Mixed wood­land and river val­ley man­aged for wildlife

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - SI­MONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

MANY YEARS AGO, Thongsleigh Wood was do­nated to the Na­tional Trust by one Mr Mat­te­son, in mem­ory of his wife, Vera. At his re­quest it be­came known as ‘Buz­zards’ af­ter the birds the hus­band and wife en­joyed watch­ing here. Since then, fur­ther tracts of mixed de­cid­u­ous wood­land have been added, Cross’s Wood and Hunt­land Wood. These all flank the val­ley of the Lit­tle Dart River (not to be con­fused with the much big­ger River Dart in South Devon). To­gether with steep pas­ture and water mead­ows, the area of pub­lic ac­cess ex­tends to more than 100 acres and is beau­ti­ful with Blue­bells in spring. Although not known for rar­i­ties, the site is very good for a cou­ple of hours of ‘gen­tle’ bird­ing. Buz­zards rise on ther­mals above the wooded val­ley, while the woods and river pro­vide lush and var­ied habi­tats. Great Spot­ted Wood­pecker and Jay are common and Treecreeper and Nuthatch are likely. Dip­per might be seen on the river. The val­ley is fre­quented by Ot­ters and, although elu­sive, ev­i­dence of their pres­ence may be seen in tracks and spraint. Sight­ings of deer are more likely.



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