Friday, 31 October 2008

Friday 31st October 2008

Black Redstart 1 Spoonbill 0

News was of a juvenile Spoonbill during the morning at Dawlish Warren. Now, I have learnt that it is quite easy to 'scope some of the larger birds at the 'back' of the Warren (ie the estuary side), by driving to the Shelley beach area of Exmouth and looking out from the gaudy new apartment blocks. Indeed I used this ploy last year to see 3 Spoonbills which were lingering in the same area of the Warren. One simply sets up scope and tripod, and looks out over the mouth of the Exe estuary. Better still, I used this method to view the Caspian Tern (only the second record for Devon) a couple of years ago or so. Rather than drive all round the estuary (a journey of some 17 miles and 45 + minutes!), it's far quicker to bomb down to Exmouth and use the trusty telescope. The Caspian Tern only hung around for a couple of hours or so, before flying off never to be seen again! This bird was easily seen from Exmouth as it stood head and shoulders over the rest of the assembled terns. So there I was at lunchtime today, perched above Shelley Beach looking for the Spoonbill. Regrettably someone forgot to tell it that it should hang about until yours truly arrived! I was left looking at lots of bait-diggers, fishermen and dogwalkers swarming over the mudflats as if the tide was out for the last time ever. This has to be the biggest threat to wildlife now, as the population grows larger and more folk seem discontented with only owning one dog. They have to have 3 or more nowadays. Needless to say all these pooches need exercise and where better to take them than the mudflats at low tide. Of course all the feeding birdlife gets driven off. They feel they don't have to bother clearing up after their animals as the tide will do it for them. I just pity those poor bathers off Exmouth seafront when the tide is running out. I hope they swim with their mouths firmly closed! Anyway the point is Sammy Spoonbill had cleared off before I got there. Luckily all was not lost as I found a Black Redstart frequenting the sailing club area. I actually got to within 15 feet of this bird and had cracking views of it moving around the boats. One of these birds seems to occur here most winters, so it was good to see one back again this autumn. Masses of Brent Geese and Wigeon were performing well, as were the obligatory Little Egrets. A few Red-breasted Merganser were also diving for food there. So although there was a cold north-easterly blowing, the sun was shining and as long as you stood out of the wind, it was quite pleasant.

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