Meshaw Birds


Here's a list of the birds that have been seen in and around Meshaw, compiled by one of our more experienced birders. If you've more to add please contact the webmaster. If, like me, you're not too familiar with our feathery friends, a good place to start is the RSPB Bird Guide page.


R = Resident Species, can be seen in the area throughout the year & breed here in the Spring

V = Visitor, either in Summer (VS) or Winter (VW). Summer birds breed here. Dates indicate most up to date arrival & departure dates, these will change with the weather conditions.


Date first recorded R/V   Visitor Notes
Earliest Latest
Barn Owl 4/12/7 R Fairly common. Secretive. Hunts over rough pasture or hedges at dawn & dusk.
Blackbird 16/3/8 R Common. Our population doubles in winter with eastward migration. Male black, female brown.
Blackcap 10/4/8 VS 10 Apr Common. Our breeding population migrates from Africa & Med Sea. Female chestnut cap.
Blue Tit 16/3/8 R Common. 
Brambling 25/2/8 VW 25 Feb Uncommon in West Country. Has bred in UK. Usually winter visitor only.
Bullfinch 15/3/12 R Becoming more common. Song a very soft piping single note
Buzzard 3/11/7 R Top predator. Common. Mewing territorial call.
Canada Goose 25/3/12 R Common. Often seen flying over. Will land/breed on large lakes.
Carrion Crow 16/3/8 R


