Monday, July 04, 2005

Devon Dash

An early start from home saw me arrive in the hide at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB Reserve at 6:40am. A lone birder was making his way back from the hide and reported that the bird was still present. I set up in an empty hide overlooking the pools and scanned a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits, most in summer plumage. There was no sign of the bird. Two Spoonbills were on show however, which made a nice start to the day. Then I caught sight of a small, slender wader feeding amongst the godwits. Long legs, fine, straight dark bill, contasting pale and darker upperparts, confirmed this as the Marsh Sandpiper. A lifer for me. I watched it for a while and was joined by a chap called Craig, who had driven 3 hours and 40 minutes from Ipswich to catch this bird. A lifer for him too. A Greenshank flew in alongside the Marsh Sandpiper and we could easily contrast the species. Greenshank is about twice the size and a much bulkier bird. Marsh Sandpiper is actually quite elegent. After about an hour of watching the bird it flew off down the river. Craig asked if I knew anywhere reliable for Cirl Bunting. I mentioned I'd seen them at Exminster in winter, so we agreed it was worth a try. On driving up the hill from the reserve we met a local, who confirmed Exminster as a breeding local as well as recommending some other places a little further away. After a short drive we relocated to a field above Exminster village, and was on to a singing male Cirl Bunting instantly by the roadside. We had decent views through the binoculars but the little bugger flew off before we could get the 'scopes up. A look around the field proved fruitless. Craig hung around until 9:30am, but then headed back off on his long journey home. Sods law, as within 5 minutes of him leaving the Cirl Bunting reappeared within 15 feet of me, singing in a fir tree. Awesome views. I moved on to Dawlish Warren, where there had been reports of a diver. Sure enough, I was soon on to a Black-throated Diver just offshore. Further up the channel, a number of terns could be seen in the distance. A scan through the 'scope revealed both Sandwich Tern and Arctic Tern on show. Satisfied with my Devon jaunt, I headed home, but couldn't resist a quick stop at Goldcliff. It was quiet, but there were great views of Avocets, including almost fully grown young, Little Ringed Plover, Redshanks, Little Egrets and a few other species. An excellent trip. Well worth getting up at 4:00am for.

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