Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Three Grebe Day on The River Plym

Thursday 14th January and a sunny day with a bracingly cold wind and I decided to head off to Wembury for a walk, my first walk there for 2016. I expected it to be muddy and indeed it was, more so than on my pre-Christmas visit, but I managed to navigate the path again without incident.

A few gannets were distantly offshore and fulmars were prospecting the cliffs of The Mewstone. A pair of bullfinch were in the valley to the beach, the male looking stunning in the bright sunlight. 3 song thrush were heard singing strongly with a fourth bird seen and a kestrel and buzzard were seen flying over.

There was a good count of 57 oystercatchers feeding in the stubble field and occasionally they were being harassed by nearby carrion crows when they found food. A further 17 oystercatcher were roosting at The Point giving a good count of 74 oystercatchers in total. 3 curlew and 8 little egrets were also roosting along the beach with the oystercatchers.

Shag, Wembury Point

The seaweed mass near the sewage pipe was much diminished from my previous visit but as I approached I disturbed a common sandpiper feeding on it and it flew off low over the water towards The Point. Scanning around and I quickly found a water pipit feeding on the seaweed mass, presumably the bird I saw before Christmas  - again it was very aggressive towards any rock pipits that dared to venture near to it, constantly chasing them off. A female type black redstart was feeding along the nearby cliffs but was very unobtrusive and quite elusive at times.

 Water Pipit, Wembury Point

 Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Heading home and I stopped off at Laira Bridge over The River Plym where a black necked grebe has been reported for the past few days but at first all I could find were 3 little grebes. However as I scanned around as the tide receded I eventually found the black necked grebe and it gave some nice views despite rarely spending long at the surface. As I watched the grebes a great northern diver drifted downriver, spooking the grebes into flight when it dived underneath them. Scanning upriver and I also found a great crested grebe, the first time I have seen one on The Plym.

Black Necked Grebe with Little Grebe, River Plym

 Black Necked Grebe

 Black Necked Grebe

Great Northern Diver, River Plym

Also seen were 2 greenshank, a very beautiful kingfisher, looking resplendent in the sunlight, 4 little egrets and a flyover grey wagtail before it was time to head home to catch up on chores.

Kingfisher, River Plym


And so a 3 grebe day on the River Plym - my first black necked grebe, my first great crested grebe and 3 little grebes - and only my second ever sighting of a black necked grebe in the Plymouth area. 

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