Fringe Box



Birdwatcher’s Diary No.18

Published on: 23 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 23 Sep, 2012

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By Malcolm Fincham

During the second week of September my wife and I went on a sight seeing trip to south Devon. However, I couldn’t resist taking my camera, binoculars, and telescope just in case ….

Can you spot the cirl bunting?

As luck had it, I managed to get some time off for good behaviour so took an afternoon walk along the coastal path at Wembury,  a small village a little way east of Plymouth.

The coastal area is now owned by the National Trust. Previously, when owned by the Royal Navy, it was out of bounds to the public and apparently there were gun turrets that faced out to sea across Plymouth Sound.

A view back along the coastal path.

As interesting as the history is, my main reason in going there was because it is one of the few locations on the south Devon coast, and to be more precise the only area in the whole of the British Isles, where I might spy a cirl bunting.

This is a very rare resident bird that’s about the same shape and size of a yellowhammer (also of the bunting  family). Over the years cirl buntings have declined to as little as 850 breeding pairs – due changing methods of farming.

Luckily, I got chatting to a couple of local ‘birders’ to the area who informed me ”it was as good a place as any” to spot a cirl bunting.

The Med gull is the one without the black wing tips. The other is a black-headed gull, both in winter plumage.

Having left me taking a few pictures of a Mediterranean gull, among black-headed gulls all in winter plumage,  one of the guys returned to ask if I would still like to see a cirl bunting! Although about 250 yards away, I could clearly see it (through a telescope) – a male preening itself.

Unfortunately my camera shots couldn’t match as my pictures show. However, I have found a short clip on You Tube that show a cirl bunting in better light.

Go to:

The Mewstone viewed from the coastal path in south Devon. A Royal Navy frigate passes by behind.

Although seeing a cirl bunting was no doubt the highlight of my Devon bird watching adventure, I was also delighted to take a few other pictures at various locations of birds that can also be seen in and around the Guildford area.

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