Part 3 of the Devon trip.
I was surprised given the weather and the fact it was Sunday that Yarner Wood wasn't more crowded. Sure, the car park had few spaces left when I arrived, but walking round it seemed deserted.
First stop for me was on the heathland side, out of the woods. From here the countryside opens up, I guess into Dartmoor, but there are the classic rolling hills of Devon, usually watched over by a few mewing buzzards, circling overhead. It is also a great place to see stonechats, one of my favourite birds as they offer such good views, steadily getting closer to you, if you are patient and sit still, chattering between themselves as they do.
Other birds here include tree pipits and chiffchaffs, both seen but only from a distance. There are supposed to be Dartford Warblers too, but a local I spoke with later on thought they'd been moved on by some very cold easterly winds over the winter months, as he'd not seen any since.
Having took a few shots, I thought it was best to find the other stars of Yarner, which meant a walk deep into the woods. It didn't take long to locate the nest boxes being used, as they're actually alongside one of the main paths, but it was obvious to me that being stood in the open wouldn't help me get any shots. So, I clambered off the track, and opted to hug a tree nearby, and wait. Took only a matter of seconds for the male to fly back in, beak full of grubs for his family. After dropping it off in the box, he exited and perched a short distance away, in the scattered sunlight - a fine looking male pied flycatcher.
I first saw one of these birds a couple of years ago here, but got my best views in mid Wales last year. The views here though, were just as good. The male I think, must have been new to it all, because he didn't appear to be that good at catching flies! The males in the neighbouring nests seemed to be coming and going all the time, yet occasionally the female on this one would come out, fly off, catch some flies and return with a rather sheepish-looking male in close pursuit.
While I'd love to have stayed for hours, the size of the wood ants scurrying over my boots, and the itch from some sort of bite on my ankle, persuaded me to move on. I had hoped to also catch up with some wood warblers, and a passerby told me where to look. However, as he'd also said, they were tending to stay in the canopy at this time of year, so while heard and glimpsed many, photographing one was not an option.
Maybe next time...