Saturday, 31 October 2009

Moor birding

Halloween saw me up at silly o'clock, setting mistnets to ring birds up on the moors. An early start to try and ring some Redwing failed miserably, but we had some compensation in the form of two Treecreeper, nine Meadow Pipit and a Reed Bunting, as well as some reasonable retraps - a male Chaffinch and a Blue Tit ringed earlier this year, and a Great Tit ringed last year. Nothing thrilling, but pleasant.

We stomped off for a walk for a couple of hours after the wind came up, heading over Grimspound and Hamel Down.

Grimspound - a famous old settlement on the moors

Hamel Down

Star sighting of the day was of two Red Grouse; a very, very scarce bird on Dartmoor - none of your cosseted, augmented shooting populations from up north! Red Grouse were (re-?)introduced onto the moors many years before I was even a twinkle in my parents' eyes and the birds cling on by their feathery toes as a Devon breeding species. A handful of other species up on the tops - 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Stonechat, a Carrion Crow, a Raven, a Snipe and a small flock of Starling with some Fieldfare mixed in. A whole eight species is about par for the course up there!

Lichens on the boundary posts are more photogenic than birds lurking on the horizon

Tamar: what's a dog to do, when you all get interested in the wildlife and the scenery?

Down in the valley, still a couple of Common Darter dragonflies egg-laying into the pond at Challacombe, with a young Common Frog seen hopping across a mire patch. Bizarrely, there was an abundance of what looked like 'cosmic snot' on the path north of Grimspound: unfertilised frogspawn, but at the wrong end of the year. Very odd...

Mushrooms below the pines and birches at Challacombe

On the way back down the road, I found a patch of Hawthorn that was swarming with Redwing. We seem to have good numbers of both Redwing and Fieldfare this winter, which is very pleasant. Some cropped photos from my time admiring the little beauties...

1 comment:

Devon Green Holidays said...

Didn't realise common darters are still laying eggs this late in the year - I'll have to watch out, though I think most of ours have gone now. Interesting, you're not the only one to find cosmic snot at this time of year - I found some a couple of years ago in November. Got no real info, even when I asked Froglife - here's a link to the post on our nature blog - is it the same?