Thursday, 1 March 2012

You just never know......

Yesterday I afternoon I went on a Woodlark hunt. After an hour I decided to try again another day & went to Exminster Marsh instead.

I had the big scope with me & as it's quite heavy I debated whether to walk around the reserve, or just stop at the few places you can in the van & take a short walk along the canal. I decided to go for the energetic option, after all you just never know what you may come across.....

I walked down the road from the car park by the railway line, scanning the fields & pools. It was difficult to see much as it was a bit hazy & the sun was bright across the marsh. I did however find the 5 Barnacle Geese that arrived a few days ago, although they were quite distant & the usual Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler & Pintail were swimming about on the pools. There was a Water Pipit in the last pool just before the canal car park that was being very obliging & posing by the waters edge, & several Cetti's Warblers in the reeds.

Walking along the canal bank gives a great view across the marsh, but again the light wasn't good for looking at the birds, although it was nice to have a bit of sunshine!

The view across  the marsh from the canal bank...
...and over the canal to the estuary
Boats moored above Turf Lock
I walked over the lock & out to the viewpoint to look over the estuary. As the tide was out, it was mostly mud, with quite a few waders pottering about including Grey Plover, Curlew& Dunlin. There were a few Red-breasted Mergansers on the water, but I couldn't find the Slavonian Grebe that had been there earlier.

View over the Exe from the Turf viewing point
The footpath cuts across the fields to the back of the marsh, where it then follows the railway lines. I had  a much closer view of the Barnacle Geese, and was thinking that I'd seen a few good birds even though I had nothing new for The Year List. I can't get a new bird every time. A Little Egret flew over and crossed the railway lines & as I looked back to the right I saw a large bird of prey heading my way, flying quite low with a slow flap & glide. It had nice stripey under-wings & a streaky body. It was way too big & slow for a Sparrowhawk, which is a bird I've seen quite a few times in the area. It was then that it changed angle & I saw the nice wide white band across it's rump. No doubt, it was a female hen Harrier! I've only ever seen a few before, so it was a great new bird for The List.

I drove home a happy bunny!

My route around the Marsh (it took as long to do this as it did to walk around it!)

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