Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Wind, waves, water & a Whinchat

Yesterday morning I braved the wind  (the forecast was for 30mph+) & headed off to Orcombe Point in the hope that some passing sea birds would be blown nice & close to the shore. Luckily it was dry, but despite finding a bit of shelter behind some bushes just West of the Point, I was still getting buffeted about. It seemed to keep changing direction as well, coming head on & then from behind, which made for a sore eye as I kept bashing it on the scope eye piece! It was quite impressive watching the waves crashing on the sea wall across the estuary at Dawlish

Looking West 
I had some nice Fulmar go by quite close in, that's the first time I've seen them at The Point. Three divers flew West, but they were too far off to identify. There were also 3 Skuas, but they were too far away as well, especially as I couldn't keep the scope still! Two Whimbrel flew East & some Greater Black-backed Gulls passed by. I checked the Devon Bird News to find there was a Black Guillemot at Budleigh Salterton, I tried to will it to come my way, but funnily enough it didn't work! Another chap had joined me briefly with his scope but as soon as I mentioned the Black Guillemot he headed off to Budleigh.

I didn't stay too long before I gave up and headed along the cliffs to meet Simon who was walking out via Sandy Bay holiday camp. The waves were crashing so far up the cliffs at Straight Point that it must have washed some of the Kittiwake nests away.
Straight Point being battered by waves
As we walked down the lane from Sandy Bay I checked the ploughed field for Wheatears as I'd seen 7 a few days ago. I only found 4, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find a lovely male Whinchat as well. Oh for my camera! I went home for it, but when I got back it had gone.

The Wheatear & Whinchat field
After lunch I decided to head to Budleigh, not expecting the Black Guillemot to still be there but to try out the shelter on the front that the chap at Orcombe Point had mentioned earlier. It was still blowing a gale so it was a good time to try it out. The view is a bit limited by beach huts, but I was nicely out of the wind & could even sit on a bench! Luxury! Just a shame there were no birds passing! Still, I really enjoyed myself just watching the waves crashing on the beach. I've never been there when it's been so rough.

The Budleigh shelter.....

& the view from inside
I stayed there ages, then decided I'd have a quick wander. The River Otter was almost full & flowing out with considerable force. It was mesmerising watching it meet the waves on the beach.
The River Otter....lots of water

The River Otter fighting the waves
Then I headed up the estuary. I hope they weren't planning to play any cricket any time soon! I diligently checked the gulls, but couldn't find anything of interest.

Anyone for cricket (don't forget your wellies)
One of the scrapes further up the estuary had 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, most of which were in full summer plumage & looking fabulous. A Kingfisher caught dinner quite near to the path & Sedge and Cetti's Warblers were singing in the reeds. This amazing huge Oil Beetle was also burrowing on the path. 

 Oil Beetle
I walked as far as the White Bridge where the water was the highest I've ever seen it. I guess all that rain has to go somewhere!
Lots of water heading downstream

Looking South from the White Bridge
It had been an interesting day's birding, even if I did only add Whinchat to the Year List. I added Swift the day before as well as 2 flew over the van whilst we were driving up Maer Lane having just walked Vera.

That puts the Year List on  176 + 2