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South Devon

Back from a nice weekend in Torbay with Chris Chandler, looking to get Cirl Bunting in the bag for Chris and a lifer for me too

Saturday 7th March

We started the day at Broadsands Beach in Goodrington. A singing Blackcap welcomed us initially then the scruffy car park behind the beach produced Cirl Buntings coming down to seed within 5 minutes of us setting up scopes. Chris had the pleasure of calling out the first bird we saw and we had decent enough views of this and a couple of females in between the disturbance of various dog walkers. A male Yellowhammer was also present, allowing a particularly nice comparison.

I picked up a Firecrest in the bushes behind them and when we started checking the hedge properly Chris found a second and we had point blank views of both. Also present several Chiffchaff and various other passerines, with plenty of Greenfinch. A guy rocked up to put some more seed down, and I recognized him as Mike Langman. Mike is the guy that first started feeding the Cirl Buntings at Broadsands and is a genuine local legend. I have met him a few times and he is one of those birders that always seems to have time to spare to help and encourage and just knows everything. He marched us up the beach and found Chris another Cirl Bunting and then picked up a Tristis Chiffchaff, plus giving us proper directions to our next birding stop. We also counted 5 Great Northern Divers on the sea, including one pretty close in that showed well. Mike is a gent, check out his Youtube channel for some pretty cool birds and he tweets a fair bit at @clennonvalley

By lunchtime it was time to move on and we headed for Man Sands, a small marsh behind a secluded beach just south of Brixham. The walk in was downhill and thanks to the directions we got onto the long-staying Blue-winged Teal easily as soon as we arrived. We got close enough to get brilliant scope views, enough to see a burgundy sheen on its head in certain light and other superb plumage detail. I managed to spot a skulky Cetti's Warbler out of the 2 or 3 singing there, we also had another Firecrest from the hide and 3 Rock Pipits showed brilliantly. 2 Ravens came over and at the top of the brutal hill along the SW Coast Path we saw 2 Peregrines sparring. There had been a Black Redstart about too but we never saw it.

Sunday 8th March

Starting point this morning was Brixham Harbour, with around 20 Turnstones dotted around the harbour and 10 Purple Sandpipers roosting on the breakwater. From the end we saw 2 Great Northern Diver and chalked up Kittiwake, Razorbill and Fulmar for our yearlists along with more abundant Guillemot, Shag and Gannet. We walked up to Berry Head and thought we'd heard a Black Redstart as we approached, but nothing seen. On the headland we used a brief spell of sunshine to look for Cirl Buntings again and were rewarded with close scope views of a male, much closer than Saturday and in better light. Again a Yellowhammer was present, this time a female.

We headed for the quarry and the sea-watching point. Amidst some squally weather we had a lovely hour or two, with lots of auks on the sea, Gannets swirling around and 2 highlights: Fulmars cruising around, gliding within feet of us, and non-avian but up to 3 Harbour Porpoises were feeding at the base of the cliffs, even showing visibly below the water as well as when they breached. The Gannets and Porpoises interacted a couple of times, presumably competing for the same hapless fish.

We rolled it up in time to get to the pub to watch a minor football match between 2 NW based teams. Final half decent bird sighting was on Monday, a big flock of Brent Geese at Turf on the Exe Estuary, visible from the train approaching Exeter. I haven't finalised a trip list but it will be about 65-70 species I reckon, and obviously both of us got a new bird and some really decent supporting players.

Digiscoped shots by Chris, the Cirl image is from Berry Head

-- Edited by Simon Gough on Tuesday 10th of March 2020 12:34:31 PM


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An eagle species seen 1 mile west of Start Point at 7:50am this morning and again distantly in the same area at 9:05am.

Nothing further but needs looking for!!

Info thanks to Barry Hulme


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Simon Gough wrote:

Not seen at Topsham today, but 2 at Seaton to the east, and locals blogging that they might be off for good. You might have been just in time Phil...

Yes indeed Simon, time will tell but it appears that we timed it just right!

