Thursday, 5 January 2017

Gupton this morning and a brief look at Landshipping area late this afternoon

Several of us did a repeat winter bird survey at Gupton this morning. A survey organised by Clive Hurford, and undertaken with the approval of the National Trust. As well as Clive, the surveyors were Richard Crossen, Mike and Kathy Young-Powell, Holly Harries, Paul Culyer and myself. 

Before we started out, a flock of c.30 bar-tailed godwits flew east along the Fresh West shore towards Frainslake – quite a nice species and a good-sized flock for this particular location. After we finished the survey several grey plovers were flying around the rocky shore below the car park - hopefully their numbers will increase here in the coming weeks.

Numbers of birds were a bit disappointing. There was a reasonable-sized flock of 70-80 curlews feeding in damp grassland near Starman’s Hall and snipe numbers were probably quite good, scattered across the area. NB final accumulated count tallies for all species are still to be determined.

Most passerines were generally a "bit thin" on the ground with very few chaffinches and linnets seen at all. A flock of about 70 skylarks was in one area but they were not particularly numerous today. A couple of jack snipe were flushed in the damp grassland (typically not seen until almost trodden on!). The female marsh harrier was seen by some observers over the reed-bed. Other raptors included a peregrine and a merlin.

We didn't record any golden plovers at Gupton this morning but late in the day a distant flock of at least 1,000 to 1,500 was flying high over Sprinkle Pill (seen from Landshipping). They appeared to be heading towards the Cresswell river (perhaps Garron Pill) so there are probably some good-sized flocks still around. 

There seems to have been a small influx of redwings around the Martletwy/Landshipping area in recent days. Late this afternoon a few small flocks (each c. 30-50) were feeding in the local stubble fields with small flocks of chaffinches. We’ve had no recent sightings though of our local (Martletwy) small yellowhammer population.