Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Birding around Topsham, January 17th 2017

A grey and claggy day but I needed to get out birding as I am tired, stressed and over emotional with the ongoing crap currently happening in my life. I checked the times and prices of the trains on the internet the night before and saw that I could get a single to Topsham on the 07:48 train for £11 but when I bought the ticket at Plymouth railway station the next morning it cost me £17.60! Apparently the cheaper ticket was only for bookings made in advance - not impressed but I've learnt a lesson for next time.

I arrived at Topsham at around 09:30 and headed off to the recreation ground for a look around. A flyover snipe was a surprise and it was nice to see reed buntings feeding on the seed heads of the phragmite reeds with goldfinches and blue tits. The tide was high and there was nothing on show but I quickly and easily found the yellow browed warbler feeding in the trees by the children's playground, picked up at first by its calls and showing well in the lower branches of the trees unlike the Beaumont Park birds in Plymouth. At times it leapt up in the air to catch small flies and was very active and mobile but the views were pretty good, the best I have probably had.

 Yellow Browed Warbler

  Yellow Browed Warbler

Yellow Browed Warbler

 Yellow Browed Warbler

Yellow Browed Warbler - zoomed in

I carried on to the hide at Bowling Green Marsh, seeing a grey wagtail, a great spotted woodpecker, 2 mistle thrush and 10 song thrush and redwings in a grassy field and a female bullfinch along the way.

From the hide a large flock of avocets were roosting on the marsh on the high tide, around 300 birds, along with a large mixed flock of black tailed godwits, bar tailed godwits and redshanks. Greylag geese and Canada geese were feeding on the grass and skeins of brent geese flew over towards Darts Farm and included a group of 14 barnacle geese (feral or wild birds? - to tick or not to tick?) which veered off and flew back towards Exminster Marsh. 2 male tufted duck were busily diving and I had some nice views of pintail and shoveler with the wigeon and teal.

I headed over to Darts Farm after news of waxwings being seen there were reported by Dave (of Daves Diary fame who was present in the hide) but a quick look around Darts Farm drew a blank and so I headed back to Bowling Green Marsh via Goosemoor where I had some distant and drizzly views of a nice spotted redshank with 3 greenshank, a common gull and a dunlin.

From the viewing platform I added grey plover to the year list and had some nice views of the avocets and godwits feeding on the mudflats as the tide receded, the avocets being very much appreciated by a family visiting from Northern Ireland who had never seen them before.

 Avocet from The Goatwalk, Topsham

Male Teal, Topsham

Male Teal, Topsham - blue looking speculum

Male Teal, Topsham - usual green looking speculum

I met David for lunch at The Lighter Inn but there was a cock up with the order and our food didn't arrive and so we left empty stomached and headed back to the recreation ground for another look around on the now low tide. A male goldeneye showed very well with 2 females showing a little more distantly and I eventually found the female long tailed duck which gave some very nice views along with a pair of red breasted mergansers and an adult winter plumaged Mediterranean gull.

Male Goldeneye

 Female Long Tailed Duck

Female Long Tailed Duck

We drove over to Darts Farm where we finally had something to eat but there was still no sign of any waxwings and as the light faded we headed off back to Plymouth, having had a very enjoyable day out (and I've decided to tick the barnacle geese!).

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