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27 September 2020

Around the Woods

Over the weekend I visited several woods, but stayed away from any feeding stations to see whats about.

Yarner was a bit quiet, both Humans and Birds. All the hides are closed and very little to see, also the old reservoir that they spent money on some rafts, hide and cutting back some of the trees seemed to have lost half its water. Since they put the islands in it seems to me to have the opposite effect as you see no ducks, kingfisher or anything else?

Over the weekend I visited Soussons twice and well worth the time spent here, at one point I had a small flock of 23 Crossbill flying over my head to and fro across the track, I heard them more than I saw them both at Soussons but also Haldon.

Also walked along the stream which follows the edge of Bellever Forest, saw a few Siskin here high up in the trees as well as Grey Wagtails on the stream, Also visited Little Holden and around the wooded section at Ideford Common.

Over all had a good time and heard more than I saw on the Bird front, didn't see any Deer which was a surprise, just the odd Grey Squirrel. A few Butterflies in sunny sheltered areas such as Red Admiral, Large White and Speckled Woods. At Soussons there was a coupe of Common Darters by a wet ditch.

On the Bird front there was several Ravens seen and heard, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Rook, Magpies and pleased to see several Jays over the weekend. Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collard Dove, Great-spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Pied Wagtail, Kestrel and Buzzard.

Good to meet several Humans, all happy and smiley which just added to a great weekend!

Not going to talk about some of the shocking driving I've seen on Dartmoor other than to say, those driving were of an age that should know better!



25 September 2020

River Exe and Exminster Marshes

Spent the last 3 days around the River Exe visiting Cockwood Steps, Cockwood Harbour, River Kenn Outflow, River Kenn, Powderham Grounds, The Church and surrounding fields, the river up to Turf and Exminster Marshes.

The tide has been quiet high when I visited and was hoping that I would see some Waders on the fields surrounding the River but sadly not a lot around.

The lake at Powderham looked full, with Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Black-tailed Godwit. The River Kenn had Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Little Egret, Grey Heron and a few Greenshank.

The stubble fields around the Church had a large flock of Canada Geese numbering over 150 birds on Thursday but on other days there was plenty of Covids, mainly Rooks and Jackdaw but Carrion Crows, Magpie, Jay and fly over Raven was also seen.

Hardly anything on the River, Cormorants, Mute Swans, Black-headed, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls was about it, on the walk to Turf there was 100+ Starling, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinches, House Sparrow, Wren, Blackbird and a very smart Wheatear.

Other birds seen, Curlew, a few Swallows, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collard Dove, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Moorhen, Coot, buzzard, Kestrel, Dunnock, Robin and Reed Bunting.

There is a pond just south of Turf which nestles up to the railway line, there was a dozen white birds here that looked like Little Egrets but there was also a couple of smaller birds that could have been Cattle Egrets, unfortunately as they were all sleeping you couldn't see their bills or heads.

Exminster Marshes were very quiet, but there was a lot of activity, obviously getting ready for winter, they were moving cattle off, topping the grass and baling up the grass, looking forward to the place being full up with ducks again!



20 September 2020

Ring Ouzel

Went out again to Emsworthy Mire on Dartmoor again today, started though a lot earlier than yesterday.

I went though the reserve and further down the valley, it was just getting light and I could hear the Ouzels well before I could see them, I eventually found 3 of them on the rocks above.

I sat myself down with my trusty flask with a good view of the Rowen trees and waited. The 3 were joined by another and they seemed to be doing a circuit of the trees and the rocks, often flying over my head and occasionally sat in the Rowen Trees in front of me, although a bit distant still put in some good views. Always on the move, possibly down to the constant stream of walkers through he valley or they are just naturally that way inclined??

While defiantly 4, a possible 2 more further down the valley, only had some bins so only a possibility?

Met lots of humans and many who just walked past me because they didn't see me, good to see all the dog walkers having their dogs on the leads.



19 September 2020

Around and about!

Managed to get out in between shopping, cleaning and other menial tasks. Went to Bystock , Exminster Marshes, River Exe, Powderham Estate, River Kenn, Dawlish and Dawlish Warren Sea fronts, Soussons, Aylesbeare and several trips to Emsworthy Mire.

Been on the look out for Cattle Egrets, Ring Ouzel and other migrants on the move.

looked everywhere for Cattle Egrets, and walked around so many cattle I know them by their first name, would be nice to get a picture of them still in their breeding plumage, next year need to get up to Somerset and spend some time with them!

Seen a few Swallows, couple of Wheatears by the Beach Huts at Dawlish and today got lucky at Emsworthy by seeing a Ring Ouzel, possibly 2. Bird very mobile up the valley, it being the weekend plenty of walkers about which wasn't helping.

A few Mistle Thrushes, but no proper Winter Thrushes yet, probably not cold enough?

Good to see Dave B as always and others out enjoying the countryside.



12 September 2020

Out and About

I have been all around the place this last week, fitting in trips around other stuff I have been doing, had several walks around Dartmoor, circular walk around Challacombe Farm, Soussons and Dunsford Woods, All the summer migrants with the exception of the odd Swallow seemed to have left for sunnier climates.

