Saturday, 18 June 2016

Back to Upton Warren at last!

We have been so busy travelling around and enjoying ourselves that we have seriously neglected our 'local' reserves, particularly the best and that's Upton Warren, so after work last Thursday, yes we still do some of that, we took ourselves down there for the afternoon, as usual it was marvellous, we had our first look at this years Avocets and chicks:
Proud parent with two very young chicks,
 Dad stands guard while Mom looks after the eggs,
 Little Mr independent,
 yes the eggs are fine now keep the warm and settle down.

Young Lapwing were about too:
This one ventures off,
 but there's always a parent standing guard.
The Shelduck ducklings are very independent, but Mom & Dad have just turned up.
These two Black-headed Gull chicks have found somewhere to hang out away from all the others.
Elsewhere on the reserve the Goslings seem to be doing very well.
So just a few other pics, Dunnock,
 Greenfinch & Bullfinch,
 Blue Tit,
 Reed Bunting.

As Arnie would say, we'll be back... soon!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Somerset - Day 3 - Ham Wall

Our final day and with the weather looking good we decided to spend the day at RSPB Ham Wall.

The weather was brilliant today although when we were in the 'new' Avalon hide a nasty cold wind blew through the windows across the reed beds. So that's where we started in the Avalon hide, watching the comings and goings across the reed beds and in the open water in front of the hide, I'll start off with a Merlin, but not the feathered variety, the heavy metal variety, the RAF and Navy were out in force today with the  noise of rotors nearly always in the background, even as an avid aviation enthusiast when I'm bird watching it gets a bit much, must right to the Naval Base at Yeovilton, to tell them to lay off too much flying when we are down there!
 Back to the birds, can never resist photographing Great Crested Grebe, such beautiful creatures,
 We had loads of Bittern sightings, though photographing them wasn't so easy!
 Swan and Cygnets are always good for the cute factor.

After a couple of coffees and getting very cold we decided to warm up and go for a walk, stopping fairly soon for great views of this Glossy Ibis,
and from the same spot a very distant Ruff not that you can really tell from this photo, but it looked good through the scope:
We continued our walk seeing loads of Damsel flies, Dragonflies and Butterflies,
 We were worried about this chick on the path, but just as I put my camera down, dad came out of the undergrowth and collected it, before I could pick it up again! It was a Blackcap by the way.
 For completeness here's a Whitecap, sorry not really funny! (we didn't put it there honest)

We carried on to the viewing platform, screens and the 'jetty' hide (don't know what else to call it)
and had some more good sightings,
Loads more Bittern,
 Tufted Duck,
 Battling Coot,

 Little Grebe,
 Great Crested Grebe, biting off more than it could swallow,
 More Butterflies,
 very obliging Whitethroat,
 Great White Egret,
 and Goldcrest.

A really fabulous time was had, Ham Wall still rates as one of our favourite reserves.

