Thursday 15 February 2024

Winter Sunshine

Winter sunshine is like an early sniff of spring; it's good for the soul and stirs the blood. I wasn't expecting any today, but when it happened I was out like a shot. Cogden called, for the second time this week. The first was uneventful - and dankly grey, and windy, and thick with salt spray - but not so this morning...

I hadn't explored the inland parts of Cogden since last autumn, but gave it a try today. Very, very squidgy. The ground is sodden, and I wasn't surprised to flush a Snipe from one of the meadows. Otherwise just a few Meadow Pipits and the odd Stonechat, but overlaid with an evocative backing track of surf-on-shingle and singing Skylark. Nice.

Then I arrived at the spot where I encountered two Firecrests last October. And, what do you know? Two Firecrests...

Initial view of Firecrest #1. A very nice surprise.

The same bird. Firecrest #2 was nothing like as obliging.

I wonder if they were the same two birds I saw last year. Quite a coincidence if not. Anyway, I pressed on down towards the sea, serenaded all the way...

A rubbish pic, I know, but I can almost hear that uplifting voice.

Thanks to a helpful heads-up from Mike Morse, I was aware that Cirl Bunting was on the cards. There had been none on my previous visit, but I had left it much too late in the day. Today's timing was a lot better...

Hard to believe that this has become almost an expected happening in recent times. A male Dorset Cirl Bunting, with female tucked away top right.

Better view of the female Cirl Bunting. Bright ear covert spot and that fine dark streak curling forward over the eye aid identification. The latter feature was first brought to my attention by Devon birder/artist Mike Langman, and it seems ever so reliable.

Male and female Cirl in the stubble (on the left) plus a male Yellowhammer top right. The female bunting at top right might be a Cirl too, but I wouldn't stake my life on it.

There were at least three Cirl Buntings present (one male) and it is such a treat to have them so local. I hope they go from strength to strength.

The trudge back along the beach was quiet, bird-wise. The late-autumn storms have reprofiled the shingle quite dramatically, and I am curious to see how much the previously-abundant flora has taken a battering. All will be revealed come spring, no doubt.

This insignificant lump of concrete used to provide a nice bit of shelter for seawatching. Not this year.

Same spot, January 2016


  1. Must admit Gav, those Firecrest jewels really grab one's appreciation.

  2. I think somebody wants their beach back, that's an impressive amount of re-homed shingle.

    1. There is usually some beach rearrangement following a storm, but this one is more dramatic than most.