BAIKAL TEAL IN THE BAG, A LIFER, ALSO WOODCOCK & GREENSHANK ADDED TO THE YEAR LIST
MONDAY 10TH JANUARY 2022
WEATHER; dull and overcast.
Greylake, Somerset Levels
This was just a quick unexpected opportunity that I gratefully grabbed to have a quick look for the BAILKAL TEAL at Greylake Reserve near Street. Dawn wanted to go shopping in the 'Clarke's Village' at Street and I suggested a quick stop at Greylake!!
I had about 30 minutes to walk to the hide, find the bird and walk back (5 minutes each way). When I got to the hide I expected a few birders to be there who could put me straight onto the bird, but no!! There wasn't a sole in the hide, doh! It was late afternoon 2pm and everyone must have gone home.
I quickly set up my scope and started to scan the thousands of Eurasian Teal on the reserve, it was made more difficult as there was equally thousands of Wigeon mingled in with the Eurasian Teal. It seemed an impossible job but I love a challenge such as this. After 10 mins another guy turned up in the hide but he didn't have a scope, he stayed for 5 mins.
THIS IS THE VIEW FROM THE HIDE AT GREYLAKE, THE BAIKAL TEAL WAS AT THE END OF THE GRASSY BANK WITH HUNDREDS OF EURASIAN TEAL AND WIGEON, WITH A FEW SHOVELER & PINTAIL
Just a few seconds after the other guy left I got onto the Baikal Teal, it was distant and brief but I was sure of the bird, I called the other guy back and he managed a quick view through my scope. The bird disappeared from sight within a few seconds and worse was to come. The whole flock I was scanning flew up and moved further away and, a double whammy, my 20 minutes were up!!
The shopping trip went well I came out with two new micro-fleece tops, shazam!! A Double good-result.
Tuesday 11th January 2022
YEOVIL RIVERSIDE WALK
Local birder Oli Mockridge lives in Yeovil and visits his local patch nearly everyday, during his late evening visits he has been finding Woodcock, Snipe, Barn Owl and occasionally Tawny Owl.
So, I met up with Guy Campbell and we walked down to the Yeovil Riverside Walk at 4pm and we waited at a spot where we had seen Woodcock last year. It was just before 5pm when a Woodcock flew over a fence just 5-10 meters away from us, we had a wonderful profile view of it. Five minutes later we heard Snipe calling and Guy got onto two Snipe flying much higher just as three more Woodcock flew over the fence even closer than the first one!
We waited a few more minutes hoping for a Barn Owl sighting but one did not appear whilst we were there, but we were happy with the Woodcock sightings.
Wedneday 12th January 2022
A WALK AROUND TOPSHAM, BOWLING GREEN MARSH AND DARTS FARM, EXETER
WEATHER: after early fog we had wall to wall sunshine all day, top temp 8C
What a fantastic day of sunshine, after all the miserable, dark, wet & windy days of Decemeber it was so upilfting to see some sunshine and a perfectly still day. A 'great to be alive' day.
Dawn and I drove down to Topsham and parked at Dart's Farm and shopping cnetre, the RSPB have a prescence in this enterprise, I don't know how much influence they have. We walked into Topsham visiting the RSPB reserve at Bowling Green Marsh, we past a field full of Brent Geese (200-300) and few Curlews.
Brent Geese in a field next to Darts Farm and adjacent to the River Clyst
I did not have my scope with me so I didn't take any birdy pictures only hand held phone shots. From the main hide at Bowling Green Marsh we saw a few birds, the tide was still out and most would still be feeding out on the exposed mudflats, a hugh area on the enormous River Exe Estuary. A Few Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon, Mallards, Canada & Greylag Geese, a single Egyptian Goose and the usual gulls were also in view. A Lesser Black-backed Gull stood alone on a grassy bank and it did not look too well.
a view of Bowling Green Marsh from near the hide
We visited a view point that overlooks the river Clyst where it enters the mighty River Exe, I soon added a year tick in the form of a Greenshank. Other birds viewed from there included Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret and a Kingfisher.
The River Exe looking out toward Exmouth and the coast from Topsham
Round at the 'Goat' Walk on the shore of the River Exe we felt the full warmth of the winter sun, the river was perfectly calm it was truly lovely along there, no wonder this one of our favourite places to visit, Everyone we met seem in a pleasant mood, lifted by the wonderful sunshine.
the ancient walkway of Goatwalk
We sat for a while on one of the many benches and just relaxed, thousands of birds were out there, huge flocks of Dunlin, Godwits, Gulls, Common Shelducks, Golden Plover (about 100 flew over us), Curlews and Redshanks were everywhere. I searched all the buoys for a perched Sandwich Tern without luck before we walked into town for lunch.
a view from near our lunch spot
We sat outside in the sunshine (with coats on) and ate a delicous meal, it was amazing that we could sit outside in January.
Our return journey was once more spectacular as the tide was almost at its highest. Many birds were flying around in swirling masses, being moved on by the incoming water, soon many would fly onto Bowling Green Marsh to roost.
Hundreds of Godwits are massed on the mud in this distant shot of them
Once back at Darts Farm we walked along their nature trails, the sun had lost its warmth and the light began to fade as we returned to the car. We saw Chaffinches, Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Few Redwings and one or two Fieldfares in the open fields.
Brent Geese in the air over Darts Farm meadows
After a quick look around the shops we left the area at 4pm, it had been a lovely visit to one of our favourite places.