Devon has a wide variety of habitats, fertile estuaries break up the rugged coastline North and South, there is heathland in the East, both coniferous and deciduous woodland, hilly farmland and of course high moorland. Rarities can and do, turn up in any of these habitats, witness the recent Spectacled Warbler found on Dartmoor. More often than not, however, the major rarities turn up in the most inaccessible places, and that of course means an Island, in Devon's case; Lundy.
For resident birds, Devon is best known for its population of Cirl Buntings, whose stronghold is the South Hams. Peregrine, Raven, Dipper, Pied Flycatcher and Little Egret are all relatively easy birds for visiting birders. Sea watching, mainly from the South coast, may provide Sabine`s gull, Sooty shearwaters etc, under the right conditions.
Lundy's impressive firsts for Britain list includes: American Robin, [27/10/52] (preceded by Irish records) Common Yellowthroat, [4/11/54] Sardinian Warbler, [10/5/1955] Baltimore Oriole, [2/10/58] Bimaculated Lark, [7/5/62] Rufous-sided Towhee, (Eastern Towhee) [7/6/66] Spanish Sparrow, [9/6/66] Eastern Phoebe, [24/4/87] Ancient Murrelet. [27/5/90]
As far as rarities go, this Island off the North Coast of Devon is it. UK Firsts include Bimaculated Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Spanish Sparrow, Yellowthroat, and Rufous-sided Towhee. Most astonishingly of all was the much twitched Ancient Murrelet, a tiny auklet from the North Pacific, which was discovered on approach to the Island in 1990. Other major rarities include Veery, Ruppel's Warbler, Bobolink, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and the UK's second Yellow-rumped warbler (the first was also in Devon).
Dawlish Warren/Exe Estuary
Consisting of a sand spit across part of the estuary mouth with a variety of habitats, the Warren has seen such goodies as Great spotted cuckoo, Cream coloured courser, Greater sand plover and recently the first mainland Semi-Palmated Plover. The nearby RSPB reserves of Exminster and Bowling Green Marsh are also worth a visit. The only Great Black Headed Gull accepted for the UK was recorded opposite the Warren at Exmouth – but that was in 1859!
One of the best sites for Cirl Bunting in Devon, Prawle with its prominent position and the funnel effect of Pigs Nose Valley is also a good site for migrants. Most notable recent rarity was the Chestnut-sided Warbler, which frustrated many birders with the brevity of its stay! Other American vagrants have included Blackpoll Warbler, Black and White Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo.
Not far from Prawle, Slapton Ley is a freshwater lagoon separated from the sea by a shingle ridge. Cetti's Warblers are resident and the quarry is a good place to check for passerine migrants. Rarities have included Little swift, and Whiskered Tern. The record of Eastern Pheobe from this site predates the officially accepted Lundy bird by a few days.
This is the best woodland site in Devon, with breeding Pied flycatcher and Redstart. As the site is within Dartmoor, moorland species can be found nearby.
Bennets Cross, Dartmoor
Not far away from Yarner Wood, you can find Ring Ouzel and Whinchat in summer, and often a Great grey shrike or Hen harrier (roosting) in winter.
Gull hotspot, with Kumlien's, Bonaparte's, Franklin's, Laughing and Ross's recorded as well as annual occurrences of Ring-Billed, Iceland etc. Birds often commute to Chelson Meadows rubbish tip, or the sewage out-fall as West Hoe.
Haldon Forest Bird of Prey Viewpoint
Though the Honey buzzards haven't shown as consistently here as of late, presumably like the Goshawk, they have shifted territory. It is still a good site for Nightjar and occasionally in winter, Hawfinch.
The area behind the sands is good for Barn owl amongst others and Dartford Warblers have been reported on the path above the road that runs from Braunton to Croyde in North Devon. This is the path that is almost opposite the Saunton Sand Hotel.
Click 'Get Birds Seen' to see a map with map pins on locations of the latest recorded sightings of rare or unusual birds.
*See places other birders go Birding...
46 Primrose Way, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2XQ
07875 068112 or 01797 792339
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 423
County Bird - Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Devon Bird Reports
The annual county report for Devon from Devon Bird Watching and Preservation Society - Series: DEVON BIRD REPORTS: For the latest details of all current publications: http://www.devonbirds.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to watch birds in Cornwall and Devon
By David Norman and Vic Tucker, 5th Edition (Helm).
