Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Spring on the Levels

We started on Ham Wall RSPB reserve with the last of the showers passing overhead.  

Before we had even left the car park we were listening to, blue tit, chiffchaff, robin and blackcap.
As we started down the track, we were finding new species and soon added  willow warbler and  Cetti’s warbler

A quick look at the first reed bed gave us our first view of great white egret this chap was stood behind some mute swan and looked every bit as big.  

We reached our first cover and were soon seeing a nice selection of waterfowl, including great crested grebe, as well as lesser black-backed gull, coot, cormorant, shoveler, moorhen, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, teal, grey heron and little grebe

Great Crested Grebe

A  kingfisher was nice enough to pitch on the reeds opposite us so we could get a reasonable look at it. Perhaps my favourite bird of the day was the long-tailed tit who was a metre or so from us and completely oblivious to us watching – brilliant!

A few swallow, and sand martin were feeding over the lakes and our heads.  

As we worked our way along the footpath, we continued to pick up new species including great tit, blackbird, wren, dunnock, reed warbler, song thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, lesser redpoll and brambling.

Male teal

At the second viewing point we had great views of a male marsh harrier and a pair of bittern flying around and around like a couple of WW1 fighters in a dogfight!

On our way back to the car park we heard a distant tawny owl hooting and picked up great spotted woodpecker for our every growing list. We were also able to compare the great white egret to the much smaller little egret.

After lunch we worked our way around Shapwick Heath where we saw a few extra birds from Noah’s Hide such as  wigeon as well as snipe, herring gull, Canada Goose, greylag goose and black-headed gull.

At the last little hide we had fantastic views of another male marsh harrier, as well as one of his females and a male reed bunting singing from a willow.

The last bird of the day was an elusive Treecreeper in the wet woodland.

All-in-all a great day! (NA)

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A trip to Arne

Today saw us at the RSPB  Reserve of Arne on the Dorest coast.

Behind the small information centre they have a feeding station which attracts several species into feed. Several chaffinch, blue tit , great tit are the main birds but nuthatch, siskin and coal tit were all seen.

Both green and Great spotted woodpeckers were heard and then seen flying around the treetops.

On our walk to the marsh several Chiffchaff were seen and heard singing along with a single willow warbler all newly arrived for the summer breeding season. We also had a fine view of a treecreeper feeding in the trees.

Out on the marsh several Curlew were found along with oystercatchers, shelduck, teal, little egret and Great Crested Grebe out on the water. Before we moved on a Fox ran across the marsh putting up a few birds as it went.

Moving onto another area we saw a couple of Sika deer hiding in the foliage very common here at Arne.

From our next viewpoint around 600 black tailed godwits were feeding on the mud all in various stages of plumage with some showing off their fine rich red bellies.

A couple of buzzards drifted slowly along the back tree line making the godwits fly up giving a fantastic view as the wheeled around in front of us.

On our walk around the Heath we picked up a single wheatear along with a few displaying meadow pipits.

Looking out again over the marsh a few swallows and martins moved through at a fast pace not looking at stopping, also a few sandwich tern were plunge diving out in the bay. Several gulls were loafing around on the sandbanks which included black headed, lesser black backed and a couple of greated black backed gulls picked out.

With the weather closing in we returned to the car and called it a day.

Not the best of conditions for a spring day but still a lot going on and well worth being out and about at this fantastic reserve.DT

Monday, 19 March 2018

Final Winter Duck Tour

Today we had our final Winter Duck tour of the season.

With the harsh weather still around it would be interesting to see what is still with us.

On our first lake we found a small group of Red Crested Pochard along with Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe.

Moving on down the path we found in total 6 Chiffchaff all busy looking for food on the ground and low in the bushes, in the treetops 2 Great spotted Woodpeckers chased each other around.

Scanning one of the larger lakes we found a large raft of gulls mostly Black headed along with Common and a few Lesser black backed mixed in, also 5 Sand martins flying low over the surface hawking for insects. A small group of duck on the far bank turned out to be Wigeon on closer inspection.

Two of the smaller lakes both had a pair of Great Crested Grebes on them which gave a little bit of their head shaking display as we moved on by.

A few Redwing and Fieldfare were flying around along with a small group of Goldfinch, also seen a tiny Goldcrest searching for insects within the Ivy and a couple of Song Thrush.

Next stop we found a few different duck with Common Pochard found along with Gadwall and Mallard, moving onto our next view point we found the highlight of the day a fine red head Smew along with 2 female Goosander great to catch up with the two species.

