Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Cirling gold

One of the birds still on my to-get list for lifers is the cirl bunting. A previously common(er) breeder in the UK they are now limited to a number of small populations, mainly in the south west. This means a long old trek though into darkest Devon. Still, had to be done and seeing as Judith was away for the whole weekend it meant i had the time.
Research on the interweb suggested Broadsands as the best area now. It used to be Prawle point, but a bloke has been feeding the birds in the car park there. Directions seemed a bit vague - park in the first car-park, walk through the second car-park and view by the beach huts. On site though it was dead easy. Parked up by a barrier into an overflow car park and whilst i was getting my gear out one flew over and sat in a tree nearby. In the corner were a loads of beach huts (albeit 200 yards from the beach and in a car park!) and a skip. That was where the birds were. There was already grain on the ground, but i added another pack of Waitrose finest seed and almost immediately 10-15 birds were on the floor tucking in. They are all really tame. Without trying to be too stealthy i got to within 20 or 30 feet quite easily. Not the most picturesque of locations but lovely birds nonetheless.

This was all done and dusted by about 9.15 (yes i left really early) so i had the rest of the day free as i had agreed to go and visits Judith's mum in Weymouth and stay overnight.
Next stop was about 30 minutes away - Dawlish Warren. My main target was a Siberian chiffchaff. This is a sub-species of our common chiffchaff but is tickable on some lists. The main difference is that they are much duller, almost grey, in plumage. This one was reported in the bushes by the entrance track and after about 5 minutes it tracked it down. It was in a territorial dispute with, i presume, a resident common chiffchaff and was showing well. As for most of its type it was pretty mobile but i did get a few decent views.

As well as this there were two long-tailed ducks offshore, at least two velvet scoters, a red-necked grebe and probably a Slavonian grebe, all on a flat clam sea.
My last visit was to Lyme Regis. This can be a reliable spot for dippers. Park in Anning road and there is a path alongside a small river/ stream flowing out into the bay. If you keep your eyes peeled there is a good chance of spotting one on the rocks in the stream. This time it was upstream of the bridge meaning views were not great but they are always a lovely bird to see.
Elsewhere over the weekend i also went to Lodmoor, portland Bill and Durlston but everywhere was pretty quiet. I did find a pair of ravens at Durlston but nothing much else of note. This yellowhammer was quite obliging on the road over the ranges.