Mid Devon Field Meet, Slapton Ley and Beesands, 9th Feb.

A group of nine members from the Mid Devon, Plymouth and Taw & Torridge groups enjoyed a full day of birding on 9th Feb at Slapton Ley and Beesands Ley.  Under the direction of Mid Devon’s guest leader Doug Herdson, we ended the day with a total count of 50 species.  Two Pochards and a N. American Ring-necked duck  were seen associating with Tufted Ducks at Beesands, while a Marsh Harrier flew back and forth along the Ley before choosing to land awkwardly in the reeds, offering memorable views from the hide.  A large number of duck were drawn to the spectacle, congregating in the water directly in front of the Harrier before it sprang up to disappear from view.  Highlights at Slapton included one Common Goldeneye, numerous Gadwall, a disgruntled Water Rail and a single Great Northern Diver.  The association of Gadwall and Coot was interesting to observe; pointed out by Doug, it appears that it is common practice for Gadwall to steal aquatic weed from Coots – a behaviour known as kleptoparasitism.