Saturday 24 December 2022

The Year 2022

Another year draws to a close, another year of stress and strain but at least the joys of the natural world have kept me going and next year things will eventually be a little different as some major life changes are looming on the horizon.

There have been many moments of pure joy on my wildlife explorations over the past year with a nice bonus of an Olive-backed Pipit, a new bird for me, being seen just as the year came to an end but here is my Top 10 of 2022.

1. Black-browed Albatross at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

The highlight of 2021 was a trip to Tenby in Wales to see the Walrus that resided there for some time and the highlight of 2022 was a trip to Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire to see the Black-browed Albatross that was also present in 2021 and which returned again in March 2022.

I had followed the news of the Albatross throughout 2021 but never had the opportunity to go and see it but when it returned to Bempton Cliffs in the spring and my Twitter feed was again full of photos of it I made plans for a visit. 

I managed to see the Albatross as soon as I arrived on site as it sat amongst the Gannets on the cliffs very close to one of the viewing platforms. Occasionally it would fly around the cliff face, an absolutely amazing experience greeted with ooh's and aah's from the appreciative crowd of assembled birders. 

Black-browed Albatross

Bempton Cliffs itself is an amazing place to visit, fantastic scenery full of the sights, sounds and smells of a thriving seabird colony with Tree Sparrows and Bottle Nose Dolphins an added bonus and the Black-browed Albatross the jewel in the crown. Not so fantastic was going down with a nasty bout of COVID on my return home, quite likely picked up on our trip but I guess I was going catch it at some point anyway and at least it didn't spoil my time away. 

2. Back-yard Mothing

After a successful year of mothing in the back yard in 2021 I was keen to try and beat the record of 123 species and in 2022 I managed to do so with 136 species recorded (with ID help as always from @MothIDUK on Twitter). 

Highlights included Palpita vitrealis, Elephant Hawk Moth, Bordered Straw, Scare Bordered Straw and Vestal along with all the usual favourites including Large Ranunculus, Marbled Green and Buff Tip (but no Early Grey). 

Palpita vitrealis, Elephant Hawk Moth, Scarce Bordered Straw and Vestal

My ID skills and moth knowledge continue to grow and I've very much enjoyed using the old moth box in the back yard, helped in part by the hot and dry weather we experienced over the summer. 

3. Roller at Bere Ferrers

A report of a Roller at Bere Ferrers on Sunday September 4th was intriguing but despite searching it wasn't refound. It was seen again on Friday 9th September but I expected it to do another vanishing trick and didn't give it a second thought. However the next day (Saturday) was bright and sunny and it showed amazingly well with reports coming through while I was birding The Plym and so I headed straight home and caught the train to Bere Ferrers for a look only to experience a big fat dip! It was again seen well the next day (Sunday) while I was at work(!) with another vague report on the Monday but another trip out on the train on Tuesday 13th September in cool and cloudy conditions produced another big fat dip! 

No further news was forthcoming and so I assumed it had finally gone but reports came through again on Tuesday 20th September while I was in bed having worked the Monday night! And so after working the Tuesday night also and grabbing an hours sleep at home on the Wednesday morning I headed out again on the train on another fine and sunny day and this time was successful - third time is the charm! 


It was a stunning bird and showed amazingly well, well worth the effort involved in trying to see it and with bonus Curlew Sandpipers and Ospreys on the nearby River Tavy adding to the overall enjoyment (and frustrations) of the visits. 

4. A Trip to Scotland

COVID travel restrictions over the past few years have meant a planned trip to Fort William had been kept on the shelf but this year it was all systems go and we headed up to Scotland on The Caledonian Sleeper train in May. The weather wasn't particularly great during our time there but I did see Chequered Skippers, the whole purpose of the trip for me, and indeed I was watching them at Glen Nevis near Fort William within 3 hours of stepping off the train! 

Chequered Skipper and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Black Guillemot, Hooded Crow, Wood Warbler, Black Grouse, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Red Deer were other highlights of the trip and The Caledonian Sleeper was a fantastic experience too - well worth the wait. 

