Sunday 21 June 2020

Sunday 21st June

Today's Summer Solstice sightings, together with those of yesterday marked the end of 2020's brief summer recess here with bird movement now clearly underway.  The day list of 71 species was the highest ever recorded here in the month of June, helped by the site's first ever June record of Goosander.  Two 'red-heads' hunted together to push small fish into the shallows of the ebbing tide just behind the bird island.  Although still scarce here with one to three records about annually since 2000 this sawbill has increased since the previous decades, a trend probably driven by its expanding range and breeding success along the River Exe.  The nearest regular site, following the river valley, is about 27 km (17 miles) away to the north upstream.

Also in the estuary on the tide, 212 Oystercatcher, 7 Black-headed Gull, 85 Curlew, 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Turnstone, eight Great Black-backed Gull, five Whimbrel, two Redshank (first since 18th May), two Greenshank (first since 28 Apr), a Dunlin, yesterday's unseasonal Dark-bellied Brent Goose the long-staying Golden Plover, and 'Herbert' the Slavonian Grebe.  On 'Woodhenge' (the posts of the bird island), 15 Sandwich Tern and two Common Tern roosted for a while.

The pair of Canada Goose and their three goslings, ousted from the Main Pond by the breeding pair of Mute Swan, continue to occupy the bird island and Bight.

Heavy rain passed through in the early hours and although only a light southwesterly, seabird numbers picked up a little this morning with 23 Gannet, a dozen Fulmar, 11 Common Scoter, seven Kittiwake, three Manx Sheawater, the year's first juvenile plus a fs Mediterranean Gull and a Great Crested Grebe. Two young Rock Pipit on rocks below the seawall were likely the progeny of a breeding pair located between Langstone Rock and Dawlish. 

Overhead, eight Swallow, seven Swift, three Stock Dove, three House Martin  and single Sand Martin (the first since 14 May), Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

The bushes remained active with breeding birds; the three pairs of Stonechat all behaved in ways to suggest they had nestlings, and the males of all five territories of Chiffchaff, for example, continued to sing quite late into the day.

Record shot of one of the 'red-head' Goosander fishing in shallows behind the bird island this morning [anon]

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