Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cirl Buntings

For some time I have been wanting to see and capture shots of Cirl Buntings, monitoring the recent reports of the flock that inhabit the Broadsands Bay car park indicated that at least 40 birds were present. Time to pay a visit. So, in the early hours of yesterday Liz and I set forth for deepest Devon. God knows what the neighbours thought as we defrosted the car on the drive at 0430. Oddly enough as we left Worthing the temperature began to climb and by the time we reached Salisbury it was hovering at a tropical +2C. Leaving so early meant that traffic was minimal and we made good progress until we hit roadworks at Newton Abbot, who cared, the sun was up in a clear blue sky.

By the time we reached our destination, the beach car park at Broadsands, conditions were perfect. I cursed as the car park was closed, secured by a host of padlocks, this turned out to be a bonus as I had the whole place to myself, even the courteous dog walkers kept their distance as they could see my camera set up by the beach huts. When I first arrived the flock of Cirl Buntings was obvious, probably 20+ and a good number of Reed Buntings were mixed in with them. Over the next two hours the total number of birds approached 40 but they split into two flocks. The birds were comfortable with me being fairly close, in fact passing dogs hardly spooked them, but the council roadsweeper sent them away for a few minutes.


For those who may pay a visit, the birds can be found in the second car park, adjacent to some redundant beach huts. If you can see a rusty old skip then you are in the right place. A big thankyou to Mike Langman who feeds these birds through the winter, without his efforts I would never have been able to get so close to such a bird. He deserves a medal.

Look for the rusty skip here

At the top of the first car park there is a marshy patch and currently a Yellow-browed Warbler is in residence, a bird I heard but never really saw sufficiently to get an ID.

I had planned to visit Labrador Bay for some more Cirl Buntings but I decided that I had enough shots so skipped the venue and made straight for Darts Farm near Topsham. Three Penduline Tits have been here since early December and I really wanted to get some decent records on what was a perfect day for it. The added bonus is that it is an ideal place for lunch. The staff in the RSPB shop in the retail centre were most helpful and after getting directions, I found myself viewing a small expanse of reedmace at the fishing lakes. Of course the birds had gone missing but I was hopeful. I set up the camera and waited. It is amazing how many Chiffchaffs and Stonechats were feeding on the reedmace heads, each time I saw one, the pulse quickened in expectation, alas it was not to be.


The journey home was a doddle and we arrived in time to watch the football, followed by Winterwatch and Unsprung. All in all a great day, albeit a fairly long one.

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