Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Today, I was intending to go to a meeting of the Mid Devon branch of the Devon Birders in Cookworthy Forest, which is somewhere North of Okehampton.  Looking forward to exploring somewhere new, and hopefully seeing Woodcock (the target species for the day), I intended to meet Annabelle at her house North of Exeter, from where we were to travel together. However, horrendous rush hour traffic & me getting lost meant that there was no way I could get to Annabelle's on time, and even less chance of me finding the meeting.

However, after I realised that I wasn't going to make it to the meeting,  I happened to pass by Stoke Wood, which I recognised as somewhere I'd once been birding with Mary whilst she was visiting.  I decided to cut my losses & have a wander.
The entrance to Stoke Woods
It started well with a Nuthatch, my first for the year. The ground was all a bit boggy, but at least it was quiet, with only one or 2 dog walkers during the 2 1/2 hrs I was there.

When I got down to the bottom of the woods, I scanned the River Exe & spotted 2 waders, which turned out to be Green Sandpipers. A nice surprise!

The Green Sandpipers were on the distant Exe
This is apparently the landscape that inspired Jane Austin's Sense & Sensibility
I gradually notched up the usual woodland species including some more firsts for the year, i.e. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Creeper & Coal Tit. There were quite a few Goldcrests about & I'd just thought to myself how nice it would be to see a Firecrest, when blow me down, the next 'Goldcrest' I got in the bins was in fact a Firecrest! Lovely!

By the time I got back to the van it was after midday, so I headed off to Topsham Recreation Ground to have a look for the Black Redstart that's been there for a while. I met quite a few birders there who all told me that it's usually there and quite easy to see. Usually, but not this afternoon. However, I did have a brief view of the Water Pipit that's also been there on & off for a while & some lovely views of a Kingfisher & Grey Wagtail, so that made up for it.

This is apparently where the Black Redstart is normally seen.
The Exe looking downstream
So, although the day hadn't panned out as planned, I had quite a productive day. Simon meanwhile walked out the 9 miles or so from home along the estuary & met me!

Before today I have been out and about a couple of times adding birds to the Year List.
Exmouth front on 8th with Libby, had a relatively close Great Northern Diver...
....followed by a brief visit to the Otter for the Glossy Ibises (or is it Ibi?)
That's them....honest!
12th Jan, Shelly Beach where I saw a flock of Ringed Plover & 2 Sanderling
I also took part in the BTO 'Early Bird' survey, which is aimed at finding out how light pollution is effecting the feeding behaviour of garden birds first thing in the morning. I only needed to do it once, but as I forgot to note down cloud cover at the end of the survey on 9th, I did it again on 10th. It was quite interesting doing it twice as the first Robin of the day visited the feeders at exactly 07:47am on both days! The other birds also turned up in almost the same order, with just the Blackbird being different:

9th:   Blackbird, Robin, Sparrow, Dunnock, Blue Tit
10th: Robin, Sparrow, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit


  1. Hi Susan, I wonder if I was one of the birders you talked to at the Rec looking for the Black Redstart - I was the one with the golden retriever in tow. Either way, sorry you missed the bird, it usually is very easily seen, in fact it was showing well again this morning.

  2. Tim
    Yes, I believe you were... I never forget a dog!! I'm glad the bird is still there, I'll be back for another attempt!