Monday, 10 December 2012

A mixed bag

I'm playing catch up again after a week of varied birding activities.  This is also my first post on my lovely new MacBook. I've never used one before so I'm trying to figure out how to use it as I go.

I started off on Tuesday 4th with a twitch to Portworthy near Plymouth in search of a Green-winged Teal. A chap that I'd met a few days earlier at Dawlish Warren had been trying to find it for a while without success. As there was a small area of water out of view, I stayed for a couple of hours just in case it appeared, which it didn't.
Portworthy Dam, viewed from Fernhill Cross. 
I decided to explore Burrator Reservoir whilst I was in the vicinity. The scenery on approach was impressive, I loved the mossy lanes, and found a car park that was alive with birds including a pair of Nuthatches, numerous Coal Tits & Marsh Tits. Views of the reservoir itself were restricted by trees, but I did see 6 female & 2 male Goosanders.

Mossy lanes
An obliging digiscoping is gradually improving!
On Wednesday 5th I went along to the last DBWPS meeting of the year at Escot. We had a nice walk, although didn't find anything particularly interesting. Twenty four of us then indulged in an early Christmas dinner.

There's a Bullfinch in there somewhere...
I spent the afternoon of Thursday 6th getting very cold in Ide near Exeter trying to find a Hawfinch. I'm not sure if I was in the right place, but there were certainly lots of seed-laden trees to watch. No Hawfinch, but I did find a rather nice flock of 8 Bullfinch & a large flock of Redwing.

Friday was our penultimate trip to the Blackdown Hills for a Devon Bird Atlas survey. In the first Tetrad we had 19 species, which amazingly didn't include Wood Pigeon, but we did see 3 Nuthatches, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers & a Treecreeper.

The second Tetrad contains quite a large area of orchards, so we were inundated by Fieldfares. It was difficult to count as the flocks kept moving about. I suspect that our 105 is a gross under-estimate. We had some fantastic views of them perched in the tops of the trees in the sunlight...  even Simon was impressed!

Simon in action
We had lunch on the hoof as we headed to Steart in Somerset in search of the Temminck's Stint. I was a bit confused by the directions on Birdguides but luckily a couple of chaps turned up who knew where to go, so we followed them. We then met a couple on their way back from seeing the Stint who gave us some extra directions, including the fact that it was the only bird in the field! It was quite a long walk which was very boggy in places. As soon as we climbed up onto the sea wall the wind hit us. It was blowing a hooley. There were 2 chaps scouring the flooded field who hadn't found the bird, but with the extra directions we'd been given, we found it straight away. In fact Simon spotted it first! (I'll make a birder of him yet!). It was really quite close, but the wind made it really difficult to watch & almost impossible for me to digiscope. I managed the usual 'record shot'.

Simon stops the scope blowing over. The Stint was in the front channel
Temminck's Stint, another UK first for me (and Simon!)
I then spent Saturday (8th) afternoon up on Bicton Common unsuccessfully searching for Jack Snipe & Woodcock.  Simon joined me for another attempt on Sunday (9th) on Aylesbeare Common. The birds were very few & far between, but it's a lovely place for a walk. I'm determined to at least find a Woodcock before the end of the year.

Year List now on 214.

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