Wednesday, 7 March 2012


Yesterday we visited Dartmoor. It's a while since we've been up on the top of the moor & we'd forgotten how lovely it is.

We lunched in the car park at Bellever Forest watching Tree Creepers scaling the enormous pines & a Heron fly by. I was hoping for a Crossbill & was quite optimistic when I thought I heard one nearby not long after we arrived. We took Vera for a wander along the bank of the East Dart to have a look at the Clapper Bridge & she had a little paddle.

Vera checking out the water quality
We had a nice close view of a couple of Coal Tits & distant views of 2 Stonechats. 2 Grey Wagtails were patrolling the river, but no Dippers. V went back in the van for a rest & we gave our necks a serious workout looking up into the trees. Most of the bird activity was focused on just one tree, with a large flock of Chaffinches & a couple of Siskins flitting about. We wandered up the track a little way, but it was much quieter than in the car park. A car drew up beside us & the driver, wearing his bins, asked if we'd found any Crossbills. It took a few seconds to recognise  Henry, a birder that I'd met in January on the beach at Budleigh looking for the Snow Bunting.

A long way up....
The East Dart
Caught in the act!
Our car park ticket ran out just after 4, so we were getting ready to leave when a pine cone fell out of a tree about 20  yards away. I looked up into the top of the tree & there was a lovely male Crossbill! Awfully sporting of him to attract my attention like that! Simon managed to get a good look as well before he flew off with a couple of others that had been hiding. Great! It had taken almost 2 hours, but we got one in the end!

Even basil was smiling.....
Headed for home along the B3212 which runs across the moor giving fantastic views.

It will be a fantastic run on Simon's Triumph in the Summer
Fab views .....

.....& moody skies 

The road went right past the Dunsford reserve so  it would have been rude not to stop! Vera was impressed with the nice flat soft track & ambled off up front.We saw a couple of Nuthatches & heard a Marsh Tit, but unsurprisingly no Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. When we first walked into the woods a Sparrowhawk had hurtled across the track in front of us chasing a Blackbird. On the way back, it obligingly came back & sat next to the river right in front of me. I watched it for a while and was impressed by it's sneaky hunting technique. It dropped down into the brambly bush below & ferreted it's way so far in that I could only occasionally glimpse a feather or a bit of leg. It then just sat there waiting patiently for about 10 minutes. I didn't even see the Blackbird arrive, but the Sparrowhawk did & suddenly just exploded out of the hedge & set off in hot pursuit of the very shocked Blackbird. 

It dropped down into the bush & waited.....
Year List now on 139 & 1 Sub-species

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