Monday, 25 September 2017

CWP trip, pleasant as always!

We started off from the Gateway Centre with a look at the lake there. We’d soon seen black-headed gull, coot, great crested grebe, mute swan, tufted duck and a distant kingfisher. Three Egyptian geese flew over the lake, an unusual sight at CWP.
Winter plumaged black-headed gull


On the bird feeders we had great views of blue tit, great tit, dunnock and goldfinch.
After some very brief sightings of bacon butties and coffee, we headed off along the canal footpath.
The next bird seen was the first of what was to be many robin. Other species found along here were wren and woodpigeon.

One of many robins

We turned along the back of the lake and spent some time trying to see wren and goldcrest, both of which proved elusive.

As we worked our way along the footpath a grey heron flew over and we had great views of a juvenile buzzard, who was very vocal indeed. There were also a number of blackbird flying around the hedgerows at this point. As we walked through the village, we saw a lot of jackdaw, that were not always in pairs!

We made a slight detour to have a look at a very showy great spotted woodpecker.

We worked our way through the village and along the lane. We had a fair few birds in the hedgerows, not always showing themselves so well! We spent some time trying to see another goldcrest, but did see some cracking long-tailed tit, as well as more blue tit and great tit. We had ever so brief views of a chiffchaff and nuthatch at this point.

Chiffchaff enjoying the afternoon sun.


As we worked our way along the old railway line we seemed to be pushing a wave of birds ahead of us, new for us along here were chaffinch and a fly over cormorant. (NA)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Monthly Autumn/Winter walks programme

We are just about to start running our Autumn/Winter monthly walks at The Cotswold Water Park.

These walks will start at Waterhay car park and will run on the first Saturday of the month from October through to March.

The cost of these walks will be £10 per person and will last approximately 3 hours.

Meeting time 08:45 to start tour at 09:00 with no need to book just turn up on the day and enjoy.

Darren and Nick.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Farmland birds put on a show!

We recently had a great trip to the Pewsey Downs to look at farmland birds and other downland wildlife, with a bit of human history thrown in for good measure.

We had not left the car park and had managed to see a number of the hoped for priority farmland birds with corn bunting, yellow wagtail, whitethroat, skylark and linnet all see well in the morning sunshine.

Male yellow wagtial
We'd had a discussion about whether everyone had seen a yellow wagtail. I'd said if you're not sure I'd think you hadn't. It turned out I was right, who wouldn't remember seeing one of these fellows!

As we carried on soon saw stonechat and tree sparrow, the latter again high on our list of hoped for species.

Female Stonechat
We moved on to spend some time contemplating the human usage of the wider landscape by looking at the line of a Roman Road by some round barrows. The road runs by the barrows and was built c1,800 years ago. The barrows were older than this when the road was built past them. Amazing stuff.

We stopped to enjoy the views to the north, in the distance was the Cotswolds and we could almost pick out where the guys were staying, c1 hour away by car.

There were decent numbers of butterfly on the wing also, with marbled white especially present in good numbers.

Marbled white
As we returned to the car park along the escarpment we watched the raptors there enjoying the updraft, buzzard, red kite, kestrel and sparrowhawk were all present. (NA)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Even more orchids at CWP!

As with most recent tours, we started at  Lower Moor Farm Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) reserve and were soon listening and watching a very showy whitethroat and an equally showy ‘plink, plink, fizz’ reed bunting

By the hide we heard garden warbler, blackcap, chaffinch and chiffchaff singing. After a brief stop in the hide where we mostly watched the four-spotted chasers, well chasing around, also red-eyed damselfly and common blue damselfly.  There was also what was most likely an emperor dragonfly exuviae on a stick – great stuff!

Red-eyed damselfly

We started to find more warbler species, as well hear more of the ones we had picked up earlier. with, cetti’s warbler and willow warbler being heard but not seen. Other birds singing included dunnock, wren, robin, blackbird and song thrush.

We added blue-tailed to our damselfly list and the roundhouse-shaped cowshed there was a reed warbler singing from the reeds, as he should be.  

Next, we arrived at Clattinger farm – I should have brought sun glasses for everyone!
Amongst the plants we saw were cowslip, green-winged orchid, early marsh-orchid, marsh valerian , bee orchid, burnt-tip orchid, common milkwort, bird’s-foot trefoil, southern marsh orchid and common spotted-orchid. We also sniffed and tasted pepper saxifrage and salad burnet.  

burnt-tip orchid

We also saw a few butterflies, including painted lady, common blue and small copper.

small copper


Sadly the grass snake had moved on, but still, what a cracking morning! (NA)

Sunday, 4 June 2017

RSPB Ham Wall


Today saw us at the fantastic RSPB Ham Wall Reserve in Somerset.

