January Birding Update!

Finally we’ve had some seasonal weather mid-month, albeit for just two or three days! This encouraged some more unusual species of birds to the Ponds including a male Shoveler  with the Mallard flock on 20th, and a single Siberian Chiffchaff (a much greyer version of our yellow-green Common Chiffchaff) briefly on 17th.







As well as these visitors, the regular wintering birds were still present with the Siskin, Lesser Redpoll (pictured right) and Goldfinch flock feeding in the alders, and the male Stonechat which is most often found along the northern boundary hedge. In fact during the first bird ringing session of the year, on 20th, this bird was trapped and ringed (pictured below).

StonechatmaleLBP (1)RedpollLB

The Stonechat was one of the nine birds caught on the 20th, and this total included four Goldcrests. Interestingly two of the Goldcrests were already ringed, one of which had been ringed by me at the Ponds back on 1st Nov 2015, which shows it is actually over-wintering at the Ponds. The other was wearing a ring that wasn’t fitted by me, so as soon as I get the data back on where this bird was ringed I will post it here.

The highlight though of this excellent session was a real surprise,as they are now a fairly scarce bird around these parts. A stunning adult female Green Woodpecker (pictured below).
  GreenWoodyLBP1 (1)

September Birding at Lower Bruckland

The usual thanks go out to Steve for this September birding update — a bit shorter than usual but he assures us he will be around a bit more in the coming months — be seeing you soon then mate!

September Update

swallowI’ll start with some old news, remember the adult female Swallow I caught at the Ponds on 26th June which was already wearing a ring? Well I have heard back from the British Trust for Ornithology with the full details of this bird.

It was ringed as a young bird on 2nd August 2013, when it was caught whilst roosting at Chew Valley Lake which is a large inland water body five miles south of Bristol. Lower Bruckland Ponds is 44 miles from Chew, but this is only half the story. Swallows are migratory birds and spend the winter in South Africa, so in reality between the two occasions this bird has been handled by bird ringers (Aug 2013 and June 2015) it’s probably flown in excess of 16,000 miles! Amaz ing when you consider the bird weighs just 18 grams.

Back to this month, and September is always the month that summer turns into autumn, with many of our summer visitors’ leave and are replaced with birds passing through from further north and Scandinavia. Not all have gone yet, with plenty of Swallows and House Martins still feeding over the Ponds. All across the UK there has been exceptional numbers of Siskins and Coal Tits following influxes from the east, and both these have species have been recorded at the ponds far more frequently than usual. Often the Coal Tits can be found tagged on to the end of one of the many passing Long-tailed Tit flocks, which hopefully will also attract a late autumn rarity within the next month or two.

— Steve Waite


Peregrine Falcon, Ruffs, Black Headed Gull: Axe Estuary Birds 164

The following content is reproduced with permission and thanks to the team for bringing us the birding news (and all the other news) as always!

Axe Estuary Birds No 164 September 14th 2011

The Birds

Tim White has been to Black Hole Marsh and got these great photos of a Ruff, a Peregrine Falcon and a Black Headed Gull seeing off a Greenshank

RuffPeregrine FalconBlack Headed Gull seeing off a Greenshank

And Steve Waite took these two Ruffs, showing the huge difference in size between the male and female, and also captured this Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper while Sue Smith, out as always with her camera, got this lovely Kingfisher.

RuffsCurlew SandpiperKingfisher

Colyford Common Snippets

Nine Mute Swans appeared briefly over the reserve on 22nd, 48 Canada Geese were on the scrape on 24th and 9 Shelduck on the 22nd; 11 Teal were on the scrape on 22nd and 6 at BHM on 28th and c60 were seen in the air over the marsh on 29th. Two Pintail were noted at BHM on 26th. A single Little Grebe was seen on the river on 26th. Little Egrets (16 on the scrape on 28th) and GreyHeron (11 on the marsh on 31st) were a regular sight from the hide.

Raptor sightings included single Sparrowhawks over the reserve on 22nd and over the scrape on 28th (juvenile male), a Buzzard (31st) and the now regular Kestrel on the reserve (22nd, 29th) , two Peregrines over the marsh and BHM on 26th and one chasing Curlews over the scrape (unsuccessfully) on the 28th and a Hobby was reported from BHM on 26th. As yet there have been no sightings of Osprey.

