Friday, 2 May 2014

Catching up with Summer Migrants

Summer migrants are now arriving in numbers and so in between work and wet weather I have been out and about trying to see them.

A quick walk at Wembury Point on 23rd April and the usual suspects were on view - 2 Canada geese resting in the wheatfield, 2 shelduck on the beach by the sewage pipe, 3 whimbrel, a raven flying out to The Mewstone, a female kestrel and singing chiffchaffs and whitethroats. Best sighting was a very smart looking wall butterfly, presumably freshly emerged and my first of the year.

Friday 25th April and I headed off to the River Exe, arriving at Exminster Marsh at 09:30 to be greeted by a singing Cettis warbler in bushes by the RSPB car park. It gave some very close views before disappearing amongst the scrub, and walking around the Marsh more Cettis warblers were seen and heard along with sedge warblers, reed warblers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps, a whitethroat and best of all 3 lesser whitethroats, a bird I do not see that often. The lesser whitethroats were mobile and vocal but gave some great views with 2 birds in the hedges along the railway line near the car park and a third bird in a hedge near the Turf Hotel.

Singing Sedge Warbler, Exminster Marsh

On the Marsh a pair of gadwall and a greenshank were seen with a pair of tufted duck diving on the lagoon. Swallows and sand martins flew over with a single house martin and a peregrine was watching all from a pylon. A hobby flew in from the south and almost casually fed on insects overhead, catching them and eating them in flight as it headed north and out of sight.

 Male Orange Tip, Exminster Marsh
Peacock, Exminster Marsh

I decided to head out to nearby Powderham Marsh, somewhere I haven't visited before, and along the way I met a birder looking for cirl buntings. I know they are in the area but have never seen them here before so suggested he try the RSPB reserve at Labrador Bay near Torquay, not far from where he was staying. He duly left and I headed on and as I passed some stubble fields 2 birds flew up into the hedge and as I got my binoculars on them I found they were a pair of cirl buntings! Another male was also seen busily singing away in a garden by the road. I only hope that the birder did eventually connect with cirl buntings somewhere in Devon.

Powderham Marsh was quiet with a greylag goose amongst the Canada geese, a pair of teal and 2 pairs of tufted duck being the best sightings, with a very smart male reed bunting and a pair of stonechats also being seen.

I then headed off to Dawlish Warren to catch the high tide and in The Bight amongst the roosting oystercatchers, ringed plover and summer plumaged dunlin were 3 whimbrel, a winter plumaged knot and a winter plumaged grey plover. A lone brent goose was resting on the golf course looking a little forlorn but later it did start feeding on the nearby grass.

Male Pheasant, Dawlish Warren

Offshore 4 adult gannets flew west and 12 whimbrel flew east, Sandwich terns were busily diving for fish and on the sea were 2 summer plumaged great crested grebes. Around the main pond 2 reed warblers were singing and a pair of little grebes were feeding 2 chicks with a second pair of adults nearby. A lone sand martin was flying over the water and was showing some interest in the artificial nesting bank.

2 Little Grebe Chicks, Dawlish Warren Main pond

A male sparrowhawk gave a great view perched on a sign before flying off in hunting mode and fortunately didn't notice a very smart male cirl bunting in some nearby bushes with possibly a female bird as well, my first Dawlish Warren sighting. A very large brown rat was seen crossing the footpath near the railway station and it was nice to see some sand crocus still in flower too.

 Male Sparrowhawk, Dawlish Warren
Male Cirl bunting, Dawlish Warren

Sand Crocus, Dawlish Warren

Sunday 27th April and a wet and windy walk to the Avon Dam was quiet bird wise but I did see my first willow warblers of the year along with a male stonechat, a male reed bunting and a grey wagtail, and on the way home I saw some early purple orchids by the roadside near the A38.

Early Purple Orchid

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