Monday 29 November 2021


Well, I actually have some classy bird stuff to blog about for a change. Today was my first back at work for a fortnight, but I only gave myself a few jobs to do and took it very easy. By lunchtime I had finished. Pleasingly I felt pretty okay, so made tentative plans for a gentle walk later on. But where to go...?

An unexpected call from Mike Morse quickly decided that for me. He and Alan had just discovered two Cirl Buntings - a male and female - in exactly the same spot which held two females last winter.

When I first arrived it was quite sunny, and among the small gang of buntings and finches diving in and out of the hedge I quickly spotted a likely candidate for female Cirl. Rather obscured, and preening, but through the scope it was instantly identifiable. A year ago I would never have been able to identify a female Cirl Bunting on face pattern alone, but now they seem a doddle. As I watched the Cirl I could see movement just below it, and deeper in the hedge. To my amazement, a stripy black and yellow face suddenly popped into view. It was the male! Well, that was easy! Getting a decent photo, not so easy...

Male a female Cirl Buntings. The best I managed of both birds together. Trust me! The arrows point to the top of their heads.

They weren't in view for long, and the whole flock was very mobile. I didn't see the female again, and it was quite a while before the male reappeared. Unfortunately it was rather distant, and the light was now rubbish...

Male Cirl Bunting in the late afternoon gloom.

There was also a major bonus in the shape of a spanking male Brambling...

Male Brambling. Very sexy.

Technically we are still in meteorological autumn, so it is early days for the bunting flock. Plenty of time for its numbers to swell beyond the current 20-odd. I spotted 2 Reed Bunts among them, but what else might appear before winter is out? Kudos to Mike and Alan, the West Bex & Cogden stalwarts, for creating such a terrific little hotspot.

Cirl Bunting is still a rare bird in Dorset, but they are definitely creeping this way.

As I walked back to the car at dusk, a falcon hammered past. It was either a Merlin or a male Peregrine, but I couldn't safely call it. I'm not sure that I like falcons much any more...


  1. Its nice your to hear your up and about albeit tentatively Gav. What a bonus to see the Cirls and that stunning male Brambling, it seems you didn't have to work hard for them either. Last time I saw Cirl Buntings was at the usual place in Prawle Point carp park many many years ago.
    Hope your recovery carries on upwards and that you will soon be back to normal.


    1. Thanks Tony, I seem to be back to normal now. Which unfortunately means work must take priority for a bit!

      Cirl Buntings are doing very well in the southwest, and their range is slowly creeping eastwards. Must only be a matter of time until they're breeding somewhere close to us here in West Dorset.

  2. Got my Yoda head on. Sorry Gav! & predictive text change car into carp

    1. Ha ha! Your predictive text algorithm is obviously in angling mode! 😄