American Robin. Despite the poor photo, you can see the pale fringes to the greater coverts (halfway down the wing, if you didn't already know!) which age it as a 1st-winter bird. Worth wondering where it came from, as most of the Redwings here in SW England seem to be Scandinavian rather than Icelandic. Speculation all the way!
Soon after this piece of unashamed twitching, I was back on site, leading a training event about waterbird ID and ecology for some colleagues, with the help of a friend of ours. By some unaccountable event, we gathered on one of the two calm, sunny days sandwiched between howling winds and lashing rain. We started with a slow wander up the river from Powderham Church to Turf Locks... Immediately, we were faced with a mixed bag of waders and wildfowl feeding quietly on the rising tide: Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers and Curlew, with a smattering of Wigeon and Brent Geese. A raft of female &/or juvenile Red-breasted Mergansers drifted gently upriver, and several small flocks of Avocet and Dunlin flew past.
Early days learning waterbirds... and just how far away waders can be.
Powderham marshes in the sunshine
Otter tracks - next best thing to seeing an Otter.
A little further on upriver, we were treated to spectacular views of a male Red-breasted Merganser feeding with utter aplomb just a few metres offshore; diving with barely a ripple, then bringing back a number of small fish to the surface where they were then squeezed and manipulated until they slipped down his throat - prompting much speculation as to the sensations experienced by both bird and fish! Can't say the fish gets much of a deal out of it, but there you go.
Drake Red-breasted Merganser, sans fish
Soon after this, we came across a flock of Lapwing doing just exactly what Lapwing do; bobbling around a grassy field amongst a herd of cattle, until a passing motorised parachute-thingy dropped down the marshes, circled the cattle and put them all to flight: a perfect demonstration of the effects of casual disturbance...
A temporary disturbance, but they all add up...
Looking to the Turf Locks hotel
The gang get to grips with distant blobs, Avocets, Redshank and godwits
which are all out there. Somewhere.
The Exe from Powderham on a rising tide.
Finally we tracked back to the cars, then headed downriver to have a look off the back of Dawlish Warren and watch the departing roost. The weather and the tide combined to frustrate us, though, so we had to be content with views across the estuary and a very slowly ebbing tide, with a dusting of ducks up Shutterton Creek and a cloud of Woodpigeon in the adjacent copse.
A few Dartmoor autumn pictures follow, for the hell of it...:
The ascent of fungi
Between Hexworthy and Dartmeet
More fungi, but not ascending - more like an exploded brain, really