Tuesday, 28 April 2015

More Summer Migrants

April 24th and lunch at Torcross and a walk along Slapton Ley was relatively quiet with a noticeable change in the weather - grey skies, stiff south-westerly breeze, cool and a hint of rain to come.

Reed warblers were chuntering away and I managed some very brief, obscured views as they skulked in the reed bases. Cettis warblers were also very vocal but I couldn't catch a sight of one. Chiffchaffs and blackcaps were vocal and showy as was a smart male cirl bunting near the bridge. A whimbrel flew over calling and 4 Sandwich terns were noisely patrolling back and forth along the beach.

The highlight were 4 swifts in a feeding flock of swallows, house martins and sand martins over the Ley at Torcross - they gave themselves away by screaming noisely and chasing each other and are I think the earliest I have seen here in the UK.

April 26th and we had a quick visit to Cotehele in Cornwall to have a look at the apple blossom in the orchards. The older trees in the established orchard were in full bloom and looking stunning despite the grey sky but the flowers on the new orchard trees were not quite ready to open.

Apple Blossom, Cotehele

A male yellowhammer singing in the top of a bare tree, a chuntering reed warbler hidden in the reeds at Cotehele Quay and a pair of male whitethroats having a sing-off in a hedgerow were the avian highlights.

April 28th and it was time to head off to Grenofen Woods for my annual walk. It was sunny but cool and breezey, out of the breeze it was quite pleasant though. The only butterfly I saw was a lone speckled wood but I did see a few longhorn moths flitting about in the tree tops.

 Longhorn Moth, Grenofen Woods
Longhorn Moth (Adela reaumurella)

A redstart singing in the trees in the usual place on the walk up through the woods kept well hidden but as I emerged out of the trees on to the common I had some good views of a singing male before it disappeared in the undergrowth. I later had good views of at least another 3 singing males, all very vocal but active and mobile.

Blurry, distant male Redstart
A garden warbler singing in the usual place by the footpath on leaving the woods gave some good views but was very mobile too - at times its song was quite scratchy and almost grating to the ears before switching back to the more usual pleasant tones. I managed to see another 2 singing males which gave better views and I also heard a 4th male which kept itself hidden in the bushes.

 Singing Garden Warbler
Garden Warbler

Sitting on the hillside overlooking the valley enjoying a chocolate bar and the view and a small falcon caught my eye - it turned out to be a hobby flying over the trees heading towards Dartmoor, a very nice surprise and my second Grenofen sighting. A tree pipit started singing nearby and gave some nice views before flying off and I had some more distant views of a 2nd song-flighting bird. A male yellowhammer also sang briefly before flying off.

Tree Pipit

Along the river a pair of grey wagtails were busily feeding but there was no sign of any dippers. As usual there were sadly no wood warblers or pied flycatchers.

Male Grey Wagtail

A female great spotted woodpecker, 2 jays, 3 buzzards, 2 ravens, a yaffling green woodpecker, a grey heron flying over, 3 house martins, 2 swallows and a male bullfinch were also seen along with the usual woodland species. A minotaur beetle was also a first for me (although I didn't realise it was a dung beetle as it crawled all over my hands!) and a nice end on what had been a very enjoyable day out.

 Minotaur Beetle
Minotaur Beetle close up

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