Saturday 24 May 2014


May 9th and I headed off on the bus to Wotter on the edge of Dartmoor for a walk to Cadover Bridge, something I have not done before. My plan was to look for cuckoos having drawn a blank on my trip to Cuckoo Rock the previous week.

Walking across the Moor to Cadover Bridge there were plenty of wheatears, skylarks, meadow pipits and stonechats with a noisey raven seen flying overhead. At Cadover Bridge a female goosander with 11 ducklings was a surprise - the ducklings were very small, presumably recently hatched, and amazingly cute! Also seen were 2 common sandpipers, grey wagtails and dippers with flyover sand martins and swallows.

 Goosander with ducklings
Goosander with ducklings

While waiting for the bus at Wotter for the trip home I was entertained by 2 male and a female yellowhammer which gave some nice views in a nearby hawthorn bush. And just before the bus appeared I finally heard a cuckoo calling in a nearby stand of trees but I couldn't get a sighting of it.

Male Yellowhammer

I stopped off at Blagdons Meadow by the River Plym on the bus ride home where early purple orchids were flowering including a very nice white form amongst the more usual purple form.

White form of Early Purple Orchid

May 10th and I headed off to Yarner Wood with Mavis and Mike for a field meeting with the Plymouth RSPB group. I wouldn't usually have gone on the trip but Mavis offered me a lift so I jumped at the opportunity as Yarner Wood is a bugger to get to by public transport.

Driving across the Moor we had a nice view of a cuckoo sat on top of a gorse bush being mobbed by meadow pipits by the side of the road near Haytor before it flew off low over the heather and out of sight. At Yarner Wood there was quite a group of people and it was a pleasant but windy walk around the wood. We had great views of 2 singing wood warblers, both with coloured rings on their legs, and brief views of a third singing bird and with a fourth bird heard only. Pied flycatchers were seen and heard around the nest boxes along with a treecreeper, 2 marsh tits and goldcrest. A holly blue, a brimstone and a square spot moth were also seen.

Square Spot Moth

Around the pond were 5 male and a female mandarin, 2 male mallard and a juvenile grey wagtail while from the hide a great spotted woodpecker, a marsh tit, a male siskin and a nuthatch were seen on the bird feeders.

 Male Great Spotted Woodpecker
Marsh Tit

Heading home we stopped off at Challacombe Farm where we saw 2 male redstarts before the wind picked up and the heavens opened and so we headed off home having had a good mornings birding.

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