Friday 23 September 2022

Rivers Hayle, Plym and Tavy

Roller, Bere Ferrers, 21st September

Saturday 17th September was sunny but breezy and cool and with the day free to myself I decided to catch the train to Hayle for a walk. Originally there was to have been a national rail strike that day but with the death of the Queen it was called off and so I thought I would make the most of the unexpected opportunity. I had a late start and caught the 9:45am train, arriving in Hayle at around 11:30am. High tide had been around 10:00am and on arriving off the train I headed straight up the Estuary to Ryan's Field as the tide was ebbing out. 

The Carnsew Pool was still completely full but the tide was lower out on the estuary than I expected and Ryan's Field was devoid of any birdlife other than a Little Egret, 2 Greenshank and a Wheatear. There was a large roosting flock of Gulls out on the mudflats of the estuary, mostly Herring Gulls with a few Lesser and Great Black-back Gulls amongst them but in a much lower number than in the wintertime. Black-headed Gulls were present too but I only found 6 adult Mediterranean Gulls in winter plumage amongst them.


It was lovely to here the whistling calls of the eclipse-plumaged Wigeon present and there were good numbers of similarly plumaged Teal present as well along with a few mallard. A lone Lapwing and a lone Whimbrel were noted along with the usual Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit also seen but there was no sign of any small waders.

I headed back to the Carnsew Pool where 3 Wheatears and a pair of Stonechats were seen along the path but there were no Ivy Bees on the Ivy flowers. 3 Little Grebe were out on the water of the Pool but there was still no mud on show so I had a look along the estuary nearby and eventually found around 12 Turnstones feeding amongst the seaweed where hidden Ringed Plovers and Dunlins were hunkered down out of the wind. A single flighty Common Sandpiper was also present. 


I carried on to Copperhouse Creek where I found a small flock of waders feeding out on the mud and was very pleased to find a single Curlew Sandpiper amongst them which showed very nicely through my scope. Time was marching on though so I headed back to the Carnsew Pool for another look, enjoying a pasty from Philps along the way.

Back at the Pool the water was draining away nicely and the mud was beginning to be exposed. A Dunlin flew in to feed with the Bar-tailed Godwits present and eventually more small waders arrived and as I scanned through them I also found 3 Little Stint. They were moving closer and closer towards me but suddenly everything took to the air and as I scanned around hoping for an Osprey I found a juvenile Peregrine dashing about before moving off. After a while the small waders began to return to the Pool but there was no sign of the Little Stints again before I had to return to the station to catch the train back to Plymouth.

Little Stints

Little Stint

Little Stint and Dunlin

I headed back home on the train and it had been a very enjoyable and very autumnal day out birding and I have finally achieved my Big Autumn Five (Wood Sandpiper, Osprey, Yellow Wagtail, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint) for the first time since 2018!

Monday 19th September was the day of the Queens funeral and so I decided to head out to Saltram and The Plym for a walk and to have some quiet reflection time before my night shift. It was sunny and still and with a fresh feel to the air when I arrived at around 10am but it did warm up as the morning progressed.

A Dipper was seen at Longbridge as I stepped off the bus and on my return walk there were 2 present along with 2 Grey Wagtail.

The tide was heading in, a low high tide and so the water wasn't entering Blaxton Meadow through the sluices but out on the Meadow were 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper, a Knot, 20 Oystercatcher, 2 Greenshank, Curlew and Redshank.

Bar-tailed Godwits and a Knot

A surprise sighting were 2 eclipse-plumaged Teal on the Duck Pond, maybe the birds from last winter returning for another stay. A lone male Mandarin Duck out of eclipse plumage was also present amongst the Moorhens and assorted Mallards. 




A Whinchat, a pair of Stonechat, a Green Woodpecker and 4 Chiffchaff were seen at Chelson where a Small Heath, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral were also found flitting about. Overhead 2 noisy Raven and a Rook were noted. 

A few Common Darter were flying around the Dipping Pond where a few pairs were also egg laying. Large blue Hawkers also dashed past but too quickly to ID but a female Southern Hawker egglaying on the rocks and vegetation around the pond did settle long enough for a decent view. 

Southern Hawker

The traffic noise noticeably quietened down around 11am, the time of the funeral, and it was reminiscent of the eerie quiet of the 2020 COVID spring lockdown, but by the time I left to head back home the traffic was getting back to normal as people were making the most of the extra Bank Holiday and the good weather. A very sad day though. 

On heading home from the first of my 2 night shifts on the Tuesday morning my Twitter feed lit up with news of the Roller being reseen at Bere Ferrers but there was nothing I could do about it! It showed very well that day while I was in bed but as I headed home on the Wednesday morning after my second night shift my Twitter lit up again with news of its continuing presence and so after an hour and a half of sleep I headed out on the train again to Bere Ferrers for a look. 

It was a beautiful September day, sunny and warm, and news of the Roller still showing well kept cropping up on my phone as the train chugged along to Bere Ferrers. On arriving I took a quick walk down to the social club just a short distance away where there were assorted birders milling around but the Roller wasn't on show. After a wander around and no sign of the Roller I decided to head down to the estuary for a quick look, a good decision as I soon found an Osprey circling around before successfully catching a fish and flying off into the trees to eat it. Even better were 6 Curlew Sandpiper out on the mudflats with a Dunlin but unfortunately a little distant and I hadn't brought my telescope with me on this trip. 


I headed back uphill to the social club and as I neared the village hall the Roller suddenly appeared on the telephone wires where it showed amazingly well on and off for the next 90 minutes before I had to head to the station to catch the train back to Plymouth. 





A juvenile bird and very beautiful although a little scruffy but in flight it was stunning. It spent long periods perched on posts and roofs and wires before swooping down to grab insects off the ground but it would disappear off into nearby gardens every now and then where it was out of view. A very lovely bird, a UK life tick and I was very pleased to finally see it on my third attempt. 





I crashed and burned on getting back home, I was completely knackered out but still grinning from ear to ear after such an amazing encounter.

Thursday 22nd September was cool and breezy with sunny spells and so we headed down to Perranporth for the day. The forecast was for increasing cloud and then rain and by the time we headed home it had clouded over completely but it did remain dry. 

There were fewer people around than usual but noticeably more dogs and we actually managed to enjoy a cooked breakfast at The Watering Hole this time, the first time we have done so since 2019. It was as tasty as always and probably enhanced by the feel of sand between the toes as we sat out on the benches on the beach. 

There wasn't much going on on the wildlife front, it was quiet offshore with a few Gannet and a Shag noted and in the dunes a female Stonechat, a Wheatear and a Meadow Pipit were seen. A small flock of small waders were flushed off the beach by walkers, distant views only but Ringed Plover and Dunlin were picked out amongst them before they were lost from view. The only other sightings of note were the usual Trout in the stream and a very tame Rock Pipit feeding around the tables at The Watering Hole. 


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