Taw/Torridge field trip -Cloutsham/Horner Wood 9th June

You know you’re having a good day’s birding, when sitting on a grassy knoll on a warm sunny day, eating lunch in good company, with magnificent views all around and a Red Kite flies past.  So it was for our June field meeting to the heart of Exmoor.

Eight of us set off along East Water into Horner Wood, bird sound filled the air, Chiffchaff, Wren and two Blackcap were clearly trying to out sing each other!  A pair of Marsh Tits were soon spotted busily gathering food for their nestlings. Continuing along the valley, the trees, resplendent in their fresh green livery made the sighting of our target bird, Wood Warbler, more difficult, but at least 2 male birds teased us with their calls, it’s good to know they are there.  A Dipper was seen by some of the group flying down stream, and Goldcrest and Treecreeper flitted around in the trees. Above the tree canopy a soaring Buzzard and a group of Swifts were feasting on insects.

Climbing steeply to the top of the hill, the views opened up giving panoramic vistas of Porlock Vale and the Welsh coast.  Walking along the ridge, towards our lunch spot, a Great spotted Woodpecker was active round a nest hole, probably feeding young, and near by a pair of Redstart were busily carrying food to their nest site.  The laughing yaffle of a Green Woodpecker was heard as was the melancholy song of the Willow Warbler.

After a well deserved lunch, we descended back to our cars, stopping to watch a pair of Pied Flycatchers coming and going to their nest with food, seemingly unconcerned by our presence. We then drove a short distance to walk along Chetsford Water to look for Whinchat, one was soon seen, then another singing from the top of a Hawthorn. In the open moorland landscape, Skylark were singing overhead and Meadow Pipits wereactive in the tussocks as a Cuckoo flew past surveying possible nest sites.  Further down the valley by the stream a Reed Bunting, and then three Lesser Redpoll were heard overhead and settled nearby in gorse giving us good views.

Another good day’s birding, total species seen 40.

Maria