Devon Gullfest

After a last-minute change of plan I found myself with nothing going on Wednesday. A chat with Pete while we were in Hens Wood saw us deciding to head down to Bowling Green Marsh near Exeter to hopefully see the Ross’s and Bonaparte’s Gulls. Twelve o’clock saw myself, Pete and John heading west on the M4. After a good journey we arrived in the area at a little before two. As the tide was still out we had a drive around Exmouth first. Plenty of gulls to be seen, mainly Herring along with one or two Lesser and Greater Black Backed. Also a Gannet well out at sea. We also looked in at Exton Station where the Ross’s gull apparently spent time but after a quick look around decided to head for the hide at Bowling Green. We arrived at what was a pretty crowded hide at a little past three and settled down to wait for the gulls to fly in as the tide came rose. While we were waiting we scanned the Godwit flock to check for a Barwit amongst the Black-tailed. We managed to find just one which was a year-tick for me. A Common Gull was the first to arrive followed by a steady stream of Black-headed and a couple of Mediterranean. At sixteen minutes past four the Ross’s Gull arrived and proceeded to give us all great views. Likewise the Bonaparte’s which flew in a few minutes later. Both were lifers for me as was the Ross’s for Pete and John. What was so nice was the fact that we got really good views with time to study them both in detail. Then it was sit and wait to see if the Little Gull would also turn up which it eventually did. This gave us a total of nine gull species for the day. I have to admit that, as for many birders gulls aren’t my favourite birds, (because they are hard going in the id stakes) but I really enjoyed this afternoon.

At five ‘clock we decided to leave and head for home via the Somerset Levels. Arriving here at a quarter to seven we walked along the old railway to Ham Walls. A couple of Booming Bitterns were heard, what a great sound. Also seen were Great White and Little Egret, Marsh harrier and Cuckoo. Plenty of other stuff heard including several Cetti’s Warblers. Eight o’clock saw us heading back to the car and home.

We arrived back in Swindon before ten and with two hundred and sixty mile travelled. An excellent day of birding.

Finally I must add a big thank you to the local birders who have regularly updated Twitter and Birdguides on the status of these birds. Also for theirhelp in the hide, helping others to find the birds amongst the many gulls in view. All done with good humour considering that, due to the number of visiting birders they weren’t even able to get seats in their own local hide.

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