Monday, 18 February 2013

Green Winged Teal at St.Johns Ford, Cornwall - 17th February 2013

I caught the bus to HMS Raleigh in Torpoint in Cornwall with a plan to walk along the road to St.Johns Ford but as I set off I noticed a signpost for a public footpath which headed off beside the perimeter fence in the general direction I wanted to go so I took this more pleasent route instead. Luckily this footpath ended up near the sewage farm outlet where the wintering male green winged teal has been showing and after clambering through a small copse I ended up on a tarmac road by the Creek right by the outlet. However it wasn't until I left that I realised this tarmac road was the access road for the sewage farm and was a private road behind locked gates so I had to clamber back through the copse to get back but it did mean I had some good views of my target bird!

Scanning through the Eurasian teal, wigeon and shelduck I eventually found the green winged teal feeding in the creeks before it moved out to the main river channel to feed as the tide went out. Male Eurasian teal are very pretty birds but birds that are easily and regularly seen and a male green winged teal looks very like a Eurasian teal except it lacks the white scapular stripe and has a white vertical bar on its breast so even though it is a British life tick for me it wasn't hugely exciting. Nice to see though, none the less. I did see a male Eurasian teal without a white scapular stripe but also without the white breast bar, maybe a juvenile developing adult plmage?

Other birds seen included 2 snipe, a black tailed godwit, a dunlin, a second winter Mediterranean gull, 2 lesser black backed gulls and a little egret.

On the walk back to Torpoint I saw an adult Mediterranean gull and a small flock of around 20 turnstones feeding at Marine Drive before I caught the ferry back to Plymouth.

As the day was sunny and mild and very pleasent I decided to head off to Ernesettle Creek to look for the lesser yellowlegs and eventually I managed to find it feeding in its usual place just upriver from the slipway. It showed well at times but would disappear amongst the small creeks as it fed and was very wary of nearby redshanks which were quite aggressive towards it at times.

Also seen were up to 3 mobile greenshanks, a few common gulls and lots of teal. Looking across the River Tamar mudflats at the mouth of the Creek I managed to see a small flock of 18 avocets feeding along with 5 great crested grebes (1 in summer plumage), a pair of wigeon, a black tailed godwit and a little egret.

And so it had been a very pleasent and productive day and I didn't miss not having a camera with me too much!

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