Devon day trip- 4th January 2012

We headed down to Devon today with the need for some seaside birding getting too much,starting off at Clennon valley lakes in Paignton. We arrived at 8.15 and hoped to find the long staying Yellow browed Warbler. Unfortunately we could not locate the bird in the time we allowed but whilst searching we did find a cracking FIRECREST and also saw 3 Chiffchaff with one looking good for a Siberian Chiffchaff. There were 8-10 Goldcrest seen with Shoveler and 2 Teal on the ponds with a single Pochard amongst other wildfowl.

We then headed to Broadsands Bay and had a look over the sea instantly spotting a Black-necked Grebe offshore. We watched this bird followed by 4 more further along the bay with two coming close in. A Gannet flew by and a Guillemot was also very close to the beach with a Cirl Bunting singing nearby. We then had a closer look at the Cirl Bunting in the car park where 5-6 birds were present with 2 Reed Bunting. Some cracking birding.

Following this great start we moved to Dawlish Warren and decided to head first to the hide. Four Stonechat were seen on the walk and there were birds everywhere when we got there. Although the American Wigeon wasn't around, with the main Wigeon flock across the estuary, it was great watching all the waders. Hundreds of Oystercatcher with Curlew, Dunlin, Grey Plover and a Knot. Brent Geese were flying in,with Rock Pipit showing well and we enjoyed watching a Peregrine giving a Crow some grief before sitting on the salt marsh.

We then had a very productive spell watching the sea from the sea wall with a LONG-TAILED DUCK, VELVET SCOTER and SURF SCOTER all together offshore, flying in close enough to get decent views. A very nice trio in the scope together! A Red-throated Diver was also offshore with a group of Common Scoter and on the rocks a smart male Black Redstart gave some cracking views. A Turnstone was also wandering along the wall being very tame! A really great hours birding.

With time ticking we headed for Exminster to finish the day and en-route stopped at the golf course by Starcross. It was teeming with birds!! Around 200 Brent Geese with 30+ Redshank and lots of Oystercatcher and Curlew.Magic! We only had time for a quick scan across the railway at Cockwood seeing 6-8 Red Breasted Merganser and 3 Little Grebe but didn't pick up the Slavonian Grebe.

At Exminster near the Turf Hotel we were a little disappointed not to catch up with the Red Breasted Goose and it probably had commuted to Topsham across the river. We watched a pair of Red-breasted Merganser very close up and around 50 Avocet and 100s of waders made a cracking scene across the estuary.

Just after getting back in the car we noticed the recent GLOSSY IBIS just over the hedge in amongst a load of Wigeon! It was feeding very close to the road and gave some stunning views! It then took off, calling, and flew across the road and we watched it here for a while pulling up lots of worms. It was just the two of us with the Ibis around 10m away feeding. What a bird!

As if things couldn't get better, a birder walked by and informed us that a LONG-EARED OWL had been roosting near the car park. Great! After a look at the bushes Greg found the beauty. An absolute cracker, trusting its camouflage and becoming more alert as the light faded. A real treat to finish the day and when it was too dark to see we hit the road back home.

A full days birding, fitting in many sites! We could really have spent the whole day at the warren! A really great day as always and we were treated to some very special birds. There are always some target birds you miss, but unexpected birds you see with today being no different. Great fun. We have birded this area many times and with it being such a quick trip down the M5 we really should go more often. Must go back again soon to get the birds we missed.