With still a few target species to get in Devon before the winter months are over, Brad, Jake and I headed north again for the day into South Devon. Our first stop was Yarner Woods on the eastern edge of Dartmoor. This is a superb moorland edge mixed woodland which is home to number of specialist species such as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Fly, Redstart, Treecreeper, Wood Warbler, Crossbill etc. However, the summer visitors were obviously not there and our main quarry was the Lesser Pecker. Despite extensive neck breaking tree top searching, we were to be unlucky. We did have some superb close views of Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, GS Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Siskin and also added Mandarin (157) to the year list!
Our next target bird was Cirl Bunting, so we headed to Broadsands near Brixham where 17 Birds had been reported in the 2nd car park in recent days. However, whether it was the weather or just human disturbance, there were no birds to be found and a Firecrest and four Siskin were scant consolation. However, a quick scan of the bay produced a new bird in the form of a single Common Scoter (158). With time on our side we headed for Berry Head, another ‘guaranteed’ Cirl Bunting site! On arrival we headed straight for the Natural England office where I knew the feeders always held Cirls. I looked into the garden and…………No Cirls and No feeders!! (We were later informed that due to the mild winter the birds were not being fed this year!!)
After a quick bite to eat from a well known fast food chain we made our way back north to Dawlish Warren NNR where we spent the rest of the afternoon. The long walk to the hide proved relatively fruitless apart from good numbers and views of Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the golf course! Once in the hide the tide was incoming and birds started to arrive. Good numbers of Oystercatcher, a few Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover and up to 10 Red-breasted Merganser. Eventually, and after some excellent spotting by Jake, we nailed the adult winter Bonaparte’s Gull (159). It spent a short time, at distance, in front of the hide so we stayed longer hoping the tide would push it closer. However, it had the adverse effect and after feeding between the moored boats for a while it disappeared.
All in all another good day with some good birds and of course excellent company. The Cirl’s and Lesser Pecker will live to show another day! Apologies for the photos, yet another dull, drizzly day!!