Thursday, 19 February 2015

First moth of 2015

A sunny Sunday 15th Feb. and a walk at Wembury was only marred by the crowds - well, it was sunny, a Sunday and the beginning of half term holiday hell. At least the cafe was open and I got to have a Chunk pasty for lunch.

I managed to see both the female type black redstart and common sandpiper along the beach but couldn't find either of the water pipits amongst the mobile and flighty rock- and meadow pipits.

Male Mallard, Wembury

Female Mallard, Wembury

I did get to see my first moth of the year though, a male pale brindled beauty, albeit a little faded. It was on the outside of the window of the mens toilet block and is a new species of moth for me.

 Male Pale Brindled Beauty (females are flightless)
Pale Brindled Beauty, Wembury

Tuesday 17th Feb. and the last day of my time off work was also sunny and bright. With a new pair of walking shoes to break in after my 7 year old pair split and leaked we headed off to Lopwell Dam for a walk. Highlights along the River Tavy were 4 avocets, 2 greenshank, 2 little grebes and a kingfisher. 2 mistle thrush flew over and ravens and buzzards were soaring over the woods, croaking and mewing respectively, with the ravens in tumbling flight sorties. Above the Dam were 5 muscovy ducks and another little grebe but with the cafe closed we headed to nearby Buckland Abbey for something to eat where I saw a few redwings in the trees and a flyover grey wagtail.

Greenshank and Mallards, River Tavy
After having such a nice time off work (ate too much, drank too much, slept a lot, saw some nice birds) it was back to the grindstone on the 18th Feb. However I then had the 19th to myself but my planned days birding went out of the window with a day of heavy rain forecasted. By 1pm the rain had stopped so I headed off to the River Plym for a look around, thinking that if the rain returned it wasn't too far away from home. The yellow browed warbler had been reported again yesterday in its usual place, a surprise as I had assumed it may have succumbed in the recent cold spell due to a lack of recent reports. As usual there was no sight or sound of it and as I was in no mood to play hide and seek today I walked over Laira Bridge and along The Ride to Saltram Park.
It was very muddy underfoot in the Park but my new walking shoes kept my feet nice and dry and despite it being half term it was very quiet due to the bad weather. The usual birds were seen in the Park including a jay, nuthatches, 2 mistle thrush, a male kestrel, a female sparrowhawk, 2 displaying stock doves and goldcrests. A flock of around 30 very wary redwings were perched in trees, flying down to the ground to feed with starlings before returning to the trees. They also occasionally flew to the nearby wood where they greedily snatched at ivy berries before flying back to the trees. Best bird though was a firecrest feeding in a loose mixed flock of blue, great, coal and long tailed tits. At first I had brief and frustrating views as it fed amongst the ivy and holly, constantly on the move, but after a patient wait I managed some great views despite the fading light as it fed in the top of a bare tree. 
Walking back over Laira Bridge to the yellow browed warbler spot and again there was no sight or sound of it as the rain began to fall but a nice kingfisher on the rocks by Blagdons Boatyard was a nice end to a wet and muddy but interesting walk.


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