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)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Otmoor Trip

Today's trip to Otmoor

First birds seen today were six Redwings flying over good to see they have arrived for the winter.

Moving out to the first hide we could see a large flock of small birds feeding along the path these turned out to be Linnets feeding on the food put out for them, also mixed in were Reed buntings and Goldfinch.

At the first screen we looked through the various ducks in various stages of moult, Several Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, and Gadwell were found which proved a real education for our guests.

A couple of Tufted duck came past along with a few Wigeon.

Moving further around a Great spotted woodpecker sat at the top of a dead tree which was then joined by a second bird.

Moving on to the next screen we saw 4 small birds feeding on the rose bay willow herb seeds which turned out to be Redpoll.

Several Red kite were seen over the Reedbed along with a couple of Kestrels hunting the marsh.

Some of our more interesting sightings turned up in the afternoon on our second trip around, which included  a fine Marsh Harrier which flew directly overhead along with a fly by Bittern again flying right over us.

A quick look at the second screen produced several Snipe that we looked at through the scope to obtain some wonderful views of their cryptic plumage.

Again a few butterflies were on the wing with both Red Admiral and Small copper.

Out in the fields both Roe and Fallow deer were seen.

Again another wonderful area for wildlife with some great close views obtained. DT.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Pagham Trip

Today saw us at Pagham Harbour nature reserve in West Sussex.

A quick check on the ferry pool produced 1 Avocet,1 Snipe and a couple of Teal.

Moving on down towards the estuary we found a group of 6 Grey partridge tucked in at the edge of the field, 2 Kestrels were out hunting in the sunshine as we moved on.

Further down the track the landscape opens out to look across farmland and here we saw and heard Skylark and Meadow pipits giving fantastic views through the telescope, further on we found a couple of Goldcrsts and a Dartford warbler showed up in the Gorse, always nice to see these hear. 

A few Swallows and Martns were still on the move overhead.

We decided to stop for lunch at the hide watching the waders out on the mud, we could see Curlew,Turnstone and a small group of Dunlin along with five species of Gull (Black headed, Lesser black backed, Great black backed, Herring and some very smart looking Mediterranean Gulls). As we we're looking out the back of the hide towards the busy area we had a brief view of the Ring ouzel that had been around for a few days a nice surprise to see it.

After lunch we saw a couple of Sandwich tern fishing in the estuary.

A walk along the shingle beach produced a good range of Butterflies with Small copper, Speckled wood, Painted lady and around 25 Red admiral all enjoying the sunshine.

With time fast moving on we headed back to the car park finding a few more of the common birds species on the way, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbid all seen.

We then decided to try the North wall area which is about 15 mns drive around the bay, this turned out to be a good move as a lot of the birds were using this as their feeding area.We saw good numbers of Redshank, Black tailed Godwit with a couple of Bar tailed Godwit mixed in, also several smart Pintail along with a single male Eider.

 Further on a small group of Brent geese flew overhead as we watched a Greenshank feeding out on the mud with a group of Golden plover and some Grey plover also. 


Mixed in with the many gulls that were using the shingle bank as a roost point we found a single Spoonbill which seemed to be fast asleep in typical spoonbill pose, it did stick its head up once just so we could confirm its identity. 

Moving back we found a Kingfisher and a couple of vocal Cetti's Warblers in the bushes.

A very pleasant and relaxing day with a total of 50+ species of birds seen. DT.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn/Winter walks around CWP

We have now started our Autumn/Winter walks program. These tours run on the first Saturday of the month from October through to March with the next walk taking place on Saturday 4th November meeting at Waterhay car park for a 09:00 start. Price £10 per person.

On our first outing we were greated with drizzle but the wildlife still put on a good display with several points of interest.

Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Bullfnch, Goldfinch, with both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers all seen within the first area we explored.

A great view of a Kestrel hovering over an area of rough ground as it searched for breakfast.

With the weather still very mild the number of ducks are still very low but we did find a few groups of Wigeon around along with several Tufted Duck and around 30 Great Crested Grebes fishing as a group. As winter moves on the number of Duck will increase to well over 4000.

There are some obvious signs that Otters have been using the lakes we found a couple of spraints (Otter Poo) left behind on some rocks on the waters edge.

A small group of six Snipe flew over along with six Curlew with plenty of Black headed Gulls around to.

Our two best sightings came a bit later with a juvenile female Marsh Harrier seen hunting over the edge of the reed bed and a close view of a juvenile Kingfisher that gave a good fly past as well.

There are still some butterflies around we saw Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Comma, and Small Copper,  also several hornets were observed from two nests along with a wasp nest that was also found.

All great stuff considering the weather conditions.

So dont forget to come along next time no need to book just turn up on the day who knows what you might see.DT/NA

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)