A breathtakingly beautiful late Spring day was enjoyed by 19 members of Devon Birds who joined the Plymouth Branch for their visit to this Dartmoor gem. The trip got underway with sightings of a pair of Common Sandpiper on the dam wall and at least six Crossbill feeding atop the car park Scots Pines. The reservoir area attracted Swallow and House Martin in good number, with singles of both Pied and Grey Wagtail seen, as well as a pair of Little Grebe.

The iconic call of the Cuckoo was enjoyed as it echoed across the moorland, with at least one showing itself flying between their favoured thorn tree lookouts in search of nesting Meadow Pipits. The moorland also revealed Yellowhammer, Stonechats, numerous Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff together with Mistle and Song Thrush. In the area around the South West Lakes Trust buildings there were good sightings of Goldcrest and Siskin in the firs and the melodic song of Blackcap emanated from somewhere deep in the undergrowth. A short distance away a similar but longer song with a harsher tone indicated the presence of a pair of Garden Warbler which provided fleeting views. The tuneful descending scales of Tree Pipit advertised their whereabouts and were found on both sides of the valley.

In the deciduous woodland pairs of Pied and Spotted Flycatcher were catching insects and moving between the smaller branches in the tree tops. Redstart song was heard on several occasions and later in the day a small number of the group continued the walk venturing into Blackpool Wood and were rewarded with good views of at least 3 pairs.

There was something to see at all points in the walk from Coal Tits and Wrens at the base of trees, Treecreepers ascending towards the top twigs and the blue skies above offering flybys from Swift, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and even Grey Heron. It meant that the arduous climb out of the valley, to the high point of Bench Tor and the open moor, was done in style to the accompaniment of the glorious scent and azure wash of bluebells.

Species seen or heard (H):
Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Swift, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Redstart, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap (H), Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Raven, Chaffinch, Redpoll, Goldfinch, Siskin, Crossbill, Yellowhammer
Total 51 species

Butterflies: Small White, Orange Tip, Brimstone, Speckled Wood
Beetles: Dor Beetle, Violet Ground Beetle, Violet Oil Beetle, Bloody nosed Beetle, 7-spot Ladybird, Harlequin Ladybird

Report by Mary Johnson


Redstart (Chris Marcol)


Treecreeper (Chris Marcol)