Sunday 28 April – Steps Bridge Nature Reserve — Leaders: Sue and Nigel Kempson

After the wild and windy preceding day, it was a relief to drive south in calmer, brighter conditions. However at our destination the sky was overcast and it was spotting with rain and it continued to do so for most of the day. Seven of us set off from the Steps Bridge car park walking over the bridge and turning left to walk alongside the
River Teign in this steep sided valley of mixed woodland. The height of the trees and the developing ‘leafage’ made spotting birds challenging and although many were seen, some were identified by their call. The list included Goldcrest, Blackcap, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Robin, Blue and Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Grey Wagtail and Wren, with Siskin flyovers and the occasional Swallow seen overhead. At one point the canopy cleared to show over a dozen House Martin above. Memorable moments included the loud continuous ‘rattle’ of a pair of very mobile Mistle Thrushes, and on the river, sightings of a Dipper feeding its fledgling. The odd Nuthatch was heard calling but not seen, as was a Tawny Owl. We had good sightings of Marsh Tit, a first of the year for some. Having initially followed the river, we returned on a track ascending along the side of the valley covered in a carpet of bluebells. Here we had excellent views of both male and female Pied Flycatchers, perching in the open or on a nest box. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard as well as the distant ‘yaffle’ of a Green Woodpecker. Disappointingly, there was no sight or sound of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker here. On our return to the car park we drove on to Yarner Wood for lunch, on a quest to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which had been showing well the previous weekend. Over the next couple of hours we heard LSW drumming and calling but only one member had a brief sighting. We however did have further gorgeous views of Pied Flycatcher and Marsh Tit and added Redstart, Pied Wagtail and Mandarin Duck to our list. Frustratingly, even as we returned to the car park we kept hearing the LSW calling, but despite frequent scanning there were no further sightings. Overall 33 species were identified. (Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading) Sue Kempson