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 9780713688146Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Dawlish Warren
Obtainable direct from: Ivan Lakin at Top Flat, 15 Regents Park, Exeter, Devon EX1 2NT
The Birds of Lundy
by Tim Davis and Tim Jones - Birds of Lundy 2007 ISBN 9780954008871
http://www.birdsoflundy.org.uk for book details and latest updates to the systematic list entries
ISBN: 169223Buy this book from NHBS.com
Guides & Tour Operators
Seaton Tramway Bird Watching Trips
These special, expert-led trips operate when no other trams are running, which means that frequent stops can be made, with the tram acting as a hide. The leader's commentary makes the trips suitable for all interests, from the keenest twitcher to the enthusiastic novice! Rod Lawrence (RL) is a renowned expert on birds in the South West and leads groups all over the world. Don Cotton (DC) is ex-Chairman of the East Devon branch of Devon Birds and leads field meetings for the RSPB. Donald Campbell (DnC) is Chairman of the Axe Vale & District Conservation Society and author of The Encyclopaedia of British Birds. He also monitors wetland bird stocks in the area on behalf of the British Trust for Ornithology.
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
On Swallow Birding trips we are enthusiastic, relaxed, friendly and fun. Small groups mean Leader Steve Grimwade can give the time and attention necessary to make your trip a great birding experience!
Avocet Cruises on the River Exe
The original operators of Avocet Bird Watching Cruises on the River Exe (Devon Princess Cruises) are pleased to announce the arrival of their newest passenger vessel the 'Dartmouth Castle'…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2000 [03 March] - John Girdley - Seeking out the South of England Specialities in Devon
For most birders based in the northern areas of the UK, chances to see birds like Cirl Bunting, Dartford Warbler and Cetti`s Warbler don`t come around very often. However, with a little planning it is quite possible to see all three in a day and have a great days birding…
2003 [08 August] - Hans Schick - South Coast
From August 16 – 31, 2003 I spent my holidays with my wife at the south coast of Devon. We rented a holiday house of friends in Salcombe at the Kingsbridge Estuary. During our excursions, walks and hiking tours I had many opportunities to watch birds and to take photos of them using a digital camera and a telescope…
2010 [06 June] - David & Amanda Mason
…As we had not seen Dartford Warbler in this country since 1994 and had never previously seen Cirl Bunting in the UK, we decided to spend a few days in Dorset and Devon with two specific birding targets in mind…
Places to Stay
Langstone Cliff Hotel
The wonderful situated of the Langstone Cliff overlooking the sea and red cliffs means you can almost taste the fresh air. The expansive lawns are sunlit from morning till night, a sunbathers paradise, but the large Victorian veranda offers shade when required and is also a favourite spot for after dinner coffee - our mild West country climate often enables guests to enjoy the sea view across to the twinkling lights of East Devon long after the sun has gone down.
Barkham offers basic, but very reasonably priced B&B and is situated in the Exmoor National Park on the Devon & Somerset border. It is the home of Penny and John Adie and even with its peaceful secluded location is within easy reach of the North Devon Link road and only seven miles from the market town of South Molton.
Sidmouth Holiday Let
In a quiet cul-de-sac, 10 minutes walk into town centre, 15 minutes to the sea front, and just a few minutes walk to the Byes (a long park running right through the centre of Sidmouth). There is a Spar shop close by which stays open late…
New Barn Farm Cottages & Angling Centre - Nr Paignton
We support the angling/bird tie up as we have many anglers who fish our fishery who are avid bird watchers and in fact do not normally bother whether they catch any fish or not - as long as they can enjoy the countryside wildlife etc.
The Port Light
Bolberry Down, lying between Salcombe and Hope Cove on the South West coastal path, is an ideal place to enjoy this magnificent area whether you want to walk West to Bolt Tail or East to sandy Soar Mill Cove or merely sit and enjoy the views from the cliffs with their great variety of wild flowers and birds. The scenery is outstanding, with wildlife literally on the doorstep, including badgers, foxes with their cubs, rabbits and peregrins. The Port Light is the ideal base from which to enjoy the natural beauties of southernmost Devon…
Stone Barn & South Beer - Nr. Holsworthy
We are currently working at creating a private wildlife sanctuary with educational access for interested parties. We are aiming to rebuild the traditional devon banks, hedgerows and restore wildlife habitats for such creatures as owls, bats, badgers, foxes, rabbits and encourage new visitors such as hares, otters and dormice to take up residence. We are learning to manage the pasture and mixed grazing to encourage all sorts of wildflowers and plants both common and rare. We welcome bird watching reports from all our guests, keeping us up to date with the activities of birds from goldfinches to woodpeckers and buzzards to bullfinches…
Highover Apartment - Devon Coastal Path
Situated on the clifftop, on the Devon Coastal Path, a mile from central Dawlish and a mile from Dawlish Warren, this newly converted first floor apartment enjoys uninterrupted, and stunning views of Lyme Bay from all of its windows. The apartment, which sleeps 2-4 people, is set in the grounds of Highover, one of the country’s most photographed coastal gardens, and visitors have exclusive use of a purpose-built deck area, perched on the clifftop, within the garden. The nearest beach is just two minutes walk away, down the coastal path…
Gardeners Cottage - Kingsbridge
…close to the Salcombe Estuary. Good for cirls; waders. Not far from Slapton/Prawle/Bowling Green Marsh is 1 hr away…
Exeter Self Catering
A perfect base for exploring Devon/Cornwall beaches & National Parks, or corporate short term lets... 5% discount to Fatbirder users!
