6 June 2011

Devonian delights

A family holiday in Devon gave me the chance for just a little birding with, in particular, a trip to Yarner Wood.

This ancient oak forest is an absolute delight, with wooded valleys, heathland, rivers and waterfalls running red with copper mineral, and an absolute abundance of the woodland birds that are under so much pressure in this increasingly tree-less land of ours.

First up were the singing wood warblers, followed by a striking male redstart. Moving out on to the heath we found a tree pipit singing and parachuting between two trees; moving back into the woods there were good views of a pair of spotted flycatchers.

My son had a great time with the challenge trail that English Nature had laid out for half term - and I learned some interesting insect facts along the way. A wonderful and real hands-on experience of nature for any child - recommended.

Of course I was disappointed not to have connected with any of the 50 pairs of pied flycatchers in the wood - and equally thrilled when a male landed on a branch right in front of my car as I rolled out of the car park! Bingo - the 'holy trinity' of oak wood birds achieved (redstart, wood warbler, pied fly).

What a happy boy.

Bird of the day: Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), a fantastic little bird which is all but impossible to see unless you head west or north. This was only my second or third, and my first in England (the others having been in Wales).

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