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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Somerset and Devon

I had an excellent day's birding yesterday with Liam Langley and Josh Burch, starting at Ham Wall RSPB where we connected with the PIED-BILLED GREBE (my second - I saw the Manchester bird in 2010 which wasn't as smart as this one but was a little less distant. We heard this bird call at one point - sounds like a gibbon) and the drake Ferruginous Duck as it skulked with Pochards among the reeds (my second, after the Holmethorpe bird in 2010). Other highlights here included a Great White Egret, a Water Pipit, about thirty Common Snipes, three Little Egrets, a Marsh Harrier, two Kingfishers in pursuit of each other, two booming Bitterns, lots of singing Cetti's Warblers, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Shelduck, a couple of Water Rails and a female Pintail. It was great fun being surrounded by lots of marshland species like this that I don't often see on arable Surrey land.

Pied-billed Grebe, Ham Wall
drake Ferruginous Duck, Ham Wall
Great White Egret, Ham Wall
Water Pipit, Ham Wall

We wondered what to do next but the vote was cast and the first-winter Rosy Starling at Exminster won. This was a lot less trouble to locate than I thought, with a quick mooch around the churchyard soon giving the bird up. People slag these things off sometimes but I rather like them. There was still some light left so we decided to drive just a little bit further to Labrador Bay where we enjoyed, at the very least, seven Cirl Buntings - possibly up to fifteen. Thirty-odd had been seen earlier in the morning. These were real stunners to watch especially when feeding on the ground at close quarters - only my second British sighting. A Raven finished the day off nicely and we all felt most gratified for the effort we'd put in. I'd seen three birds I'd only seen once before in Britain and another I'd seen twice before, Liam got three lifers and greedy Josh wallowed in a whopping seven! The plan really came together and the 450+ miles of driving were soon forgotten.

first-winter Rosy Starling, Exminster

Cirl Bunting