Saturday, 11 January 2014

A beautiful day!

This was the best day of year weather-wise. Lovely sunshine all day and it didn't get dark enough to stop birding until after 5pm! It was a day when I finally connected with a lot of common species which have been keeping well-hidden in the atrocious weather we've been suffering from lately. A walk with my daughter along a very busy Mudbank Lane and Exe Trail produced thousands of birds this morning, yielding Redwing and Song Thrush for my Year list. This afternoon, I parked just off Douglas Avenue and walked down across a very muddy, soggy Maer Vale and up Gore Lane to the top fields of Orcombe. I nearly lost my wellies by Maer Farm, but soldiered on regardless in the warm sunshine! This little 'stroll' produced the following Year ticks: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Linnet, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit and finally, Greenfinch! Now I wanted to get down to the Shelly Beach area for last light, as yesterday Matt Knott had found a 'white-winged' gull which was probably a Glaucous Gull, but due to distance and fading light, could not come up with a firm ID. I duly arrived just after 4pm and for the next hour avidly scanned the gulls coming in to roost on and around Shelly Bank, right out in the middle of the Exe estuary. I did not see the gull, and nor did anyone else, looking from other spots. I did however add Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit (100+ birds came in to roost on Shelly Bank before 5pm) and Ringed Plover to my Year list. Pride of place however went to the over-wintering Black Brant which flew in with the Brent flock from the Starcross direction, presumably to roost on the estuary, in the fading light! So a lovely day and some more common birds ticked off for 2014.

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