Trip to Challacombe Farm on 24 May 2019

Eighteen members of Devon Birds enjoyed a good day out organised by the Plymouth Branch. The weather started off a tad chilly but soon warmed up and although cloudy it remained dry and bright, though the sun failed to make an appearance.

 From the start of the route at Bennett’s Cross we walked downhill towards the old Birch Tor & Vitifer Mines. Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler were seen in the low woodland area after giving us fine renditions of their songs. A distant Whinchat was seen and good views were had through telescopes.  Further sightings of Whinchat were had later in the day. A few members heard a Curlew, though it was not seen.

 Several Cuckoo were seen and heard as we continued the walk. Reed Bunting and Redpoll were observed in the valley bottom. The walk continued to Soussons Wood. Here the path coincided with a small watercourse, providing good views of tadpoles. A fine sighting of a Green Woodpecker and a Red Kite signalled the need for a lunch stop. Goldcrest and Coal Tits entertained us as lunch was consumed. When everyone was fed up (well fed, not the other meaning) we continued the walk around Challacombe Down, where Small White and Green-Veined White butterflies were seen flying and a large hairy caterpillar of the Drinker Moth joined us on the path.  Swallows, Tree  Pipit and Linnet were amongst the birds seen in this area. A profusion of bluebells added great colour to the hillside here.

 Amongst the many birds seen at Challacombe Farm good views were had of Redstart, Tree Creeper and Mistle Thrush. A few members, who had joined us from the South Devon Group, enjoyed a good sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher.


Redstart – Dave Batten

Mistle Thrush – Dave Easter

We continued our walk northwards to Headland Warren Farm. On the way we passed a spectacular hillside of bluebells. Here a Small Heath and fritillary butterfly were seen (the latter probably a Small-Pearl Bordered Fritillary). A Cuckoo was heard calling whilst another one was seen low down.


Challacombe Down Bluebells – Roy Harris

A refreshment stop near Headland Warren was a welcome break, before we continued over the moors back to Birch Tor & Vitifer Mines. On the way back we saw an adult Fox Moth and heard more Cuckoo. The debate over the numbers of Cuckoo seen/heard during the day continues, but the concensus seems to be  3 or 4 individuals.

A total of 42 species of bird were seen and one curlew was heard calling, making 43 species recorded;

Skylark, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Blackbird, Meadow Pipit, Cuckoo, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Robin, Whinchat, Mallard, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Redpoll, Jay, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Red Kite, Green Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Raven, Linnet, Jackdaw, Mistle Thrush, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Redstart, Blue Tit, Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff, Wren, Tree Creeper, Herring Gull, Dunnock.

Kevin & Jacki Solman