Monday, 5 November 2007

Weekend birding - colour-rings and scarcities

Saturday morning, 3rd November. I headed out to the Exe with the intention of searching for ringed and colour-ringed birds - I've been watching colour-marked Black-tailed Godwit and Brent Goose on the river for a good number of years now, though less intensively than perhaps I should have! The search was largely unsuccessful today, unfortunately, with only a single godwit ring noted, but the bonus of a metal-ringed Canada Goose which finally gave itself up at Starcross golfcourse. The godwit turns out to be an old friend, ringed in August 1996 at Terrington, on the Wash - making him/her/it now over 11 years old. This isn't quite the oldest godwit I've found, but is getting there! The goose is likely to have been ringed at Chew Valley Lake during it's post-breeding moult.

Despite the lack of marked birds, the day was full of interest: Bowling Green was chocka with ducks, particularly Teal and Wigeon, though a trio of Pochard and a relatively early female Pintail provided some extra interest. Waders were not super-abundant, through the Long-billed Dowitcher put in another appearance and a ringed Redshank prompted a little musing about its possible origin - unfortunately there wasn't a cat's chance in hell of reading the ring, so it shall remain a mystery!

Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) - at the point of an arrow

Further down the estuary, I bumped into this horrible Canada x Greylag hybrid goose, associating with the Canadas on Starcross golfcourse. A good example of the fecundity of waterfowl, which will happily hybridise across genera... A white farm goose and a Greylag were also present - the Greylag presumably one of the parents of this thing.

Hybrid goose (Anser anser x Branta canadensis)

Next stop Dawlish Warren, where there were few birds on show, although the 1w female Surf Scoter was close inshore - not close enough for photos, though! Diverting back through Powderham produced a confiding flock of Turnstone (below left) and a smart Buzzard (below right)

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

I finished my day at a local Woodlark site, where I was able to admire a group of 8 very smart birds fossicking in the stubbles in gradually yellowing sunshine. Smashing little birds, and thoroughly under-rated. Typically though, they were tough to photograph at all, let along getting a decent image: below is the best I could get!

Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

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