Sunday, 24 February 2013


I hatched a mad plan to twitch the Pied Billed Grebe down in Somerset and whilst down there try to find the time to catch up with some of the birds in Devon that I have long wanted to see. So the plan was to leave home at 5am making the 170 mile drive to Ham Wall then move down the M5 to Devon (Plymouth) then back up the M5 stopping on route as we climb back up towards Essex. So I share the plan with the boys and they're up for the cup. 5am and we're in the car heading round the London Orbital, across the M4 and down the M5 and we're in the car park for Ham Wall around 7.30am.

We've walked to the second viewing platform on the left (about half a mile I suppose) and bingo we're on the bird straight away. The Pied Billed Grebe (173) is seen in the open and even catches a fish as we watch.
Now we've seen a lot of Pied Billed Grebe in the States but this is a British list lifer so we move on happy with the tick and by 8.30am we're back in the car having seen Bittern, Marsh Harrier and three Great White Egrets along the way. I was persuaded reluctantly to come off plan and try for a Temmincks Stint. We drove across to Steart (about ten miles) and walked the sea wall to scan the mud flats, lot's of waders some very small but with the tide out all are distant so we make a quick call to move on as we had other targets for the day. Down the M5 and we stop after 50 miles to find Darts Farm. A quick check with the RSPB visitor centre for directions and we made the short walk to the viewing screen to find the American Wigeon walking in the field with about 100 Wigeon. Year Tick 174 for me and the boys second lifer of the day.
Next stop is 5 miles away in Exminster. We pulled into Milbury Lane and I left the boys in search of the bird. After a walk around the churchyard a few Starlings started to come in and amongst them was the target, a Rose Coloured Starling (175) A phone call to the Jims and they're along side me in minutes ticking this rather dark juvenile. Time to continue with the plan....back in the car we head down to Plymouth which is now only 50 miles away. We park in Lakeside Drive and walk down to Ernesettle creek. We scan the muddy banks around the old barge to find nothing but Curlew and Redshank so I leave the boys and head up river.
I find Greenshank and two Spotted Redshank  before I strike gold and get on the Lesser Yellowlegs (176)
Long yellow legs, a clean underside, long thin black bill what a cracker. Again a quick call and the boys are running up the footpath to get on it. A local guy joins us and says he's been looking for over an hour so he's delighted with the find too.
Back in the car we were now running out of time but decided we couldn't head home without a quick stop at Broadsands to see if any Cirl Bunting are showing. We pull in, pay & display then walk through to the second car park to find about twenty birds feeding. This is my hat trick of lifers for the day and a bird I've read about as a child and always wanted to see....that's now been achieved with tick 177 for 2013.
Just the small matter of getting home now...250miles making the round trick over 500miles today but well worth it. We're out 14 hours with over half of that in the car. A crazy plan, chasing a crazy hobby but we had a blast and the day will be long remembered.

Cirl Bunting
Cirl Bunting
Cirl Bunting
Cirl Bunting

1 comment:

  1. a stunning bird, great pictures and a fab day out