Wednesday 23 April 2014

CWP Tour 20-04-2014

Today we visited The Cotswold Waterpark with a total spices list of 57.

Our client today was Fumia a lady from Japan. Today I realised how much we take our common everyday birds for granted with Fumias comments about how colourful that Blue tit is and look at the colours on that Chaffinch, It made me stand and think how lucky we are to be able to see these birds everyday in our back gardens.

Some of the other highlights of the tour were the four Little ringed plovers flying around and showing off the broken wing display, we also picked up two Yellow wagtails sat on the waste ground amongst the vegetation, a couple of Snipe, 6 Lapwings and two Skylarks.

We then moved to a different area and found three Oystercatchers displaying their piping calls and strutting around after each other. We also managed to hear a Nightingale and saw a Red kite drift over head.

On a different note the wild flower meadows are now starting to look at their best with fields full of Cowslips and Snakes head fritillaries all in flow bloom. DT

Tuesday 22 April 2014

21st April - Durlston Country Park

A trip down to Durlston Country Park to check everything is as we remembered it ready to lead tours there later in the year.

We worked our way west along the lower coastal path where we bumped into this chap:

We carried on and found a number of orchids, including early spider:

There were also very good numbers of green-winged and early purple orchids. Other plants in flower included chalk milkwort and fields of cowslips - brilliant!

Perhaps the most interesting thing we saw was a chalkhill blue caterpillar with its bodyguard of ants. In exchange sugars and proteins exuded by the caterpillar, the ants protect the caterpillar, nature is amazing!!


After checking the cafe was still producing bacon rolls and tea of a high standard we checked out the seabirds and managed to see a nice selection including guillemot, razorbill, gannet, fulmar, shag and kittiwake:

So all is well at Durlston, a wide variety of wildlife seen and heard. NA/DT

Saturday 19 April 2014

Somerset Levels tour

On Thursday just gone we had a tour to Somerset Levels. The target species for the day was bittern, Sue had wanted to see one for a long time and her husband Peter asked us to help.

Fortunately for the leader's nerves we soon had great views of bittern flying across a pool at Haw Wall, we then saw another fly across, bash into a second bittern in the edge of the reeds and both then stood on the edge of the reeds - brilliant stuff! 

We also managed to hear the amazing 'booming' call on several occasions. Other species seen on the walk included up to eight garganey, including seven splendid males, a 1st winter little gull, common tern, whitethroat (first on the sites this year), many blackcap, cetti's warbler, marsh frogs were heard and a good selection of butterflies including orange tip.

Perhaps my favourite sighting was a pair of marsh harriers, displaying and then dropping onto the track in front of us to mate - you don't see that every day! A great day with over 60 species of bird seen - thanks Sue for making it such a joy to be out and about with nature! NA

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Spring is in the air...

Yesterday saw a walk around a different area of Wiltshire chalk. There has definitely been a switch in mindset for the resident birds towards breeding. Some are already well on their way with blackbirds collecting worms to feed their chicks, others are still getting themselves sorted, like in this picture:

Now I've heard of kung-fu pandas, I wasn't aware there was such a thing as kung-fu pheasants... Other sightings of note included lapwing displaying and nesting, lots of corn bunting and yellowhammer singing and more skylarks than you could shake a stick at, the Wiltshire chalk is truly a special place.NA

Saturday 12 April 2014

A couple of hours on the Ridgeway

A walk on the Ridgeway today in windy and unsettled conditions produced the following sightings: 2 Ring Ouzels found hiding in the trees for cover also 6+ Wheatears on the slopes, several Corn Buntings, Skylarks and Meadow pipits singing. A few small groups of Goldfinches and Linnets moving from tree to tree with small groups of Swallows flying fast just above the ground. On the way back a single Fieldfare and Yellowhammer with a couple of Buzzard and a Kestrel soaring on the wind and the star bird a fantastic Peregrine Falcon drifted overhead giving superb views. DT

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Migration check...

Today saw a check of the edge of the Marlborough Downs to see if there are any birds migrating. Very interesting it was too. There were fieldfare and redwing heading north east back to the Continent to their breeding grounds, as well as meadow pipits and linnets heading south west. Now this did initially surprise me as I would have been expecting them to move north, but I think its because these are birds that breed on Salisbury Plain, so a sort of mini-migration. Interesting stuff!

