Today I paid an early afternoon trip to Dawlish Warren. There was a cold south-easterly breeze blowing and it was mainly sunny, although there was more cloud building up the longer I stayed there. A scoter was seen offshore, but was constantly diving, and due to distance was unidentifiable. I met Exeter birder Dave Hopkins there who had just seen 2 scoter together close in to Langstone Rock. After a bit of a natter, I wandered off towards the rock. Every so often I would stop and peruse the sea. This eventually paid off with views of a Great Northern Diver flying east past the rock. I located the 2 scoter, feeding and diving together. One was the long-staying female Surf Scoter - the other was a male Velvet Scoter! After a good grilling of the 2 scoter, I ambled back into the teeth of the cold wind back towards the warren. I met Dave again, and also Topsham birder Dave Stone. We discussed the 3 scoter, and after much viewing and discussion came to the (rather obvious as it happened) decision that the first scoter I had seen was a female Common! So, there were only 3 scoter off the warren, and each one was a different species! I leaned on the seawall, while the 2 Daves departed in different directions. I soon found a Slavonian Grebe riding the waves looking towards Exmouth. 5 gannets were seen distantly offshore.
Fed up with looking into the cold wind and my eyes watering, I exited the warren, and driving back up the road towards Cockwood, decided to stop by the railway line adjacent to 'Cockwood Wreck'. Here you require nerves of steel, and here I met Dave Hopkins again! You have to cross the busy London-Penzance railway line, and stand on the wooden platform right on the side of the track, with trains thundering past just a couple of feet away!! A good constitution and brown trousers are always a plus here. We scanned the dropping tide on the estuary and although we searched diligently, the best bird we could find was a Greenshank. 'I'm off up to Kenton to look for Brambling' says Dave. I says ' Think I'll tag along if that's OK'. So we nips up to Chiverstone Farm near Kenton and amble down the lane towards the farm. 4 Red-legged Partridge flew up from the field adjacent to our cars. A little further on and we spot a large finch flock. On closer inspection, we reckon about 200 Chaffinches and at least 15 Brambling make up this flock! Dave then headed off towards Exminster Marshes and I left for home.
Yearticks today in order of appearance:
Great Northern Diver, Velvet Scoter, Slavonian Grebe, Brambling.