Bloxworth Snout - an overwintering adult
Tuesday 30th and I headed off to Dartmoor for a birdying day out with Mavis and Mike, an annual event, and after a bit of a delay with the bus due to a breakdown and traffic we headed off to Warren House Inn. Walking from the Inn to Challacombe Farm we saw the usual suspects - whinchats, wheatears, reed buntings, meadow pipits, stonechats, songflighting tree pipits, willow warblers and redstarts. 2 cuckoos gave great views, associating together and presumably a male and female with a few "cuckoo" calls heard along with a bubbly chuckling. A raven, a green woodpecker and a kestrel were flyover birds and a grasshopper warbler was heard reeling but not seen.
Singing Male Whinchat, Challacombe Farm
Singing Male Redstart, Challacombe Farm
Singing Male Swallow, Challacombe Farm
A few small tortoiseshell were seen flying by along with a few small white and an early thorn moth was a surprise as it fluttered around in a grassy tussock. 2 green tiger beetles were a nice sight too.
Green Tiger Beetle
Challacombe Farm was as good as ever with more whinchats, wheatears, reed buntings and redstarts. 4 displaying stock doves were circling together overhead and a cuckoo was heard briefly. A treecreeper was a nice sight feeding on a moss covered tree trunk.
After lunch at The Warren House Inn we headed off to Burrator and Cuckoo Rock where a cuckoo was briefly heard. Redstarts were again noticeable, all singing males except for 1 female seen with a male. We failed to see or hear any pied flycatchers despite Mavis having seen one here a few days previously but another treecreeper was found while watching and waiting for the pied flycatchers to show. Heading home it had been a great day out on a sunny but very chilly day due to the biting wind
Moss covered tree near Cuckoo Rock
Wednesday 1st May and the wind had dropped so I headed off to Grenofen Woods for a walk. It was sunny and pleasantly warm and I had a lovely walk. My target bird was garden warbler and despite not hearing any I was lucky to get a brief view of a single bird in a hawthorn bush before it flew off and later a brief view of a pair flitting through the undergrowth with one bird silently chasing the other with fluttering wings before being lost from sight.
There was no sight or sound of any tree pipits , pied flycatchers or wood warblers but male redstarts were very much in evidence with at least 4 males seen singing. A male yellowhammer was a nice find, surprisingly my first of the year, and 2 marsh tit, 2 goldcrest, a jay, a green woodpecker and a great spotted woodpecker were also seen. 2 ravens were mobbed by 4 carrion crows and later 2 buzzards were mobbed by a raven. A single swallow was seen overhead with a lone sparrowhawk which did a massive poo in mid flight.
Willow warblers were busily singing away along with chiffchaff and blackcap and along the river 2 dippers were seen nest building with an adult later seen feeding a recent fledgling. 2 grey wagtails also fed along the river with a pair of mallard.
Dipper with nesting material, Grenofen
Hedge garlic was beginning to flower and wood sorrel was flowering across the woodland, I tried some and it has a fresh, acidic, citrusy taste. Small white and small tortoiseshell were also seen flitting about along with a comma butterfly.
So all in all not a bad couple of days out on Dartmoor!