Wednesday 7 October 2020

Wind and Rain!

Our Holiday-less Holiday continues and the weather has been pretty vile to say the least with what seems to be constant grey skies, strong winds and heavy rain. No chance of any moth boxing in the back yard either with chilly and wet nights and while the east coast of England enjoys a fantastic autumn of bird migration the South West remains very quiet. Never mind but I had hoped for something more interesting as we are usually on foreign travels at this time of year and I always miss out on UK birding at this time. 

Undettered we headed down to Looe by train on Saturday 3rd October with friends Julie and Matt for an overnight stay but the weather was horrid and we actually returned earlier than planned on the Sunday as it really was quite foul. Nothing too exciting was seen on the bird front but there were 3 Eider just off the main beach, a male, a female and an juvenile/eclipse male, and I also had a very brief view of a Great Northern Diver further out just as it dived but I couldn't relocate it. 

Eider, Looe

Looe Signage

Tuesday 6th October was very windy with heavy showers but there was something unusual in the skies too - the sun! - and so we drove up to Stover Park for a walk before heading to The Brookside Cafe at Bovey Tracy for a late lunch. 

It has been a while since we last visited Stover Park and there have been some interesting changes. The footpath around the lake has been improved and is now wider and gravel covered so much less muddy and easier to walk along. Also dogs now have to be kept on a lead at all times around the Lake - I love dogs but am not so keen on dog owners who often ignore the needs of wildlife and the enjoyment of other users of the countryside so this is quite an interesting and welcome development. The construction of the reed bed to help filter the polluted water entering the lake is also now completed and the water quality does look a little better which will hopefully improve and increase the biodiversity of the lake which has notably declined over recent years. 

There were good numbers of wildfowl out on the lake, the most I have seen here before, and amongst the Mallard and Moorhen and Canada Geese were a male Pochard, 2 Mute Swan with 2 grown Cygnets, Coot including 5 juveniles, Black-headed Gulls, 2 Great-crested Grebe (an adult attending to a juvenile), at least 24 active and mobile Tufted Duck (11 females), a Cormorant and a very tame small duck that appeared to be a Mallard x Teal hybrid. 

Teal, Stover Park

Teal x Mallard?

Teal - green speculum but with a hint of blue

Crossbills and Siskins were seen and heard overhead and a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped away in the pine trees. Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit were seen on the bird feeders with 3 Grey Squirrels scavenging the scraps beneath them. 

Bees and Flys were buzzing around the Ivy blossom and included 2 massive Hornets. Common Darters were flying around too in sheltered spots when the sun appeared and included mating pairs.




Common Darter

Common Darter

Thursday 7th October was bright and sunny and calm but with rain and wind forecasted for late afternoon I headed off in the morning for a walk along the River Plym and around Saltram Park.

It was a very high tide and Blaxton Meadow was again almost totally water covered but roosting out on the Meadow were 8 Greenshank, 38 Curlew, 6 Oystercatcher, 3 Redshank, 2 Shelduck, 1 Grey Heron and 11 Little Egret along with Canada Geese, Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull.

A roosting flock of around 140 Redshank were along the river embankment by the A374 with 12 Grey Heron while out on the water were a few Cormorant and Mallard. A Kingfisher dashed past over the water calling noisily but was never to be seen again.

In the Park both Green- and Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch were heard but not seen while Ring-necked Parakeets noisily flew around overhead. Stock Dove, 2 Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Buzzard and Jay were also seen. A worn Speckled Wood, a Large White and a Small White were also noted.

Speckled wood, Saltram

The grass on Chelson Meadow had been cut, I'm not sure why but maybe it gets cut every year at this time and I have never noticed, but mobile and flighty Meadow Pipits were very much enjoying feeding amongst the grass cuttings.

I spent a bit of time looking for Firecrests but with no luck so I headed home via the Plymouth University Campus where 2 Firecrest have been reported and eventually I found them busily feeding in a holly tree along with a Chiffchaff. 2 Speckled Wood flitted about in the nearby tree tops and a Siskin was heard flying over. A Brown Rat rooting around in a nearby hedgerow was a bit of a surprise.

I also had a look around Drakes Reservoir where a Kingfisher has been reported and I easily found it resting on the stone wall of the reservoir. It occassionally flew over the water calling noisily, hovering at times over the water and diving in to catch small fish.

Kingfisher, Drakes Reservoir

A Grey Wagtail was also feeding along the waters edge while a large and stunning Golden Carp swam around in the water amongst its black relatives.

Grey Wagtail

Golden Carp

Golden Carp

Golden Carp

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