Monday, 15 March 2010

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker....

That's a bird I've never seen, and the way things have been going  I don't think I'm ever likely too. Over fourteen hours of staring up into trees have been put in so far this spring and my poor arthritic neck's about had enough of it, even if  I haven't. I have heard them, both drumming and singing, but SEEING them, well that's another matter! Bun saw one on Saturday while we we at Steps Bridge with Steve, I had heard it tapping high up in the canopy but was looking the wrong way when it flew out and perched on nearby trunk for a nanosecond. I was a little bit gripped!

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.
Bellever Tor. 
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.


Wilma said...

Great "Dartford Warbler shaped bird". The best part about shooting into the sun is that you have sun to shoot into!

Backward Birder said...

That Shrike is a stunner, isn't it? We can't have missed you by much, either!
Bellever is trickier than it looks - especially if you start from the car park at Bellever itself. I've learned the hard way to go to the Cherrybridge car park; its very easy from there - go straight 'til you see the tor then go towards it! ;)

Congrats on getting a photo of Dartford full stop! They have a talent for only sitting still long enough for you to raise, maybe aim, but almost never more...

Backward Birder said...

Oh yes, almost forgot!

I wonder how long its going to take him to notice? ::Sniggers::

Annnd - in the Barad-dur stakes, Great Mis Tor and Great Links Tor [the former especially from the SW, the latter from the NNW] are especially good at brooding under clouds, even on the sunniest days.........

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Wilma, Too true, never sorry to see the sun, especially in springtime.

Tom - Thanks for commenting. Sorry we missed you. We were at the tor from 12.45 until two-ish. Surprised how quiet it was really, considering the lovely weather and after reading Joe's account on his blog, where he had made it sound like Picadilly Circus! ;=D

PS: I'm sure he doesn't even read my blog.