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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Winter Birds

Lapwings
I had a spare morning yesterday when it was cold but calm and clear.  I thought I might walk the Bude Valley transect on my own. 

 Try as I might to see a Mediterranean Gull amongst the Black-headed Gulls at the Canal Basin, I was unsuccessful. I was rewarded with a good long sighting in the river Neet west of the sighting platform at Peter Truscott's Bridge.


Little Grebe
There was a nice flock of over 50 Lapwing mixed with Starlings and Jackdaws opposite the 1 Mile Marker nothing new until I approached Rodd's Bridge. I saw what looked like a very pale toy rubber duck under the opposite bank. When it dived with an audible plop, I had to see it again. It resurfaced 3 or 4 metres further west still in the bankside vegetation then nothing for 5 minutes or more. Standing on the bridge I had one last look and there it was again. Several photographs and a good view with binoculars confirmed it was a Little Grebe. It was preoccupied in arranging the small fish it had caught for swallowing so that I was ignored. Being so close it was amazingly small and very pale with vestigial stripes confirming it as a juvenile.

Teal

More was to come. As I walked along the narrow lane to the cycle track I looked in the fields to the west to count the few starlings. As they scattered with alarm calls I identified the cause – an unsuccessful sortie by a Sparrowhawk perhaps foiled by my presence but nevertheless a good sighting.


Chiffchaff
At Petherick's Mill there was the resident Kingfisher, a second for the day and close sightings of Teal. I thought that would be it, but there were very tame Blackbirds on the small bridge which allowed approaches within a metre. Not so the Chiffchaff on the western side of the bridge. It was calling softly and changing position so quickly and often photography was difficult. But the call and leg colouring confirmed this late sighting.



All in all a very good couple of hours with 27 species and a few new ones to add to the tally for this transect.

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