I've not got too much to tell of last week, due to two days of illness, two mornings of superb Dartmoor surveying and only about three hours of patch birding.
I had high hopes for Monday, but all I managed to squeeze out of the patch was a Hobby west over Bridge Marsh and this brief Greylag Goose with the Mute Swan flock there...
Wednesday was spent on the moor, but I did have a spare ten minutes to look along the Estuary between this and work, and wow - it showed that Wednesday was a good day! The heavy rain, fog and light SE wind had obviously encouraged waders to move about (and ground) - I was stunned to see a single flock of 90 Dunlin and 7 Ringed Plover on the Estuary. Numbers like this are usual in the autumn on the Estuary, but only very rarely occur in spring, there has to be the right weather conditions. Although they were just Dunlin (I was disappointed there wasn't a smart Broad-billed Sandpiper in with them yes) they were great to see due to the incredible variation between birds. All were in summer plumage, but the mantle colours varied from almost Curlew Sand-red to winter Sanderling-grey, and everything in between! Overall size varied too, as did bill length, so the flock probably consisted of all of the regular occurring UK races; arctica, schinzii and alpina. I just wish I took some photos.
I find May wader days so so exciting - the 'rareometer' levels are sky high and there is so much potential. Richard P managed to capture the magic with some footage from Charmouth the same morning, he had a single flock of 70 Dunlin, 25 Sanderling and 10 Ringed Plover, and he doesn't even have a river (well not a proper one anyway!). See HERE.
The following day was a bit of a let down, it was still misty and wet but the waders were just not moving - 11 Dunlin and three Ringed Plover were all the beach had to offer. I did see a larger flock of small waders on Colyford scrape at high tide (about 40+ birds) but THE MOST frustrating thing happened... I decided they were definitely worth a trudge out to Colyford hide, despite the rain the possibility of something like a male Kentish Plover made it a no-brainer.... Sadly though half way across Colyford Common I flushed a Peregrine off the marsh, which proceeded to fly across the tramline and straight over the scrape. I heard a few Ringed Plover calls and when I made it to the hide there was nothing there at all... Arse.
And that's about it. I'll end this post with a short video from Dartmoor, one of the perks of the early mornings and miles of walking...