Black Guillemot and Hooded Crow

5. Butterflying

The hot and dry summer was good for butterflies, I managed to see a record breaking 41 species with Chequered Skipper in Scotland being a new species for me. Purple Emperor in Suffolk and Hampshire, Silver-spotted Skipper in Dorset, High Brown Fritillary and Marsh Fritillary on Dartmoor and White-letter Hairstreak in Plymouth were also highlights and it was also good to see Clouded Yellow in decent numbers after a blank year last year. 

Marsh Fritillary and High Brown Fritillary

6. Mothing

Besides my back yard mothing adventures I also managed to see a few moths while wandering around on my wildlife days out. 

An Argent and Sable at Glen Nevis was a surprise and it was also a good year for Hummingbird Hawk Moths. Emperor Moths were again seen thanks to my pheromone lure with sightings at Roborough Down and Burrator. 

The best of the sightings though were 2 Convolvulus Hawk Moths at Wembury, resting on fence posts by the coastal footpath in the exact spot where I saw my first ever one last year. 

Convolvulous Hawk Moth and Emperor Moth

7. Bee Eaters in Norfolk

A flock of 10 Bee Eater set up home in a quarry in Norfolk with 2 nests eventually producing fledglings and with a birthday trip to Suffolk in July to see family already arranged it would have been rude not to go and have a look at them. 

It was a baking hot day but the Bee Eaters showed as soon as we arrived on site, the views were distant and the light harsh but listening to their beautiful calls was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year. 

Bee Eater

8. Local Wildlife

Again staying local has paid dividends with regards to wildlife sightings and I've racked up quite a list within 10 miles of my house with Goshawk, Grey Phalarope, Osprey, Curlew Sandpiper, Brambling, Cirl Bunting and Nightjar just some of the highlights. 

Osprey and Cirl Bunting

I managed to see 110 species on The Plym/Saltram patch despite the ongoing destruction of some wonderful wildlife habitat on site in order to build a solar panel farm.

Wembury came a poor second again with 97 species recorded but I'm sure with a more concerted effort next year I could easily reach the magic 100.

I'm so very lucky to have such varied habitats so close to home, there is always something good to see within 10 miles of where I live. 

9. Travel

With COVID travel restrictions easing or ceasing all together we managed to get away on holidays abroad this year, starting with a trip to Turin in Italy in February due to having a flight voucher with British Airways that was due to expire. The trip was enjoyable but very COVID influenced with paperwork galore to complete, official LFT's required, temperature testing and COVID passport checking everywhere and we even had to wear face masks while outside which did mar the enjoyment somewhat.

A Golden Eagle flying overhead on a day trip to the ski resort at Sauze d'Oulx was the highlight with good views of Italian Sparrows, Hooded Crows and Coypu also had. 


A holiday to Turkey in September was totally COVID free and far more fun and enjoyable for it. We had a great time with Istanbul as fabulous as always and Izmir an unexpected delight with Yelkouan Shearwater, Alpine Swift, Pygmy Cormorant, Palm Dove, Dalmatian Pelican, Yellow-legged Gulls and Bottle Nose Dolphins the wildlife highlights. 

Yellow-legged Gulls

10. Sea Watching at Berry Head

The settled summer weather wasn't great for sea watching but come September the weather changed and things began to pick up somewhat. I took a trip to Berry Head at the beginning of September but the forecasted wet and windy weather didn't really materialise and while I had great views of Balearic Shearwaters and Arctic Skuas it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. Very annoyingly after I left a Great Shearwater and a Pomarine Skua were seen but that's birding for you. 

The weather continued to provide good seawatching conditions into the autumn but I wasn't available to go seawatching when conditions were right, a theme that continued throughout the autumn. There were plenty of good seabirds being reported though including very high numbers of Great Shearwaters and I watched the birding news with interest (and envy). 

