Monday 26 April 2021

Night Heron, Slapton Ley

Wednesday 21st April was a warm and sunny day, perfect for a walk from Mount Batten to Bovisands with retired work colleague Jan. Its been over a year since we last met up and walked this route and I had forgotten how stunning the scenery is along the cliff top path. 

We had a good natter and a catch up and along the walk I did notice a few bits and bobs of wildlife. A Sand Martin and at least 6 Swallows were seen flying over heading north and a Sandwich Tern was busily diving for fish offshore at Bovisands. It was good to hear 2 Whitethroats having a sing off in the scrub near Bovisands Beach and Chiffchaff and Blackcap were heard too. Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Peacock, Small White, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell were also seen flitting about and I found a Scarlet Tiger caterpillar basking in the sunshine. 

Scarlet Tiger Caterpillar

Thursday 22nd April and I decided it was time to head off to Slapton Ley for a look at the Night Heron recently found in the willow trees above the bridge between the Upper and Lower Leys. I haven't visited Slapton since January 2020 due to the lock downs and it was great to be back on site despite the cold and strong easterly breeze.

Luckily the Night Heron had decided not to do a midnight flit to Sussex as the Exmouth Northern Mockingbird did and I found the Night Heron very quickly on arriving at the bridge as it was helpfully pointed out to me by a Togger already present. It was easy to overlook as it skulked in the vegetation and viewing was difficult as everything swayed in the strong breeze but it was great to see my first UK Night Heron at last.

Night Heron

Night Heron

Night Heron

Night Heron

A Mass of Rudd under the Bridge - A Night Heron Buffet

The reported Red-necked Grebe was also easily found floating about in Ireland Bay and looking very smart in its summer plumage despite being a bit distant. Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Gadwall were also out on the water while Swallows and Sand Martins hawked low over the Ley for insects along with at least 2 House Martin and an early Swift.

Reed Warblers and Cettis Warblers were heard along the Ley side with some good views had of both species and Blackcap and Chiffchaff were seen and heard too.

Reed Warbler


Offshore a distant Sandwich Tern was diving for fish and a Guillemot was bobbing around in the swell close to the beach.

Friday 23rd April was sunny but windy and after finally getting around to purchasing some Emperor Moth lure I was keen to try it out and invited my mate Mavis to join me on a walk around Roborough Down. It was cool despite the sunshine due to the strong and cold wind and I wasn't surprised on our 2 attempts at using the lure that we were unsuccessful.

A few Speckled Wood, a male Brimstone and a White were seen in more sheltered spots along our walk and we did see some good birds with the highlight being a Hobby which dashed through in a flash before disappearing behind some trees.

Speckled Wood

Yellowhammer, Stonechat, Skylark, Linnet, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were seen along with a pair of Bullfinch, Pheasent, Song Thrush and Buzzard. We also saw a very distant large bird of prey which disappeared into some trees and looked very much like a Red Kite. A small but steady trickle of Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins passed overhead in the stiff breeze, all heading in a northerly direction and the Hobby was seen just after a small group of Hirundines passed through so it may have been looking for some lunch. 

The Gorse was in full flower and looked stunning in the sunshine, smelling wonderfully coconutty too.  

Gorsey Gorgeousness, Roborough Down

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