Monday, 23 April 2018

Wembury Whitethroats and Whimbrels

Saturday 21st April was still warm and sunny as I headed off on the bus for a walk at Wembury and on the journey I saw my first ring necked parakeet of the year flying over the road near The Broadway at Plymstock.

By the time I arrived at Wembury it had clouded over but it soon cleared up again and became another very hot day with the beach crowded by the time I left to catch the bus home. Plenty of bloody nose beetles were seen along the footpath and St.Marks flies were buzzing around but surprisingly no moths were found in the toilet block despite the hot weather and warm nights and the only butterflies seen were a couple of brief flyby whites (probably green veined) and my first 2 speckled woods of the year.

 Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

There was a lot of seaweed washed up on the beach around the sewage pipe but despite searching there was no sign of the wintering water pipit which has presumably now moved on. I did however find 2 rock pipits and a male pied wagtail along with 6 male and a female mallard, 2 Canada geese and 8 whimbrel feeding on the rotting mass, the whimbrel giving some nice views despite being mobile and flighty and delightfully vocal.


It was very nice to see and hear whitethroats back on territory and also heard were a willow warbler quietly singing from cover at The Point, chiffchaffs and blackcaps. A pair of cirl buntings were feeding unobtrusively on the ground at The Point, a raven was mobbed by 2 carrion crows as it flew out to The Mewstone, 22 oystercatcher were roosting on the rocks at The Point on the high tide, a song thrush was singing in the valley to the beach and 2 pairs of stonechats were feeding from the pathside bushes.

 Cirl Bunting

 Sloe Blossom

Sloe Blossom

It was too hot for a pasty for lunch from the cafe and so I headed home on the bus to cool down and prepare for a dreaded night shift but it had been another enjoyable if hot wildlife walk.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Marsh Tit - At Last!

Wednesday 18th April was sunny and warm but breezey as we drove to Cockwood by the River Exe for lunch with mother-in-law at The Anchor Inn, seeing a swallow along the way near Powderham. Lunch was delicious and afterwards we headed off to go shopping at Trago Mills near Newton Abbot but fortunately I was let out of the car along the way for a wander around Stover Park.

A male blackcap was seen feeding in a tree on ivy berries by the car park as I alighted from the car and nuthatches were heard calling nearby. The lake was quiet with just a cormorant, a great crested grebe, a mute swan, a pair of tufted duck, coot, moorhen and mallard seen but there were no hirundines noted. A muscovy duck was perched in a tree overhanging a side channel while a mallard x muscovy duck type kept very close tabs on a female mallard, regularly chasing off nearby male mallards much to the females delight.

Mallard x Muscovy Duck?

M x M Duck with female Mallard

M x M Duck with Mallard

M x M Duck with Mallard

From the tree platform I watched the birds feeding on the seed dispensers - blue, great and coal tits with nuthatch, chaffinch, 2 male and a female bullfinch and a single marsh tit, my first of the year after regularly dipping over the winter at my usual sites (including Stover).

Bullfinch, Stover


Under the feeders around 10 grey squirrels were scrabbling around for dropped seed with a large brown rat and 2 smaller youngsters until a buzzard swooped into the nearby trees and scattered all the squirrels and rats into cover but the small birds continued to feed on the seed dispenser although they were much more skittish and wary. The buzzard kept a close eye on the ground and allowed some nice close views and was still patiently watching when I left around 30 minutes later despite the rats and squirrels keeping out of sight.

Brown Rat




Also seen around the lake and in the woods were a singing chiffchaff and a singing willow warbler which was dipping its tail chiffchaff-like as it fed in the sallows. Another blackcap was heard singing, peacock butterflies dashed around in the warm sunshine, siskins were heard flying over and a great spotted woodpecker was seen feeding in the tree tops before it was time to head back to the car park to be picked up for the drive back to Plymouth.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stover

Thursday 19th April was still sunny and even warmer and by the time I arrived at Yarner Wood on Dartmoor at 12:30 it was very warm indeed. The main car park is still closed due to the ongoing maintenance work on the pond so after being dropped off at the car park at Trendlebeare Down I walked across the very muddy footpath to the woods while David went off for a look around nearby Bovey Tracey. On the heath willow warblers were singing away with 2 buzzards soaring overhead and a pair of stonechat feeding from the gorse tops and I had a brief flight view of a tree pipit while a siskin flew over songflighting.

Into the woods and I heard the drumming of a woodpecker but couldn't see it amongst the trees and it soon stopped in the building heat and later I saw a female great spotted woodpecker and heard a green woodpecker yaffling. Chiffchaff, blackcap, nuthatch, coal tit, blue tit, great tit and blackbird were seen and heard but the highlight were 3 male pied flycatchers singing away and giving good views including a male right by the footpath sporting a silver leg ring.

 Pied Flycatcher, Yarner Wood

Pied Flycatcher

The hot weather meant wood ants were scuttling around everywhere with a few brimstone and peacock flying around too but never settling and I found a moth resting  on a tree trunk which I think is an engrailed.



David arrived to collect me at 14:30 and the temperature on the car dashboard was reading a scorching 24.5c as we drove back to Bovey Tracey for some lunch. I was very glad to get out of the heat and enjoyed a cup of tea and a sandwich at the Brookside cafe in Bovey Tracey before we drove back home having had a very enjoyable but hot day out.