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. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cotswold Water Park morning walk

Today saw us again at the Cotswold Water Park for a morning walk.

Checking out our first lake we found a fine pair of Great Crested Grebes along with a pair of Mute Swan.

Moving down the pathway we could hear a Lesser Whitethroat calling and soon found it perched at the top of a bush on the other side of the road giving a fantastic view of this shy bird.

On our next lake we saw Tufted Duck along with more Great Crested Grebes.

Further along the path Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits were seen along with Crow, Jackdaw, Robin. Wren, and both House and Sand Martins.

A single Pied Wagtail flew overhead and landed on one of the house roofs.

Following the Thames path down we had a very brief view of a kingfisher as it flew downstream also a Chiffchaff could be heard at the top of a tall tree.

On our next lake two Common Tern were perched on the fence giving a very close view of these elegant birds also on the water were Mallard and Coot.

Moving on we found Little Egret, Gadwall,Grey Heron, Cormorants and a couple of Oystercatchers feeding on the grass bank.

Heading towards our next lake we picked up both Song and Mistle Thrush calling from the tree tops with several more Chiffchaffs also a fly past Cuckoo giving a good view as it went by.

Further down the path we saw a pair of Bullfinch along with a pair of Chaffinch.

At our last stop we could hear a Nightingale in the distant with a Willow Warbler calling from a low bush which we soon found, further on we found Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting but our best find was 5 Hobbies above us catching the tiny insects that were out on the wing today, higher up above the hobbies we could also see two Buzzards riding the thermals.

A very pleasant walk at CWP and the weather stayed good for us.DT.

Darren. Thank you for an excellent morning guiding us at the Cotswold Water Park. Your knowledge of the birds and their calls – and how they use the local habitats – made it easy to get the best out of the all-too-short time we had available. As one who had extensive research and administrative roles in conservation I certainly appreciated the skill and passion with which you guided us. My only wish is that we had done this at the beginning of our stay in the Cotswold!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Up early for the Nightingales

Today saw us meet at 04:30am for our Nightingale tour.

Getting on site before the light came up so that we were in place ready for the show.

We would not be disappointed as we could hear a least 4 Nightingales singing around us, with a little more light appearing we found a silhouette of a bird in the tree just in front of us and we watched it for the next ten minutes as it belted out its song a truly amazing sound.

We moved on to another point and soon found another Nightingale again sat out in the open at the top of a small tree giving some fantastic views as it sang.

Moving around the site bird song was being heard everywhere with Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Whitethroat, along with supporting cast of Robin, Wren, Dunnock, and Song Thrush. We also managed to find a flyover Kingfisher.

Next bird to give away its presence was a Cuckoo calling from a distant tree, and after a short time we saw him flying over always great to see the Cuckoo around.

Moving on further into the scrubby area we found a couple of Linnets carrying nesting material and a couple of Reed Buntings chasing each other around.

With the light know fully up we decided to do another circuit around the area and in total we heard at least 5 Nightingales along with 2 Cuckoo and several warblers all still in full song.

What a great 4 hours we had, which goes to show if you can get out early you will be rewarded with some fantastic wildlife displays.

With the show over we retired to the local fishermans cafe for a well earned cup of tea and a bacon roll. DT

Friday, 28 April 2017

Stunning Somerset Levels

Before we had even left the car park at RSPB's Ham Wall we were listening to garden warbler and blackcap. Two species we got to know well and could tell the difference between. We also heard dunnock, wren, robin, chaffinch, blue tit, chiffchaff, song thrush and great tit

As we started down the track, we were finding new warbler species as well as more garden warbler and blackcap. We picked up willow warbler,  cetti’s warbler and whitethroat singing in the scrub reed-side habitat. 

We started to notice hirundines and had soon seen swift, swallow, house martin and sand martin.
Sedge and reed warbler were also quickly found.

In the sheltered spots it soon became obvious that dragonflies and damselflies were on the wing.
hairy-looking hairy dragonfly

On the water we watched a pair of great crested grebe, as well as pochard, coot, cormorant, shoveler, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, teal and little grebe.We eventually started picking up the odd marsh harrier.

There were five species of heron seen during before lunch! Besides the great white and little egret, flying around there were a few booming bittern, we eventually saw a few flying around. We also saw one of the glossy ibis on the far side of the pool, not quite as good as last year! It was a struggle to see a grey heron and we eventually found just the one.

