A redstart spotted in Sidmouth, and other musings from Mike Dibble

A rare male black redstart sat on top of a gravestone.

A rare male black redstart has been spotted in Sidmouth - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another big news week with the vaccine rollout starting to increase in pace. It was great to hear that the Beacon practice has started conducting vaccine appointments in Sidmouth. I took my mother for her first vaccine appointment at Taunton racecourse and I have to say that the organisation was superb. Two cars in front of us were turned away as they were far too early to arrive but we were 20 minutes before the appointment time which was fine. From beginning to end the process was super smooth. There are similar positive reports from a number of centres so well done to all involved.

The inauguration of President Biden went smoothly as the former president headed off with his tail between his legs! Unsurprisingly he was soon on the golf course in Florida. The other former presidents who were present at the inauguration showed true class while Mr Trump confirmed what many of us have always thought - he is a complete clown who only thinks about his own image! I have never known such an unstatesmanlike figure. I did feel sorry for Vice President Mike Pence but at least he came out of it with his head held high. Hopefully that is the last we hear of Mr Trump but with another impeachment around the corner that is extremely unlikely.

On the nature front, a friend spotted a male black redstart in the town last week and managed to take a photo of it. Apparently there are only about 50 pairs in the UK. It was photographed close to the Bowling Green, so keep your eyes peeled and you might also be lucky to see one. They are about the same size as a robin and the males have a white flash on their wings. Apparently one visits The Swan Inn garden as well. Certainly one of Sidmouth’s rarest bird sightings since a bittern was seen in a back garden in Salcombe Road.
On the walking front, I can recommend a walk that starts in Sidmouth and continues to Harcombe along The Byes on the Sid Valley Ring. At Harcombe turn right when coming out of the field and proceed along the bridle way through Paccombe Farm (you can admire the donkeys here) and up the hill going in a northerly direction through fields and woodland towards Hatway Hill at Sidbury. You can return by going along part of the East Devon Way as you drop down towards Sidbury. The walk through the woodland is delightful. From Sidbury you can choose which route you want to get back to Sidmouth. It is about 12 miles in total if you live near Sidmouth town centre.

On the sporting front, we had the cricket club AGM on Zoom recently. It was great to hear the plans for the summer and there is huge excitement as we think about the months ahead. One development is that surnames and numbers will feature on player’s shirts. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that the season can start in mid April. The league season is due to start on May 1.

Finally I am sorry to report that I have noticed a large number of drinks cans, bottles and cartons beside the roads recently. I find it unbelievable that people can’t take them home. I suspect many are thrown from car windows, which is disgusting. I know littering has been an issue for over 50 years and I do remember the Keep Britain Tidy campaigns from the 1970s. However, with better education these days I find it alarming that people still abuse the environment in this way. Hopefully as time progresses people will cease with this anti-social behaviour. And hats off to the people who are voluntarily clearing the rubbish (and those who are employed to do it) around the area. Your efforts are hugely appreciated.

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