Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Red Kites on Dartmoor - 26th May 2012

My mates Mavis and Mike had placed a bid at a silent auction in aid of Childrens Hospice South West for a moth trapping night to be held at their garden in Dousland and had placed the successful bid. It had been arranged for the night of 25th May and on the morning of 26th May I headed off on the bus to Dousland. It was bright and sunny but with a very strong Easterly wind and I was a bit worried that the moth trap would be empty as the wind had howled all night long. However when the moth guy leading the moth trapping night emptied the trap to the expectant audience who had come along in order to raise more money for the charity there were 13 moths of 11 species - not overly impressive but it did contain crowd pleasers in the form of poplar hawkmoth, green carpet and white ermine and 2 new moths for me - oak tree pug and red-green carpet.

Poplar Hawkmoth

Red-Green Carpet - an overwintering female as males only fly in the autumn

Green Carpet

After the moth trap was all put away we headed off to Warren House for our annual Moor walk. The usual species were seen and it was a pleasent if windy walk from Warren House to Challcombe Farm. A tree pipt was songflighting in the strong wind and willow warblers were busily singing away. A cuckoo was heard calling once and then 2 birds were seen flying fast and low between the trees at Challacombe Farm before disappearing towards Soussons. A female whinchat was watching 2 male whinchats fighting nearby on the ground. Spotted flycatcher and redstart showed very well and 2 redpolls were seen songflighting overhead in a wide circuit giving their cha-cha-cha call.

Best bird was a very smart and confiding male crossbill we disturbed from a puddle in Soussons, it flew in to a nearby tree where it called and sang quietly.


However best bird was then usurped by 3 red kites that flew overhead! We were watching a buzzard over the trees at Soussons when we noticed 3 raptors in the distance, expecting them to be buzzards too but we were delighted to realise they were red kites which then turned and soared right overhead giving excellent views before disappearing from view. There had been many recent red kite sightings especially in Cornwall so it was nice to see some birds in Devon.

Red Kites - 2 of the 3 seen

After a lunch of rabbit pie at The Warren House Inn we headed off to Cuckoo Rock at Burrator Reservoir for a short walk, seeing a pair of redstarts, grey wagtail and nuthatch but no cuckoos.

Despite the wind we managed a few sightings of non avian flyers including small heath, a pearl bordered fritillary, beautiful demoiselle, large red damselfly, a brown silver-line and another new moth species for me - a white-pinion spotted.

Brown Silver-Line, Challacombe Farm

White-Pinion Spotted, Cuckoo Rock

It had been a long day but in brilliant sunshine and warm despite the very strong wind and with some great wildlife sightings in good company - excellent!

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