Friday 21 March 2014

Spring arrives early

The weather finally improved and on March 7th with the sun shining and the wind blowing gently I headed off on the train to Dawlish Warren for a walk. I caught the train to Newton Abbot and then the rail replacement bus service to Dawlish Warren but on arriving in Dawlish I decided to get off the bus and walk along the coast path. Unfortunately the coast path is shut from Dawlish Warren to Dawlish due to the storm damage and so I had to pay for a bus to Dawlish Warren instead!

Despite the weather I was in a shitty mood which didn't really improve as the day progressed. It was high tide and a quick scan of the sea revealed nothing so I headed off to the hide, seeing a chiffchaff and a male stonechat along the way. Arriving at The Bight and a flock of brent geese were feeding close to the waters edge and I had some lovely close views. I checked through them but there was no sign of the black brant among them but on arriving at the hide a pair of birders there had seen it earlier and so I headed back to have another look but still did not see it. There was a flock of brent geese on the river near Cockwood with birds flying too and fro between The Bight and Cockwood so I guess it had flown across to the flock on the river before I arrived - typical!

From the hide I saw 11 knot, my first of the year, along with a bar tailed godwit and 7 grey plover amongst the dunlin, oystercatcher and curlew, and on the river red breasted mergansers were busily displaying in small flocks.

Rechecking the sea on the walk back to the train station and a great northern diver, a red throated diver, a Slavonian grebe, 8 great crested grebes and common scoters were seen. The common scoters were spread out distantly across the bay but a male and 4 females were close in to shore along with bizzarely a male and a flock of 10 teal.

Sunday 9th March and I was in  better mood and so I headed off to Wembury in the warm sunshine. It was quiet bird wise with no sign of any cirl buntings but I did see my first small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflys of the year along with bloody nosed beetles. The cafĂ© was open too and I had my first Chunk pasty of the year.

 Kestrel at Wembury Point
 Peacock at Wembury

Heading home and I decided to walk along the River Plym as yet again Jack snipe had been reported but yet again I failed to find any! The highlights were a greenshank, 2 ravens, a stock dove, a mistle thrush and a redwing along with more peacocks and small tortoiseshells. It was very busy with walkers, dogs and children and so I soon headed off home, deciding to give up on looking for Jack snipe on the River Plym until I manage to find out where they are being seen!

Peacock in Saltram Park

Thursday 13th March and a days annual leave so with the sun still shining we headed off for a walk along the coast path at Stoke Point. The footpath wasn't too bad after all the Winter rain and it was a beautiful day with more small tortoiseshells and peacocks on the wing. 2 chiffchaffs and 2 green woodpeckers were heard but not seen and I saw my first yellowhammer of the year, a stunningly bright yellow male. 2 peregrines were resting on the cliffs, a small male and a much larger female, and a raven flew over with a large crop full of food, probably for a brood of young in a nest.

Stonechats were noticeable along the walk with males singing and song flighting and I carefully checked them out for any nearby Dartford warblers. Eventually I found a female bird near a pair of stonechats, flitting about in the gorse, a distant view in hazy conditions but nice to see. And to finish off the walk a female type black redstart was seen feeding from a fence post close to the footpath.

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