News at the top of page!
May 2009 OK I've missed another year (or more) but you know how it is!
The Swallows or rather a single swallow arrive early April but wasn't joined by two more till the end of the month. Still only the 3 on 14th May and as its difficult to sex them from a distance, one of them is going to be unlucky. They could all be the same sex!. A flock of about a dozen flew over the other day and we thought ours had joined them. They did return but stil only the 3. One is returning to an old nest in the milking parlour while two are using the barn. We'll see what happens.
Having added a new feeder filled with niger seed, we now have a pair of siskins as regular visitors.
Another first when a Jay was spotted on the peanuts. It had gone before
we could get a camera.
April 13th Woodpecker back on the peanuts at 3pm. Not
seen for months!
April 11th Second swallow.
April 2007 10th First swallow seen.
April 21st A pair of Siskins on the peanuts this morning. Not seen here for over 5 years. One of the B&B guests said he'd spotted them on the moor last week.
April 20th Two Gold finches arrived this morning. About 4 swallows about now. Spotted woodpecker still a regular visitor..
April 12th First swallow spotted but its a loan one waiting for the rest of the flock. We think its already chosen its nesting site or returned to an old one in the barn.
March Frogspawn found in pond early in the month.
February 2006 The long tailed tits were a pair and they stayed for several weeks but they've not been seen for some days. large animal, possibly a badger, has been digging up the lawn looking for worms.
January 2006 Had a small flock of long-tailed tits here on 6th, six at a time trying for peanuts. A couple returned two days later but they all continued on there journey and we probably won't see them for months. Flock of Fieldfare passed through recently. The Woodpecker is getting very confident and does not appear to mind our moevment so much now.
December 2005 Woops - missed a whole year and some. Swallow numbers were well down this year and then seem to vanish without the usual gatherings on the phone lines before they left. I think early notherly winds meant they took advantage of the assisted flight south to warmer weather. The feeding table has has its regular mix of Great, Blue and Cole Tits. There seem to be more House sparrows than Dunnocks and fewer Green Finches and not seem a single Siskin all year. Long Tailed Tits came and went and the occasional visit from a bull finch. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is back visting the feeding table but the most
startling visitor during the summer was a Sparrow Hawk that twice tried to take birds from the feeding table, missing both times. Next year I'll try and keep these pages a bit more up to date.
April 17th 2004 First
swallows arrive but with changeable weather they have
yet to settle. Only two seen so they've probably gone back to see
what's happened to the rest if their flock.
March 2004 Large flock of red-wings spotted in hay field.
Summer 2003 The bird described in April has been confirmed
as a Red Kite. Some were introduced into Lydford Forest many years
ago burt hadn't been seen for some time. The one spotted back in April
(and not seen since) may have been one of these or a visitor from
Wales. We are told the distance would not have been an problem even
if they had come straight across the Bristol Channel. We have even
been told they can fly high enough to use the jetstream and travel
huge distances in a very short time. I'm not sure if this is true.
Can anyone confirm this?
May - June 2003 The disappointing number of swallows
can best be explained by this article spotted in the Guardian.
Meanwhile the bird mentioned below has been seen several times but
even mounting a camera on the window frame of the kitchen and a 3m
remote shutter release so I could stand leisurely watching the view,
failed to get a photo. The few times it flew past after the camera
was fitted to the window I couldn't get to the release in time. I've
since removed the camera for fear of damage in the damp air by an
open window! I'll keep a look out!
Bullfinch visited this week (June 20th) and Sue has twice seen the
Black Cap. The goldcrest made a fleeting visit back in May to collect
more spiders webs for its nest.
April - Weather finally breaks
on 24th after a very hot Easter. Still only a few swallows. Trees
start to come out.
First swallow seen 14th. Still dry. Warm southerly winds keep
the Summer weather. I finally get to see a bird seen many times by
Sue. Her description was a bird larger than a Buzzard. Ginger brown
in colour. Black wing tips and white head similar to a fish eagle!
I can confirm its size and colour and that it was much more manouevreable
than a buzzard in flight. When mobbed by a couple of crows, it seemed
to squirm its way out of reach. Two visiting 'twitchers' soon gave
their thoughts as to the type of bird and when checked in a book Sue
said "That's the one!" So what is it? Well until we have
another positive ID I'm not saying because it is very rare in this
part of the country and we don't want to get peoples hopes up. The
only thing we can say is its not a Honey Buzzard that is rumoured
to be around here.
March - The warmest and driest March on record!
1st - Snow drops out on the bank opposite the kitchen.
February - The last few days of January and
first days of February and much of the north and east of the UK was
deep in snow. We had no snow but some chill winds and sudden bowts
of hail and sleet.
3rd - The first unusual wildlife meeting was when I removed
a length of timber from a box used to store firewood. I was alerted
by a strange rythmic rustling noise and to my amazement on such a
cold and frosty day, I realised I had picked up a stick on which a
Peacock butterfly had decided to hibernate. It was repeatedly opening
and closing of its wings to try and startle me with its glaring 'eyes'.
I couldn't put the bit of wood back as it wood have crushed the butterfly
so I spent several long minutes trying to find somewhere to leave
it in peace where it wouldn't be disturbed. I hope it didn't use up
too much energy trying to frighten me off. A few weeks later I checked
to see how it was and it had awoken enough to move from the twig to
the sides of the box it is now in.
