Thursday, 25 December 2008

Wednesday 24th December 2008

Christmas Eve

......but who would have believed it from the weather? Normally it's pouring down with rain over the festive period, usually accompanied by howling gales! Not today - it was positively balmy, there was no wind but it was grey and overcast. A day of bombing round doing those pre-Christmas chores eventually petered out and let me do some birding (especially as my wife was working until 6pm). I arrived at the seafront mid-afternoon and looked out over the sea from the area opposite the Pavilion. After managing to ignore the hordes of people and even more numerous dogs on the beach (the average person in Exmouth I'm absolutely convinced owns about 6 dogs!) I located a Slavonian Grebe fairly close in to Dawlish Warren beach, but some distance off our seafront. However, panning left (eastwards) I spotted a diver which promptly dived (as they do). I waited a while and was pleased to see, that on resurfacing, it was a Black-throated Diver. This bird was quite a bit closer than the grebe, and more importantly, was much closer to Exmouth, than the Warren! Out of the 3 regular species of divers occuring off British coasts, this one is the scarcest around these parts.
I moved round to one of my regular haunts, Shelly Beach, and had 4 Goldeneye offshore. The tide was coming right up, and waders were few and far between, most having moved off to their regular high tide roost at the Warren. A few Common Redshank and Oystercatcher remained, but were easily outnumbered by the usual masses of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. The usual female Black Redstart was again on the rooftop of Windward Court, one of the ostentatious gaudy-coloured appartment blocks that our local council deemed to be fitting in with the area (what a joke). Tell you what though, they are darned good perches for fly-catching Black Redstarts!
Finally I moved round to Mudbank Lane to coincide with the highest point of the tide. Here I found a really strange thing - only TWO Pintail could be located amongst the Brent Geese and Wigeon hordes. Where did they all go this afternoon? I walked up the riverside track towards Lympstone, but could not find any more. If anyone spots about 100 lost-looking Pintail could they please notify any Exmouth birder, we would like them back please!! Luckily, the Spotted Redshank was still present, and believe it or not, was the first bird I managed to put my bins on, after getting out of the car. Regrettably dog-walkers drove me insane again, but fortunately it was beginning to get dark by then.
Merry Christmas to anyone who is mad enough to read these ramblings!

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