Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dartmoor yesterday

Yesterday I had to go to Dartmoor, so I combined the trip with a few hours' birding. The weather was fine and sunny to start with, but up on the very tops it was a bit cloudier at times, the wind got up and it was bleddy freezing! First stop was a profitable look-in at Yarner Wood. Here on the heathland I observed my first Tree Pipits of the year, one bird being watched down to 10 feet sat in a tree! Two Lesser Redpoll were also watched up on the heath. Next, on to the carpark pond, where three Mandarin were also added to the 2014 list. About 10 Siskin were coming to the feeders outside the hide, adding a splash of colour, and giving their very distinctive call, together with Nuthatch, Marsh, Coal, Blue and Gret Tits. Up the path past the visitor centre and I'm looking out for stuff all the way, when my attention was drawn to a 'Phyllosc' feeding and flitting about in the tree tops. This turned out to be my first Wood Warbler of the year, but it remained silent. Apparently this was the first returning bird seen back at Yarner this year! Shortly afterwards I heard a male Pied Flycatcher singing, and I was soon looking at this very smart bird. Another 4 birds were seen on my walk around. Next was a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which remained elusive. A Tawny Owl hooting deep in the woods was another Year tick. A Green Woodpecker was calling somewhere over in the valley. Time to move on. I stopped at Headland Warren Farm, which was starting to get over-run with bleddy grockles. There were dozens of people about, most seemed to be shouting at one another as loud as possible, whilst others were riding mountain bikes over everything. I understand that folk need exercise, and far from it for me to try and stop anyone trying to get fit, but something will have to be done soon to limit where these bikers ride, as they are slowly helping to erode away the topsoil and rocks of our impressive tors, not to mention the disturbance to wildlife and destruction of moorland plants. It does seem that they think they are entitled to take their bikes on every inch of ground available. Rant over! Wheatears were abundant, and believe it or not, were my first of the year, the latest I have ever seen this species! I then popped down to Challacombe Farm, but there seemed to be very little about, but there were an awful lot of people about, the area resembling Exeter High Street on a busy shooping day! At some stage of the day and in a quiet location, I managed to add Goshawk to my 2014 list 'somewhere on Dartmoor'. Later in the afternoon I caught up with the Snow Bunting at Dawlish Warren.

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