Sunday, 29 December 2013

White-billed Diver

Last year when I tried for a big year list I did plenty of twitching. I considered going down to Cornwall for the White-billed Diver, but decided it was a bit too far. This year I've done no twitching, but when I noticed on Devon Bird Sightings that there was a White-billed Diver in Brixham, I thought it would be rude not to indulge in a last minute 2013 twitch. I collected Libby at 7:30am & we headed for Brixham Harbour, parking in the car park near the Astro Zenica building. Another couple of birders had just arrived & headed off towards the harbour, so we followed along. We walked to the entrance to the inner harbour where we found a line of about 8 birders with scopes. Within about a minute, the White-billed Diver popped up. How easy was that?! It gradually got closer & entered the inner harbour, giving us amazing views.

The WBD was very obliging & came right into the inner harbour
It was a bit showery, but luckily there was no wind & the water was flat. 
Met a chap using an Questar scope which cost him £2500 30 years ago!  You could see why, the image quality was excellent.
An impressive rainbow made up for the rain.
We moved to the other side of the harbour for even better views
I tried out my new 'point & shoot' Lumix TZ40 ....
...and was quite impressed
What a bill!!
Well worth the trip!

We walked out onto the breakwater & got a real bonus for the day with a Black-guillemot. I only saw my first ever this Summer on Shetland, so this was my first English sighting. It wasn't as obliging as the WBD, but I still managed a record shot.

A distant Black Guillemot 
The WBD had moved to the outer harbour to the left & the Black Guillemot was to the right.
Brixham from the Breakwater
Other birds of note were Purple Sandpiper, Black-throated Diver & Great Northern Diver.

On the way home we stopped off at Broadsands to see the Cirl Buntings. We met some birders from Wakefield who'd left home at 3:30am, been to Portland for the Brunnich's Guillemot, Brixham for the WBD & had dropped in for the Cirl Buntings on their way home! They were very tired but happy birders!

We saw the Cirls, what we think was probably a Siberian Chiffchaff, and a distant Black-necked Grebe in the bay.

 Cirl Bunting hunting

It had been an excellent day out. I remember now why I enjoy the occasional twitch!

Monday, 23 December 2013

BGM, Goosemoor & Dart's Farm

On Saturday I ventured out for a morning's birding with Alan, Libby & Annabelle. Alan ( had originally arranged for us to meet up at Dawlish Warren,  but the weather was due to be so wet that BGM was a last minute alternative.

It was pretty quiet in the hide at Bowling Green Marsh, and pretty quiet on the marsh as well for that matter! There was a large flock of Avocets, and one bird off by itself which had apparently been shot. The only other waders of note were a solitary Grey Plover, and a pale Redshank which we thought may be a Spotted Redshank at first, but decided in the end that it was just a pale common one. The best of the ducks was a Long-tailed Duck, my first of the year. There were no Mute Swans, but there was a Black Swan!

In the hide at BGM, the best place to be on a soggy day!
As we left the rain eased off so we went out onto the new walkway/ cycle track across Goosemoor. It's the first time I've been there, and there wasn't much about.

Goosemoor from the cycle track
Viewing holes, none of which seemed to be at a comfortable height!
The final stop of the day was Dart's farm. Again it was very quiet, with no ducks or waders, although our only Little Egret of the day flew in just before we left. The feeders were pretty busy with Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch & Reed Buntings, a Kingfisher posed nicely for us, and a Sparrohawk flew by being harassed by a Crow.

Viewing the marsh at Dart's Farm
Full list for the day:
BGM: Long-tailed Duck, Shoveller, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Pintail, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Snipe, Curlew, Grey Plover, Avocet, Dunlin, Lapwing, Greylag goose, Canada Goose, Bent Goose, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Red-breasted Merganser, Raven, Lapwing, (Black Swan), Little Grebe, Moorehen, Grey Heron, Meadow Pipit, Stock Dove, Green Woodpecker, Shelduck, Crow, Blackbird, Starling
Goosemoor: Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Stonechat, Robin
Dart's Farm: Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cormorant, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Mute Swan, Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Magpie, Little Egret

Total: 58 species. Not bad for a soggy morning ( & I missed the Collared Dove, Jay & Rook!)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


This morning I joined the East Devon Birders for a walk around Escot Park. It would be fair to say that the birding was a bit slow, although it was very pleasant & I did end up with 34 species on my list, including Redwing, Fieldfare, Grey Wagtail, Linnet, Goldcrest, Meadow Pipit, Snipe, Buzzard, Lapwing, Treecreeper, Nuthatch & Stock Dove.

A flock of Devon Birders in formation
It was chilly & foggy when we set off, but soon warmed up
The woods were pretty quiet.....well apart from us!
The 'hot spot' of the day...a large proportion of the days birds were seen here
My 35th bird of the day.....turkey at the Christmas lunch!
Then outside for a close encounter with a Devil Squirrel!
As usual, a very enjoyable day out with good company.