Monday, 8 September 2014

Autumn Migrants

Some decent weather and 3 days off in a row so after leaving work early on September 4th I headed off on the bus to Wembury for a walk. It was hot, sunny and still but I didn't get to Wembury until 5pm and I only had an hour and a half there due to the usual rubbish bus times.

I had hoped to find some yellow wagtails as there have been many sightings along the South Devon coast but I had no luck, seeing plenty of Alba wagtails and a single juvenile grey wagtail instead. The gull flock was still present but with limited time I didn't pay much attention to them. A green woodpecker was feeding in the horse field above the stables before flying off silently and a clouded yellow flitted by and just as I was about to head back to the bus stop for the journey home a large, pale looking raptor overhead caught my eye. Expecting to see a pale buzzard I was shocked and pleasently surprised to find it was an osprey, circling high overhead before drifting off towards the mouth of the River Yealm and spooking all the gulls roosting along the shoreline below the cliffs.

 Osprey, Wembury

 Osprey, Wembury
 Common Blue, Wembury
Red Admiral, Wembury

Friday 5th and we headed off to Perranporth for our yearly trip. It was warm with hazy sunshine and we had a lovely day, enjoying a breakfast at The Watering Hole with the sand between our toes.There were quite a few trout in the stream and with the water level being low they were easy to see as they congregated in the deeper and shadier parts. The flat calm sea was devoid of birds except gulls but fulmars were patrolling the cliffs with one bird seen inland flying over the boating lake! Swallows, 2 ravens, 2 stonechats, 2 wheatears and rock pipits were also seen along with a hummingbird hawkmoth buzzing around the rocks on the clifftops before whizzing away.

 Trout, Perranporth
"Hold on to Your Butt" indeed, Sign at Perranporth Beach

I was feeling knackered on returning home but headed off to Ford Park Cemetery for a moth and bat night, having missed 3 local moth nights recently ( at Saltram, Mount Edgecumbe and Plymbridge Woods). It was interesting hearing about the history of the Cemetery and about bats in general, and walking around I saw a pipistrelle bat and "heard" them on the bat detectors. The mothtraps had ruby tiger, large yellow underwing, orange swift, brimstone moth and either common or gallium carpets in them but there were too many people and children crowding around and as I was tired I headed off home. It also wasn't quite the same without the late John Randall who used to help out at the moth traps, his knowledge and friendly manner being sadly missed.

Saturday 6th and we headed off to Hope Cove for a walk and I finally got to see yellow wagtails with mobile and flighty birds seen in the clifftop fields and including 2 very yellow males. At the bridge at South Milton Ley a whinchat and a whitethroat were seen with a second whinchat perched on the fence near the toilet block by the cafe. South Huish Marsh had a ringed plover, 8 dunlin, a black tailed godwit and a superb wood sandpiper which showed very well despite the nearby cars and people. 2 wheatears, at least 3 sandmartins, 2 1st winter Mediterranean gulls, clouded yellows and a hummingbird hawkmoth were also seen but there were no moths again in the toilet block at Thurlestone golf club.

 Wood Sandpiper in hazy light, South Huish Marsh
 Wood Sandpiper, South Huish Marsh
 Wood Sandpiper, South Huish Marsh
Swallows and Sand Martins at South Huish

Sunday 7th and I headed off to Hayle on the train. The weather was warm and breezey but the tides weren't great and the bus and train times were pretty crap so a trip to Hayle seemed the best compromise. It also meant I got to have a lie in after a pleasant night out enjoying food and drinks at The Dock in Plymouth with Julie and Matt.

Arriving at the bridge at the top of the estuary and the tide was well out. Across the mudflats were loads of gulls - great- and lesser black backed, herring and black headed along with a 2nd winter Mediterranean gull. I spent some time searching through them as I continue to get my head around gull ID but couldn't find anything unusual. Wigeon and teal were feeding, all in eclipse plumage except for a male teal which was almost back in more usual plumage.

I headed off to The Carnsew Pool where there were finally some small waders on show and scanning through the ringed plover and dunlin I had great scope views of a little stint, one of my target birds for the day. Also seen were 2 adult winter plumaged-, a 2nd winter- (with a green plastic leg ring on the right leg) and a 1st winter Mediterranean gull, and a kingfisher flew low over the water towards Ryans Field.

Heading back to the bridge and the tide came in surprisingly quickly. Amongst the curlew, redshank and oystercatchers were a black tailed godwit, at least 3 bar tailed godwit and at least 6 greenshanks being pushed towards the bridge on the incoming tide. A ringed plover and 4 small waders flew upriver and landed in the saltmarsh on the opposite side of the river with 1 of the small waders appearing to have a square white rump but the light was poor and I couldn't get any plumage detail. Eventually they flew across the river towards me before flying over to Ryans Field and it was indeed a curlew sandpiper - slightly larger, square white rump and greyer toned upperparts than the dunlins - and my other target bird of the day. Not great views, hopefully I will catch up with more on the River Exe next week. I tried to find it on Ryans Field amongst the roosting waders but it was tucked away out of sight but I did find a nice male ruff, and the kingfisher from earlier perched on a mud clod by the water.

All in all a good couple of days in lovely autumn weather and with my year list now on 191.

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