Chaffinch 16/3/8 R Common.
Chiffchaff 30/3/8 VS 30 Mar Common. Our breeding population migrates from Africa & Med Sea. Sings its name.   
Coal Tit 16/3/8 R Common. White line down back of neck.
Collared Dove 16/3/8 R Common
Cormorant 15/2/8 R Rarely seen flying over
Cuckoo 29/5/11 VS 29 May Rare. Only ever heard this once here.
Dipper 16/4/8 R Common in many local streams. Strictly a waterbird. Song bold, like backbird. 
Dunnock 12/1/8 R Common. Sings a sweet single phrase song all year round from top of hedges.
Fieldfare 4/11/7 VW 11 Oct Common in winter, ground feeder often seen with redwing. Roosts in trees & hedges.
Garden warbler 1/6/14 VS 24 Apr Uncommon locally here, song very like blackcap.
Goldcrest 16/3/8 R Common, often overlooked due to very small size. Likes fir trees.
Golden Plover 15/11/13 R Uncommon, has been seen flying over/landing on Culm & Moor in winter.
Goldfinch 16/3/8 R Common. Calls like tinkling bells, often in small flocks. Likes thistle seeds & garden feeders. 
Grasshopper Warbler 4/7/10 VS 21 Jun Uncommon. Skulking. Found by its grasshopper-like long reeling song, going on for over a minute.
Great black-backed gull 28/5/15 R Common, seen flying over en-route to/from sea & inland reservoirs
Great Spotted Woodpecker 12/1/8 R Common. Drumming song. Male has red spot on nape.
Great Tit 16/3/8 R Common. Song - "teacher, teacher, teacher"
Green Woodpecker 21/2/10 R Uncommon. Large & handsome. Ground-feeds on ants. "Yaffle" song.
Greenfinch 16/3/8 R Common. Prone to Tricomonosis disease spread by communal feeding - keep nutfeeders clean
Grey Heron 24/3/8 R Top predator. Seen flying over. Eats fish/frogs etc. Nests in colony
Grey Wagtail 12/10/13 R Common. Likes streams & farmland. Yellow belly, very long wagging tail.
Herring Gull 16/12/12 R Common, seen flying over. Groundfeeds on farmland & after crop-cutting.
Hobby 11/7/10 VS 11 Jul Top predator. Uncommon Falcon. Has bred in our area.
House Martin 21/7/9 VS 15 Apr Communal mud nests under eaves. Becoming less common, sadly.
House Sparrow 16/3/8 R Common.
Jack Snipe 26/10/15 VW 26 Oct Uncommon. Seen on Rackenford & Lower Ash Moor. Won't fly off until you almost tread on it!
Jackdaw 16/3/8 R Common, often associated with Rooks, ground feeding.
Jay 1/11/8 R Fairly common. Crow family. Call is loud screech
Kestrel 16/3/12 R Top predator. "The windhover". Hunts mice, field voles, insects.
Kingfisher 21/7/9 R Fairly common. Top predator. Seen on large streams. Electric blue plumage!
Lapwing 29/12/14 R Now rare. Used to nest all over Devon's Culm measures & farmland. Seen at Batsworthy Cross.
Lesser black-backed Gull 14/10/12 R Common. Seen flying over, sometimes ground feeding with herring gull & Corvids.
Lesser Redpoll 5/5/8 R Uncommon. Likes alders. Noisy, acrobatic & active, high in trees
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker    - R
Linnet 1/11/8 R A farmland bird, now sadly uncommon.
Long-tailed Tit 1/11/8 R Common.
Magpie 1/11/8 R Common.
Mallard 25/3/12 R This is a common British duck, seen occasionally on rivers around Meshaw.
Marsh Tit 16/3/8 R Uncommon, a nice bird to see on the garden feeders
Meadow Pipit 4/11/7 R Farm & moorland bird, not so common here. Ground-feeder & nester, sometimes cuckoo host.
Mistle Thrush 1/11/8 R A big handsome thrush, more a bird of open woodland, nests early, sometimes in February.
Moorhen 13/6/14 R Never goes far from water, skulks around on wet reedy pasture.
Mute Swan 16/3/17 R A common bird, but not around here, only seen once flying over.
Nuthatch 16/3/8 R Common in mature deciduous woodland & on garden feeders.
Peregrine 28/7/14 R Top predator. Seen flying over the area on a regular basis, on average, say, monthly.
Pheasant 1/11/8 R Common
Pied/White Wagtail 16/3/8 R Fairly common, often paired up. In winter these birds frequently form large roosts; also on Tesco roof (Eastern Ave, Barnstaple), & in the trees in that car park.
Raven 16/2/8 R Common. Pair for life. Perform aerobatics in pairs, fly upside down etc. Call is a croaking bark.
Redstart 28/5/11 VS 28 May Uncommon. Male will sing from woodland margins.
Red Kite 3/1/17 R Uncommon. Scavenger. First seen Lower Ash Moor, adult & immature bird. Most likely to see these during sileage cutting in summer, down on fields scavenging.
Red-legged Partridge 24/1/13 R Uncommon. These will probably be introduced birds for shoots.
Redwing 9/2/8 VW 6 Oct 21 Mar Ground feeders, associates with fieldfare & starling.
Reed Bunting 3/11/7 R Uncommon. Preference for wet areas for nesting. Sometimes with yellowhammer in winter. Monotonous 3-note note song by male from a perch 
Robin 12/1/8 R Common. Sings all year round. Winter song quieter, more wistful. Very territorial!
Rook 1/11/8 R Common. Ground feeder with other Corvids. Social, noisy, nests together in rookery.
Siskin 16/3/8 R Locally common. Lilting sing-song call in flocks, likes alder. Acrobatic. Busy. Likes garden feeders
Skylark 2/11/7 R Sadly uncommon. Endless reeling aerial song. Ground nester & feeder. Social in winter.
Snipe 4/4/13 R Locally common. Skulks in wet fields, soft rush, marshy areas. You almost step on these before they whizz up into the air, always gives a 'scarrp' call. Cryptic cammo!
Song Thrush 12/1/8 R Common. From song post, sings in repeat phrases, often 3 times over. Cup nest lined with mud.
Sparrowhawk 25/1/8 R Common.Top predator. Birdhawk. Elusive fast flight-stealth fighter! Often flies at ground or road height shooting up over hedgerows to startle prey. Visits gardens to hunt. Will take Woodpigeon.
Spotted Flycatcher 8/8/9 VS 11 Jun 8 Aug Uncommon. Nondescript grey/brown plumage is really beautiful in detail. Pale streaked throat. Thin black beak. Perches upright on outward branch, darting out & back to catch flies.
Starling 12/1/8 R Common esp in winter when forms large flocks. Night roost is communal, often noisy. At dusk will gather in flight in huge 'murmurations' making fantastic writhing shapes in the sky.
Stock Dove 14/10/12 R Common, often overlooked as very like woodpigeon. Farmland bird.
Stonechat 9/2/17 R Fairly common. Likes open scrub, Culm, moorland, esp. gorse. Male has black head, & 'Vicars dog-collar'
Swallow 21/7/9 VS 1 Apr 13 Oct Common. Migrates to South Africa for winter. Site faithful. Chestnut throat, long tail streamers. Catches insects in flight. Often triple-brood. Nest on ledge with some mud.
Swift 21/7/9 VS 26 May 15 Aug Uncommon. All dark, scythe-shape, flies fast in small screaming groups round high buildings. Usually single brood. Eats, sleeps, mates on the wing. Only comes to rest for nesting.
Tawny Owl 3/11/7 R Common. Hunts in woodland in darkness. Dropping from branch onto prey (mice, voles etc). In autumn calls a lot to establish territory & attract mate. Early nester. Male hoots, female 'kewick'
Teal 10/1/18 R Uncommon. Very small duck. Seen once flying up stream.
Tree Pipit 23/5/15 VS 19 Apr 12 Jun Uncommon. Almost identical to meadow pipit except for voice. Sings from treetop, often ascending song-flight. Song a repetitive lengthy phrase. Ground nester. Moorland, Culm, wood margins.
Treecreeper 18/11/11 R Common. Mouse-like as it climbs in jerky movement up tree-trunk or along under branches. Brilliant white breast reflects ambient light onto trunk enabling it to see hidden insects.
Wheatear 29/4/15 VS 29 Apr Farm & moorland bird, uncommon in our area.
Whitethroat 2/5/14 VS 23 Apr 16 Jul Common Warbler. Nests in thorny hedge. Male brief scratchy song - flight is jerky, soon drops to cover.
Willow Warbler 1/4/14 VS 1 Apr 15 Aug Common Warbler. Likes marshy areas with scrub, Culm, moorland. Song a cascade of liquid notes.
Woodcock 17/11/7 R Uncommon, probably much overlooked. Deciduous woods. Stays to ground until you nearly tread on it. Very cryptic cammo; eyes nearly on top of head; flies with long sensitive beak pointing downwards.
Woodpigeon 1/11/8 R Common. Large, grey, white neck & wing patches. Flies fast.
Wren 12/1/8 R Common. Diminutive size, very loud song all year round. Brown, cocked tail.
Yellowhammer 2/11/7 R Locally common. Male canary yellow head. Chunky with longish tail. Sits up on the wires or hedge. Song 'a little bit of bread & no cheese'. Call a bell-like 'ching'


A list of birds seen in the Webmaster's back garden! Not that many species as yet, but I shall keep my eyes peeled ... if you want to start a list for your garden and send me details then please do!



Blue Tit





Coal Tit




Great Tit




Long-tailed Tit