As you mentioned, I saw on RBA that they had moved onto Seaton... fingers crossed that they do stick around. They were originally spotted back in December at Bowling Green Marsh then made the short journey to Darts Farm where they have been since January; so they may just be moving around or have of course decided to move on completely.

We also made a quick visit to Bowling Green Marsh yesterday en route to Berry Head, missed the reported Osprey by 10 minutes but a very quick scan around produced:

2 Grey Plover
1 Avocet
100+ Redshank
3 Spotted Redshank
1 Little Egret
1 Cetti's Warbler (heard)
1 Blackcap
Lots of Chiffchaff
amongst others.


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Not seen at Topsham today, but 2 at Seaton to the east, and locals blogging that they might be off for good. You might have been just in time Phil...


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The two Penduline Tits gave unbelievable views down to just 12 feet or so just before lunch yesterday at Darts Farm RSPB, Topsham, Devon.

The debate will no doubt continue but the much narrower black facemask would indicate females although one did appear much brighter than the other....adult and 1st winter bird perhaps...stunning little birds nonetheless.

They were still there when we left over an hour and a half later during which time they fed on the reed mace, occasionally flitting into the nearby blossom tree. Nice to hear them calling too.

2 Sand Martins, 1 Swallow and 1 Little Egret amongst others out on the marsh.

-- Edited by Phil Owen on Sunday 5th of April 2015 10:22:29 PM


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Simon Gough wrote:

... These two are adult females apparently, the bandit mask being a uniform black stripe through the eye and no rufous bib on the neck area are the two features ruling out males it seems...

I am clearly no expert on Penduline Tits, and neither are some of the online commentators, as this blog posting here contradicts the view I adopted in my post last week regarding the gender of these birds:


This account is rather detailed and seems convincing to me, suggesting they are a male and female. I did notice one of the birds had a much more rufous nape than the other and this seemed significant somehow, but the bandit mask is subtly different when you look at the photos, not that I clocked it looking at them in the flesh. Too excited at the basic sighting to notice all the details, I did my best!

What is interesting is that if they are a pair and not related then they might choose to breed locally, which would be quite something for the UK I believe.

I noticed contradicting statements online about the gender of the 2 Snow Buntings at Wallasey recently, it just shows that you can't believe everything you read. When you are trying to work out how to ID, sex and age birds yourself it gets a bit confusing...still, its all part of the fun!


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Simon Gough wrote:


Next day was Brixham. I think my highlight of the week was 16 Purple Sandpipers on the Breakwater there. You can get to probably 10 feet away from the birds, they are quite unperturbed. Absolutely lovely little things. They were sharing the seaweed with Turnstone and Rock and Water Pipits. All new birds for me. Had to smile, some of the veterans at Topsham were making out the Turnstone could be a bit flighty and hard to approach. The Brixham birds take food from the hand of the anglers on the Breakwater. I got to about 3 or 4 feet from a couple of them. Apart from the novelty it is actually superb to be able to check out the plumage and the jizz from a really close perspective. Same with the Rock Pipit. The Water Pipits were flighty in comparison.


I read this old post back and then recalled that I had described the Water Pipit at Neston this winter as a lifer. The two postings do not correspond meaning that my many online fans could be confused, although none have come forward yet to say as much. Anyway, I took the sightings mentioned here back as at the time I hadn't realised a littoralis Rock Pipit could look similar to a Water Pipit and I didn't ID the bird properly. Hence the delight at seeing 2 birds at Neston this January and February, which were both fair dinkum. I feel better now...


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I've been down in Devon this week seeing the folks and managed to fit in a brilliant day of birding yesterday (Tuesday 17th) at Topsham. I managed 67 on my daylist without even seeing some easy ones like Jay and Lapwing. I walked down into Paignton to catch my train at about 6.30am and managed a Kingfisher at Clennon Valley, the small wetland area near the house which has some great birds. No sign of the male Scaup seen recently there, but the Kingfisher was lovely perched on a post.

From the train off the Dawlish seawall I saw a flock of 15 Common Scoter in flight and a flock of 30-40 Brent Geese plus a few Shags on the sea.

