Saturday, 17 November 2018

Autumn at Cotswold Water Park

We started off from the car park and visitor centre at Lower Moor Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve. In the first few bushes were the first of many robin and wren
We arrived at the first hide where we could see four wigeon on the far side and a confiding pair of mallard flew in and swam right up to the hide. Once we’d refilled the feeders, blue tit and great tit were in and out grabbing food. Kingfisher kept calling but managed to stay out of sight.  

We worked our way towards the next hide, on the way we checked out the main lake where a male  mute swan was busy evicting that year’s youngsters. Also present were a number of cormorant in the trees. Just after this we spotted an otter fishing out in the middle of the lake – great stuff!

Autumnal view from the hide
At the next hide the grey heron spotted us and was gone before we sat down, also present were more wigeon, mallard and mute swan. A pair of gadwall flew in to let us see their lovely plumage up close. 

We moved on past he impressive cattle shed to Clattinger Farm where we started seeing fieldfare and redwing in great numbers, perhaps 500 birds in total. We also had fleeting glimpses of long-tailed tit and goldcrest while walking round the fields. Flying over were siskin, lesser redpoll and yellowhammer.

It was then back to the hides to look for the elusive kingfisher, where the mute swan were still resting (NA).

A snoozing Penn

Sunday, 21 October 2018

CWP was the place to be!

We started off from the Gateway Centre with a look at the lake there. We’d soon seen wigeon, coot, great crested grebe, mute swan and heard a Cetti’s warbler.
Great crested grebe
Along the canal we picked up the first of what was to be many robin. Other species found along here were blackbird, great spotted woodpecker, blue tit, great tit, wren, carrion crow, magpie, jackdaw and woodpigeon.

As we worked our way through the village, robin and wren were in good supply.
Along the lane we started adding more birds to our list, namely: chaffinch, dunnock, goldcrest, long-tailed tit, treecreeper and overhead was an elusive skylark.

As we headed along the old railway line, we had a brief view of a grey heron, as well as good views of rook feeding in a field.

The highlight for me was seeing the group of nine curlew drop into the gravel workings for a wash and brush up – brilliant! There were also a couple of teal and some black-headed gull here.

We then worked our way along the edge of a small lake where we saw tufted duck, lesser black-backed gull and a secretive little grebe.  

As we reached the main lake we saw a mass of Canada goose with a single greylag goose mixed in. We also had a great view of a grey heron and a young lapwing who managed to find and eat a worm!

Grey heron

From there we headed back through the village where we saw some impressive chickens, after a little research I think they were Brahmas.

Finally, we headed back along the first lake we passed where we had great views of cormorant with their wings out stretched. (NA)

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Somerset Levels day tour

Today saw us on the Somerset Levels.

We headed into the RSPB’s Ham Wall reserve on a fine morning, stopping at the rail bridge we scanned around and found a couple of Chiffchaff and heard Cetti's Warblers calling, we headed on down the path to the first viewing platform (VP1) where we had a brief view of a Kingfisher sat on a post, next we saw a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard also Great White Egrets. Little Grebes and Water Rails were calling. Next we heard the pinging calls of Bearded tits coming from deep within the reedbed, so a bit of patience was required which some paid off with a flock of 25 birds seen moving around the reedbeds some giving good scope views albeit brief ones.

We moved onto the next area and found several species of duck out on the water giving very close views, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoverler, Teal and a few Wigeon and Pochard also a couple of Marsh harriers were flying around in the distance. A Bittern was seen moving around in front of the reedbed but soon disappeared into cover typical behaviour!!

Moving to a wetter muddy area we found a flock of waders that consisted of Black tailed godwit and 25 Knot also Lawping and Snipe could be seen. 

Another few Bearded tit were seen along with another Kingfisher before returning to the car for lunch.

We headed out to Shapwick reserve in the afternoon with a light cool breeze starting to get up definitely cooler than this morning. En route we saw Linnets, Swallows and House Martins, and in the car park we glimpsed a female Blackcap and a very confiding Buzzard sat on the main gate post, while along the path Chiffchaff, Blackbird and Dunnock were all feeding on berries.
On the first reedbed pool there were a few Teal, Gadwall and a Little Grebe. Birdsong is almost over by now, but we heard a few snatches of a Cetti’s Warblers from time to time.

From Noah’s Hide we heard Water Rail calling, and saw over 100 Mute Swans, along with Little and Great White Egrets, Canada and Greylag Geese, and Great Crested Grebes, we also saw a Bittern fly in and land in the nearby reedbed all good sightings.

