A group of 18 Plymouth Branch members were amply rewarded on our visit to Slapton Ley, not just because the forecast weather warnings didn’t materialise but that we were able to watch over 50 bird species.  For most though, the highlight of the day was non-avian when we watched an Otter hunting in the open water of the Ley, then returning to the reeds with its catch of a large eel.

The day got off to an excellent start with the first of many sightings of a Great White Egret soon followed at the other end of the size scale by a Firecrest in the brambles from the viewing area close to the bridge parking site.  In fact, about 15 species had been clocked up before we set off along the path.

As you would expect for this site there were few waders, except for those in wellingtons taking care to navigate the sections of flooded path which at times were above ankle depth.

There was plenty to keep everyone interested as we walked to the back of the site for lunch and later took in the waste water treatment works before heading for the beach.  The grey seas showed up the plumage of diving Gannets and whilst there, we had two Great Northern Divers provide a fly past finale for the group.

Those who explored the water from the Torcross car park rounded off the day with views of Pochard and Goldeneye to add to the tally of duck species.

Highlights from the visit were

  • several sightings of Firecrest,
  • great views and prolonged sightings of Great White Egret
  • many sightings of Jay
  • Great Crested and Little Grebe among the many Tufted Duck
  • Snipe in flight
  • Peregrine,
  • Chiffchaff and Goldcrest in good numbers
  • Pochard and Goldeneye

Species list: (H = heard)

Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail (♂), Wigeon, Pochard (♂), Tufted Duck, Goldeneye (♀), Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Peregrine, Water Rail (H), Moorhen, Coot, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch (52)

Otter, Grey Seal

John Lloyd (Event Leader)