My journey to Topsham was largely to try and see the long-staying Penduline Tits at the Darts Farm centre. I was in their hide by about 8.45, overlooking a small reedbed with some covering trees and a small pool. It is mildly miraculous that with literally square miles of reeds and other suitable habitat around them these birds have picked the most accessible and visible place to feed for the last few weeks. Even so, I met birders who had been 3,4 and 5 times with no success. I was quite tense anyway, these are nationally rare birds.

There were 30 odd Black-tailed Godwit and a Curlew feeding in the fields and a Chiffchaff and a Water Rail in the reeds to amuse/distract for an hour or so, and then at nearly 10 I saw a couple of small birds fly into a tree. They were tiny so we just had to wait a couple of minutes and they were down into the bulrushes and yes it was the pair of Pendulines. These two are adult females apparently, the bandit mask being a uniform black stripe through the eye and no rufous bib on the neck area are the two features ruling out males it seems. At one time around Xmas there were 5 birds present, but I was certainly happy with 2, they were gorgeous, and lethal when presented with a reed head. The plumage was a wee bit scruffy in reality, but still very attractive. The birds fed in the reeds for a few minutes, moved to a tree, and then showed well to around 20ft preening. Then they moved back to feeding, they eat the insects and spiders they find in the bulrush heads. I stayed for about 90 minutes watching, I really doubt I'll get such views of this species again. Stunning.

I moved onto the Bowling Green Marsh and spent the next few hours happily watching waders and ducks on a rising tide. There were Osprey reported on the Sunday, but this was being sceptically received by the local birders. The best birds on the estuary were 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 males looking outstanding while they showed off to the females once the tide was in. I really enjoyed watching the Greenshank, not a bird I am too familiar with and so great to watch. There were over a thousand Dunlin on the mud, dozens of Godwits too and plenty of Curlew, Redshank, Shelduck and Little Egret, the usual suspects. The wintering Avocets have left though, they had 700 on there a few weeks ago. Apparently these birds move to the Netherlands for the breeding season, you might assume they stayed in Britain but apparently not.

Heading home, I walked from Paignton station to the beach at Goodrington, hoping a Diver or decent Grebe might still be present. no luck there, but a Rock Pipit weaving between people and their dogs was nice, then I picked up some stiff-winged, vaguely gull-resembling flight and realised I was onto a Fulmar, which breed in Torbay. I got 3 in the end, 2 of which landed on the water and washed busily for a few minutes, which was great to watch. So a great end to a top day in the greatest county on earth, which I can safely say now that the only other contender is no longer in existence...wink


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Some nice birding down in Torbay over the weekend. I started on Friday at Broadsands Beach, where a Yellow-browed Warbler had been reported in the previous few days, although I'd have headed down anyway. Some GM birders will know the place for the Cirl Buntings that are regulars there. Before I checked the trees around the car park I scanned the beach and sea, the usual Shags feeding close, but one was a Great Northern Diver, and I was quite surprised to see it was a summer plumage adult, and it was almost in the breakers, no more than 20-30 metres away as I stood on the waters edge. The plumage was stunning; they're big impressive birds anyway and the speckled white over the mantle and back was beautiful, even more so the patterned white collar. It swam off after a couple of minutes. 4 Great Crested Grebes out there too.

Over to the car park and literally the first bird I picked up in the bins when I started looking was the Yellow-browed. Lovely job! Showed well for about 15 minutes, with a couple of Chiffchaffs for company. It was extremely mobile and restless, also heard calling a few times, the classic 'sooeet' call. Absolute belter. No Firecrest I could see, which was supposedly about for the winter as usual, and would be a lifer, but of course I also had the pleasure of the Cirl Buntings. As I had walked in to the car park I had seen a Sparrowhawk dart in to the seeded area so I was wondering how spooked the little guys would be. But a bit later, as I glanced round from watching the warbler, there were suddenly 6 or 7 Cirls down on the seed. I saw at least 4 males and 2 or 3 females. Great birds. I wanted a quick look over the sea again, saw a Little Egret picking through the rocks where an Oystercatcher might be, unusual feeding? Then I noticed a build-up of gulls heading to the next beach, Elberry Cove. I am not the best on gulls, but I saw a bird with entirely white primaries and realized it was a Mediterranean, in adult winter plumage. Bigger than black headed and the wings had no black/grey at all really. This was a lifer, from literally the same spot I recognized my first Kittiwake in September. Also got some great views of a juvenile Great Black-backed at close range.

