Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Sandpiper Deja vu

A walk around Stoke Point on September 1st after finishing night shifts was very pleasent in the warm, hazy sunshine and high cloud. No yellow wagtails but I did see 2 wheatear, stonechats, a male yellowhammer, cirl buntings, 2 kestrel, 2 buzzards, a raven, swallows, house martins and gannets.


No clouded yellows either but I did see small tortoiseshell, red admiral, painted lady, large white, common blue, holly blue, meadow brown, small white and speckled wood. A rose chafer was also seen buzzing around ivy flowers, looking resplendently metallic green in the sunshine, and it was nice to see Autumn squill growing on the usual footpath bankside in numbers I haven't seen before.

 Meadow Brown - mating pair

 Grass Veneer Sp.

Autumn Squill

I had the mothbox out in the backyard that night and the next morning had a nice selection of moths but no large ranunculus. There were 30+ large yellow underwings neurotically flapping around in the trap and disturbing everything else, the first big count for the backyard this year, along with 5 Vines rustic and lots of wasps. I had been very careful around the wasps as I am allergic to their stings but after putting the trap away and looking at the moths I had potted up I was stung on the left boob, a crafty wasp had climbed into my clothes and given me a nasty sting. I immediately took some anti-histamine and some brufen but it soon became red, swollen, itchy and very painful and has taken a few days now to improve but hasn't been as bad as the last time I was stung as a kid.

Sunday 4th September and we had a walk along the coastpath at Thurlestone on a overcast and breezey but warm day. The maintenance work at South Huish Marsh has been completed and the pools were nicely filled from the recent rain but they were also totally waderless. It was also good to see the footpath has been moved and no longer weaves around the hedge of the grassy field where the cliff collapsed a few years ago and now provides a much more easier and scenic path for walkers.

The field by the car park overlooking the marsh held the most interest with 2 wheatears and around 10 yellow wagtails feeding with pied/alba wagtails, linnets, starlings and meadow pipits. The yellow wagtails were very nervous and flighty and difficult to keep track off as they regularly flew around and disappeared amongst the tufty grass but I reckon there were at least 10 birds with 3 seen on the ground and 3 in the air at one point. A whitethroat, a chiffchaff, stonechats and a whinchat were also seen feeding along the barbed wire fence of a sheltered field edge.

 Yellow Wagtail with Starlings - record shot

 Yellow Wagtail - record shot

Whinchat - record shot

The toilet block at Thurlestone golf course actually had some moths inside - 7 snout, 2 double striped pugs, a square spot rustic, a small bloodvein and a Mullein wave - but unfortunately I had no pots with me so couldn't catch them to release outside.

 Mullein Wave

Small Bloodvein

Monday 5th September and a day to myself saw me heading off to Bowling Green Marsh again on a warm and humid and cloudy day, arriving at the hide and finding a seat this time at around 09:15hrs. The tide was high and I quickly found a spotted redshank roosting amongst the redshank, curlew, black tailed godwit and dunlin. Even better was spotting my target bird, an osprey, circling over the River Clyst before heading off up the Exe and out of view. A fellow birder found the long staying wood sandpiper feeding along the shoreline amongst a large roost of black headed gulls but it disappeared behind some vegetation and was never seen again. A green sandpiper also repeated last weeks views as it flew up from vegetation along the river channel in front of the hide where it had been feeding unobserved and disappearing off towards Goosemoor.

I headed off to the viewing platform to look for the osprey but the only bird on show at the high tide was a wheatear on the garden wall of Riversmeet House. I carried on to the Goatwalk and a brief scan found the osprey low over the water near Turf Locks, it vigourously shook itself in mid air before gaining height as it carried off a large fish it had just caught and which I had just missed seeing. It continued to gain height as it arched around before dropping down into trees at Turf and out of sight.

Black Tailed Godwits off The Goatwalk

Back at the hide and 2 yellow wagtails dropped in briefly before flying off again towards Exminster Marsh and I had some brief views of a curlew sandpiper amongst the roosting waders before birds began flying off towards the River Clyst on the receding tide. Heading back to the viewing platform and I found 2 curlew sandpipers feeding on the mudflats amongst the dunlins.

After a spot of lunch in Topsham I headed down to the recreation ground to look for yellow legged gulls with a juvenile having been seen there the previous day but I was out of luck (see www.2birdtheory.blogspot.co.uk for some great photos). While torturing myself scanning through variously aged herring, great black backed, lesser black backed and black headed gulls I found a winter plumaged Mediterranean gull, a kingfisher, a cormorant catching small eels, 2 flyover yellow wagtails and a common sandpiper preening on the pebbley shore. It was soon time to head off home on the train but it had been another Exe-cellent day out at Topsham and another 4 sandpiper day.

 Mediterranean Gull with Black Headed Gulls

Gulls at Topsham Rec.

That night I had the moth box out in the backyard again and in the morning I had a large ranunculus at last along with over 40 large yellow underwings, a copper underwing, a male four spotted footman and a willow beauty amongst others. Lots of wasps again but this time I didn't get stung!

 Four Spotted Footman - male

 Large Ranunculus

Large Ranunculus

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