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Newsletters will be issued as quickly as possible after the end of each month - subject to records in addition to my own being received. We also have an active ringing team based on South Milton Ley who are responsible for a significant total of the Warbler records giving some indication of the large number of some species that pass through.

MIKE PASSMAN 01548 560076


THURLESTONE BAY BIRDS Area to be covered is from the Golf Course in the west to Beacon Point in the east. Inland to cover THURLESTONE and SOUTH MILTON villages with the lanes covering Upton Cross and Huxton Cross as the boundary.

Abbreviations to be used:- T.Bay - Sea Area. YB - Yarmer Beach WP - Warren Point. LB - Leasfoot Beach. SMS - South Milton Sands. BP - Beacon Point. TM - Thurlestone Marsh. SML - South Milton Ley. SHM - South Huish Marsh. UX - Upton Cross. HX - Huxton Cross.

Observer's initials will be RB - Bob Burridge PB - Paul Boulden GD - Graham Daw. AD - Alan Doidge. H & JH - Harry and June Huggins AL - Arthur Livett RS - Roger Short (& Helen) MBP - Mike Passman VT - Vic Tucker NT - Nick Townsend. EW - Eric Wotton

With a prolonged spell of easterly southerly and south easterly winds November became one of most enjoyable months in recent years. What is usually described as a dark dank month produced a diversity of birds that few people could have expected. As well as favourable winds the month was surprisingly mild with a reasonable amount of sunshine, what rain that did arrive was mostly overnight.
The second highest monthly total of the year ( April 124) with 121 species recorded – for comparison November 2010 only produced 96 – with 11 new species added to the year list which brought the total to an impressive 195.
Local patch birding usually means regular visits with only one or two days per month providing something out the ordinary. The weekend of 5th, 6th 7th and 9th November will be long remembered with 4 patch life ticks plus a further 3 years ticks. When you have – BEARDED TIT, SNOW BUNTING and BLACK 06 GREAT BUSTARD with PECTORAL SANDPIPER, HEN HARRIER (Male) SHORT EARED OWL, and a Juv BEWICKS SWAN. Later in the month GOLDENEYE, ROSE-COLOURED STARLING, AVOCET and BRENT GOOSE – PALE BELLIED brought a remarkable month to an end.
Most local patch birders will have a list of species which they can add to their life lists – not even in our wildest dreams did any of us who work the Thurlestone Bay Patch ever think we would cast our eyes onto a GREAT BUSTARD. Whilst the purists would cast a downward glance as it came from the Salisbury Plain reintroduction scheme – wing tagged Black 06 was a juv. female – the sight which Graham Daw and I saw in front of us was one of those moments when disbelief turns into reality. Found at 12.30 on Sunday 6th it remained in the field behind the Café at South Huish Marsh for just over an hour. Bush telegraph is not easy at this site however over 20 local birders managed to arrive before the bird departed over Thurlestone Village (now if I had been at home that would have been the garden tick of the decade). Towards the end of the month news was received that 06 was now showing at Soar where it remained at the end of the month.
Whilst it would be great to reach the magical 200 species for the year we will need some prolonged gales and a cold spell to have any chance of this milestone.

Cheers from a very happy.

