Friday, 30 November 2012


I've been out & about quite a lot since my last post, with the highlight coming yesterday when I found 3 Waxwings on Dawlish Warren. However, first things first.....a few other moments of note.

On Tuesday 20th there was a strong onshore wind so I went over to Budleigh Salterton for an hour. The sea was pretty rough & I was still getting wet despite cowering in the corner of the shelter, but it was well worth the effort as I found a first winter Little Gull. It was with several Black-headed Gulls just offshore near the Lime Kiln car park and I watched it on and off for about 50 minutes. Little Gull is UK first for me, so I was very happy!

On Sunday 25th I decided to head to Bowling Green Marsh for the afternoon, but only got as far as Darts Farm as the River Clyst had broken it's banks. It was an amazing sight. I visited the Darts Farm hide for the first time, which looked out over water, which I'm sure wouldn't normally be there. At least I managed to have a good view of 2 male Bramblings on the feeders.
    The Clyst flood plain does its job
A soggy hide
On Tuesday 27th there was a Devon Birdwatching & Preservation Society meeting on Woodbury Common. There were quite a few of us for this one, so it was a shame that we found very few birds. I managed to see a total of 13, with the best being a Buzzard & a Goldcrest! David branched out into a spot of fungus identification when he found some Yellow Brain, a bright yellow parasitic fungus.
David & the Yellow Brain fungus
Some of us went on to Budleigh Salterton for the afternoon where we added a few more species to the day list, although nothing exciting. The cricket pitch & scrapes were under water & the path beside the Otter had been partially washed away in places.
Anyone for cricket?
The access road to the White Bridge was still flooded & the White Bridge itself had been damaged by an enormous tree that seemed to have come down river in the flood.
The White Bridge v a big tree!
As we were about to leave I checked Devon Birds News to find that there were Waxwings in Exmouth by the Community College. I headed straight over there to see if I could find them before it got dark. There were 4 or 5 people there looking, including Ian who had followed me from Budleigh. We didn't see them, although one of the other chaps saw a small flock fly over. It appeared that they had gone to roost in the college grounds, so I decided to return in the morning.

I got up early on Wednesday, but for some reason faffed about rather than heading straight to the college. I was kicking myself for the rest of the day as the Waxwings had left just before I arrived. I spent the rest of the day trudging around Exmouth & Littleham in the hope of locating them, which I didn't.

And so to yesterday (29th). I decided to head over to Dawlish Warren to see the Black-necked Grebe that had been on the main pond for a few days. Driving across the Clyst flood plain I would never have known that it had been under water a few days before. At Dawlish Warren I headed straight for the pond. At first I only found 3 Little Grebes, but after about half an hour the Black-necked Grebe appeared and gave brilliant views. It was really nice of it to be so obliging!

Black-necked Grebe
I had a look off the coast but only found a raft of Common Scoter, so returned to the pond for another look at the grebe. I decided to have a walk around the back of the the pond before lunch, and I was really glad I did when 3 'trilling' birds flew in from the golf course over my head. I had a moment of panic as I put the scope down & got the bins up....and there they were, 3 Waxwings sitting in a tree! They dropped down into the bushes & started feeding on the berries. To say I was pleased would be a gross understatement. I posted the sighting on Birdguides & e-mailed the Dawlish Warren website. A few people started appearing fairly quickly & I soon discovered why. It was only the second ever sighting of Waxwings on the reserve & the first time they have ever been seen to land!  I had managed a few very bad record shots as proof, but then luckily they hung around all afternoon and were joined by another 2. A flock of 20 were also seen flying over heading for Exmouth. I'd love to have taken the fantastic shot at the top of the page, but it was actually taken by Chris Grady who who kindly sent me the photo ( (Thanks Chris!).

Waxwings settled in the big bush on the left & went down to drink at the puddles

(I'm still having Blogger problems, hence the variously sized photos & wonky labels!)

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