At the final viewing point we hit a purple patch with two hobby flying around catching insects, two cuckoo chasing each other and seven whimbrel sat quietly on an island – brilliant stuff!

As we worked our way back along the screens, we managed to find a male garganey who decided to get out of the water just in case we hadn’t seen what a dapper chap he was.

After lunch we headed out to look around Shapwick Heath.

We were soon picking up more garden warbler in the scrub and there was a very showy male whitethroat in the car park.

At the first pool we saw a lovely flock of black-tailed godwit, some of which were in their full summer finery. A cursory glance at a little egret showed that it was in fact a cattle egret, that was soon joined by ten of its friends – here’s nine of them and our sixth species of heron of the day!
nine cattle egret

We carried on to Noah’s hide where we saw a male wigeon and a very fast-passing kingfisher. Next to appear where at least five hobby who put on a great show until the rain arrived. The stars however where the mute swans with their wrestling antics and a little egret who had worked out his own special form of fish-tickling.  
Fish-tickling little egret

Next, we popped to the viewing point behind Noah’s hide and were treated to the male marsh harrier cruising around and beating up a buzzard who was deemed to be too close.

After a brief visit to the last hide we headed back to the car park – another great day! (NA)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Early Warblers at CWP

I had one day free in Gloucestershire and wanted to photograph a variety of birds.  A quick internet search turned up The Cotswold Birdwatching Company and Darren responded very quickly that evening offering to meet me off the train at Kemble on Sunday.  Tickets were booked and come Sunday morning I was rattling through the countryside from Cheltenham looking out on spring meadows.  Darren's bird and general wildlife knowledge was very extensive due to his many years in the region and experience in all seasons.  We had beautiful clear skies, bright sunshine and an abundance of small species, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinch, Little Egret, various duck and a fleeting glimpse of a Cetti's Warbler.  

We visited a number of lakes, walked about 10kms and I got a great feel for the region.  Darren dropped me back at the station where I adjourned to the nearby pub for a pint while awaiting the train.

Thanks again to Darren and The Cotswold Birdwatching Company for a great day and photography opportunity.

Mark Davidson, Western Australia.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Wildlife aplenty in Wiltshire!

Over the last couple of weeks, while out and about in Wiltshire. We have been noticing more and more wildlife starting to rise from the winter slumber.

Singing male firecrest
A species that is really starting to make inroads into Wiltshire is the firecrest. This chap was singing away, having just arrived back to breed. The same size as a goldcrest, with a strong white supercilium, they are a lovely addition to the woodland assemblage.

long-tailed tit
Some species are getting busy with nest building, this long-tailed tit had almost finished its nest! Others are still just enjoying the spring sun, like this female kestrel, although some are already paired up and searching out a nest site.

female kestrel

A number of insects are around also, we've seen holly blue, coma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell and peacock!

One of our favourite early invertebrates is the bee-fly, here's one sunning itself.

They look like like a bee, hovering as they move across the countryside looking for early flowers to feed from. Great stuff!

Mammals too are starting to think of things other than surviving.

Here is a leap of  four hares, most likely a female on the left feeding and an entourage of three males in attendance.

Finally, the amphibians are at it too! Here's a common toad relaxing after the strains and struggles of breeding.

There's lots going on out there, so please get out and enjoy it!

Monday, 27 March 2017

CWP Full day tour

Today saw us at the Cotswold Water Park for a full day tour.

Today started with all our common birds singing around every corner. Wrens, Robins, Dunnock, Blackdirds along with Song Thrush and Newly arrived Chiffchaffs.

At our first stop a fine male Goosander swan out from the bank given some very close views as is drifted across the lake.

Moving on down the footpath a Cetti's Warrbler belted out its short but unmistakable call, now is a good time to look for these birds before the undergrowth has to much green on them.

At our next stop both male and female Scaup were found mixed up with a few Tufted Duck also a few Red crested Pochards and Great Crested Grebe.

Moving on through a tree lined area both Green and Great spotted Wodpeckers were heard along with a brief view as they
 flew from the tree tops. Here we also heard our first Blackcap singing and found it at the top of a tall tree along with great views of a pair of Treecreppers chasing each other around.

At our next lake we found a group of 14 Goldeneye with several of the males displaying to the females by throwing their heads back and pointing to the sky with their bills.

Several cormorants could be seen roosting in the trees at our next lake with a few birds still fishing on the water, checking the sky a large group of Sand Martins drifted about hunting the many tiny insects out today. Also seen in the tree tops were a mixed group of Redwing and Fieldfare.

