Devon Birdwatching field meeting: Axe Estuary Birds 174

(The following content is gratefully reproduced with permission of Axe Estuary Birds.)

Axe Estuary Birds                                                                                       No 174   February 15th      2012 

The Birds

A Ruff was seen on the river on 6th February, and Ian Waite reports that the Herons are nesting again above Axmouth, and he has seen up to 90 Dunlin.

No doubt many of you have seen an increase in your garden birds since it got cold.  We have seen a Green Woodpecker scoffing up the ants in the grass, a Coal Tit, the first for some time and a Pied Wagtail.  Nothing very special, but all conspicuous by their absence for some months.  We have not however seen a Starling for a long time.  Simon Wakely has had a Siskin in Whitford.

In spite of the cold, Sue Smith has been out with her camera and writes “I saw several  Bar-tailed Godwits and lots of Dunlin on my side of the river though the weather was a bit overcast.  The Black-tailed Godwits were lined up on the other side of the river.  I just love Dunlin so lots of photos taken.

Thursday I ventured to the tower hide (1st time for quite a while) and found 7 Gadwall close to the hide so here are 2 of them.  The Long-tailed Tit was by the Field Study Centre and the beautiful male Pintail was up from the Tower Hide this morning with the Mallards.

Photos by Sue Smith

Steve Waite reports “This afternoon (Feb 1) on patch, a nice flock of 12 Gadwall were floating about north of Coronation Corner (eight drakes), and on Bridge Marsh were these seven Golden Plover…Can you spot them all?

Also, at Bridge Marsh, 220 Wigeon. Back to the Estuary, and amongst the gulls were eight Med Gulls; seven adults (one near summer plumaged and one white-ringed) and a single second-winter bird.

News from Holyford Woods

Suddenly winter arrived for a few days and the bitterly cold spell stopped everything in its tracks. Sadly it froze the early frog spawn so the frogs will have to start all over again. I have had some excellent Roe deer sightings.  Firstly it was the buck among the conifers, then a doe was there, and further up the valley Paco showed me there were deer down beside the stream. Through my binoculars I enjoyed watching two adult does and a young one from last year, daintily nibbling leaves from a large clump of honeysuckle. Once again a Badger is making his way through the fence behind my seat, and has dug a fresh latrine nearby. Now temperatures have risen and the ground thawed Rabbits are refreshing the small warren around the notice board beside the main entrance, and  everywhere there are large and small diggings and scratchings in the leaf litter where Mice and Birds search for grubs, and Squirrels are seeking nuts buried back in the Autumn. Drumming from the Great Spotted Woodpecker is constant now, bird song is increasing, especially from a Song Thrush in the ash tree above another log I spend time on.  A good place to watch Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Tits, even a friendly Robin feeding in the surrounding Oak trees. Feisty Wrens are shouting their claims to territories, such a strident  voice from a tiny bird. Spring is again under way. Jean Kreiseler

Devon Birds

On a bright sunny morning on 27th January, 22 members of the East Devon Branch of the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society met at the Axmouth Harbour Bridge for a field meeting.  A short sea watch from the mouth of the river yielded a Red-throated Diver, several Great Crested Grebes and distant views of Fulmars at Seaton Hole.  Returning to the bridge we were treated to excellent views of a Kingfisher in the bright light as it moved from post to post.  The tide was still high so we moved on to the Black Hole Marsh car park and made our way to the Field Studies Base complex and then to Colyford Common.  Several hundred Lapwing were on the scrape and surrounding marsh and two hundred or so Wigeon were on the marsh.  Nearby, five Buzzards were counted in the air, a Sparrow Hawk was seen and a Peregrine put in an all too brief appearance.  A flock of Linnets, many appearing quite pink in the strong light, Fieldfares, Blue Tits investigating nest boxes and a fine male Bullfinch added passerine interest.  The early afternoon was spent in the Tower hide which gave a convenient opportunity to dodge a heavy wintry shower.  By now the tide was well down.  Several Little Grebes provided close views and one emitted its strange ‘song’.  Many more Lapwings were here with Redshanks and more than sixty Dunlin.  Among the many gulls all five of the ‘usual’ species were picked out and after some thorough searching two adult Mediterranean Gulls were found which provided a high note on which to bring a very enjoyable day’s ‘birding’ to an end and one which showed just how much the Axe Estuary Wetlands Project has made possible. Bob Olliver

Forthcoming events

Saturday 18 February 9 am – 11 am Birds from the Tram

Led by Ian Waite Book/pay with Seaton Tramway 01297 20375

Sunday 19 February 9 am – 11 am Birds from the Tram

Led by Don Cotton Book/pay with Seaton Tramway 01297 20375

Saturday 25 February 8 am – 4 pm Winter Bird Festival

Axe Estuary Wetlands: Field Studies Base No booking required

Anyone interested in birds or birdwatching should come along to this festival of winter birdlife.

Events, activities and demonstrations will be laid on throughout the day, kicking off with a bird

ringing breakfast at 8 am. From 10 am there will be guides in the Island, Tower and Colyford

Common hides to help you identify the birds in view and pick up some essential birdwatching tips

from our local experts. All day there will be lots of indoor art and craft activities to keep the

youngsters busy, including making bird feeders to keep our feathered friends happy. Fraser Rush

will be on hand to discuss the development of the Axe Estuary Wetlands so far and to show visitors

the plans for the further expansion of the nature reserve, as it continues its transformation to

one of the premiere wetland sites in the south west.


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.

Bob, Jean, and David.  (and many others!)

7 Springfields, Colyford, EX24 6RE. tel. 01297 552616  Mobile 0779 1541 744.