Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Birdwatching Cruise from Saltash

An extremely pleasant 3 hours were spent today on a cruise from Saltash Quay. The objective? To see what birds were feeding in the tidal reaches of the Tamar and Lynher estuaries. We sailed from Saltash up the Tamar as far as Weir Quay and then back down to follow the Lynher almost as far as St Germans. The conditions were just about ideal for what we wanted to do.

And did we see birds? Oh yes! My checklist tells me that we saw little grebes, great crested grebes, cormorants, little egrets, grey herons, a spoonbill, mute swans, shelducks, wigeon, teal, mallards, buzzards, oystercatchers, avocets, lapwings, dunlin, a black-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, greenshank, black-headed gulls, common gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, feral pigeons, two kingfishers, skylarks, pied wagtails and carrion crows.
We are lucky living in the Tamar Valley as we very often see the valley filled with mists. Today was no exception.
So stunning that I had to stop the car to take it all in.
Looking up the Tamar from Saltash Quay. The rainbow was an accurate portent of the good weather conditions we enjoyed.
Under the two bridges at Saltash - Brunel's railway bridge (1859) is that on the right.
My camera is not the best for wildlife photography at a distance. Notwithstanding that, here's one of the many grey heron that were stalking the water's edge.
Avocets - a rare bird in these parts.
Believe it or not, the blue blob on the branch is a kingfisher.
Near our turning point up the Tamar, giving a good view of the mud banks exposed at low tide which are such an excellent habitat for the birds we were looking for.
Trematon Castle and Trematon House in the distance. The castle was built on Roman foundations just after the arrival of the Normans. The house is Georgian. Neither is open to the public (boo!).
The 'hole' in the bank marks, according to local legend, a secret escape route from Trematon Castle used by the Black Prince.
I had to be told what this is. It's a platform (one of five or six in the area) designed to encourage ospreys to settle down and breed (they don't at the moment and have not for generations but they are occasional migratory visitors). This programme has a ten to fifteen year timescale.
Heading back to Saltash Quay, looking back up the Lynher Estuary. The clouds were gathering but the rain held off.

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