Heading for our lunch stop we added Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Blue,Great and Long tailed Tits to our list.

Deciding to take our lunch at one of the parks hides we had one of those magical experiences that you do not get very often as two Otters played and chashed each other around in the water for a good 15 minutes giving some wonderful views, Wow what a lunch break.

After lunch we visited a different area of the park and checking the lakes found Pochard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Little Egret and a few Buzzards on the wing. We then found a small view point to check out a large quarry area and found an Oystercather sat on its nest along with a Green Sandpiper and 6 Curlew, Several Black headed Gull and Lesser Black backed Gulls were on the water also.

Other birds we found included Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow Goldfinch, Bullfinch and 4 Stock Dove flew by.

Another great day out in the countryside with undoubtably the highlight watching the Otters playing while having lunch. DT.

Hello Darren

It was a pleasure to meet you on Monday and thank you for showing me the best spots to watch birds and other wildlife in the Cotswold Water Park area. Your local knowledge was invaluable. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Red-crested Pochards (not a bird I see very often), but sitting eating our sandwiches whilst watching a pair of otters 'playing' in the lake in front of us was a real bonus. Clearly the area has so much to offer and Judy and I look forward to visiting it much more frequently in future.

Very best regards


Saturday, 11 March 2017

First signs of spring in the water park

Today saw us in the Water park for a morning visit.

Looking around some of the older lakes it was noticeable that a lot of the ducks had moved on with the temperature now on the rise.

Birds seen at our first stop include several Goldeneye along with Goosander, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Red Crested Pochard and a pair of Great Crested Grebes performing their elaborate courtship dance a joy to see at this time of year.

On our walk to our next stop we encountered several Song Thrush singing from the tree tops also lots of Robins, Wrens and Dunnock all looking at setting up thier territories ready for the breeding season.

Stopping near a small wooded area both Great spotted and Green Woodpecker where seen and heard with the Great spotted seen drumming on a dead tree.

Checking some of the Ivy covered trees we found a couple of tiny Goldcrest giving some close views as they flitted about catching tiny insects.

Our next lake seemed a bit quiet today with only a single Goosander showing close in, then a flash of blue shot passed us and flew across the lake one of two Kindfishers seen today.

Retracing our steps we found a single Redpoll along with several Reed Buntings and a couple of Bullfinches also several Chiffchaffs and a Cettis Warbler were heard calling.

Just before moving on from here we noticed a small brown animal moving on the track in front of us this turned out to be a Weasel and we watched it for a couple of minutes has it moved off down the path, Great to see these tiny mammals so close.

Scanning out over the largest lake we visited today we some found a fine male Scaup sitting in the sunshine on the far back, not that common in the water park and always a joy to see.

With a few bees out on the wing and a sighting of a Comma butterfly you can tell that spring is in the air.

Later in the day I checked a lake on my way home and found an Otter fishing out in the middle which I had some good views of as it dived down hunting for prey.

A great start to spring we are really looking forward to a wildlife packed time ahead. DT

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

CWP is the place to be!

We are getting more and more people enjoying the Cotswold Water Park, where despte the levels of development going on and the very limited number of lakes being saved for wildlife, the nature still hangs on. 

We started in Neigh Bridge car park where we managed fleeting glimpses of siskin in the alder trees, in the area also were blue tit , great tit, robin, wren and blackbird.

male blackbird

We worked our way along the edge of the main road, where we watched goldfinch also feeding on alders and a very showy male dunnock proclaiming his ownership of a stretch of hedgerow.

On the first lake we saw some red-crested pochard resplendent with their ginger afro haircuts. Also present were two female goosander, great crested grebe several tufted duck, cormorant, coot and mute swan.

As we headed on down the lane we picked up a male chaffinch feeding on the path in front of us,  long-tailed tit and goldcrest.

We crossed the river Thames on the footbridge and worked our way along to the viewing point of the next lake. Here we saw the male scaup, also present and new for us were mallard, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, common gull and black-headed gull

We quickly moved onto the next lake where we saw a great selection of duck and were a little more sheltered from the windy conditions. We added pochard, gadwall, wigeon, little egret and grey heron to the species list as well as seeing close views of great crested grebe, tufted duck and coot. We watched the gadwall and wigeon pinching weed from the coot each time they bobbed back to the surface!

