This group usually meets on 3rd Wednesday of the month at 10:30am at various locations. It has been meeting since May 2013. Amongst the visits last year, we went bird watching at Bowling Green Marshes, Aylesbeare, on the tram at Seaton and a 'cruise' on the Exe Estuary. There is a range of expertise amongst the group members and we're very keen to help each other with identifications.
Visit to Stover Park - 15th May 2019
On Wednesday night seven of us assembled on a calm evening with clear skies for our conducted trip by Jon the Senior Ranger at Stover Park. Jon conducted us around the park giving details on the history and evolution of the park and he updated us on the position with the lake. He also outlined some of the challenges that Stover was experiencing in obtaining a grant to clear the lake and the way the loss of weed and now fish was having an effect on the water quality of the lake and on the birds visiting and resident on the lake. As we walked around the lake we saw a group of Mandarin duck, apparently there are now five breeding pairs on the lake.
As dusk came we all gathered expectantly in amongst the vegetation for a first "sounding" of the nightjar. Unfortunately we waited in vain and although Jon believed he may have heard one in the distance we did not see or hear any Nightjars.
As in previous visits as we approached the visitors centre Jon used his bat monitor to check for bat activity over the lake. Unfortunately although 14 species of bat are present at Stover few made an appearance.
It was however an interesting visit thanks to Jon and his weather of knowledge both of the history of Stover and of the wildlife there.
Thanks to Keith for the pictures of the Mandarin ducks
Otterton - 20 March 2019
On a fortunately calm, warm and dry day eleven of the group met at Stantyway Farm, Otterton. Walking a circular route to the coast, Otterton Sewage Works and back to the farm we saw fulmar, herring gull, buzzard, blackcap, chaffinch, goldfinch, stonechat, robin, blackbird, house sparrow, blue and great tits, corvids and the rare cirl buntings with many skylarks singing entertainingly overhead.
Back at the farm we met the ‘new’ tenant farmer, Sam, who told us about his plans for managing the organic farm using thoughtful ‘patchwork’ seeding and field margins with birds . . . and worms! . . . in mind!
After lunch at the King’s Arms most of the group walked northwards along the River Otter, seeing dippers, wrens, heron and long-tailed tits and evidence of the environmental work of beavers. A feast for the ears as well as the eyes.
Margaret Mackintosh (photos of male cirl bunting and dipper courtesy of John Swain)
BWG2 - Berry Head and Broadsands 13 February
Ten Group Members plus one reserve assembled at the Berry Head Nature Reserve car park for a walk out to the Lighthouse and back for lunch at the Guardhouse Cafe. Highlights from various positions around the headland included Guillemots on the nesting cliffs and on the sea, Gannets fishing in Torbay and Fulmars flying into and out from their nesting sites.
After lunch we returned to the car park and set off for Broadsands Beach where we started with a short walk to Elberry Cove where we saw two Red Necked Grebes and a distant Grey Heron - one of the local seals popped its head out a couple of times and two Rock Pipits made an appearance.
At the back of the beach car park, we went looking for the local Finches and Buntings on the seed that's put down for them in the winter. Initially there didn't seem to be anything about but this was explained when a male Sparrowhawk lifted off from the hedgerow - once he was out of the way the small birds were soon back on the seed and we enjoyed good views of Cirl Buntings, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Dunnocks.
Overall, a very successful day out in very pleasant early springlike weather - if only birdwatching was always like this!
BWG2 Dawlish Warren 15th August
We landed on Dawlish Warren at 9am and spent a very satisfying 3 hours walking around and saw a total of 25 different species of birds. Upon landing, we were greeted by the sight of some pied wagtails, linnets and a stonechat. During the course of the morning we saw many sandwich terns, diving in the sea or roosting on wooden posts; ringed plover, either roosting or flying en masse and oyster catchers behaving similarly. We also watched scurrying sanderling and dunlin. Among the less numerous birds we spotted some gannets out at sea, common tern, turnstone, greenshank, whitethroat and a Mediterranean gull. We concluded with delicious fish lunches at Rockfish!
BWG2 Seaton Wetlands 8th August
Seven of us assembled at the Seaton Cemetery car park for a walk around Black Hole Marsh at the Seaton Wetlands.
We confined our walk to take in the Tower Hide (overlooking the River Axe and Black Hole Marsh), the Island Hide (overlooking Black Hole Marsh) and the area around the Visitor Centre. On the river we saw the usual assembly of Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls plus Curlews, Oystercatchers and Mallard. Black Hole Marsh was rather more productive with sightings of Black Tailed Godwit, Redshank, Green and Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Shellduck and nesting Swallows actually in the Island Hide. Alongside the path to the Tower Hide we saw several Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler - it won't be long before they leave for Africa.
We had an amusing experience by the Visitor Centre where we tried, for some time, to identify a repeated bird call, only to be told by the local ranger that they were playing a recording of Sand Martins from the nesting bank that had been constructed a few years ago but had so far not attracted any Sand Martin breeding activity. This was in an effort to make the location perhaps recognisable to returning birds next Spring, in the hope that they might use the bank to breed.
Five of us ended the trip with a fish (or in one case - pie) and chip lunch at Frydays.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.