Posted by: digibirder | July 12, 2008

Devon – part 5

Sorry folks, I had a few nights off from the computer, but here we go again!

Sunday 22nd June:
The wind was still blowing strongly, but, lo and behold, the sun was shining! Out of the wind it was quite warm so we decided to stay and relax on site for the morning. We sat reading in the sunshine and didn’t realise we were getting a bit sunburned. I retired into the tent for the rest of the morning. After lunch we did a bit of washing and then went for a short walk along the northern part of Slapton Ley, which we had never done before on our previous visits. We had good views of Sedge Warbler, but the Cetti’s were still playing their usual trick of calling from the bushes right next to you, but staying well out of sight!

The following photos were taken on the way, where the path crosses over to the beach. I wouldn’t say they were anything special, but I thought the first one was interesting, taken with my Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm, showing the curvature of the Earth.

Arriving back on site, we had a small aperitif before starting our dinner of rump steak and poached eggs. Unfortunately, Keith had one of his occasional ‘acid attacks’ and couldn’t carry on eating, and it took him quite some time to recover. Normally, it’s in the region of twenty minutes/half an hour, but this attack went on for a good hour. I became quite upset, as there is nothing I can do to help him and it’s just a matter of waiting till whatever is blocking his oesophagus clears and he is able to swallow again. Sometimes the only thing he can do is make himself sick! He’s not really sure what causes it, as it can come on at any time, but seems to be associated with eating dry food. The doctor has given him some tablets in recent months, which he was supposed to take every day, but they didn’t really help. He went to see the doctor on our return from holiday, and he now has some different tablets to take when he actually has an attack. He had to try them out the other night, and the attack did go off in about 10 minutes, so at least it’s a bit better.

Eventually, the wind died down and the evening finished quite calm. The weather promised to be better over the following days.

Monday 23rd June:
The sun was shining again – yippee! We had a good hike alongside the Ley and into Torcross, then over the headland to Beesands, had a wander round, walked back to Torcross, intending then to catch the bus back to the site. This didn’t quite go as planned and we ended up walking all the way back, but we felt OK as we had taken it quite easy, especially climbing the steeper paths.

View over Slapton Ley, mid way between Slapton and Torcross

When you arrive in Torcross, you are greeted by this Sherman tank at one end of the car park. Slapton Sands was used by American forces as a practice area in preparation for the D-Day landings in 1944 – called Exercise Tiger. Residents of most of the surrounding villages were given six weeks to evacuate their homes, taking all their possessions with them, and the whole area was taken over by the American forces. Almost 1,000 soldiers were killed during the period of this rehearsal, and most of these died during an exercise that went tragically wrong. German E-boats came across some of the operation’s landing craft and torpedoed them. It was one of the military’s best kept secrets, only being revealed over 40 years later. Another scary fact is that they wanted it to be as real as possible to the actual landings, so live ammunition was being used! The tank was recovered from the sea in 1984, by a local hotelier, Ken Small, who wrote a book about Exercise Tiger. Apparently, as soon as the tank tracks touched the concrete slipway, they started to turn as if they were new. Four of the surviving veterans of the Exercise came over to mark the 60th anniversary of the events and to tell their story. Ken Small died only a few weeks before this, after a long battle with cancer.

Beesands village – we walked there and were just on the way back to Torcross

And a quick about-turn for a view to Torcross and Slapton Ley

Just above Torcross (the roof and chimney at the front used to be a pub – it’s currently being converted into luxury apartments. I want one!!)

When we arrived back in Torcross we decided to have lunch at the Rocket House café, which is a new place that only opened earlier this year. It’s at the far end of the row of buildings in the above photo. We had quiche, which was very nice, served with a salad. Walking back to the campsite along the edge of Slapton Ley, there were lots of damselflies around, so I attached the macro lens. They don’t half move quickly, these little beasties, but I managed one or two decent shots.

Common Blue Damselfly

Blue-tailed Damselfly (+ lunch)

Immature Blue-tail (I think)

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly (managed to get a bit more of this one in the same plane of focus)

Immature Common Blue (I think)

Then, as we neared the Slapton end of the Ley, we heard a bit of a commotion in a nearby bush. We kept looking for the source of the racket, and then Keith spotted some movement inside the bush. Look closely at the centre of the following photo – it was a young Whitethroat and the parent bird was nearby warning it of the impending danger (us). Now bearing in mind, I still had my 105mm macro lens attached at this stage – I hadn’t taken my zoom lens on this trip, knowing we were out for some serious walking and didn’t want the extra weight.

Cropped to get better view

There were also quite a few insects around on some of the roadside plants. I’m not sure what this next one is, so if anyone has any clue, please feel free to let me know.

Soldier Beetle

On arrival back at the tent, we had a cup of tea and then drove up to the local farm shop to stock up with food – and a bottle of locally-brewed cider. When we returned we both had a refreshing shower and then prepared our dinner. This consisted of the piece of steak Keith couldn’t finish last night, cut up and fried in cream, served with salad. And a small glass of cider, which was actually not that tasty.

It was a lovely sunny evening so we sat out in the late sunshine for a little while before it started to turn a bit cooler, then we retired inside to read. Later, after a mug of hot chocolate, we turned in for an early night.



  1. The slight curvature of the horizon can be attributed to lens distortion rather than the curvature of the earth

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