DARTMOOR - MORTONHAMSTEAD TO THE 'TWO BRIDGES' AT POSTBRIDGE
WEATHER; dull and overcast with light rain on and off all day.
Our birding on the last morning was thwarted somewhat by the weather, it rained for most of the time, which is not great for bird watching. We were all packed and on the bus by 9am, some of the group had walked down to the river and along the path to Hackney Marsh before brekfast and added WATER RAIL to the trip list. Other birds seen included Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan and the usual gulls.
After picking up lunch supplies we drove onto Dartmoor via Mortonhampstead heading towards Postbridge, we stopped near Bennet's Cross and went for a walk in the rain! We noted Yellowhammer, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks along the way.
It wasn't long before we had our first sighting of a Whinchat, it was a male and quite distant, but we all saw it in the telescope. Dropping down into the gullies of old mine workings we found more birds in the shrubs: Willow Warbler, Blackcap (heard), Robin, Dunncok and a distant Cuckoo was also heard.
Dartmoor can be pretty miserable even in the summer
Several more Winchats came into view, none of then were very close but the scopes helped with viewing, the rain stopped for a while and viewing the beautiful landscape became very pleasant. The Common Cuckoo flew over us as we made our way back up the hillside towards the road.
At one point some of the group thought they heard the call of a Ring Ouzel, I went to look in the direction of the call and spotted a male Ring Ouzel!! Unfortunately the Ring Ouzel also spotted me and flew away down a gulley before anyone else got a view, it was never to be seen again!
the grim looking moorland
A Tree Pipit was performing its display flight as we walked along the pathway, but the rain started again and deterred us from standing around. We made it to the Warren House Inn for a cup of coffee, from the parking area we found another, much closer, male Whinchat before we drove off to Postbridge.
we could see Hookney Tor from our walk, a Northern Wheatear hopped along the top of it, but once again only I saw it!!
We ate our picnic lunch at the visitor's centre and most of the group walked down to the ancient Postbridge 'Clapper Bridge' ( earliest known bridges are called 'Clapper' Bridges from Latin claperius "pile of stones").
I don't think any bird watching was done during lunch, some of us did search the area for Common Redstart but all that was seen was Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock and Chaffinch.
it was unfortunate that the tour finished on a wet day, but I think everyone enjoyed the rest of the trip
At 2pm we left the area and drove directly to Honiton for the group to take their train back to London, the tour was over, it had been a great trip with superb weather (until this morning!). We saw 98 species and bagged all of our target birds except for the Ring Ouzel which was seen only by me! Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was voted bird of the trip with European Nightjar coming a close second. Cirl Bunting and Pied Flycatcher also received some votes.