Next day I went up to Berry Head in Brixham. Lots of great seabirds had been reported there all week, all 4 Skuas, Balearic Shearwater, even this late in the year. Sadly as the wind had changed to weak southerlies it was a doomed mission, we wanted it blowing hard from the SW. Thanks to my undoubted birding skills, I also managed to miss a Hume's Leaf Warbler that was well seen by a few of the local guys, while I was somewhere else. Still, there will be others I'm sure. I did see 2 Firecrest, also got to pick the brains of some of the local guys on the calls and the key variances from Goldcrest. Peak count onsite this autumn was 9! The Firecrest were superb, I saw one well enough to catch a lovely mossy green on its back along with the bright head plumage.

Some brilliant birds anyway, a nice kronking Raven, a Fulmar in great form over the waves, a few Gannets, around 500 Guillemots all perched up on the cliffs, a random Brent Goose over the headland going south, a couple of Kittiwakes and also stunning views of a female Peregrine that flew off the cliff right up in front of me. It was joined by a much smaller male and the pair associated in the air for a minute or so then the male scarpered. Seemed a sensible shout to me, she looked mean! The other lovely sighting, more Cirl Buntings. As with Broadsands there is an established feeding regime and this time I saw a single male and 3 female on the seed. The other nice one was spotting a bird in a tree and being puzzled, female Yellowhammer? but then seeing strong head stripes, checking the book and realizing it was a spot-on juvenile Cirl.

Walking back down to Brixham harbour, known to some for the White-billed Diver last year, I checked the Breakwater and got a great count of 8 Purple Sandpiper feeding merrily with Turnstone and a couple of Rock Pipits. Also some very close views of juvenile Shags, one no more than 8-9 feet away. Their feet are extraordinary, the toes are asymmetric on their legs, radiating inwards from the ankle, so the effect, you imagine, is of a single paddle when they dive as the 2 feet line up together. The birds have an appealing look about them too!

Final excursion was a boat trip round Torbay on Sunday morning. The highlight was actually at Torquay Harbour before we sailed though. As the various folk gathered on the boat, we saw a small bird with a long tail land on the harbour wall about 50 yards away. Somebody called 'Pied Wagtail', but it was too dark, I reckon most were thinking Rock Pipit including me, but I spotted the centre of the tail of the bird was red and the rest of it was dark grey/brown, so I blurted out 'I think its a Black Redstart actually'. As it hopped about another identical bird joined it, and they perched for long enough to get good views. Uniform colour plumage apart from the tail feathers so perhaps this years juveniles? Certainly not males, I wouldn't want to say beyond that. Not much tail-flicking initially, but they both flew a short distance, showing the tail well, and then started tail-flicking for good measure. So that was day 3 and lifer 3 for me. Brilliant. I hasten to add the ID was agreed amongst several people with experience of the species so I was happy to have my initial ID confirmed there. It reminded me of Rob Creek lately seeing a couple down in Cornwall in urban settings, presumably as they are heading south.

The trip was a bit underwhelming on birds seen, but it was a brilliant experience and I will definitely do more pelagics in the future, I really enjoyed it. We did manage to see a couple of Great Northern Divers, the odd Kittiwake, another smaller Guillemot roost as a well as single birds on the water, and another pair of Peregrines, based on size only as I couldn't pick out detail in the rain to call out the age or sex fully. Back at Brixham harbour but on the water this time, the tide was too high for the Purple Sandpipers to be feeding, but we found their roost and saw 12 birds. Next we picked up a Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage and then other than gulls and Shags it was just 10 Brent Geese, all dark-bellieds, a single adult, 3 and then 6 with 2 adults and 4 young, a top guy showed me the striped juvenile wing plumage from a photo he'd taken, not something I'd have noticed otherwise, great to learn that little tip.

