BIRDWATCH 2005, THE RESULT.
On May 25th 2005, I got up at 2 a.m. to go off on the sponsored
birdwatch. A combination of poor health and bad weather prevented
much planning and a look outside revealed thick fog and a strong
breeze, neither of which looked promising. There was a chance
of a Tawny Owl in the garden but no sign so I drove around the
local roads looking for any owls, unfortunately the fog prevented
use of main beam headlights so nothing was seen a the roadside.
03:45 I set off from home ( near Kingsbridge ) towards the moors
after checking in a shed and seeing the roosting Swallows to get
the list started. Arriving at Bennets Cross the fog was thicker,
drizzle in the air and stronger winds, not looking good. After
a few minutes a male Ring Ouzel walked across in front of the
car but there was no chance of much else so off to Soussons in
the hope the fog would clear.
It was better there and a fly over Redpoll on the way helped,
a few common species were soon seen together with a Cuckoo and
a Bullfinch ( this was one of several fairly common species which
may have proved tricky ), 22 species up and on to Challacombe
Farm. At the farm the weather improved and Siskin, Redstart, Spotted
Flycatcher and Grey Wagtail were soon added. A Whinchat near Headland
Warren Farm was no. 36.
Next stop was Trendlebeare & Yarner Woods ( after Dartford Warbler
at an undisclosed breeding site ) where several good birds were
seen quickly, Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Pied Flycatcher,
Wood & Garden Warbler and Mistle Thrush brought the list to 52.
On to Haldon for Turtle Dove and then around the Exminster area
for Woodlark and Cirl Bunting amongst others, list now 60.
Topsham was a bit of a let down, the tide was out so the only
waders on the estuary or at Bowling Green Marsh were a Whimbrel,
a Knot, several Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey
Plover and Dunlin, a single Brent Goose flying down river was
a lucky find.
With the list now at 80 species it was on to Exminster Marshes,
there was a single Sand Martin over the lagoon and some Gadwall.
Cettis, Reed and Sedge Warblers were all easily seen but a lot
of time was wasted looking for a Hobby ( no sign ).
The Exe Estuary viewed from Powderham, Cockwood and Starcross
added nothing and the strong winds put me off Dawlish so I turned
back to the A38. The bridge over the River Dart on the old Totnes
Road revealed a Dipper which made 90. By now it was getting difficult
to find anything different but on to Slapton which brought the
score to 98 ( surprisingly Collared Dove was number 92 ! ). Beesands
added nothing so on to Start Point. The first Whitethroat of the
day was beside the car park as expected, a bigger surprise was
the Short Eared Owl hunting between the car park and the lighthouse
which brought the total to tantalising 99. A Fulmar was the 100th
for the day.
As I had a Barn Owl site near Plymouth I headed that way, looking
on the way for the "missing" species, especially waders, Kestrel
and Peregrine. Nothing extra was seen, I looked around the Stoke
Beach area where partridges ( even Chough ) were possible but
the only interesting sighting was a Hare ( other mammals seen
included Badger and Fox ).
The Barn Owl was seen near Plymstock at 22:00 which brought the
day to a close. All in all a sucessful day although better planning,
especially in relation to tides, and better weather could have
brought the total closer to 110.
The money raised will help set up the new website and provide
more nestboxes. Many thanks to all those who have contributed.
As a postscript, upon returning home the following afternoon I
peeked through the curtains from my living room and was amazed
to see a superb adult male Black Headed Bunting feeding on the
ground beside the bird table. It soon flew off, returning only
once. Unfortunately no-one else got to see it as it disappeared
before anyone arrived although I did manage to take some ( poor
) photos as a permanent record.