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)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Tour Dates

Somerset Levels Tour Dates   

06 / 07 October 2018
13 / 14 October 2018

Cotswold Water Park Winter Duck Tour

05/06 January 2019

Please call us as we may be able to arrange tours at short notice.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Durlstone Tour

Today saw us on the Dorset coast looking for migrants and sea birds.

Several Razorbills and Guillemots out on the water giving some close views for comparison.

Along the path a Raven flew past with a few Fulmars riding the wind, sat out on the rooks were Great black-backed gulls along with Herring gulls. Out over the sea several Shags flew low over the water with a couple of Sandwich terns and a small group of Manx shearwaters going past.

Further down the path a Peregrine flew low past us as it went off  looking for breakfast, the bird performed well for us throughout the day with one missed hunting attempt on a pigeon and a stunning view has it sat out on the cliff ledge.

Resting Peregrine Falcon

Small birds were found in the scrubby areas which included Whitethroat, Lesser whitethroat, Blackcap, Linnet, Mistle thrush, Meadow pipits, along with several Stonechats perched on top of the bushes.

Other birds seen as we moved on down the path were  Rock pipits, Skylarks, Dunnocks and Wrens.

Later in the day we decided to look for Puffin and where lucky enough to find two birds sat out on the sea before flying into the undercliffs and out of sight. 
A long day but some good quality birds seen at very close range. DT

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Somerset Levels

Over the last week we have run four tours on the Somersetlevels with some fantastic wildlife highlights.
A total of 60+ Hobbies giving some very close views from just outside the hide, also an Osprey drifted over.
Marsh harries flying around along with several Bitterns 5 in one shot at the same time (magical to see)
Cuckoo’s  calling from within the reserve, Garganey on the marshes along with Shoverler and Wigeon.
Tufted duck, Pochard, Little and Great crested Grebe all on the water along with Coot and Moorhen.
The woodland being alive with several warbler species all in good voice. Great white egrets can be seen on nest along with Grey heron and several little egrets moving around.

A few butterflies around with small amount of Damselflies starting to emergeDT/NA

Comma Butterfly

Small Blue Butterfly

Dingy Skipper Butterfly

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Cotswold Water Park

May has turned out to be full of fine weather enabling us to run several tours around The Cotswold Water Park. 
Several warblers are with us for the summer which have included Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Cettis warbler, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, and Lesser whitethroat.

Lots of common birds around with Blackbirds, Blue tit, Great tit, Long tailed tit along with song thrush, Mistle thrush.

Some of the less common birds seen have included Nightingale, Cuckoo, Marsh Harrier, Hobby along with Green woodpecker and Great spotted woodpeckers.

Several butterflies are now on the wing seen so far are Brimstone, Orange tip, Speckled wood, Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small White and Large white, Holy blue.
A great time to be out watching spring move through. DT

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Spring on the Levels

We started on Ham Wall RSPB reserve with the last of the showers passing overhead.  

Before we had even left the car park we were listening to, blue tit, chiffchaff, robin and blackcap.
As we started down the track, we were finding new species and soon added  willow warbler and  Cetti’s warbler

A quick look at the first reed bed gave us our first view of great white egret this chap was stood behind some mute swan and looked every bit as big.  

We reached our first cover and were soon seeing a nice selection of waterfowl, including great crested grebe, as well as lesser black-backed gull, coot, cormorant, shoveler, moorhen, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, teal, grey heron and little grebe

Great Crested Grebe

A  kingfisher was nice enough to pitch on the reeds opposite us so we could get a reasonable look at it. Perhaps my favourite bird of the day was the long-tailed tit who was a metre or so from us and completely oblivious to us watching – brilliant!

A few swallow, and sand martin were feeding over the lakes and our heads.  

As we worked our way along the footpath, we continued to pick up new species including great tit, blackbird, wren, dunnock, reed warbler, song thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, lesser redpoll and brambling.

Male teal

At the second viewing point we had great views of a male marsh harrier and a pair of bittern flying around and around like a couple of WW1 fighters in a dogfight!

On our way back to the car park we heard a distant tawny owl hooting and picked up great spotted woodpecker for our every growing list. We were also able to compare the great white egret to the much smaller little egret.

After lunch we worked our way around Shapwick Heath where we saw a few extra birds from Noah’s Hide such as  wigeon as well as snipe, herring gull, Canada Goose, greylag goose and black-headed gull.

