Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Day in Devon

This is going to be a sort of scenery posting of a days birding in the county of Devon, mainly because I didn't get anywhere near to birds to be able to photograph them! (-: Devon is in the Southwest of England.
We started our day on the Axe estuary. I love the sound of the wading birds (shorebirds) that you get on estuaries. On this day we were particularly looking for a couple of Iceland Gulls that have been spending some time in this area. We went up and down the estuary with no luck in seeing our target bird, we did see some cracking adult summer plumage Mediterranean Gulls. These beautiful white winged gulls have started to breed in greater and greater numbers in this country which is fabulous news. I dearly wish I could have got near to one for a photo, but had to settle to good scope views on this occasion.
This photo was taken near the mouth of the estuary, the sea is just beyond that row of houses.

Looking north further up the river Axe. Later in the day we came back here and managed to find one of the Iceland Gulls. After the River Axe, we decided to head inland a few miles to some heathland at Aylesbeare Common. This is an area owned and managed by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). We were hoping to see Dartford Warbler here as this is prime habitat for this elusive and skulking Warbler. Unfortunately as you can see, the weather was deteriorating, becoming cold and clammy with a sharp northwesterly wind, not ideal conditions for seeing passerines! We didn't get a sniff of a Dartford. We did have good views of a pair of Crossbills. These birds have been pretty scarce recently so I was chuffed see them.Even without much bird life about, heathland is always lovely to walk through. The colours of heather and gorse and pine are rich and intense, not that today was the best day to show this! (-:My two birding buddies on the way back to the car for our next stop.......Oh, I nearly forgot, some gorse out in flower, this plant seems to flower over most of the year. It has a beautiful scent of coconuts.And so on to the last stop of our day in Devon. Budleigh Salterton is a town just west along the coast from the River Axe. We came down to the beach to look for a juvenile American Herring Gull that had been reported here. The weather was still cloudy and chilly, but we settled down on the beach with our scopes to try and sort through all 'our' juvenile Herring Gulls to try and find the visitor from across the pond. The differences between juv Herring Gulls from each side of the Atlantic are subtle and as we sat there (over an hour) with our bums and extremities freezing, I also realised how variable these juveniles can be! Needless to say we didn't find one that stood out as different enough to make a positive id. Still, it made me look at juvenile gull plumage like I never had before! (-:Looking east along the beach. We were sat at the end near the cliff face.This is the area were were scanning.Looking west towards Budleigh Salterton town and the distinctive red sandstone cliffs.
Even though we didn't manage to find the rarest bird on this day out in Devon, the Iceland and Mediterranean Gulls and the Crossbills were quality birds which made the day.

8 comments:

Eve said...

It's wonderful to click on the pictures and see everything in detail Jenny. Nice post. Great to see your birding buddies too! Hi Guys!

Roy said...

Thats a nice area for birding Jen. We stayed at a caravan park just east along the coast years ago. You can walk along the coast to Axe estuary and up the Axe to Otterton village. Observed loads of L Egrets on estuary. The Pub in Otterton does great cream teas {:) Nice trip anyway thanks for the memories.

Steve B said...

I feel your pain with juvenile gull plumages. I’ve been working on it for three winters here on Cape Ann and still get frustrated. And these are the birds I see every day!

Jenny said...

Hi Evie, glad you liked the little bit of Devon that I visited that day.

Hi Roy, yes it is a lovely area, probably murder in the summertime though. Funnily, I didin't see any Little Egrets that day which is very unusual for this area.

Hi Steve, hmmmmm, I don't think I'll become a gull expert any time soon! (-: Do you get many of the white winged gulls there?

Mary said...

It looks like a lovely area...maybe on a nicer day when it is warmer. You are one of the most dedicated birders I know :-) I don't think I will ever reach a point of recognizing juv. gull differences....or a lot of other things! I need a birding buddy like you around here.

Jenny said...

Hi Mary, actually I'm not sure I'll ever reach a point where I'll recognise juv gull differences either! (-: I so wish I could just beam myself over to America to visit all the wonderful blogging friends I've made over there. It would be so much fun! Seriously, you show that you don't have to know all the names of different birds to be able to enjoy them and everything else around you besides. You are a person that enjoys being curious about so much. It's great to share that!

Quiet Paths said...

What a treat for us still stuck in winter. I am envious of your walks along the strand. Lovely, Jenny! So glad you were out and about.

Jenny said...

Hi Christine, does winter stay hard into the new year where you are? From my next post, you'll see that the sap is rising over here! Hope you don't have toooooo long to wait for spring to sprung!