Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cream Tea and River Dart walk 7th July 2011

Today the weather forecast was for wind and showers but it was sunny and breezey this morning so we decided to risk it and headed up to Badgers Holt on Dartmoor for a cream tea and a walk. The weather held out and it was dry and mostly sunny although cold in the wind.

The cream tea was delicious as always, the first of the year and probably the only one of the year. It was more of a cream tea lunch as David had to be back by 3:30pm for his twilight shift this evening. There were lots of chickens and ducks and turkeys on show and we bought some duck and turkey eggs to have for tea sometime.

After the cream tea we headed off along the path by the River Dart to try and burn some of the calories off. Bird wise a male yellowhammer was seen and another heard singing. A spotted flycatcher showed briefly perched in a tree with a beakful of insects before flying off, presumably to a nest of youngsters. Siskins were heard and a juvenile was seen feeding in a tree top. A grey wagtail was seen along the river but no dippers were seen.

A dead wood mouse was found in the middle of the path, surprising as I thought something would have snaffled it.
Dead Wood Mouse

Ringlet and meadow brown butterflys were seen and a large fritillary butterfly species flew by so quickly I couldn't get a good view of it, maybe a silver-washed? There were also quite a few beautiful demoiselles along the river edge, both males and females.

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Male Beautiful Demoiselle

Surprise of the day was a large hornet that flew over looking very bright yellow and brown in the sunlight, I presume from the size it was a queen hornet. It then flew low over some bracken and grabbed a female beautiful demoiselle basking in the sun! It flew off with some difficulty in to a small tree where it chewed off the wings of the poor thing before flying off out of sight!

Hornet munching the wings off a female beautiful demoiselle !

So it was quite a pleasent trip out, a nice walk, some nice wildlife and a lovely cream tea. We also managed 1 of our 5 a day by nibbling on the bilberries that were growing along the footpath to help balance the unhealthiness of the cream tea.There were also lots of common cow-wheat in flower amongst the bilberries.

That evening while cooking my tea I heard the familiar shrieking call of a juvenile peregrine and on looking out of the back door I saw a juvenile flying over. It was following an adult bird seen clutching a pigeon in its talons, I assume they are the breeding birds from Plymbridge Woods. I often see them causing panic amongst the feral pigeons along Royal Parade in the mornings in August when I catch the bus to work at 7am and occassionally I see them over the house but this is the earliest I have seen the juveniles before.

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