Thursday, 8 December 2011

Exmoor & Back Again

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a little trip down to Exmoor planned, unfortunately not specifically for Wildlife Watching, and wasn't able to take the camera out and about. The location the Orchard Wyndham Estate about 6 or 7 miles from Minehead on the Eastern outskirts of the Exmoor National Park.

Orchard Wyndham Estate
The first encounter of the day a small murmuration of Starlings coming off of roost as it got light over the Illchester to Taunton road, I've never been lucky enough to encounter such a sight, and although it was only a small number (a couple of thousand) it certainly wet the appetite too see the birds heading to roost in all their glory.

After arriving during a rather sudden Downpour, which came rolling in from the Bristol Channel in a mere matter of minutes, the hopes of a dry day wasn't looking good. However it soon cleared, leaving clear blue skies and beautiful golden light. The wind mind, was pretty much gale force so standing still in one place without being blown 15-20 yards proved to be a little tricky.

Although I was soon pleasantly supprised an a little amazed with the species seen and the numbers in which they were present. Flocks of Bullfinches & Goldfinches were present in the Ash Trees on the edge of the Estate, with the Bullfinch numbers way into double figures, the males striking pink underside highlighted by the bright morning sun as they flew from tree to tree.

Now my next sighting questioned my birding knowledge a little bit, there I was in the middle of the rolling Somerset countryside, no real major watercourses around other than a smallish stream, and the customary ditch alongside every hedgerow. 5 or 6 Reed Bunting perched in the nearest hedge row, A somewhat unusual sight I think to myself, but all was to be revealed, or its the reason Im giving. The other side of the hill alongside the B3190 stood several hundred acres of cover around 7ft in height, which on closer inspection appeared to be Reed used for Thatch. Would be logical right?

Other species I noted around this area, Hundreds of Pheasants, 4 Woodcock, Rook, 6 BuzzardCarrion Crow, 5 or 6 Wheatear, Blue Tit, Magpie, Great Tit & Blackbird.

The afternoon brought a walk across some set aside Wheat stubble fields, the abundance of bird life rising from the ground was pretty incredible to be honest. Huge numbers of Skylark, Yellowhammer & Corn Bunting. All species I'd feel lucky to see at home.

The wind drew the weather in pretty fast, and it was pitch black by the time I made my way back along the A303, so no late afternoon Starling spotting. But a most enjoyable day, unfortunately I sit writing this post at my desk this afternoon, gazing out of the window at the dreariest grey wet day for a long time. But its nice to reminisce even though it was only yesterday.

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