Sunday, 20 November 2016

Another Spoonbill - Dawlish Warren, Devon

Since my trip to Hayle on October 30th to see the Franklin's gull I haven't done any real wildlife watching - work, weather, other commitments and a general feeling of pissed-offness and can't-be-arsed-ness have prevented me from getting out. Father-in-law is now at a rehab unit following his surgery for his broken leg but doesn't seem to be getting anywhere fast and mother-in-law goes in for a hip replacement in the next week so God only knows what we are going to do with the pair of them! A stinking cold hasn't helped matters either and moving the caravan from the camp site at Bude to a nearby storage site was quite frankly a disaster on a wet and cold and muddy day with the caravan wheel falling off on the journey (I kid you not!) and David leaving his trolley jack by the roadside (a 21st birthday present many years ago). At least sister-in-law is doing well following her stem cell transplant and is now at home recovering, early days but things are going well and at least going to work is no longer as difficult for me now that she is no longer a patient there.

I had been tempted to return to Hayle as there had been quite a few good birds found there with all those birder eyes looking for the Franklin's gull - another spoonbill, black redstart, pink footed goose, cattle egret, green winged teal and American golden plover - but even these goodies couldn't tempt me off the settee.

But with the day off to myself on Sunday 20th November and a sunny but cold day following overnight gales and rain I decided to head off to Dawlish Warren for the day, only £7.40 return on the train, a complete bargain. I really didn't fancy going but forced myself to and I was glad I did as it was an enjoyable day out and good for my blue mood.

At Langstone Rock a mass of gulls were feeding in the surf and along the beach on starfish and mussels washed up by the overnight gales - I had a good scan through the herring and black headed gulls for the elusive Bonaparte's gull which has returned again for the winter but with no luck although I did find a smart adult winter plumaged Mediterranean gull and a few great black backed gulls amongst the throng.

Herring Gull - looking like it's about to yak up after swallowing a large starfish

Heading off to The Bight on the high tide and a flock of common scoter were strung out on the water offshore, around 150 birds and all busily diving for food. A great northern diver and 2 great crested grebes were also seen and I had a distant and heat hazy view of what I think was a long tailed duck flying low over the waves before splashing down amongst the scoters and being lost from sight.

In The Bight were the usual waders roosting on the high tide - curlew, oystercatcher, grey plover, knot, dunlin, ringed plover, turnstone and sanderling - along with shelduck, wigeon, cormorant, shag and brent geese. A female goldeneye, red breasted mergansers and a great crested grebe were also busily diving along the river.

 Brent Geese in The Bight

Brent Goose

A nice surprise was an immature spoonbill roosting amongst the cormorants and shags - my 5th sighting of the year but only my 2nd for Dawlish Warren. As usual it stayed resolutely asleep, occasional waking for a 5 second preen before returning to its one legged slumbers.

 Sleeping Spoonbill - between the shags and cormorants on the left and gulls on the right

Sleeping Spoonbill - above the flapping mute swan

Walking back along the coast to the train station at Dawlish  I had a quick look at the black swans along the river and was surprised to see 3 very small cygnets with 3 adults.

Black Swan with cygnets - Dawlish

And so a nice day out and mildly restorative, I really hope my mood lifts soon.

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