Although I've often looked out for them on coastal walks in Devon, I've never been lucky enough to stumble across cirl buntings. Having a weekend planned in Dartmouth, I thought I should abandon the random approach and actually take the trouble to find out where they are most prevalent. It appears from the excellent information page on the RSPB website, that they are doing quite well now in various hotspots in South Devon and are getting established with help in Cornwall. Let's hope they make it back to Somerset at some stage!
I chose to have a look for them at Prawle Point. This can be accessed down a very narrow single track road from the village of East Prawle. There is a car park on the left near the bottom of the lane and this is the spot to park.
Following the spot of very wet weather we've had, wellies would have been ideal for the walking ahead so be warned if you go after rain. The best stretch for the cirl buntings is straight over the little stile on the downhill side of the car park and walk down to the coast path and turn left. You'll soon find yourself walking along a footpath with cliffs to your left. The vegetation in the undercliff zone seems to be the best area to see them and there are chances to be had all the way to Horsley Cove. My wife and I encountered a small flock of them within 1/4 of a mile of the car park and I took a few record shots with my new 120-300mm Sigma lens combined with a Canon 1.4x teleconverter. The pictures below are I think surprisingly good for 'record shots' considering that they are at almost a 100% crop.
As we had only had a very short and gentle walk, we decided to overshoot the path up to the car park on the way back and climb up to the coastguard station from where we had some spectacular views. The picture below is looking east and you can see the eroded cliffs with vegetation at their base where the cirl buntings live.