Guided Walks

Social distancing and Tier 2 rules will be followed on all of the current guided walks and watches

With over 40 years’ experience as a birdwatcher Mike’s knowledge of birds around Torbay is unparalleled. He leads walks for Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust & Sharpham Trust (usually during the spring and Summer).

The walks vary from general natural history walks to walks concentrating on particular bird groups or species; most cater for birdwatchers of any ability. Places are always limited – booking is essential.

For more information or to book places go the events pages and scroll through the months at:

You can also book onto Mike’s own walks, places are strictly limited, covid restrictions being followed – booking is essential:

Dartmoor Cuckoos and chats (FULL – reserve places – FULL)

(FULL – 2 reserve places – FULL) Monday 17th May          Time: 9.00am – 12.30pm                
£12 adults (under 18’s £6) – places limited to 10 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

A bird rich and beautiful walk (approx. 4.3 miles one fairly steep incline) from Warren House Inn to Soussons Plantation on to Challacombe Farm and back up via Headland Warren and Birch Tor. Hopefully enjoying some of the best birds Dartmoor can offer including Cuckoo, Redstart, Stonechat, Whinchat, Stonechat, Siskin, Willow and Garden Warblers and Flycatchers.

Since early birding walks with the YOC in the 1970’s Warren House Inn  and Soussons has been one of Mikes favourite Dartmoor birding walks. Gone are the Red Grouse and Ring Ouzels but there are still plenty of other birds to keep us busy. Before starting the walk a couple of years ago we even watched a female cuckoo appearing to lay an egg in a Meadow Pipits nest! 

The open moorland should provide us with both Stonechat and Whinchat. On to the marshy bottom of Soussons Willow Warblers will be singing hopefully Reed Bunting too. The scrub and plantation area should be good for Garden Warbler and Tree Pipit. Then down to Challacombe farm always a lovely place to walk through with its Redstarts, Lesser Redpoll and flycatchers. finally we will walk back past Headland Warren farm and past Birch tour  with the chance of more Cuckoos, Wheatears, whinchats and birds of prey.

 The walk will be cancelled if the weather is bad (heavy rain, strong winds).

What to bring: clothing to suit the weather – there are ticks on the moors so long trousers are recommended, stout waterproof foot ware recommended, bring a hot drink and a snack – perhaps a picnic for the end of the walk. 

Walking distance: we will cover approximately 4.3 miles including some steep inclines and rough tracks.

Meeting point: Warren House Inn  car park  at 9.00am  Map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Spring around Berry Head

 

(FULL – 1 reserve place available) Sunday 23rd May       

Time: 8.30-11.30am                
£10 adults (under 18’s £5) – places limited to 10 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

Join Mike on a stroll around Berry Head, discover some of its hidden secrets and learn about its resident and migrant wildlife – not just birds. The south coast’s largest Guillemot colony should be bustling with life, we’ll have a close look for any Razorbills among the bathing birds.

By mid-May many of the summer migrants such as Whitethroats and Blackcaps will be back announcing their territories with song and even display. Mike will guide you through the songs and territorial behaviour of the many resident and migrant species. We will be right in the middle or end of spring migration, so anything is possible from Willow Warblers to ‘Greenland’ Wheatears.

Off the end of the headland the mixing of currents from Torbay and Lyme Bay always attracts wildlife, depending on conditions on the day this might include Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seal or seabirds like Gannet, Manx Shearwater or even a Puffin. The breeding Fulmars in the quarry are always a favourite cackling to each other as arriving birds make several false landing attempts.  

With over 40 years of study at Berry Head Mike knows the whereabouts of not only the birds and other wildlife but also some of the headlands rare plants from patches of Orchids to the White Rock Rose and we will search for the elusive and rare Small Blue and other butterflies if the weather is kind on the day.

The walk will be cancelled if the weather is bad (heavy rain strong winds).

 

What to bring: clothing to suit the weather – there are ticks at Berry Head so long trousers are recommended, stout waterproof foot ware, bring a hot drink and a snack, . 

Walking distance: we will cover approximately 2 miles including some steep inclines.

Meeting point: Berry Head car park  car park  at 8.30am – we will finish outside the Guardhouse Cafe at 11.30 Map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Guillemot ‘jumplings’ – evening (4 places left)

 

On the day notification end of June – early July      

7pm -9pm                 
£8 adults (under 18’s £5) – places limited, booking essential  (fee may cover you for more than one evening)

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

Every year, mostly on one evening, the young guillemots at Berry Head take a death defying leap from the cliffs without being able to fly! It’s difficult to judge when this might happen but Mike will keep an eye on the conditions and let those wishing to come along know if a particular evening looks good. The fee will cover you for the period and may mean you come back on more than one evening.  

The young Guillemots on the lower cliffs  don’t have far to jump but those up high on the cliffs make a spectacular leap of faith, with observers keeping everything crossed they make it unharmed to the sea to meet their calling parent and hope the local gulls don’t see the action.

