Thursday 20 October 2016


Today I did my usual circuit for this time of year and headed up to the top fields to the east of the Otter Estuary. It was a lovely sunny and very calm morning and there were definitely more Meadow Pipits around than usual. As I reached the cliff top footpath at around 09.30hrs one of the local residents stopped to chat to me. After about five minutes of chatting, I was keen to get away and continue birding when all of a sudden I heard the distinctive call of a Serin coming from the south of me out to sea. I quickly had to explain to the woman that I needed to try and find this bird! I soon picked it up with a small group of Meadow Pipits as it continued calling, but the light was pretty awful. However, I could clearly see a small finch with bouncing flight (smaller than the adjacent Meadow Pipits) with an obvious cleft in the tail. Frustratingly, it continued heading away from me in the sky and then seemed to turn inland towards the weedy fields and as it turned I could just make out some yellow/green colouration on the underparts of the bird before it turned again and headed back out to sea. It headed straight towards the sun and seemed to be turning inland again, but I lost it in the sun! 

A very pleasing patch tick and such a distinctive call to me from numerous overseas trips, but slightly frustrating that I never managed to see it on the deck or photograph it. I found it strange it chose not to join the Linnet flock and the ideal weedy fields, but I spent a good 90 minutes checking with no luck. A few Reed Bunting and a Brambling were new birds in later in the morning.

A second look in the afternoon resulted in no further sign of the Serin, but an immature male Merlin was a bonus. All in all, a pretty good day on the patch!

Brambling and two Reed Buntings were new in on the cliff top fields

Immature male Merlin hunting the top fields this afternoon

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