Sunday 20 April 2014

Dippers and Dipping

Spring migrants continue to trickle rather than flow in despite the dry and sunny but cool weather but I have not had much free time to get out and about anyway.

April 12th and on a walk at Plymbridge Woods I finally saw my first dippers of the year along with 3 male and 1 female mandarin ducks, a male peregrine, a male kestrel, a male sparrowhawk, buzzards, songflighting siskins, a raven and a nuthatch. I had hoped to see brimstone butterfly but only managed a sighting of a lone speckled wood.

Dipper showing its nictitating membranes

April 16th and we headed off to Bude with the Outlaws to sort out the caravan for the summer. It was a bit of a disaster as we had forgotten the caravan key, the petrol strimmer to cut the grass with wouldn't work and the awning stitching was coming undone on the roof seams and so we packed up and headed back to Plymouth having achieved nothing.

A male green winged teal had been reported at nearby Maer Lake the previous day and so I had a quick look for it while the car was being packed up for the drive back to Plymouth. I did see 4 male and 9 female Eurasian teal along with a male mallard, 2 shelduck, 3 black tailed godwit (1 of which was in full summer plumage) and a summer plumaged dunlin but there was no sign of the green winged teal - a big old dip.

Just as I was about to leave I heard an unusual call and had a brief view of a small wader flying over the Lake before landing out of sight and so I scanned the shoreline and I eventually found the bird and it was what I had suspected it to be -  a very smart little ringed plover and a nice compensation for dipping the green winged teal.

April 19th and we headed off to Bude again and this time successfully sorted out the caravan. The green winged teal hadn't been reported since the April 15th but I checked out Maer Lake anyway and again didn't find it but the Eurasian teal were all still present along with 3 male mallard, 2 shelduck and now just 2 black tailed godwits. It was nice to see a few house martins with the swallows and sand martins and a curlew flew in briefly to bathe but there was no sign of the little ringed plover from a few days previously.

The toilet block at the caravan site had a few moths inside -  a brimstone moth, 2 Hebrew characters, a common quaker and an early grey, one of my favourite moths. And on driving home along the A38 near Saltash some early purple orchids were flowering on the grass verge.

 Unknown Micro Moth Sp.
 Early Grey
Common Quaker

April 20th and I headed off to Wembury for a walk, hoping to be home before the forecasted rain arrived but I was out of luck and ended up cold and wet but it was worth it as there were some nice migrants around to see. At least 6 male whitethroats were singing and songflighting despite the weather and a bedraggled looking female wheatear was feeding along the beach. A lone Sandwich tern was seen flying West along the shoreline and 11 summer plumaged dunlin were seen flying East. At Wembury Point 19 oystercatchers were roosting on the rocks with 4 whimbrel, a common sandpiper and 5 little egrets. Blackcaps and chiffchaffs were seen and heard and I thought I heard a brief snatch of a willow warbler singing too. A female cirl bunting, 3 song thrush, 2 swallows around the horse stables and a pair of stonechat were good to see too.

The toilet block held a Hebrew character but with the bad weather there were no butterflies on the wing although a few bloody nosed beetles were slowly shuffling along by the footpath and a few bumble bees were buzzing around.

 Hebrew Character
Lackey Moth Caterpillars

And as I waited at the bus stop for the bus ride home a flock of 9 whimbrel flew over helping to take my mind off my cold and wet feet.

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