An early start to call, first of all, at a small reserve in Devon, Hackney Marshes, where a Firecrest had been in residence. Whilst the weather generally suggested some improvement it was still extremely cold, although some weak sunshine appeared. Common species were both in evidence and responding to the "spring" conditions with birds giving forth to song. The reserve is a small area of flooded woodland and open grassland with a stream flowing through so a good variety of habitats presented themselves within which a good network of paths was present. The Firecrest never appeared or called, but fine views were obtained of a perched male Sparrowhawk and calling Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Water Rail were noted. A Raven overflew the site and Long-tailed Tits were active along with a couple of Chiffchaffs.
Next was an obligatory call at a new (?) Morrison's Supermarket for breakfast before continuing on to a creek area near Plymouth where we tracked down the Lesser Yellowlegs (2013,170). It was low tide and several Common Redshank and two Greenshank were present, as well as the above bird. Graceful, less robust and with longer legs it remained within the area when all the other "shanks" had moved off.
Next we moved on to Siblyback Reservoir on Bodmin Moor, reached along some narrow lanes confined by traditional hedged dykes. A pleasant, large expanse of water with an accompanying circular footpath. We had a few Sand Martin across its centre, and over thirty flew through later, and a single Swallow (2013,171) flew nearby as we walked to one of the large bays. Here, along with Great Crested Grebe, Teal and Tufted Ducks, we found the absolutely resplendent male Lesser Scaup (2013,172). It gave tremendous views of its peaked head, distinctly vermiculated back and its comparatively small size before flying off across the reservoir showing the whiter wing bar on the secondaries only, with that across the primaries being more of a dirty grey/white. By now the emerging warmth of the sun could actually be felt and we had a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in flight! Walking in the other direction we had equally brilliant views of the Red-necked Grebe (2013,173) which was present. Now entering transitional plumage, its sharp bill showed a bright yellow base but otherwise it looked somewhat scruffy! Colour was beginning to emerge on the neck, but the " band " lying across the neck still had some definition when seen well through a telescope. A nice bird. The extent to which Chiffchaffs were widely spread and noticeable emerged from the questions posed, in passing, by two lady walkers, who reported their presence in bushes across the other side of the reservoir following our just having counted 5/6 in small bushes on our side of the inlet.
They're everywhere ( Chiffchaffs that is! ).
We returned to Exminster Marshes where bird numbers, particularly duck, appeared to have reduced since yesterday. Nothing new was encountered and we returned well satisfied at the end of the day!
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