Perhaps the highlight though was a splendid immature red kite that drifted north below me. NA

Sunday 23 March 2014

A weekend of recces

Today was a long walk around the Compton Bassett area, besides a full list of weather including thunder and lightning the wildlife was keen to make the most of the gaps between the showers. Perhaps my favourite was a singing mistle thrush, one of their names is 'storm cock' - perhaps due to them singing in March as they nest early, but certainly seemed spot on today! Other highlights included three roe beer bucks feeding quietly along a hedge taking no notice of me and a pair of bullfinch taking advantage of the sunny periods on top of a hazel bush.

The primroses are still in full flower, along with dog's mercury a woodland specialist that is always nice to find. The bluebell eaves were well out in a number of the woods I passed, so not long before the flowers are carpeting the woodland floor.

Saturday saw a walk on the downs above Calne to see if the wheatear had arrived. No luck on that front but there were many yellowhammer singing and squabbling over territories. The last of the fieldfare were heading north east back to their breeding grounds on the Continent.

In the afternoon I fitted in a quick walk along the river avon looking for kingfisher and grey wagtail, a cracking male kingfisher was the definite highlight sat quietly in a bush overhanging the river. A raven flew over with its crop and beak full of food, off to feed its young which will be a week or so old already. NA

Saturday 22 March 2014

Cotswold Water Park Tour

A Full day in the Cotswold Water Park on a windy but sunny day produced the following birds. 2 Redshank, 12 Black Tailed Godwits, 1 Oystercatcher, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Pintail, Shoveller, Goosander Male and Female, Goldeneye, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Shelduck, Cetti’s Warbler, Red Crested Pochard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Jay, Lapwing, Little Egret, Green Woodpecker,Skylark, Sand Martins(300+) All the common birds where in song, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, Robin,Dunnock, Blackcap(Singing), and a several Chiffchaffs calling. A total of 44 species. DT

Sunday 16 March 2014

Cotswold Water Park Walk

A Short Afternoon walk at the Cotswold Water Park. A single Male Smew still around on lake 30 with Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling in the Trees. Birds seen on lake 74: Pintail 45, Shoveller 100+, Teal 400+, Little egret 6, Redshank 2, Dunlin 1, Oystercatcher 2 Goldeneye 1 Male 3 Females, a wondurfull sight when something disturbed them and they all took flight for a few minutes. DT

A day trip on the Somerset Levels 15-03-2014

An early start today arriving on site at 06.30, greeted by several Booming Bitterns and several Squealing Water rail. Early views of Kingfisher with a Sparrowhawk flashing over the pathway also two Roe Deer feeding on the lush grass at the side of the track. Singing from the top of a large tree was a Song Thrush. Searching the first section of open water 2 superb Male Garganey were found dabbling around in the shallows. At our first stop excellent views of both Male and Female Marsh Harrier at close range also several Buzzard taking advantage of the thermals, between here and our next stop a couple of very obliging Cettis Warblers rattled out their song from the top of the bushes giving great views. At our second stop we could see the ground nesting Grey Herons constantly bringing in fresh sticks to build up their nests. (they must feel safe here nesting in the reeds). Other birds of interest included: Great White Egrets 4-5, Peregrine Falcon 2, Black Tailed Godwit 1, Snipe 8, Little Egret 7, Little Grebe 6, Lapwing 20+, Shoveller, Wigeon, Pochard and Teal, Coal Tit 1, and a few Reed Buntings. Still some winter visitors around with Redwing and Fieldfare flying over and also a group of summer migrant arriving with small groups of Sand Martins overhead. Small numbers of Butterflies around with Small tortoiseshell and Peacock seen also a couple of Dragonflies darting around. All in all a great day with 60 bird species seen. DT

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Marlborough Downs recce

A walk today around a three hour circuit on the downs to check out the terrain and species present. Stars of the show were three fantastic male corn bunting sat on bushes singing away. Several yellowhammer and skylark were also staking claims to territories as well as good numbers of chaffinch, stock dove and lapwing. Several flocks of fieldfare and redwing were busily feeding to get in condition to migrate east again. On the route was a really nice piece of grassland, that included some juniper bushes and a very large badger sett, a site to definitely return to on a Marlborough Downs walk in the summer. NA

Cotswold Water Park Walk

Recent walk around the Cotswold Water Park produced the following birds. 2 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 16 Curlew, 1 Oystercatcher, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Pintail, Shoveler, Buzzard, Shelduck, Cetti’s Warbler, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Lapwing, Little Egret, Green Woodpecker, Bittern. All the common birds where in song, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Robin and a few Chiffchaffs calling.