Monday, 27 April 2015

Top quality Quantocking!

It's been a while since any bloggage from me - what with my Open University workload, poncing around at film festivals and going on holiday last week, I sadly haven't had time for much drawing and painting. In the past week I have enjoyed some smashing birding action however! My partner and I just got back from a most enjoyable week in Cornwall; more on that later, but here are some brief witterings about part of our journey home. 

Instead of driving all the way back to Birmingham in one go, we drove as far as Taunton where we stayed with our friends Andy and Ellie. It was great to see them! We ate delicious Japanese food on the Friday evening, then on Saturday they took us for a walk in the Quantocks. I had no prior knowledge of the area, apart from the very little gleaned from that episode of Peep Show, so had very few expectations beyond a pleasant walk with chums. Little did I know that on top of this, it would also turn out to be a birding bonanza! An information board in the car park alerted me of the potential delights in store, mentioning as it did the heathland, Dartford Warblers and Nightjars. 

We were soon enjoying a top notch walk with superb scenery, taking in bits of Exmoor, Dartmoor and the north Devon and Somerset coast. Stonechats and Meadow Pipits were everywhere, but it wasn't long at all before we found a Cuckoo perching in a dead tree very close to the path, and then a Dartford Warbler skulking and buzzing in the gorsey undergrowth. 

View near the start of our walk towards Bridgewater Bay.
Our walk then took us down into a most excellent valley where there were Tree Pipits and Redstarts aplenty, and Ravens honked overhead. 

Lovely valley of Redstarts and Tree Pipits.

Chris and Andy enjoy the valley.
Andy and Chris heroically retrieve a nasty balloon that was littering the hillside. Say no to balloon releases!
Walking back up the valley I spotted a group of birds sitting in a bush on the hillside..... I couldn't believe my luck, it was the bogey bird that has eluded me for years..,.. Ring Ouzel! They were all sideways on so I couldn't see their white breast bands very well, but they had noticeably silvery wings and at one point a blackbird landed in the bush alongside them for a useful comparison. I stayed and watched them for a good long while to be certain! 

Our walk then took us through some woodland, then out onto another open, high area which was stuffed with Skylarks and a few Wheatears. 

Back up on the top.
We then came through a small patch of lovely Beech woodland where someone had built some great dens; there were more Redstarts there and also Nuthatch. Soon enough we were back where we started and heading off to the pub for pie. There's nothing better than spending time outdoors in beautiful surroundings with your buddies and the birds!
Beech woodland.
Me enjoying the den!
A bouncy branch!