Saturday, 20 May 2017

Shrike Dip - Again!

A quick walk along the coast path from The Warren to Stoke Point Caravan Park and back along the lane on Sunday 14th May was sunny but breezey and I managed to see 2 small copper, 2 worn wall, a holly blue, speckled woods, a peacock, green veined whites, a male orange tip and red admirals despite the cool wind. Bird wise it was quiet but swallows, house martins and whitethroats were very noticeable along with stonechats, skylarks, meadow pipits and linnets.

Wall, Stoke Point

Friday 19th May and the start of a weeks annual leave from work and it was off to Yarner Wood for a walk while David went off to Trago Mills and Mole Valley to get some garden stuff. It was cool and cloudy with occassional short, sharp showers but also occassional sunny spells until the end of the walk when the heavens opened and I got drenched in a torrential hail and thunder storm.

Before the downpour I managed to see some good birds though, starting with a walk on the heath and across the road to Trendlebeare Down. A tree pipit was singing from the top of a pine tree with a second bird heard, a yellowhammer was singing in the gorse with another male seen with a female and 3 garden warblers were singing mostly in cover but I did get good views of 2 of them eventually. Also seen were stonechats, linnets and willow warblers while overhead 3 swift, a lone house martin, a grey heron and a male siskin flew over. A male brimstone flitting about in the silver birch saplings was the only butterfly of the day but the biggest surprise was a nightjar which briefly churred from cover when a helicopter flew low overhead.

 Yellowhammer, Yarner

 Garden Warbler, Yarner

Brimstone, Trendlebeare Down

The woods held the usual birds and I had good views of a male redstart with 2 more heard singing, male pied flycatchers singing and checking out nest boxes along with a single female, a "singing" spotted flycatcher and a singing wood warbler in the same area where I saw the singing bird on my April visit but this one had leg rings (yellow over orange on the right leg, silver over green on the left leg) with another bird heard singing briefly nearby and another bird giving the occassional "peu" notes. Mistle thrush, song thrush, nuthatch, goldcrest, blue tit, robin, a male great spotted woodpecker and great tit were also seen and chiffchaff, green woodpecker and blackcap were heard but I never got to view the pond from the hide as it was full with school kids sheltering from the heavy hail and rain. I did however get to dry out and warm up with tea and cake at The Brookside Cafe in nearby Bovey Tracy when David came to pick me up which was as good and tasty as it always is.

 Pied Flycatcher, Yarner

Pied Flycatcher, Yarner

Plans to visit Steps Bridge on Saturday 20th May were again shelved due to the poor weather forecasted so instead I headed up to Cuckoo Ball near Ivybridge on Dartmoor to look for a woodchat shrike which has been present for over a week. The weather this week has been pretty rubbish but the shrike has stuck around so despite the less than ideal conditions - cool, misty and breezy - I caught the train to Ivybridge and then walked up onto the Moor for a look. I have never visited here before and I was pleasently surprised - the scenery was stunning, there were prehistoric ruins dotted around (burial chambers, stone rows) and I met a few birders also looking for the shrike who provided some pleasent company but despite the sun eventually making an appearance I failed, as I kind of expected, to find the shrike.

 Cuckoo Ball Burial Chamber, Dartmoor

Cuckoo Ball Burial Chamber

However I did see a few nice birds - meadow pipits, stonechats, skylarks, linnets and yellowhammers seemed to be everywhere and I also saw a flyby cuckoo, a male reed bunting, 3 wheatears, 2 ravens, 2 kestrels, 3 swifts, house martins and swallows and I heard a willow warbler, a chiffchaff, a blackcap and a great spotted woodpecker.

 Yellowhammer, Cuckoo Ball

Meadow Pipit, Cuckoo Ball

A few bumble bees, a red admiral, a speckled wood and the usual cow pat flys were the only insect life seen but sadly no shrike - but after last years shrike bonanza I guess I can't be too greedy.

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