Buxton Heath guided walk, 27 May 2021

A dry day, which was a relief after this cold and wet day, even if the sun didn’t come out, and the five of us were rewarded immediately by a singing willow warbler in the trees by the car park. Moving up the hill along Buxton Heath’s western edge, we were soon enjoying the sights and sounds of yellowhammer and stonechats. 

Stonechat, male.

We looked at currant galls and oak apples on oak trees. There wasn’t much in the way of flowers apart from gorse, though we did note four-petalled tormentil and some thyme-leaved speedwell. Farther on there was a fine lousewort in flower by the side of the path, and the first bloom of bell heather.

Lousewort.

By now a cuckoo was calling and we saw it fly past on about three occasions. We completed a loop through the wood at the north-west corner of the heath, encountering the site’s managers, namely Dartmoor ponies and British white cattle as we returned to the heath. We had good view of two buzzards, nowadays quite a routine sighting. The penny dropped that thin shrubs near the lousewort were alder buckthorns.

Alder buckthorn leaves.
 
Yellowhammer.

Returning to the first area with the most birds, we had more view of yellowhammers, linnets and especially some rather confiding stonechats, allowing me take some digiscoped photos. A stock dove flew through and landed in a distant tree.

Stonechat, female.

Chris Durdin

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