Friday, 3 January 2014

WHITE-BILLED DIVER at Brixham

2/01/14.

Finishing last year on 272 species for the UK, I thought this year, I would have a go at reaching the magical 300 mark. This being the first adventure out further away than my local patch of Amwell NR in 2014.

Brixham is a 4 hr journey from my home town. I set off at 4:30am and of course the roads were a dream to be on at that time and that includes the usually chocker M25. Arriving at 8:30 the view of the harbour was stunning on a rare sunny day of late, the houses looking like a Mediterranean town clustered on the cliffs.

I called a good friend of mine Mr Bill Last who was dropping in to see the WHITE-BILLED DIVER on his way to Cornwall. He was already on site and to hear "I'm looking at it now" were just the words I was longing to hear. First bird seen was this confiding Rock Pipit on the walk down to the end of the breakwater.

The WHITE-BILLED DIVER was in the inner harbour and was showing well. Around 6 people were there at first light and surely this was to increase as time went on. To get the best photos would take patience and would probably be best obtained before the crowds of birders and local residents arrived for their morning stroll. Below are a selection of the photos I managed to get by camouflaging myself behind a horn cleat and being lucky enough for the bird to emerge in front of me at close range.
The harbour was teaming with birds from Auks, Gulls and Grebes to Divers. Watching over 20 Great Northern Divers flying past into the harbour was an amazing sight. Again, this is a place with great photo opportunities with Divers so close in.
Black-Throated Divers were also in good numbers, providing me with some of the best views I have obtained in many years.
The Purple Sandpiper that frequent the outer edge of the breakwater were feeding amongst the various seaweed that's attached itself to the rocks. The inevitable Turnstone's on site are unbelievably confiding and are quite partial to raiding your lunch box should you be a tad carefree and leave it unattended.
Another bird that was really nice to get on the year list was Black Guillemot.
The WHITE-BILLED DIVER did the disappearing act by 10:30am allowing more time for me to scan for other birds within and outside the harbour. The absence of the Diver was not the news the now increasing numbers of birders wanted to hear.
The Juvenile Iceland Gull was present and spends the majority of its time over on the opposite side of the harbour to the breakwater. Close views can be had of this Gull if you take the time to take the short walk around to the other side as many did. Red-Necked Grebe was a welcome addition in the harbour after missing out on these now rare grebes last year. Always distant to get photos but scope views were great.
Broadsands.
Leaving the Harbour and Brixham behind I headed on to Broadsands to hopefully to see the Cirl Bunting's that are regularly fed there through the winter months. I had heard the birds were flighty so I stayed back obtaining these iPhone/scoped images. A friend of mine had said to "stand well back and wait" and that was by far the best strategy for seeing and getting any photos. It wasn't long before some noisy photographers arrived and pushed the boundary's of the Buntings personal space flushing them off the seed, the buntings disappeared and so did I.
A quick scan of the Broadsands Bay produced Red-Throated Diver and Black-Necked Grebe. I then spent some time trying to get images of the Siberian Chiffchaff that had been around the marsh and reported a few days before my visit. There are two on site and both were located in the strip of trees and reed separating the car park and the area where the Buntings are fed. Below are a record shot of the Grebe's and images of one of the Siberian Chiffchaff's really showing off its paleness.
I have to say Brixham and Broadsands are great places to visit, even more so for me, due to the nice array of birds. On this day the weather was the best it's been for a while. This will be another of the days that I'll never forget, out doing what I love, birding and taking photos.