Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tuesday 17th November

The huge 4.3 metre spring tide at dawn saw waders cram onto the extremities of saltmarsh and islands that remained exposed and four-figures of birds piled onto the top of the island in front of the hide, mostly Dunlin, of which three Swedish metal-ringed individuals were seen and two of these were ringed on Ă–land. Incidentally, this island in SW Sweden supports breeding Calidris alpina schinzii, the Western Dunlin, the same ssp. that breeds in Britain; its Baltic population has declined and its conservation status in that region is under serious threat. Enquiries will follow about when ringed if their race was determined to be a migrant alpina or a locally breeding schinzii.  

Also 93 Grey Plover, double-figures of Knot and Sanderling, four Ringed Plover and briefly a Kingfisher. The sandy tide-line of The Bight had dropped by approximately 15 cm overnight in places, due to tidal wash-out, which made it ever harder for the c.125 Bar-tailed Godwit and other mixed waders to find space to roost.  

For reasons unclear, larger waders that have established roosts at the upper end of the estuary chose to utilise flooded fields north side of Starcross and Oak Meadow Golf Course, south side of Starcross to roost and the massive count of 690 Black-tailed Godwit at Dawlish Warren likely involved most of the 850 seen at those aforementioned locations.  Despite being outside of designated sites (see MAGIC), an earlier post (23rd July) alluded to potential and limited legal protection to such places and the term recognised by authorities in the context of the SPA designation is 'functionally linked land'. Recognition is dependent on observations, so when recording (e.g. on BirdTrack or eBird) and submitting (e.g. to Devon Birds), an accurate location is really important to note in addition the core site, which here is 'Exe Estuary'. 

A walk through the woods noted 11 Long-tailed Tit, four Goldcrest, two Chiffchaff, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Bullfinch.  On Main Pond, four Shoveler (♂♂, imm ♂,♀), two Water Rail, a ♀ Mallard and at least one Little Grebe.  The sea was almost birdless when looked at briefly shortly after dawn.

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