Waders continue to provide most of the interest with 18 species noted: the Oystercatcher family was on the estuary (seen from the Tower Hide) on 22nd, five Lapwing were on the reserve on 31st, up to 11 Ringed Plovers were present on the scrape and at BHM, a Little Ringed Plover was noted on the scrape (24th), two Knot were on the scrape (22nd) and three there on 24th which may have moved to BHM by the 26th, a Little Stint was at BHM on 26th with two there on 28th, up to c20 Dunlin were present, mostly at BHM, a Ruff was at BHM on 24th with two there from 26th-31st, a Snipe was seen on the estuary on 29th, up to 10 Black-tailed Godwits were present, mostly at BHM and a single Bar-tailed Godwit which seemed to move between the scrape and BHM between 24th and 28th, a single Whimbrel was in the area from 22nd until 28th, up to 80 Curlew were present throughout, up to four Common Sandpipers were at BHM with just one seen on the scrape and one on the reserve ditches, in contrast up to four Green Sandpipers were on the scrape, two on the reserve and two at BHM, Wood Sandpipers were present at BHM throughout with a maximum of three present from 22nd-26th. Greenshanks were at BHM on several dates with a maximum of 6 on 29th and just two Redshank noted at BHM on 24th (this species is of course more commonly seen lower down the estuary, especially from the hide at Seaton Marshes).

Up to 44 Canada Geese were seen on the marsh (1st) and six Shelduck (3rd), a Mute Swan with yellow colour ring (ADI) was on the scrape on the 1st, up to 60 Teal were present and four Wigeon were seen on the 4th. The maximum Little Egret count was 15 on the marsh on 3rd with five Grey Heron also present.

A Kestrel was on the reserve on the 1st and a Sparrowhawk was seen over the marsh on the 3rd. Eight Stock Doves were seen on the 3rd. A Kingfisher was seen regularly and Meadow Pipits are beginning to be seen on the reserve with a count of eight on 3rd.

Migrant passerines seen included four Wheatears frequenting the boardwalk at high tide on 1st, and single Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat on the reserve on 3rd.

Corvid flocks have started to build up; 32 mixed Rooks and Carrion Crows were on the marsh on the 1st.

The Trivia (not so trivial!)

James Chub writes; “You may remember last year I wrote about the discovery of a Thirteen-spot Ladybird at Seaton Marshes, discovered by local naturalist Catherine Willerton. Well she has been something of a tub-thumper for these beetles ever since and it was her insistence which got ladybird expert Richard Comont to come and take a look.

Thirteen-spot Ladybird

Photo Catherine Willerton

The species in question has been officially extinct in the UK for the last 60 years and this will be the first confirmed breeding of this beetle ever in mainland Britain. I remember as a boy being told that the number of spots on a ladybird’s wing cases told you how old it was, not so, there are many different species and the thirteen-spot, is officially now my favourite!”


Peter Vernon writes “I have attached a couple of images of the Latticed Heath Moth I caught here on Friday evening. Apparently it is a rare moth to find in Devon. I caught another last night a different specimen which was lighter in colour, both are presumed to be immigrants from the Continent.”

Latticed Heath MothLatticed Heath Moth 2

Latticed Heath Moth

News from Holyford Woods

As I walked across the field to the entrance one morning, there was a flock of about 25 Goldfinch flitting between the tall thistles poking through the bracken, and 2 GreenWoodpeckers feeding on the hillside. There are more and more signs of Autumn now. The blackberries are abundant, and the fruit of the elderberry has turned that deep glossy purple. The paths have acorns strewn around, and after one night of high winds many twigs from the oak and ash trees. Sadly I have learned from a walker that in early June his dog found a tiny Roe fawn dead beside the track across The Hangings. It was apparently terribly thin, so one must assume there was either not enough milk for 2 or there was a health problem. I have noticed the Roe buck is still fraying trees, so he must be in the false rut that can occur from now to October. The best news of all is the sighting of 2 Nuthatch young being fed by 2 adults! I heard their loud calls before I could locate them, then was able to watch them for ten minutes while seated on a favourite fallen tree away from the bottom path. Surrounded by oak, ash and birch trees there are always birds to watch there. Peter Vernon tells me he had recently seen large flocks of mostly Jackdaws flying in to roost in Holyford. Twice since I have been in White Gate Lane hoping to see them, but they must be roosting elsewhere now as there has been only the usual flock of mixed corvids.Jean Kreiseler.


The weekend’s tally, despite the weather, was 34 birds (6 retraps) as follows: Greenfinch 8(1); Blue Tit 3(1); Goldfinch 2(1); Kingfisher 1; Moorhen 1; Great Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 1; Dunnock 4(2); Blackcap 2; Swallow 4; Wren 1; Mallard 3; Blackbird (1); Treecreeper 1; Song Thrush 1.

