In my quest to make sure I see at least one year tick every day for as long as possible, I wandered up the road to Knappe Cross this morning. Having seen the first-winter male Blackcap again from my kitchen window earlier, I carried on up to Dinan Way, crossed the busy road, and strolled quietly up Gorse Lane to the top. I then retraced my steps. I heard the usual Nuthatch at Knappe Cross and saw a splendid male Bullfinch in Gorse Lane. On arrival back at Knappe Cross I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker in flight, then on cue, I watched a Treecreeper spiralling up a large oak tree right outside the community centre, my wished-for year tick!
This afternoon I had to take my wife and daughter over to Budleigh Salterton. I made a point of heading for the River Otter mouth, and scanned the sea. 15 Common Scoter and the female Eider were still present, just offshore. 5 Razorbill flew west. However, again there was absolutely no sign of the Long-tailed Duck. With the wind blowing straight in off the sea, it was deathly cold and my eyes were watering very badly. I thought 'Blow this, I'm going back into town and meet my wife' (always a good option!). However, I had to park up the road near the Steamer Steps, so I decided one last look at the sea wouldn't go amiss. By this time I had warmed up a little in the car! I sat on a convenient bench and scanned the sea several times. A further 3 Razorbill were seen sat on the sea but that was about it. Right, time to go. One last look along to the east...........hell, what's that? A seaduck flying along just offshore towards me. As it got closer, I thought 'No, it can't be?'. But it was! Yes, the female Long-tailed Duck flew westwards and made yours truly a very happy bunny by plonking down on the sea, just a hundred metres west off the Steamer Steps. She dived a couple of times, surfacing a good distance from where she'd originally dived. Thanking Lady Luck, I quit my cold perch and wandered into town to find my wife and daughter.
Yearticks in order of appearance: Treecreeper, Razorbill, Long-tailed Duck.