The DBWPS meeting yesterday started off at Thurlebear Woods near Taunton, a site I’ve not been to before. There were only nine of us this time, maybe due to the fact that it was forecast to rain all day.
We were only briefly in the woods themselves, soon emerging onto the adjacent shrubby grassland. I didn’t know before we arrived that this was a Nightingale hunt, a bird I’ve never seen in the UK so can’t count on song alone. We hadn’t been there long when someone heard one singing. I must admit that I wouldn’t have known what it was as it’s a few years since I last heard one, and that was in Spain. At first they were only making short burbling noises, but by about 11:00 they must have warmed up their vocal chords (or their syrinx to be exact, as birds don't have vocal chords!) as their songs got longer & more complex. There must have been 4 or 5 of them singing but actually seeing one wasn't easy. At one stage one sounded really close & although a couple of people saw a bit of it, all I saw was a bird drop down through the foliage. Although it was almost certainly the Nightingale, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to count it.
|Just imagine.... Nightingales singing in the bushes ...|
|... & still blue sky despite the forecast|
We were there for nearly 2 hours & were on our way out when we heard one singing nearby which then flew out of the bushes towards us, changed its mind & flew in again. So, although not the best view in the world, this time I saw enough!
There was a surprising lack of other birds about, but we did see a Mistle Thrush, a swallow, 2 Bullfinches, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Buzzards & a Sparrowhawk that did a low fly-by.
On to Staple Hill for lunch, intending to eat at the viewpoint overlooking the Somerset Levels below. However, the rain finally arrived at the same time as us, so we ate in our cars/van in the car park. Amazingly enough, when we finished lunch, the rain stopped!
Off to the viewpoint, and it was a great view. David reckoned he’d found some Cranes, but at 3 or 4 miles away, they were just pale spots to me! Only Goldcrest & Dunnock were added to the list, but it was still worth a visit.
|Dave & Wally debating the identity of the white dots...|
|Resting on a slice of geology|
On to Otterhead Lakes which is part of an old abandoned estate & very close to the source of the River Otter.We walked past the lakes and back through woodlands. We had lovely views of a Grey Wagtail in a tree & a Common Sandpiper having a kip on a tiny floating island of vegetation.
|The Common Sand was on its private island at the far end of the lake|
The last stop was Upottery Airfield in Smeatharpe, in search of the Little Owl that hangs about the old airfield buildings. Unfortunately, we didn't see it and there was just a lot of wind, some Linnets, Skylarks & Stock Doves. A local out walking his dog said that he’d found a dead shrike a few weeks ago. Presumably that must be the bird I came to see back in Feb. ( http://exmouthbirder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/ducks-shrike-anti-aircraft-gun.html ). A sad end.
|Little Owl hunting on the windy runway.|
Headed home. Not a long list, but three new sites visited, another bird on the Year List & a new UK one at that! And what’s more, despite the forecast, we stayed dry all day!
Year List on 174 + 2