It was time to go home today. as our younger daughter was going to a University open day the next day and I had to be back home to look after our son. My early waking got ridiculous this morning (or more like the middle of the night) so in the end I got up and knocked back some alcohol which knocked me out enough to doze fitfully. I got up at around 6:30, had a quick cup of tea and check of the CBWPS site (nothing that I needed to chase after) then it was a quick shower and time to pack up the cottage. Fortunately as it was just me and as we (i.e. the family and myself) would all be coming back in a little over a week's time, there wasn't too much that I needed to do. In fact I'd done most of it by the time I saw Ian Kendall's car arrive down in the lighthouse car park, today with Jacquie and Flint as well. I hurried to meet them and we started to do the rounds. It was clear that there wasn't much movement about today: there was very little going overhead and hardly any birds on the ground either. We spent 10 minutes listening closely to a "tack" that we just couldn't locate which turned out to be the Tamerisk! A Golden Plover flew by calling and a Raven cronked overhead but that was about it. I couldn't stay for the full tour and soon left to complete the packing and to head on out. Just as I was finishing things off I spotted a Short-eared Owl flying in off the sea past the cottage, a nice Patch tick to end my stay.
The reason for my wanting a prompt departure from the cottage was that I wanted to stop off at Exmouth to try and see the Cackling Goose. You may remember that I made an abortive attempt on the way down but renewed news of the Alpine Swift had taken precedence. Ian had stopped off for it on the way down himself without success so it was by no means easy and over the last couple of days reports of it had become intermittent. Part of the issue of the timing was to do with the state of the tides. Once it goes too far out the birds are so distant that they can't be seen at all.
I wanted to get there for eleven but in the end it was midday by the time I arrived. I spotted someone in the car park scoping away and hurried over to him, hoping that he'd be able to show me the Goose but sadly neither he nor anyone else there (there were quite a few birders further up on the point) had seen it at all. I more or less knew then that I was going to dip it but I thought that I'd have a quick scan through anyway. At the very least it was breaking up the long journey home and to be honest it was nice just to see so many birds all on show. I realised that most of my birding this week had been peering through dense vegetation for brief glimpses of things so to see thousands of birds out in the open like this was a nice change! There must have been several thousand Brent Geese out there to look through along with Wigeon, Shelduck, Pintail, Oystercatcher and Curlews. I'd like to say that against the odds I managed to pull it out of the bag but the truth was that I'd arrived a bit late as it was and the birds were getting more and more distant and some were starting to fly off somewhere else. One of the locals said that in a few weeks they would finish feeding on the Eel Grass and instead go and feed on the grass by Dart Farm so it might be easier at that point should it hang around.
|The vast hoards of Brent Geese on the Exmouth estuary|