Finally weather conditions were looking good on the 27th of October and I was actually free for a change and with a Pallid Swift also having being found the day before I set off on the early train to Berry Head for a look. The weather wasn't too bad and it remained dry and I had a fantastic seawatch with amazing views of Pomarine Skuas and distant views of Great Shearwaters along with Sooty, Manx and Balearic Shearwaters and Arctic and Great Skuas. 

Even better was seeing the Pallid Swift briefly flying overhead before it disappeared, never to be seen again. The views were brief and ID features for Pallid Swift weren't fully clinched but the chances of it being a Common Swift and not a Pallid Swift after a Pallid showed very well the previous evening are very slim and so I'm having it! 

Sightings of Ring Ousel, Black Redstart and Chiffchaff in the Quarry bushes added to an amazing birding day out and I'm very much looking forward to seawatching again next year. 

Black Redstart and Brixham Trawler

And so that's the best of 2022, here's to 2023 being full of wildlife to counteract the stresses and strains of life. And roll on July. 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Olive-backed Pipit, Exmouth

An Olive-backed Pipit was found in an Exmouth Park on December 12th but with work, weather, rail strikes and Christmas socialising I wasn't able to go and look for it until December 20th! Fortunately it had decided to stick around and so off I headed on the train to Exmouth on Tuesday December 20th feeling a little trepidatious as Exmouth is Dip Central for me with Serin, American Wigeon, Hoopoe and the infamous Northern Mockingbird all not seen here in the last few years.

The weather had changed, gone was the Arctic blast and it was calm and mild with blue skies following a couple of days of wind and heavy rain and the train journey was uneventful and on time with swollen rivers and flooded fields seen along the way. 

A few interesting birds were seen from the train on the journey to Exmouth with Avocets seen on both the Rivers Teign and Exe while on the Exe Red-breasted Mergansers, Brent Geese, Greenshank, Wigeon and a Kingfisher were also seen but the best sighting was of a Spoonbill feeding off Starcross train station as I whizzed past. 

Arriving in Phear Park in Exmouth and there were no birders present and so I wandered around in a search of the Pipit. Eventually I found a few birders searching for the Pipit too and it had already been seen that morning so I knew that it was at least still present. 

It was soon refound busily feeding away in the leaf litter under a tree, being barely discernible amongst the grass and dead leaves as it crept around. A very smart and distinctive looking bird that showed down to a few metres and was often seen wagging its tail as it picked insects off the blades of grass.

Olive-backed Pipit

Olive-backed Pipit

Olive-backed Pipit 

Olive-backed Pipit 

I watched it for a while before it flew off up into the tree tops and so I decided to head to Dawlish Warren for a quick look around before heading back to Plymouth. 

The train journey to Dawlish Warren was uneventful and on arriving I headed straight to the sea wall and found an immature male Eider in the estuary mouth, distant views but very distinctive when it flapped its wings. Also present were 6 Great Northern Divers and 16 Great Crested Grebes with a single adult Gannet seen flying south offshore.

I stayed at Dawlish Warren for just an hour before heading home but it had been an enjoyable day out with a new bird species for me, a very nice early Christmas present, and bringing my year total up to 202. And I've now got some home work to do as I get to read up on the ID features of Olive-backed Pipit!

Monday 19 December 2022

The Year Begins to End

I met up with my work colleague Sue at Saltram on Thursday 15th December for a walk with her dog Daisy, it was a very cold and frosty morning again and I arrived at Marsh Mills at around 8:15 to have a look at Blaxton Meadow on the incoming tide before meeting her at the car park at 9am.

It was a glorious morning despite the cold weather and I began my walk with a clear blue sky and the sun beginning to appear above the horizon. 

A Cormorant was having a massive struggle trying to swallow a huge fish it had caught just above Long Bridge, unfortunately I didn't have the time to linger to see if it eventually managed to swallow it.

As I reached Blaxton Meadow 5 Lapwing flew over heading east and out on the Meadow as the tide began to head in through the sluices were the usual waders (Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher) with 3 Turnstone, 10 Greenshank and a Grey Plover. Also present were 2 Teal and 8 Wigeon with Mallards and Shelduck.

