Friday 15 November 2019

Blue-winged Teal, Mansands

Tuesday 12th November was breezy and sunny but cool and so we caught the ferry from The Barbican to Mount Batten for a walk to The Guardroom at Turnchapel for lunch.

No binoculars or camera with me which was annoying as a guillemot was fishing by the Sutton Harbour lock gates as we boarded the ferry and a pristine red admiral was sunning itself out of the wind on the metal frame of a door on the ferry pontoon, and on walking to Turnchapel a razorbill showed even better off the slipway at Mount Batten, diving close to the shore as it moved out towards The Hoe.

Wednesday 13th November was cloudy but dry and with rain forecast for later in the day we drove out to Mansands near Brixham for a walk around and a look for the recently reported blue-winged Teal.

I've never visited Mansands before, it was a bit of a faff getting there but it was worth it as it is very beautifully situated by the sea at the bottom of a steep valley. On reaching the pools down by the beach I scanned around but could only find 7 teal (3 male), 1 male gadwall, 2 coot, 3 mallard (2 male), a snipe, a pair of tufted duck and moorhens. Also seen were a grey wagtail feeding by the stream flowing across the beach to the sea, a pair of stonechat feeding from various bushes, a gannet flying east offshore and an adult lesser black-backed gull amongst the herring, black-headed and great black-backed gulls resting on the beach while Cettis warblers were heard calling from the poolside vegetation.

 Coot, Mansands

 Tufted Duck, Mansands

Tufted Duck, Mansands

I wandered up along the cliff footpath to the nearby cottages where a very skittish and mobile female type black redstart was flitting about on the roofs which I tried to get a good view of while always keeping an eye on the pools below for the blue-winged teal. Eventually I noticed a duck dabbling and up-ending out on the water which at first I thought was a female shoveler(!) but on getting a better view of it I realised it was the blue-winged teal. Unfortunately a very heavy rain shower duly arrived and the bird quickly disappeared back into the reeds never to be seen again but I was able to see hints of its blue wings, pale loral area and while upending its yellow legs and feet before it was lost from sight - a lifer for me and only my second lifer of the year.

 Blue-winged Teal, Mansands - photo courtesy of Paul Albrechtsen @mansandsbirder on Twitter

Blue-winged Teal - photo courtesy of Bill Coulson @billcoulson3 on Twitter

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