Sunday 8 December 2019

Blue-winged Teal

First-winter male Blue-winged Teal - Mansands.
Nick and I headed down to Mansands under the cover of darkness this morning, our target - the long-staying Blue-winged Teal. We were on site just after dawn and enjoyed good, prolonged scope views of the bird as it dabbled with other ducks on the small pool at the back of the marsh, towards the sea-ward end.
Every now and again I get the urge to see a species that I haven't seen for a while. In the case of Blue-winged Teal I saw my first at Tehidy Country Park, Cornwall on October 14th 1995, my second on March 27th, 1997 - a self-found, long-staying female at Newcross Pond, Kingsteignton - see here, and then several in Texas in April 1998. So a 21 year gap, making this morning's trip all the more worthwhile.
Also on the Ley - 4 Tufted Duck, 8 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 2 Coot and at least 17 Mallard.
Exmouth remains pretty quiet but I had a good count of 320 Pintail off Mudbank this afternoon, and yesterday morning I recorded at least 5 Purple Sandpipers on Maer Rocks, along with a lonesome Knot, 3+ Turnstone and 31 Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Three Red-throated Divers flew past offshore along with a further three distant diver sp. On Orcombe Point the wintering female Cirl Bunting was grovelling around the dung heap, and off Mudbank - 16+ Teal, 2 Greenshank and a red-ringed Mediterranean Gull.

This young male is acquiring a clean-cut white facial 'blaze' rendering it highly distinctive. The flanks are marked with prominent chevrons and the orange legs were visible at times.

Gutted that the camera focused on the near vegetation as the bird wing-flapped.

Despite all my years of birding in Devon this was my (and Nick's) first ever trip to Mansands. A beautiful spot, packed with potential. Definitely my type of local patch, with a variety of habitats to explore, away from the crowds - superb!

Nick and I had great views of the bird from this gateway.

The wintering Cirl Bunting was on the dung heap yesterday.

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