Sunday 20 November 2022
Tuesday 15 November 2022
Sunday 6th November was a day of blustery showers and sunny spells and I hadn't really planned to go out birding. However by lunchtime I felt the need to get out for a walk and so headed out to Marsh Mills for a quick look around The Plym on the incoming tide.
It was very windy and the showers were really heavy but the tide was higher than I expected with the estuary covered by water and waders feeding and roosting on Blaxton Meadow as the tide gushed in through the sluice gates. By the time I left the wind was blowing the tide over the top of the sluice wall into the Meadow, the first time I have seen this happen.
I scanned around for the Curlew Sandpiper which has been present now for the past week but couldn't find it amongst the Dunlin although the birds were mobile and flighty at times and often obscured amongst the vegetation as the fed or roosted. Redshank were also present and equally mobile along with 17 Oystercatcher and 9 Greenshank and amongst the Curlew I found a vocal Whimbrel, my first for November on The Plym.
A 1st winter Common Gull was the first on The Plym for me this winter period and a Kingfisher, 21 Wigeon, 14 Grey Heron and a Little Egret were also seen.
Out on the river a Common Sandpiper, 2 Grey Wagtail, a redhead Goosander and 4 Mute Swan were present with sadly a corpse of a Mute Swan seen floating in on the tide, possibly an Avian flu victim.
It was quite chilly in the wind and with viewing increasingly difficult and the light fading I headed home to warm up but it had been a short and enjoyable visit.
Another duo of night shifts starting on Monday 7th November saw me asleep in bed on Tuesday 8th while a storm battered the South Devon coast. The bad weather saw a smattering of scarce seabirds being reported including 2 Leach's Petrels in Plymouth! Yet another example of my days off not matching up with good sea watching conditions!
With news of a Black Redstart near Laira Bridge on The Plym on Friday 11th November we took a lunchtime walk to have a look for it. Needless to say I didn't see it but we had an enjoyable walk anyway with the female Red-crested Pochard asleep amongst the Mallard on Blaxton Meadow and 3 Black-tailed Godwit feeding together on the incoming tide off Blagdons Meadow the highlights.
Saturday 12th November and with sunny skies and no rain forecast I was up and out early, catching the 7am bus to Wembury for a walk. It was a beautiful morning and as I walked down the valley to the beach the Cettis Warbler was again calling along the stream. There was a strong onshore breeze and with the tide high there was some nice surf breaking onto the beach and a few surfers were already out on their boards and catching the waves.
As I walked along the footpath towards The Point a Bunting flew up into the bushes by the stubble field, I expected it to be a Cirl but on checking it out I was very pleased to find it was in fact a Reed Bunting, my first at Wembury.
Oystercatchers, a Curlew and 4 Little Egret were roosting on the beach by the sewage pipe as the surf crashed into the shore and assorted gulls were swirling around and feeding in the turbulence along the tide line, mostly Black- headed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls and at least 2 adult Kittiwakes.
A small pale bird was picked out amongst the gulls further out from the beach and I thought it may have been a Little Gull but on checking it out I was very pleased to see it was in fact a Grey Phalarope, another first for Wembury for me. It was busily feeding and gradually came in closer to the beach on the swell where it gave some great views through my scope. I watched it for a while as the gulls began to disperse until the Phalarope was left all alone and later on my walk back it too had disappeared.
A scan offshore didn't reveal much, just a few Gannets, more Kittiwakes, 1 first winter and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls and 3 Common Scoter flying east - unfortunately no Leach's Petrels or Sabine's Gulls!
Woodpigeon were on the move again with around 500 noted moving west in flocks of 10-50 over the course of my walk and with a single Stock Dove amongst them.
I caught the bus back to Plymouth and got off at Laira Bridge to have a Plym/Saltram walk and by this time it was quite warm in the sunshine despite the continuing strong breeze.
Another look for the Black Redstart drew a blank as did a look for the reported Reed Bunting but I did see one of the two reported Whinchat, a very strange sighting for November! A Large White flying past was also a little incongruous for the time of year.
A pair of Stonechats, a very showy Green Woodpecker, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Chiffchaff and 6 Roe Deer were the best of the rest in the Park while out on the estuary on the low tide a Lapwing feeding along the water line and a Great Crested Grebe busily diving away just north of Laira Bridge were nice surprises.
A great day out in lovely weather, very soul soothing before I begin a 3 day stint at work.
Saturday 5 November 2022
Sunday 30th October was meant to be a day of chores but with the news coming through of a Curlew Sandpiper in amongst the waders on the high tide roost at Blaxton Meadow I headed out for a quick look.
It was another mild but breezy day with occasional sunny spells and the odd shower and with the clocks having gone back overnight it was surprisingly relatively people free at 10:30 when I arrived on site.
Local Birders Pete and Martin were both present at the viewing platform and I quickly found the bird amongst the assorted waders all huddled up out of the wind along the river wall. It showed well at times as it busily fed amongst the grass but was often obscured amongst the roosting Redshank and Dunlin until it finally went to sleep with its head tucked under its wing - my first River Plym Curlew Sandpiper! And very nice that it didn't give me the run around like some birds on the Plym have done this year!
Other highlights seen on my hour long visit before I had to head home to continue chores were a Common Sandpiper, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Little Grebe (1 on the Plym, 1 bizarrely on Blaxton Meadow), a redhead Goosander, 12 Grey Heron, a 1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Kingfisher and 10 Greenshank.
My 2 night shifts starting on Monday 31st October were wet and windy affairs with Storm Claudio rattling through and as a result there were Cory's Shearwaters and Leach's Storm Petrels seen off Berry Head while I was sleeping in bed! Never mind, my work shifts really haven't worked out very well with the best sea watching weather this autumn.
Thursday 3rd November was sunny and calmer and so I took a walk around Plymouth Hoe to see if any Grey Phalarope or Leach's Storm Petrel had been blown in but there was no sign of either as expected. A lone Turnstone was seen on the rocks below the Pier One Cafe and in Sutton Harbour 2 Little Egret and 8 Canada Geese were seen along with 21 Mute Swan.
Friday 4th November was calm and sunny but with the first proper feel of winter in the air. I headed out to Wembury for a walk but didn't arrive there until after 10am due to an accident holding up the traffic on Laira Bridge.
Birds were on the move in the calm and sunny conditions with 100+ Woodpigeon noted over in small flocks (with a lone Stock Dove) along with 50+ Skylark and 450+ Starling (3 large flocks and 2 small). A surprise were 8 Golden Plover high overhead moving west before appearing to head off out to sea.
Offshore was quiet with a couple of Gannet and a few Mediterranean Gulls noted while along the beach a Grey Wagtail, 3 Little Egret, a Grey Heron, a Curlew, a Turnstone, Oystercatchers and a male Mallard were seen.
A Firecrest in the gardens by the road leading down to the beach showed very well along with 2 Goldcrest and the Cetti's Warbler was still present in the bushes by the stream, vocal at times with a brief view finally obtained.
A Red Admiral flitted past and 2 Painted Lady showed well as they basked in the warmth of the sunshine.