Monday, January 09, 2006

Exe Estuary Trip

Jeff, Colin and I left Cardiff at 7:35am and in good time we were in the top fields searching for cirl bunting about 30 minutes before the club arrived. Though we were unable to locate our target bird, the good news was that Geri and Kevin had seen a couple lower down the hill near the Farm Cattages. A small group of us wandered down the hill and were onto a nice male in short time. As ever Geri and Kevin were keen to press on and as there was no sign of the club moving soon we decided to follow them over to Woodbury Common for a long-staying great grey shrike. On arriving at the carpark it was raining so we had a bite to eat and a drink. As the rain eased we headed south to where the bird had been last seen. We spent about 45 minutes searching to no avail. Just as we were about to give up and head to Dawlish for the high tide, Kevin got news on his pager that the bird was now northeast of where we were parked. Another hour was spent searching the heath to no avail except for a brief Dartford warbler seen by me and Jeff. Disappointed we returned to the carpark intending to move on. One last scan of the heath from the carpark however, revealed a bird at the top of a tree about 200m south. Sure enough it was our bird and another nice tick for the day. We managed to put a few other bedraggled birders on to it too. We moved on to Dawlish where the club were reporting that the long-staying first winter glaucous gull was showing well down to 20m. Sure enough as soon as we crossed the railway bridge near Langstone Rock the bird was spotted paddling around near the seawall. It flew back and for to the rock a couple of times too, so we enjoyed good flight views. Although the bird was in really close digiscoping proved difficult as it bobbed up and down on the waves. Nevertheless, this was a great bird for me - another lifer for the year. Other birds on show here were razorbill, shag, gannet, eider, and red-throated diver. As we had little daylight left moved on to round the day off at Bowling Green Marsh. Along the way we picked up black-tailed godwit and little egret at Cockwood Harbour, red-breasted merganser from Starcross railway station and dark-bellied brent geese on the golf course at Starcross. At Bowling Green Marsh were the usual ducks out on the march with a few pintail too. We headed on to the Exe and were pleased to see plenty of birds feeding. Dozens of avocets, dunlin, curlews, bar-tailed godwits and a lone grey plover were on show. We rounded off another enjoyable day with about 15 minutes on the viewing platform overlooking the Clyst. Another grey plover was in close with a few common waders and a fishing little egret.

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