At the last little hide we had fantastic views of another male marsh harrier, as well as one of his females and a male reed bunting singing from a willow.

The last bird of the day was an elusive Treecreeper in the wet woodland.

All-in-all a great day! (NA)

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A trip to Arne

Today saw us at the RSPB  Reserve of Arne on the Dorest coast.

Behind the small information centre they have a feeding station which attracts several species into feed. Several chaffinch, blue tit , great tit are the main birds but nuthatch, siskin and coal tit were all seen.

Both green and Great spotted woodpeckers were heard and then seen flying around the treetops.

On our walk to the marsh several Chiffchaff were seen and heard singing along with a single willow warbler all newly arrived for the summer breeding season. We also had a fine view of a treecreeper feeding in the trees.

Out on the marsh several Curlew were found along with oystercatchers, shelduck, teal, little egret and Great Crested Grebe out on the water. Before we moved on a Fox ran across the marsh putting up a few birds as it went.

Moving onto another area we saw a couple of Sika deer hiding in the foliage very common here at Arne.

From our next viewpoint around 600 black tailed godwits were feeding on the mud all in various stages of plumage with some showing off their fine rich red bellies.

A couple of buzzards drifted slowly along the back tree line making the godwits fly up giving a fantastic view as the wheeled around in front of us.

On our walk around the Heath we picked up a single wheatear along with a few displaying meadow pipits.

Looking out again over the marsh a few swallows and martins moved through at a fast pace not looking at stopping, also a few sandwich tern were plunge diving out in the bay. Several gulls were loafing around on the sandbanks which included black headed, lesser black backed and a couple of greated black backed gulls picked out.

With the weather closing in we returned to the car and called it a day.

Not the best of conditions for a spring day but still a lot going on and well worth being out and about at this fantastic reserve.DT

Monday, 19 March 2018

Final Winter Duck Tour

Today we had our final Winter Duck tour of the season.

With the harsh weather still around it would be interesting to see what is still with us.

On our first lake we found a small group of Red Crested Pochard along with Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe.

Moving on down the path we found in total 6 Chiffchaff all busy looking for food on the ground and low in the bushes, in the treetops 2 Great spotted Woodpeckers chased each other around.

Scanning one of the larger lakes we found a large raft of gulls mostly Black headed along with Common and a few Lesser black backed mixed in, also 5 Sand martins flying low over the surface hawking for insects. A small group of duck on the far bank turned out to be Wigeon on closer inspection.

Two of the smaller lakes both had a pair of Great Crested Grebes on them which gave a little bit of their head shaking display as we moved on by.

A few Redwing and Fieldfare were flying around along with a small group of Goldfinch, also seen a tiny Goldcrest searching for insects within the Ivy and a couple of Song Thrush.

Next stop we found a few different duck with Common Pochard found along with Gadwall and Mallard, moving onto our next view point we found the highlight of the day a fine red head Smew along with 2 female Goosander great to catch up with the two species.

On our walk back we found a couple of male Goosander along with several pairs of Goldeneye also seen a Little Egret fishing along the river.

A good mix of both summer and winter birds around today making for a very enjoyable tour.DT

Saturday, 17 March 2018

First Spring Tour

Our first spring tour and we are greated with snow flurries and cold wind!!!!

Leaving the car park the first bird we found was a fine Great spotted Woodpecker moving its way up the trunk of a large tree also a single Robin sat on a low branch.

Looking out over the lake a male Goosander was found along with several Red Crested Pochard and a few Tufted duck, further round a Great Crested Grebe sat on the water keeping out of the wind.

In the lower bushes several Long tailed Tits, Blue Tit and a couple of Great tits were seen.

Moving onto a larger lake we found both male and female Goldeneye along with two pairs of Wigeon    and several small groups of gulls on the water, both Black headed and Common Gull in them. Other birds seen around the lake were Grey Heron, Cormorant and a small group of Sand Martins feeding low over the water.

Looking over one of the smaller lakes we found a pair on Great Crested Grebes which put on a wonderful display for us showing their weed dance, great to see this and now is the time to be looking out for this on the smaller lakes around the park.

Smaller birds were a little hard to find today but we did find Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Goldfinch,

Further on another chiffchaff this time singing from the tree tops and a Red Kite drifted overhead.

