Exmoor Birdspotting

During a recent stay at The Exmoor White Horse Inn I took a pre-supper circular walk in the village via Court Farm. Entering the village car park with the school on my left and River Exe on my right I always check out the stream here and overhanging trees as earlier this year they gave me a good view of a Nuthatch family. None today but some Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird and Flycatcher showing. Continuing on into the field I kept close to the river being Dipper territory as they nest upstream.

Soon I spotted one on a stone bobbing continuously as they do. It saw me too and flew low upstream on a loud call. Through a gate, the river widens to a fairly deep pool where I sat to watch the trout and feel the quietness there. On a patch of gravel at the water’s edge a Grey Wagtail came with a high-pitched metallic call. A very pretty bird with distinctive yellow underparts. Whilst there a Kingfisher landed on an overhanging branch opposite me but didn’t stay to fish.

Before walking on a farmer and his dog arrived in the field behind me to move the sheep on. I am a fan of the ‘One Man and His Dog’ program so watched the collie control the flock with whistles and shouts with huge interest awarding maximum points!. Moving on the water quickens falling over large rocks in the river and then another gate found me at Court Farm Bridge where a Public Footpath signpost offers Higher Combe and Lyncombe a mile each to the left.

Usually I spend some time on the bridge where Dippers feed in the fast water. Today, however, some chaps were working under the bridge to dam the water away from the left bank to repair the wall. Whilst using nets to rescue young trout trapped in the shallow water they also found Crayfish. Being predators these didn’t go to my ‘tick list’ but interesting to see them. Following on over the bridge and to the right in the County Road direction narrows uphill with pretty hedges either side. Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Hazelnut and bearing fruit and below them the Foxgloves now dying back into the bracken and gone to seed. Looking through the hedge to the right it was interesting to see how high I now was from the River Exe where I had earlier walked.

This road at the top then widened to a grass triangle where I took a right turn down the hill to the hotel bridge. The whole walk including bird-watching and sheepdog intervals took around 2 hours and certainly gave me a good appetite for my supper and being a Thursday it was ‘Pie Night’ at  The Exmoor White Horse .

Written by Peter