Naturelog: 22nd February

River Dart
River Dart

Our second day in Devon found us exploring the southern part of the county with local birder Mike Langman. Our first stop was at Waddeton where we found some Cirl Bunting feeding on a cattle feeder. From here we moved onto a stretch of the River Dart near Buckfastleigh to look for Dipper. Although we did find 3 drake Mandarin ducks, a somewhat unexpected species, the Dipper was nowhere to be seen.

Mandarin Duck
Mandarin Duck

Our next stop was at Staverton where amongst the over-wintering Chiffchaffs we located a Yellow-Browed warbler that has been spending the winter here. Yellow-Browed is usually a species seen as a rare migrant but there appear to be a number over-wintering in Devon this year – maybe a result of the mild weather. Also present were a party of Fieldfare, together with single Mistle and Song Thrush. At the nearby river, we had a brief view of a Dipper flying under a bridge, but which we were unable to relocate.

Yellow-Browed Warbler. photo by Sergey Yeliseev (
Yellow-Browed Warbler. photo by Sergey Yeliseev (


Still, we were not to be denied a good view of Dipper and at our next stop at Darlington Mill, we got some excellent views of one feeding in the stream.


On then to the south-west coast of Devon at Thurlestone to find another unusual over-wintering species, Desert Wheatear – a bird which is normally found in North Africa. The weather had taken a turn for the worse by the time we arrived and on our first look the small beach seemed deserted, but then Mike found the bird sheltering under the lee of the bank at the back of the beach. We managed excellent views as it began to feed amongst the undergrowth before returning to shelter from the conditions behind a stone.

Thurlestone Beach
Thurlestone Beach
Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear

We moved on down the coast to South Huish Marsh where a number of species were added to our list including Wigeon, Shoveller, Teal and Little Grebe. We checked out the Gull roost but only common species were present.

South Huish Marsh
South Huish Marsh

Next, we crossed to the south-east coast to Slapton Ley where Great Crested Grebe, Pochard and Tufted Duck were added to the day’s list, but no Scaup or Black-necked Grebe, which are regular here could be seen.

Slapton Ley
Slapton Ley

After crossing the River Dart, we stopped briefly at Noss on the Dart to search the small woodland for firecrest and other woodland species. A Goldcrest was seen and a Great-Spotted Woodpecker was heard. An excellent day. Thanks to Mike for driving us around and showing us these great sites.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Desert Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe deserti)
White-throated Dipper [sp] (Cinclus cinclus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)

Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)


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