We then headed through the woodland along the river Thames where we heard a few things, but didn’t see much! We heard the male bullfinch doing his ‘meep meep’ Roadrunner song, the raucous call of a pair of jay, a very loud and elusive great spotted woodpecker, a flyover kingfisher and we did just about see the song thrush singing beautifully in the late morning.

We headed out of the woods and the kingfisher put in another all to brief cameo as it shot into the distance.

As we crossed the open ground towards our next lake we had great views of male and female reed bunting and several meadow pipit.

meadow pipit

We headed over to a large lake with islands where we had great views of tufted duck, pochard, wigeon, great crested grebe and the cormorant starting to spring clean their nest sites in the trees.
Similar species at the nest lake, but on the way back along the track we had some brilliant views of a female sparrowhawk as she headed purposefully through a woodland and across a lake. A mistle thrush headed past us at this point.

As we turned the next corner we picked up a male treecreeper singing and moving around the trees, closely followed by point blank views of a pair of goldcrest displaying, the male with his orangey-yellow crest raised!

A few redwing were moving around the trees where we saw the crayfish remains and otter spraints.

We then worked our way along the edge of our last lake where we saw a male shoveler hiding in cover at the edge of the lake, finally heading back to the car park - a great day!

A more showy male shoveler


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Looking for new tour venues

Otmoor RSPB Reserve in Oxfordshire

Both myself and Nick are always on the lookout for some new and exciting venues for our tours.

So a visit to the Oxfordshire sight proved to be very interesting.

This reserve would work as a summer or winter tour venue as the potential to see various birds at different times of the year would be appealing.

On our trip several different raptors were observed with two Peregrines giving some wonderful fly pasts. With several other species on offer including Hen and Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Short eared Owl and Red kite along with some very close up views of wildfowl this would make for an interesting tour.

Also here now are Bitterns which are seen very often along with several different wader species.

In winter the reedbeds are home to a large Starling roost which always ends the day on a good note.

So a summer visit to see how the things look then and this could well be our next new tour location.

Other areas we are also looking at are the wonderful RSPB Reserve at Arne and also Studland bay both in Dorset.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Two Winter tours at The Cotswold Water Park

Cotswold Water Park.

With the weather not looking good we started out at one of the smaller reserves within the park, giving us an option to dive into one of the hides if the rain became to persistent.

There were lots of small birds around the feeders with Reed Buntings, Bullfinch, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, both Blue and Great Tit along with a single Chiffchaff chasing insects.

Just before leaving the hide with the weather improving a Kingfisher landed in the tree just yards from the hide giving a brief but very close view always good to see at close range.

Walking around the lakes a pair of Goosander were fishing on the water along with a couple of Cormorants, as we walked around a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen flying in the treetops and the yaffaling call of a Green Woodpecker was heard in the distance.

A final quick look from the hide found a Roe Deer and a Fox on the middle island.

After lunch we explored a different area with several groups of Redwing and Fieldfare being seen along with Blackbird and Song Thrush.

Out on the water several duck species were seen including Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler,  Wigeon, Goldeneye along with several Great Crested Grebe.

On the walk back a Sparrowhawk flew overhead at close range and checking out the evergreen trees we found a couple of tiny Goldcrest feeding on the very outside of the tree, again giving some wonderful views which we watched for about ten minutes as they went about their feeding totally oblivious of us standing there this was the best views we have had of this tiny bird.

With the weather not great today we still saw some wonderful wildlife with our guests highlight being the tiny Goldcrest at such close range.

It just goes to show that you should not be put of by the weather we still managed 45 species of bird and a couple of mammals. DT.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

More people than birds on CWP Walk!

One of the things we do that we don't always talk about is helping to promote the Cotswold Water Park (CWP) to a wider audience.

This usually takes the form of leading walks for the Cotswold Water Park Trust. These are for anybody to turn up on the day, there's a small charge by the CWP Trust but that's it. We vary the target species and the one on last weekend was for wintering birds.

Its a good job we both went as there were 45 of us on the walk!

We saw a great selection of waterfowl, including many goosander, the males looking resplendent in the winter sunshine. On one lake there 141 red-crested pochard, which is around one quarter of the UK population!

Male goosander

A lovely male bullfinch sat hardly ten metres from us eating berries from a bush.

The best however was kept to last with five smew seen on the same lake - including a fantastic male, certainly my favourite duck and its hard to disagree when you get a good view of him!

Two male and a female smew from a previous visit