For my New Year birding trip I chose a drive down to Brixham where a White-billed Diver has been in the harbour for several days. Not a twitch you understand, just a day out. I couldn’t face getting up at four in the morning so drove down late last night arriving in the beach car park at half past midnight. After a coffee and some Christmas shortbread I settled down to sleep in the car. I had the alarm set for just gone seven but was woken earlier by a group of birders chatting in the car park. As it started to get light I, along with a few other birders headed off along the breakwater. First birds seen were a couple of Turnstones followed by a Rock Pipit. Cormorants, Shags and a Great Northern Diver. Three Purple Sandpipers were feeding unobtrusively on the rocks below, as usual quite easy to miss. At the end of the breakwater a number of Shags were fishing and a line of fifteen Great Northern Divers were making their way into the harbour. A couple of Black-throated Divers were picked out in the bay and a Black Guillemot flew in. These are a little confusing as in winter plumage they are mainly white. I stayed at the end while most of the others wandered back towards the town. It was pretty amazing here with a constant flow of birds in and out of the harbour. I counted at least thirty GND and a similar number of Shags. A few Gannets passed by out to sea. When I finally decided to head back down the breakwater I found the others watching the White Billed Diver, An incredible bird with a massive bill. As with all divers it would gently slide under the surface and eventually resurface a considerable distance away. It was quite entertaining watching the photographers chasing up and down trying to second guess where it would come up. Someone called a Red-necked Grebe across the harbour. Could it get any better? well yes it could with another Black Guillemot and an Iceland Gull found, also four or five Black-throated Divers appeared close in to the shore. As my parking ticket expired at ten I headed back to the car to pay for more time and for something to eat. I timed it well as it started to rain quite heavily. As the rain passed over a fabulous rainbow appeared over the harbour. After the rain had passed I headed back down the breakwater to spend more time enjoying the great birds. There was a constant flow of birders arriving and as the WBD wasn’t showing it was rather frustrating for them. I and a couple of others decided to walk around to the other side of the harbour where the Iceland Gull was. On the way round we found a Black Guillemot close to the harbour wall allowing us to get some great pictures. Arriving at the far-side the first thing seen was a seal. Then the WBD which hadn’t been seen for a couple of hours just popped up in front of us giving some more amazing views before it disappeared again. The gull wasn’t showing but a Sparrowhawk shot across targeting a group of Feral Pigeons. As it didn’t reappear it seems that it was successful. The Iceland Gull hadn’t shown so it was back to the car and after a cup of tea and some chips I reluctantly decided to leave as I wanted to go to Broadsands, a reliable site for Cirl Buntings. It was only a few minutes drive and on arrival I saw a small group of birders. I assumed they were looking for the Buntings but when I joined them found that they were watching a Siberian Chiffchaff. Only a sub-species I know but another life-tick for me. The second today. Five minutes later I got my third, the Cirl Buntings feeding on grain on the far-side of the overflow car park. After watching them for a while I went back for another look at the ‘Sibe’ where I also found a couple of normal Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest. A Buzzard drifted over and another birder saw a Red Admiral. Not bad for the second of January. My original plan had been to head for Portland Harbour for the Brunnich’s Guillemot but as this has not shown for a couple of days I had thought of making Dawlish Warren my next stop but en-route changed my mind and headed back up the M5 towards home. Approaching Bristol I thought it might be worth looking in at New Passage and Aust Warth. This I did but the tide was out so most of the birds were a long way away. I could see many Teal but with no chance of finding the Green Winged didn’t stay long. Thirty minutes or so in rapidly fading light at Aust got me a Kestrel but no Owls. So then it was onto the M4 and back home after one of the best days birding ever. Three lifers amongst a great selection of birds. Strangely no ducks were seen which was a surprise. Checking out the Devon Sightings http://www.devonbirds.org/news/bird_news/devon_bird_newspage it seems that there were over sixty GND seen in the bay today. Incredible.