Wall, Stoke Point
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.
Garden Warbler, Yarner
Brimstone, Trendlebeare Down
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.