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Birding Devon

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]

Top Sites
  • Bennets Cross, Dartmoor

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • Braunton

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    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.
  • Dawlish Warren/Exe Estuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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!
  • Haldon Forest Bird of Prey Viewpoint

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    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.
  • Lundy

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    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).
  • Plym Estuary

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    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.
  • Prawle Point

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • Slapton Ley

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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.
  • Yarner Wood

    InformationSatellite View
    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.
  • Matt Prince

    Exeter |

  • Stephen Welch


County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 423

    County Bird - Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Useful Reading

  • Devon Bird Atlas 2007-2013

    | Edited by Stella D Beavan & Mike Lock | Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society | 2016 | Hardback | 508 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780955602894 Buy this book from
  • 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: or | ISBN: 9780955602863 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Devon

    | By Michael Tyler | Devon Birdwatching & Preservation Society | 2010 | Hardback | 750 pages, 200 colour photos & illustrations, tables | ISBN: 9780955602832 Buy this book from
  • The Birds of Lundy

    | By Tim Davis & Tim Jones Harpers Mill Publishing | 2007 | Paperback | 319 pages, 100 line drawings, 20 photos, maps | ISBN: 9780954008871 Buy this book from
  • Where to watch birds in Cornwall and Devon - including the Isles of Scilly and Lundy

    | By David Norman & Vic Tucker | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 384 pages, B/w illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9780713688146 Buy this book from
Museums & Universities
  • Exeter University

    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.
  • Axe Estuary Ringing Group

    The Group, which now has over 40 members, was set up in November 2006, with the aims and objectives being:To monitor and study the breeding, wintering and migration patterns of birds along the Axe Estuary and;To gather data to help the development of the Axe Estuary Wetlands and its environs.
  • Devon Birds

    Devon Birds is a county bird society with a long and distinguished history dating back to 1928. Originally known as Devon Birdwatching & Preservation Society, the name was shortened to 'Devon Birds' in 2005. Contact: The Secretary, Devon Birds, 16 Erme Drive, Ivybridge, Devon PL21 9BN - 01752 690278 -
  • 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]
  • Lundy Field Society

    The LFS was founded in 1946 and for many years had its headquarters in the Old Light on the island. Originally concentrating on the study of birds, the society is now a charity that has as its aims the study of Lundy, in particular its history, natural history and archaeology, and the conservation of its wildlife and antiquities.
  • RSPB Exeter & District Local Group

    This is the website of the Exeter & District Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Plymouth Local Group

    This is the website of the Plymouth Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • RSPB Torbay And South Devon Team

    This is the website of the Torbay And South Devon Team. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
  • Topsham Birdwatching & Naturalist Society

    A Society for those interested in the natural world around them, and in particular this area of Devon. A mix of indoor illustrated talks and fieldtrips sets the basis for the Society's activities. We endeavour to keep a balance between local and worldwide natural history, equally we try to look at a wide spectrum of flora and fauna.

Abbreviations Key

  • Braunton Burrows Countryside Centre

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    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…
  • LNR Colyford Common

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    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…
  • LNR Exmouth Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
  • LNR Lower Bruckland Farm

    WebpageSatellite View
    Lower Bruckland Farm is an area of natural beauty situated just off the A3052 near Boshill Cross, Musbury, near Axminster, Seaton and Lyme Regis, on the border of East Devon and Dorset. It commands striking views over the beautiful Axe Valley…
  • LNR Maer Local Nature Reserve

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    The Maer Local Nature Reserve is Exmouth's worst-kept secret, a fantastic green space so close to the famous seafront. Ideal for a quiet stroll just away from the busy beaches and a secret haven for wildlife.
  • LNR Seaton Marshes Local Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
  • Lundy

    WebpageSatellite View
    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.
  • NNR Dawlish Warren

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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…
  • NNR Slapton Ley

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England. Although it is only separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, it is entirely freshwater. The lake is surrounded by reedbeds, marshes and woodland habitats.
  • NP Dartmoor National Park

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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.
  • Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust

    WebpageSatellite View
    Offwell Woodlands is a Forestry Commission Enterprise site In the Parish of Offwell. This 50 acre site is managed by the Offwell Woodland and Wildlife Trust and consists of a wide variety of restored habitats rich in wildlife. The Trust works with environmentalists and teachers and it is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers.
  • RSPB Aylesbeare Common

    WebpageSatellite View
    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 Chapel Wood

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
  • RSPB Exe Estuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Dawlish Warren Latest Sightings

    This is the website of the Dawlish Warren Recording Group, dedicated to the wildlife of Dawlish Warren. This area is situated at the mouth of the River Exe in South Devon.
  • Devon Bird News

    Devon Bird Sightings
  • Devon Wildlife Sightings

    This site is intended to provide information and ideas for bird watchers in (or visiting) Devon. If you have found the website useful, please support it by sending any interesting sightings
Guides & Tour Operators
  • 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'…
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 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