There were always tons of Herring Gull around, its the dominant gull species, also dozens of Great Black-backed Gulls. Don't recall a Common Gull anywhere, only odd Lesser Black-backed. I need to look hard for Yellow-legged next time. Nice bit of perspective, the Berry Head guys were delighted yesterday with a Goosander that flew over. They'd like Pennington I'd expect.


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A long weekend in Devon for me while Northern birders went to Spurn. I will ask my grandmother to move her birthday to a less busy time for passage migrants. I managed a couple of days birding in amongst family duties. A day on Dawlish Warren on Friday 19th was enjoyable, managed to tag along with some locals who were absolute mines of information, if you are interested in the place look at this link:


I met Lee and Dave who post a lot of the photos. They helped me see some cracking waders, a lovely Curlew Sandpiper about 50 yards away amongst about 150 Ringed Plover and 300 Dunlin all roosting and ferreting in front of us was a delight. Also lots of Godwits of both flavours, a Greenshank and Common Sandpiper and a Grey Plover. The Warren is a big sand dune complex and there are also lots of passerines about in the autumn, saw Whinchat, Redstart and Wheatear, dipped on Wryneck though, very annoying, it was across the estuary at Exmouth it turned out. The week before they'd found a Woodchat Shrike, it gets some very good birds. I also saw a couple of Sandwich terns, they have a Slavonian Grebe that resides there, also saw the first Brent Geese of the autumn turning up, a handful on the Friday, found a flock of 100+ back there on the Tuesday. There will be hundreds on the Exe for the winter, the dark-bellied ones.

Tuesday also provided a smashing lifer Rose-coloured Starling juvenile, yet again the Collins guide is prescient, the picture in there of a juv Rose-coloured sat with a couple of Common Starlings moulting into the adult plumage was exactly what I was looking at. The yellow beak was so distinctive.

Also found time to visit a childhood haunt at Broadsands Beach, amongst the grockles enjoying the sunshine were 2 more Sandwich Terns and a lifer for me of an adult Kittiwake in winter plumage that flew right over my head giving me no excuse on the ID. Again the Collins pictures were spot on. Makes me wonder what I'd have seen if I'd been looking all those years ago, I saw Black-necked Grebe and Great Northern Diver off the beach over the winter, and they have Cirl Buntings there too.

-- Edited by Simon Gough on Thursday 25th of September 2014 12:00:35 PM

-- Edited by Simon Gough on Thursday 25th of September 2014 12:01:18 PM


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A nice week in Torbay with the folks and lots of nice birds, 14 new birds for me and some other nice sights. First day out was at Topsham and Dawlish Warren on the Exe. My first Avocets and a Long-tailed Duck at Topsham, missed a Bonapartes Gull at Dawlish, but hey, a Cirl Bunting in a flock of Linnets cheered me up. Probably 500 or so Brent Geese on the day and 2000 Wigeon too up and down the estuary. A lovely Peregrine sniffing around and then finally a good 2000 Starlings murmurating.

Following day was a local spot in Paignton, Clennon Valley, where randomly a Yellow-Browed Warbler had been found. Literally 15 mins walk from my Mum' house! Also saw a really stunning male Mandarin duck there. Possible explanation being Paignton Zoo at the top of the hill, but who cares too much why it was there? A brilliant couple of hours, Siberian Chiffchaffs there, a Kingfisher and then a male Great Spotted Woodpecker that buzzed me, literally 5 feet over my head.

Next day was Brixham. I think my highlight of the week was 16 Purple Sandpipers on the Breakwater there. You can get to probably 10 feet away from the birds, they are quite unperturbed. Absolutely lovely little things. They were sharing the seaweed with Turnstone and Rock and Water Pipits. All new birds for me. Had to smile, some of the veterans at Topsham were making out the Turnstone could be a bit flighty and hard to approach. The Brixham birds take food from the hand of the anglers on the Breakwater. I got to about 3 or 4 feet from a couple of them. Apart from the novelty it is actually superb to be able to check out the plumage and the jizz from a really close perspective. Same with the Rock Pipit. The Water Pipits were flighty in comparison.

