Saturday, 1 October 2016

Colour rings, off-roading and seawatching with Pete !

It was my turn to drive today so I decided to try some new ideas and have an easy (ish!) days birding with Pete looking for seabirds and waders ...

We set out at 8am ( early enough after a long week!) and headed over to the Camel Estuary to watch the dropping tide for waders. The Camel is full of birds at the moment and we just enjoyed the spectacle of seeing hundreds of waders without managing to see anything that different amongst them. Our counts included: 52 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, 1 Tufted Duck, 39 Grey Plover,1 Golden Plover, 1 Lapwing, 17 Ringed Plover, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 101 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, 220 Dunlin, 78 Redshank and 14 Med Gulls. Pete was also happy to read a couple of Black headed Gull colour rings.... lets hope they have arrived from somewhere interesting...

Curlew Sandpiper feeding with Dunlin's

With all of this wader activity we then headed up the A39 to Davidstow Airfield in the hope that maybe there was something rarer to be found , all we could find were 2 Dunlin and 21 Ringed Plover so we headed across to see if the Rose coloured Starling Pete had learnt of on Facebook was still around. In the howling wind and torrential rain the Starling was being smart and keeping out of sight so we carried on around the airfield checking the many Lesser-black Backed gulls for colour rings , bingo! A colour ringed bird , but rather annoyingly it flew off straight away and landed in the middle of the airfield in the long grass. Now me and particularly Pete would probably die for a colour ring so there was only one thing for it! An off road chase! Now my poor car isn't really cut out for this and the fear in Pete's voice as he urged me along ' whatever you do Bob don't stop !' suddenly made me think this was a bad idea , its pretty marshy in the middle of the airfield and somehow I got across without getting stuck! We got the ring though so it was worth the risk ( I guess!). We also had a Scandinavian Lesser black Backed Gull and 6 Wheatears.

Our next stop was Maer Lake , again full of birds but nothing too different.... Large numbers of wildfowl included 38 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler and 263 Teal . But wader numbers were poor with only 3 Black-tailed Godwit , 2 Dunlin and 1 Common Snipe.

With the wind picking up and swinging to the North West I wanted to see if it was worth sea watching in the evening at Trevose rather than in the morning when it was more South Westerly which I'm not so keen on up there. So for two hours me and Pete gave it a go and were rewarded with  a cracking seawatch! In amongst the hundreds of auks we saw 4 Common Scoter, 12 Manx Shearwater, 37 Balearic Shearwater, 4 Grey Phalarope, 6 Great Skua, 3 Arctic Skua, 2 Juvenile Long-tailed Skua, 13 Kittiwake, 1 Common Tern, 8 Arctic Tern and 8 Sandwich Tern. It was nice to get close views of all the birds as they hugged the coastline . Pete also picked up a probable Roseate Tern , I didn't get the best of views but structurally and plumage wise it looked very good,however being the rarity it is these days, one that got away for me....

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