Plymouth Branch Field Meeting

Bowling Green Marsh and Darts Farm visit on 14th March 2019

Posted March 20th at 3:18 pm in Plymouth Branch Field Meeting by Inga Page

After a number of days of strong gales and rain, the forecast was abysmal and so the weather proved to be.  However, six brave souls from Devon Birds ventured out.

From Holman Way car park, we walked towards the hide with high water due at 11:00. We stopped briefly at Goosemoor before ambling to the hide where we remained until after high water.  The water levels on the marsh in front of the hide were higher than expected as the sluice had been defective and was only lowering the level slowly.  From the hide, we managed a brief stop at the platform to look over the River Clyst before progressing to the Goat Walk and viewing the River Exe.   However, the wind was so strong that nobody felt it safe to put up a ‘scope. 

After lunch it was decided to venture to Darts Farm for the final stop of the day where a pair of Black Swans seemed to have taken up residence.  On the way back to Holman Way car park on Bowling Green Road, as we were looking at white violas on the top of the bank, we noticed a Slow Worm sunning itself.

Although the weather, especially the wind, did not make for a good days birding we agreed that we had a lot better visit than expected with a total of 53 species observed.

Species list

Mute Swan, Black Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Snipe, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wren (heard), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow, Linnet, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch.

John O’Connell-Davidson


Visit to West Charleton Marsh on 15th February 2019

Posted March 1st at 4:23 pm in Plymouth Branch Field Meeting by Inga Page

On a bright sunny morning, a group of fifteen members gathered outside the West Charleton Water Treatment works.  Unfortunately, there was a man working there and only one grey wagtail, two chiffchaffs and a greenfinch were of note. On moving down the marsh, a couple of grey herons and stonechats were seen but few other birds. Due to a breakdown of the sluice, the marsh had been inundated with seawater for two weeks in January, with a strandline of debris marking the extent of the flood. The marshland vegetation was looking in a poor state, presumably due to the saline invasion.  Hence, we were very pleased to hear two water rails and glimpse one, as we feared they might have been driven away. The channels and pool held a few mallard, teal, grey herons and little egrets.

On arrival at the hide, we were disappointed to find that the tide was right up to the sea wall below the hide, although it was still almost three hours before high water. Consequently, less shore birds were found than had been anticipated. There was a smattering of the usual wintering estuarine birds, and numbers of curlew and oystercatchers could be seen roosting on a distant shore. A highlight were the regular groups of dunlin seen flying in across the bay, until eventually several hundreds put on a lovely, if distant, display.

Towards the end of our visit, a medium sized grey seal appeared about 100 metres away in front of the hide.  On the way back up the marsh, peacock and red admiral butterflies were observed fluttering in the February sun. A total of thirty four species of birds were observed by the group.

Marsh

Jackdaw, Blackbird, Herring Gull, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, Stonechat, Water Rail, Mallard , Teal, Buzzard, Robin , Wren, Chaffinch, Magpie, Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail, Long-tailed Tit, Little Egret , Moorhen

Estuary

Brent Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Wigeon, Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Shelduck, Redshank, Greenshank, Great Black-backed Gull, Cormorant

Doug Herdson


Trip to Broadsands and Brixham on January 17th

Posted January 21st at 4:42 pm in Plymouth Branch Field Meeting by Inga Page

This, our first field meeting of 2019, led by Doug Herdson, was strongly supported by 26 members who enjoyed a cold but bright January day. We were well rewarded by the sighting of some 44 species with highlights being Cirl Bunting, Red Necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Razorbill and Yellow Browed Warbler at Broadsands and Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and Rock Pipit around the breakwater and Great Northern Diver & Kittiwake out at sea.

Cirl Bunting (Dave Batten)

Turnstone (Dave Batten)

In addition to these avian highlights we saw a pod of fifteen Common Dolphin, including at least two calves, at Broadsands and, at Brixham, five Grey Seal.

Common Dolphin (Dave Batten)

Grey Seal {Dave Batten)

Full species list:

Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Longtailed Tit, Blackcap, Raven, Song Thrush, Yellow Browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Cirl Bunting, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Buzzard, Peregrine, Magpie, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Great Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Bullfinch, Cormorant, Shag, Gannet, Fulmar, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull, Razorbill, Great Crested Grebe, Red Necked Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Rock Pipit, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Jay, Goldcrest.

John Lloyd

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