Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Powderham Marsh & Dawlish Warren

I had a busy day birding yesterday. I started off at the RSPB’s Powderham Marsh reserve in search of 3 European White-fronted  Geese that had been reported on Birdguides.  It was only my second visit, & the first time I only went half way in. There is no circular route, but a 1200m walk to a viewpoint through fields of grass, stubble & dead sunflowers! The hedges & trees were full of Reed Buntings, Chaffinches & Linnets, & Linnets also lined the telephone wires.

The viewpoint is at the top of a bank beside the road & gives a great view over scrapes & across the railway lines to Exminster Marsh. I scanned the scrapes & it didn’t take long to find the White-fronted Geese, although there were only 2 & a Barnacle Goose in amongst a flock of Canada geese beside the railway. There were also quite a few waders including 4 Ruff. With the 2 geese that made 3 new Year List species.

Powderham Marsh from the viewpoint
On my way back out, a Skylark was twittering away overhead, another first of the year. I was watching a flock of about 40 Redwing by the entrance when a Pied Wagtail joined them, although a closer look revealed it to be a White Wagtail, a sub-species from the continent. We haven’t decided how to treat Sub-species in the Year List Race yet i.e. whether  it is to be counted as just another species, ½ a species, or only come into play in case of a tie.

Off to Dawlish Warren to check the sea for Black & Red-necked Grebe, although I stopped off at Cockwood on my way, crossing the railway line to check the estuary. There were lots of Red-breasted Mergansers, but no Goldeneye, a duck I need for the List.

Up the Exe from Cockwood
Exmouth from Cockwood

At Dawlish Warren I had lunch before heading for the sea wall. The wind was getting up although it was still fairly mild. I found the Surf Scoter in it’s usual spot near Langstone Rock, along with quite a few Common Scoter & about 20 Great Crested Grebe. I had a brief view of what I think was a Red-throated Diver, but it disappeared behind the rock before I got a good look. I spoke to a chap that had seen a Slavonian Grebe in the bay beyond the rock, so I went for a look but only found lots more Great-crested ones. I decided to wait a while to see if anything would turn up as it was a bit windy to walk round to the hide. Last time I did that my bins & scope got covered in sand despite my efforts to shield them & they crunched for days every time I focused.

Langstone Rock on the seafront at Dawlish Warren
Only a couple of Razorbills turned up, so I headed for home. I couldn’t resist stopping at Cockwood for another crack at the Goldeneye. The tide was now out, but I managed to find 2 distant juvenile Goldeneye. That made it 5 new Year List species  & a sub-species for the day!

Up the Exe from the difference!
and across to Exmouth

On my travels during the day I encountered this lovely chap.....

Spot the Long-eared Owl
Year List 127 & 1 sub-species.

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