River Dart

Mandarins Meanderins

A mandarin duck floating about on the river Dart. A labrador jumped in and the mandarin escaped up into a tree out the way.

Half an hour later the mandarin plopped back into the river to be joined by a second male. The pair of them flipped about together upstream and downstream in the same bit of river.

Then some animated cleaning was undertaken. These mandarins have to keep their beautiful suits impeccably preened in order to maintain themselves at their immaculate best.

I like seeing these mandarin ducks on the Dart river flipping in and out of Hembury Woods. They seem more ‘au naturale’ than over in Stover Park.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

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A Three Cormorant Triangle

Three Cormorants March 2019

Walking away from Totnes along the Dart river I saw this.

Three cormorants in repose on a fallen branch.

Equidistant from one another as if forming the 3 points of a triangle.

The cormorant sat on the waviest bit of branch was balding.

Three Cormorants 6 March 2019

Possibly molting. Or perhaps a cormorant crone, the old witch of the threesome.

The one sat at the apex of the triangle barely moved.

Three Cormorants 2 March 2019

Possibly overstuffed with fish if that engorged gullet is anything to go by.

Cormorants don’t seem to be confined to the coast. I’ve seen them at Stover Park, on the river Lemon in Newton Abbot, and quite frequently shooting up and down the river Dart.

Words & Photos: Ian Nisbet

A Pair of Juveniles

Identifying birds gets decidedly tricky the more you look into them.

Bird types can change depending on whether you are looking at a male or female.
Or what time of year it is.
Juveniles can look very different from the adults they’ll eventually turn into.

Take the moorhen for example.
On the left is a juvenile I saw on the river Dart today.

Moorhen juvenile 2 Sept 2018-horz

The moorhen on the right is the adult version you more normally see (I didn’t see that though) Its now got a red beak and looks less brown and more black bodied.

Likewise the black headed gull has significant changes of appearance on maturity.

Black headed Gull juvenile Sept 2018-horz

Juvenile here minus choccy head            Adult here, with a choccy head
Seen today on the river Dart                 Seen on Meadfoot beach July 2017
What makes a positive id of blackheaded gulls – both juveniles and adults – even trickier, is how similar to mediterranean gulls they look.

Anyway, here’s a vid of the juvenile moorhen and juvenile black headed gull seen on the river Dart in Totnes (next to Morrisons) today.
The moorhen, to my eyes, is like a fancy-footed water chicken. It was amusingly flick flicking up its white botty.
The black headed gull was in itchy twitch mode.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Red Darter on the Dart

Off this sunny Sunday afternoon to give the new Lumix DMC40 a try out.

Waiting by the Dart river to see if Beautiful Demoiselles might still be around.

Waiting. Watching.

And then dropped down this Red Darter dragonfly.

Red Darter on the Dart Sept 2018

Right in front of where I stood, only 4 feet away.

Having a mini break from dizzy darting about.

In a headspin she was. Chewing a fly.

Red Darter on the Dart 2 Sept 2018

I bent down to get near but she shot up in the air scraping past the top of my head.

I waited around for a while to see if she’d come back.
But she didn’t.

Had to content myself instead with wagtails bouncing about on the far bank.
And being dipped in delicious by the lovely sunny river.

Dashing Dart

A slow walk to the Dart river.

Yet more notices about picking up poo
(I presume this isn’t a Phantom Poo Person on the loose, but the usual dog doo dah bollocks)

Bag that poo April 2nd 2018

Somebody had been out picking up, not Poo –  Plastic.

Plastic Rubbish 2 April 2nd 2018

A ceremonial pile of plastic laid out right next to the river Dart.

Plastic Rubbish April 2nd 2018

Plus a couple of glass bottles, some tin cans, a trainer, and other sundry detritus.

Maybe a nice person picking up plastic but without a plastic bag to bin it with.
Or an angry person making a point of drawing attention to how much plastic gets carelessly thrown around perhaps?

It drew my attention. So I took those pictures. To post on the blog.
(Unfortunately I hadn’t got anything on hand to bin this plastic heap of crap either)

Everywhere around on this Easter Bank Holiday Monday was as inert, as dead, as that plastic pile of poo.

But nothing inert about the river Dart today.

Positively bouncing and bubbling along with unstoppable energy, necessary life.