Checking the livestock sometimes provides a wonderful opportunity to get out and enjoy the countryside, especially on a beautiful spring afternoon. The ponies and sheep were easily found on Prestwick Carr on Sunday, meaning there was more time to enjoy the wildlife that could be spotted. It wasn’t the busiest of days but a butterfly passed by at speed, too quick for a positive identification, and a lapwing flew over the site but in the distance. A better view was to be had of a female wheatear, recently returned from Africa and on route to the uplands where it will breed. Overhead skylarks gave a wonderful musical accompaniment to the trip and with the sun warm and the air relatively still it did seem like spring was finally here.
Livestock checking continues through the holiday period. Today’s visit to Prestwick Carr was certainly a fruitful one from a wildlife perspective and a successful one in ascertaining all the livestock was OK. There are 4 new Exmoor Ponies although it was the resident 6 that had a good race around a new field as they were let out to wander further afield.
The wildlife sightings are certainly worth a mention. There was a herd of 9 roe deer gently grazing and about 12 snipe flew up from the rushy sward. Redwings and starlings put in fly-pasts and a buzzard circled overhead. It was, however, a short-eared owl that put in the most impressive show, flying up from close by then circling before settling in a hawthorn along one of the field boundaries.
Prestwick Carr was emerging from the overnight mist during this morning’s stock check. The sheep, cattle and ponies were well spread out around the Carr and thus took a long time to find but all were present and healthy when they were found – unusually it was the sheep that were easiest to find today.
Reed buntings, a flock of goldfinches, a kestrel and a buzzard were among the birds to be seen while a roe dear leapt out of the way past the ponies. It was, however, the spider’s webs that were most impressive with their beads of dew and the spider sitting tight in the centre.
It was peaceful out on Prestwick Carr in the evening sunshine during yesterday’s stock check. The check took in fields with two small flocks of sheep, contentedly slumbering in the buttercup filled meadow or on the drier edge of a rushy pasture. Elsewhere the Exmoor ponies were finally in the field by the viewing platform and were duly shut in there for a while.
The site is rarely dry and occasionally you find yourself in a rather more soggy area; it’s here that the cuckoo flower was still in full bloom and the rather old-looking specimens of the first brood of green-veined white butterflies were to be spotted. In the southern buttercup fields silver-ground carpet moths flitted up into the air as they were disturbed. Their wings were more beige and brown than silver though the colouration does vary. Elsewhere a couple of female scorpion flies were spotted though none of the more distinctive males were seen with their scorpion like tails.
Photos (c) Duncan Hutt
A quick check of the sheep and ponies at Prestwick Carr yesterday evening confirmed that all was well, although one sheep played dead to make us get almost up to it before it jumped up and ran off with its field-mates.
Five lapwings put on a fine display over the site, wheeling around and calling overhead while a skylark sang from on high. A kestrel hovered over the site too and a few mallard lifted as we crossed a field to count the sheep.
Photos © Duncan Hutt