Report on Challacombe Down Field Trip on 18 May 2023

Thirteen members of Devon Birds met at Bennett’s Cross for a meeting organised by the Plymouth Branch for moorland and farmland species.  With good weather forecast, apart from a chill wind at first, it soon warmed up with everyone enjoying the birding and sunshine.

At the car park a Red Kite drifted over the moor, before we slowly walked down towards Challacombe Farm.  The group all had good views of our moorland target species, Whinchat, and several pairs were observed.   By the old Golden Dagger tin mine, both Reed Buntings and a Tree Pipit showed well, the latter was carrying food.  While we were having lunch amongst the old tin mine ruins, we saw our second Red Kite of the day.

Around Challacombe Farm good numbers of House Martins and Swallows were nesting, and high in a Sycamore by the farm, the group had excellent views of a male Redstart singing.  Where the stream crosses the track to the farm a male Garden Warbler was seen with a few members observing a Pied Flycatcher.

The group all enjoyed an excellent day’s birding with 38 species of birds observed, which was helped by the warm sunshine.

Buzzard, Red Kite, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Cuckoo, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Skylark, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting

Butterflies: Small White, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Orange Tip, Holly Blue

Report by event leader John O’Connell-Davidson

Redstart (Photo: Simon Astbury)


Tree Pipit (Photo: Simon Astbury)


Wheatear (Photo: Simon Astbury)


Plymouth branch members at Challacombe Farm (Photo: Liz Harris)