jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2011

A weekend in Devon ( I am back! ) part 1

Hey, long time no see bloggers! I am back in Spain now after around a months break in the UK. Looks like its time to write all up what has happened birding wise! This is a shortened down account of a brilliant long weekend ( and a bit ) away spent in neighbouring Devon - Just a few hours away from home.

Devon - Search for the Cirl Bunting

I had always wanted to bird in Devon. Seeing as it was only a stones throw away from Dorset.
My parents and I had traveled through it a few times on our way home to Bournemouth after departing the ferry at Portsmouth. But we had never really stopped and had a good look around... I was also eager to search for two of Devons premier birds - Dipper and Cirl Bunting... With Cirl Bunting being the primary target.

As soon as we arrived I fell in love with the place. The mysterious ghostly allure of Dartmoor, the lively Seaside Towns, beautiful little Villages and all and all general friendliness of ( most ) of the locals was all very inviting.

                                                                   Dartmoor at dusk.

                                                        The Warren Inn on Dartmoor

The first day very little birding was done except for a brief visit to Dartmoor in the afternoon. All that was seen was a few Meadow Pipits and Stonechats flying around in the fading light and a lone Buzzard that drifted high over the moor before disappearing over the distant horizon. After that short excursion we popped into the Warren inn and had a drink. The rest of the evening was spent soaking in the atmosphere of this very famous pub.

The next day It was decided on to visit Dawlish Warren - A small reserve located to the end of the bustling  beaches of the town. Luckily It seems the holiday makers tend to stick to their side and rarely stray onto the main reserve or go near the hide - So there was virtually no disturbance birdwise. Well At least while I was there!

The short woodland walk to hide was dominated by tons of Greenfinch, Goldfinch and House Sparrow, With the odd Willow Warbler and Great Tit putting in an appearance. Sadly no Cirl Buntings popped up. Even with me silently willing it to happen ( Seems the gods were not with me this time ). We reached the mudflats opposite the hide within half an hour and here we finally bumped into our first birders of the trip. "Anything about?" Was the usual greeting. "Hmm not much to be honest" He replied - With that he pointed his finger out towards the sea and added  "There are a few Terns coming in"... "Mainly Commons."  "No Roseates?" I asked. "None today I am afraid mate" He replied.

Roseate Tern along with Arctic Tern have both managed to allude my radar over the years. Sadly It seems this was not the day to finally add these two little blighters to my list... we left the reserve after a quick pop into the hide - A few Hundred Oystercatchers with an assortment of waders.. ( Dunlin, Turnstone, Grey Plover and Ringed Plover ) ..and gulls dotted the sandy banks. I noticed that a Kittiwake was nestled in with the Common and Herring gulls - Interesting as you do not really get to see them all that often! They are also counted as one of my favorite gulls.

On the way to the car park we met another friendly local birder whom I quickly asked whether he knew any places we could find some Cirl Buntings. This was the right choice as he not only knew where to find them (!) but also added that it was almost, If not 100 percent guaranteed, that we would see them (!!). He himself had never failed. After thanking him I handed Dad the directions that I had written down and we set off!

About 20 minutes later we pulled into a little street surrounded by fields. Clambering out I immediately noticed a strange call coming from a row hedges down the street that I was not familiar with ( Hey, Im not the best at bird calls! but I knew this was different! ). I frantically clambered a stile into an adjoining field and rushed to spot. It took about several minutes for the bird to show but It eventually did - It was what I was after! A fantastic Cirl Bunting In all its glory! Albeit a female bird!

A few moments later a spectacular male bird popped up! The female was nice but paled into comparison with the male. With a bright yellow supercilium / facial mask, black eyestripe, black throat and various hues of brownish red on its body - This bird is truly one to see. Especially In Britain!

I apologise for the terrible quality of these pics - Not easy getting close!

                                                                 Male Cirl Bunting!