Monday, 17 November 2008

Saturday 15th November 2008

The Same Bird?

I had the chance to have a wander along the seafront at Exmouth and around the Orcombe Point area this afternoon. It was a very mild day with a slight north-westerly breeze. I scanned over the beach and noted the usual masses of gulls, and large number of Shags out across the bay. I was aware that a female Surf Scoter had been seen the previous day from Dawlish Warren. Mindful of this, I was carefully 'scoping the sea area to the east of the Warren beach when I found the bird in question, some 200 yards or so off the beach. This was quite a chunky dark seaduck and it was alone on this particular patch of saltwater. There were no other scoter in sight. This was my second sighting of this species this year. Indeed it could be the same bird, albeit ten and a half months later! A female Surf Scoter was in practically the same position back in January when I saw it. Surely it's the same bird returning? Hopefully it will hang around into next year, and I can go and year-tick it again! This species is becoming annual in its occurrences around the mouth of the Exe estuary - especially in the October to March period. I remember seeing my first 'Surfer' many many years ago. Strangely enough this bird, an adult drake, was also off Dawlish Warren. I had travelled down from my then Wiltshire home to see it. It was quite a rarity in those days! I recall that it was a freezing cold day in late January. It was only really possible to see the bird from the top of Langstone Rock, giving birders the necessary height to scan over the rafts of distant scoter. Of course it was real brass monkey weather up there with the wind tearing in from the sea. The bird didn't really show well until we had all been perched up there for several hours, by which time we had turned blue with the cold. I remember staggering back down to the car in order to try and warm up, having lost the feeling in my arms, legs and other unmentionable extremities!

Anyway, back to the present, and after eyeing the scoter for a while, I carried on up to Orcombe Point, where a large Peregrine flew low over me twice slowly, the second time being so low I could have almost touched it with my tripod! Only one Gannet was visible out at sea. There were several large ships moored out on the horizon. The light was now getting a little dimmer and passerines seemed to have gone to roost early, save for a Goldcrest, still foraging for insects in an old apple tree. Of course, when I had literally reached the farthest point from the car, I had a call from my good lady telling me to get back into town to pick her and my daughter (who has come up from uni' in Cornwall for a few days) up from a bout of intense retail therapy. Still, I had taken my own spell of therapy, enjoying both the Surf Scoter and the Peregrine views.

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