Monday 5 May 2014

A Tale of Two Woods and Cuckoo(less) Rock

May 1st and I managed to wangle an hours walk at Yarner Wood and despite the constant heavy downpours and mud I managed to see some good birds. First off was a singing wood warbler in the tree tops by the footpath not far from the car park. It was very mobile and stayed up high in the trees amongst the leaves but I did catch sight of its leg rings, orange over silver on the right leg and orange over dark blue on the left (I think) - part of the ongoing ringing program to find out why wood warblers are declining so rapidly here in the UK.

A redstart was also heard but I could not get a sight of it and I managed brief views of 2 males and a female pied flycatcher with 2 more males heard singing. A tree pipit showed briefly on the heathland perched in a birch tree but didn't sing. Other highlights were a hunting female sparrowhawk, a flyover peregrine, willow warblers, 2 marsh tit, 2 treecreepers and 2 flyover swifts, and around the pond were 5 male mandarin duck, 2 male mallards, a fledgling grey wagtail and a male siskin on the feeders in front of the hide.

May 3rd and with dry but overcast weather I headed off to Grenofen Woods near Tavistock. Along the river a fledgling dipper was seen with a pair of grey wagtails and 2 male mallards. In the woods I heard 2 redstarts but could not see them amongst the trees, a treecreeper, 2 marsh tit and a nuthatch.

 Germander Speedwell

The open downland above the woods was much more productive with a pair of bullfinches feeding on silver birch buds, the male looking absolutely gorgeous, a marsh tit, a songflighting tree pipit, a raven mobbing a buzzard and finally good views of male redstarts singing, at least 4 in total. Best of all were 2 garden warblers singing right out in the open atop hawthorn bushes either side of the footpath, presumably the footpath being the boundary line between the 2 territories and causing the birds to be much more showy than they usually are - certainly the best views of garden warbler I have ever had. 2 more garden warblers were heard singing but kept themselves well hidden amongst the bushes.

 Tree Pipit
Garden Warbler - crap photo!

May 4th and I fancied a walk on The Moors and so I caught the bus to Burrator, something I have never done before. I headed off to Cuckoo Rock but it was unfortunately cuckooless but I did see 2 tree pipits, 3 male and a female wheatear and 4 male and a female redstart with another 2 males heard singing. An immature peregrine flew over, it had a very tatty and short looking tail and quite brown looking upperparts.


On the reservoir 3 great crested grebes were a surprise along with a Canada goose, 3 cormorants (2 immatures), a Muscovy duck and a white feral mallard with male mallards. In the surrounding woods I found 2 treecreepers, goldcrests, coal tits and siskins and I finally saw my first brimstone butterfly of the year along with 2 holly blue and many green veined whites.

Marsh Violet?, Cuckoo Rock

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