After having the best views we could have asked for we decided to make a move and head down to Exminster to see the Rose Coloured Starling. Once again the traffic seemed to be on our side and it didn't take long to get to the site. We parked at the bottom of Millbury Lane and walked back up the hill. Fortunately a few birders had beaten us to it and pointed out the Rose Coloured Starling perching on a branch in it's favourite bush. It was nice to see that it was moulting out of it's 1st winter plumage and into adult with a slight hint of pink in the birds feathers. It was fairly mobile and after it first flew we hung around for it to return, and when it did it helpfully posed for a few photo's.
As we were in the area we decided to head even further south to try and find Cirl Bunting's. Luckily one of the birders at the Rose Coloured Starling was a local and he informed us of the nearest reliable site so this is where we headed. We arrived at Labrador Bay RSPB reserve and started to bird the area. A stubble field was next to the car park and we gave this most of our attention as we scanned the hedgrerows. The birds flock together in the winter so it was just a question of finding them but we saw very little as we walked along the south side of the field. As we were unfamiliar with the site it was a question of trying to find our way around and luckily we noticed a footpath heading north between the fields and it looked a little more sheltered from the cold wind coming in off the sea. As we walked along the path it became apparent we were heading in the right direction as the numbers of birds started to increase. A flock of Linnets were doing the rounds and while looking at these the sound of a singing Cirl Bunting came from the corner of the field. We walked further along to be greeted by the sight of a few female Cirls in the hedge and eventually a male could be seen. Martyn picked out at least 4 males Cirls feeding in the field before they all flew into the hedge and we got great scope views with a couple allowing a few pics before they crept into the cover. It looked like we had got here just in time as the birds were starting to roost. They all seemed to face into the hedge so their brown mottled backs camoflauged their brightly coloured faces making them very difficult to see once they'd settled down. In fact we saw a couple of walkers wander within feet of a few roosting Cirls without them moving a muscle such is their faith in their camo. I managed a couple of pics in the fading light.
As it was starting to get dark we started the drive home. It had been an incredible day with the added bonus of getting another of my "childhood birds" ticked off - in fact it's just Bee Eater now to complete the line of birds I had always wanted to see when I was a child and never thought I'd ever be able to see for myself. Of course many thanks go to Martyn for taking me down there in the first place and for driving all that way on his own - I think all the coffee's we had en route may have helped!
Nice set of rare birds ticked. :) Wish I had some traveling birding dudes around. :)ReplyDelete