Thursday, 12 January 2017

First Dip of 2017

Two waxwings had been reported feeding in an apple tree in a Plymstock garden on January 5th, I had considered going to have a look for them on the 6th but it was our Christmas dinner day (finally) and so I gave it a miss. One was reported in the morning of the 7th and so I headed out on the bus for a look but on arriving at the tree there was no sign of it and after 90 minutes David arrived in the car to pick me up for the drive to Plymbridge Woods for a walk and all I had to show for a cold, grey and drizzley watch was a female blackcap. I had a second look after our walk but there was still no sign and indeed they were not reported again after that sighting on the morning of the 7th. First dip of 2017 in the bag!

The walk at Plymbridge Woods was muddy but not too busy with people. The feeders at Cann Quarry were empty so there was no sign of any marsh tits and I couldn't find any dippers along the river. A flock of siskins were noisely preening in the top of some alder trees and a noisey great spotted woodpecker was being hassled in a tree top by a magpie before it flew off. A female goosander flying high north towards Dartmoor as the light began to fail was the highlight of the walk and as we drove home over the road bridge at Marsh Mills I saw a male and female goosander feeding on the river.

Sunday 8th January and we had a walk around Burrator Reservoir on another cold and grey
day but again it wasn't too busy with people. The water levels were very low after what has been a dry and mild winter, it looked more like September after a hot and dry summer. A male goosander, a little grebe, 4 male tufted duck, 3 male and 2 female teal, mallards, a Muscovy duck, 3 white farmyard geese, 2 juvenile and 2 adult cormorant (1 in full summer plumage) and a grey heron were seen on and around the water while in the woods a very pale buzzard, a few siskins and a marsh tit with blue, coal, great and long tailed tits around the car park were also seen.

 Summer Plumaged Cormorant, Burrator Reservoir

Pale Buzzard, Burrator

Before driving off to Burrator I found my first moth of the year, a male winter moth resting on the window of a house by our parked car.

Male Winter Moth, Plymouth

Wednesday 11th January and we drove out to Thurlestone for a walk and some lunch on a sunny but cold and blustery day. We parked in the village and walked down to the beach where I immediately found the long staying desert wheatear feeding along the sandy beach and undercliff and chasing off nearby rock pipits and pied wagtails. It was sporting a metal ring on its right leg (was it really necessary or appropriate to catch and ring it?) and was more wary than on my visit in November (possibly due to being caught and ringed?) but still gave some great views, a very lovely bird to watch.

 Desert Wheatear, Thurlestone, with metal leg ring

 Desert Wheatear

 Desert Wheatear - showing buffy rump

 Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

A few turnstones were feeding along the beach while a large group of black headed gulls were feeding in the surf but there was nothing on show offshore in the windy and choppy conditions. South Milton Ley was empty too with low water levels but South Huish Marsh was alive with birds - a dunlin, a black tailed godwit, wigeon, mallard, teal, lapwing, 2 mute swans, 3 oystercatchers and gulls. Viewing though was difficult in the wind and so we headed back to Thurlestone for lunch in the pub via another look at the desert wheatear on the beach before heading home to Plymouth.

Desert Wheatear

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