Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Beer Head & Black Hole Marsh

Yesterday I went along to the Devon Birds meeting at Beer Head. There were about 17 of us, and we were led on the walk by Steve Waite, local patch birder & Devon Bird Recorder. Steve also writes a blog about birding on the Axe, which I read regularly (http://stevesbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk) so it was nice to actually meet him.

The forecast was for heavy rain showers and for once they actually seem to have got it right! However, between showers we saw quite a nice variety of birds including quite a large flock of lovely Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears, Whinchats, and a Redstart - which I missed, unfortunately. I suspect that Steve would have found more birds without us, as we make quite a lot of noise...we're quite a sociable bunch & tend to natter as we wander!

One minute we were watching a juvenile Green Woodpecker...
....the next we were taking cover from the rain
There goes the culprit
What a fantastic place for a walk; birds are a bonus!
More rain approaches, head for the trees!
Watching Whinchats & Wheatears
The meeting finished at lunchtime, but 6 of us went on to Black Hole Marsh. We added 24 species to the day list including Green & Common Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit & Kingfisher. We spent quite a while watching a small & distant wader on the river which we thought at first was a Curlew Sandpiper. However, after much head scratching & consulting of the Collins we decided it was probably just a lonely Dunlin. It's a shame Steve wasn't still with us as undoubtedly he would have  been able to ID it in a flash!

Low water levels at the Marsh
Colin had a visitor in the hide....I think it may be a Speckled Bush Cricket but I'm happy to be corrected!
When we'd first entered the hide, a couple of people had just been treated to fantastic views of a juvenile cuckoo sitting on nearby fence poles. Apparently it had been feeding in the grass & flying up when disturbed by passing trams. After about an hour we'd practically given up hope of seeing it when a bird flew in from across the river & landed on a post. Bingo! I still haven't got the hang of digiscoping but I managed a record shot!

The cuckoo finally put in an appearance
It was worth the wait!
Another very enjoyable day out with the Devon Birders.

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