Devon Birdwatching & Preservation Society
The Secretary, DBWPS, PO Box 71 Okehampton, Devon EX20 1WF email@example.com
Devon Wildlife Trust
The Devon Wildlife Trust is the only independent organisation devoted solely to the conservation and care of wildlife and wild places throughout Devon. A registered charity (number 213224); DWT was established over 30 years ago and has a current membership of around 5,000. With nature reserves throughout Devon totalling over 2,500 acres, the Devon Wildlife Trust is closely involved in land management, scientific survey, policy formulation, marine conservation and education. [Includes an entry on Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve]
South Devon Seabird Trust
The Trust was founded in 1983 and specialises in the rehabilitation of oiled seabirds. The aim of the trust is to care for sick and injured seabirds, with the intention to release back to the wild, but where release is not viable - to offer sanctuary.
Distance learning course in Birdlife in a changing world This module will introduce the ecology of birds and investigate the different ways in which human activity influences bird life in the environment.
Dartmoor National Park Authority
Dartmoor was designated one of the National Parks of England and Wales in 1951. It is a beautiful moor-land landscape with wooded valleys and wind swept Tors. 369 square miles (954 sq. km.) in area, with about 31,000 people living in it, and where about 10 million visits are made each year. All the land is owned by someone and the public is able to roam freely on un-enclosed, open moor-land on both foot and horseback. There are also about 600 miles of public rights of way. Dartmoor is a rich habitat for wildlife and has a wealth of archaeological remains.
Lundy is famous for its birds. It is for ever associated with the Puffin which inspired the name - Lund -ey is Norse for Puffin Island. Serious bird watchers will be up before dawn to see rarities, particularly during the spring and autumn passage. Walkers can focus their binoculars on everything from a melodious warbler or firecrest to a tree pipit or dotterel. About 35 species breed on the island every year and 280 different species have been seen. Lundy recorded the first British sighting of the Sardinian warbler and American Robin and the first European sighting of the ancient murrelet. The warden often notes on the Tavern blackboard when and where interesting birds can be seen.
Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust
Wildlife experts at the Woodland Education Centre have put a camera into a sparrowhawk`s nest with six chicks. The director of Offwell Woodland and Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission, Steve Lawson, says We`re all waiting to catch the moment when the young birds at last fly the nest. Must be eager to get the camera back.
Exmouth Local Nature Reserve
The Exmouth Local Nature Reserve covers some 218 hectares of intertidal mud and sand at the southerly end of the Exe estuary. Internationally important numbers of dark-bellied brent geese over winter here, amongst hoards of other waterfowl and waders…
Seaton Marshes Local Nature Reserve
Seaton Marshes LNR is an area of grazing marsh on the west side of the Axe estuary. A bird hide provides excellent views across the estuary, and surrounding grazing marsh, which is allowed to flood seasonally to attract winter waders and waterfowl. Permissive paths lead around the reserve, and there is wheelchair access to disabled facilities in the hide…
Colyford Common Local Nature Reserve
Lying to the north of Seaton Marshes LNR, Colyford Common Local Nature Reserve has a permissive boardwalk to a viewing platform overlooking the Axe esutary. A good site for passage waders, an winter waterfowl…
RSPB Reserve - Aylesbeare Common
This quiet area of East Devon heathland is important for Dartford warblers, nightjars and stonechats. Its sheltered wooded fringes, streams and ponds abound with butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies…
RSPB Reserve - Exe Estuary
This reserve has two separate areas of coastal grazing marsh on opposite sides of the estuary – Exminster Marshes and Bowling Green Marsh. In spring, look for breeding lapwings and redshanks…
RSPB Reserve - Chapel Wood
This small reserve is a mixed woodland with the remains of an old hill fort and an historic chapel with a well. The nature reserve is in a remote location…
Braunton Burrows Countryside Centre
Braunton Burrows and over 3000 hectares of the North Devon landscape have been formally recognised by UNESCO as Britain's first new-style Biosphere Reserve…
Dawlish Warren NNR
This site is dedicated to the wildlife of Dawlish Warren recording area, based around the Teignbridge District Council NNR and Devon Wildlife Trust reserve. This area is situated at the mouth of the River Exe in South Devon. Here you can find information about the recording area and the species that can be found on the Warren…
Garden Birds - Notes from a Devon Garden
In this blog we'll describe the day to day comings and goings of the birds in our Devon garden…
Steve Waite - Birds, Birding and Me…
I'm 24, and have been birding for about twelve years. I am addicted to the thrill of rarity finding, but at the same time have a great passion for my local patch - the Axe Estuary in Devon, which I share with many other dedicated local patch birders. I am a trainee bird ringer and am keen on most other forms of wildlife and natural beauty, especially moths…
A very well kept weblog from Devon in the SW of England
Wildlife in a Suburban Garden
A detailed account of species visiting my Exeter Devon [UK] Garden…
Devon Bird News
The purpose of the Devon Bird News blog is pretty self-explanatory - to provide a medium through which Devon bird news can be gathered and published. The aim is to provide an interesting resource for both county birders and visitors, so the slant will obviously be on the scarce and unusual, and for this I make no apology….
Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crimes Group
e.g. This is Matthew Gonshaw. If you see him near ANY birds nests then let the police know immediately!! Gonshaw is a serial egg collector and has an ASBO banning him from entering Scotland in the breeding season for the next 10 years! Gonshaw has already served four prison sentences for stealing birds eggs and with a ban from Scotland, it is thought that he may target other areas of the country, including the South West. Gonshaw is a major target…
Some contact information and directions to the parks and nature reserves of Devon.
Soar Mill Seeds
Colin and Vanessa Mills welcome you to our site. As farmers in the South Hams of South Devon we can bring you a new, exciting and worthy alternative to the vast importation of seed for wild birds. Soar Mill Seeds Winter Stubbles® offers a unique opportunity to directly help in halting the decline of our farmland birds. Just by changing to our seed products, allows us to put more and more land into stubble fields to be left over the winter period as a food source for all wildlife to use. During the winter we don`t plough it, spray it or plant it, that is your contribution to the British countryside and of course the more you buy the greater that contribution becomes.
Nature & Wildlife
The RSPB's conservation programme in Devon has almost trebled the numbers of cirl buntings in Britain. Key to the success of this project was the involvement of the local community…
Natural History Bookstore - Totnes
Welcome to a world of diversity at the NHBS Mail-order Bookstore - thousands of titles describing and explaining the amazing diversity of the natural world - field guides, textbooks, monographs, reports, CDs, videos, and cassettes on every environmental subject - from aardvarks and amphibians through to zebras, from biogeochemistry, botany and ecology to environmental assessment, species and habitat conservation and zoology and much more. Located in Totnes.
North Devon Bird of Prey Centre
The centre also operates a rescue and recuperation programme for birds of prey.
West Country S.W.I.F.T. (Society for the Withholding of Information From Twitchers)
SPOOF! SWIFT consists of a small band of active birders in the West Country. It is not anti birders who enjoy rare birds, nor is it pro suppression per se. It is against the increasingly disruptive aspects of twitching, where common sense, civility and the aesthetic enjoyment of observing a natural creature has been largely replaced by boorish, sometimes even aggressive behaviour and an often total disregard for the welfare of the bird involved, habitat, fellow enthusiasts, the general public and property…
Devon Biodiversity Action Plan
Conservation needs and plans…
Yarak Birds of Prey Centre
How would you like to handle and fly birds of prey in a completely rural and relaxed location where all the emphasis is on you and the birds? We are situated in Devon 4 miles from Junction 28 M5 near to Cullompton. Here at Yarak you will have a life changing experience you'll want to repeat!! You will have our undivided attention for a fully hands on falconry experience day with no outside distractions!
Birds of South Devon
Birdwatching around the Kingsbridge / Salcombe EstuaryThe following birds have been recorded around the Estuary with those in red having been seen at High House or Bowcombe Creek…
Welcome to the Lundy Birds website. Lying astride the mouth of the Bristol Channel, Lundy has long proved to be a magnet for migrating birds, with a long list of major rarities to its name, and is nationally important for its breeding seabirds…
Wildlife Watching Supplies
All you need to get closer to the wildlife. Designed and developed by wildlife photographer Kevin Keatley. In the pursuit of improving the Wildlife Watching Supplies website we have now added an online shopping facility which uses a secure server for safe transactions.
Photographers & Artists
Artist - Mike Langman
Since leaving the RSPB and moving to Devon in 1993, Mike has worked on nearly 20 books for many publishers including Hamlyn, New Holland, Academic Press and Mitchell Beazley. He still paints for the RSPB Magazine`s, Nature Centres as well as the Wildlife Trusts and his artwork is regularly published in all the UK Birding Magazines. With tight publication deadlines and a heavy workload he was little time to work on his own ideas for paintings but over the years has produced several limited edition print runs, of his favourite paintings some of which can be seen on this Web Site.
Artist - David Mead - Hawkart
I am one of the artists who worked on Raptors of the World (Helm 2001) and Pheasants, Partridges & Grouse (Helm 2002). The originals of my illustrations for these books feature on my site…
Photographer - Simon Thurgood Images
Images of many sorts but a strong emphasis on wildlife in general and birds in particular…