I'd planned to go to Wales yesterday in search of the Common Yellowthroat that should be in the US, but I'd forgotten to check the weather! I'd made butties before I heard on the Radio 2 forecast that it was going to rain, so decided to postpone that trip. I couldn't possibly waste the butties so came up with another cunning plan.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (LSW) are permanent residents in the country, but are few & far between, and even in their strongholds are pretty hard to find. In Devon they are mostly found around Dartmoor, with Yarner Wood & Dunsford Wood being 2 hot-spots (or at least tepid ones). I'd been to Yarner Wood once, years ago, so decided to try Dunsford, a Devon Wildlife Trust reserve on the Eastern edge of Dartmoor, near to Moretonhampstead. I thought I'd be able to give it a few hours before the rain was due.
I parked just West of Steps Bridge & walked back to the reserve. There is no circular route, just a path that runs alongside the River Teign through mainly deciduous woodlands, although there is an area of coniferous woodland on the opposite bank at the North end of the valley.
|The River Teign from Steps Bridge|
|The riverside path|
I moved off, but didn't get far before I saw a white blob in the middle of the river. I'd been fairly optimistic that I'd find a Dipper, and there it was! In fact there were at least 2 & I saw them quite regularly as I walked along the bank. They even disappeared behind a tree stump together, so maybe they're a couple!
Then I found 3 of the Marsh/Willow Tits. The probability was that they were Marsh as Willow are getting quite rare, but I needed to be sure as a Marsh Tit would not only be a new bird for the Year List, but a UK tick too. My only confirmed Marsh Tit was in Berne, Switzerland in May 2001. I've probably seen a few in the UK but never been sure. Now, with my decent bins & more importantly my iphone App which gives me bird calls at the tap of a finger, it was much easier! They were indeed Marsh Tits.
I walked to the end of the reserve before the drizzle started, although it didn't actually last long. I then headed back.
|Looking back down the valley|
As I was going to be passing close to Bowling Green Marsh on my way home, it seemed rude not to drop in. An RSPB volunteer ranger was in the hut sorting out the notice boards. She was very knowledgeable & I now know where to go to look for Wood Lark & Dartford Warbler.
3 new birds for the year. List total 133 + 1 Sub-species
(The ruling was that we can count birds heard but not seen as long as they have been seen before in the UK. Therefore the Cetti's Warbler heard at Ham Wall on 17/2 counts)