Monday 20th February and David took me to Exminster Marshes for a walk to try and see the elusive red breasted goose. It had been reported the day before as showing in a flock of brent geese at Powderham Marsh with another flock of brent geese reported at Exminster Marsh so I had my fingers crossed that I would see it.
David went to have a look around the reclaimation yard by the Swans Nest pub while I headed off to Powderham Marsh. Walking down the lane at Exminster Marsh the brent geese were showing very well in the fields right by the side of the road but a quick scan didn't reveal the red breasted goose so I carried on towards Powderham Marsh.
Reaching Powderhan Marsh my heart began to beat a little faster as a flock of around 200 brent geese were busily feeding in the field right by the side of the path. I managed to get right opposite them as they honked and squabbled noisely as they fed. I did find a bird with green plastic rings on both legs and the bird with a speckled white head that I saw back in January but no sign of the red breasted goose.
I headed back towards Exminster Marsh, meeting David at the Turf Hotel on the way back, seeing avocets and red breasted mergansers on the river as a bird watching boat trip cruised past giving its usual commentary.
On reaching the viewing platform at Exminster Marsh the brent geese had moved to the back of the marsh by the railway line and so we headed back to the car park to get a better look but by the time we got there the geese had all flown downriver towards Powderham! I watched as a large swirling flock of geese flew around the Turf Hotel before they all headed off in the direction of Topsham, presumably with the red breasted goose amongst them - bugger!
A fox was seen wandering across the marsh heading towards where the brent geese were feeding and this may have been the reason why they all flew off towards Powderham. I am beginning to believe that I am just not meant to see this bird!
Anyway, I did find a barnacle goose feeding amongst the Canada geese on the marsh along with a male and 2 female pintail, around 50 golden plover, black tailed godwits and a female stonechat. Gadwall were busy nicking food off the coot on the small reservoir where a female pochard and some tufted duck were busy diving. A peregrine was seen perched on the electricity pylon and a water rail was seen briefly running across the footpath by the canal.
And so we headed back to Plymouth and I had as usual failed to see the red breasted goose - maybe I will have better luck next time?