Mike Passman

01548 560076


Significant records for the month were:-

BEWICK'S SWAN - A Juv seen briefly on Thurlestone Marsh on 9th was found on the nearby Avon Estuary where it spent the rest of the month in the company of MUTE SWANS. This is the first record for at least 10 years.
GREYLAG GOOSE - A single bird on Thurlestone Marsh on 21st (When there were no CANADA's) spent the rest of the month on both marshes where It joined the CANADA's.
BRENT GOOSE - One on South Huish Marsh on 6th was the first of the Autumn. 6 flew west on 7th. At the end of the month 2 arrived on South Huish marsh on 28th with one staying to the 29th.
PALE BELLIED BRENT GOOSE - A single bird fed in the GREAT BUSTARD field from 24th to 27th. Only one other record in the last 7 years.
TEAL - Thurlestone Marsh held up to 75 birds throughout the month with up to 25 on South Huish Marsh. On 17th a visiting MARSH HARRIER disturbed over 100 birds on Thurlestone Marsh with a flock of 50 on the sea.
SHELDUCK - Only record – 3 flying east on 16th.
GADWALL - First arrivals 3 on 13th with a max of 13 on 15th with 7 then remaining to the month end.
WIGEON - Numbers on both Marshes fluctuated throughout the month, building up to a max of 50 on 29th. Normally passage birds are restricted to relatively low numbers, this month was an exception on 13th several flocks totalling 280 flew high south east a further 215 south on 15th and 130 south east on 20th with a further 110 settling on the sea.
SHOVELER - First arrivals 3 in the Bay on 7th increasing to 7 on Thurlestone Marsh on 10th.
PINTAIL - A female on Thurlestone Marsh on 8th and 13th with 2 on 15th.
EIDER - Another irregular visitor with a female flying east through the Bay on 13th and 14th.
COMMON SCOTER - On 13th 30 flew east with 38 (largest total this year) on 14tth. Small numbers on 3 other days.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER - 4 across the Bay on 15th with 2 female also west on the 17th.
GOLDENEYE - Only my second record in 7 years. A female on Thurlestone Marsh on 13th still present on 30th. An indication of how much water is retained within the marsh.
RED THROATED DIVER - Single birds recorded on 4 days.
BLACK THROATED DIVER - First of the Autumn a single on the sea on 14th.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER - Recorded on 4 days – single on 6th with 2 on 14th and singles on 17th and 18th.
MANX SHEARWATER - A first November record - one picked up by AJL and MBP crossing the Bay on 18th.
FULMAR - First for many weeks was a very dark bird flying east on 30th.
GANNET - Present throughout the month with a max of 275 east on 29th.
MERLIN - A female continues to cause mayhem on The patch – recorded on several days.
MARSH HARRIER - At least 3 different birds recorded during the month – female with a tail defect, another creamy female and a Juv male picked up coming in off the sea on 15th.
HEN HARRIER - An adult male over South Milton Ley on 5th And 7th followed by a ringtail on 21st.
SHORT-EARED OWL - One watched over South Huish Marsh by AJL and MBP on morning of 7th.
AVOCET - Another species that had only been recorded once before in 7 years – a flock of 6 spent over 4 hours in the Bay on 14th – resting on the sea for most of the time.
RINGED PLOVER - 24 on 13th is a good count for November. 13 on 30th could be our winter flock – highest for many years.
GOLDEN PLOVER - 1 on 13th and 10 on 14th in off sea and up the valley.
GREY PLOVER - 3 on the beach on 11th one on the rocks on 14th.
LAPWING - 24 on 11th, 52 on 15th, 60 on 18th and 30 on 25th all flying through.
DUNLIN - 26 on 14th joined in with the wader passage.
TURNSTONE - Present most of the month with a max of 17 on the rocks on 29th and highest total in 7 years.
JACK SNIPE - 1 on Thurlestone Marsh on 6th with 2 disturbed by a helicopter on 11th.
SNIPE - Few around so far this Autumn – max 12 on 6th
WOODCOCK - Single record from EW and AD at South Milton ley on 27th.
BLACK TAILED GODWIT - One on Thurlestone Marsh all month, another 2 briefly on the marsh on 8th.
BAR TAILED GODWIT - Another surprising wader record on 14th when 12 flew in off the sea and up the Valley.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER - Found on Thurlestone Marsh early afternoon on the star day 6th – watched by 6 local birders.
LITTLE GULL - 3 Adults flew east together on 29th.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL - An adult, second winter and first winter observed on several days.
SANDWICH TERN - One in the Bay on 15th.
SWALLOW - Single birds on 5th and 15th.
WATER PIPIT - 2 feeding in field adjacent to the Ley on 5th and 1 on 20th.
BLACK REDSTART - At least 3 on the patch on1 3th with singles On 5 other dates.
WHEATEAR - A Juv on South Huish Marsh on 16th.
REDWING/FIELDFARE - Small numbers around the Ley most of the month. A mixed flock of 200 and on 22nd was largest of the Autumn.
REED WARBLER - A very late bird caught and ringed on 12th. The latest ever recorded in Devon was 17th November 1984 – nearly a new record.
CHIFFCHAFF - Numbers increased at the Ley with up to 10, A Tristis type on 22nd.
BLACKCAP - Still up to 4 at the Ley early month.
FIRECREST - Female caught and ringed on 20th (BobB).
BEARDED TIT - Found in the Ley reeds on 5th by BobB a party of at least 7 present for the rest of the month. On 12th Roger and Helen trapped an adult and juv. male. Last time any were ringed was 1981.
SNOW BUNTING - Another bird not seen for 9 years – a male on the beach on 6th and again on 10th.
CIRL BUNTING - A remarkable series of sightings which hopefully is indicative of a successful breeding season. 2 Juv on 5th, 2 adult 6th on the Ley, a female by the copse 16th, a male on 19th and female 23rd graced my garden.
WOOD PIGEON - Largest movement on the morning of 6th when 52.000 + flew south east – some of the flocks contained 5.000 – 7.000 birds.
STARLING - Large roost moved away from Thurlestone Marsh, however a flock of 200+ on 13th Included a sub adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING.


No recoveries to report this month. Adverse weather conditions have restricted the number of days when nets could be put up.

Outstanding ringing of the month was the 2 male BEARDED TIT (Juv and adult) on 12th. Not only were these the first to be ringed since 1981, it confirmed the birds were not previously ringed and therefore more likely to be continental birds.

FIRECREST - Female ringed 20th was the third of the year.

CHIFFCHAFF - 21 birds ringed during the month.

REED WARBLER - 1 caught and ringed on 12th.

REED BUNTING - With birds returning to their winter haunts 20 were ringed.

Other notable species ringed were:-

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