Saturday, 24 May 2014


Yesterday I had a very enjoyable day out on Dartmoor with the East Devon Birds group. The weather may not have been as good as on the trip to Belstone last week, but the birds were just as good.

Seven of us met up at the car park at Venford Reservoir. When I arrived the list was already growing... unfortunately I'd missed the Crossbills in the trees beside the car park which had been seen by a couple of the early arrivers,  but I did see a Cuckoo & Tree Pipit. We set off to walk across the dam, and spent ages watching the House Martins flying below us, along with my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year.
Watching a Cuckoo from the car park....we could have stayed there all day!
The dam bridge isn't designed for the shorter birdwatcher
The reservoir was devoid of birds apart from a Great Crested Grebe
We walked around the back of the water works buildings and into the valley, picking up a male Yellowhammer, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Siskin & Goldcrest en route. It was a lovely walk down the valley, and not long before we saw a beautiful male Redstart & started hearing Wood Warblers. There were quite a few, but although we could hear them it took quite a while before we managed to see one.
A lovely walk even without the birds
Playing the Wood Warbler challenge! Fay was on top form, definitely top spotter for the day!
Everything was carpeted in moss
A miniature forest
Whilst watching for the Wood Warblers we found a nice hole in the trunk of a tree. We were wondering who may live there when a Pied Flycatcher appeared on the scene and disappeared inside with a beak full!
Just managed to catch her....
We continued down the valley before climbing up onto the edge of the moor, and heading back to the car park for a very late lunch.
We had to negotiate an obstacle course....Ian took the hard way!
Looking back along the valley...unfortunately no Dippers on the river!
I was hoping to see the Crossbills over lunch....I thought I heard them but didn't see them & I wasn't 100% sure. After lunch, myself Ian & Bob went for a short wander whilst Fay & her Mum had a cuppa in the car park. We hadn't found anything new when Fay kindly came & found us to let us know the Crossbills had returned the the car park. We hurried back....I dashed fastest & managed to see a male Crossbill, pointed out by Fay's Mum who'd been keeping watch. Unfortunately before Bob & Ian arrived it vanished. We stayed for a while, but there was no sign. I was the last to leave as I needed to use the facilities before heading home. Murphy's I returned to the van, there was a commotion in the trees & 5 or 6 Crossbills appeared & gave me a good view before flying off across the road. A nice male came back to the car park for a while, but then again crossed the road & sat in a dead tree. The minute I decided to try for a photo it flew off.

It had been an excellent day. Despite the awful weather forecast, we only got showered on a couple of times & I added 8 new birds to my Year List.

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