Thursday 3 December 2020

Thursday 3rd December

Dawn awoke to spits and spots of rain in a light southwesterly. A short seawatch from the seawall produced 24 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Gannet, eight Red-throated Diver, three Great Northern Diver and two each of Common Scoter, Razorbill and Kittiwake.

The assemblage of waterbirds that attended the morning spring high tide comprised of the usual species and of these a few counts were undertaken, 64 Bar-tailed Godwit, 56 Black-tailed Godwit and noticeable by how scarce they have become in recent years, just two Great Black-backed Gull.

Most charts produced to present waterbird numbers plot max counts that effectively draws attention to just a single number from an entire season's or year's worth of data, which may, or sometimes may not, be representative of what that chart has attempted to present.  Where counts are undertaken frequently and representatively enough throughout each period, anomalous counts can be smoothed out to reveal the 'real' trend by an alternative method. This can be done by plotting 'average bird-days', which is the same as an average of every days' max count within each season or year. This was done for Great Black-backed Gull counts 1983 - 2019 and from the chart below evidence of a serious problem clearly emerges at Dawlish Warren, which appears to have persisted since about 2009; the cause is not yet known.

data capture, analysis and presentation - Ivan Lakin

The day brightened up and in the bushes and woodlands there was a dozen Long-tailed Tit, eight Chiffchaff, six Great Tit, six Goldcrest, four Blue Tit, three Bullfinch and two Firecrest were together in Skipper Meadow.  This is the small enclosed meadow beside the now burnt-out tractor compound.  At least three Shoveler remained on Main Pond.

In the afternoon at low tide, a flock of Dark-bellied Brent Goose foraged on the rocky shore below Langstone Rock where there was also seven Turnstone, two Rock Pipit and a Kingfisher. At least six Purple Sandpiper were still on Maer Rocks, Exmouth yesterday so a repeat visit to this side of the bay is anticipated.

Wildlife news: despite only peaking at just above 8°C, a few Buff-tailed Bumblebee were on the wing. A Water Vole was on Main Pond and two Grey Seal were in The Bight.

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