Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Powderham and Exminster marshes

Although I should be back to work today I could not resist a quick visit to the marshes over lunch. Between the showers it was quite pleasant and there were far fewer people about. On the RSPB's Powderham land there were still small flocks of chaffinches (totalling about 100), fifty or so bramblings and 20 linnets. 63 skylarks seemed to be continually in the air and just as I was leaving I realised why - a merlin flew along one hedge. At the same time two peregrines flew overhead but they were more interested in each other than in the 500 lapwings and 200 black-tailed godwits they disturbed. I have now seen on the marshes 7 species of raptor since the New Year.

As I walked over the railway bridge onto Exminster marshes there were 6 or possibly 7 white-fronted geese to the north, close to a large flock of Canada geese. However the white-fronts were not there when I returned at about 2.30.

About 100 coots are still on the canal but only 4 gadwall. A further 360 black-tailed godwits were feeding close to the lane and these were, in turn, disturbed by the two peregrines - still squabbling. Apart from a few snipe there were no other waders. In the lane a small flock of 7 long-tailed tits were accompanied by a single goldcrest. After checking the usual sites I realised I had not seen or heard a Cettis warbler or stonechat this year. Let's hope they were displaced rather than destroyed. On a brighter note I did see over 12 song thrushes, heard two water rails and saw 3 kestrels.