Saturday, 11 April 2015

Day Calling Tawny Owls at Noss Mayo

With 3 days off in a row and some good weather I decided to get out and about as much as possible. With a mini influx of hoopoes, ring ouzels and ospreys I kept my fingers crossed and headed off to the coast.

Thursday 9th April and it was hot and sunny but hazy on a walk around Stoke Point. Chiffchaffs were very vocal and showy and I heard a few blackcaps and managed a brief view of a male singing. Stonechats were also vocal and showy but despite searching I couldn't find any Dartford warblers in attendance. A few swallows flew by and 2 male wheatears were seen feeding on grassy areas on the cliff side. Cirl buntings were very noticeable, the most I have seen on this walk before, and I managed to find 2 male yellowhammers near The Warren car park before they flew off. Buzzards, kestrels and ravens flew along the cliffs and a peregrine was seen high over Noss Mayo before heading off towards Plymouth.

My first speckled woods, walls and commas of the year were seen along with peacocks, small tortoiseshells and a brief view of a white sp. before it disappeared from view. A female oil beetle was also seen digging a hole in the mud on the footpath - I carefully moved it on to some mud nearby and out of harms way from walkers boots.



The highlight were 3 tawny owls calling in Ferry Wood at Noss Mayo, one bird "tu-wu" ing and 2 birds "kewick"ing.  It sounded most strange in the bright sunlight, especially the "tu-wu"ing and I tried to find them amongst the trees but had no luck. I have heard tawny owls calling in the daytime once before - 2 birds on a sunny day in February at Wembury a few years ago - and I have sent my sighting (or rather hearing) to the BTO who are conducting research in to this phenomena.

Friday 10th and the skys were grey and cloudy and it was quite cool compared to the previous day. A quick walk along the footpath at Wembury was fairly quiet with chiffchaffs, blackcaps and cirl buntings seen and heard. A green woodpecker was heard yaffling but I couldn't find it. Just 1 common lizard was seen in the cloudy conditions and I found a moth at the window of the toilet block, a male dotted border. I did at least manage to get a steak pasty in the cafĂ© this time!

Violet sp., Wembury Point

Another Violet sp., Wembury Point (larger flowers than above)

Male Dotted Border, Wembury

Saturday 11th and I headed off to Rame Head in Cornwall, a place I have visited a few times but have never really explored or birded before (except for a twitch a few years ago to see an Iberian chiffchaff). It can be a good place to sea watch from in the right conditions and I have wanted to do a reccy there for some time. The bus dropped me off at Whitsand Bay and I walked along the coast to Rame Head and then to Cawsands, catching the ferry back to Plymouth, and it was an enjoyable walk. It was sunny but cold and breezey following overnight rain and this had a bit of a dampner on birding. I did hear a willow warbler and blackcaps singing and chiffchaffs were seen and heard. A swallow around some farm buildings and a second bird mobbing a sparrowhawk at Cawsands were nice to see and a Sandwich tern diving for fish close to shore at Penlee Point were the only other summer migrants seen.

Rame Head Chapel

Rame Head from Penlee Point

I managed to find 3 yellowhammers and a pair of cirl buntings on the cliff sides and offshore a few gannets and fulmars were seen. A female sparrowhawk was in hunting mode low over the gorse while buzzards and kestrels flew overhead. A group of fallow deer were also feeding amongst the cliffside vegetation but were very nervous looking and often retreated in to deeper cover. A speckled wood and a few peacocks were also seen in more sheltered spots.


Fallow Deer

Peacock in Primroses

And so I failed to find any of the previous mentioned birds - I had considered a trip to Polgigga in Cornwall to look for hoopoes that have been seen there but didn't fancy the 6 hour round trip to get there and back. Maybe next week?

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