Monday 27 November 2023

Goosanders and Grebes

A quick walk around Plymouth Hoe on Thursday 23rd November was Purple Sandpiper-less but there were 15 Turnstones feeding together on the rocks below the Pier One cafe, I think the highest count I have had here before. Even better was a smart male Black Redstart feeding on the rooftops at nearby Rusty Anchor but unfortunately mobile and distant.

Saturday 25th November was cold, still and mostly sunny as I headed out to the river Plym for a walk. I started at Laira Bridge on the low tide and finished at Marsh Mills on the incoming tide and despite the cool temperatures I managed to see 2 Red Admirals and a Common Darter which was a surprise.

Common Darter

There were 26 Turnstone and a Common Sandpiper feeding on the seaweed along the shoreline at Laira Bridge, later there was a Turnstone on Blaxton Meadow and a Common Sandpiper along the river nearby. Other waders were seen feeding out on the mudflats but by the time I reached Blaxton Meadow they were heading in to roost on the incoming tide with 26 Curlew, 17 Oystercatcher, 3 Snipe, 8 Greenshank and a Black-tailed Godwit noted amongst the Redshank and Dunlins. The Wigeon flock was also present on the Meadow but before I could count them they all flew off, never to return, but there must have been 30+ present.

There were also Goosanders busily diving for fish along the river on the low tide, spread out and difficult to count as they spent very little time at the surface but by the time I reached Marsh Mills they had flocked together at the gas pipe to rest on the small piece of beach not covered by the tide and there were a total of 4 males and 5 females present.

Goosanders (6 of 9 present)

A Great Crested Grebe, Mallards, Shelducks and 6 Little Grebe were also seen along the river and around the Park 2 Coal Tit, 4 Song Thrush and 3+ Ring-necked Parakeets were of note. 

Great Crested Grebe (as seen from above The Amphitheatre)


Chelson Meadow was actually a bit more productive than usual with a Buzzard, a Kestrel and a female Sparrowhawk seen along with a pair of Stonechat, 3 Stock Dove over heading east, a Mistle Thrush, a Chiffchaff (heard), 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Snipe and 8 Roe Deer.

Roe Deer (1 of 8 present)

Thursday 23 November 2023

Wembury Water Pipit

After more wet and windy weather overnight I headed out to the River Plym on Saturday 18th November for a quick look about on the morning high tide before heading down to Truro for the night to celebrate our friend Julie's birthday. It was grey and claggy but dry and it wasn't too windy either and Blaxton Meadow was back to being a lake again.

Blaxton Meadow/Lake

The usual birds were present on the Meadow despite the high water level and included a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult Common Gull, 40 Wigeon, a female Teal, 26 Curlew and 10 Greenshank. There were 2 redhead Goosander present too, unusual here but obviously making  the most of the high water levels while on the river nearby a male Goosander and 3 redheads were also present.



Tuesday 21st November was all blue sky and sunshine and with repairs to the living room fireplace and redecorating completed we headed out to Burrator Reservoir for a walk. It was very quiet on the bird front with a flyover Siskin, an unseen singing Mistle Thrush, the resident white farmyard Goose and a Cormorant the highlights. There was a lot of felling of the coniferous trees going on while we were there and the road was a complete mudbath in places, the recent weather has not been ideal for logging work. There was no sight or sound of any Crossbills on our walk but I hope that some of the pine trees which are covered in cones are left standing for them.

I headed out to Wembury on Wednesday 22nd November, it was dry and calm for a change but mostly overcast and I had a very enjoyable walk despite the very muddy footpath!

The Water Pipit was still present along the beach near the sewage pipe, it was very active and mobile and regularly chasing off any other Pipits that came too close.

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Water Pipit 

Water Pipit

A Reed Bunting was in amongst the Cirl Buntings perched up in the sewage farm hedge although it was chasing off any that came too close before it had had enough and flew off east.

Offshore a Great Northern Diver flew west and 3 Common Scoters (a male and 2 female) were also seen flying west before they landed on the sea. There were feeding flocks of Gulls further out but an adult Kittiwake passed by closer to shore as it headed west too.

A flock of 21 Turnstone were feeding along the beach with 2 Curlew, 3 Little Egrets, 2 pairs of Mallard and Oystercatchers also present.


Great Black-backed Gull 

A light passage of Woodpigeon passed overhead heading west, around 300 birds in total in small, irregular flocks and with them were 3 Stock Doves. Also of note were a Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, a male Bullfinch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Green Woodpecker.