Monday, 2 March 2015

Starcross lover

As February turned into March, I too felt like a change. And so to Devon on Sunday, and Darts Farm, where a trio of Penduline Tits has been entertaining the locals since last December. I have written before about the fancy retail park to which this tiny RSPB reserve is attached. None of the facilities were open when I arrived shortly after 0800, and although I was first on site, there was no sign of the birds for almost an hour. Then a thinly whistled call gave one away and I quickly located it in the small reedbed in front of the hide. It performed royally feeding on reedmace and was eventually joined by a second bird. By now a small group had gathered and the Pendulines flew towards us and into a small tree at the edge of the reedbed. They proceeded to call, preen, pick insects from the blossom and generally show off unexpectedly well.

Having filled a memory card, I decided to leave them to it and push my luck for a few more photo ticks for the year, heading around the Exe Estuary, one of my favourite areas for birding, through Starcross and Cockwood down to Dawlish Warren. I should probably have quit while I was ahead: there was no Bonaparte's Gull at Dawlish despite taking a really posh Darts Farm freshly baked loaf of bread to tempt it in; there were no Cirl Buntings at Exminster, admittedly in a half-hearted search; and I even dipped on Dippers in Lyme Regis on the way home. So only a Linnet and a Greenshank were added to the photo list - but after the show put on by the Pendulines there can be no complaints.
Penduline Tit, Darts Farm RSPB, Devon (species #121 photographed in 2015)
This bird was being described my some on site as 'the male' but I'm not so sure. From what I've read, males ought to have a larger mask, more grey on the nape (this has a grey forehead which changes to grey brown just behind the eye), and often show rufous markings on the breast which are absent here...
..but then they are said to be difficult to sex
The bird then flew towards me into a tree - it looked almost out of place
Never quite got a perfect side profile but this came pretty close
The bird above was then joined by this one - not quite as well marked, and with a stronger wingbar - but still, I think, a female for the same reasons given above.
This one did a fair bit of preening
This is the first bird again
A small flock of Black-tailed Godwits were also at Darts Farm...
...along with Curlew and Wigeon
Linnet for the photo year list (#122)
This colour-ringed Brent Goose was one of a large flock near Starcross. I bet they call it 'Arfur' (R-4)
Greenshank in the tidal creek at Cockwood - often good for waders (#123)
Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. Love the Greenshank at Cockwood. There's a Kingfisher's post nearby - still trying for a photo of him