The female Red Crested Pochard was on the duck pond with 2 Teal, presumably the 2 from Blaxton Meadow, while in the Park 4 Redwing, 3 Ring-necked Parakeet and a Green Woodpecker were noted.

Red-crested Pochard

Sue and I put the world to rights while Daisy sniffed around and ignored us and then after dropping off Daisy at home we headed up to the picket line at Derriford Hospital for the RCN nurses strike, the largest strike by nurses in the RCN's 106 year history.  I started working on a permanent contract as a Registered Nurse at Derriford Hospital 25 years ago to the day, I never imagined then that it would come to this but nursing in the NHS really isn't great anymore. 

RCN Picket Line

I'm not an RCN member (I'm in Unison), it was my day off and my area of work (chemotherapy) is derogated (exempt) from strike action but I went along anyway to show my support. It was an odd experience and a freezing cold one too but I'm glad I went along and I imagine it is just the start of things to come.

Friday 16th December saw us heading down to Truro for the day before staying overnight at nearby Nancarrow Farm for a festive feast. There was a dusting of snow on the higher ground and along the roadside verges out of the sunshine on the drive down to Truro and it was another very cold but sunny day. A Snipe flying high over the road was an odd sight as we passed by St.Austell.

Truro Cathedral

Truro was very festive and not too busy and we enjoyed a wander around before heading on to the Farm and on arrival I had a short walk around in the fading light and managed to see 2 Raven, a male Bullfinch, Redwings and 2 Fieldfare before it got too dark. 



The feast was lovely and we had a great time, it was freezing cold outside but very cosy in the large barn where we had our meal and it was very enjoyably Christmassy.

We headed back to Plymouth the next morning and it was still very cold with patches of black ice on some of the smaller roads but we arrived home safely. It was high tide on the Plym mid-morning and so I decided to clear my festive tipple head and take a short walk around Saltram in the chilly sunshine. 

Blaxton held the usual roosting birds with 5 Turnstone, 2 Greenshank, 9 Wigeon, 9 adult Common Gull and the Grey Plover amongst them. A Little Grebe and 2 pairs of Goosander were also noted out on the river despite disturbance by a paddle boarder. 

Around the Park 3 Buzzards were mewing overhead and Redwings were busily feeding away and allowing close approach. A female Stonechat was feeding along the fence by the road leading down from the car park and the female Red- Crested Pochard was still in residence on the duck pond. 


I had a quick scan of the small pond in the field by the wet wood as I always do, more in hope than expectation, and was very pleased to finally see a Water Rail feeding there, its only taken me nearly 2 years to see one here! 

Water Rail

Water Rail

I also had a quick look around the Wet Wood and found 2 female Teal quietly feeding away in the small stream. 


An enjoyable walk that helped clear my thick head from the night before and I'm now up to 110 species for The Plym and Saltram for the year. 

Wednesday 14 December 2022


My pre-Christmas break had to come to an end at some point and so it was back to work on a night shift on Saturday 10th December but not before a Plym/Saltram walk in the morning. 

It was bitterly cold and I was wrapped up in plenty of warm clothes as a Plymouth rarity showed very well - a hard frost! The ground and roofs were dusted with icing sugar frost along with all the vegetation and grass and it all looked very pretty but it was blooming cold, the coldest I've known it in Plymouth for some time.

Blaxton Meadow Frost


Frosty Leaf

I started at Marsh Mills but I had missed the high tide and the mudflats were starting to become exposed resulting in very few birds present on Blaxton Meadow - 2 Curlew, a Turnstone, 9 Snipe and 46 Wigeon (24 male) were present along with Mallard, Shelduck, a few Redshank and a few Herring Gulls.

A walk around the Park was quiet too with a Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker seen along with 2 female Stonechat, a Lapwing, a Buzzard, at least 7 Redwing and a high count of at least 14 Song Thrush.