Later in the day we headed to Catcott lows to see if we could find any Cattle Egrets and was rewarded with around 15 birds feeding around the cattle. A good end to another wonderful wildlife experience on the Somerset levels.DT

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Cotswold Waterpark half day

Today we visited the Cotswold Waterpark on a fine September morning.

First sighting of the day was the blue flash of a Kingfisher as it flew away up the Thames a good start.

On our first lake we found Tufted duck, Great Crested Grebe and a couple of Red Crested Pochard along with a single Cormorant.

Moving on several small birds could be heard it the bushes which turned out to be Blue. Great and Long tailed tits, also a single Chiffchaff.

Walking on we saw a Hobby fly over along with a Buzzard and several black headed gulls.

The bird of the day today was definitely the Robins singing from every area we visited.

Another Kingfisher was seen flying around the lake which had a few Wigeon and teal on a sign that winter is on the way.

Both Grey heron and Little Egret seen feeding around the edge of the lake along with several Gadwall and Mallard.

Latter in the day a Cattle Egret was found amongst the local cattle picking off the many flies that landed on the cattles faces.

With winter on its way we should start to see lots more wildfowl returning to the park.

A pleasant morning in the autumn sunshine.DT

Monday, 6 August 2018

Somerset Levels

A day on the Levels.

With the weather looking cooler than the past few weeks today saw us in Somerset.

Some good views of Marsh Harriers and Great White Egret as we entered the reserve with several groups of Gadwall in various stages of moult, sometimes making them very difficult to indentify for novices birdwatchers.

Several duck species around were Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted, Pochard, Teal all seen along with both Great Crested and Little Grebes. A few gulls loafing around on the water with Black headed, Lesser black backed and Herring Gull all observed.

Great white Egrets seem to have done well this year these birds can be seen at almost every area we visited, also Little Egret, Grey Heron and Bittern all putting in appearances.

Small birds were harder to find today may be the hot weather is having an effect on them, Reed warbler, Reed Bunting, Robin, Dunnock, Chiffchaff all around but keeping well hidden.

Butterflies and Dragonflies are still around with Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Comma, all seen along with Brown Hawker Dragonflies and a few Blue tailed damselflies.

With the heat building we spent the afternoon around the hides keeping out of the strong sunlight, we saw a few Hobbies fly past hunting Dragonflies along with soaring Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.

Despite the heat getting up in the afternoon this is still one of the best places to see wildlife at this time of year. DT.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Early summer on the Levels

Somerset Levels tour.

A little overcast for our tour today but still packed full of wonderful wildlife.

A single Cuckoo flying at the back of the reedbed the adults will soon be heading back to Africa leaving their young to find their own way there.

Lots of Herons out today with Little, Great white Egret, Grey heron and several Bitterns flying around, see images below.

A few Hobby seen catching dragonflies along with Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and several Marsh Harries both male and females all seen well.

Not many small birds around today maybe just a bit to windy for them but we did find a nice male Blackcap sitting out in the open, also Whitethroat and several Cetti's Warblers blasting out their calls.

See below images all taken buy our client today paul (Great white Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, a very interesting day at my favourite Somerset reserve.DT.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Somerset Levels in early May

We did so many trips to the Somerset Levels in early May it seemed easier to do an edited highlight post rather than loads of individual posts!

Bittern were booming it seemed the whole time, we had varying views of them on most tours, although we did set a new CBC record for the most bittern seen at one time - five!

five bittern chasing around
These are most likely two females with three males in pursuit. Great white egret are the most common heron on the sites we visit at present. Its relatively straightforward to see over ten on any visit, amazing!

Warbler numbers have been relatively low this year, with adverse weather holding them up on their northern migration, so it was pleasing to hear ever increasing numbers of a variety of species including garden warbler, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, reed warbler, sedge warbler and whitethroat.

Birds of prey were evident with perhaps 50 hobby present on one visit, hawking low over the water and reeds, what a site! The marsh harrier have also been busily building their nests ready for the breeding season ahead.

Lots of duck around on the water and we were lucky enough to see garganey on two visits. Here's a male from Avalon Hide on Ham Wall RSPB reserve.
Male garganey
Perhaps my favourite sighting was a female great crested grebe carrying one of her chicks on her back.

Extra large photo so you can see the chick!
An osprey was seen hovering before plunging into the water on one visit. Cuckoo were seen on most visits also.

There's always something great to see on the Somerset Levels and its a great place to practise your birdwatching skills, so if you have not been there on one of our tours - get in touch and book one! (NA)