Once the jumpling has made the sea they head out into Lyme Bay quickly with their parent trying to avoid the gulls and find food away from the coast. The whole episode is not something many people have witnessed first hand because it is so difficult to judge when it will happen, so if you are interested and prepared to give it a go let me know.  

There’s sure to be other wildlife to watch while we wait.

What to bring: Binoculars and a telescope if you have one,  clothing to suit the weather – there are ticks at Berry Head so long trousers are recommended, a soft cushion of fold up chair,  stout foot ware, bring a drink and a snack, . 

Walking distance:  approximately 1 mile.

Meeting point: Berry Head car park  car park  at 7pm  Map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Nightjar watch – Ideford Common

 

Friday 2nd July   (4 places available)     

Time: 8.00-10.30am                
£10 adults (under 18’s £5) – places limited to 12 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

As the light fades on a summer evening we’ll prepare ourselves for the wildlife night shift on a beautiful Heathland reserve. The last songs from birds will be heard before they go to roost. With luck we’ll see and hear Stonechats, Meadow and perhaps Tree Pipits, Yellowhammer and perhaps the elusive Dartford Warbler. Blackbirds will start anxiety calling before finding a place to sleep for the night.

As the sun sets we will find the best spots to listen for and watch Nightjars that have spent the day resting and sleeping on the heath. Their soft churring ‘song’ will be occasionally be broken by a sharp slapping of wings as birds defend their territories.

Early July is a great time to watch for Nightjar, their young will be well grown and need a lot of feeding, meaning the adults are sometimes out early before it gets too dark. On previous trips they have flown over our heads wing ‘clapping’ and flying on stiff, flicking wing beats.  There is always the chance of finding Glow-worms too as we stroll back to the cars at the end of the evening. 

 The walk will be cancelled if the weather is bad.

What to bring: clothing to suit the weather – there are ticks on the common so wear long trousers, insect repellent is recommended as there may be midges, perhaps a hat to keep any midges out of your hair too, stout waterproof footwear just in case some of the paths are still muddy, bring a hot drink and a snack. A torch is a good idea for the end of the evening walk back to the cars.  

Walking distance: we will cover approximately 1.5-2 miles mostly on the flat but sometimes uneven ground.

Meeting point: Ideford Common car park  car park  at 8pm – we will finish back at the car park at about 10.30pm Map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Wildlife Coastal and Dart Estuary cruise

 

Saturday 10th July   (2 places available)  

Time: 09.00am – 3.30/4pm                
£75 adults – places very limited to 9 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

A great opportunity to join a unique wildlife charter cruise along the spectacular south Devon coastline and then up into the Dart Estuary with expert guidance from Mike with Shaun Pedley on Our Joel .  

Wildlife highlights we hope to encounter along the way may include:  Grey Seal, Harbour Seal Harbour Porpoise, Common Dolphin, Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Terns, Mediterranean Gulls, perhaps a skua, Yellow-legged Gulls, Kittiwakes, Guillemot, Peregrine Falcon, Raven, Wading birds, Kingfisher, Shelducks, Herons and Egrets. 

The cruise will start from the ferry Terminal at Brixham  at 9 am prompt – meet at 08.45 by the toilets on the quay side near to the Rockfish take away.

We will cruise slowly along the beautiful coast via Berry Head, Man Sands, Scabbacombe Head and Froward Point watching for wildlife all the way. On arrival at Dartmouth at about 11.30am we’ll take a 1/2 hour break to give you time for a comfort stop or to grab a pasty at the local bakery. 

Next we will cruise up the Dart Estuary on a lowish tide past the Royal Naval College, Agatha Christie’s Greenway House, Dittisham and Stoke Gabriel scanning the river and the mud flats for wildlife. Returning to Dartmouth we’ll take another brief stop.

On the return to Brixham, if conditions are good, we’ll venture out into Lyme Bay coming back through deeper water hoping to find some dolphins and seabirds. The days itinerary might change depending on sea conditions, so the Lyme bay excursion may be swapped to the morning. 

Docking back at Brixham at around 3.30/4pm 

 

What to bring: Warm clothing – it can be cold at sea even in the summer, hat (that won’t blow off!), sun cream, drinks, snacks, lunch (or be prepared to buy something at Dartmouth), payment for loos at Dartmouth, binoculars, camera. If you suffer from travel sickness you might consider sea sickness tablets before you start the cruise.

The cruise will be cancelled with full refunds made if the weather or sea state is bad.

 

Meeting place: outside toilets at Brixham Quay 8.45am follow link for map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Sketching birds

 

Monday 12th July (2 places available)    

Time: 09.30am – 3.30pm                
£28 adults – places very limited to 7 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

Spend a day sketching birds with guidance from professional illustrator Mike. The day will be suitable for all artistic abilities – even those that consider they have no artistic abilities! 

