Wednesday 9 February 2011

Recent sightings 3rd to 9th February 2011

The 3rd February saw the beginning of 10 days off from work with a view of a sparrowhawk from the bus on my way home , this being the first one I've seen since the start of the cold weather in December.

The 4th saw me at Wembury looking for a water pipit and I was in luck and saw a well marked bird feeding amongst the seaweed near the sewage pipe at Wembury Point. It was with both rock and meadow pipit allowing good comparison views and I enjoyed good prolonged views as it chased off both rock and meadow pipits and was chased off by pied wagtails.

While searching for the water pipit I was distracted by a feeding party of long tailed tits and on closer inspection was delighted to find a firecrest with them, a beautiful bird that showed well and quite close but which didn't stay still long enough before it disappeared into the thick clump of sloe bushes never to be seen again.

The weather was foul, damp and very windy but at least the footpath wasn't a complete mudbath like it was a few weeks ago. A large flock of black headed gulls hovered over the breaking waves picking off food from the surface. Despite searching I couldn't pick out anything unusual amongst them but I did find a smart adult lesser black backed gull roosting on the rocks amongst the herring and great black backed gulls.

The 5th February was to have been my annual boat trip on the River Tamar but it was cancelled due to the bad weather, being rescheduled for the 19th. I was supposed to be going on the trip with my mate Mavis so we decided to still have a trip out and went to Millbrook to meet up with the Plymouth RSPB group for a walk. A kingfisher showed really well along with a greenshank, 3 black tailed godwits, an Egyptian goose and 1 little egret along with the usual birds but it was quite fun to see some members of the group make a redshank into a spotted redshank!

A stop at Wacker Quay on the way home didn't turn up any spoonbills but 10 avocets were seen as the weather took a turn for the worse and we headed home.

The 7th February was spent walking around the path at Stoke Point, to me one of the most beautiful places in the world. No Dartford warblers were seen, presumably casualties of the recent cold spell, but I don't always see them on the walk anyway so hopefully they have survived. A lovely great northern diver was found in the mouth of the Yealm estuary, my first of the year, they seem scarce this winter and elusive too. One has been seen around Plymouth Sound this winter but I have failed to find it, maybe this bird was the Plymouth Sound bird but with the recent gales it could be a new individual.

The 8th February saw me fighting back tears in the strong wind as I watched the male lesser scaup at Dozmary Pool on Bodmin moor. It showed well between dives although it was some distance away and spent little time on the surface. However the view was better than last year when it was much more distant diving on nearby Colliford Lake. Presumbly it is the same bird as last year. 11 golden plovers were seen flying over and there were good numbers of fieldfares feeding in fields and flying over.

Bowling Green Marsh on the 9th February allowed good views of the usual birds including 2 peregrines overhead, 1 carrying some unfortunate bird for its lunch in its talons. The male pintail on the Marsh were very close to the road allowing excellent views, they are such beautiful birds. No sign of the elusive female smew again but all in all not a bad few days birding.

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