Monday 6 February 2012

River Exe and River Plym bird days

Saturday 4th February and it was that time of year, my annual birdwatching boat trip on the River Exe with Mavis and Mike. It was an early start, 05:00hrs (!), and it was a cold and grey day but we had a good days birding. It was 3 degrees on leaving Plymouth but on arriving at Exmouth it had dipped to minus 2 degrees so a warmimg breakfast in the cafe on the quayside helped to warm us up for the 09:30 start to the boat trip.

A razorbill was busy diving for fish by the boat as we cast off, giving good views. Heading out to sea some sanderlings were seen on the sand bars exposed by the low tide. In the estuary the usual birds were seen, highlights being the resident Slavonian grebe preening itself near the wreck but seen distantly and an adult winter plumage Mediterranean gull amongst some black headed gulls. Also seen were a male tufted duck and a male shoveler along with the usual waders and ducks. A large flock of Brent geese were very flighty around Turf but I failed to find the red breasted goose amongst them. The resident common seal was seen swimming past the boat before diving under the water and out of sight.

Snow flurries eventually gave way to drizzle and then light rain which started just as we arrived back at Exmouth at the end of the trip which was lucky. We headed on to Bowling Green Marsh to find it frozen over. The American wigeon usually seen around Dawlish Warren had been reported from here the day before but only a few shoveler, teal and wigeon were seen roosting on the ice. 2 lapwing, a dunlin, a curlew, 2 snipe and some fly over black tailed godwits were seen as we ate our packed lunches. A fox was seen wandering along the hedgerow at the back of the marsh.

The viewing platform overlooking the River Clyst had been renovated but was fully exposed to the wind and rain so after only a brief look we headed off into Topsham via The Goatwalk where good views of avocets were had along with 10 coot bobbing about on the river, no doubt displaced from the frozen marsh. Cold and wet, we decided to call it a day and headed back to Plymouth but it had been a very enjoyable day as usual.

Sunday 5th February and I headed off to Marsh Mills to have a look for the yellow browed warbler that has been reported from here for a while now, this being the first free day I have had to go and have a look for it. I was out of luck despite the the help of the eyes of some fellow bird watchers but I did see 3 siskin, a male great spotted woodpecker, a male bullfinch, a female blackcap, goldcrest and good views of a very obliging and very handsome firecrest. A green woodpecker was heard yaffling and a grey wagtail flew over calling. Amongst the leaf litter were quite a few distinctive looking fungus, I'm not sure what they are called.

Fungus Sp.

After a couple of hours wandering around the small wood I headed off to the River Plym where the spotted sandpiper showed very well in its usual place on the mudflat opposite the sewage farm outlet and a greenshank fed nearby. Also seen were 2 little grebes, 3 Canada geese, a little egret and a male kestrel.

Spotted Sandpiper


Snowdrops were flowering in abundance,  a sign of Spring despite the cold but sunny weather.



Some violets were in flower by the footpath near the bridge over the railway line, another sign of Spring and quite fragrant when I got close down to them.

Violet Sp.

Walking back to Sainsburys I found an interesting fungus growing on a tree trunk, again I'm not sure what it is called.

Fungus Sp.

Fungus Sp.

And so off I headed to the city centre to meet David for lunch as he was working a long day and then I headed home, having had a very pleasent if yellow browed warbler unsuccesful morning.

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