Last Sunday I joined ten hardy souls from the Glamorgan Bird Club (and two of their equally hardy children) to brave the strong polar winds and occasional stinging rain showers to check out the birding delights of south Devon. After a brief stopover at Labrador Bay for the Cirl buntings (see yesterday’s post), we headed to the National Nature Reserve at Dawlish Warren, to check the beach, sand dunes, and mudflats of the Exe estuary.
We had immediate success sea-watching from the beach, with good views of two Red-throated and one Great northern diver – both new birds for me, as well as Great crested grebes, Cormorant and the always-impressive sight of a Gannet crashing headfirst into the waves to dive for fish.
Though half of me got soaked during the walk out to the hide at the end of the sandspit (must invest in good, lined waterproof trousers!), the effort was worth it for the wealth of waders to be seen, feeding along the water’s edge and hunkering down on the sandy beach against the biting winds. As well as large numbers of Oystercatchers and Brent geese, there were also Dunlin and Ringed plover, Shelducks and Sanderlings, Turnstones, Bar- and Black-tailed godwits and a couple of Curlew, plus the ubiquitous gull species.
Later, we stopped further up the Exe for a quick look over the river, where I managed to snap three Grey plover amongst a flock of Dunlin flying past. It was a long but grand day’s birding and, with four lifers to add to my sightings’ list, I was well pleased.