Also in Brixham is a big cliff site called Berry Head, last time I was up there was doing my GCSE Coursework about the ruins of the Napoleonic Fort I suspect, this time I saw some Guillemot and Shags which were new for me, and also a phenomenal view of a Peregrine scything in to try and take a Rock Dove. Years ago when they were really rare a pair nested at Berry Head I believe, and it really felt like a timeless scene, especially compared to my first Peregrine view, which was a bird sat on the Arndale Centre tower through a scope! This one flew 20 yards past my head at about 100mph!

Last up was back to the Exe for a quick walk round Exminster Marsh. It was quiet but I picked up another Peregrine, this time sniffing around Wigeon and Redshank.

All in all a smashing week.


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I was down in Devon early September and visited the Labrador Bay reserve to see the Cirl Buntings. They are absolutely on a plate to be fair. I saw one within 90 seconds of coming off the road into the field. Didn't actually feel like much of an achievement in that sense. But they are lovely! Got to about 10 yards from them, didn't need the bins even.

I grew up near there so the view is old news smile but the bloody hills I'd somehow forgotten!

Seems like loads of birders make the pilgrimage to see them, makes me quite proud of being a Devonian that we've got a special bird. But I believe you'll find them down in Cornwall and along into Dorset. The RSPB website talks about a programme in Cornwall to give them a stronghold down there too.

Next challenge is to find some birds somewhere other than at Shaldon. Next time I'm down there seeing the folks that's the plan


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Just back from a week in Devon, visiting relatives, some birding, plenty of butterfly chasing and eating as many Devon Cream Teas as possible.

Main birding highlights around Dartmoor included a couple of memorable evenings with at least 8 Nightjars, up to 3 males still churring and probably our best views ever of at least 3 birds (possibly juveniles) perched on young conifers in the fading light, other birds on Dartmoor included 3 Hobbies, several Tree Pipits, Cuckoo, Redstarts, Dippers and loads of juvenile Whinchats, Stonechats and two Wheatears. Two Willow Tits were seen visiting the feeder in the family garden in Okehampton. 12 Green Sandpipers, 1 Ruff and 1 Greenshank at Colyford Marsh, Seaton. We also saw Badger, Fox, Adder and 5 Common Lizards.

Most time however was spent visiting a number of sites for Butterflies, given the fairly good year its been for seeing them, and we managed to see 25 species. We visited Bystock Devon Wildlife Trust(DWT), Venn Ottery DWT, Dunsford DWT and Ashclyst Forest DWT, Dawlish Warren and Lustleigh (a beautiful typical Dartmoor village). Approximate totals from all sites follows:-

24 Small Skippers
6 Brimstones
Loads of Large Whites & Small Whites & 8 Green-veined Whites
13 Purple Hairstreaks, mostly Dunsford
45 Small Coppers including 10 at Bystock & 15 at Dawlish
90 Common Blues, including 40+ at Bystock and 30+ at Dawlish
3 Holly Blues at Bystock
33 Red Admirals
2 Painted Ladies
Small Tortoishells
115+ Peacocks
3 Comma's
4 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries
65 Silver-washed Fritillaries
26 Speckled Woods
10 Wall Browns
Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns at all sites
65 Small Heaths, mostly at Bystock, Venn Ottery & Dawlish
5 Grayling at Bystock
1 Ringlet
1 Marbled White
Missed Brown Hairstreak & Silver-studdied Blue though.

We also saw Emperor, Hairy and Golden-ringed Dragonflies and Small Red Damselfly at Bystock.

-- Edited by Simon Warford on Tuesday 20th of August 2013 08:23:29 PM


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Visit to RSPB Labrador Bay(with fellow members of Wigan RSPB Group) on the 1/6/13.
Weather Hot and Sunny.
This is a nature reserve/ coastal farmland managed by the RSPB.
It says on the tin ''Enjoy the south coast's most spectacular views'' and I cannot but agree.
Perched on high cliffs with views down to the sea and along the coastline, it is a wonderful spot.

