Saturday, 23 April 2016

Migrant Waders

The original plan for Wednesday 20th April was to head down to Bude with the Outlaws to sort out the caravan but with ongoing emergency repairs being done to the awning we headed off to Thurlestone for a walk instead. It was very windy, surprisingly so, and probably not a good day to be putting up an awning with a pair of 80ish year olds.

The walk from Thurlestone to Hope Cove and back was very windy and did put a damper on birding but I managed some nice sightings. A chiffchaff was feeding in sheltered bushes at South Milton Sands as swallows dashed past at almost supersonic speeds in the strong tail wind. A coot and 2 female teal were on South Huish Marsh along with a surprise winter plumaged grey plover. 2 whimbrel flew west along the shoreline, calling noisely, and later 3 birds were disturbed from the mud by the footbridge over South Milton Ley.

A pair of cirl buntings and a male stonechat were seen along the clifftop along with my first oil beetle of the year - it looked like it had been stood on but was only dazed and not obviously injured so I placed it in cover by the footpath.

Oil Beetle

Friday 22nd April and rain was forecast for the whole day and it was grey, cold and wet but I needed to get out of the house so I headed off to Wembury for a quick hours walk - 10:30hrs bus there, 12:00hrs bus home - but the rain did ease and then stop and as I was having such a good time I stayed until 13:30hrs.

A willow warbler was again singing in the bushes behind the stables, presumably the same bird as last week, and later it was singing in bushes below the church before flying back across the valley towards the stables. Chiffchaffs were vocal and showy and 4 whitethroats were heard too. 2 swallows low around the horse fields looked miserable in the cold and wet weather.

Along the beach were 9 + whimbrel, very vocal and mobile and lovely to see and hear on a crappy weather day. 1 bird had a green plastic ring on its left thigh and a buff coloured one on its right thigh but I can't find any recent details about it on the internet and it may be quite an old ringing scheme as whimbrels are quite long lived. Amongst the rocks were also 3 bar-tailed godwit (2 in smart summer plumage), a common sandpiper and 2 grey plover (1in partial summer plumage) along with oystercatchers but all the birds were very flighty due to disturbance by dog walkers.

 Bar-Tailed Godwit - summer plumage

Bar-Tailed Godwit - winter plumage

Also seen were gannets and fulmars offshore with 3 Sandwich terns heading west, a singing male cirl bunting at The Point with a second bird heard nearby, 3 little egrets and 2 male mallard. No moths or butterflies again and just 1 non-bonking bloody nosed beetle found, not surprising in the bad weather.

Heading home and a nice surprise was a swift over the village, my first of the year and 2 days earlier than last years first sighting. Spring is still slowly creeping in.

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