Monday, 30 March 2015

A Duo of Woodpeckers

Spring seems to be running a little late this year - only a few summer migrants around and my plum tree in the back yard still hasn't flowered yet.

A walk from Slapton Village to Beesands and back on March 26th was pleasant in the sunshine but quiet birdwise. There were more ducks on Slapton Ley this time compared to my visit in January - mostly tufted ducks and mallards with a few male pochards and a nice pair of goldeneye. A pair of cirl buntings in the bushes alongside Slapton Ley were my first sightings here and it was nice to hear a few singing chiffchaffs. Cettis warblers were also heard, my first of the year, but I couldn't catch a sight of one. David disturbed an adder basking in the sunshine in the grass by the footpath, he was surprisingly calm about it but I failed to get a view of it.

March 30th and with lesser spotted woodpeckers being reported regularly and reliably at Steps Bridge I decided I would go and have a look for them. The train and bus fare came to £23.40 (Ouch! Good job I have just been paid!) and despite the breeze it was warm in the sunshine when I arrived at Dunsford Woods.

3 grey wagtails were feeding along the river from the Bridge, busily dashing after flies and occasionally leaping up into the air to chase after one.

Grey Wagtail

I wandered around the Woods for 3 hours and saw a pair of great spotted woodpeckers and heard at least 2 green woodpeckers but there was no sight or sound of any lesser spotteds. I did hear some brief and distant drumming but I'm sure it was great spotted and not lesser.

Despite dipping out I did have a very nice walk around the Woods, seeing the usual range of woodland birds including stock dove, marsh tit, jay, mistle thrush, goldcrest, siskin and nuthatch. Some skittish redwings were feeding on ivy berrys along the woodland edge and a buzzard overhead was mobbed by a pair of carrion crows.

The highlight were lots of wild daffodils in flower across the woods - smaller and brighter than domesticated daffodils and looking beautiful in the sunshine. I have meant to go and visit the woods to see them for a few years now so it was nice to finally see them in all their glory.

 Wild Daffodils
 Wild Daffodils
Wild Daffodils

Heading home and I stopped off at Dawlish Warren for a quick look around. It is Easter school holiday hell time but it wasn't too busy. It was nice to see that the flood defence work has been completed and the woodland paths reopened. A pair of teal, a little grebe and a male reed bunting were the highlights around the Main Pool and a chiffchaff and a pair of bullfinch were the highlights in the woods.

Offshore I managed to find at least 8 summer plumaged great crested grebes along with a pair and a trio of common scoters, my first of the year - the trio were constantly being harassed by juvenile herring gulls every time they surfaced from a dive.

It began to rain as I headed home on the train, at least it had been dry for me, and I may have dipped on my target bird but the daffodils were beautiful to see and it had been a pleasant if expensive day out.

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