Tuesday, 28 February 2017

More Local Birding - River Plym Walk and Lesser Scaup at Dozmary Pool

Saturday 25th February and my plan to catch the train to Hayle and Penzance for a days birding were changed yet again due to the weather - yesterday at Slapton it was dry and still and mild and sunny at times, today it was misty and breezey and cool and dull with rain forecast for the afternoon - and so I stayed local and caught the bus to Marsh Mills for a walk along the River Plym.

I started off by walking upriver from the Plympton road bridge at Marsh Mills, getting some nice views of 8 male and 5 female mandarin ducks with a mute swan and a pair of mallard right by the bridge. The mandarins were quite vocal and were displaying and jostling with each other and were also appreciative of bread being thrown into the water by 2 old ladies with a neurotic dog.

 Male Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck

I had a search through the trees along the riverside for treecreepers but had no luck but I did find 3 mistle thrush, goldcrests and a few redwings eating ivy berries with some blackbirds along with the usual woodland birds. The river proved much more interesting with good views of a common sandpiper, a pair of grey wagtail, a kingfisher, a dipper and a pair of goosander.

 Common Sandpiper

 Common Sandpiper

Male Goosander

Heading back downriver and after walking under the A38 flyover I soon found a moorhen, a winter plumaged little grebe and a little egret and further downriver a pair of summer plumaged little grebes. Blaxton Meadow was empty due to the low tide but out on the estuary mudflats I found a male wigeon and 2 greenshanks with 6 adult common gulls and quite a few adult lesser black backed gulls amongst the roosting gull flock but I couldn't find any white wingers.

A look around the woods in Saltram Park again failed to provide any treecreeper sightings and I only found goldcrests and no firecrests before I headed back to Blaxton Meadow for a look as the tide (and birds) came in. It was nice to see the wintering flock of 100+ dunlin arrive to roost with redshanks, curlews and 3 greenshanks and the male wigeon also appeared with shelducks along with gulls and a little egret. 2 stock doves flew over and I found a male red breasted merganser on the river (my first of the winter on the Plym) before the weather started to deteriorate and I headed home, arriving just as the forecast rain began to fall.

 Wood Anenome


Monday 27th February and the last day of my leave and again a grotty day of weather - windy, sunny spells, hail, rain and cold temperatures - and so we had a drive to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor where I immediately picked out the wintering male lesser scaup with tufted ducks, 4 female pochard, a male and 2 female goldeneye, teal and 4 little grebe. The views of the lesser scaup weren't bad, the best I have had here at the Pool, but it spent little time at the surface as it continually dived and gradually moved further away along the shoreline and into the occassional bright spells of sunshine. I didn't stay long as it was bitterly cold in the wind, especially when the sun disappeared behind yet more rain clouds, and we drove back home via a quick look at Siblyback Reservoir which was looking much fuller now than back in September, Tamar View Garden Centre for lunch and another mugging at the tills in Waitrose.

 Male Lesser Scaup (left)

Lesser Scaup

 Lesser Scaup (left)

 Lesser Scaup (left) with Tufted Duck

Lesser Scaup (front left)

And so not a bad end to my week off work despite the less than ideal weather at times - desert wheatear, white fronted goose, lesser- and greater scaup, black necked grebe, water pipit, harbour porpoise, roe deer, grey seal and a humpback whale all within 50 miles of my home - not bad at all.

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