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
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.