Along The Plym 2 male Red-breasted Merganser, a Little Grebe, a Great Crested Grebe, 5 Goosander (2 male), a Kingfisher, a Grey Plover and a Common Sandpiper were seen and a Grey Wagtail was found feeding along the waters edge underneath the A38 flyover.

Brown Rat

I was glad to get back home and into the warmth though, it was a beautiful day to be out with some lovely light but it was bloody freezing! 

I survived my 2 night shifts (it was much warmer at work than in my house!) and so on my next day off on Tuesday 13th December I headed out to Wembury for a walk. It was grey and dank and there was no frost on the ground when I stepped off the bus but it was still bitterly cold.


As I walked down the road to the main beach I found a pair of Blackcap, a Fieldfare and a Redwing amongst the 20+ Blackbirds feeding on fallen apples in one of the gardens with the Fieldfare regularly chasing off any Blackbirds that came too near. 

Offshore there were Kittiwakes and Gannets milling around, all adults except for a single juvenile Gannet. An adult Common Gull flew in towards the beach, circled around the roosting Gulls and then flew back out to sea which was a nice surprise. A Great Northern Diver was picked up flying across the Bay before landing on the sea and promptly disappearing under the water, later it was seen flying up the River Yealm, and 2 Razorbills were also  feeding off the beach although they were rarely at the surface for long and were quite difficult to track between dives.

A flock of 14 Golden Plover flew over heading east and along the beach 2 Turnstone, 3 Curlew, Oystercatchers, 6 male and 3 female Mallard, 4 Little Egret and a Grey Heron were seen. Amongst the Gulls roosting on the rocks were 8 adult Mediterranean Gulls including a ringed bird (3EXH in black on a white ring on the left leg, ringed in 2013 in Belgium). 

Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls

Ringed Mediterranean Gull - 3EXH

The sea weed mass along the beach was very busy with feeding birds and amongst the Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Rock Pipit and Meadow Pipit present were 2 Grey Wagtail, a pair of Stonechat and a flitty and mobile Water Pipit, presumably last months bird which hopefully will now overwinter. 

Water Pipit with a Rock Pipit

It was soon time to catch the bus home and get back into the warm but it had been a very enjoyable and productive walk, a perfect antedote to the ongoing Christmas nonsense. 

Thursday 8 December 2022

A Trip to Suffolk

Sunday 4th December saw us heading off again, this time to visit my family before Christmas starting with my sister in Hampshire. The drive there was OK and along the way I saw 6 Red Kites, 4 Red-legged Partridge and the usual assorted road kill along the verges.

We only stayed overnight and had to endure watching the England v Senegal World Cup game on the TV but it was nice to catch up and to meet Morse, my sisters new rescue dog from Oxford who is absolutely gorgeous.


The next morning we drove on to Suffolk, admiring a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Nuthatch on my sisters bird feeders before we left and along the way I saw another 6 Red Kites soaring over the motorway. 

Our time in Suffolk was busy but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of bird watching along the way starting with an hours walk along the River Alde at Snape Maltings on Tuesday 6th December. It was cold in a stiff Easterly breeze but out on the mudflats I had some nice views of Avocet, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. In the reed beds Water Rail were squealing and Bearded Tit were pinging but both were keeping well hidden while a Kestrel was busy hovering overhead. 


Mute Swan

The highlight though was a Barn Owl briefly flying around before settling on a gate, the views were distant and it soon flew off again into cover, probably to roost in a barn owl box hidden in the trees but a very nice sighting indeed. 

Barn Owl

Wednesday 7th December was even colder with a stronger breeze than the previous day but I managed to get an hour at RSPB Hollesley Marsh, a reserve I've never visited before. Views were a bit distant but I managed to see 2 Marsh Harrier (a male and a fem/juv), Pintail, Black-tailed Godwit and Wigeon while a Cettis Warbler was briefly heard singing. 

