Sunday, 27 January 2013

Some Gems amongst the Dips

I have been out and about quite a bit over the last week, making the most of my time off and the dry weather. I have seen some good wildlife but have missed a few things too but overall it has been pretty good.

Sunday 20th and I headed off to Marsh Mills and the River Plym to look for a reported Jack snipe with 40+ snipe but I failed to see them. I think they may have been at the flooded woodland area in Saltram Park but I didn't have the time to walk there as I had to get home to write my essay for the course I did in London in November - never mind. I did see a lovely pair of siskins drinking from a puddle by the side of the footpath, very good views despite all the walkers, joggers and cyclists passing by. I also saw a common sandpiper, a male and 7 female red breasted mergansers and a male and 2 female wigeon (unusual for the Plym).

Surprise sight was a roe deer I disturbed from the vegetation on the small area of land bordered by the river and the railway line at Marsh Mills. I had found some poo which I thought were deer droppings just as it ran noisely out of the bushes, my first Plymouth roe deer.

Monday 21st and a brief and muddy walk along the path at Wembury didn't provide any unusual sightings of displaced birds from the Arctic weather further East in the UK. Song thrush were more noticeable, a flock of 100+ skylark in the fields above the car park at Wembury Point and 9 golden plover flying over the road near Down Thomas were the only indications of bird displacement. A lone dunlin and just 2 turnstones were roosting on the beach with the oystercatchers and a smart adult Mediterranean gull was feeding in the stubble field with black headed gulls. Despite a quick search I couldn't find the water pipit along the beach.

Thursday 24th and a walk along the coast at Stoke Point was cold and muddy but at least it was calm and sunny. Song thrush were again very noticeable along with meadow pipits. 2 raven flew over calling and tumbling and a lone female stonechat was seen. Offshore gannets were diving for fish and a small raft of auks was seen diving quite a way out, seeming to be mainly razorbills with a few guillemot. Male pheasents seemed to be eveywhere, no doubt from the nearby pheasent shoots.

Friday 25th and it was my annual Stuart Line boat trip on the River Exe with Mavis and Mike. The weather forecast was dire with rain and gales forecast as the cold spell starts to come to an end and I was worried the trip might have been cancelled but it wasn't too bad in the end. The drive from Yelverton to Ashburton over the Moors was beautiful in the snowy landscape but on getting on the boat at Exmouth it started to rain and was bitterly cold in the strong breeze. It did eventually stop raining and didn't start again until we were getting off the boat which was lucky.

From the boat in between wiping my watering eyes we saw some great birds. The female long tailed duck showed well along with red breated mergansers, 3 male and 9 female goldeneye, 4 great crested grebes, a little grebe and 4 Slavonian grebes. The usual waders were seen including 3 greenshank and lots of avocets but we dipped the spotted redshank which has been frequenting the River Kenn mouth at Powderham.

On the way home we stopped off at Bowling Green Marsh but the light was poor and it was wet and windy. However the Marsh was packed full of birds, the most I have ever seen here before. Wigeon, lapwing and black tailed godwits were everywhere and amongst them we found a lone bar tailed godwit, grey plover, redshank and dunlin. I checked all the dunlin groups I could, looking for the recently reported wintering curlew sandpiper but with no luck. Pochard, tufted duck, shoveler and teal were also seen along with a single grey heron and a single little egret. Arriving back home in Plymouth I was glad to get indoors in the warm and dry but it had been a very good day out.

 Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwit at Bowling Green Marsh
 Wigeon and Black tailed Godwit - one godwit has colour rings on its legs which I didn't notice at the time!
Grey Plover at Bowling Green Marsh

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