Monday 29 March 2021

River Plym Walks

A year of living with COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions has passed and what a year it has been. I have missed being able to travel further afield for my birdwatching trips but exploring local sites and enjoying their wildlife has been fascinating to say the least, there is so much to see so close to home and I am very lucky to live where I do. And one of the local sites I have visited more regularly than usual is the River Plym and Saltram Park, an amazing area with plenty of wildlife interest and only a 30 minute walk from my front door and yet somewhere I always used to overlook when planning a day out.

I have finally joined the modern age and have signed up to Birdtrack, a BTO app for recording bird sightings (and mammals and dragonflies) and this has inspired me to try and see 100 species of birds in 2021 around Saltram Park and the adjacent River Plym Estuary. And with this goal on mind I headed out for my usual walk on Wednesday 24th March with a few birds in mind to add to my year list.

It was cloudy when I left the house but it soon brightened up and became a very warm day indeed, too warm to be wearing my winter coat but at least I had remembered to bring a hat with me this time.

It was relatively quiet bird wise but I did manage to add Starling, Mute Swan, Sparrowhawk and Shag to my River Plym and Saltram 2021 list. Unfortunately there was no sign of the Crossbills found the previous day.

A pair of Mandarin, a female Goosander, a singing Chiffchaff, 26 Turnstone and 2 Rook were the only other birds of note with a Rabbit, a Brown Rat and 15 Roe Deer being the mammalian highlights. A flyby Small Tortoiseshell was also noted.

Mandarin Ducks

Thursday 25th March and I decided to head out to the River Plym again for a walk on another sunny but cooler day. A Black Redstart had been found the previous day and as expected there was no sign of it on todays visit but I did add Blackcap to my 2021 list with a male heard singing and later a male seen having a good old preen in a blossom laden Sloe Bush. 

3 Greenshank, a female Goosander, 8 Oystercatcher, 3 Curlew and a Common Sandpiper were seen along the River on the low tide with Canada Geese, a Grey Heron, 4 Little Egret, Common Gull, Redshank and a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull also noted. 

The woods and Park held the usual birds - Stock Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet, Skylark, Rook, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, etc. - and it was good to see 2 Peacock, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Small White. Lots of Bees and flies were buzzing around in the warm sunshine too. 



Back to work on Saturday 27th March but only a short shift (07:30 to 14:00) and after finally leaving at 14:30 I stopped off at Marsh Mills on the way home to have a quick look at the high tide roost on Blaxton Meadow. I only had my little travel binoculars with me but soon found 2 of the 3 Black-tailed Godwits reported from yesterday, a summer plumaged bird and a winter plumaged bird which were regularly disturbed by the usual mischevious Carrion Crows and squabbling Oystercatchers (7) and Shelducks (25) also present. A Greenshank, 5 Little Egret, a pair of Mandarin, Redshanks and 3 Stock Dove were also seen and a Chiffchaff was heard in the hour I was there before I headed home for a nice cup of tea.

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