Sunday, 6 March 2011

Wembury 6th March

A day off sandwiched between two late shifts and David working an early shift saw me heading out on the bus to Wembury for a look to see if I could see the Slavonian grebe, great northern diver and Dartford warbler that have recently been reported here. The bus service has become less frequent over the years and nearly ceased operating last November due to funding cuts and now the service is being revised again and services will stop running on Sundays in April. I don't often travel out to Wembury on Sundays as it tends to be very busy with a lot of disturbance to the wildlife but it is nice to have the option to.

View from Wembury towards Stoke Point

It was grey and overcast with a stiff breeze and quite chilly after a week of sunshine and warm temperatures but it wasn't too busy with walkers so disturbance was minimal.

The Slavonian grebe was found easily enough between the shore and The Mewstone, diving regularly and gradually moving nearer to shore giving good views. It lacked the crisp whiteness of winter plumage as it starts to moult into summer plumage. No sign of the diver but searching for it provided the highlight of the day in the form of at least 10 bottle nosed dolphins heading East offshore!

I was scanning the sea when a large splash caught my eye before being followed by good views of dorsal fins of a pod of dolphins moving purposefully and speedily East. A young calf was seen leaping out of the water and at least 10 dolphin fins were counted. The large size and dark grey colour and distinct fin shape identified them as bottle nosed. They eventually slowed down and were swimmimg around more loosely before moving East around Stoke Point where they were lost from sight. Amazing! My first dolphin sighting for Wembury.

No sign or sound of any Dartford Warblers but it was cold, overcast and breezey but the mixed finch/bunting flock was still present in the usual field and still very flighty. It seemed larger then previous visits with at least 40+ birds present, mainly yellowhammers of which 9 bright yellow males were counted together. 6 male and 2 female cirl buntings were also counted along with chaffinch and a meadow pipit but numbers were difficult to assess due to their high mobility and skitishness.A yellowhammer was heard quietly singing amongst them.

Along the beach a lone curlew was seen with turnstone and oystercatcher and the winter plumaged water pipit showed really well on the rocks near the sewage pipe. A rock pipit of the littoralis race (Scandanavian rock pipit) was found amongst the rock pipits on the beach developing the pinkish/peach breast wash and bluish head wash of summer plumage, the first I have seen or at least noticed and identified.

Sadly the decomposing body of a presumed harbour porpoise was found on the beach with a tag on its tail from the Devon Wildlife Trust advising not to touch it but it was quite juicy and gruesome looking which should be enough to put people off, it certainly did me!

Remains of a rather juicy harbour porpoise

On a happier note a raven was seen flying back and forth along the coast calling noisely and tumbling onto its back at times, such a lovely bird and so manoueverable considering its suprisingly large size, dwarfing the jackdaws that occasionally mobbed it as it flew over.

All in all a great 3 hour walk, I love Wembury, it is one of my most favourite places on Earth.

The Mewstone at Wembury Point

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