January - The year began cold with snow and heavy frosts.
We spent several hours doing the Lydford Dormouse Survey for the Dartmoor
Biodivesity Project. It should have been done by Dec 20th but Christmas
got in the way. Amongst the dozens of hazel nuts we found there were
a few that we thought could have been opened by Dormice but have not
yet had them confirmed. If you'de like to learn more try this link
to the Dartmoor
Nov - Dec - The spotted woodpecker is still a regular
visitor and a bat visted us in the house a couple of times just before
Christmas. It remained clinging to a beam long enough for me to note
that it wasn't a long eared bat as we had seen on earlier occasions.
I think it was a noctule bat, brown with neat pointed ears with rounded
tips. Only a bat detector that can identify the frequency of the echo
calls of the different species might confirm this. I have since blocked
its access into the house so it can only use the attic for its visits
July - Oct - Sorry for the lack of news but life continued
much as normal with nothing of note. The swallows went, the bats are
about again and we seem to be getting many more owls about. No new
sitings but we'll keep you informed.
June - This may sound very boring but for the first
time in three years we've actually had house sparrows at the bird
table. Always had the Hedge Sparrow (Dunnock) but never the house
18th - awoken at night by a Tawny Owl doing the Twit part of
the Twit Twoo from just outside the bedroom window. It was so loud
that I thought it may have come into the room. Bet you didn't know
that Twit Twoo, is in fact the call from one bird and the reply from
another. I know I didn't.
26th - Treated to another hovering flight display from the
Goldcrest at a tree just outside the window. After some time I realised
I was missing a photo opportunity but by the time I'd reallised and
fetched the camera, it had gone - bother!
May - The Spotted Woodpecker is now a regular visitor
and getting more used to movement in the house. The peanut feeder
is only about 6ft from the dining room window so he can been seen
at clsoe quarters.
27th - We were gobsmacked to see a bird neither of us had ever
seen before and it could not have been closer without being in the
kitchen with us. For the last few days we had seen a very small bird
hovering at the kitchen window and disappearing to the top of the
frame. We had assumed this was one of the many wrens that visit the
garden and thought perhaps it was using an old bluetits nest through
a hole in the surrounding frame. It had always been silhouetted against
a bright light and just appeared as a blur. That morning, however,
the sunlight caught it long enough for us to gasp in surprise as we
watched a goldcrest hover only inches from the window. A second later
and it had gone. It returned twice more and sat for a moment on the
window sill, just long enough for us to compare it with the drawing
in our bird book, now open in front of us. I later checked to see
if it was building a nest and, peering out of the back door, we met
eye to eye. The goldcrest was hanging upside down from the rendering
above the window. No sign of a nest so it must be going in to use
the old Bluetits nest. I just hope our chance meeting didn't frighten
it too much.
Later in the day, Sue and I watched an acrobatic dog fight between
two or three swallows and a fly cather in the roof of the barn. It
looks as though the flycather has buiilt its nest on top of a disused
swallows nest that is just a little too close to an occupied one that
probably now has chicks or eggs in it. If any readers can confirm
that a flycatchers nest would be a large bundle of grass and moss
with a single hole it, can they let us know?
28th Update on yesterday. Later I checked the blue tits nest
to find the entrance criss-crossed with cobwebs so the goldcrest was
not using it. The only explanation is that it is collecting cobwebs
to build a nest from. This morning, before we had even left our bedroom,
Sue was sitting at her dressing table when she whispered "Turn
slowly and look at the window". Doing as commanded, I turned
to see the goldcrest had actually come into the room. It was sitting
on the frame of the open top window just looking around. I was afraid
it might fly into the room and then fly into the glass trying to get
out. Luckily it didn't. After a few moments it dropped through the
open window and was gone. Later that morning it gave us another close
look as it hovered motionless outside the kitchen window, stabbing
at the cobwebs until its beak was full and then darting off to line
its nest. I didn't even know there was a British bird that could hover
as well as any humming bird and now we have one that is so tame.
This same morning the woodpecker visted about three times while a
spotted fly-cather did its acrobatics catching flies from its vantage
point on a post the other side of the drive. All seen from the comfort
of the house.
April - First swallow spotted on 11th and four swooping
around on the 13th.
March - 3rd. Long tail tit seen eyeing the peanuts
and making a brief visit. It soon lost interest and was gone. Are
they insect eaters? Not seen here before. Having just been accompanied
by two pied wagtails while sweeping the yard, I first thought the
long tailed tit was one of these with the head of a coal tit!
Daffs and primulas coming out. Woodpecker returns to the feeder!
12th - 30th Not exactly wildlife but four lambs born between
these dates. The first dark chocolate brown ram was named Bournville.
Since he has grown huge and arrived with horns that are now about
3 inches long after only one month, he was then renamed Bunter. Then
there was Bean, Pie and Pog. Click
Click here for a pic of Pie at
1 day old and Crisp, her mother.
February - Begin tree planting. Only 1000 to do! Primroses & celandines coming out.
Discover Pipistrell bat hanging only two feet from the ground between
two boards resting against a wall. Had to carefully move the boards
so as not to wake it.
January - Flocks of starlings return.
Badger setts are very active again so I have begun to clear an area
for a new hide.
Last week of Jan and snowdrops come out & bats seen on two evenings.
December - followed hare for nearly half a mile.13th
- Tawny owl in the greenhouse.