Sunday 26 November 2017

CWP monthly walk for November

For the second month in a row the rain stopped on the stroke of 9 O'clock!

We headed out in the hope of seeing winter thrushes like fieldfare and redwing and we were not disappointed. They too were taking the opportunity to get out and about after the rain!

Amongst the water birds seen were 16 little egret positioned around the same lake, looking for chances to snaffle a late breakfast.

Duck were also present in good numbers with pochard, tufted duck, mallard, wigeon , teal, gadwall and shoveler seen well allowing us time to look at the males and in particular the females and talk about the different ways to identify them.

The hedgerows were also full of other species like chiffchaff, goldcrest, bullfinch and song thrush.

The next walk is on Saturday 2nd December, starting at 9am at the Waterhay car park at the Cotswold Water Park. Its only £10 per person.

We hope to see you there!h

Somerset Levels in November

As we planned to finish with the starling roost that has recently been on Ham Wall, we started on Shapwick Heath NNR.

We were soon hearing the first of many well-hidden cetti’s warblers. A sound we became very familiar with!

Many of the berries had already been eaten, but there were still a few blackbird  finishing off the last ones. Other species seen at the star included blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and dunnock.
As we reached the reeds we were soon watching a great white egret flying by on those massive wings.

A movement in the reeds betrayed the presence of a female stonechat, who put on a great show.
Female stonechat

A squealing noise from nearby was a water rail having spotted another nearby. We were next distracted we a fantastic male marsh harrier that lifted from the nearby reeds and headed off into the distance. This was quickly followed by the pinging of a couple of bearded tits, the male was good enough to land in full view for a brief period.

On the first pool there was a nice selection of waterfowl including: coot, gadwall, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, shoveler, mute swan and cormorant.

The next species of heron was soon flying by in the shape of a bittern which gave prolonged views, albeit from behind as is headed across the reedbed.

As we worked our way towards the next hide, we picked up goldcrest in the trees, along with chiffchaff, chaffinch and long-tailed tit. We heard a noise form the birch and alder across the river and detoured to look at siskin, lesser redpoll and goldfinch feeding on the seeds and cones.
As we headed to Noah’s hide, we had brilliant views of another great white egret.

great white egret

At Noah’s hide we saw a distant marsh harrier sat on a tree as well as a sleeping male pintail also black-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull and herring gull were new.

The next hide was quiet for birds, but insects were taking advantage of the late morning sun to warm up on the wood, this included a lovely make ruddy darter.

It was then back to the car park for lunch and a nice cup of coffee from the RSPB hut.
We were soon hearing more cetti’s warbler and water rail along the tracks in Ham Wall. At the first viewing point we had decent views of common snipe, little grebe teal and mallard.

 Another detour to look from the Taw view hide paid off when the shout ‘bittern’ went up from the other side of the hide, we were son getting great views of the bird hiding in the reeds.
Bittern in the bottom right corner

We headed next to the Avalon hide where we were lucky of see enough to see an adult male marsh harrier quartering the reed bed right in front of the hide with the sun on him – fantastic!
We headed for the final viewing platform, where we saw some splendid lapwing catching the afternoon sun. We also picked up Canada goose, and greylag goose  here.

It was then back to the car park to watch the starling come into roost, we picked the middle site which meant we saw the birds heading in large flocks of tens of thousands to the other roost as well as seeing many, many thousands whooshing down into the reeds near us.  A perfect end to a great day! (NA)

Monday 13 November 2017

Somerset Levels - always a pleasure!

We started off on Ham Wall RSPB Reserve.

We were soon hearing the first of many well-hidden Cetti's warbler. Also picked up around the car park area were blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and blackbird.

As we continued along the path we heard another elusive species the water rail, sounding like a squealing pig! Another nice we would hear regularly with no sightings.

We reached the first viewing area where we were able to compare little egret with the much bigger great white egret.

Little egret poised for the snatch

Other birds at this point included coot, moorhen, mallard, tufted duck, shoveler, mute swan, grey heron and cormorant.

As we worked our way towards the next viewing point, we picked up goldcrest in the trees, along with chiffchaff, coal tit, goldfinch, chaffinch and long-tailed tit. Also flying over the reeds was a marsh harrier. A cracking bird!

We then reached the next viewpoint where we added gadwall, teal, wigeon, Canada goose, and lapwing to our list from the pools. The next thing we picked up was a pinging noise from the reeds, this was the first of many bearded tits. We had all to brief views of the birds as they moved across the reeds.

Jays were much on evidence and we managed to see a couple trundling across the reeds, as well as magpie and carrion crows who were busy annoying a buzzard. At the back of one of the pools was a very stealthy little grebe who did a great job of hiding as we tried to get a good look at him.

We then worked our way along the bank of the Dyke. Insects were much in evidence with common darter, migrant hawker and loads of hornet present.

We had great views of a pair of stonechat who were feeding along the edge of the reeds.
Our next watchpoint was a hide with a panoramic view of the reedbed. Here we saw three marsh harrier and more views of the same duck as previously recorded. We headed back to the car park for a well earned lunch.

In the afternoon we soon picked up song thrush and redwing.
Redwing, hiding his redwings!

At the first hide we managed to pick up some common snipe hiding in the weedy cover.  A group of greylag goose flew in and we spotted some white dots in the distance that were a flock of cattle egret

We then headed to the new hides where despite the noise of the chipper, we managed to see a great crested grebe, black-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull and herring gull

A very pleasent day out and about on the Somerset Levels. (NA)