Sunday 9 March 2014

Brant and Minor Migrant Success

For only the second time this winter I came across the black brant on Maer rocks. It was with 215+ dark-bellied brent geese at first light and a while later it had moved to the exposed rocks directly below Orcombe Point (still present at 9am). Black brants are funny birds - a tiny twist of the body and they can be a nightmare to pick out from dark-bellied brents, and at other times they stand out like a sore thumb. I took a selection of images but none come close to the shots obtained by Lee Collins at the Warren a couple days ago.

Straight forward side on - note the shorter neck, flatter back profile and more compact body. The bill appears shorter and stubbier and the bird seems to sit lower in the water.

Dark-bellied brents with Exmouth Beach behind. Nice early morning light.

Brent goose race - photo finish!

The above photo and the three below of the black brant were taken from near the Geoneedle looking down onto the rocks below.

Also today - 2 red-throated diver, 9 razorbill and 5 turnstone. Migrants were represented by 2 goldcrest, 1 yellowhammer, 1 chiffchaff (that moved through very quickly)1 redwing, 4 song thrush, 12 pied wagtail, and 17+ meadow pipit. Yesterday the first stonechat of the spring, a male, and 21+ snipe. Yellowhammers are really scarce on Orcombe and spring records are more unusual than autumn records. As most do, today's bird flew over the top fields and followed the coast round towards the river mouth.
The estuary seems quiet at the moment but a single guillemot was way upriver with 9 black-tailed godwit and yesterday a great northern diver.

Several butterflies seen today. Many small tortoiseshell like the one above on Orcombe Point, plus at least one peacock and five brimstone whilst on a dog walk around Squabmoor Reservoir.

Drake red-breasted merganser off Shelly Beach yesterday evening. Soon the disparate groups on the river will merge to form displaying 'super-groups'. I've had single flocks of 90+ in March in recent years.

Fine weather brings nice sunsets on the river. At low tide you can walk right out into the estuary which is what I did last night. Few birds but amazing views.

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