Saturday, 13 September 2014

Wryneck at Wembury

Thursday 11th September and a day out to the beach at Cawsand didn't happen as the ferry wasn't running due to the continuing strong Easterly breeze and so we headed off to Jennycliff beach instead, catching the ferry to Mount Batten and walking along the coast path. I have never been to the beach at Jennycliff before, not the best or prettiest beach but with an amazing view across Plymouth Sound. The footpath down the cliff to the beach was closed following the bad winter weather but we snuck through a gap in the railings and made it down safely over the remains of the steps and pretty much had the beach to ourselves.

7 common sandpipers flew off from the shoreline when we arrived, heading towards Mount Batten and later 4 came back to feed amongst the rocks. 2 kingfishers flew low over the water towards Bovisand and along the beach a grey wagtail was feeding amongst the Alba wagtails. A chiffchaff was singing in the cliffside undergrowth, sounding very mournful at this time of year, and robins were vocal and showy too.

Lime Speck Pug, Back Yard

Friday 12th September and with a night shift looming I headed off to Wembury for a walk and with recent sightings of wrynecks along the coast of Devon and Cornwall I kept a look out for this elusive bird. It was cloudy and breezey but eventually cleared up and was pleasantly sunny and warm despite the Easterly breeze. As I headed down the valley to the beach a flock of hirundines was hawking over the main beach - 100+ swallows, 20 +house martins and 3+sand martins. At one point they flew low over the sea, looking like storm petrels, with a few birds dipping in to the water.

A look in the horse field by the riding stables and amongst the Alba wagtails and meadow pipits I found a yellow wagtail just as it took to the air, flying off to perch on the barbed wire fence at the back of the field before flying off East. A flock of feeding goldfinch and linnet had a few greenfinch amongst them and at one point everything took to the air and flew around and I found another yellow wagtail which also flew off East and out of sight.

Heading off along the coast path and 2 bar tailed godwit were roosting with oystercatchers at Wembury Point along with 3 little egrets. Gannets were diving offshore with large splashes and a few fulmar drifted by. A pair of cirl buntings, a wheatear in the lower horse field and a singing chiffchaff were also seen along with 4 clouded yellows, small copper, red admiral, speckled wood, common blue, a comma and small- and large whites. The toilet block had a flounced rustic and 2 small blood veins inside which I caught and released outside.

 Small Blood Vein, Wembury
 Faded Clouded Yellow, Wembury Point
 Small Copper, Wembury
Common Darter ? , Wembury

I bumped in to Plymouth birder Russ and another birder near the riding stables and we had a chat about what's around, commenting that it felt like a wryneck day before heading off in opposite directions. I then wandered along the path up the valley from the main beach and flushed a small bird from the footpath in front of me and as I caught a glimpse of it I realised it was a wryneck! It flew off into a clump of sallows where it amazingly sat and preened for a while out in the open before a wretched female blackcap appeared and chased it off in to deeper cover! I waited around for a while but it didn't reappear and so when David arrived shortly after we headed off to have a pasty and coffee on the beach, enjoying the September sunshine before heading home. Not a bad day with my 3rd UK wryneck sighting - all having been at Wembury and mainly a case of good luck, right place at the right time - and only spoilt by having to do a night shift that night.

 Wryneck, Wembury
 Wryneck, Wembury
Wryneck, Wembury

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