Sunday, 10 January 2016

New Year in Devon - Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret

A few days of annual leave after the Christmas and New Years Frenzy was just right for winding down after all the festivities and a chance to get out birding properly with kids back to school and adults back at work.

Monday 4th and on a walk to the allotment to pick some veggies for dinner a male blackcap was feeding in the ivy by the small pond behind the aquarium, a brief view before it disappeared into cover but a nice find.

Tuesday 5th and we headed off to Burrator for a walk on a sunny but breezey day. With all the recent rain the reservoir was full and overflowing the dam and the ground saturated and boggy but at least the walk around the reservoir on the road was easy going and dry and mud free. A male goosander, a cormorant, 2 little grebe, 2 Muscovy duck and 3 white feral geese were on the water with the mallards and a treecreeper circling up a moss covered pine tree was a nice find. A photographer at the top car park was tempting birds close to his lens with some seeds and nuts and amongst the coal, blue and great tits were a few marsh tits and nuthatches. 2 roe deer feeding out in the open close to the road were a surprise and totally unfazed by the cars and people passing by.

Roe Deer, Burrator Reservoir

Wednesday 6th and it was off to see the new Star Wars film (very good) but before heading off to Vue a quick walk around Plymouth Hoe in the sunshine and flat calm conditions revealed the little grebe still on Sutton Harbour, a distant great northern diver in Jennycliff Bay and a brief view of the black redstart at Rusty Anchor.

Oystercatcher, Rusty Anchor

Thursday 7th and a walk from Thurlestone village to South Huish Marsh and back was very invigorating in the sunshine and strong winds with rough seas and waves crashing onto the shore. Thurlestone Marsh continues to be trashed as it is converted into arable land but South Huish Marsh was totally flooded, the first time I have seen it like this. Searching through the birds and I had a brief view of an orange head before it disappeared in the sedges and presumably belonging to the long staying ruddy shelduck. My other target bird was much more accomodating, a juvenile glossy ibis feeding amongst the flooded grass and looking stunning in the strong sunlight with beautiful green and purple irridescent feathers but a face only an ibis could love.

 Glossy Ibis and Teal, South Huish Marsh

 Glossy Ibis, Black Headed Gull and Teal, South Huish Marsh

Friday 8th and it was off to Topsham on the train, £9.90 for a single after 09:00 but a staggering £17.30 before 09:00! I arrived at the hide at Bowling Green Marsh just after 11:00 to find the Marsh too was well flooded and covered in wildfowl - mostly wigeon, teal, mallard and Canada geese but amongst them I found gadwall, shoveler, pintail, 2 male pochard, a pair of tufted duck, a coot and greylag geese. The tide was low so the only waders on show were lapwing and curlew with a flyover greenshank and redshank. Unfortunately I couldn't find the wintering American wigeon amongst the wigeon flock but it was reported as being present that day - never mind.

 Pair of Wigeon, Bowling Green Marsh

Male Wigeon, Bowling Green Marsh

Walking to the viewing platform and a large flock of brent geese were feeding in the grassy field by the path giving some great views, the first time I have seen them here. From the platform a spotted redshank showed very well with redshank, grey plover and dunlin also seen. A large flock of avocets were seen downriver but they were distant and a few distant red breasted mergansers were diving in the river. A large flock of black tailed godwit were resting out on the mudflats, again distant views, and 2 adult common gulls were feeding amongst the black headed gulls.

Spotted Redshank, River Clyst Viewing Platform

Daffodils, Topsham Goatwalk

After meeting David and having lunch in The Lighter Inn we walked over to Darts Farm. The light was fading and it was difficult to scan through the large finch flock feeding in the stubble as they were very mobile and flighty, not helped by the attentions of a male sparrowhawk. I eventually found a juvenile reed bunting and a female brambling amongst the chaffinch, greenfinch and goldfinch before they were lost amongst the moving flock. A few redwing and fieldfare were very skulky in the trees before flying off and a great spotted woodpecker was equally evasive, maybe due to the ongoing prescence of the sparrowhawk.

The highlight though was a cattle egret feeding in the field in front of the hide with little egrets, presumably one of the birds I saw at Teigngrace in November last year, and a nice end to a good day out.

Cattle Egret between Little Egrets, Darts Farm

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