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


August Birding at Lower Bruckland

Another update from the prolific Mr. Waite below. Steve tells us he recently had some computer issues so we hope they are sorted!

August 2015

SedgeWarblerLBPThere were some excellent bird ringing sessions during the first half of the month, with 53 birds caught in specially erected fine mist nets set that were set on three different mornings. The vast majority of these were migrating Warblers, with six different species of Warblers ringed. Most of these were Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, but also included a few Blackcap, two Whitethroat a Sedge Warbler (pictured right) and best of all a Garden Warbler (pictured twice below). Garden Warblers don’t breed around here, so this bird had clearly come some way, it could have been born anywhere in the UK in fact!

It wasn’t just Warblers though, with one of the often seen Great Spotted Woodpeckers ringed and two different Kingfishers, both young ones. One of the Kingfishers (a male, pictured below) ringed in early August was re caught 14 days later, so it clearly visits the Ponds often – it may never actually leave! The other bird (a female) hasn’t been caught again since release so was probably just passing through.


Other exciting sightings included a Marsh Tit and eight Teal on 11th and a Tree Pipit on 21st, all dispersing migrants.

The Mute Swans still seen to be doing well, as do the young Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebes, in fact two pairs of Little Grebes have had a second brood with some more small young appearing. Although the weather hasn’t always been good for insect watching, Ruddy Darters are now out, and all the expected butterflies have been seen in good numbers, including a second brood of Dingy Skippers.


July Birding at Lower Bruckland

Back again with an update from the prolific Steve Waite, who aside from his own fantastic blog has been kind enough to compile a July update on the various species around Lower Bruckland. As always, huge thanks to Steve for sharing his findings.


July 2015

image001Although autumn seems a long way off to us, it is well underway in the bird world. The first signs were on the 15th during a very productive bird ringing session, when a Common Whitethroat (pictured right) was trapped and ringed, a species which doesn’t breed at the Ponds. Also on 15th a Green Sandpiper flew over heading west towards the Estuary, a bird that breeds in the far north east corner of Europe and beyond into Russia. By the end of the month the trees were full of migrant birds feeding up before their long migration south, including a few Willow Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher. Overhead Sand Martins could be seen flying back south towards their wintering grounds in Africa, and on the ponds were the first returning wildfowl with three Tufted Ducks (pictured below) and two Gadwalls.

image003There’s still plenty of young birds about, notable Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebes, and of course the Mute Swan family than can always be found in the area.   Young Kingfisher can also now be encountered daily, but you have to be lucky! Learning their distinctive call will help your chances no end.

It’s been great to see healthy numbers of the rare Small Red-eyed Damselflies in recent weeks also, this was the first breeding site for this species in Devon (pictured below right).

image005Finally, another treat from the ringing session on 15th was a magnificent Sparrowhawk (see below), this one a young male. The presence of this species at the Ponds shows just how many small birds are present here, because without small birds you simply wouldn’t have Sparrowhawks. Just look at those eyes!

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April Birding at Lower Bruckland

The following April birding report and photos on the bird life here in our little corner of East Devon was written by Steve Waite — thanks Steve for making this available! If you don’t know about this already, Steve has one of the best UK birding blogs on the web. Go and read it!!

April 2015

April is a busy month for birds, nesting begins for most species with some already having young to feed. A preliminary breeding bird survey revealed up to 22 different species of birds breeding at the Ponds, from Mute Swan (which are now sitting on eggs) to Reed Bunting. This reflects the fantastic diversity the ponds have to offer.

Sunrise at Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve, East Devon
Sunrise at Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve, East Devon

Just after dawn is often the best time to hear bird song, and every morning the sound of the Song Thrush is very dominant. There are two Song Thrush territories at the Ponds, one along the northern boundary hedge, and the other in the southern boundary hedge. The males use their voice to remind the other that this is their territory and to stay well away, as both have probably got females sat on nests. Learning the different bird songs and calls brings a whole new dimension to bird watching; you are able to view the ornithological world in a completely different and much more intimate way.

Many of our summer migrants are in now, including Swallows, House Martins and even a few Swifts. The first Swifts of the spring were seen from the Ponds on 19th, and at the same time a Red Kite flew over east (see photo). Although Kites don’t breed in the county, every spring young birds are seen cruising over the south west as the adult birds push them away from breeding areas, and 2015 has been a record year for this spectacle.

Red Kite at Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve, East Devon
Red Kite at Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve, East Devon

(Steve Waite, April 2015)


Devon Bird Sightings: How To Report A Bird Sighting

How to report a bird sighting

The quickest way to report a Devon bird sighting is to contact Steve Waite, the Devon Bird Recorder by emailing him at — should Steve ever step down then presumably this email address will still work for whoever takes on the role!

There is more information available on the Devon Birds website including PDF/XLS files for reporting, and some extra information on reporting a rare bird sighting.

Don’t worry about it

Let’s just say that the bird sighting takes place in your back garden. If you report it, then you are going to have a million birding folks descend upon your house, right?

Not exactly. Unless you have a really, really rare bird sighting then it’s unlikely to have people pitching their tents outside your house. You may have some local interest if it’s a particularly interesting bird, but in any case birding guys are a friendly bunch so you don’t need to worry.

If you really don’t want to risk it, tell the bird recorder that you would rather not make the information public, and they won’t. Remember, their main interest is in ensuring that bird numbers don’t dwindle — the last thing they want is to scare them away, or even worse, prevent breeding.

This information goes for bird sightings outside of Devon too of course — you can find a list of county recorders on the BTO website.