Sunday 10 June 2012

Dunsford Woods - 9th June 2012

A busy week at work and atrocious weather - gales, rain and cold, more like October than June - but Saturday arrived and I had a day to myself with the weather forecasted to be much better, so I decided to head to Dunsford Woods on East Dartmoor for a walk. I visited the Woods for the first time in May 2009 and had a great day but I have never been back since. I had thought about going there this Spring only to find the bus service from Exeter to Steps Bridge was no longer running - or so I thought. The bus route has been taken over by Country Bus and I only found the timetables on the internet last week so I thought I would make a late Spring visit to the Woods.

An early start to catch the 06:55 train to Exeter ( a First train, yippee!) and then the bus to Steps Bridge saw me arrive at the Woods at 09:20, bleary eyed and feeling knackered, but I soon perked up as the morning went by and the sun started to shine for brief periods.

I hoped to see and hear wood warblers although I realised it was a bit late in the Spring and the best I could do was hearing the anxiety/contact "peu" call in the treetops of 1 or possibly 2 birds which I failed to locate amongst the leaves. I also failed to hear pied flycatchers but I did manage a brief view of a female and then a better view of a male and later heard the contact/anxiety call of 1 or possibly 2 birds.

The typical woodland birds were seen or heard - mistle thrush, song thrush, treecreeper, nuthatch, robin, wren, goldcrest, siskin, chaffinch, blackcap, chiffchaff, blackbird, great spotted woodpecker and buzzard. 5 species of tits were seen - coal, blue, great, long-tailed and marsh, with the marsh tits seeming to be everywhere, they must have had a good breeding season this year with adults seen feeding fledglings. 2 ravens were seen flying over the treetops where swifts and house martins hawked for insects and a single willow warbler was heard. A dipper snoozed on a rock in the fast flowing river and grey wagtails were heard flying along the river but I failed to see one. Spotted flycatchers were noisey and showey along the footpath but quite mobile amongst the trees so difficult to count numbers but there were at least 4.

An adder was a surprise find, it slithered across the path right in front of me, stopping to look at me before shooting off in to the undergrowth and scaring the crap out of me in the process! It is only the second time I have seen an adder and so I was very pleased to be frightened by one! I also saw a slow worm, its tail being blackened and scarred from where it had lost the pointed tip.

A silver y, a brimstone moth, a speckled yellow, 2 brown silver-lines, Nemophora degeerella, and a new moth for me, a chimney sweeper, were surprise sights with a red admiral, a small copper, a male brimstone, 2 male common blue, 2 speckled wood, a female orange tip and pearl bordered fritillaries being more expected non-avian fliers. Also seen were many beautiful demoiselles perched on the tops of vegetation near the river side.

Silver Y

Longhorn moth - Nemophora degeerella

Brown Silver-lines


Male Beautiful Demoiselle

Female Beautiful Demoiselle

Oil beetles were seen all along the path side, some unfortunately squashed, and I also found a squashed lesser stag beetle, a new species for me. I'm not sure if the oil beetles are the same species as the ones I see at Wembury. I also saw bee flies and a garden chafer flying around in the sunny spells and yellow archangel was in flower.

Lesser Stag Beetle - unfortunately found dead on the footpath having been trodden on ( not by me!)

Bee Fly sp.

Garden Chafer

Yellow Archangel

I headed back to Exeter on the 14:30 bus and arrived back in Plymouth at around 16:30 (on a First train again, double yippee!) feeling absolutley knackered but having had a great day out and next year I shall be visiting Dunsford Woods again but earlier in the Spring now that I know the bus service is still running.

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