Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Pennington Marshes - 9th March

I have not been out in the field for a while now and come Monday I was itching to get out with the reports of spring migrants, Osprey, Wheatear, Sand Martin and an Alpine Swift, scattered around the country my hopes were high for at least a Wheatear. However, over the last few days I have been knocked back with some nasty bug imported to the household by Tobias and the last weekend was spent on the settee with not even the 6-Nations to watch, it was hence quite a drag to walk around Pennington Marshes especially as the weather was so dreary with thick overcast and a strong south-westerly.

Pennington Marshes are starting to turn to spring with the sound of displaying Lapwing ringing out, Dunnock giving there somewhat undistinguished warble, Sky Lark in full melodic flow overhead and the blooming of Gorse gaining momentum. On Pennington Marsh there were at least six Ruff all still in mottled winter plumage with a further two males on Fishtail Lagoon starting to gain their summer plumage.


Numbers of duck have shown a slight dip with, perhaps, almost a halving in numbers of Teal and Wigeon since my last visit on 4th February, the males though are looking fine. With close views I always marvel at the fine vermiculation on the flanks of Teal and Wigeon - a feature common to many of the dabbling duck.



The old landfill always supports one or two pairs of Sky Lark and this year appears to be no exception but with all the dogs that run across the grassland here I have no idea of how successful they are. Still, today they were singing in earnest barely taking time to come to ground.

Sky Lark

Shelduck are superb birds, almost tropical in appearance, and in the spring they become pretty feisty to boot. Today there were several groups all gathered staking out their territories. Although this appeared to be a mainly male affair the females too were involved backing up the males.


I had some good views of Redshank but I don't know what to say about them - they are noisy and have red legs. Nice pose though.....


I spent a little bit of time watching a summer plumaged Cormorant feeding in Butts Lagoon. It was diving very frequently and seemed to be eating small prey items but I could never make out what it was taking, in the shot below the bird is clearly swallowing something - maybe there is an abundance of shrimp/prawns in the lagoon.

Cormorant - With its white summer head filaments


Dunnock - I never managed to get the bird in full song but this bird was avidly singing away.

The number of gulls on Efford Lagoon is building with the spring migration but today I didn't have the energy to go through them, I made a quick scan and took a few snaps in the hope there would be a Audouin's Gull amongst them when I reviewed the images back home but it was not to be. The below shows that the gathering was made up of Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull but there were also a few Lesser Black-backed and Greater Black-backed Gull that didn't quite make the frame.

Herring and Black-headed Gulls

Herring Gulls