Friday, 22 February 2019

Somerset Levels

Early spring visit to the Somerset Levels

Today saw us at the RSPB Ham Wall reserve.

After a little early fog the sun came through to provide us with some wonderful wildlife.

Kingfisher and Great white Egret were among the first birds seen along the path to our first stop.

Several duck species are still around with Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted duck all seen.

Both little and Great Crested Grebes were seen with the little Grebes being very vocal all day.

Several sightings of Marsh Harrier hunting out over the reedbeds with Buzzards soaring on the thermals. We had some very brief views of Water rail as they move between the reedbeds always hard to see these birds.

Before leaving our view point we had a fly by Bittern which gave very good views as it flew over the reedbeds. On our way back to the car park for lunch we saw several Lapwing and a small group of Golden Plover along with 80+ Snipe flying around.

After lunch a quick look around the feeders found Reed Bunting, Chaffinch a single Chiffchaff and several blue and great tits.

Returning to watch the Starlings coming into roost we saw a Sparrowhawk fly across and as the large groups of Starlings arrived a Peregrine falcon could be seen chasing them around.

On our walk back to the car park a single ringtail Hen Harrier flew past and a Tawny owl hooted from the wood.

All in all a good day to be out and about with Bittern starting to boom spring is on the way.DT

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Cotswold Water Park

Today saw us in the Cotswold Water Park for a half day visit.

At our first stop we found several Goosander out on the water along with a group of Red Crested Pochard and a couple of Great Crested Grebes.

Before we moved off we had an all to brief view of a Kingfisher as it flew across the water.

Searching the tree tops we found 4 Siskin feeding on the Alder cones along with Blue tit,Great tit and a single Coal tit.

Heading towards our second lake through a tree lined area Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Chiffchaff were all seen along with a Great spotted Woodpecker.

Out on the lake several female Goldeneye could be seen diving under the surface with both Pochard and Tufted ducks were seen here.

On our return journey we saw a good selection of birds Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Redwing, Fieldfare, Grey Heron, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, Buzzard, Kestrel and a lovely single Dunnock just sat in the tree above us.

Later in the day a pair of Pintail were seen along with both male and female Peregrines chasing each other around the sky.

Only half a day but some nice birds Sen.DT

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Otmoor RSPB

Today we visited Oxfordshire and the RSPB Reserve of Otmoor.

Weather conditions at the start of the day wonderful sunshine.

A walk to the first hide produced Coal tit, Great spotted woodpecker and a Green woodpecker flew from the tree tops ahead of us. Plenty of Fieldfare were sat in the trees and a few Redwing flew over.

Heading out towards big Otmoor we saw several large groups of Lapwing and Golden plover, as we watched them we saw all the Lapwing and plovers take to the air and soon found out why as a fantastic male Hen harrier heading towards them, we watched the bird move through them as it heading away out over the surrounding countryside.  A magical sight to see on this lovely winters morning.

At the hide around 200 small birds were feeding on the grain that is being put out for the birds over the winter months these included 30 Reed buntings, 130 Linnets, 10 Goldfich, 25 Chaffinch, 1 Yellowhammer along with 3 Bullfinch 2 Greenfinch and a Water rail all feeding on the ground great to see so many birds taking advantage of the food.

Moving off to the first screen we had close views of Teal, Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted duck out on the water along with several Moorhen.

Here we had our first view of Marsh harrier along with a single Kestrel sat on the telephone wires with several Red kites drifting around.

With dark clouds looming we decided to stay in the hide which turned out to be a good  move as heavy snow showers moved in and we had a complete white out, what a change from the early morning sunshine!!

Out side the hide a Muntjack deer gave a close view as it walk right passed the window.

On our way back to the car park we saw a group of 20 Fieldfare feeding on the ground just in front of us taking advantage of the wet conditions.

Both Peregrine and Buzzard were seen briefly out over the reserve.

Another good day out in the field with some wonderful birds seen in some interesting weather conditions.DT

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