After taking the path from the car park, for just a few minutes, we met up with the Cirl Buntings.
Three were seen together and gave very good views at 30 yards; feeding down on our path and then
in and out of the hedge at our side: then back and forwards to the gorse bushes a little down the slope.
Linnets were also active close to us and a Dunnock came out of the hedge.
We watched the Cirl Buntings for a long time.

Above the cliff edge a Buzzard and a Peregrine were jousting.

Looking down on the sea, we watched dozens of diving Gannets and numbers of Herring Gulls
circling below us. A few Immature of both species present.
A Lesser-Black-backed Gull passed below us, and a Shag flew low over the sea.

-- Edited by keith mills on Wednesday 5th of June 2013 09:09:19 PM




Rumworth List 2019, species to date: 63 Latest: Sand Martin, Reed Bunting, Redshank, Pink-footed Goose, Curlew.



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Went to Devon this weekend for my cousins wedding. Very nice area lots of quaint villages with thatched cottages. The mini bus full of boltonians soon lowered the tone of the area!!
On the Sunday whilst recovering from my hang over I had a few hours to kill before the mini bus left back to Bolton so I paid a visit to rspb reserve Labrador bay.
Species included:

Great views of a buzzard circling.
Lesser whitethroat

I think I heard a grasshopper warbler but didn't manage to see it.

But the highlight was 4 cirl buntings.
I have never seen one of these before and managed to see 4 within half an hour!!!
This is obviously quite a rare bird and my book says only a few hundred pairs exists in the country.
Have they ever been recorded further north?

It didn't help my hangover but was well worth the walk around. No camera though. Could have taken some cracking photos of the buntings.

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Monday 13th of May 2013 05:47:15 PM


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Just back from a week long family holiday down at Prawle Point in Devon. This is the most southerley point in Devon and we had accommodation literally within a couple of hundred yards of the point. Due to the time of year too migration was in full swing even if the weather was awful. Here's a daily breakdown of my birding.

Sunday 7th October
Did a little sea watch for an hour this morning from 7.00am. Not much to mention other than several Gannets and Auks and a distant Diver. The most remarkable thing though was the huge numbers of birds on passage southwards.

Mostly Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Linnets with a few hirundines. Literally swathe upon swathe of birds passing right overhead. Other records in the area put the number of hirundines going through later at upto 25000. An awesome spectacle!

After the sea watch I went to try and bag myself a Cirl Bunting. I wasn't disappointed as I soon located upto six birds calling near to a nearby stubble field. A new life tick!! Other birds in the area included 2 Stonechat and several Willow Warblers.

After breakfast I took the dog out for a little wander and whilst passing the national trust car park I picked up a subtle 'hueet' call in the small copse opposite. After much skenning of the trees I managed to obtain brief views of a Yellow Browed Warbler. This was a bird that was recorded the previous day by another birder but I was well cuffed to re-find it.

A great start to the week.

Monday 8th October
Fog and drizzle greeted me this morning when I stepped out of the holiday house. Great weather for grounded migrants!

The first bird seen was a flushed Ring Ouzel in the hedge right behind the house. Not a bad start! Loads of activity in the scrub around the National Trust car park too with plenty of Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a couple of Goldcrests.

A small wander along the coast eastwards brought four Cirl Buntings, around forty Meadow Pipits feeding in a small pasture and the most bedraggled looking Buzzard I've ever seen. This poor bird looked absolutely saturated. I had to look really closely at it just to make sure it was actually a Buzzard.

A small wander up by the headland didnt produce much but as I walked back behind the gardens of the houses I spotted a nice female Redstart sheltering in the hedge. I also saw another just up the lane much later on too.

Tuesday 9th October
More rain and mist today though much stronger winds too. Grounded birds this morning were hard to find due to the wind, the best bird being yesterdays Redstart that was still hanging around at the back of the houses.

There seemed to be a bit of movement off shore this morning and small bouts of sea watching produced good numbers of Gannets close in plus several flocks of Common Scoter passing through. Two Little Egrets passing westwards was unexpected but the best sight was a very close Pomarine Skua going west. In addition to this there were good numbers of House Martins over the sea as well as over the headland too.