Saw and heard plenty of Crossbills at Sousons but also Haldon and Little Haldon, sadly all in the tops of the trees.

Plenty of members of the Tit family around these woods as well as Yarner and Stover, the feeders at Stover and Haldon Activity Centre were full of Birds, loads of Siskin at Haldon.

Trip to a very busy Labrador Bay found a few Cirl Buntings but also loads of Small and Large White Butterflies. The Car Park was full of people looking at the Cruise ships out in the bay as well as a fly past of a Spitfire, the sound of that Merlin Engine still excites me!

Several trips to Exminster Marshes to look for Yellow Wagtails and Cattle Egrets around the several groups of cattle brought no luck, also a trip to Dawlish Warren to look for the Wryneck was also fruitless.

Also went to the River Otter to see the Beavers which I did , but sadly to dark for any decent pictures, while sat on the river bank did see the Electric Blue flash of a Kingfisher as well as plenty of Fish, some jumping for flies, also saw Kingfisher as well as Dipper at Dunsford Woods which is by the River Teign.

Did meet lots of human beings all happy and smiley which is always a plus!



04 September 2020

My Butterfly Year

Well my Butterfly year has come to an end, while there are still Butterflies around which is great; there won't be any new species to see. It's been a different year with all the Covid 19 lockdowns and travel limits, while it's been difficult it was the right thing to do. Having said that I did eventually get a total of 54 Species which included 3 new ones for me, Black Hairstreak, Large Heath and Scotch Argos.

There were some low points, especially at the start with the behaviour of some Photographers at Portland when around the Large Tortoiseshell, chasing them down the path and deliberately standing in front of other people to stop them getting a view. I have had this behaviour before, 2yeas ago in Bentley Wood I was pushed out the way by another Photographer while trying to take a pic of a Purple Emperor. I've also had it while watching birds and I have been verbally abused by other Photographers and Birders, I don't know why they do it, they just lack social skills and any sense, patience or knowledge of the subject they are trying to watch or take a picture of, sad really!

Also have been disappointed by the lack of sharing information, I always share what I have found but have been disappointed by the lack of reciprocal behaviour.

Having said the negative stuff, I have met some brilliant people around the country who have helped me no end, many I don't know their names but while looking in Cumbria, Oxford, Somerset and Dorset people have met me with a smile and honest directions, also a very big thank you to Phil Chambers and Colin Sargent for their knowledge and help.

I've also visited some great new Reserves up and down the country which local people have lovingly cared for as well as the more well-known charities and authorities. Many of these sites are on historical and protected hills such as Cerne Abbas Giant or with stunning views such as Bindon Hill on the South Coast.

I think my favourite place to see Butterflies is Alners Gorse which I visit at least 5 times a year, it's such a friendly place. My favourite Butterfly this year was the Black Hairstreak which was a new species for me, such a stunning insect and well worth the travel. The most frustrating Butterfly was the Essex Skipper which I failed to connect with although I thought I had several times.

Although I shouldn't wish my life away, already planning trips away next year, hoping to see new species, visit new places and meet up with friendly faces.



02 September 2020

Around the Exe

This last couple of days have been spent around the River Exe with time spent around Cockwood Steps, Cockwood Harbour, Starcross Golf Course, River Kenn Outflow, River Kenn and Powderham Estate, Powderham Church, The path to Turf from the Church, Goosemoor, Bowling Green Marsh, Viewing Platform over the Clyst, The Goat Walk and hedges along roads and paths.

The weather has defiantly had an Autumn feel to it and its been a treat to be up and out in it, especially trying to take some pictures in the mist.

Plenty of Birds about, but also Mammals with the Fallow Deer Stags looking magnificent as always, also plenty of Squirrels, Rabbits, Fox and a very welcome site of a Hedgehog successfully crossing the road close to home, its a long time since I have seen one of these.

Seen plenty of Corvids over the 2 days, Rooks which is one of my favourite birds, just full of character. Raven, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Jay.

Plenty of other Passerines with Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Wren, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Pied and White Wagtail, Meadow and Rock Pipit, Kingfisher, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House and Sand Martin.

Lots of Swallows and House Martins on the wires in the fields around Powderham Church. The Pied and White Wagtails were seen in a group of cattle just south of Turf, 15+ Pied and at least 1 White in the pasture.

Water birds included Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Scaup, Pintail and Gargany. Sadly many of these were distant and couldn't get a picture, I think Pintail and Gargany are both very smart looking birds and always look good in a picture!

Many Gulls, Black-headed gulls the most numerous with Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls spread over everywhere. Also the Lesser-black Backed Gull called "Psycho" put in an appearance at Bowling Green chasing the birds up and down the reserve.

Good numbers of Waders with Redshank, Greenshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Ruff, Dunlin, Knot, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Lapwings, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and Avocet.

Sadly didn't see any Ospreys but did see Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon, so not too bad!

Good to catch up with so many people, the ever helpful David B, Ian P, Dave S, Steph M, among many. Good to meet visiting Birders from Somerset and Yorkshire and all the other happy people making the most of the good weather.



© Simon Thurgood 2020
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