With a whole bag full of new species for the Year List, I set off for Devon before daylight and with the promise of decent birding weather. First stop was
noted as a catchment for rarer birds, there was the prospect of at least half a dozen additions?
Within one hundred yards of the car park the first of these manifested itself in the shape of a Rock Pipit* so surely this was 'game on'? Next was a job for the Opticron 'Mighty Midget' telescope, for which I have to thank Kieth at In Focus for putting my way, and a thorough scan
across the vast bay. Particular attention was paid to the area of Langstone Rock as it was here the Bird Alerts were reporting 3 species of Scoter. Of these I could see only one at this distance, but closed to find it was the best of the bunch
a Surf Scoter*. It should be pointed out that the whole day was not one of good photography, in fact the camera was hardly used, so most of the images in this post are from the archive. A female (similar to the 2 birds left of picture) seen fairly well through my own optic, but even better via that of a charming couple from North Derbyshire - Thanks to them! In addition between us we picked up on over a dozen Great Crested Grebes, Razorbill, Guillemot and Gannet, plus Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe which already grace the list.
Shortly before leaving my new found friends spotted 3 Eider* cruising across the bay comprising of a single male and 2 females (foreground). There was no sign of the Velvet Scoter or the male American Wigeon which both, annoyingly, put in appearances after my departure. It was a 15 minute drive to the next site, where the only birder to be found reported that the target was a mile away and mostly out of sight. However, luck was with me as the
Glossy Ibis* flew a little nearer giving reasonable views through the 'scope, but again misfortune didn't allow me to see the Long-eared Owl which is believed to have been photographed earlier?
The next path was via Dartmouth, home of the Britannia Royal Navy College the tower of which can just be seen peaking above this hillside.
Certainly one of my favourite towns in the county, this shot shows the Inner Harbour,
this the course of the Ferry and
the Outer Harbour.
One of two crossing the River Dart, this is the Higher Ferry.
Cirl Bunting* was next to be added, and after the short drive to the quaint village of
Aveton (John) Gifford (John Gifford is a mate so couldn't resist the pun) Bewick's Swan* quickly followed. 2 things surprised me about this bird, firstly that it is a juvenile and there were no adults with it, plus its tiny size. Dinky to say the least.
Having missed a couple of things en-route it was good to strike lucky with a bonus by way of 2 Greenshank*. However, time was getting on and there was one more call to make to see a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper on the estuary of the River Ply, Plymouth. This is when I got hopelessly lost in the conurbation of the city, and by the time I pulled myself out of that mess the light would have precluded any sort of view of the Sandpiper. Return to Base!
The Year (January) List now stands at 158