It was very evident that a lot of the birds around today where busy feeding young, several Whitethroat, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers all seen with beaks full of insects around their nesting areas.

On the first viewing point a couple of Great White Egrets where feeding also Grey Heron and a few Cormorants sunning themselves on the wooded platforms.

Several duck species are around with a few groups of young which included Pochard and Mallard, other ducks included Shoveler, Gadwall and Tufted Duck.

Moving to the first hide we saw a couple of Marsh Harriers in the distance which turned out to be the male and female passing food items, we watched from the hide and saw 3-4 birds all hunting over the Reed beds. Two Bitterns flew around along with a few Hobbies hunting the many dragonflies now on the wing, these agile hunters are always great to see.

On the pool in front of the hide was a pair of Great Crested Grebes with two well grown young also a female Pochard with two young and a Mute Swan with seven grey balls of fluff that swam past at close range.

Several smaller birds could be seen in the reed beds which turned out to be a couple of Reed Buntings and several Bearded Tits.

Moving on towards the bottom end of the reserve we found a couple of Cattle Egrets along with a single Glossy Ibis feeding out on the marsh area. A nice fly by Cuckoo gave a close view.

On our return back, both Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers were still singing loudly along with Cetti's Warblers which seem to be everywhere. Other birds seen included Song Thrush, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Swallow, Swift, House Martin, Coot, Moorhen, Reed Warbler, Little Grebe and Buzzard.

A good mix of Dragon and Damselflies are around along with both Red Admiral and Specked Wood Butterflies.

A shorter visit today but still very productive with several wildlife highlights, this is a place I always look forward to leading tours.DT


Friday, 26 May 2017

Otmoor - a great choice!

We recently had our first walk at Otmoor RSPB reserve in Oxfordshire.

It was well worth the wait!

This is an area of lowland moor that has survived, its now in the control of the the RSPB being managed for breeding and wintering waterbirds and waders, with a few surprises thrown in.

We started off with a bit of warbler ID, namely garden warbler, blackcap, whitethroat, chiffchaff and willow warbler. As we were listening to the garden warbler the unmistakable sound of a turtle dove purring drifted across our conscience. An all too rare sounds now, a joy wherever we are lucky enough to hear it. The bird decided it was only fair to give us a flyby view - brilliant!

We reached the wetland area to be greeted by a drumming snipe! This is the male's display flying were he spreads his tail to reveal two special, small, outer tail feathers that vibrate as he does a run of undulating flight - another special sound, especially in Southern England.

We next heard and then saw what was the first of many sightings of cuckoo. We reckon there were at least three males and a female present.

male cuckoo, well, cuckooing.
The warbler ID continued as we compared sedge and reed warbler. Here's one of the male reeds.

male reed warbler
We soon picked up a pair of crane feeding on the marsh as well as a number of hobby and marsh harrier busily chasing around.

Good numbers of duck were present, hopefully breeding with shoveler, teal, pochard, tufted duck, mallard and gadwall all seen well.

I think the highlight for me was the shear number of waders breeding, we saw many, many pairs of lapwing and redshank, as well as the aforementioned snipe, and a few curlew and oystercatcher. The RSPB have spent a lot of time and money making great habitat and protecting these special areas from predators and fingers crossed it will be a bumper year!

Pair of redshank
What a great place! Roll on the next visit!! (NA)

Monday, 15 May 2017

Orchids and nightingales at CWP


We started our walk at Lower Moor Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) reserve and were soon listening to garden warbler, blackcap, chaffinch and chiffchaff singing. 

After a brief stop in the hide we carried on around the walkway to see mute swan, greylag goose Canada goose and great crested grebe.

Further along the walkway we saw a damselfly exuviae on a sedge stem. As the season progresses the stems of many lakeside plants will be heaving with these, a stunning sight!

We started to find more warbler species, as well hear more of the ones we had picked up earlier. with, cetti’s warbler whitethroat and willow warbler all being heard but not always seen. Other birds singing included dunnock, wren, robin, and song thrush.

After some more damselfly watching we found a showy whitethroat and a skulking reed warbler by the roundhouse-shaped cowshed.

Male reed warbler doing his best to hide.

Next, we arrived at Clattinger farm – what a special place!

Amongst the plants we saw were cowslip, adder’s-tongue fern, green-winged orchid, early marsh-orchid, marsh valerian and common spotted-orchid. Then the ones sniffed were sweet vernal-grass, pepper saxifrage and salad burnet.  We even managed to track down a very late snake’s-head Fritillary!

Green-winged orchid



We finished with a quick visit to a site to listen to more warblers. We picked up a sedge warbler here as were as more garden warblers than you can shake a stick at. Finally, we were graced with a sustained burst of song from a nightingale – fantastic!

A sedge warbler giving it his all. 
(NA)