Taw/Torridge field trip report, for February 2013

Nine members met at the Skern, Northam Burrows wrapped up against the cold north wind, and gathered to scan the salt marsh.  The sun shone highlighting 100+ Golden Plover as they rested on the marsh, 200+ Dark-bellied Brent Goose grazed on the shore line with Oystercatcher and several Grey Plover.  Walking towards the point, where the two rivers meet the sea, a Great-crested Grebe showed in the estuary and 100+ Wigeon and 50 Shelduck feeding along the shore. Skylarks were heard reminding us that spring is just around the corner. Instow cricket club was our next stop, to check a near-by barn where Little Owl is sometimes seen, but no luck on this occasion!  A short walk to the river bank produced several Grey Plover, 200+ roosting Oystercatcher, 150 Lapwing and 8 Sanderling.

After lunch we headed to Yelland and RSPB reserve, Isley Marsh.  Two Mistle Thrush were seen in the adjacent meadows with a Kestrel overhead.  Just offshore at Isley we spotted 5 Spoonbill sleeping on a mud bank with Curlew, Wigeon, Redshank, Teal and 2 Ruff.  A lone Snipe was spotted by Andy Cudmore, and a debate was had about a possible Jack, although views were not good enough to verify.  Other Snipe flew as a low flying helicopter came over sending large flocks of Lapwing, Dunlin and Golden Plover into the sky, and as they wheeled in the air catching the sun it was a beautiful spectacle to end the day.  52 species seen.

Jackie Bosley