Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fourteen Hours and Five Minutes

After a dismal day weather wise yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see that the forecast was for a lovely fine, sunny and still morning today. I had a splendid idea, why not give Hembury Woods one last try? After putting in fourteen hours of (mostly) fruitless searching for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker over the past few weeks, what harm could a few more hours do? Besides I just had a feeling that my luck was going to change. I made Bun an offer he couldn't refuse and at 7am we were on our way to the edge of Dartmoor yet again! Once there a mere five minutes is all it took, we wandered a few yards from the car and as I was casually looking up into a tree, a Lesser Spot just flew into it and landed, right in front of me! In the end it's all down to chance! I got my bins on it and I could see it was a female, I called Bun over and we both enjoyed some good views. About time too! :-) She moved around between a few trees and we were able to relocate her by her drumming, yes she was drumming! I didn't realise females drummed, but they do. After I'd enjoyed some good views I decided to have a stab at a photo, she had moved a bit higher in the tree by now but I managed to get a couple of  recognisable shots. I'm so glad our perseverance paid off at last, but I didn't let it go to my head, I was the very epitome of self control as you can probably imagine!  Oh YES!!!! ;-)


After all of half an hour at Hembury we were on our way to Alysebeare Common to try for Dartford Warblers, I'd seen a very showy male here last Monday in similar weather conditions, so chances seemed high, and  we were definitely feeling lucky now. Rightly so too because  before very long we were looking at a very obliging pair of Dartford Warblers, the male especially so. He was showing so frequently and so well that I decided to go back to the car to get my scope. I returned only to hear that he had gone to ground, but not for long because I soon lured him out with my uncannily accurate Stonechat impression (I can't do Dartford Warbler) which seemed to do the trick, causing  him to perform a spot of song-flight before perching in a prominent tree nearby. I grabbed the opportunity to digiscope him, like so:
Dartford Warbler

We decided to round off our very successful morning by returning to patch to check out Beer Head where we almost immediately stumbled upon a gorgeous male Wheatear, one of two and the first of the year for us both. He was on a sheep path that I was walking along, and so I  took a quick snap of him with the super-zoom before he was inevitably flushed.
My First Wheatear of the year.
Amazingly he stood his ground though and I was able to get within about fifteen feet of him before he casually flew around me. 
Very Nice Indeed! 
First one's always the best.

Also on Beer Head we saw an Adder and this pristine looking Comma butterfly.
Later in the afternoon Bun found a drake Garganey on Black Hole Marsh, which unfortunately gave him the slip while he was answering his phone. It was relocated some time later though on Colyford Marsh and although quite distant, scope views were good. The bird was obviously very hungry and was constantly feeding, I tried to get a photo but it didn't lift its head out of the water once. Also saw my first two Swallows of the year this afternoon, always a most welcome sight.
Today's Garganey, distant with submerged head.
 So in true Blue Peter fashion " here's one I prepared earlier"
Garganey: Circa 2007
Always a brilliant bird to see, absolutely stunning and a great way to round off a perfect day's birding! =D 


Backward Birder said...

'Karen Woolley - Ace Photographer!'

Congrats on getting your LSW at last!! :) Definitely someone up there was smiling on you.

One thing I have to wonder - "I made Bun an offer he couldn't refuse" for some reason made me think of him waking up to find the objective of his scope in his bed.... ;)

I know, I need help...

Wilma said...

Good job, Karen! Great photos and great story. You make your own luck ...

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks :-)