Monday, 27 February 2012


Yesterday I went to Broadsands, Paignton for my 3rd DBWPS field meeting. About 16 of us met up in the car park at 10am & headed straight into the unused rear-car park to look for Cirl Buntings. They are regular visitors as seed is put down for them every few days. I've only ever seen a Cirl Bunting in Spain, so I was hoping for an addition to my UK Life List as well as the Year List.

As we walked into the car park a chap was just leaving with his dog & no birds were to be seen. We all lined up with scopes & bins & were amazed by a woman that insisted on walking her dog right across the seeded area in front of us, despite our request that she walk around. There's always one.....

After she'd gone we waited a while with only a few Dunnocks appearing for the seed. Then I spotted a bright yellow blob deep in the hedge, which was indeed our first glimpse of the Cirls. 13 of them then descended on the seed, including 5 gorgeous males. I was now a happy birder!

Admiring Cirl Buntings feeding under the hedge

Broadsands Beach & location of Cirl Buntings
We admired them for a while before moving up to the sea front to look for divers & grebes. A Black-necked Grebe had been seen earlier (which I need), but all we could find were a few Shag, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe & a small flock of Common Scoter. And a seal! I have no idea what type. Again we were amazed by another 'friendly' local. We were lined up on the pathway, but it was very wide with plenty of room for people to pass. A large chap on a mobility scooter headed straight at us and wound his way between us complaining that he was blind and that we get in his way every weekend! Why he didn't just scoot past on the 5 feet of empty pavement is a mystery!

Broadsands Bay looking North

Looking East towards the headland
A novel way to take the dog out....
It's quite difficult to get your head round compass directions, looking out to sea you feel that you should be looking South, but you are actually looking East due to the fact that you are on the West side of Torbay.We walked East onto the headland, which had a lovely rocky shore with crystal clear water, a Rock Pipit & a Kestrel.

Just like the Med....but colder

At the next bay we turned back across the headland towards the car park, admiring a Buzzard on a post & a playing 'hunt the Blackcap' after hearing a male starting to sing in a hedge. After a while we finally found a pair.

We lunched in the car park in the sunshine. Some of the group left, but most of us then went on to the Clennon Valley, also in Paignton. I'd been there once before with Mary in April 2003 when we twitched a Dusky Warbler.

We walked across the playing fields into the wooded valley, which was unfortunately a bit quiet. There were a few ducks & Mute Swans on the pond, but nothing exciting. We had a close encounter with a Coot on the path which climbed the bank to munch on a Tongue Fern. I just love those feet!

The Clennon Valley pond
Beware, Coot crossing

We had a bit of excitement when 2 Peregrines flew overhead, one carrying a pigeon.We saw them again about 20 mins later, still with one carrying a pigeon & leaving a trail of feathers.

The only other interest was a couple of Chiffchaffs & an unusually large group of about 22 Magpies ( I looked it up & the collective noun is apparently a 'tidings'!).

We had walked quite a way during the day and it was beginning to tell.....

Slacking birders!
It was about 4pm & as everyone headed for home I had a quick look at the 'Where to Watch Birds' book & decided to stop at Preston Sands, between Paignton & Torbay, on my way back. I had a quick scan but didn't find anything new on the water. There were 14 Turnstones on the rocks below. I was watching them through the scope when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. There were 4 more Turnstones standing beside me on the pavement!!

Preston Sands looking North towards Torquay
It's behind you....................
Just the 1 new species for the Year List; Cirl Bunting, the 'Devon Joker' as Dom of the 'Year List Race' called it! In the UK they're only found in this part of Devon, so the chaps will have to make a trip down here to get one! List now on 136 & 1 Sub-species


  1. Annotated orthophoto - whatever next? You're spoiling me on the one hand, while tormenting me with the gorgeous views/weather & successes on the other!

  2. Glad you liked my efforts! Not long till you'll be joining in....hopefully!