On our walk back we found a couple of male Goosander along with several pairs of Goldeneye also seen a Little Egret fishing along the river.

A good mix of both summer and winter birds around today making for a very enjoyable tour.DT

Saturday, 17 March 2018

First Spring Tour

Our first spring tour and we are greated with snow flurries and cold wind!!!!

Leaving the car park the first bird we found was a fine Great spotted Woodpecker moving its way up the trunk of a large tree also a single Robin sat on a low branch.

Looking out over the lake a male Goosander was found along with several Red Crested Pochard and a few Tufted duck, further round a Great Crested Grebe sat on the water keeping out of the wind.

In the lower bushes several Long tailed Tits, Blue Tit and a couple of Great tits were seen.

Moving onto a larger lake we found both male and female Goldeneye along with two pairs of Wigeon    and several small groups of gulls on the water, both Black headed and Common Gull in them. Other birds seen around the lake were Grey Heron, Cormorant and a small group of Sand Martins feeding low over the water.

Looking over one of the smaller lakes we found a pair on Great Crested Grebes which put on a wonderful display for us showing their weed dance, great to see this and now is the time to be looking out for this on the smaller lakes around the park.

Smaller birds were a little hard to find today but we did find Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Goldfinch,

Further on another chiffchaff this time singing from the tree tops and a Red Kite drifted overhead.

Other birds seen included Reed Bunting, Collard Dove, Rock, Crow, Jackdaw and a small group of Redwing.

Just goes to show that the birds are still around even when the weather is not as expected for this time of year.DT

Friday, 2 March 2018

March walk cancelled


We have cancelled the walk on the 3rd March due to the weather conditions.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A chilly Somerset Levels

We started our walk on RSPB Ham Wall, heading to Shapwick Heath NNR in the afternoon.

One of the first things we saw was the pair of stonechat along the large drainage ditch.

Male stonechat

Many of the berries had long been eaten, but there were still a few blackbird and song thrush foraging around the bushes. Other species seen at the start included blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and dunnock.

At the first viewing point we picked up a nice selection of waterfowl: coot, great crested grebe, gadwall, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, pintail, shoveler, mallard, mute swan and cormorant.
We were lucky enough to catch some of the display of the grebes too – brilliant!

Other birds seen here included the first two of many marsh harrier, as well as a grey heron and a rather splendid glossy ibis

Great crested grebe not carrying a feather!

We had a brief detour to look for a kingfisher that proved elusive. But we did see little grebe, moorhen and pochard.

Just along the path and we bumped into a little egret next to a great white egret, perfect for comparisons!

As we carried on, we heard a few blasts of some well-hidden cetti’s warblers. As we worked our way along the scrub and bushes, we saw chaffinch and long-tailed tit as well as goldfinch feeding on the seeds and insects.

A brief check from the second viewing point provided more marsh harriers, then onto the return path from which we had great views of a male bullfinch feeding on buds.

We carried onto the Avalon hide where we had excellent views of waterfowl and more marsh harriers, some of which came very close to us.On our way back for lunch we picked up the slightly less elusive kingfisher in the same area as before.

The afternoon started with an even closer view of a male bullfinch. We heard more Cetti’s warblers and had brief views of a goldcrest moving through the vegetation. We headed for Noah’s Lake where we had very close views of a great crested grebe, grey heron and a common snipe. Out on the lakes there were 1000s of duck, included in their number was a male goldeneye.


A great day! (NA)

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Winter tours

With winter drawing to a close we are looking back over our monthly tours which we started in 2017/2018.

Winter can be a fantastic time for Birdwatching in the Cotswold Waterpark with many thousands of waterbirds around, along with a few rearer species on show.

Some of the highlights of our recent tours have included Bittern, Marsh harrier, Peregrine falcon, Short eared owls, Smew, Ring necked Duck, Great northern diver to name a few.

Also large groups of Redwing and Fieldfare can be seen around the park feeding in the bushes along with groups of Siskin and Redpoll.

On the water several duck species can be seen and this year we saw large numbers of Pintail in the waterpark always nice to see these elegant ducks.

Our most commented on bird by our clients was the tiny Goldcrest that we had some very close encounters with, incredible to see them this close.

If you would like to come along on these tours we are thinking about runnng them again in 2018/2019, please email us and we can add you to our list, these trips are incredible value for money and you really don't know what you might see.

Looking forward now to our spring and summer tours.DT