Saturday 17 October 2020

Saturday 17th October

The benefits of birder saturation was in evidence today with all 'regulars' and a number of other local birders present from well before dawn and with constant coverage through to dusk. The site species list of 89 has only been equaled or exceeded before eight times since 2000.

In the twilight before dawn, a Tawny Owl drifted beside the Back Path into Dead Dolphin Wood; the first of the year. The 2nd new species for the year before dawn was a Fieldfare that flew N. Visible migration started about 15 mins later than yesterday (c.07:40), was more rushed and more-or-less ended after about 2.5 hours. Highlights were two Great White Egret that languidly cruised across the lower estuary, rose over Exmouth town and were lost from view over the wooded ridge four miles away to the east at 09:05. This raised the site year-list to 174. Ten Crossbill (5,4,1) flew NE at higher elevation than in previous days, across a sky with receding cloud cover and only a breath of wind from the NNW.

Other counts of birds on the move, c.175 Goldfinch (NE), 63 Meadow Pipit (NE), 53 Greenfinch (NE), 42 Siskin (NE), 38 Swallow (NE), 31 Skylark (35 W, three on W Pt.); 17 Lesser Redpoll (NE), 14 Linnet (NE), 25 alba wagtail (WSW & NE), 22 Chaffinch, 11 Shelduck (SSE), 11 Rook (SW & NE), five Great Spotted Woodpecker made sorties NE then headed back; three Coal Tit (NE, incl. one in the bushes); of two briefly seen both looked like britannicus or intermediate types. Also two Grey Wagtail, an adult winter Mediterranean Gull (N), a Buzzard (E), a Jackdaw, a Raven (E), a Mistle Thrush, and randomly a summer-plumage Great Northern Diver that circled high above a couple of times before heading back out to sea. In the middle of the day, a Short-eared Owl flew over across the site.

Presumably the same as yesterday's Yellowhammer loitered with finch flocks that dropped into the Greenland Lake area before moving on. Also six Cirl Bunting and two Reed Bunting.

The ebbing spring tide had dropped by the time most observers reached the far end of the reserve and a selected counts managed were "hundreds" of Teal, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Curlew; 257 Dunlin, 58 Knot, "tens" of Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone; 21 Mute Swan, 19 Cormorant, 11 Greenshank, six Little Egret, five Sanderling, five Common Snipe rose from the saltmarsh; two Grey Heron, just one Ringed Plover, the drake Eider was on Finger Point and the Slavonian Grebe. At low tide, four Cattle Egret flew toward the estuary corner beside the railway line at c.15:00, completing a three egret day.

Of the 15 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, an adult of a family group of five was ringed with a yellow '9' (left leg) and a blue 'V' (right leg). This was ringed as a juvenile at Alftanes, Fotbaltavollur, SW Iceland on 11 May 2017 and was last seen at Dawlish Warren from 19 Oct to 20 Nov 2017.

This taxa is an autumn migrant here with a few individuals that remain to overwinter, and is most notable as a spring migrant with sometimes 3-figures present. These are from the NE Greenland hrota population that predominately winter in Ireland (chiefly at Strangford Lough) with smaller numbers in Britain, the Channel Islands and on the north coasts of France and Spain. The other discrete population of hrota that winter in NW Europe nest in Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land and winter in NE England (Lindisfarne) and Denmark.

The drake Shoveler was still on the Main Pond, as were six Mallard before dawn and six Moorhen. Offshore, c.40 Common Scoter, 20 Gannet, seven Kittiwake and a few auk spp.

A flock of 13 Long-tailed Tit with some of the eight Chiffchaff and five Goldcrest roamed wooded areas. Also a Blackcap, a Song Thrush

A mixture of other sightings, seven Stonechat, three Rock Pipit, three Bullfinch, two Kingfisher, two Sparrowhawk, a Peregrine, a Kestrel and a Green Woodpecker made it across to the site from the mainland, where one has been heard calling periodically for some weeks.

Wildlife news: a few Migrant Hawker and Common Darter still on the wing. Two Water Vole swam across channels of the Main Pond.

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