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!) davidwalters@eclipse.co.uk.

tel. 01297 552616 Mobile 0779 1541 744.

Axe Estuary Birds 159: Cuckoo!

Axe Estuary Birds No 159    June 30th 2011

The Sky over Whitford, Saturday 18th June – Simon Wakely

The Birds

Steve Waite writes ;- “I hadn’t seen or heard a Cuckoo on patch for at least seven years – and have only heard/seen three ever. So as I was driving between Southleigh and Colyton, I came to a sudden halt when I saw a Cuckoo perched right besides the road! Unfortunately, the stopping of my car made it take to the air. A couple of Swallows chased it as it flew towards a near by wood, but it U-turned and flew back low over the road – heading for a large Oak tree.”

Recent photos by Steve – a Mistle Thrush with hungry mouths to feed, and three Little Egrets.

A Hobby was seen by Ian Maclean over Colyford Common on 29th, and on the same day there were approx 40 House Martins at Black Hole Marsh.  The Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings can still be heard there, but seldom seen!

Images from Black Hole MarshYoung Shelduck and two young Sedge Warblers, and one from Colyton – a Spotted Flycatcher all by Susan Smith.

The Trivia

Peter Mason tells me there are Pyramid Orchids on the Seaton Hole to Beer Cliff path.

Maggie Dilley asks  “Did anyone else notice how “happy” the birds seemed to be after that rainy  Sunday’?   Our bird feeders were busy all day with many birds and many young – Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Nuthatch, Woodpecker, and even a young Bullfinch (had to look that one up in the book!). We also had a Mistle Thrush that sang all day from most of the tall trees in the garden.  A bit after the event but we have been putting apples out again for the Blackbirds which they seem to appreciate.”

The Water Voles have been showing well near the Tower Hide recently.  Sue Smith saw six, and managed two lovely photos, and even I saw one on the 29th!  And on the next day a Stoat showed as well. For good measure, a Fox Cub also joined the party.

A Lens Cap for a Sony camera has been found, and is currently in a locked notice board at Black Hole Marsh Island hide.  Please contact me on 01297 552616 if you have lost one.

The Log Books at Colyford Common and Seaton Marshes, seldom used and sometimes defaced, have been removed, so please tell me if you see anything of interest there.


Another excellent catch on 23rd June of 60 birds with some interesting retraps, including a House Martin the Group ringed in 2009. The tally was:

Reed Warbler 23 (11); Kingfisher 2; Blue Tit 4 (1); Great Tit 5; Goldfinch 3; Treecreeper 1; Sedge Warbler 6 (2); Greenfinch 2; Mallard 1; Swallow 2; House Martin (1); Blackbird (2); Chiffchaff 6; Wren 1; Blackcap 1.

News from Holyford Woods

The rampant undergrowth invading the paths would have soon meant wet legs and nettle stings, but thanks to Dave Palmer, our Countryside Ranger, they have all been cut back.  He is also called in to clear the paths of fallen trees and limbs after storms, and helps with keeping open the glades that have been created. The rabbit numbers are well up this year, so I am very surprised that there are as yet no young Buzzards calling in or over Seaton Down Coppice. It is a long time since I have seen any Long Tailed Tits but there are 4 Chiffchaffs calling loudly and 3 Blackcaps singing in their territories. Bird numbers are generally down, and we cannot blame the squirrels as I have only seen one over the last month. I think two bitter snowy winters can be blamed for the low number of feisty little Wrens. Checking in the fields along the North side of the Woods, I have seen 2 Mistle Thrush, and 1 Green Woodpecker though I have been told 2 young Green Woodpeckers were seen recently near the bridleway.  This morning Paco disturbed a hen Blackbird feeding 2 juveniles on the way to my seat. Also the peace of the Woods was shattered with a group of children from Seaton Primary School learning about the different types and texture of tree bark.  They were very happy to be out of the classroom. I spoke to one boy who said his parents often bring him and his sister to Holyford which is good to know.

Because I am worried about the fewer numbers, I have recently made a donation to the Corvid Research Project Appeal for Songbird Survival.

This is their address for donations on line:-


Note:- Last week I was travelling from the 3052 to Axmouth when I spotted a Red Kite being hassled by a Buzzard.  By the time I could park, and get my bins out, they had flown East towards the North side of Hawkesdown Hill. They are such a wonderful sight, and hopefully we will have them breeding here. 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, and David.  (and many others!) davidwalters@eclipse.co.uk.   tel. 01297 552616  Mobile 0779 1541 744.



Up Tails All – Photo Carol Lowe