Yesterday we decided to go to Bellever Tor and look for the Great Grey Shrike which has been wintering there and because this was on Dartmoor I thought it would be a good idea to indulge in a bit of masochism and go there via Hembury Woods, another prime Dartmoor Lesser Pecker spot. Well when I'm not there it is! Enough said.. =(
At Bellever Tor, we left the carpark and took what was obviously the wrong track because it took us over half and hour to actually find the Tor, yes really! No mean feat bearing in mind it's a massive outcrop of granite rising to over 400 meters in height! If we couldn't find that, how the dickens were we going to find a bird which had been described as mobile and elusive? Well once we had found the Tor it was a doddle. We first saw it on the west side in some small conifers, but it moved around all sides in the hour or so we were there. We enjoyed some superb scope views, not the closest ones I've ever had of this species but certainly the most prolonged, we even saw it disgorging a pellet, which was nice.
Obviously I tried some digiscoping but excuses for poor results abouded, the sun was fierce, the heat haze considerable and the bird keeping its distant whilst swaying in the breeze on the thinnest of twigs.
As you can see it was a beautiful day weather-wise.
Spot the Shrike.
They're just so obvious!
Spot the Shrike No. 2.
Not so easy this time.
A closer view of the Great Grey Shrike actually on the Tor.
A couple of my better efforts at a close up, not really doing justice to such a fine bird.
This morning the wind had dropped considerably and the weather was fine and sunny, which prompted me to pop over to Aylesbere Common in the hope of seeing a Dartford Warbler. After getting there I had to wait over an hour before any birds really started stirring because there was lingering fog in the area. Once the sun was out though a lone male Dartford Warbler put on a fine show delivering his scratchy little warble from exposed perches and also in flight. I've never seen a Dartford Warbler in song-flight before, it's very reminiscent of a Whitethroat I think. Unfortunately every time the bird perched it was with the sun behind him, not really allowing for any photos. In the end I decided to take one anyway, I'll just have to call it artistic :-)
Dartford Warbler shaped bird.
When I first arrived at Aylesbere, I noticed this in the gloom and thought that I must be in Mordor .
Fortunately though, 'The Dark Lord Sauron wasn't in today.