There were lots of Canada Geese and Greylag Geese spread out across the Marsh and adjoining fields and hidden amongst them were at least 8 White-fronted Geese, they were distant and hunkered down in the grass but occasionally they looked up flashing off their white bill blazes. 

There were plenty of Gulls around too - Lesser and Great Black-backed, Common, Herring and Black-headed - and amongst them I found a stonking adult Caspian Gull which flew in and promptly went to sleep! It was eventually spooked by something along with all the other Gulls and took to the air, flying off before landing on the water further away and then promptly disappearing amongst the other Gulls but I was very pleased to have found one. 

Even better was my first ever sighting of Chinese Water Deer with 2 seen chasing each other along the side of the Marsh. They showed very well before disappearing back into the undergrowth, very distinctive looking with fox like colouring and large upright ears. 

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer

Heading back to Plymouth on Thursday 8th December and a further 8 Red Kite were seen soaring overhead on what was a sunny but cold day with temperatures not going above 4.5°c. 

A great trip away, some nice sightings, lovely to catch up with my family but now the hell of working Christmas and New Year in the NHS will begin. 

Saturday 3 December 2022

A Christmas Break

With the wet and windy weather continuing sea watching has remained interesting but I have been unable to get out for a look! However the weather on Saturday 26th November was foul and with some free time at last I headed up to Plymouth Hoe for a walk. Along the way I found a Little Grebe and a Kingfisher at Sutton Harbour and off The Hoe a Great Northern Diver was sheltering in the lee of Drakes Island and 3 adult Kittiwakes were feeding close to the shore off Tinside Pool.

Kittiwake, Plymouth Sound

I got absolutely soaked through so headed home to warm up and dry off after only a short time but it was nice to get out in the wind and rain and see a few interesting birds.

Sunday 27th November saw us heading up to London on the train for a 2 night stay at The Clermont Hotel Charing Cross courtesy of Thistle Hotels. I had entered a competition back at the beginning of the year which I then totally forgot about so it was a bit of a surprise to find out I had won.

The train journey to London was uneventful and along the way I saw a Fox, Fallow Deer and Roe Deer and Cattle Egret. Brent Geese and Red-breasted Merganser along the River Exe but surprisingly not a single Red Kite.

London was OK, busy and hectic and exhausting but we had an enjoyable time and the hotel was lovely, all in all it was a great prize to win. I didn't have any wildlife watching opportunities though with the only thing of note being noisy Ring-necked Parakeets flying around. 

Christmas Lights, London

After our 2 night stay in London we headed off on Tuesday 29th November to Brugge in Belgium on The Eurostar for a Christmas Market break. Unfortunately the train journey was beset with delays and we finally arrived in Brugge at around 9pm, some 3 hours later than planned but Brugge soon made up for it, such a beautiful city with amazing architecture and very, very Christmassy.

Christmas Lights, Brugge

Grand Place, Brussels

Again there were no wildlide watching opportunities but the highlight was a rather tardy White Stork seen briefly flying over the train on the journey from Brugge to Brussels. Fortunately the journey back to Plymouth on Friday 2nd December was delay free. 

Saturday 3rd December was cold and sunny as I caught the bus to Laira Bridge for a Plym walk, however within a few minutes of arriving it had clouded over and remained dull, gloomy and cold in a biting North Easterly wind until I headed back home on the bus from Marsh Mills when the sky cleared and the sun reappeared.

Despite the weather it was an enjoyable walk with some nice sightings. Along The Plym the highlights were 2 male Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Goosander (3 male), a Great Crested Grebe, 5 Mute Swan (2 juveniles), a Shag, a Common Sandpiper, a Snipe on the estuary side of Blaxton Meadow and 10 Wigeon. Highlights on The Meadow itself were 6 Greenshank, 9 Turnstone, 16 Oystercatcher, 26 Curlew, 6 adult Common Gull, a Grey Plover, Redshank and Dunlin.

