Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year Birding

New Year's Day saw myself and Kevin meet up early for a visit to the Gower and from there on to WWT Penclcwydd.
First call was to Blackpill and on a receding tide were good numbers of Oystercatchers and Curlew with the usual gulls but nothing else of note.
From there we pushed on to Bracelet Bay,Mumbles to pick up Mediterranean Gull and about 20 of varying ages but mostly adults duly obliged on the rocks below the car park.
A small flock of Linnets on the gorse bushes attracted a cracking male Sparrowhawk who perched for a short while enabling me to "digiscope" a distant record shot.
Next stop was Pennard where we hoped to pick up Chough and have a scan of the Scoter flocks which generally form large rafts offshore,unfortunately we dipped on both and the lack of any Scoters was something of a surprise and disappointment.
We then called into Millwood just off the main road at Penrice which is always pretty reliable for Marsh Tit and 3 duly obliged at the end of our walk along the circular route.
In addition we also picked up Lesser Redpoll,Goldfich,Nuthatch,Treecreeper,and all of the more common tits.
On the way to Port Eynon we called into Scurlage to pick up Lapwing and Goldie Looking Plover which had been on the fields in good numbers during the Gyr Falcon twitch and good numbers still remained,we kidded ourselves that we would refind the Gyr Falcon but no such luck !!
At Port Eynon we marched out to the "Grassy Knoll" and rocks beyond to catch up with Purple Sandpiper picking up the likes of Turnstone,Stonechat and Rock Pipit on the way.
A single Purple Sand showed itself but only after I had slipped and drowned my little Fuji compact in a rock pool so anymore thoughts of "digiscoping" duly disappeared !!
We crossed over the Gower to Penclacwydd and after about 30 mins were glad we hadn't based our whole day there as everything including the scrape in front of the British Steel hide was frozen over.
A few Lapwing,Curlew and Common Snipe lurked around the scrape by which time it was too late to travel anywhere else so we moved over to the lagoons over the "other side" in the hope of picking up an owl or harrier as the light faded.
We had no success with either and so headed for home more than a little disappointed that the day had fizzled out after a promising start.
With Dan unavailable on Sun 3.Jan myself,Kevin,Wayne and Geri made an early start to get down to Devon by first light and catch up with some of the good birds that had shown up in the area.
First stop was Topsham for the Spotted Sandpiper but with an early high tide we decided we make another stop on our return journey.
We pushed on to Powderham where a Cattle Egret had been showing and the bird duly obliged in amongst half a dozen Little Egrets near the distant group of Fallow Deer.
It is a Cattle Egret,honestly !!!
Next stop was Dawlish where a female Surf Scoter lurked offshore with the Common Scoters,we trudged out to Warren Point passing several of the sea defence groynes on the way most of which had a Grey Plover perched on each of the posts on the high tide.
I was using Teresa's old Sony W1 to "digiscope" as my little Fuji was well and truly knackered after my mishap on New Year's Day,with it being about 5 year old and not having image stabilization is my excuse for producing some really crap photos (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).
We scanned and scanned and still we couldn't find the Surf Scoter,there were several Commons and we found a few Velvets but the Surf sadly eluded us.We still picked up some good birds with good numbers of Dunlin,some Knot and Ringed Plover as well as Slav and GC Grebe and GN and RT Divers.
Time was pressing and after a long walk back to Kevin's car we headed for Exminster Marshes where the Red Breasted Goose had been reported with a large flock of Brent Geese,no sooner had we arrived than we were told that they had all moved to Dart Farm over the far side of Topsham.
En-route we de-toured to the stubble fields above Exminster village where Cirl Bunting,Woodlark,Linnet,Green Woodpecker and other more common farmland species all put in an appearance.
Next stop was a return visit to Topsham for the Spot Sand which after a trudge across the recreation fields to the river gave excellent views as it picked it's way along the bank.

We pushed on the short distance to Dart Farm at which time Kev's pager informed us that the RB Goose and Brents had turned up at Bowling Green Marsh and after a quick about turn and march down the lane we were soon watching this terrific looking goose feeding with the Brents in the field adjacent to the path leading to the viewing platform,it appears to have all the credentials for being genuine and althiugh it will probably never be accepted by any rarities committee it's going down as a "tick" on my UK list.

We enjoyed cracking views of the goose and then walked the short distance to the viewing platform where Geri enjoyed showing several non-birders Avocets and the difference between Common and Spotted Redshank as they fed side by side on the mud.

The light soon faded and a cracking day had come to a close,my only regret was that I had left my new SLR and big lens at home never dreaming that we would get such close views of the Spot Sand and RB Goose,there's a moral in that story and a lesson to be learned there I think.

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