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31 March 2015

Axe Valley Wetlands

Went to Axe Valley Wetlands Reserve today in nothing more than hope that the 2nd Winter Ring-Billed Gull was still there, but shock horror it had gone! What's new!!

Still I had a good look around in what turned out to be very windy conditions with the odd spit of rain. In sheltered areas with a bit of sun there was Birds, Bees and Butterflies!

In the Car Park there was one of the 8 Chiffchaffs I found around the reserve, all where busy and looking for food unlike the rest of the small birds who were just hunkered down out of the wind.

On the way to the Tower Hide there was Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Carrion Crows and a Pheasant.

From the Tower Hide looking out on the Axe which was at a lower tide showed a Gull roost of about 100+ birds of Great Black-backed Gull, Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

There was 24 Black-tailed Godwits whose plumage had started to change to summer plumage although some more than others. These birds left the river and went to the Lagoon.

Also seen from the Tower were Curlew, Cormorant, Mallard, Oystercatchers and 20+ Shelduck.

The Lagoon was fairly empty with the Godwits, Shelduck, Moorhen, Teal, Canada Geese and Pied Wagtail being the birds present.

Around the visitors centre there was Raven flying overhead with Greenfinch, Dunnock, Wren, and Great Tits in the bushes.

On Colyford Common had Grey Heron flying over with a few Mallard on the ground and a single Pheasant. Also here out of the wind there was plenty of Hoverflies which was great to see, I had only seen the odd one this year but plenty here!

From the Colyford Hide looking over the fields, nothing much was flying apart from a lone Buzzard, due to the wind. So on the ground there was 20+ Shelduck, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gulls and Mallard.

I walked around the Reed bed loop, there was a few Mallard on the pond with a couple of Chiffchaff working hard for food, there was a few butterflies here along the path out of the wind with one Red Admiral and three Peacocks sunning themselves.

From the viewing platform just up from the hide looking over the fields there was Canada Geese, woodpigeons, Shelduck, Carrion Crows and what looks like the remains of a dead Mute Swan.

Not many flowering plants about with Daisy, Dandelion, Red Dead Nettle, Groundsel and Lesser Celandine. A few Bumble Bees around with Red and Buff Tailed in equal numbers.

There was a few "Mammal Rafts" about the ditches which was interesting! Checking for Water Vole, Otter and Mink.

Nice to meet some local birders and the rest of the Humans around were well behaved and quite happy!!!



22 March 2015

Powderham, Exminster Marshes and Back

Todays walk started at Powderham Church, I parked right under a very noisy Rookery with the birds bringing nesting material and flying around making a right racket.

Walking over the new bridge and up on the path by the River Exe, the tide was on the way out but very few birds on the mud flats here except half a dozen Oystercatchers and a couple of Shelduck. In the field there was a Buzzard sat in the usual tree with Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon and Pheasant on the ground. A pair of Mallard and a Little Egret in the ditch.

Further up Curlew could be seen and heard, 6 Red-Breasted Mergansers swimming in the channel with a couple of Cormorants with Great Black-Backed and Herring Gulls.

Plenty of flowers starting to come out, Dandelion, Red Dead Nettle, Lesser Celandine, Milky Thistle, Groundsel, Common Speedwell and Shepherds Purse on the bank or side of path. In the warmth a couple of Small Tortishell were good to see.

At Turf around the bushes there was Robin, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Dunnock, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Greenfinch. On the Estuary at this point you could see Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Curlews, Little Egrets, Shelduck, Herring and Black-headed Gulls with more Red-breasted Mergansers in the channel.

On Exminster Marshes there were plenty of Canada Geese who were very noisy and doing a lot of flying around. I only saw 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and the Mute Swans were paired up all over the place. A flock of 15 Lapwing flew around then went over to Powderham Marsh.

Still a few ducks about with Wigeon being the highest number with decent numbers of Shoveler and Teal. Mallard and a pair of Tufted Duck also seen on the marsh. Other water based birds were Little Egret, Grey Heron, Coot and Moorhen.

Around the bushes and hedges there was plenty of birds, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits in good numbers. Robin, Blackbird, Cettis Warbler, Wren, Dunnock, Stonechat, Woodpigeon and a couple of Buzzard sat on a tree. Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Magpie and Carrion Crows all seen.

Loads of Bumble Bees seen, Buff and Red -tailed on the Willows, they seemed to like some trees better than others not sure why? Hoverflies and Honey Bees also seen, saw a Cuckoo flower in the marsh next to the RSPB car park.

On the way back I saw a bird at first at distance I mistook for a female Wheatear but on a closer look it was a beautiful Water Pipit in Summer Plumage so well made up over that!

Plenty members of the human race around, some walking like me but many rushing around ether on bikes full pelt or running, shame they miss the beauty of the place!



15 March 2015

Slapton Ley

Went to Slapton Ley and had a good walk around. There was plenty of birds 37 in total but unfortunately no pics as it was grey and not much light.

The highlight for me was 25-30 Sand Martins flying close to Irelands Bay on the Ley and away from the wind trying for flies and midges over the water.

There was plenty of ducks around the Ley, Mallard, Tufted, Pochard, Gadwall and several Mallard cross type birds at the Torcross end. There was also a couple of Muscovy Ducks here as well.

Plenty of Gulls, Black-headed Gulls some of which had their summer plumage all black heads already. Herring, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls all seen around the Ley and the beach.

A couple of Buzzards soaring on the wind with plenty of Jackdaws and Carrion Crows around the site.

Several Great-crested Grebes both on the Ley and on the Sea, sadly not displaying. I also saw a Little Grebe which quickly disappeared into the reeds, plenty of Coots and a few Moorhens, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Little Egret and Grey Heron are the other water birds seen.

Around the paths covered by trees there was plenty of woodland birds, several pairs of Chiffchaff with Goldcrest, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. The only bird around the reeds was a couple of Cettis Warblers in full song.

Plenty of flowers out especially Red Campion and Common Dog-violet. A couple of Buff coloured Bumble Bees and Squirrels looking for food added to the day.



14 March 2015

Challacombe, Dartmoor.

Went up to Dartmoor to have a walk around Challacombe Farm which has a number of different habitats ranging from farm yard, open moor and scrub.

It was dry but cold and there was alack of birds on the open moor. There was Stonechats over most of the walk with a few males singing and holding territories, a Skylark also singing with Meadow Pipits seen in a few places.

around the farm buildings there was House Sparrows, Dunnock, Blackbird, Pied Wagtails, Robins, chaffinches, Wren and Blue Tit.

On the edge of some brush there was a couple of Goldcrests chasing after each other.

Sparrowhawk and a couple of Buzzards flying over, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven and Woodpigeons all seen at various places around the walk.

On the way back by car to Dawlish, but still on Dartmoor, I came across a grass field full of birds, 100+ Starling, 200 Fieldfare and 20-30 Redwing- Fantastic sight!!!

Great also to see lots of youngsters out walking training for the Ten Tors.



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