Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ffffrozen in Budleigh

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went to my second Devon Bird Watching & Preservation Society meeting. This time we met at the White Bridge on the River Otter just North of Budleigh Salterton. I'd looked at the weather forecast & put on my thermals in anticipation of a cold morning. The forecast didn't lie, it was freezing & it wasn't long before I couldn't feel my hands & feet. At least it wasn't raining, or snowing.

On the White sign of the resident Water rail today
We walked South along the estuary, stopping frequently to scan the estuary & the marshy fields the other side. No one was holding out much hope of seeing the Caspian Gull that's been seen there, which was a shame as I was hoping that one of the expert birders in the group would find it & give it to me on a plate (so to speak). We did find a nice Med Gull which is the first I've seen on the Otter.

Down to the front for a quick look out to sea, but the cutting wind chased us off pretty quickly having seen only a shag & a possible Razorbill. Then down to the  path at the bottom of the shingle bank to look for the Snow Bunting that has just returned, having disappeared for a week or so. It was a little more sheltered from the wind than on the top of the bank, but not a lot. There was a false alarm when someone spotted a Reed Bunting, but shortly after it was located feeding on some seeds in a small patch of grass on the bank. At last! I saw one in November, but failed to find it during 3 or 4 attempts this year. It was very obliging , staying put for us all to have a good look. I hadn't realised how big they are until a couple of Reed Buntings joined it for a feed giving us a nice comparison. It was still there when we had to leave to get some feeling back in our extremities.

Admiring the Snow Bunting........

.........ignoring the gulls
We walked back along the footpath that runs along the West side of the reserve. There was quite a lot of activity in the bushes, but I didn't get anything new for my Year List. It was nice to get a much better look at a Chiff Chaff which I'd briefly glimpsed a few weeks ago. In fact there are at least 3 of them overwintering in the hedge next to the road that leads to the White Bridge.

It was a 50 species walk for me, with the Snow Bunting bringing my Year List to 119.

It took the rest of the day to defrost.

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