Blaxton Meadow 


Around Saltram 2 Nuthatch, 3 Stock Dove, 2 Green Woodpecker, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Mistle Thrush, a Bullfinch and Redwing were the highlights with 7 Roe Deer and a Grey Squirrel adding some mammalian interest.

A nice break but the Christmas juggernaut continues apace, I already can't wait for the New Year. 

Sunday 20 November 2022

Waders, Water Pipit and Whinchat

With a night shift looming again on Tuesday 15th November we had a lunchtime walk around Plymouth Hoe to get some fresh air. I kept an eye out for any Grey Phalaropes with no luck but a Kingfisher was a nice surprise on the rocks near the Sutton Harbour lock gates and 10 Turnstones feeding below the Pier One cafe was a good count. 

Thursday 17th November and we had another lunchtime walk around Plymouth Hoe, there still were no Grey Phalaropes to be found and this time there were 8 Turnstone feeding on the rocks but with them was a Purple Sandpiper, the first of this winter.

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Friday 18th November was dry and sunny but surprisingly cool in the breeze and I decided to have a quick River Plym and Saltram walk. The tide was heading in but it was to be a low high tide and Blaxton Meadow remained water free with no water coming in through the sluice gates at all. However waders were roosting on the Meadow with the best find being a Grey Plover asleep amongst the assembled Curlew, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Greenshank and Redshank. 

Out on the River a Great Crested Grebe and 3 Little Grebe were seen along with 2 Shag, 2 male and 3 female Goosander, 2 female Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Kingfisher. A Dipper was a nice find as it dived into the water just above Long Bridge and the female Red-crested Pochard was back in residence on the duck pond.

Red-crested Pochard

There was no sign of any Reed Buntings on a quick look around The Tip but a Whinchat was still present along with a pair of Stonechat. Another male and 2 female Stonechat were also seen near the dipping pond. A skulky Chiffchaff was calling deep in cover near the railway bridge and 5 Ring-necked Parakeets screeched around the tree tops when a Buzzard passed overhead.

Saturday 19th November was bitingly cold as I stood in the dark waiting for the 7am bus to Wembury. It was even colder when I arrived at Wembury and my fingerless gloves were not the best fashion choice of the day as my fingertips were painfully numb within just a few minutes but as the sun rose and did its thing it began to warm up nicely. It was a beautiful day with sunny skies and no wind and the sea was totally flat calm but after all the recent rain the footpath was back to its usual winter mud bath state as I headed off towards The Point.

The Cetti's Warbler was again singing away in the valley to the beach, louder and more confident sounding than a few weeks ago when it first arrived. On a quick scan of the fields above the horse stable I found 2 Mistle Thrush chasing each other around, surprisingly my first for Wembury this year. A male Cirl Bunting showed exceptionally well in the lovely sunlight as it sang quietly in a tree while a noisy Green Woodpecker flew across the hillside.

Cirl Bunting

A Grey Wagtail was briefly seen along the beach before flying off and amongst the Pied Wagtails, Rock Pipits and Meadow Pipits I was really pleased to find a Water Pipit. November seems to be a good month to see Water Pipit at Wembury, not the usual habitat for Water Pipit but maybe they are just passing through although they sometimes overwinter here. It wasn't as striking as the bird I found last year but it was very distinctive and as usual was flitty and mobile and regularly chasing off any other Pipits that came near. 

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

Water Pipit

I had a look for the reported Black Redstarts in Wembury village with no luck but I did find a male Blackcap before catching the bus back to Plymouth, alighting off the bus at Laira Bridge for another River Plym/Saltram walk.

It had clouded over and had cooled down somewhat but the Whinchat was still present on The Tip along with 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Snipe, a pair of Stonechat, 2 Redwing and 8 Roe Deer. 



It was a higher tide than the previous day and water was coming through the sluice gates into Blaxton Meadow. The Grey Plover was still present amongst the Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Greenshank along with a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone and at least 3 Snipe while out on the river the Great Crested Grebe and the female Red-breasted Merganser were still present along with a Little Grebe, 2 Mute Swan, a female Wigeon and a male Goosander.