A small walk around the headland this evening also produced the same Redstart as this morning plus another associating with a Whinchat. Good numbers of Meadow Pipits around plus a calling Cirl Bunting, two Kestrels and a Peregrine.

Wednesday 10th October
A good look around the headland and scrub this morning didn't produce anything special. Plenty Blackcaps and a few Tits and Willow Warblers just east of the point plus quite a few Blackbirds too. Tried as I might I just couldn't turn one into a Ring Ouzel. Several Stonechat made their presence known as did a couple of Cirl Buntings.

A brief look out to sea though did produce five Brent geese heading east.

Later in the afternoon whilst I was on the beach at Beesands I could see a passing Shearwater heading eastwards. Didn't have my scope or bins with me but looked to be either a Balearic or Sooty.

Thursday 11th October
An absolute wash out of a morning. The weather wasn't too bad when I started but within an hour I had rain running down the back of my neck. Consequently the mornings birding was cut short.

Sightings were two Redstarts, a Wheatear, a Chiffchaff, two Stonechat, several Ravens and around forty Meadow Pipits. A brief sea watch gave good numbers of Gannets heading west plus a single Little Egret and a Peregrine.

Friday 12th October
Last day of the holiday so I thought I'd put in a few hours this morning especially as the weather was much better than of late.

Started off by doing a sea watch for about a hour and half. Plenty Gannets moving through and good numbers of Kittiwakes too but nothing else of interest really.

A hunt around the headland brought the usual Stonechats plus a good movement of Alba Wagtails through. Also a couple of charms of Goldfinches and quite a few Chaffinches, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits on the move as well. A Peregrine was also making its presence known too.

Down in the dip to the east of the point was quieter than of late as no Blackcaps or Willow Warblers were noted. Two or three Cirl Buntings were quite active too. Best bird of the morning though was a Grasshopper Warbler that flushed from right under my feet next to the 'set aside' field. It was quite elusive but I did manage to get a reasonable view of it eventually.

A family visit to Start Point lighthouse later found a Goldcrest in the bushes by the lighthouse and also a ride to Slapton sands gave two Sandwich Terns just offshore.

All in all it was a good week with some good birds and birding to be had. The bitterest pill came though when a Booted Warbler and a Wryneck were found just down the road on the day I returned home.

For anyone interested there's a few shots on my flickr.

Some of my photos. www.flickr.com/photos/nickish77

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Just back from a very pleasant break in Devon visiting "the relatives" near Dartmoor. Warfy senior (mr & mrs) had the comfort of their caravan whilst i pitched the tent near Drewsteignton overlooking the beautiful Castle Drogo and Hannicombe wood.

Inspired by Ian's recent "Motorway list" I decided to keep a list of "birds seen from the pub beer garden" the lucky local pub being the wonderful Fingle Bridge Inn, situated in the middle of a mixed woodland next to a gorgeous river and a rugged steep hillside viewable above the treeline.

Superb spot produced 34 species, might not seem fantastic, but this included 2 Marsh Tits daily visitors to my Salt n Vinegar crisps landing right next to us! River produced Grey Wags, Kingfisher and daily Dippers with 3 young on rocks right in front of the pub. Other birds seen were Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Raven, C crow, LBB & H Gull,Woodpigeon,Swift, H Martin, Green & G S Woodpeckers, Treecreeper, Wren, Robin,Dunnock,Song & Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Great, Blue & Coal tits, Jay, Siskin, Chaffinch,Goldfinch, Bullfinch and Greenfinch.

Wood Warbler and Pied Fly were seen half mile from the pub but couldnt quite claim them from the beer gardensmile.gif

We weren't at the pub all day everyday just some part of everyday, helps you sleep in the tentwink.gif

Did visit Dawlish Warren but was pretty quiet just Little Egrets and a few waders.


-- Edited by Simon Warford at 22:50, 2008-06-19

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This forum is dedicated to the memory of Eva Janice McKerchar.