May 29th 1989 - A phone call from Mark Bailey around 1pm came completely out of the blue (pardon the pun). The shock news was that a roller had been discovered on East Budleigh Common and Mark was going for it. Would I like a lift? I didn't have to think too long before agreeing to meet him at Penn Inn roundabout! On arrival we could see no roller and in fact there were no other birders to point us in the right direction so we struck out, full of nervous anticipation, across the Common. Within a mercifully short time we had located the bird perched high, shrike-like, on a tall dead tree. We watched in stunned silence for about three minutes before it flew, a burst of brilliant turquoise blue, back towards where Mark had parked. We soon relocated it and watched it for a long time from the road. Other birders started to arrive and the bird flew directly over us before perching on gorse bushes and affording more scintillating views.
After about an hour we headed up to Dartmoor for a male red-backed shrike that had the decency to start singing whilst we watched it - a really special and memorable afternoon with Mark great company as always.
Three days later, being a pushy, bird-obsessed youth I convinced Mum and Dad that they had to see the exotic Mediterranean vagrant so I got to see it again, this time sheltering from rain on the lower branches of a conifer. The colours took on different hues compared to when seen in the brilliant sunshine on the 29th.
The bird was present from the 28th May to 17th June 1989 (I'm pretty sure it waited for Bob to get back from France ) and was the twelfth record for Devon ( The Birds of Devon - M Tyler). Despite its long stay there must be many younger birders that haven't seen one in Devon. The record from Teignmouth on May 1st 2012 must have been very tantalising for a few but I reckon roller will occur again before too long - there has been a good recent run of birds nationally and Devon is blessed with loads of suitable habitiat for holding another - ever the optimist!