It looked an unpromising day, with gusting wind and frequent heavy showers, but it was my last chance to visit White Wood on Dartmoor while the wood warblers might be singing.
So today (12 May) I grabbed the chance and went to the wood, which lies between Bench Tor and the double Dart, on the side of a steep hill.
Ian Mercer, the Dartmoor naturalist, had told me some years ago that White Wood was a good spot to hear wood warblers, and so every May I endeavour to go there. In previous years I have perhaps heard one or two, usually at the end of May. So today I wasn’t hopeful, but the showers stopped as I set out from Venford reservoir and I had a glorious view north to Sharp Tor.
Shortly after I entered the wood I saw a pair of pied flycatchers, in almost the same spot I saw them on 25 May 2013. The male sat on a dead tree and then they flittered around in the branches. The oak leaves were only just coming out which made it easier to see the birds.
I followed the enticing woodland path, the trees falling away beneath me in a mist of green. It was pure magic.
Then I began to hear the whirring of wood warblers, impossible to see in the trees but accompanying me as I continued along the dappled path, with glimpses of Mel Tor across the Dart valley.
Further on the wood thinned out slightly, and then to my joy I saw a wood warbler singing.
I turned back, and heard then saw a male pied flycatcher chattering and chuckling near this old tree.
It was hard to tear myself away from this lovely green spot and make my way back along the path with the wood warblers singing and calling in the trees. The memory will stay with me long after the wood warblers have flown.