Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Brambling at Darts Farm, Topsham - 11th January 2013

My last day of leave before returning to the daily grind of work and I headed off to Topsham near Exeter by train. Arriving in Topsham I headed off to nearby Darts Farm to look for bramblings which have been showing well on some bird feeders in front of the hide.

I've never visited the hide at Darts Farm and was quite impressed, it looks out over a muddy scrape with some small ponds and trees surrounding it. Arriving at the hide a flock of around 300 Brent geese were feeding in a grassy field with some wigeon and 10 black-tailed godwit. Out on the mud were a shelduck, a redshank and some teal. Redwings and fieldfares were feeding in the fields, regularly flying up into the nearby hedges, and a jay was seen flying over.

The bird feeders were deserted due to the prescence of a mute swan underneath them but it eventually swam off and the small birds began to arrive. Amongst the chaffinch, greenfinch and goldfinch were 2 female and a male reed bunting and I eventually found my targets, 3 female and a cracking male brambling. The birds were all very flighty and the male brambling showed the best, giving some close views, and I managed a few rubbish photos. There has been a bit of aggro with photographers not staying in the hide and disturbing the birds and it seemed a bit unecessary as the birds were only a few feet away from the hide.

 Female Reed Bunting
Male Brambling

Male Brambling
I headed back to Topsham and sat for a while in the hide at Bowling Green Marsh. A pair of pintail, a male and 2 female tufted duck, a male and 3 female shoveler, a male and 2 female gadwall and a little grebe were found amongst the wigeon, teal, lapwing and black-tailed godwits. A kestrel flew over causing complete panic but the birds soon settled again. At least 2 snipe were seen sleeping amongst the rushes.
The tide was fully out so a quick look from the nearby viewing platform gave some distant views of waders and a closer view of a lone grey plover. From the Goatwalk I soon found the long staying female long-tailed duck, busily preening in the water channel at low tide but a bit of a distant view in the murky mist and light. I had better views of waders though including avocets, bar-tailed godwits, dunlin and a lone turnstone, and red breasted mergansers were seen diving a little way down the river. 
I totalled up my bird list on getting home and had managed a count of 97 species for the year in my week off, just 3 short of my target of 100 but very pleasing none the less.


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