Sunday 20 March 2022

Spring on The Plym

Friday 18th March was yet another glorious day with sunshine and blue skies but with a continuing chilly breeze. I was up and out of the house by 8am and heading off to Saltram to meet up with other birders from the Friends of Saltrams Wildlife Group for a meeting to discuss the ongoing plans to build a solar farm on Chelson Meadow, the best piece of wildlife habitat on the whole of the Saltram Estate.

Chelson Meadow - soon to be no more

The meeting was with Alistair Macpherson, the Chief Executive of Plymouth Energy Community, the company developing the scheme, and while it was interesting and informative the overall feeling was that the scheme is going to go ahead anyway and it is now about getting as much mitigation in place to try and keep as much benefit to wildlife as possible as the development goes ahead.

It's all very sad, a beautiful piece of habitat in the heart of Plymouth is set to be destroyed and the loss of wildlife is tragic. Annoyingly the houses currently being built on the housing estate next to Chelson Meadow could quite easily accomodate more solar panels on their roofs than the solar farm will achieve and all without any habitat loss.

We may be in a climate crisis but we are also in an ecological crisis too, destroying habitat to generate green energy is really not the way to go and surely there is a better site for this scheme to go ahead on. 


The meeting lasted about an hour and when it was finished I had a wander around the Estate and along the Plym, enjoying the sunshine and the wildlife on view including a good count of 11 Roe Deer. 

Roe Deer

The sunshine again brought out the butterflies and I managed to see at least 5 Peacock, 3 Comma and 3 Small Tortoiseshell. 




A Dark-edged Bee Fly was a first for the year too as it fed on Primrose flowers. 

Dark-edged Bee Fly

It was lovely to hear at least 6 Chiffchaffs singing away along with my first 2 Blackcaps of the year. A yaffling Green Woodpecker and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard only but a pair of Bullfinch, a singing Goldcrest, a songflighting Greenfinch, at least 4 Stock Doves and at least 5 Ring-necked Parakeets were seen. A Peregrine flying over was presumably one of the birds from the nearby nest site at Plymbridge Woods. 

Along the Plym an aggressive Mute Swan chased off another pair which took flight and disappeared off downriver. A Kingfisher was also seen flying downriver on the dropping tide and a smart looking summer plumaged Shag was busily diving for food out on the water. A lone female Goosander and a lone male Mandarin Duck were also noted along with the usual Mallard, Shelduck, Canada Geese and Cormorant. 

Mute Swan

The mudflats were relatively quiet but I did find 3 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin and a Curlew along with around 20 Redshank and 20 Turnstone while amongst the Gulls present (H, BH and GBB) were 5 Common Gulls (4 adults and 1 2nd calendar year bird) and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. 

An enjoyable walk despite the ongoing depressing situation regarding Chelson Meadow, at least spring is on its way and let's see where the solar farm application leads. 

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