Sunday 31 May 2015

Cotswold Water Park trip - 27th May

An afternoon trip to look at all types of nature, but particularly flowers.

We did well with orchids seeing southern marsh, green-winged, early marsh, common-spotted and some burnt-tip that were not fully out. Here's a picture I took a week or so ago of some showing just how fantastic they are!

burnt-tip orchid
We also saw a number of other interesting plants including common milkwort, pignut and pepper-saxifrage.

There were many insects on the wing that day including common blue damselfly, azure damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly, red-eyed damselfly, four-spotted chaser, down emerald and lots of common blue butterfly.

Birds were also still in evidence with the following mostly being heard or seen: nightingale, sedge warbler, willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, chiffchaff, reed bunting and common whitethroat.

With lots more seen beside it was a great afternoon! (NA)

Thursday 28 May 2015

Durlston trip

I recently lead a trip to Durlston Country Park, the weather forecast showed the country covered in sunshine, oddly though Swanage was cloudy. This turned out to be sea fog that had rolled in due to the warm air and cool seas.

This of course did not dampen our spirits as we concentrated on bird ID by song and call as well as looking at the many plants to be seen here at this time of year. We were able to compare a number of warbler species including blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff and whitethroat. We were able to also compare a number of other species including blackbird, robin, wren, dunnock and a very loud song thrush. 

As we worked our way through the scrub linnet, stonechat and meadow pipit were heard and seen. But the stars of the show were the orchids; early purple, early spider and green-winged. Here are some photos taken on a sunnier day at the same site.

Early spider orchid
Early purple orchid


Green-winged orchid

After a spot of lunch in the castle, we carried on to look at the seabirds nesting on the cliffs. The fog lifted a little, so we were able to see various species including guillemot, razorbill, cormorant, shag and fulmar. We were lucky enough to see a young raven on one of its first trips away from the nest, working out what its wings and legs were really for as it stumbled along the cliff edge. We also had great views of a female kestrel who had decided it was not a day for hunting, more of a day for relaxing on the cliffs.


 A very enjoyable day, finished off with a lesser whitethroat calling from the scrub by the car park - great stuff! (NA)

Sunday 17 May 2015


I recently lead a tour to the Cotswold Water Park, one of our warblers and nightingales tours.

Right from the start we were listening to two male blackcap singing against each other.

At the first lake we reached we saw a nice selection of waterbirds, including several fine male tufted duck as well as having a reed warbler singing to our left and a sedge warbler singing to our right, perfect for comparison.

As we carried on along the Thames we were lucky enough to see a splendid male bullfinch picking at the willow buds!

Everything went a bit mad after this - we had a garden warbler singing from both the left hand side and right hand side of the river, we tried to see the one to the right and looked straight at a lovely male reed bunting, so we tried the one to the left, he was just behind a dead tree I was using as a visual guide, more distraction as a treecreeper sneaked up the dead tree! Needless to say the garden warbler slinked away.

We were just heading away when we nearly jumped out of our skin as a cetti's warbler fired an opening salvo from about a metre away in a bush.

Chiffchaff were regularly singing on our route and we saw a male soon afterwards.

We next had the perfect chance to compare a blackcap and a garden warbler as they were singing from adjacent bushes, the differences were noted by everyone. The first of three cuckoo started to call from the back of the lake we were stood by. Great to hear one again.

Another cuckoo seen by me in Wiltshire

At the next lake we saw a pair of red-crested pochard, as well good numbers of common tern and black-headed gull.

We finished our walk at an area of scrub where we could hear every warbler we had already heard plus willow warbler, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat. We were also lucky enough to hear at least three nightingale singing against each other and we were stood in the middle! A fitting end to a brilliant walk. (NA)

Sunday 10 May 2015

Somerset Levels Tour

Another Amazing day on the Levels.

Just a few highlights of the amazing wildlife seen on our tour.

A six am start produced several Booming Bitterns also a couple of fly overs.

As the day warmed up we saw a total of six flying bitterns along with five Marsh Harriers two Male and three Female.

Five sightings of Great White Egret with some good close views of them fishing out in the open.

We heard several Cuckoo calling and were rewarded with two flying close by chasing each other.

Several Blackcap and Garden Warbler singing which enabled us to identify the different notes of each species, always a tricky one to get to grips with!

Other warblers included Reed, Cetti's, Willow, and Chiffchaff, also several Whitethroats around the bushes.

A fly by Kingfisher was the only sighting of the day but still good to see the bright blue flash as they pass.

Several waders on the drained area included 75+ Black Tailed Godwits (some in fine summer plumage), with singles of Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Ruff, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper.

The two highlights of the day were the 20+ Hobby's hawking over the reedbed catching the many flies that had just emerged, and the Female Roe Deer and her young Fawn by the side of the track, she was keeping a keen eye on us as we walked past.

Ducks included Pochard, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted and a fine male Garganey giving some close views.

Lots of Swifts, Swallows with a few each of House and Sand Martins mixed in.

Some other birds seen included three Common Term, Sparrowhawk, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, Bullfinch and a couple of Water Rail calling, total birds seen 62 species.

Plenty of Marsh frogs in the pools they do make a rather strange noise always worth spending a few minutes listening to them croaking away.

Still not many Dragonflies and Butterflies out and about yet still a little cold, but they should start to appear soon.DT

Saturday 2 May 2015

An hour on the Ridgeway

With only a couple of hours to spare I decided to visit the Wiltshire Ridgeway.

Entering the footpath with the fields to my left I could see a lot of movement above the crops, checking them out through the binos I could see that there was a mixed flock of Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Linnet all good farmland birds.

Moving on and over to the bottom ridge I noticed several blackbirds in the scrubby area in front of me, moving a little closer most of the birds flew out and away from me but one of the birds flew directly over me, as it went I noticed that it had a white neck ring making it a male Ring Ouzel, this was one of the birds I was hoping to see today.

The ring ouzel had landing in the top of a tree not to far from me so I sat down on the ground so as not to disturb it, which let me watch it for a good five minutes before it flew off down the valley and disappeared.

Moving back towards the car two Whitethroats were seen along with more Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings one sat out at the top of a tree giving a good photo opportunity. A nice hour spent on the Ridgeway.

On returning home a Peregrine flew low over the house. DT