Friday 15 March 2013

Contrasting days at Wembury - 11th and 14th March 2013

A brief walk along the coast path at Wembury on the 11th March in a biting windchill factor of -4c and grey skies was a complete contrast to the sunny skies and gentle breeze on my walk on the 14th March, although it was still fairly cold.

Monday 11th and surprise birds were 2 Sandwich terns diving for fish off the main beach in the strong, cold wind, I bet they wish they had stayed in Africa a little longer! I think this is the earliest date I have ever seen Sandwich terns in this country. A skulking chiffchaff seen briefly in the bushes by the footpath may have been a Spring migrant too. Another surprise was my first moth of the year, a double striped pug on the outside window of the toliet block by the main beach.

The water pipit showed well but briefly feeding on the seaweed mass by the sewage pipe with rock and meadow pipts before it was disturbed by a beach walker, flying off and showing its white outer tail feathers. A winter plumaged dunlin and a winter plumaged bar tailed godwit fed on the sandy strip of beach near the sewage pipe with a pair of roosting Canada geese and a forlorn looking little egret on the rocks nearby. A green woodpecker was briefly seen flying over while waiting for the bus home and I was very glad to get back to Plymouth and out of the wind.

Thursday 14th and the sun was shining and the wind had dropped but it still felt cool. Work was being done on the sewage pipe and as a result I failed to find the water pipit amongst the mobile rock and meadow pipits and pied wagtails feeding along the beach. I did find a nice white wagtail and a grey wagtail though. 5 chiffchaffs were busily feeding along the beach, regularly leaping into the air to catch small flies. There were 2 bar tailed godwits today feeding on the sandy strip with 2 black headed gulls and an adult winter plumaged Mediterranean gull.

 Wembury beach looking gorgeous in the sunshine
Wembury Church

2 buzzards were displaying overhead and a female kestrel was mobbed by a pied wagtail as it flew along the beach. A female sparrowhawk made a breathtaking but unsuccessful chase after a male blackbird before flying off and out of sight. Along the walk I found a good count of 4 pairs of stonechats between the valley to the beach at Wembury and HMS Cambridge, along with a lone male, a large increase in numbers since the winter but maybe the birds were more noticeble in the good weather conditions.

Male Blackbird

A nice male dotted border was found on the outside window of the toilet block at the main beach and a nice sight was my first butterfly of the year, a small tortoiseshell, which flew off as I disturbed it from the footpath in front of me.

Male Dotted Border
The weather still looks to be unsettled and cold for the next few days but spring is certainly on its way with a small patch of sloe blossom seen on the 11th in the hedgerow near the National Trust car park hut hinting at what is to come.

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