The aim of the day will be to build your sketching confidence and speed while trying to and capture the character of the bird you are drawing. You’ll be able to choose your subjects from graceful swans and hopefully cygnets to wildfowl of several shapes and sizes and even tame robins for those that would prefer something a little more challenging. Mike will provide some charcoal sticks for those that don’t mind getting a lit.tle loose and dirty! 

Walking distance: we will cover approximately 1 mile including some steep inclines

What to bring: You’ll need to provide your own materials, A4 or A3 sketch pad or even an old scrap book (Cheaper and perfect for fast sketching), soft pencils 4B or 6B best, sharpener or sharpening knife, stool to sit on while sketching. Anyone wishing to bring and use paints that’s fine but this day is more about the sketching.

Also bring: Packed Lunch and plenty to drink, sun hat, sunscreen cream.

Meeting place: Outside the Velopark entrance bottom end of Tobay Leisure Centre car park. Follow link for map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Berry Head – seabirds

 

Saturday 17th July  (5 places available)   

Time: 4pm-7.30pm                
£10 adults (under 18’s £5) – places limited to 10 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

Mid-summer can be surprisingly good for seabirds and cetaceans off Berry Head. Lyme Bay attracts large numbers of feeding seabirds including Manx Shearwater and its Mediterranean cousin the globally threatened Balearic Shearwater. There will of course be the more usual Gannets, Fulmar, Guillemots, Shag and Cormorant but also the chance of seeing Porpoises and Dolphins too.

Mike will guide you through the identification of sometimes distant birds and give you an insight into the behaviour of these birds. By mid July many gulls will have finished breeding and will already be on the move. Torbay attracts very good numbers of the once rare Mediterranean Gull with July being one of the best months for seeing them in numbers, in all sorts of plumages including the subtly interesting juveniles. Yellow-legged Gulls are never easy to identify especially in juvenile plumage but they sometimes perch on the rocks around Berry Head with the local young Herring Gulls to compare plumages with.

Given poorer weather this time of year can bring even rarer species close to the headland, large shearwaters are always hoped for while Skuas may harass Sandwich or Common terns and Kittiwakes feeding in the tide race. In the last couple of years huge Bluefin Tuna have been seen leaping out of the water as they chase after their prey – perhaps this evening you may be lucky enough to see one..

What to bring: To get the most out of the evening  telescope is recommended but not essential, a good pair of binoculars, clothing to suit the weather – there are ticks at Berry Head so long trousers are recommended, stout waterproof foot ware, bring a hot drink and a snack, . 

Walking distance: we will cover approximately 2 miles including some steep inclines.

Meeting point: Berry Head car park  car park  at 4pm – we will finish back at the car park at about 7.30pm Map: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Seabirds Pelagic Boat Trip

Monday 16th August   – spaces available   

Monday 9th August  (FULL – 2 reserve places available)   

Time: 08.30am – 12.30pm                
£50 adults – places limited to 9 people, booking essential    

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

The mixing of the currents off Berry Head and deeper water just out into Lyme Bay attracts good numbers of feeding seabirds, many just a little too far out for most people to appreciate detailed identification features even with the best telescope. Join Mike on Kellys Hero special seabird charter to search for and concentrate on some of the more interesting birds – hopefully including Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Kittiwakes, Gannets, Fulmar , Gulls and perhaps Terns, Skuas even Storm Petrel, there’s also the good chance of seeing Porpoises and Dolphins.

Mike will guide you through the identification of the various wildlife encounters with insight into the behaviour of these creatures. This is a great opportunity for photographers to get closer to seabirds they could never hope to easily photograph from the shore. The weather will play a huge part in what’s likely to be seen on the day, a slight breeze means shearwaters are much more likely to be moving around. However even on calm days there will be birds and wildlife to see – in fact the cetaceans are easier to spot and see when the sea is calm and shearwaters often loaf around in groups or even large flocks..

If the sea is too choppy the trip will be cancelled – but we will aim to try again as soon as possible – so if you are available a day or two later even better…  

What to bring: a good pair of binoculars, clothing to suit the weather – remember it can get surprisingly cold for a number of hours at sea.  bring a hot drink and a snack, sea sickness tablets for those that think they might need them (usually taken 2hrs before setting out on the boat) . 

Meeting point: The charter boat pontoon Brixham Harbour at 0815hrs for an 0830hrs departure – returning around 1230hrs: Meeting point »

Contact Mike for more information or to book a place.

 

Devon Beaver and Wildlife excursions

Mid April until early September – exclusive small groups  

We specialise in evening walks to see beavers and full day tours to enjoy birds, insects and other wildlife in and around East Devon. Based in the beautiful coastal town of Budleigh Salterton. more details here  Devon Beavers

Contact Chris for more information or to book a place.