Saturday, 29 March 2014

Great Grey Shrike on Dartmoor

Returning from Malta and with a few days of annual leave left before returning to work we headed off out and about Devon in sunshine, showers and a breezey and cold wind.

Friday 21st and we had a look around Killerton House near Exeter, a National Trust estate that we have never visited before. 2 chiffchaffs singing in the gardens despite the wind and chilly temperatures and a flyover stock dove were the highlights along with the house which was surprisingly small but very liveable in.

Saturday 22nd and a walk along the coast at Wembury was again quiet birdwise with 2 singing chiffchaffs and an unseen singing cirl bunting being the highlights. My first oil beetles of the year were a pleasure to see along with bloody nosed beetles and a common lizard. The sloe bushes were beginning to flower and some violets were flowering by the footpath on the cliff below the old HMS Cambridge guns.

 Oil Beetle
 Common Lizard
Sloe Blossom

Sunday 23rd and I managed to persuade David to go for a walk at Warren House on Dartmoor. The wind was again cold but the sun was shining and on parking the car in front of the pub I had a quick scan of the valley below and soon found the recently reported great grey shrike. It was perched at the top of a small tree in the valley, looking very pale in the strong sunlight and gave some nice views although it was typically flighty and mobile before disappearing from view. It was in exactly the same area where I saw my first UK bird back in 2008 and is my third UK sighting with the second having been at nearby Bellever Tor in 2010. 2 male reed buntings, 10 fieldfares and a common lizard were also seen and it was interesting to see that yet more of the conifer plantation has been chopped down at Soussons.

Tuesday 25th and we headed off to Slapton Ley for a walk. It was again sunny but cool and breezey but 2 chiffchaffs were busily singing near the Bridge along with 3 Cettis warblers. On the Ley amongst the tufted ducks and coot were a few pochard and great crested grebes along with a male gadwall, 2 female goldeneyes and a pair of scaup. 2 buzzards were soaring overhead with 1 bird being very pale and having a very pale buff rump with a black tail band, very rough legged buzzard looking. On the sea a great northern diver was busily diving for fish but there was no sign of any sand martins until we were just about to leave when a group of 7 birds flew over heading North and bringing my year list total to 145.

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