Saturday, 31 May 2014

Cirl Bunting

I think the wife had been getting a bit fed up with my always being out birding or butterflying, so she decided that we should have a short break away, with some nice walking and good food. Sometimes you just have to go along with these things so I booked up a couple of nights for us in East Prawle down in south Devon. It looked a very undeveloped piece of coastline with good walking and there was a traditional pub, the Pigs Nose, that had numerous CAMERA awards for good beer and decent pub food. It sounded like the ideal, get away from it all, short break. You can imagine my surprise then, when I found out that it also has a small colony of Cirl Buntings and if the sun ever shone I might also find Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Marsh Fritillary butterflies close by. Sometimes you just get lucky!

The problem was that we were not lucky with the weather, overcast, drizzle, low cloud and cool. We did a couple of stretches of the South West Coast Path. I have no complaints about the scenery. You get miles of unspoilt paths with very few people about and with wild flowers growing everywhere. All you needed was a bit of sun to bring out the butterflies. The closest I got was a Speckled Yellow Moth.

Speckled Yellow Moth

There were plenty of birds about but not the ones that I really wanted to see. Still I always have time for a Dunnock one of my favourite birds.


We did about ten miles along the coast on the Thursday. We could probably have done more but I was stopping to check out every tree and cluster of undergrowth in an attempt to find a Cirl Bunting. We had no luck and by the time we got back to the car park my spirits were starting to sink. We were leaving the next morning so it would have to be an early rise and a couple of hours birding before breakfast. We did one last circuit of the car park, I had given up but my wife, an occasional fair weather birder, thought she had heard the Cirl Bunting song in the distance. I was sceptical but we went and had a look anyway and sure enough she was right. We had a male bird sitting out on the top of a bush singing for all he was worth.

Cirl Bunting

Cirl Bunting

Its strange how one moment can transform a day. I was now happy to go home and was looking forward to celebrating with a couple of pints of the local brew in the pub that evening. But birds are like buses, once one comes along they all turn up. We only had a mile to drive to get back to the B&B but halfway there I spotted a buzzard perched on top of a post. It was a very pale colour so worth a look and it should have been a great picture as I don't think that I have ever been able to get so close to a buzzard before. Unfortunately we were at the top of a hill and in low cloud so diffusion through the water droplets has meant that I have lost all the detail in the picture.

Juvenile Buzzard

When I turned around to walk back to the car I found I had eight of the Cirl Buntings sitting up on the power cables. No chance of a close up picture but at least I will know where to look next time.

One of eight Cirl Buntings on the power cables

1 comment:

  1. I have always wanted to go to Prawle Point for the best chance in the UK for Cirl have whetted my appetite!