Thursday 21 November 2019

A "Long" Day Out

The weather remains rank with lots of wind and rain and especially so on my planned birding days out but with a favourable forecast for the 15th and 16th November I decided to drag myself off the settee and finally head off down to Sennen near Lands End in Cornwall to look for the first for the UK Paddyfield Pipit being seen there. I planned to go on Friday 15th but on heading off to bed the night before I switched plans and decided to go on the 16th instead. This turned out to be a kind of good call as the pipit, on nearly ending up in the jaws of a cat on the 14th, was never to be seen again - oh well, should have made the effort and gone sooner!

A Bluethroat found at Turf on 20th November piqued my interest but after being found it was never seen again and so I decided to travel up to Bowling Green Marsh at Topsham on the 21st with plans to divert to Turf should the Bluethroat reappear. It was a cold and breezy day with a strong south easterly wind and the Bluethroat wasn't refound but I had a good day out anyway.

I caught a late train (the 09:25 from Plymouth so saving myself £10 on the train ticket cost) and on arriving at Topsham at 11:10 and walking down the lane to the hide at Bowling Green Marsh I found 2 Firecrests feeding in the bushes with blue tits and great tits but they were very active and mobile and quickly moved off into the branches, never to be seen again. Long tailed tits were also heard nearby but I couldn't locate them amongst the trees and bushes.

The hide was jam packed with birders due to the high tide but despite standing at the back I easily found the Long-tailed duck diving out on the water despite it spending very little time at the surface.

Long-tailed Duck with Mute Swans

Long-tailed Duck

The long-staying Long-billed Dowitcher was also easily located too as it fed, preened and slept amongst the ducks before wandering off along the waters edge and out of sight.

Brent geese flew over between the estuary and Darts Farm with one landing on the Marsh to bathe and preen before rejoining the passing flocks.

Brent Geese

Pintail, shoveler, teal, wigeon and mallard were all noted along with a grey heron, a little egret, coot, moorhen and 2 mute swans but wader numbers were low despite the high tide with just a few dunlin, redshank, curlew, lapwing and black-tailed godwit seen.





Little Egret

A quick look off the nearby viewing platform and Brent geese were resting on the water with a small flock of around 50 avocets but with the tide still high I decided to head back towards Plymouth and stop off at Dawlish Warren along the way.

The sea was very rough at Dawlish Warren and the only birds I could find offshore were a few shag, herring gulls and a single adult kittiwake. A walk around the main pond revealed a female shoveler and in the woods a female sparrowhawk dashed past low over the trees where a chiffchaff was seen with a second bird heard. It was cold in the strong wind and so after an hour I called it a day and caught the train back to Plymouth having had an enjoyable day out.

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