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