Somerset Ornithological Society - Bird News
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Exmoor: 26th May

An excellent morning walk from Webber's Post down the road above East Water gave excellent views of Wood Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and Common Redstarts at eye level. As I completed the circuit from Cloutsham a Great Spotted Woodpecker gave a brilliant impersonation of a flycatcher, sallying forth many times from one tree before disappearing off to its nest in the trees below. Within minutes it was back to repeat the performance.
A visit to Chetsford Water in the afternoon provided ample evidence that the current report in the Weston Mercury, that the Whinchat is extinct in Somerset, is thankfully wide of the mark; I saw at least six in this valley alone. Dipper, Cuckoo, Grey Wagtail, Reed Bunting and Raven provided an excellent supporting cast.

Re: Exmoor: 26th May

Also at webber post crossbills and siskins showning down to 10 feet also garden warbler very shownie .crossbills have been at present in area for last 4 weeks still plenty of cones but only 1 cuckoo calling on the moor this morning in 3 hour walk locals are asking where are the birds i think we all know the reasons I have never seen such a lack of birds on exmoor at this time of year in my lifetime

Re: Exmoor: today

I copied John Thorogood's walk posted 26th May, what a brilliant day! thanks for that John. Webber's Post down the road above East Water down to the river, had great views & most at eye level, at least 5 Wood Warblers, 3 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Garden Warbler, plus numerous Willow Warblers & Chiffchaff, 1 Cuckoo, sadly no Redstarts,nor could I find any Crossbills or Siskins at Webbers. Then onto Chetsford Water 5 Stonechat, only the 1 Whinchat,which was a male, 2 Cuckoo,interacting, one quite a bit bigger than the other, numerous sitings of Grey Wagtail, probably 3 or 4 individuals, highly recommended.

Re: Exmoor: today

chetsford 6 + whinchat pair of stonechats 3 + cuckoos good numbers of med pipit 3 ravens 1 fledged dipper large numbers of willow warbler 1 male redstart 10 + chaffinch

Re: Exmoor: today

6 Crossbills around the car-park at Webber's Post: 2 over at 12:00 hrs, then 6 flew out of firs on RH side (as you enter the car-park) circled overhead and then returned to the firs at 16:00 hrs. Couldn't locate them perched, but lots and lots of new cones on the firs here.
A slow walk up from the ford and then back down the road alongside East Water was very disappointing: not-sight-nor-sound of a Pied Fly or a Redstart, and only a single Wood Warbler heard but not seen.
Male Whinchat alongside the road across Stoke Pero Common, and 3 Whinchats (1 male) at Chetsford Water, where also a Cuckoo and a pair of Stonechats.

Re: Exmoor: today

To find Redstarts;

Once you have crossed the Ford at East Water then turn right and pick up a path that leads up towards Cloutsham Ball, climbing the East Water Valley on the left hand side. At the 'summit' turn left. After maybe 100 yards you should start seeing Redstarts both within and out of the Wood.

Re: Exmoor: today

Great information John. I am hoping to visit there this Saturday in my motorhome, can you tell me if there is a height restriction bar at the Webbers Post car park please? Oh and anywhere pied flycatchers might be found? :)

Re: Exmoor: today 5 June

A cloudy/cool/breezy start then fine,myself & John Rickards walked below Dunkery-1 Grasshopper wblr heard reeling,john had glimpse of it,also male Stonechat & Tree pipit,1 Cuckoo.Webbers Post-Siskin flock & about 10 Crossbills over,pr Mistle Thrushes.
A walk up from Cloutsham Splash & around the Ball produced:
8 Pied fly incl 2 females.
2 pr Redstart
3 Wood wblr-more heard.
1 Garden wblr-loads heard.
1 GS woody.
1 Treecreeper.
1 Grey wag.
1 Coal tit.
2 Willow wblr.
Nuthatch heard.
several Buzzards.
A good day all round.

Re: Exmoor: today 5 June

Hi Mike,

You will be fine to Park at Webber's Post.

For Pied Flycatchers I think that if you bird the woodland in this area then you will should do Ok, for example maybe try the area near Pool Bridge.

Traditionally a good location for Pied Fly has been Shillet Wood which sits beneath Porlock Common.

It used to be Ok for Dartford Warblers before the hard winters, maybe one day numbers will rise enough for this area to again be populated.

Good luck


Exmoor: 9th June

Following the recently much trod path as recommended by John Thorogood, from Webbers Post down the road across the ford and then up and round Cloutsham Ball, Keston Brill and I yielded an excellent haul of woodland birds on a dry and bright morning.

Highlights were:

5 Pied Flycatchers (4 male & 1 female) at least 2 of whom were nesting - one pair in a hole in an oak tree near the ford, and the other in a nest box along the road.
2 Wood Warblers and at least 1 more heard along the road.
2 Spotted Flycatchers – good to know that they have at last arrived.
4 Redstarts – being 3 male and a single female - one pair with food being carried in their bills.
2 Marsh Tits – again near the ford – both feeding voraciously
2 Cuckoos – heard only
2 Ravens

… and singles of;

Goldcrest, Willow Warbler (with many more heard), Garden Warbler (again many more heard), Siskin (in car park),Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk (male on the Ball), Peregrine (seen from the car park) plus a wide selection of the garden birds & hirudines.