This location, described as the jewel in Dartmoor’s crown in our publicity material, surpassed expectations for the 18 participants on Plymouth branch’s visit. Mark Owen, the tenant farmer, led a guided walk in the morning. He had given a presentation about the plans for the development of this and the other Duchy of Cornwall estate farms on Dartmoor at the March Indoor meeting. Seeing what has already been achieved and being able to enjoy the wildlife benefiting from the management practices, left members of the group full of inspiration and in awe of the passion that Mark and his wife Naomi have for the work they are undertaking.

The stars of the show in the immediate area around the farm were Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, and two pairs of Spotted Flycatcher seen at close quarter on low fencing as opposed to neck straining tree tops.

The wider area was explored. A walk to Golden Dagger Mine gave opportunities to enjoy moorland species such as Linnet and Stonechat. A feast for the ears were the songs of Blackcap and Garden Warbler, with the latter winning the game of hide and seek! By far the most abundant bird species was Willow Warbler, whose cascade of notes were emanating from every other tree or shrub throughout the day. A small group ventured to Headland Warren Farm in the late afternoon and were rewarded with excellent views of Whinchat, Wheatear and three Cuckoo. The sound of both the bubbling call and iconic ‘cuckoo’ ringing down the terraces etched out by Medieval farmers and now bedecked in Bluebells, was the perfect end to a day of birding, the like of which you dream about during winter downpours.

Total species seen or heard (H) = 48:
Mallard, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler (H), Blackcap, Sedge Warbler (H), Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff (H), Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch (H), Treecreeper, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting

Report by Mary Johnson


Challacombe Farm Logo


House Martin 


Spotted Flycatcher





Female Wheatear




Female Redstart