Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lesser Scaup, Cirl Bunting, and Penduline Tits

My last post drew to a close a very unsatisfactory search for a Little Bunting. Eight days and probably around fifty hours and I was still not really sure that I had the right bird. (but now confirmed via BirdForum) I needed some success and a few decent pictures and the next few hours were about to deliver just that. Three great birds, good picture opportunities and all for a couple of hours birding and a "bit" of driving. 

The light was beginning to fade as I left Forest Farm where I had been looking for the Little Bunting. My other target in Cardiff was the Lesser Scaup. It was getting a bit late but I headed round to Cosmeston Lake on the other side of Cardiff just to see if I could locate the bird. Sometimes you just get lucky. I parked up and walked down to the lake and there it was.

I also spotted this unusual duck on the lake. I assume that it is some form of hybrid but I will have to do a bit more research to find out what it is.


What to do next? There was no point in going back to Forest Farm the next day as they would be working around the hide area. Cosmeston looked interesting but it would be full of people and dog walkers on a sunny Saturday. I felt as though I was on a bit of a roll so I decided to head over the bridge and down into Devon to look for the Cirl Buntings.

The next morning I was in the car park at Broadsands at at 06.15 with the sun just coming up, no one about and a lot of bird activity all around me.

Song Thrushes, Dunnock and various Tits kept me busy for a few minutes


Song Thrush

but then a pair of Cirl Bunting arrived. I got a couple of record shots but the dawn light has too much orange in it for  recording the true colours and I just had to hope that they would hang around for half an hour or so. Fortunately they did and I got the pictures I was looking for.

Cirl Bunting

The female was staying in cover and was harder to photograph and in the time I was there I only saw these two birds but then two is a lot better than none.

Female Cirl Bunting

Where to go next? Darts Farm was just north of Exeter and on the way home, Penduline Tits were putting in occasional visits there, would my luck hold?

Only a quarter to ten in the morning and I was heading for home feeling really happy. There were a lot of places I could have visited on the way back but anything now would be an anticlimax. All I really wanted was a comfortable chair and a cup of tea.

The frustration of an eight day search for one bird wiped out by three great birds in just a couple of hours. Knowledge and field craft play a big part in finding the birds but you need to be lucky as well.


  1. Hi Martin

    What a super day...well worth the effort...excellent set of photos of really special birds.First class!


  2. Glad you got to see the Little Bunting. I can see from your photos that you finally caught up with it but its a shame it didn't perform better for you. However, in view of all the other shots you got you did amazingly well in a couple of days. By the way, thanks for the info you gave me on the Ptarmigan. They were exactly where you said they would be. In fact it was so good on the mountain I went up twice in the week I was there.