Sunday 25 October 2020

Sunday 25th October

Strong winds continued into yesterday evening then eased through the night as clocks returned to GMT and by dawn weakened to only a light southwesterly with a few squally showers. Sea-watching for a couple of hours produced 158 auk spp., that included a larger proportion of Razorbill to Guillemot than yesterday's passage; also 63 Kittiwake, 36 Gannet, 35 Common Gull plus another 30 on Railway Saltmarsh; 8 of today's 34 Great Black-backed Gull; two of the three adult winter Mediterranean Gull; a single Common Scoter, a Red-throated Diver and another diver sp.

A Cetti's Warbler called a few times from around the edges of Main Pond and was a new species for the year. Annual here since 2017 with long-stayers, this is actually only the site's 11th individual. An elusive Little Grebe made a brief appearance; at least three Water Rail called from the reed-beds, a vocal Kingfisher, and the drake Shoveler escorted a rather long-billed female Mallard around to its liking.

The lunchtime predicted 2.8 metre neap tide was boosted by an extra half metre (Exmouth gauge) by rainwater and with that The Bight was almost completely covered. Waterbirds counted around that time were 1,735 Wigeon, the year's max  count so far; 845 Oystercatcher (plus another 91 in nearby Eastdon Fields), 239 Dark-bellied Brent Goose (just 17 juveniles), 237 Curlew, 78 Dunlin (many more roosted on the railway wall north of Cockwood Harbour entrance); 33 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30+ Teal, 28 Shelduck, 18 Mute Swan, 16 Cormorant, 14 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 13 Ringed Plover, six Shag plus only three more offshore; five Greenshank, four Great Crested Grebe were joined for a while by the resident Slavonian Grebe, three Red-breasted Merganser, two Grey Heron and a Common Snipe. Redshank, Turnstone and Knot were also present in numbers.

Notables were two juv Little Stint and a juv Curlew Sandpiper again joined small wades beside the wader island. A Cattle Egret joined four Little Egret in the saltmarsh.

In the woods and bushes, 14 Long-tailed Tit but very few regular tits, three Goldcrest, and about two or three each of Chiffchaff, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Reed Bunting; and a single Song Thrush. A site wide count of 28 Robin had the feel of a modest influx and was the largest count since Oct 2015.  Also today, a Mistle Thrush and seven Swallow.

The main highlight was a winter male Snow Bunting that remained only for about half an hour on groyne 14 and the spilled rocks of long since broken up gabion baskets. The bird was good enough to remain just long enough to attract a mini twitch of six well-spaced out admirers before, of its own volition, flew up and south out to sea as far as it could be followed.  Not annual, this is the 20th individual since 2000.

The fantastic run of day totals this month continues with 86 species, the seventh '80+ day' so far.

Wildlife news: two Water Vole showed well from the viewing platform. In brief spells of sunshine single Small White and Red Admiral took to the wing.

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