Saturday, 10 October 2020

Saturday 10th October

At least five birders made the conscious decision to not travel to Lundy today and, in birding parlance, instead 'worked the patch'.  Only light passage overhead was noted early morning in a light north-westerly and little cloud cover.  Combined with grounded individuals, counts of some species (with abbreviated direction in brackets) were 31 'alba' wagtail (W), 30 Woodpigeon (W), 22 Meadow Pipit (W), 14 Rook (most W), four Skylark (W), three Swallow (NE), two Grey Wagtail and a Buzzard.  At least 85 Goldfinch, 61 Starling, 20 Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting dropped from the southwest into Greenland Lake and along Back Path to feed, where also some of the six Cirl Bunting were present.  

The highlight was five Coal Tit, three as a flock that flew NE along the dune ridge and another two singles in the woods. None were seen well enough to determine race.  Debate about the occurrence of the Continental race Periparus a. ater in Devon has stirred since at least the early-1990s and the overall picture continues to be confounded by intermediate-looking individuals, some noted here in the past.  Late-Sep to mid-Oct is peak passage for Coal Tit here and today's sighting nicely fits the established pattern, and is the largest count here since the invasion of up to 16 in a day during late-Sep/ early-Oct 2015, which involved ater along the English south coast, preceded by reputedly up to thousands at sites on the Continent.

Before the wind strengthened and skies clouded over to produce showers, wooded areas had eight Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, two Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Blackcap, two Bullfinch, a Lesser Redpoll and a mixed tit flock.

On Main Pond, the drake Shoveler still and a noisy Water Rail. The lunchtime neap tide pushed in some waterbirds and those that would have utilized Cockle Sands, Exmouth to roost were yet again displaced by up to 18 kite-surfers there.  The incongruous mix of large and small counts here of some species led to speculation that sanctuary further up the estuary was in use. Selected counts were c.570 Teal (max count, by far, this year), c.390 Curlew, c.240 Wigeon, c.225 Redshank, 142 Canada Goose, 53 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 32 Knot, 26 Mute Swan, eight Greenshank, seven Shelduck, five Little Egret, three Red-breasted Merganser (first of the autumn) two Grey Heron, the drake Eider and the Slavonian Grebe. Two Kingfisher chased each other across the saltmarsh.

Offshore, a feeding flock of gulls was joined by nine Sandwich Tern, eight Gannet and a Common Scoter.

A flock of Cattle Egret were in Cockwood Marsh, seen from Warren Point.

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