Sunday 27 September 2020

Sunday 27th September

The persistent breeze from the north strengthened today and a dribble of overhead migrants passed through at reduced altitude all morning but with only modest totals of 37 Meadow Pipit, 22 House Martin, 19 Siskin, 20 'alba wagtail' including at least one White Wagtail and some on the golf course; 11 Swallow, two Lesser Redpoll and a Rook and a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew south.

Again, most action in the woods was as a mobile mixed flock that held the majority of the 19 Long-tailed Tit, 16 Blue Tit, 11 Chiffchaff, four Great Tit and three Blackcap. Regular residents reported were eight Stonechat with one on Warren Point that sported a distinctive supercillium was not anything scarcer; six Skylark on Warren Point, three Cirl Bunting, two Great Spotted Woodpecker, the pair of Collared Dove, an imm male Kestrel and a male Sparrowhawk. Apart from the familiar flocks of finches, other migrants present were three Wheatear and a Snipe flushed out of Greenland Lake.

Close offshore a full summer plumage Red-throated Diver, the first of the autumn and on a typical date; six Common Scoter and some distant Gannet.

In the estuary, 30 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and eight Dark-bellied Brent Goose; there were three-figure numbers present of Wigeon, Teal, Oysercatcher, Curlew and Redshank; other selected counts were 84 Dunlin, 23 Ringed Plover, 19 Great Black-backed Gull, eight Little Egret, six Grey Plover, four Greenshank, three Grey Heron, three Sandwich Tern, three Common Gull, two adult winter Mediterranean Gull and the drake Eider still.

In Shutterton Creek, 191 Canada Goose loafed  and with them the Canada x Greylag hybrid and the long overdue appearance of the white morph Snow Goose. This bird is highly likely to be the remaining one of two that have resided at the upper Exe Estuary since February 2018. It is also a new confirmed species for the site at Dawlish Warren (Cat. E); the species has an inauspicious past with reports of 'snow goose' up to 1992 probably relating to white farmyard geese, and one recorded here March 2019 was thought to be a clerical error on BirdTrack and instead related to elsewhere on the estuary.

The official list of bird species recorded in Britain by the BOU has Snow Goose categorised as AC2E*, which means that is has occurred in a wild state; it also exists as an introduced, naturalised self-supporting population(s), and also that escapees, which do not form part of those populations, have bred in the wild - it's a complex picture, as reflected in many popular ornamental wildfowl species. The admission to Category C in 2006 (Dudley & BOU, 2005) was on account of its established populations on the Isle of Mull, but not the declining populations located in Hampshire or Oxfordshire. There are no convincingly genuine vagrant records for this species in Devon. Something to be aware of for some apparent escapees is the possibly of 'C5' occurrences, denoting vagrants of species that have introduced, naturalised self-supporting populations outside of Britain. The few thousand feral Snow Goose in Germany have recently gained Category C status, and whilst at present Egyptian Goose is the only species that sits on the official British list with 'C5' status, it seems only a matter of time before it is joined by others. Today's Snow Goose firmly sits in category E.


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