Sunday, 21 February 2016

Moor & Plymouth Birding

February 15th and a trip up to Warren House Inn on Dartmoor for lunch and a walk wasn't too busy considering it was the half term school holidays. It was a surprise to see the Moor dusted with snow on the higher Tors and it was cold and sunny but breezey and after a nice lunch a walk down to Golden Dagger was wet and muddy and almost bird free! A few robins and carrion crows were the best of it but a brief view of a roe deer disappearing into the forest was soon followed by 3 red deer, my first in Devon - a good view of a male with small, velvet covered antlers and a brief view of 2 others before they all melted away into the trees.

I found some frog spawn in a small puddle by a stream in front of the Inn, I don't know whether it will survive in the cold conditions, and while getting into the car for the drive home a buzzard flew over along with 2 fieldfares and a pair of raven carrying nesting material.

Frog Spawn, Warren House Inn

February 20th and I decided to stay local and with 7+ring necked parakeets being reported regularly in Central Park and Ford Park Cemetery I decided I would go and have a look for them. It was grey and windy with occasional drizzle but during a wander around the Cemetery and nearby Park there was no sight nor sound of any parakeets. I did see the usual birds - goldcrest, greenfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch and blue, great, coal and long tailed tits - along with a song thrush, a nuthatch and a buzzard.

I decided to cut my losses and have a quick look at the River Plym from Laira Bridge where a great crested grebe showed very well and a male red breasted merganser flew over the Bridge downriver towards The Cattewater.

Great Crested Grebe from Laira Bridge

Shelduck, River Plym

The following day and I decided to tackle the River Plym again, heading off to Marsh Mills on the bus to walk upriver again towards Plymbridge. It was still very muddy but the tide was low and the water less murky looking and fast flowing than last week. In the trees were a jay and around 20 siskins while on the water a female and 2 male goosanders showed very well before flying off upriver and a grey wagtail was busily feeding along the waters edge. I also found my target bird very quickly, a dipper feeding in the quieter stretches of water and showing very well, I could see its white eyelids when it blinked.

Female Goosander, River Plym

Male Goosander, River Plym

Dipper, River Plym


Heading downriver from Marsh Mills towards Laira Bridge and there were 5 little grebes on the river near Blaxton Meadow. On the mudflats there were a few common gulls and lesser black backed gulls amongst the usual gull species and a female wigeon was amongst a group of mallards.

Cormorant, River Plym

Female Wigeon, River Plym

A look for the firecrest in the area where I saw it last week drew a blank but 2 skylarks singing over Chelson Meadow was nice to hear. A pair of red breasted merganser flew upriver as the tide came in and from Laira Bridge a common sandpiper showed very well amongst the seaweed with its surprisingly yellow looking legs.

Common Sandpiper, Laira Bridge

Common Sandpiper

I decided to have another look for the parakeets in Central Park, hoping that they might show coming in to roost, but by 5pm I still hadn't seen or heard them and so I headed off home, but I did see 2 ravens, 4 buzzards, a mistle thrush and a sparrowhawk along with the usual species - no parakeets but not a bad list of birds during a spot of doorstep birding.

Magpie, Ford Park Cemetery

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