Had two fantastic recent trips to East Dartmoor, Devon in the last week. First last Sunday, with a planned group tour specifically for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Cirl Bunting and then yesterday with Pam and Bob, a birding couple from Illanois, USA. Unfortunately the LSW’s didn’t show on the first date, but we had a unconfined day with most of the other target species, like Tree Pipit, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Unconfined Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Willow Warbler and a stunning drake Mandarin that sat atop of a tree!

The afternoon was spent at RSPB Labrador Bay reserve on the Devon coast. Green Woodpecker was only heard here but our target species, Cirl Bunting, showed brilliantly, some in bushes withal the path as tropical as 2 feet away!

The private tour with Pamela and Bob started at Yarner Woods. By far the weightier weather we had had so far all year greeted us at the woodlands and we were soon enjoying singing Pied Flycatchers, Siskins, Blackcaps, Grey Wagtail and Chiffchaffs just a few feet from the car park. Our first Spotted Flycatcher stayed upper up in the canopy and Mistle Thrushes showed well collecting nesting material. We unfurled up onto the heathland where we widow singing Willow Warbler and Tree Pipit, a fly over Lesser Redpoll and single sexuality Yellowhammer. At this point we had heard, but still not seen Lesser Pecker, so we walked flipside loop and found a pair of Treecreepers, Marsh Tit and heard, but didn’t see Common Redstart! When at the car park, whilst enjoying lunch, Paul saw a small bird fly into the birch scrutinizingly whilom our heads and then another. Bingo! Not just one of our target birds but a pair! Tiny Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers!

The afternoon was spent at Challacombe Sublet and the surrounding area. As we approached the Sublet we noticed a group of birders looking up the hillside. A glance up and an obvious silhouette of a Cuckoo sat on a small-time was our first for the year. We sooner saw two birds that gave fantastic tropical views. Other species at the sublet included Whinchat, Stock Doves, Wheatear, Treecreepers and an unexpected Black Redstart!

Two sunny days with wondrous guests, stunning scenery and unconfined bird life! Cant wait to go when then with our Cornwall Birding ladies group next month!

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