Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bank holiday birds and bits

A quick roundup and some photos for the weekend of the May bank holiday.

Saturday. Up early to go ringing at Na's site on the moor-edge with Judith; caught some of the usual suspects for the site - Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and so on, but better was a pair of Song Thrushes, recaptured just over a year after they were first ringed. One had been ringed on-site, the other at Na's winter site, about a kilometer away. Nice to see some interchange between sites like that, even if it's pretty small-scale.

Adult Whitethroat

Sunday. Up early for a wander at Challacombe in the morning - partly to nose round a barn for our polterabend, and partly for some birding. The former was successful, provided we shovel some, erm, manure first. That'll be a fun task for those concerned! The strong NW wind argued against too much birding, so we took a hike and met friends for a picnic instead. That was fine, as we found up a pair of Dipper, a smart male Grey Wagtail wagging his way along the riverbank and a male Cuckoo singing away from the treetops. We then watched him fly across the valley to a clump of gorse, and emerge milliseconds later with a small bird in hot pursuit! Most entertaining...

Monday. Up early (notice a pattern here, folks?), we returned to Challacombe for a ringing session. We struck gold in a number of respects, with singing Redstarts, Garden Warblers and Cuckoos everywhere (maybe that's a minor exaggeration, but still...). Ringing turned up the goods as well - recapturing a female Redstart which was ringed as an adult there last year and no less than five Willow Warblers, two from last year and three from the year before last - not bad going for wee birds like that.

Adult male Redstart in my grubby mitt; photo by Na.

Bird of the day had to go to a cracking male Redstart who turned up in the nets, but sighting of the day came as follows:

We knew of a Dippers nest under a footbridge over the brook, so headed down there to check on the state of it - there were four eggs the week before, apparently. Judith and Na lowered themselves into the water to crawl under the bridge, when I noticed this, climbing the wall about a metre away from them:

...which then disappeared into a small hole in the bank, like so (memo to self: remember that, and don't go poking around in Dartmoor walls!)...

Adder, courtesy of Na's mobile phone - good thing one of us had a camera handy, eh?!

...and when we got to the nest, it was empty. Circumstantial evidence, I know, but it ain't half suggestive!

I'll sign off with another rather fine early-morning view from the house.

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