Sunday, 2 April 2017

Spring is here! - Soussons and Wembury

A busy and tiresome week at work was lightened by a trip to Dartmoor on Tuesday 28th March with lunch at The Two Bridges Hotel followed by a walk at Soussons. I had hoped to see the elusive great grey shrike which had been reported that morning but there was no sign of it on our walk but I did see a raven, a green woodpecker (with a second bird heard), meadow pipits and a siskin with the highlight being a family of crossbills quietly feeding on cones in the tree tops before flying off into the woods and out of sight, a bright red male, a green female and 2 browny grey and streaky looking fledglings/juveniles.

Female Crossbill, Soussons

Saturday 1st April and the weather forecast wasn't great with heavy and prolonged showers forecasted but I decided to take my chances and headed off to Wembury anyway. It remained sunny and dry for my walk with the ominous looking black rain clouds somehow staying inland but as I got on the bus for the ride back to Plymouth the heavens opened.

There were no moths in the toilet block but on the butterfly front I did saw 2 peacocks along with my first 2 small tortoiseshell of the year and brief and distant views of 2 white butterflies, presumably green veined whites. I also disturbed a rush veneer moth from the grass at Wembury Point.

Small Tortoiseshell, Wembury

Rush Veneer

A bloody nosed beetle was ambling along near the bus stop but there were no common lizards basking in the sunshine but along the coast path I found a total of 7 individuals including 1 shedding some of its skin.

 Bloody Nose Beetle

 Common Lizard - shedding its skin

Common Lizard

Boat Bug (Enoplops scapha)

It was a very high tide with choppy seas and off the main beach 2 1st summer Mediterranean gulls, a 1st summer common gull and 4 1st summer black headed gulls were feeding in the rough surf with assorted herring gulls. Offshore gannets were flapping about and diving for fish and a Sandwich tern flew west.

I thought I heard a willow warbler briefly singing by the riding stables but wasn't sure over the noise of the surf but after a brief search I found the bird flitting about in the pines and occassionally giving brief snatches of song. I also heard 2 blackcaps and at least 4 chiffchaffs singing but best warbler of the walk was a nice male Dartford warbler at Wembury Point consorting with a pair of stonechat in an area I have not seen them in before. The views were mostly brief as it bounced over the bushes and skulked in cover but I was very glad to finally find one after my last few searches at The Point have drawn blanks. I was also very pleased to see my first swallow of the year which skimmed right over my head and dashed off towards Plymouth, its definently spring time now.

Cirl buntings were again very noticeable along the walk with mobile males seen and heard along with at least 4 females. There were 53 oystercatchers roosting on the rocks with 7 little egrets and 3 male and 2 female mallards and a pair of shelducks were feeding along the beach. A single meadow pipit and a few rock pipits were feeding on the seaweed mass on the beach with 7 feisty male pied wagtails but there was no sign of the water pipit from last week. Stonechats, linnets, 5 buzzards, a singing song thrush, goldfinches, dunnocks and robins were also seen on what had been a very productive walk and all finished off with a delicious Chunk pasty from the cafe on the beach.

 Cirl Bunting

 Cirl Bunting


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