Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Devon Birding - Wembury and Thurlestone

A week off work but with no plans to go away due to continuing family health issues means local days out birding, starting with a trip on the bus to Wembury on Saturday February18th. I have neglected Wembury over recent months and so it was nice to be heading out for a visit on what was a sunny and very mild morning.

The highlight was a/the water pipit feeding on a large mass of seaweed by the sewage pipe with rock pipits and meadow pipits, again adopting a cocked tail and drooped wing attitude at times. The views were mostly brief as the birds were mobile and very flighty, not helped by continous disturbance from walkers along the beach on what was high tide.

A turnstone roosting on the sewage pipe with mallards and herring gulls was a nice find, turnstones are now scarce at Wembury in the winter, and there were at least 3 chiffchaffs feeding along the cliff base by the sewage pipe, looking very yellowy green in the sunlight and constantly flitting about and dipping their tails. Another chiffchaff was briefly seen in the pines by the horse stable, this individual was much browner toned but quickly disappeared in the undergrowth. Two red legged partidge were also a good find, barely annual for me at Wembury, but as quickly as I found them feeding in the field above the horse field they disappeared  into the hedgerow.

 Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

Other birds included a pair of kestrel, 2 flyover ravens, a white and a pale female feral type mallard amongst the mallards, linnets and stonechats but despite a good scan around I didn't find any Dartford warblers at The Point although the area where I usually see them has been quite extensively cleared as part of the ongoing restoration work by the National Trust. Cirl buntings were much in evidence with a pair seen together and at least 2 single males with bouts of singing heard also.

Male Cirl Bunting

A walk at Grenofen on Sunday 19th February was a total contrast with grey and leaden skies and damp but mild air and despite searching the trees I couldn't find any treecreepers. I did get some nice views of siskins, goldcrests, coal tits, a nuthatch and a grey wagtail and I heard but didn't see any marsh tits.

Monday 20th and we headed off to Thurlestone for a walk, parking in the village and walking along the coast to Hope Cove and back. It was cloudy with sunny periods but became windy and overcast as the morning wore on but we had a pleasent walk and the footpath wasn't too muddy.

The first winter male desert wheatear is still residing on Thurlestone Beach and I had some nice views but the light was very dull and the bird quite mobile along the beach. At times I could hear it quietly singing away, a pleasent warbling song, and it is beginning to moult into smart adult summer plumage.

 Male Desert Wheatear

 Desert Wheatear

 Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear

At South Huish Marsh I soon found the 2 white fronted geese present for a few days now, busily feeding with Canada geese quite close to the road and giving some nice views.

 White Fronted Geese with Canada Geese

White Fronted Geese

A little egret, a coot, a male shoveler, a grey heron, lapwing, snipe, wigeon, teal, moorhen and mallard were also seen on the marsh along with meadow pipits and a male stonechat before we walked to Hope Cove for lunch. On the walk back to Thurlestone there was no sign of any geese on the marsh but the desert wheatear was still showing well along Thurlestone Beach but with the wind strength continuing to increase it was time to head off back to Plymouth.

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