated talk “The Birds of Devon” by Mike Tyler, Chairman of Devon Birds, launching his new book.

Thursday 4th November 10 am to 12 Noon Meet the Birds at Colyford Common.

Saturday 6th November 9.00am Birds from the tram with Don Cotton.


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

October 16, 2010Permalink