Tuesday 7 January 2014


Yesterday after a little persuasion by my colleague John we headed down to Brixham for some post work birding. We being Pete, John and myself and we were in the south west working. We were still a good distance away and finished work at 2. Not a lot of time to be honest and the weather looked rubbish. Some valiant steering by John and we were soon at Broadsands. I mentioned to Pete that we were going past a bang on Cirl Bunting site and that it would take seconds to connect? Thankfully I was right as time was ticking and and the rain was tipping. On the usual gravel were 5 birds, 3 males and 2 females and there were several other birds in the hedge. It started bucketing down and so we legged it to Brixham after the lads both got tick able views with them being a lifer for Pete.

Soon we were parking at the harbour and even before we had stopped we had a couple of Great Northern Divers. Jumping out the car Pete called 2 Black-throated Divers while John was pointing out another 2. I was busy ignoring them and pointing to the Iceland Gull. Pete getting bored with umpteen Great Northerns which seemed to be appearing everywhere we looked and got us on to a Slavonian Grebe. This was crackers and we hadn't even seen the biggy yet.

Round by the marina we disembarked with some hot gen and sure enough amongst a smorgasbord of Great Northern Divers was a ... Black Guillemot. This was a little bit distant so our attention briefly flicked onto a Red-necked Grebe in the marina inflow. This was very brief as I picked up our main quarry - the White-billed Diver not 50 yards away along the breakwater. A quick sprint when the bird was under water and we were getting point blank views. Awesome stuff indeed! We watched the diver for some ten minutes before moving along the breakwater as it drifted out into the main harbour.

We started looking outside the harbour with Torbay pretty flat thanks to the shelter of Berry Head. A few common seabirds were quickly ignored when John shouted 'DOLPHIN!!!'. Expecting a Porpoise I was shocked to see a Bottlenose Dolphin feeding very close to the breakwater around lobster pots. After a few minutes it charged out across the bay towards Berry Head, scattering a knot of Great Northern Divers before disappearing from view. A cracking sighting and one which was completely unexpected in Devon. 

 This was little more than an hour of excellent birding and I completely recommend heading down there. Apparently there was a Black-necked Grebe today as well. Sadly I didn't have my camera with me which is a sickener as the birds all showed beautifully.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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