Monday, 21 May 2012

An Atlas Survey & an Absent Stork

Yesterday we headed back up to the Blackdown Hills to finish Round 2 of the surveys for the Devon Bird Atlas. The forecast had been for a cloudy day with 20% chance of rain. Well at least we stayed dry, but it was much colder than expected.

I was a bit of a numpty & forgot to pack the stopwatch & clipboard. Luckily Simon had taken his sketch pad along so we had some paper & we made do with my watch. We parked up for the first Tetrad and walked for an hour through fields & some lovely bluebell woods. We saw 18 species during the hour, the only ones showing any evidence of breeding being a Blue Tit with a fledgling & a possible breeding pair of Blackcaps. We then collected an extra 5 species on the way back to the van.

The woods were blue!
On to the last Tetrad where we parked up at Dunkeswell Abbey. Again we walked for the hour, through the churchyard, fields & along a tree lined lane. We saw evidence of breeding Jackdaws at the church where they’d built an impressive nest in the bell tower, actually under the bell & around the clapper! 

The church beside the ruin of Dunkeswell Abbey
A Jackdaw nest, I hope no one rings the bell!
The only other evidence of breeding were again Blue Tits, who were nesting in the hole in a tree branch. We had 21 species during the hour & 4 extra on the way back to the van. One of those was definitely the ‘Bird of the Day’, a lovely Spotted Flycatcher in a garden.

As Simon was recording the bird list in his sketch book.......

That's me as we walked through the woods!
Simon had a nice bonus when we got to the van. There was a chap there with a very rare old BSA Hurricane which was produced for the American market in the 70's & this one had been re-imported. 
Simon in his element talking old bikes.
It was still early so I talked Simon into a going a bit further North on a White Stork hunt. It was on Birdguides having been seen from the A 361 at West Lyng late morning, so we started there. There was an enormous amount of flood water still in the valley, even though it had been receding. There wasn't much of a view from the road, so whoever found it did well. We went down a side road to get closer and ended up chatting to Bill & Con, 2 very nice North Devon birders. There was another chap there as well & they all decided to follow us as I had the best map & details from the web! 

We found lots of very smelly water, loads of Little Egrets & herons, & an Egyptian Goose, but no Stork. 
The River Tone & what should be fields beyond.
We then went round to Charlton where it's been most often, but again, no sign. We waited until about 5.30 in case it came in to roost, but it didn't. We heard third hand that it was apparently there during the afternoon, but if it was it must have been using a Clingon cloaking device.

Simon at home on a canal bridge overlooking the flooded fields
Not a Stork to be seen.....

At least I got a Life Tick today.......
We took our Triumph Rocket 3 for a ride to Barnstaple & saw.....

....the Olympic Torch!

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