Mid Devon branch field visit to Challacombe, Dartmoor – 23rd May

This is obviously peak season for birding group visits to Challacombe as there had been visits by others the previous week, the day before, the same afternoon as our visit and then again on the following day! And not really surprising, as this bird oasis on Dartmoor does guarantee an abundance of good birds, not to mention plants, insects and other natural history. We just hope we are not testing the patience of the local residents!

A group of ten of us, led by Roger Jewell, met in the car park and were immediately rewarded with singing Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, numerous Willow Warblers and abundant Swallows (although not seeming to make any inroads on the clouds of midges beneath the trees). House Martins and House Sparrows (often missing from our field visit lists!) were around the farm buildings as well as nesting Nuthatch. As we headed out across the moorland we saw Linnet and Meadow and Tree Pipit demonstrating their parachuting song flights. Stonechat with young were around Golden Dagger and Vitifer, as well as the hoped-for Whinchat with a very obliging pair giving great views. Heading back, we stopped for a picnic lunch at Golden Dagger and it was only then that we heard a Cuckoo. A very persistent male, calling endlessly on the edge of the forestry in Soussons Down, and we had fine views of that too as we set off again. Siskins and Crossbill, an unexpected bonus for some, were in the forest, and Whitethroat singing around the edge.

Back near the car park we had excellent views of a male Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher and heard a more distant Green Woodpecker. A total of 48 species seen or heard, not counting the Wheatear or Skylark seen on the way in or out by some. Perhaps al that was missing was a Grasshopper Warbler!

Birds seen or heard:
Blackbird, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Crossbill, Cuckoo, Dunnock, Garden Warbler, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, GreenWoodpecker, Grey Heron, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Meadow Pipit, Nuthatch, Pied Flycatcher, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Redstart, Reed Bunting, Robin, Rook, Siskin, Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.