Tuesday 12th January Fresh to strong NW Showers and rainbows
Sun-arise early in the morning at Bowling Green RSPB reserve and the high tide on the Exe Estuary brings in masses of avocet and black-tailed godwits; around six hundred and possibly over a thousand. The two greenshank from yesterday are still parading the margins, this time they are accompanied by over forty redshank. It seems the spotted redshank out on the river last night is now in front of me close enough to photograph.
Two birders come into the hide. The first is Dean Reeves who immediately tells me that last year he was second on the Surfbirds year list list; being second to Lee Evans. He looks at me and remembers where we met before five years ago. Dean it was that woke me up as I slept in the hide at Shapwick, Somerset. Together we remember the birds we saw on that day; sand martins and a long-tailed duck, winter and summer.
The next birder, Martin Elcoate, comes in resplendent in cycling gear which is a good job as he has a Specialised bicycle with him. Martin is a Green Birder! With his patch being the three kilometre square around Bowling Green reserve and Topsham, Martin says that he comes here regularly on his way to work. With a desire to be more environmentally friendly, he and his wife decided that one car would be better than two and so Martin now travels to work by bicycle. So far this year Martin has eighty seven on his Green year list; last year he saw one hundred and thirty five.
Brilliant to meet both birders, the conversation is sharp and interesting.
Once the wader flocks had settled after fly pasts en masse, I set off through Topsham to the other, the west side of the River Exe and head downstream along the Exe Estuary cycle path. Flowering daffodils! It is January isn't it?
A female red-breasted merganser is swimming lone on the river and there are stonechat and cetti's warblers calling along the way. Before reaching Powderham large flocks of brent geese are feeding in the flooded meadows, especially on the RSPB Exminster Marshes.
Just before reaching Dawlish Warren a farmer named Richard stops me to ask whether I could look on one of his stubble fields for cirl buntings. I look but find none, just a large flock of linnets, a few chaffinches and a lone buzzard.
Down to Dawlish Warren nature reserve, I search the sea for grebes but only find great crested. A rock pipit is close by at the foot of a groyne stanchion. Two shags are out on the sea jumping as they dive beneath the waves. Linnets and stonechats are near the dunes.
The weather makes the walk along the beach bracing with a strong north westerly gale blowing sand into my face. I am here to look for the Bonaparte's gull but although it has been around Dawlish and Exmouth for over a year I cannot find it.
I go all around the Warren, following the sea around to the hide on the north side. Here there is a lone grey plover and a couple of curlew. The tide is extremely low and with the gale birds are well spread throughout the estuary and not here.
I head back to the small woodland near to the visitor's centre and look unsuccessfully for the reported firecrest. There are a couple of goldcrests here and a chiff chaff.
Another search over the sea gives just half a dozen or so great crested grebes.
A day of strong wind, showers and rainbows ends with a lovely sunset.
The Green Year list now stands at 112.
20.51 miles 588 feet elevation up 511 feet elevation down