Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Waders and Warblers

Despite the warm and sunny days it has been quite cool at night but I have had the moth box out twice and have had 5 species of moth - early grey, common quaker, light brown apple moth, Hebrew character and nut tree tussock.

Nut Tree Tussock

My sister Vikki has recently moved to Bristol and so we headed off for a visit on 16th April. On arrival we had a walk with the dog around the nearby Stoke Park in the warm sunshine. I could hear chiffchaffs and blackcaps singing and saw a green woodpecker and a male kestrel. Cowslips were flowering in profusion on the hillside overlooking the M32 and I saw my first orange tips of the year. A trip to the SS Great Britain in the Bristol Docks was very interesting and it was nice to spend some time with Vik and Nik and Jack who we don't see that often.

Kestrel, Stoke Park, Bristol

The next day I headed off by train and bus to Slimbridge for a days birding before the drive back to Plymouth. A hoopoe had been seen the previous day but despite searching all likely areas I didn't find it. A willow warbler singing in trees at Cam and Dursley railway station was a good start and at Slimbridge I heard my first reed warblers and sedge warblers of the year but only managed to see 2 skulking male sedge warblers lurking in the vegetation. Little ringed plovers were much more showy with at least 3 birds seen. A male ruff moulting in to black summer plumage was a nice find and there were around 120+ black tailed godwits feeding around the site, most in summer plumage. 8 avocets were sat on nests on an island in front of the Holden tower with birds seen feeding elsewhere on site. Lapwings, 2 oystercatchers and 5 redshanks completed the wader list for the day.

Little Ringed Plover, Slimbridge - distant record shot

Little Ringed Plover

A pink footed goose was a surprise, feeding with greylag geese and presumably the lone wild bird which turned up last autumn and now doesn't know where to go. A red breasted goose flying past the Zeiss hide with Canada geese was another goosey surprise, presumably an escaped bird but not one from the Slimbridge collection.

Pink Footed Goose

Chiffchaffs, blackcaps, singing but not seen Cettis warblers, 4 swallows, a kingfisher, a peregrine and 2 Mediterranean gulls were the other bird highlights and it was nice to see brimstones, orange tips, green veined whites and peacocks on the wing.

Mangy Robin with leg ring, Slimbridge

Mother and Baby Rat, Slimbridge

Cowslip, Slimbridge


Saturday April 18th and I headed off to Wembury for a walk. It was sunny but with a very strong easterly wind which hampered birding. It was good to see my first whimbrel of the year, around 18 birds in a loose and flighty flock along the beach and amongst the rocks. One bird had an orange plastic ring on its left leg and a silver metal ring on its right. Searching through them I found 2 very smart summer plumaged bar tailed godwits which were equally flighty.

Whimbrel and Bar Tailed Godwit, Wembury

Whimbrel with leg rings, Wembury

Bar Tailed Godwit, Wembury

Whimbrel, Wembury

After a bit of scanning around Wembury Point I found the male Dartford warbler, very active and mobile as usual but giving some nice views. He sang for brief periods before flying off out of sight but there was no sign of the female - hopefully she hasn't been snaffled by a sparrowhawk.

Male Dartford Warbler - another blurry, distant shot

A peregrine patrolled up and down the coast much to the consternation of the 4 swallows around the horse stables which flew up high calling noisely everytime the peregrine flew by. I managed to hear my first  2 male whitethroats of the year quietly singing amongst the sloe blossom and eventually saw a third male singing from the top of brambles before diving in to cover.

Male Whitethroat

Just 2 common lizards were seen basking in the sun and a dead slow worm by the footpath in the valley to the beach was a surprise sight. A male orange tip whizzed past in the strong wind and the toilet block held 3 pug moths - a double striped pug, an oak tree pug and an unknown pug species.

Oak Tree Pug

Lords and Ladies, Wembury

Having missed the bus back to Plymouth I walked up through the village and disturbed 2 red legged partridge near Traine Farm before eventually catching the next bus back to Plymouth, having had some nice sightings of a selection of waders and warblers amongst others over the last few days.


  1. Red-legged Partridge is a bit of a mega for me down here Stuart! One of Glos' commonest birds. Only ever seen 2 at Staddon Heights in 4 years.
    Can't ever find the Dartfords either!
    Good to see you visiting Slimbridge - spent rather too much time there when I lived in Cheltenham.

  2. I rarely see red legged partridge here in Devon but they were very common in Suffolk where I'm originally from. The Wembury area, Stoke Point and Exminster are the only places in Devon I have ever seen them.
    I think I have just been very lucky with the Dartfords, they disappear as quickly as they appear.
    Great day at Slimbridge, I love visiting there.
    And I loved your photos of the purple sandpipers - beautiful purple tinges.