Saturday, 4 January 2014

Winter birding......WBD and much more......

4 Jan - A really excellent day of winter birding. I was slightly doubtful about going down to the coast, but in the end the wind dropped, the sea was calm and it was a good day to be out. First stop Bowling Green Marsh, to pick up a few waders, and the water levels were really high here......c50 Avocet (3) were roosting on the pool, with a mixed flock of Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits. Surprisingly, a Long-tailed Duck has been here for a few days, and it was diving actively in front of the hide. My main target in Devon was the White-billed Diver in Brixham harbour, and there were a lot of birders along the breakwater looking for it.At the moment there is a remarkable concentration of Divers, mainly Great Northern, in Torbay, driven there by the storms, and there were at least 20 around the harbour (7,8), along with 4 Black-throated Divers (9,10). Also present - another Long-tailed Duck (11), a female Eider, and a Black Guillemot (14), together with Guillemots and Razorbills. Turnstones and a Purple Sandpiper (12,13) fed along the breakwater, together with a Rock Pipit. Eventually someone picked up the WBD and it came close enough for some record shots (5,6), showing its huge ivory-coloured upturned bill - it would dive for up to 2 mins, and then surface for just a few seconds, so was difficult to locate. My 4th in the UK, and definitely my best prolonged views. Nearby, Broadsands feeding station gave views of 4-5 Cirl Buntings, including 2 smart males (15), and a Chiffchaff and Siberian Chiffchaff were side by side. A flock of Common Scoter flew across the bay here. I decided to return home via Weymouth - here the sun came out, and the usual group of smart adult Med Gulls were at Ferrybridge - I counted 23 - together with Brent Geese (20) and Red-breasted Mergansers. A late afternoon scan of Portland Harbour - now minus the Brunnich's Guillemot - was very productive, with a flock of 18 Black-necked Grebes being remarkable - also seen 3 elegant Slavonian Grebes, another 5 GND and a female Velvet Scoter. A flock of adult Med Gulls (21) gathered to roost in the harbour. Finally, as the sun set, the Glossy Ibis flew over Radipole Lake from its feeding area (16,17), and 2 more immature Med Gulls were on the island. An extremely successful winter day, photos JM.

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