Axe Estuary Birds 158: Rose-coloured Starling

NB: the following is reproduced for the web by kind permission of Axe Estuary Birds. Photos/text are the work of the respective contributors.

Axe Estuary Birds No 158    June 15th 2011

The Birds

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling by Mike
Rose-coloured Starling on Feeder by Mike
Rose-coloured Starling by Mike

Bird of the month must surely be this Rose-coloured Starling, a national rarity, which was seen by Sam Carlisle and Mike Lynch, in Colyford on 7th June, but was not brought to the attention of Steve Waite, the County Recorder, until 10th.  The photos are by Mike.  I believe this is the first one seen on our patch since June 2000. Steve writes “ This is a very painful report to be writing, as it would appear the local birders have all missed out on a would be patch lifer.”


Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker by Simon Wakely


Great Spotted Woodpecker collecting food for his young. Simon Wakely

Carol Lowe writes “A Wood Sandpiper was at the back of the Colyford Reedbed – a bit difficult to get to.  The Sedge Warbler was in front of the Colyford Common hide and I expect you know about the 8 young Shelduck outside the Island Hide at Black Hole Marsh.. There was also a Grey Plover along the estuary to the left of the Tower Hide but too far away for a decent photo.




A pair of Spotted Flycatchers in Colyton have been attracting a bit of attention.  They have been in the small public garden just north of the church, and Karen Woolley managed to get this lovely photo of the female.

Ian Waite tells of a Green Sandpiper and Ringed Plover at Seaton Marshes on 5th, and a Grey Plover seen from the Tower Hide on the 6th.  And Margaret Heard believes she and Roy saw the Red-backed Shrike that was mentioned in the last newsletter, this time in Colyford.

Nick de Cent writes “All three of us here at Blackacre had a magnificent view of a
Red Kite which came drifting over the paddock behind the house, over the chicken runs and then over the front garden”

Lovebirds near Chard
Lovebirds near Chard

Mike Dannatt reports that the saga of the Lovebirds near Chard goes on! There is a pair flying free which, the owner says, go back home at the end of the day, and this photo illustrates how they got their name.


Snippets from Colyford Common Log Book

Mute Swan numbers were low with just four noted on the scrape and 14 on the river (23rd).  Nine Canada Geese were noted on 29th and the maximum Shelduck count was 11 on the Marsh on 23rd.

On a very misty morning ten Little Egrets and two Grey Herons were on the reserve reed bed, moving on to the Marsh and small scrape as the observer got closer.

The only wader records were of one Dunlin at Black Hole Marsh (31st) and two Redshank there and two more on the estuary on the same day and one Redshank on the small scrape on 30th.

Singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were noted on 31st.

Two Collared Doves were on the reserve in the usual place near the gate by the reserve reed bed on 23rd, a Swift was seen over the reserve on the same day and three were caught by ringers on 26th.

21 Black-headed Gulls were on the scrape (23rd) and 20 on the reserve reed bed with the Egrets on the 30th.

For the first time since the end of January a Kingfisher was seen on the reserve (31st).

In the strong winds of the 23rd c20 House Martins were hawking over the reserve reed bed and three Swallows (and also three House Sparrows) were perched on the wire fence round the reed bed facing into the wind.

Many small passerines were still in song including Reed Warbler and Blackcap.  As usually happens, the ringers boosted the small bird species noted with catches of 10 House Martins, one Swallow, one Reed Warbler, two Blackcaps, five Long-tailed Tits, four Great Tits and a Blue Tit among others.  Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet were all seen in small numbers on the reserve.  A group of six Jackdaws were on the reserve on 26th continuing the recent pattern for this species.

At Black Hole Marsh a Water Vole was seen near the Tower Hide on 29th.

Some very warm days with the warmest of the year on the 4th but windy, particularly from the NE towards the end of the period; it remained dry until the night of the 5th when there were heavy showers.

The main record of note was the presence of six juvenile Grey Herons with one adult on the 4th.

On the reserve approach path a family party of five Robins (three juveniles) was seen on 2nd .

Entries relating to Black Hole Marsh on 3rd included a pair of Oystercatchers on one of the islands seen mating, 31 Mallard there included 16 juveniles in three families.  There were two quite young cygnets with the pair of Mute Swans.  Two Reed Buntings were near the Tower Hide where a Reed Warbler sang strongly close to the path but typically remained invisible!

From the Tower Hide, with the tide half out, there were 110 Mallard, 27 Shelduck, c2000 Herring Gulls, four Great Black-backs and ten Black-headed Gulls, one Cormorant and nine Mute Swans, all quite close.  Bob Olliver.



Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth

If you are “into” Moths, take a look at Steve Waite’s blog  There are lots of lovely photos there.  And Karen Woolley has some great pictures of a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth on her blog http://karenwoolley.blogspot.  Here’s a taster.

The Trivia

Cyril Smith, who monitors the Seaton Marshes log book, reports on an increased number of foxes about, including young ones, and wonders if this is good or bad.  My view is that it is good for the foxes, not so good for the ducks, but fine for us humans!


Just to report we had a good catch on June 11th,  64 birds of 15 species.  The tally was:
Reed Warbler 17(5); Blue Tit 7(1); Goldfinch 3; Robin 5; Wren (1); Greenfinch 1; Sedge Warbler 2; Blackbird 5(2); Kingfisher 3; Reed Bunting 1; Lesser Whitethroat 2; Blackcap 7; Chiffchaff 4; Starling 5; and Long-tailed Tit 1. Two of the retrapped Reed Warblers were ringed by us in 2009 as adults so would have made at least three trips to Africa and back. Mike Tyler

News from Holyford Woods

The Woods have been at the peak of the growth from the tops of the trees to the ground cover. Since Sunday’s storm much of that cover has been flattened.  Little in the way of damage to trees though.  Over the last two weeks there have been more young corvids in Holyford and Seaton Down Coppice, two young Jackdaws calling to be fed below the conifers, and, as far as I can identify in the thick leaf cover, families of Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Robin, and Song Thrush obviously well fed, judging by the number of snail shells around the well used ‘anvils’ on two of the paths. Paco disturbed a grass snake from the log pile beside Top Pool, and he has been excited by the bobbing white tails of rabbits along the path on the North edge of Holyford Coppice. After their recent absence the two Ravens have been back, calling in the ash trees on the South boundary, and the occasional call of a Buzzard has echoed over the Woods. I have walked twice more along Pratts Hill boundary, with no sightings of Roe fawns.  Since Christmas I have seen two dead Roe does, and another one has been reported to me, so that may be the reason. I have only seen one doe on The Hangings regularly.  Hopefully replacements will move in before the rut, mid-July to August. Jean Kreiseler.

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 me of any unusual, interesting or amusing sightings, and what is about locally, and send any photos you would like to share.

Mike, Jean, Bob and David.  (and many others!)   tel. 01297 552616  Mobile 0779 1541 744.


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