Saturday, 23 September 2017

Double Dip

Thursday 21st September and a lovely autumnal afternoon and so after leaving work at 3pm I headed home on the bus via Marsh Mills for a walk along the River Plym to Laira Bridge. I had hoped to see the female red crested pochard that has been reported a few times recently but was out of luck. However I did see a male mandarin duck with mallards at the Plympton road bridge, more mallards along the estuary, a kingfisher and a male stonechat at Blaxton Meadow, a greenshank with redshanks near the Sainsbury Creek and a large and noisey flock of Canada geese out on the water - but still dip number 1.

Friday 22nd September and I decided to head to Topsham again for the high tide roost at Bowling Green Marsh, catching an early train and arriving at the hide at 8:30am-ish. The hide was packed and the light awful in the bright sunshine but I did get some good views of 2 curlew sandpiper, 2 ruff, a lapwing, 3 avocet, a whimbrel, a snipe, a bar tailed godwit and a partial summer plumaged knot amongst the dunlin, redshank, greenshank, black tailed godwit and curlew but there was no sign of any of the recently reported little stints. Somebody did call a little stint amongst the dunlin but before I could get on to it a sparrowhawk flew over putting everything up and it was never seen again.

Amongst the shoveler, teal, wigeon, pintail, gadwall and mallard I had a brief view of what I am sure was a juvenile garganey, quite orange toned and with a distinct facial pattern. It went to sleep amongst a group of ducks but it too was spooked by the sparrowhawk and I lost sight of it. A fox, a kingfisher, a jay, the dunlin eating adult lesser black backed gull, a small tortoiseshell and red admirals were also noted.

From the viewing platform there was no sign of any ospreys but I did see a Sandwich tern perched on a bouy downriver and 2 common sandpipers flying up the River Clyst. Oystercatchers and grey plovers were out on the mudflats amongst the feeding waders which included 2 curlew sandpipers, presumably the Bowling Green birds seen earlier.

I  had a brief and distant view of a smaller wader feeding alongside a dunlin out on the mud before everything took to the air again but I had a feeling it was a runty dunlin and not a little stint.

And so a pleasent days birding but disappointment at dipping little stint - dip number 2 - and I should have gone to Hayle instead (70 pence more for the train fare) where 3 were seen along with 3 curlew sandpipers and a grey phalarope - never mind!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Wryneck, Wembury

Friday 15th September and after taking Mother Outlaw to see Father Outlaw at the nursing home we took a drive to Topsham for the afternoon where David looked around the shops while I did some birding. A quick look from a packed hide at Bowling Green Marsh didn't reveal much and so I carried on to the viewing platform where I just missed an osprey catching a fish off Turf. A small group of grey plover with 1 bird still in smart summer plumage were out on the small amount of mud still on show on the incoming tide before I moved on to The Goatwalk where I watched 4 Sandwich tern fishing and had distant views of 6 roe deer in a field on the Haldon Hill escarpment.

Black headed Gull, The Goatwalk

Back to the hide and waders were beginning to arrive and amongst the dunlin and ringed plover I found at least 2 curlew sandpipers which gave some nice views despite being very nervous and flighty. Curlew, redshank, black tailed godwit and greenshank were also seen along with shoveler, teal, wigeon and mallard. I then met up with David and we headed over to Darts Farm for something to eat and a look around the shops before heading back to Plymouth.

Saturday 16th September and with grotty weather forecast for the afternoon I headed off in the morning to Wembury for a walk. No moths in the toilet block but a few butterflies were flitting around in the occasional sunny spells - red admiral, large white, small copper and speckled wood - and 3 common lizards were also enjoying the sun as they basked on the fencing.

Common Lizard, Wembury

Common Lizard, Wembury

It felt very autumnal, cool with sunny spells and very pleasent and with a feel of birds on the move. From the riding stable track I scanned a kettle of herring gulls circling over the cliffs towards Stoke Point hoping an osprey might have been with them but with no luck. However a falcon was circling at the top of the kettle which I thought may have been a peregrine especially when it stooped and headed towards me but as it levelled out over the fields in front of me I was pleased to see it was a hobby, only my second Wembury sighting of one, and it was quickly followed by a second bird as it dashed over the hill and out of sight. A short while later I saw a hobby soaring over the cliffs again towards Stoke Point before it headed inland over Wembury church where it was again joined by a second bird - presumably the 2 I had seen a short time earlier or maybe another 2 birds?

18 Canada geese were feeding in the stubble field with assorted herring gulls and I picked out a probable juvenile yellow legged gull but just as I was getting my scope out for better views the gulls all took to the air and I lost sight of it. A curlew, 2 little egrets and oystercatchers were on the rocks and along the beach meadow pipits were feeding amongst the rock pipits and I could hear birds passing overhead. The pied wagtails along the beach also included a few white and 2 grey wagtails flew over together. Offshore a few gannets were seen along with a juvenile peregrine flying west low over the water - later at the bus stop while waiting for the bus home an adult and juvenile peregrine circled overhead before heading off east.

Chiffchaffs were seen and heard, swallows and house martins flitted around overhead and 2+ whitethroat were skulking in the brambles at The Point. A spotted flycatcher was feeding amongst the pine trees at The Point, only my 3rd Wembury sighting, and there may have been a second bird present as I watched it chase after another bird that I lost from view.

A passing birder had given me the heads up about the spotted flycatcher and also news of a wryneck feeding in the grassy field by the pines and after a bit of a search I managed to find the wryneck on the ground amongst the tussocks where I had some great views, my best views ever in the UK and my 4th Wembury sighting, although it was quite flighty at times and sometimes quite elusive - cue yet more of my usual quality record shots.

 Wryneck, Wembury

 Wryneck

 Wryneck

 Wryneck

 Wryneck

Wryneck

And so quite an eventful morning at Wembury and luckily the rain didn't start until I had arrived back home.