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • Exeter Self Catering

    A perfect base for exploring Devon/Cornwall beaches & National Parks, or corporate short term lets... 5% discount to Fatbirder users!
  • Gardeners Cottage - Kingsbridge

  • 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.
  • Sidmouth Holiday Cottages

    A charming seaside resort at the start of the Jurassic Coast
Other Links
  • 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
  • Devon Biodiversity Action Plan

    Conservation needs and plans
  • Lundy Birds

    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…
  • 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.
  • 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…
  • Nature Net

    Some contact information and directions to the parks and nature reserves of Devon.
  • North Devon Bird of Prey Centre

    The centre also operates a rescue and recuperation programme for birds of prey.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Charlie Fleming - Wildlife in a Suburban Garden

    A detailed account of species visiting my Exeter Devon [UK] Garden…
  • Chris Townend - Cream Tea Birding

    I'm obsessed with birds and mammals and I love travelling the world to see them. My name is Chris Townend (aka Jaffa) I love birding in South-West England & overseas, mammal watching and enjoying good cakes & puddings! I am also in the very lucky position of owning a small wildlife watching company - Wise Birding Holidays This allows me to share some of the world's greatest bird and mammal spectacles with like-minded people.
  • Dave Stone - Dave's Birding Diary

    Hi I started birding in 1985 with the first bird seen being a Long Eared Owl, I have been lucky enough to have seen a few 1st for Britain including the Golden-Winged Warbler and to be in on the find of the Long-Billed Murrelet the 1st for Britain, and a Greater Sandplover that at the time was the 8th for Britain.
  • 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…
  • Gavin Haig - Not Quite Scilly

  • Matt Knott - Birdingexemouth

    Orcombe Point, Mudbank and other stuff
  • Perry Sanders - Charleton Birding

  • Spencer Docks - Dixie’s Birding

    I have been birding since 1987 but only started taking the hobby very seriously in 2011 after moving from Wales to Devon in 2007. Birding Wales could be very harsh and since moving to Devon I have more than doubled my life List. The main sites I cover are Orcombe, Mudbank, commons north of Exmouth, Darts Farm, Otter Estuary and often look at Otterton Sewage works, Exminster Marsh and Bowling Green Marsh. I do the old twitching thing, but generally only in the south west.
  • Steve Waite - Axe Birding

    Seaton, Devon, United Kingdom - I'm 32 and have been birding for over seventeen years. I have a great passion for my local patch - the Axe Estuary in Devon, which I share with many other dedicated local patch birders. Birds (especially rarity finding) and bird ringing are my top interests, but I also love moths, dragonflies, butterflies, and most of all my family.
  • Stuart Green - Stuart's Wildlife Diary

  • Thurlestone Bay Birds

    Thurlestone Bay is a bird rich area of the South Hams (part of Devon).Having lost Thurlestone Marsh.earlier this year when it was drained agreed with Eric Wotton to redraw the patch boundry to include the Avon Estuary which will incorporate the very impressive South Efford Marsh.
  • Tim White - Colyton Wildlife

    I'm 26 and have had a keen interest in wildlife since before my teenage years. I love the thrill of rarity finding and have a great interest in my local area; particularly the River Coly & River Axe.
  • Tim Worfolk - The Two Bird Theory

    I've been fascinated by wildlife since I was a small boy who caught newts and lizards and wondered why I never saw half the the birds in my 'Observer's Book of British Birds'. As a teenager other interests took over and I only returned to birding in the mid eighties. I did a little twitching but soon grew tired of the drives, the crowds and the predictable conversation. After a few career changes I realised I was unsuited to anything but self-employment and since 1994 I’ve been lucky to find fairly constant work as a bird illustrator. I moved to Devon in 1999 and soon realised it was the best place in the World.
  • Tom - Backward Birding

    Being the doings and rantings of a Devonian birder of a rather Backward persuasion. May contain wibble. Will contain digressions, tangents, and possibly some stuff about birds. Warning: all opinions voiced within are purely conjectural... I'm Tom, a birder best identified by my habitual wearing of silly hats. I live in Devon and think very highly of the place. I've been watching birds since I was old enough to hold bins, but have only been 'seriously birding' for years, rather than decades. I am not in any way famous, and am quite happy with that. Likes: Birds, wilderness, raspberries, single malt whisky. Dislikes: Failing to achieve the above.
  • Will Salmon - Teign Birds

    For listing purposes the patch covers all areas within 1km of the tidal limit of the Teign Estuary. It incorporates the following main birding locations: Decoy Country Park, Jetty Marsh, Aller Brook, Newton Abbot Racecourse, Hackney Marshes, Passage House, Rackerhayes (if/when accessable), Bundle Head, Lower Netherton, part of Teigngrace and of course the estuary itself. Species recorded outside the patch but seen from within it can be counted e.g. distant birds offshore.
Photographers & Artists
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Photographer - Simon Thurgood Images

    Images of many sorts but a strong emphasis on wildlife in general and birds in particular

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