Report on Venford Reservoir Field Trip on 10 May 2023

Yet again the site of Venford Reservoir proved to offer great interest mainly because of the scenic views and the varied habitat of this area of the Moor.  An optimistic 23 members from the Plymouth Branch were not deterred by a cold dry northwesterly wind.

The route involved crossing the dam wall and travelling beside the copse of conifers around the buildings of the water treatment works. From the lower section, a pipeline path leads into the deciduous woodland, recognised as a temperate rain forest.

The first Cuckoo of the day caused a minor distraction during the briefing when it was spotted in nearby gorse.  From the dam wall a few waterfowl were seen at a distance and Swallows and House Martins picked off insects overhead.  Several resident birds were feeding in the conifers, being on the less windy side.

The sheltered woodland bordering the stream confirmed the welcome return of many summer migrants: Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. A Tree Pipit advertised its presence by singing loudly from an exposed small silver birch nearby.

The deciduous woodland, mainly of oak and silver birch, showed extensive views to the River Dart far below. With partial tree cover, bird identification by songs and calls was essential.  The high-pitched song of Goldcrest taxed the hearing of some of the group. An active Treecreeper gave us good views and fleeting glimpses of two Redstart confirmed their return to the area. As our group exited the woodland to return to the car park, a small party of Swifts flew over the Dart valley to serve as a finale.  Many smiling faces confirmed a good day out.

Species List:  Mallard, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Raven, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Siskin.       Total 43

Leader: Liz Harris

Plymouth branch members at Venford Reservoir (Photo: Liz Harris)