Monday 8 April 2024

Willow Warblers, Wheatears and a Grey Seal

Friday 5th April was planned to be a day of chores but with news received of a Willow Warbler having been seen along The Plym my interest was piqued and so I decided to ditch the chores and head out for a look. 

I caught the bus out to Marsh Mills at around Midday, it was cool, grey and breezy but dry and with rain not forecast until later in the afternoon I hoped to be home again before it arrived.

Along the river from Marsh Mills to Blaxton Meadow I found a Common Sandpiper and a male Goosander while Chiffchaffs were heard yammering away in the trees. A Collared Dove feeding along along the shoreline was a surprise find, it flew up into the trees by the footpath and showed very well before eventually flying off. 

Collared Dove

The tide was heading in and on Blaxton Meadow the usual birds were coming in to roost - a Curlew, 10 Oystercatcher, 7 Greenshank, a Dunlin, a Snipe and 59 Redshank with Herring Gulls and 3 Black-headed, 2 Common, 5 Lesser Black-backed-backed and a Great Black-backed also present.

A look at the Duck Pond revealed a Coal Tit feeding on seed with Blue and Great Tits and 4 male Mandarin out on the water. A Swallow occassionally dashed about overhead and in the bushes I found 2 very smart looking Willow Warblers flitting about and showing very well.

Willow Warbler 

Willow Warbler 

Willow Warbler

Onwards towards the Wet Wood and another Willow Warbler was seen feeding in the trees by the dipping pond and also quietly singing to itself while at the Wet Wood at least another 3 Willow Warblers were found with quiet singing again heard.

A further Willow Warbler was found on Chelson Meadow but my attention was drawn to the sight of at least 8 Wheatear feeding on the grassy slopes out of the breeze. 

Wheatear

An interesting walk and at last some bird movement, hopefully the gates have now been opened, and I arrived safely back home before it began raining yet again.

With Storm Kathleen heading our way for Saturday 6th April I planned to have a quiet day at home but with mentions on Twitter/X of seawatching I decided on waking up in the morning to head out to Wembury for a look about. Unfortunately I didn't wake up early enough to catch the first bus of the day so didn't arrive at Wembury until 9:45am but never mind.

It was very windy but not as bad as forecasted, it remained dry with spells of sunshine and as expected there was very little going on offshore, the highlights being 2 adult Common Gulls, 2 Sandwich Tern and 4 Guillemots amongst the usual Gulls, Gannet, Fulmar, Shag and Cormorant.

More interesting was a Grey Seal hauled up on the beach, it looked like it had missed the tide turning and was stuck until the tide headed back in. It seemed OK though and I was very pleased that walkers along the beach and especially those with dogs were very sensible and kept their distance whilst I was there.

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

I may not have seen any Manx Shearwaters offshore but I did find a dead one washed up on the beach. Even sadder was the washed up corpse of a Risso's Dolphin, its tail was missing so presumably a victim of bycatch but it was providing a meal for a pair of Ravens and a pair of  Great Black-backed Gulls.

Manx Shearwater

Manx Shearwater 

Risso's Dolphin

Risso's Dolphin

Risso's Dolphin 

Otherwise the usual birds were present on my walk with Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and a Cettis Warbler all heard, 2 Little Egrets feeding along the beach, Oystercatchers feeding out on the rocks and a pair of Canada Geese out on The Mewstone the highlights.

Thursday 4 April 2024

April Showers/Rain

Monday 1st April/ Easter Monday was forecasted to be showery but there were blue skies and sunshine when I woke up in the morning and so I headed out to The Plym for a walk. I was feeling better although the Snot City Olympics were still taking place in my sinuses and my lungs felt like they were going to burst when I exerted myself too much but I needed to get out of the house. Needless to say the heavens opened as I stepped off the bus at Marsh Mills but it did eventually clear over and the sun reappeared and there was only one other heavy shower to contend with during my walk.

Blaxton Meadow

It was high tide when I arrived at Blaxton Meadow and from the shelter of the bird hide there were 2 Curlew, 2 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, at least 14 Snipe, 8 Oystercatcher, 8 Greenshank and Redshanks on view along with a pair of Goosander, 4 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. The usual Mallard, Shelduck and Canada Geese were present too and amongst the roosting Herring Gulls were 3 Great Black-backed (2 adults), 1 adult Lesser Black-backed, 13 Common (7 adults) and Black-headed Gulls.

Shelduck

A surprise sighting were 2 Collared Doves feeding out on the salt marsh along with 3 Stock Dove and 3 white Feral Doves.

It was quiet around the Park but Chiffchaffs were yammering away and a single Swallow was flying around over the Duck Pond, my first of the year. Also at the Duck Pond were 4 male and a female Mandarin and a Grey Wagtail along with the usual Moorhens. A Green Woodpecker yaffled and showed nicely up in a tree, at least 4 Ring-necked Parakeets were seen, a male Stonechat was on Chelson Meadow where Skylarks were singing away and 2 Buzzards soared together overhead.

Mandarin

Moorhen

A single Peacock was seen with a probable flyby Comma too quick to firmly ID. A Grey Squirrel and 6 Roe Deer were the other non-avian highlights.

Rain was forecasted for the afternoon of Tuesday 2nd April and so I decided to head out to Wembury on the 7am bus for a look about before the rain arrived. I was still snotty and out of puff on exertion but better than the previous day and being out in the fresh air is certainly helping me to shift this lingering cold. With yet more heavy rain having fallen over the past few days the footpaths were horrifically muddy and the ground just feels totally waterlogged underfoot. There were a few brief sunny spells but it was mostly cool, grey and breezy and I was fortunate that the rain didn't arrive until David drove up in the car to meet me at 12pm.

The tide was heading in and along the beach a Little Egret, 21 Oystercatcher and a Shelduck were present with another 3 Shelduck seen flying over heading east.

Shelduck

The usual Gannets were seen offshore along with a distant Sandwich Tern moving east while closer inshore 5 Common Gulls were feeding on the sea (2 adults, 3 1st summers) before they all flew east too. Fulmars were flying around The Mewstone and 2 Canada Geese were roosting on the rocks while a male Mallard flew across the Bay.

A surprise was a Redwing feeding out on the grass at The Point much to the annoyance of nearby Blackbirds which regularly chased it off into the nearby trees.

Redwing

Redwing

Redwing

With reports of Dartford Warblers at Wembury over the Easter weekend I had a search about for them although I wasn't hopeful in the grey, cool conditions. However I quickly found them but they were mobile, flitty and restless, they showed well at times and often perched up in the top of the same bush. I'm not sure if they are new in or have been present for a while although I haven't really been looking for them on my recent visits.

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

Otherwise the usual birds were seen with the usual Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap also heard singing. Only one Bloody Nosed Beetle was found but I was pleased to see the Sea Kale has survived the winter gales and is beginning to emerge from the sand.

Sea Kale

Pheasant

Buzzard

With the forecast for Wednesday 3rd April being dry until later in the day we switched our plans last minute and headed out to Burrator Reservoir for a morning walk. It was grey and cool with a bit of drizzle but at least it didn't rain.

Despite the weather there was plenty of bird song which made a nice change from my very quiet recent visits with Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest and Great Spotted Woodpecker all seen and heard along with the usuals.

Out on the Reservoir 3 Cormorant, 2 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Goosander, Herring Gulls, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, the white farmyard Greylag Goose and Mallards (all males) were present. The highlight though were 2 Sand Martins buzzing around over the water and chittering away, probably wondering why the hell they left Africa!

Goosander