By: Blonde Two

Blonde One and I are good at a fair few things but we found out during our WGL assessment that, Dartmoor bird spotting was not one of them.  I can recognise the most basic of garden birds and we are learning (slowly).

Yesterday, during my dog walk in the copse there was a load of commotion going on.  The main culprits were two great tits who appeared to be swearing at each other from a distance.  The other party in the noise was a tiny wren with a big voice – I haven’t seen a wren there before so I checked out the RSPB website http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name to confirm calls and markings.  If you are at all interested in birds, you should have a look at this site.  During my recent visits to the copse, I have discovered that I am not a very good bird photographer and that you really shouldn’t tell young men in the woods that you are trying to take pictures of great tits!

Blonde One and I have learnt the names of a few Dartmoor birds now but are most likely to spot Meadow Pipits who have a distinctive call.  We have also made friends with a Heron who has appeared on several of our walks around the Princetown area – he seems to particularly favour the Devonport Leat and we have got quite close to him a couple of times.  We know the difference between the calls of a crow (caw) and a raven (kronk) and can tell buzzards and kestrels apart.  I have yet to spot a red kite on the moors (I think) despite several claims of sightings.

One bird whose call is easy to pick out on Dartmoor is that naughty cuckoo – the cuckoo is sadly in decline.  We are pleased to say that four of our cuckoos (not our personal ones you understand) are going to be taking part in a national project run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).  Have a look at the National Park’s information here http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/lookingafter/laf-naturalenv/cuckoo.  They (the cuckoos not the Park Rangers) are going to be given shiny new satellite tags and be tracked as they migrate to Africa (that is a very long way).  They won’t be going yet as Dartmoor is a lovely place to pop an egg in someone else’s nest but keep an eye on this website if you want to find out more and see what cuckoos from other parts of the UK have been doing. http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking.

It is probably a bit Blonde to be excited about the prospect of our cuckoos being given names once they have been tagged but there you go, girls must be girls.  I am not sure who will decide about this but I think that naming them after Dartmoor places would be a good idea;  how about Willhay, Brent, Wistman and Betsy?