Birdwatching Trip Report - 21/04/2024

Bar Tailed Godwit
Alan Smith

The clear blue morning didn’t quite feel as it looked, with a cold north wind funnelling down the valley ensuring coats remained zipped! This didn’t stop the feeling of spring however, with a great variety of warblers and some passage-wading birds seen by those on board.

Despite the cold wind, warblers were in fine voice. Several fresh-in Reed and Sedge Warblers were singing alongside the track, with one of the Sedge Warblers showing well singing from a small bush before launching into a display flight. A Lesser Whitethroat, again in great voice, showed a little less well, but was still glimpsed several times despite mostly remaining hidden in dense brambles. One distant Chiffchaff was heard singing, with a much closer Willow Warbler singing from trees right next to the upper deck of the tram, a true sound of spring. Several male Cetti’s Warbler were also heard, the only species of warbler noted that’s not a long-distance migrant.

Swallows and Sand Martins were recorded, with the latter present in good numbers around Colyford Common near to their nesting site. Another migrant species, a Wheatear, showed extremely well perched close to the tram shortly after the start of the trip, looking like it was regretting its life choice of leaving the southern hemisphere!

On the Estuary, six Bar-tailed Godwits were a surprise sighting, with four of these being brick red breeding plumaged males. Not a regular species on the Axe, with these birds (a three, a two and a single) probably just briefly stopping off here to feed-up during their migration from their wintering grounds (most likely West Africa) to their breeding grounds either in Siberia or Artic Scandinavia. A small flock of Black-tailed Godwits allowed for a nice comparison, as they fed on a close spit on Black Hole Marsh, with several of these being in summer plumage too. A single Whimbrel and four Common Sandpipers were also recorded, both of these species just like the Bar-tailed Godwits, only present as they are currently passing through on their spring migration. Two Avocets feeding on Black Hole Marsh were not passing visitors though, it’s good to see the nesting pair back for their second year.

Two Coot on Seaton Marshes were relatively novel as they wouldn’t usually be recorded on the tram trips, were it not for the fact this pair seem to be nesting on the main lagoon. Single pairs of Teal and Shoveler were good to see on Black Hole Marsh, with both these species being primarily winter visitors to the Axe. Two Greylag Geese, seen briefly in flight early in the trip and then found feeding on Colyford Marsh, were also something of a surprise.

In total 56 species of birds we recorded during the trip, with a bonus in the form of two very showy Roe Deer in the fields just south of Black Hole Marsh.


Species List - 21/04/2024

Mute Swan


Greylag Goose

Carrion Crow

Canada Goose



Blue Tit


Sand Martin




Cetti's Warbler


Long-tailed Tit

Cormorant Lesser


Little Egret

Chiffchaff (heard only)

Grey Heron

Willow Warbler (heard only)


Sedge Warbler


Reed Warbler (heard only)



Coot Starling

Oystercatcher Blackbird


Song Thrush (heard only)

Black-tailed Godwit


Bar-tailed Godwit




Common Sandpiper



House Sparrow

Black-headed Gull

Meadow Pipit

Lesser Black-backed Gull


Herring Gull


Great Black-backed

Gull Goldfinch




Reed Bunting

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21st April, 2024
by Seaton Tramway

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