Thursday 25 February 2016

More Local Birding - Warblers and Cirl Buntings

A 1st Winter glaucous gull was reported on the River Plym on February 21st (the day I was there birding!) and was also reported again on the 22nd and so on the 23rd I headed off to have a look for it - and as expected I didn't see it!

It was however a bright and sunny but cold day and it was nice to be out admiring the birds in the bright sunshine with that air of hope and/or expectation that I might get to see the bird I was looking for. No glaucous gull but I did see :- 2 pairs of red breasted mergansers diving for food in the river channel at low tide; 2 male goosanders floating downriver at Marsh Mills with 1 disappearing but the other roosting on the mud at low tide; a single greenshank; a very smart looking kingfisher flashing past over the water; 3 buzzards and a male sparrowhawk soaring over the woods at Marsh Mills; a great crested grebe and 2 little grebes; 2 common sandpipers together along the river edge near the railway bridge; and a pair of Canada geese.

Male Goosander, River Plym

Thursday 25th and another bright and sunny but cold day and I decided to head off to Wembury for a walk as I have neglected it a little so far this year. A lot of clearing work has occurred since I last visited back at the beginning of January with mechanical clearance of vegetation in the pony field and on the hillside above the cliff footpath at Wembury Point. Unfortunately the gorse bushes by the footpath where I found the green hairstreaks last year have gone, I only hope that any female green hairstreaks laid their eggs on the remaining gorse clumps and not those that have been removed.

I was also concerned about the Dartford warblers I watched last year as the area where I most often saw them had also been cleared but I need not have worried as I eventually found a very smart male associating with a pair of stonechats - unfortunately I found it just as the world and his dog (literally) walked by and the stonechats flew off and the Dartford warbler just disappeared. I watched and waited for a while before heading off only to find a nice pair of Dartford warblers together further along the path - this pair were stuck together like glue, the male followed wherever the female went and I am sure that there are 2 males and a female present again, the same as last year, as the first male I saw was very much alone.

And here are some more of my amazing Dartford warbler photos - not!

 Female Dartford Warbler

 Male Dartford Warbler

Female Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

I finally managed to see my first cirl buntings of the year too -  a male singing from the top of a hawthorn bush near the sewage farm with a second male heard singing nearby and a male calling in the hedgerow near the HMS Cambridge footpath.

Male Cirl Bunting

2 ravens flew along the clifftops calling and tumbling and were joined by a pair flying over from The Mewstone to chase them off. Along the shoreline were 37 oystercatcher , 2 curlew, a grey heron and 4 little egrets but the beach was fairly seaweed free and there was no sign of any water pipits, just a few rock pipits. 2 grey wagtails flew over calling and I heard 2 meadow pipits calling too but I couldn't locate them. A female blackcap showed very well while preening in bushes in a garden by the road to the beach along with a male bullfinch eating the buds of a sloe bush.

Female Kestrel

Despite the chilly weather I found a common lizard basking in the sunshine, the earliest I think that I have seen one, and a pair of bloody nosed beetles were found mating.

 Common Lizard

Bloody Nosed Beetles

Flowering Celandine sp.

The caf√© was closed so no pasty for lunch but a very pleasant walk anyway and a reminder of how much I love a walk at Wembury.

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