Other birds seen included Reed Bunting, Collard Dove, Rock, Crow, Jackdaw and a small group of Redwing.

Just goes to show that the birds are still around even when the weather is not as expected for this time of year.DT

Friday, 2 March 2018

March walk cancelled


We have cancelled the walk on the 3rd March due to the weather conditions.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A chilly Somerset Levels

We started our walk on RSPB Ham Wall, heading to Shapwick Heath NNR in the afternoon.

One of the first things we saw was the pair of stonechat along the large drainage ditch.

Male stonechat

Many of the berries had long been eaten, but there were still a few blackbird and song thrush foraging around the bushes. Other species seen at the start included blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and dunnock.

At the first viewing point we picked up a nice selection of waterfowl: coot, great crested grebe, gadwall, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, pintail, shoveler, mallard, mute swan and cormorant.
We were lucky enough to catch some of the display of the grebes too – brilliant!

Other birds seen here included the first two of many marsh harrier, as well as a grey heron and a rather splendid glossy ibis

Great crested grebe not carrying a feather!

We had a brief detour to look for a kingfisher that proved elusive. But we did see little grebe, moorhen and pochard.

Just along the path and we bumped into a little egret next to a great white egret, perfect for comparisons!

As we carried on, we heard a few blasts of some well-hidden cetti’s warblers. As we worked our way along the scrub and bushes, we saw chaffinch and long-tailed tit as well as goldfinch feeding on the seeds and insects.

A brief check from the second viewing point provided more marsh harriers, then onto the return path from which we had great views of a male bullfinch feeding on buds.

We carried onto the Avalon hide where we had excellent views of waterfowl and more marsh harriers, some of which came very close to us.On our way back for lunch we picked up the slightly less elusive kingfisher in the same area as before.

The afternoon started with an even closer view of a male bullfinch. We heard more Cetti’s warblers and had brief views of a goldcrest moving through the vegetation. We headed for Noah’s Lake where we had very close views of a great crested grebe, grey heron and a common snipe. Out on the lakes there were 1000s of duck, included in their number was a male goldeneye.


A great day! (NA)

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Winter tours

With winter drawing to a close we are looking back over our monthly tours which we started in 2017/2018.

Winter can be a fantastic time for Birdwatching in the Cotswold Waterpark with many thousands of waterbirds around, along with a few rearer species on show.

Some of the highlights of our recent tours have included Bittern, Marsh harrier, Peregrine falcon, Short eared owls, Smew, Ring necked Duck, Great northern diver to name a few.

Also large groups of Redwing and Fieldfare can be seen around the park feeding in the bushes along with groups of Siskin and Redpoll.

On the water several duck species can be seen and this year we saw large numbers of Pintail in the waterpark always nice to see these elegant ducks.

Our most commented on bird by our clients was the tiny Goldcrest that we had some very close encounters with, incredible to see them this close.

If you would like to come along on these tours we are thinking about runnng them again in 2018/2019, please email us and we can add you to our list, these trips are incredible value for money and you really don't know what you might see.

Looking forward now to our spring and summer tours.DT

Friday, 5 January 2018

Otmoor trip

A trip to Otmoor.

Today we visited Oxfordshire at the RSPB Reserve of Otmoor.

Weather conditions today a little gloomy but still a good selection of birds to see.

A walk to the first hide produced Treecrepper, Nuthatch, Marsh tit, Coal tit, Great spotted woodpecker and a Green woodpecker flew from the tree tops ahead of us.

At the hide around 300 small birds were feeding on the grain that is being put out for the birds over the winter months these included 100 Reed buntings, 80 Linnets, 40 Goldfich, 40 Chaffinch, 10 Yellowhammer along with 4 Bullfinch 2 Greenfinch and a single Brambling. With the arrival of a Sparrowhawk all the birds took flight and disappeared returning after about ten minutes.

Moving off to the first screen we had close views of Teal, Wigeon and Tufted duck out on the water along with around 6 Snipe hiding at the edge of the reeds.

Here we had our first view of Marsh harrier along with a single Kestrel and a fly past Bittern always a good bird to see.

We returned at the end of the day to the first screen to watch the Starlings coming into roost around 100,000 birds what a noise when you are so close to them, we saw a couple more Marsh harriers on the look out for an easy meal as the starlings moved over the top of the reedbed.

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