Thursday 28 April 2016

Somerset Levels

A full day on the Somerset levels

Lovely sunshine to start our day on the Somerset Levels.

Today we started at 07:00 to make the most of the good weather.

Lots of birds noise today all around with Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Song and Mistle Thrush, several Cetti's warblers and Bitterns booming from almost every area of the reserve.

At our first stop we soon found a fine male Marsh harrier quartering the reed beds in front of us giving some very close views as he drifted past. We continued watching from here and saw another 2 males and 2 females again giving fantastic views. After an hour or so we moved onto our next viewpoint.

Scanning a wetter marshy area several waders could be seen and looking at them through the telescope 5 Greenshank, 50 Black tailed godwit, 2 Common sandpiper, 3 Little ringed plover, 3 Dunlin, a Whimbrel, Redshank and Glossy ibis were found.

Moving onto a higher viewpoint both Great white and Little Egret were seen flying in and out of the area.

Checking on the ducks we found Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard a pair of Pintail and 4 Gargany, also seen here were Grey heron and 2 Bittern.

With time moving on we headed back to the car for a lunch break, this proved to be a good move as we could here trumpeting coming form over our heads and looking up saw 6 Common cranes circling over us great to see these birds so low giving good views.

After lunch we headed out looking at a different area in the hope of finding more Marsh harriers and another 3 birds were found again giving very close views as they drifted past.

Moving to a larger area of open water we had an excellent view of a pair of Great crested grebes performing their courtship dance always nice to see this at close range.

Other birds seen here included Buzzard, Swift, House and Sand martins, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Willow warbler and Chiffchaff.

We then headed back to our first location for the final part of the day, here we saw 4 Hobbies hunting the many tiny flies that were on the wing today, also a Cuckoo called and flew past.

Here again we had good views of 4 Bitterns that flew in and out of the reed beds.

In total 58 bird species were seen along with 5 different butterflies Orange tip, Green veined white, Large white, Peacock and Brimstone.

I do really enjoy this area when the suns out its an amazing place to be.DT

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Warblers and Nightingales

Early Start.

An early start for our tour looking and listening for Warblers and Nightingales.

First birds heard were Cuckoo and a Grasshopper warbler calling in the scrub, moving on Whitethroat, Sedge warbler and several Linnets were seen.

Stopping at a higher vantage point we could hear a Nightingale which was deep inside the vegetation no chance of a view of this one so we moved on.

Further on both Chiffchaff and Willow warblers were both seen and heard well, along with Blackcap, Garden warbler, Sedge warbler and a Lesser whitethroat called in the distance.

Now in the favourite nightingale area we waited for one to call and it was not long before we heard one close by, patients was now required in the hope of a view of the bird. After a few minutes the bird sang again and this time we could see the bird sitting out in the open, the bird remained for about ten minutes given some fantastic views through the telescope.

Moving to another area several more species were seen including Common tern, Buzzard, Hobby, Cuckoo, Bullfinch, Snipe, Swift, Sand martin and House martin.

A pleasant early morning tour with some great views of a Nightingale. DT

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Springtime in The Cotswold Water Park

A morning tour.

A lovely spring morning, with blue skies, and the sounds of spring drifting across the Park.

More signs of spring are appearing each day, including the first sprigs of white Blackthorn flowers dotting the hedgerows,
Elsewhere around the park, new migrants are arriving daily, with Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, and Chiffchaffs all seen and heard in good number this morning.

Also out and about, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Green woodpecker, Song thrush, Cettis Warbler and Long-tailed Tits to name just a few.

Nests full of young Grey Herons on the island with a few Little Egrets now starting to move in also.

Several small groups of Swallows and Sand Martins moving overhead.

Still a few Goldeneye hanging around before they fly off to their breeding areas further north.

Buzzards riding the thermals and a lone Sparrowhawk dashed by.

Great Crested Grebes performing their courtship dance always a delight to see.

All looking good for the coming months for another fantastic year of wildlife watching. DT.

Monday 11 April 2016

Keep feeding the birds!

I've recently seen my first swallows of the summer, there are chiffchaff singing seemingly everywhere and the wibbly-wobbly song of the willow warbler is starting to drift out from the trees. Colours other than brown and green are starting to appear in the woodlands and fields as flowers appear and the female hares are boxing away the overly amorous males.

So Spring is starting to coil up, but has it really sprung yet?

The short answer is no, not really. If you've been outside much recently its that period of the year where you might need your woolly hat one minute when its cloudy, but as soon as the sun pokes through its quickly removed.

As you can perhaps guess from the heading, its a tricky time for the wildlife. They are looking to get in condition to breed, for the males that can mean periods of singing and protecting a territory and/or mate from other males and for females getting in tip-top physical condition to produce eggs.

So to help the birds in and around your garden please keep feeding them, perhaps don't leave things like peanuts loose on bird tables, make sure they are in metal mesh containers so they have to be broken up, but do keep going!