Field Trip to Witheridge Moor on 31 July

The forecast was for rain coming at about 12 noon. It was, therefore, a bit of a surprise when it started to rain two hours early just as the eight participants of the Mid Devon visit were assembling. A decision was made to set off for the wooded area on the edge of the moor in order to get a little bit of shelter from the rain and in the hope that the rain would have ceased by the time we emerged onto the open moor again.

Just after starting off one of our first sightings were of 7 Red Deer hinds among some of the bushes on the moor. In the wooded area the birds seemed to be keeping their heads down due to the rain and very little was seen or heard. However, among the birds that were seen/heard were Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Treecreeper by Geoff Hawkins

Once back onto the open moor we were met with the rain beginning to cease, the sun coming out, an immediate increase in warmth and then butterflies appearing almost instantaneously. The majority of the butterflies were Green-veined Whites with Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Marbled White making up some of the 10 species seen on the day. A Fox Moth caterpillar was also found by one of the participants. Among the birds seen were a family of 4 Stonechats feeding on grass seed in the middle of the roadway, another pair of Stonechat of which the male was carrying food, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll and a Meadow Pipit with what looked to be a grasshopper in its beak. The normally present Tree Pipit and Skylark did not put in an appearance during the morning however Raven and Buzzard were heard nearby.

Despite the rain putting a slight damper on proceedings at the start, it was not for too long and the morning on the moor was enjoyed by all.

Ray Jones