On the ferry back to Plymouth from Santander on Thursday 17th August I started to feel unwell and this continued when I eventually arrived back at home. Anyway, it wasn't until Tuesday 22nd August that I finally felt well enough to venture outside, having missed out on Osprey and Spoonbill on the River Plym and Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat and Redshank at Wembury but never mind.
It was forecast to be a warm and sunny day on Tuesday 22nd August and indeed it was and so I headed out to the River Plym for a walk. It was high tide and out on Blaxton Meadow were 2 Whimbrel, my first on The Plym this year along with 2 Teal, also Plym year firsts. Also present were 12 Little Egret (plus another 2 along The Embankment), 4 Oystercatcher, 6 Greenshank, 4 juvenile Shelduck and a Common Sandpiper along with the usual Curlew, Redshank and Gulls.
A redhead Goosander roosting on the mud along the river by the Gas Pipe was a sign of the approaching autumn and a few eclipse plumaged Mandarin were also skulking in the overhanging branches nearby. A few Mandarin were at the duck pond too along with the usual female Red Crested Pochard.
I eventually found at least 3 Spotted Flycatchers feeding in a different area again, presumably the same birds but moving around the estate to make use of the best feeding areas. I also finally saw my first Plym Great Spotted Woodpecker of the year, having only heard them so far, and a Green Woodpecker was heard mockingly laughing at me for this fact!
A flyover Swift with the Swallows and House Martins was a nice late surprise and a Kestrel over was a good sighting too. A noisy quartet of soaring Buzzards eventually split off into pairs and drifted off their own ways.
A Roe Deer, a Jersey Tiger Moth, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Small Heath, Common Blue, 2 Small Copper and Common Darters were the non-avian highlights but I was glad to return home and get out of the sun although I had had an enjoyable but tiring time.
Wednesday 23rd August was a beautiful day, hot and sunny, but as I was still feeling less than 100% we headed up to Bude for the day. It wasn't too busy considering the weather but the majority of people present in Bude all appeared to be jam packed onto the beach.
We had an enjoyable day out with a Kingfisher and a very confiding Greenshank seen along the river right in the centre of Bude and a flighty juvenile Wheatear seen on the golf course but best of all were 2 Cattle Egret at Maer Lake with 31 Black-tailed Godwits, a Little Egret, Sand Martins, Swallows and House Martins.
Thursday 24th August was warm, humid, overcast and showery as I headed out to Wembury for a walk. I caught the 07:05hrs bus to avoid the dog emptiers and the walk wasn't too busy, the showery weather presumably keeping a lot of the Fidos indoors. The tide was heading in but the sea was flat calm and offshore the usual Gannets were seen along with 3 distant Sandwich Terns.
I scanned along the beach and initially only found the usual Oystercatchers but eventually the small waders present were picked out amongst the sea weed with the totals ending up at 28 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover, 6 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin and 2 Common Sandpiper. 2 Curlew and 2 Whimbrel were also seen but the best was a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit which flew in during a thundery shower, tried to sleep on the rocks despite looking very unsettled before giving up and flying off high to the west.
I scanned through the roosting Gulls and found 10 juvenile Mediterranean Gulls with 2 adults but they were restless and mobile and more birds were obviously present. A few juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present too but the highlight was a stonking juvenile Yellow-legged Gull hidden in plain sight amongst the birds and giving itself away with a very large and striking bill. A different bird to those I've seen recently and showing very well too and strange to see it begging at an adult Herring Gull which gave it very short shrift although it maintained its aggressive air towards any juvenile Herring Gulls that came too near.
A juvenile Willow Warbler was flitting about in the pine trees with Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap and Whitethroats seemed to be everywhere too. At least 5 Wheatear were along the beach with 4 Yellow Wagtails - a single bird bizarrely feeding out on the rocks with Pied Wagtails before flying off high inland and a group of 3 birds which also did the same. Another bird was then seen feeding in the more usual setting of the horse field before it too flew off high west.
I headed out to the River Plym for a walk again on Friday 25th August, the previous day had seen an interesting spread of birds reported on the bird news pages but I wasn't expecting much. However I did see my first ever Plym Sedge Warbler and it was good to see a Knot on Blaxton Meadow as the tide came in but otherwise it was the usual fare.
I also headed out again to Wembury for a walk on Saturday 25th August. I caught the early bus and for a change I walked east along the clifftop path past the church, a route I often consider but rarely take. It was a good choice today though as I found a Spotted Flycatcher, a Sedge Warbler, a Willow Warbler, 2 juvenile Bullfinch, a Raven, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Whitethroats for my troubles.
The beach was interesting too and suprisingly free of dog walkers until late morning. A Knot was a nice find and also present were 9 Ringed Plover, 9 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, Oystercatchers, 2 Curlew, around 30 Turnstone and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit which eventually flew off west.
A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was present amongst the roosting Gulls and I also refound the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull from 2 days ago which seemed fascinated by a small pebble that it kept dropping into the water before diving down under the surface to retrieve it.
A Clouded Yellow flew past all too quickly, a beautiful splash of bright yellow, and Swallows and House Martins were drifting over west and amongst them were 2 Sand Martins, my first at Wembury this year.
So two visits to my two favourite places, both proving to be very interesting as usual, and my bird-off between the two sites is pretty equal pegging at the moment. Who knows what's next?