Wednesday 13th January light W Warm sunny AM 9C showers cooler PM
The thought that I would get to Tavistock by evening is on my mind when my mobile comes back to life after being in a no signal void at Dawlish. I am on the road west towards Ashcombe and the small lane is already a series of ups and downs. A male cirl bunting is singing in an oak tree.
Brilliant to get one, I had expected to have to go to the Labrador Bay RSPB reserve area on the return through this way in about three weeks time.
There is another one lower down in a bush and closer further down the lane.
Eight texts messages in less than a minute, there is a little bunting at Dart's Farm, Topsham. Texting birding friends for confirmation before making the decision to turn around and go back I receive phone calls from Chris Craig and Tony Barter. Seen at 8:30am, I retrace my route and on reaching the main Exeter road head north and onto the Exe Estuary cycle path once more.
At Dart's Farm once reached there is a group of around a dozen birders searching a stubble field. The bird was seen at 12:15, it is now 1:00pm.
There are plenty of chaffinches and goldfinches. With them is a male brambling. Chatting may have cost me the little bunting. Whilst talking to a birder who used to frequent Upton Warren, my ex-patch in Worcestershire, John Day, the birder with telescope to our left says that he has just had it, that he had been watching it in a distant oak tree. He didn't tell us this until the bird had flown. No one else has seen it.
Kevin Rylands is the local RSPB conservation consultant and together with John Day I spend the rest of the afternoon searching for the special one, unsuccessfully. A female merlin does pass, dashing one way over a hill crest and then returning about half an hour later. Both are great company, as are other Devon and Somerset birders some of whom come over for a chat and give good wishes having seen my blog.
The cycle back to Starcross on the west side of the Exe is along the cycle path once more in the dark and with rain falling though. With a feeling of complete safety away from raods I put my MP earplugs in and sing Pink Floyd songs all the way to a superb Bed & Breakfast, The Red House. Now why haven't I got the Jimi Hendrix song on the player?
A lovely evening is spent talking with the proprietor and a guest, Corinne and Rosella. Corinne talks about her writing a novel about a child with Aspergers Syndrome and Rosella is a Spanish lady from Murcia who is a vet over here. How appalling that she was given a job here on half salary of British vets with her qualifications due to her nationality.
The Green Year list now stands at 115, seventeen ahead of where I was at this time last year.
25.33 miles 708 feet elevation up 778 feet elevation down