Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Ruddy Shelduck at Bude

With 3 days off together the plan was to head down to the caravan at Bude for a few days but Friday 29th August was cool, cloudy and breezey and so I headed off to Wembury on the bus for a walk before the drive to Bude.

The sun did actually shine a little but by the time David came to pick me up and we had had a pasty for lunch it began to rain. It was fairly quiet bird wise and there was no sign of any yellow wagtails which I had hoped to see but highlights were:- a turnstone (first of the Autumn here), 17 oystercatcher and 2 ringed plover along the beach ; the flock of gulls were still roosting along the beach and feeding in the stubble field but I didn't pay a lot of attention to them although there were more adult lesser black backed gulls amongst the flock and a nice 1st Winter Mediterranean gull (first of the year here); and in the hedgerow by the sewage farm were a female cirl bunting with 3 fledglings.

Scanning offshore and I managed to pick out a few Manx shearwater passing by, distant views with the birds upperparts looking surprisingly dark or light depending on the sunshine. I counted at least 20 in 10 minutes of scanning with the birds all heading West in 1's or 2's. A few gannets and fulmars were also seen but I did pick up what looked like a large shearwater heading West as a rain squall came in, a distant view of a brown looking bird as it banked up from the wave troughs with a languid flick of the wings before corkscrewing back down with another languid flick of the wings. It did this 4 times before I lost sight of it behind The Mewstone, its flight manner totally distinct from the jittery nervousness of the Manx shearwaters but as to what it was, who knows?

 Dark Bush Cricket (female), Wembury
 Common Lizard, Wembury
Long Winged Conehead, Wembury

Arriving home to pack the car up for the trip to Bude and a nice find was a hummingbird hawkmoth buzzing around the front garden before zooming off towards the park, the first in the garden for a few years now.

Bude was wet and windy when we finally arrived at the caravan and only 2 adult gannets were seen on a brief look from the clifftops. The water level at Maer Lake was much higher but with some nice muddy areas around the edges. Gulls were busy bathing and preening and hunkering down in the wind and drizzle and mist, and one bird caught my eye, with dark upperparts, a white rump and a neat black tail band in flight and a pale head but what species was it? It was very lesser black backed gull like and the bill did not appear particularly heavy but in the poor light and conditions and distance I could not be sure before it flew off, never to return. Maybe a pale first winter lesser black backed gull or maybe a yellow legged gull or maybe a herring gull? I am beginning to have nightmares about gulls!



The weather did improve the following day but the gull never returned. I did visit Maer Lake a few times each day and saw maximum totals of 5 black tailed godwits, 14 dunlin, 6 redshank, 1 common sandpiper, 15 curlew and 1 peachy washed juvenile knot. Numbers fluctuated on each visit, either birds were leaving and arriving, tucked out of sight or moving between Bude Marshes and Maer Lake. A smart looking adult winter plumaged Mediterranean gull was also a nice find amongst the roosting black headed gulls.

Offshore a few gannets and fulmars were seen and a turnstone was seen along the river near the main beach. The most unusual sighting was a female ruddy shelduck which had been reported recently but not for a few days before our visit. It flew over as I walked up to the clifftops early on Saturday morning, landing in a stubble field and feeding amongst a large flock of Canada geese. Ruddy shelducks often appear in Cornwall at this time of year and are assumed to be from the feral population that moult in The Netherlands but no-one knows for sure.

 Ruddy Shelduck (female)
Ruddy Shelduck

Grey Heron, Bude

Mullett, Bude

I had hoped for some different moths in the moth trap as I have never used the trap at the caravan at this time of year before but with the recent cool and wet weather I was a bit disappointed with only 12 species being caught. Common wainscot was the most numerous moth but flounced rustic, Acleris laterana, Pandemis cerasana and pebble prominent were good to see.

 Acleris laterana, Bude
Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana), Bude

I have also had the trap out out in the back yard with slightly more varied catches including my first old lady of the year and a good total of 9 Vines rustic.

 Vines Rustic, Back Yard
Old Lady, Back Yard

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