Saturday 28 November 2020

Saturday 28th November

Overnight rain associated with a warm front passed through before dawn to leave a mild and overcast day that drew a number of local birders to the seawall and at sea were found 25 Great Crested Grebe, rafts of c.30 Guillemot with many more down the coast in Dawlish Bay; 18 Common Scoter, plus 15 further south; seven Red-throated Diver, five Razorbill (plus one dead); three Red-breasted Merganser flew south, two Great Northern Diver with another off Dawlish; and the drake Eider.  The highlight was a Velvet Scoter that flew in and landed on the sea off Langstone Rock at c.08:00 but wasn't later relocated; a new species of the year.

The exposed rocky shore of Langstone Rock and its breakwater hosted a Purple Sandpiper all morning, accompanied by a few Turnstone.  This was another new species to bring the site year-list to 182, which surpasses the end-year total of 180 in 2019.  A Grey Heron and a Kingfisher also perched on the rocky shore, and two Raven and a Grey Wagtail flew over there.

Purple Sandpiper - Alan Keatley

A mixed feeding flock that roamed wooded areas moped up most of the smaller passerines with totals present of 14 Blue Tit, seven Long-tailed Tit, seven Goldcrest, four Great Tit and one Coal Tit. Of the eight Chiffchaff, one had characteristics of abietinus, another was noticeably greyer but couldn't be ascribed to race (see photo); the remainder looked and sounded like regular colybita.  Three Song Thrush, two each of Bullfinch and Chaffinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were also found in the woods.  As a warning, in the same place behind Crocus Compound where a year or two ago a Robin used to utter a good impression of a Hawfinch, an individual today there was unhelpfully calling rather like a Penduline Tit.

Chiffchaff type - Alan Keatley

Main Pond, as usual, had three Shoveler, the trilling Little Grebe, squealing Water Rail and the domestic Mallard. 

The yellow-ringed '632' Scandinavian Rock Pipit was again on the seawall rip-rap and four more littoralis foraged at close quarters in the dead glasswort spp. of The Bight; unusually no regular petrosus.  Unexpectedly, green-ringed 'AVP' was not among them which was later explained by it being seen on Exton marsh this morning, four miles to the north, providing interesting information about their homing range.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit '632' - Lee Collins

The tide was too low for proper counts of many species, numbers of regular waders and wildfowl were out on the mudflats and along Shutterton Creek where among the 265 Teal and Wigeon were five more Shoveler, three Pintail and two non wild bred looking Mallard. The number of Mallard released annually in the UK for recreational shooting was previously estimated at half a million (Harradine, 1985) and a recent estimate has puts the figure between 1 and 4.9 million Mallard (Madden, 2020).  For individuals that look and behave a bit odd, the 'Domestic Mallard' option on BirdTrack can be used to separate genuine wild birds from captive bred ones.

Of the few waders counts managed, highly notable ones were 116 Turnstone on the rising late afternoon tide and including a few on Langstone Rock earlier, which was third highest count here over the past 30 years.  Also 47 Common Snipe rose from the saltmarsh and 12 Greenshank assembled along the edge.  A Belgian or Dutch ringed first-winter Mediterranean Gull was joined by three adults in a roosting flock of 220 Black-headed Gull and 22 Common Gull in the estuary corner. Other gull counts were 11 Great Black-backed Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gull.

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