Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cirl Buntings in Devon

Some time ago I persuaded my beloved that a holiday in west Devon would make a good May half term break. We could visit The Eden Project and maybe I could attempt to see Cirl Buntings.

So we set up our glamping tent near to Tavistock and spent an enjoyable Bank Holiday Monday at The Eden Project. Well worth a visit if you're down Cornwall way.

The quandary was whether to follow all the advice on the net and go to East Prawle to see Cirl Buntings, or visit the RSPB site at Labrador Bay. We (I) chose the RSPB and we visited today. If you decide to visit, don't use sat nav and the postcode, you end up on a narrow track to bungalows! The RSPB car park is right next to the main road from Teignmouth to Torquay, with a sign opposite the entrance.

An easy ten minute walk north from the car park to vantage point next to a big hedge, overlooking where I had seen a Peregrine as soon as we pulled up in the car park, produced a brief rear and side on view of a male Cirl Bunting and later on a longer full frontal view as it sang (called) from the top of the hedge quite close to where we sat. Mission accomplished with minimal effort and in no time at all. We heard three more calling.

A Peregrine put in an appearance (male judging by the size) as did three Buzzards, two of which soared on thermals to a great height and vanished.

There were a few Gannets over the sea, which was flat calm. A Common Whitethroat entertained us from the hedge in which the Cirl had settled and overall we saw about twenty species, just sitting and enjoying the sunshine and the view.

Tomorrow we plan to wander around Tavistock and, if there is time later, we may find a vantage point on Dartmoor to see whatever happens to pass by. If by some chance a Dartford Warbler decides to reveal itself to us, it will be an added bonus. Having tramped for many miles in all the right places to see a Dartford Warbler, without success, on several occasions over the past forty years, I have decided that if I am to see one, it will be by chance rather than endeavour.

Having spent most of my bird watching years just enjoying what turns up and having decided from an early age that I am a hopeless twitcher, so I have seldom twitched, I have a modest British list, which the Cirl Bunting has pushed to 244. As I have seldom travelled abroad, my life list now stands at 257. There are probably only half a dozen regular British breeding birds missing from my list, but I recon that around twenty species a year are seen in Northumberland that have thus far avoided me.

Perhaps if I ever get round to retiring, my list will creep towards a half decent 300.

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