Identifying Birds by Song – A Walk Around Challacombe Down, May 9th, 2022 led by Nick and Sara D’Agorne

Posted May 19th at 8:40 am in South Devon Branch by Chris Wright

The weather was thick fog when the leaders arrived at 8.20am and the car park remained empty, as Nick discovered he had sent out details of a parking area a half mile away, which, due to the fog, was not visible! Fortunately one of the group decided to check with the other car park and discovered their leaders waiting in the gloom. In spite of the poor start the birds went from strength to strength and as the sun started to push through, Cuckoos appeared, calling, flying and generally performing for the group. Whinchats were also singing well and at one point, with Wheatear, Stonechat and Whinchat all in view the difference between their song/call was made far easier.

Willow Warblers were also everywhere, singing their beautiful descending song whilst perching in the Willow canopy. The group continued on the circuit and, after a coffee break, whilst listening to Meadow Pipits a Red Kite appeared over the valley. Then, with Blackcaps singing loudly, the group descended to Challacombe Farm and watched a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk using the same thermal to gain height. Further down the track the Swallows had just arrived and were zooming around the barn. A distant song of a Redstart was pursued with vigour and on the bridge a Garden Warbler was not only heard, but also seen on the branch of a tree. The Redstart was eventually found singing from a stand of conifers.

A pair of active Nuthatches were then observed going in and out of a hole in a tree, before the group moved on across the open moorland valley, scanning the area for birds. They were rewarded by more views of Wheatear, before walking the return route over the Tor and back down to the car park, nearly tripping over another Wheatear on the path.

A good list of 43 species was seen and heard by the group of 8 birders on the day.

Bird List

  • Common Woodpigeon
  • Common Cuckoo
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  • Red Kite
  • Common Buzzard
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Eurasian Green Woodpecker
  • Common Kestrel
  • Common Magpie
  • Carrion Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Coal Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Eurasian Skylark
  • Barn Swallow
  • Willow Warbler
  • Common Chiffchaff
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Eurasian Blackcap
  • Garden Warbler
  • Common Whitethroat
  • Goldcrest
  • Eurasian Nuthatch
  • Eurasian Wren
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Song Thrush
  • Eurasian Blackbird
  • European Robin
  • Common Redstart
  • Whinchat
  • European Stonechat
  • Northern Wheatear
  • Dunnock
  • House Sparrow
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Common Chaffinch
  • Common Linnet
  • European Goldfinch
  • Eurasian Siskin
  • Common Reed Bunting