A full list for the three days:
Bittern  ("Botaurus stellaris")
Blackbird  ("Turdus merula")
Blackcap  ("Sylvia atricapilla")
Black-headed Gull  ("Chroicocephalus ridibundus")
Black-tailed Godwit  ("Limosa limosa")
Blue Tit  ("Cyanistes caeruleus")
Buzzard  ("Buteo buteo")
Carrion Crow  ("Corvus corone")
Cetti's Warbler  ("Cettia cetti")
Chaffinch  ("Fringilla coelebs")
Chiffchaff  ("Phylloscopus collybita")
Coal Tit  ("Periparus ater")
Collared Dove  ("Streptopelia decaocto")
Common Tern  ("Sterna hirundo")
Coot  ("Fulica atra")
Cormorant  ("Phalacrocorax carbo")
Gadwall  ("Anas strepera")
Glossy Ibis  ("Plegadis falcinellus")
Goldcrest  ("Regulus regulus")
Goldfinch  ("Carduelis carduelis")
Great Crested Grebe  ("Podiceps cristatus")
Great Spotted Woodpecker  ("Dendrocopos major")
Great Tit  ("Parus major")
Great White Egret  ("Ardea alba")
Greater Canada Goose  ("Branta canadensis")
Greenfinch  ("Chloris chloris")
Grey Heron  ("Ardea cinerea")
Hobby  ("Falco subbuteo")
Jackdaw  ("Corvus monedula")
Jay  ("Garrulus glandarius")
Kestrel  ("Falco tinnunculus")
Kingfisher  ("Alcedo atthis")
Lapwing  ("Vanellus vanellus")
Lesser Black-backed Gull  ("Larus fuscus")
Lesser Whitethroat  ("Sylvia curruca")
Little Egret  ("Egretta garzetta")
Little Grebe  ("Tachybaptus ruficollis")
Long-tailed Tit  ("Aegithalos caudatus")
Magpie  ("Pica pica")
Mallard  ("Anas platyrhynchos")
Marsh Harrier  ("Circus aeruginosus")
Moorhen  ("Gallinula chloropus")
Mute Swan  ("Cygnus olor")
Nuthatch  ("Sitta europaea")
Peregrine  ("Falco peregrinus")
Pochard  ("Aythya ferina")
Red Kite  ("Milvus milvus")
Redshank  ("Tringa totanus")
Reed Bunting  ("Emberiza schoeniclus")
Reed Warbler  ("Acrocephalus scirpaceus")
Robin  ("Erithacus rubecula")
Ruff  ("Philomachus pugnax")
Sedge Warbler  ("Acrocephalus schoenobaenus")
Sparrowhawk  ("Accipiter nisus")
Spotted Flycatcher  ("Muscicapa striata")
Swift  ("Apus apus")
Teal  ("Anas crecca")
Tufted Duck  ("Aythya fuligula")
Whitethroat  ("Sylvia communis")
Woodpigeon  ("Columba palumbus")

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Somerset- Day 2 - Swell Wood, Greylake & Shapwick Heath

Day 2, Wednesday, saw a very dull and damp start. We started by going to RSPB Swell Wood, little knowing that Springwatch had done a feature on the Herons there, earlier in the spring. Swell Wood is a cracking little place with the woodland hide only 60m or so from the car park. We settled in for a coffee and watched the Heron and Little Egret activity up on the nests.
Last time we visited there was plenty of woodland bird activity on a small pond in front of the hide, sadly this was quite over grown and with the dull cold wet weather there was little about, we did manage a brief glimpse of Goldcrest and Spotted Flycatcher.
A nice moment was had when a family came in and we let them use our scope and binoculars to get good views of the nesting birds, lets hope it fires their interest.

The car park is also productive as there are quite a few feeders dotted around, the main visitors were Chaffinch, Blue & Great Tits, but with appearances by Nuthatch and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, always nice to see close up.

After Swell Woods we drove on up to RSPB Greylake and spent some time there, again there were feeders and feeding tables next to the car park, immediatley giving us Reed Bunting and Goldfinch.

As happens a lot of times, you sit down in a hide and think there's nothing there, but when you give it time (and a coffee) things begin to reveal themselves.
 Marsh Harrier,
Kingfisher, there were no perches for this chap, so he took to being a Kestrel and hovering, just wish it had come closer and that it hadn't been so dull, so I could have got a better photo.
 Grey Heron with obstinate Eel lunch,
 After much wriggling and trying he finally gets it down.

Now on to Shapwick Heath NNR, this took us much longer to get to that the 10 mins or so the sat nav said as one of the roads was closed just south of the reserves so we had to go a long way around.

Once there we wanted to check out the new tower hide at Shapwick, we were really impressed, with curved sides it gave excellent views across the water and the reed beds, I have to say though it was freezing! The wind blew straight through with all the windows open and it wasn't warm to start with that day. But we put up with it.

We had some great Marsh Harrier sightings here again without banging on too much just wish the light had been better, but I did get some photos,
Some distant Black-tailed Godwit,
 Marsh Harriers, we watched the male hunting for ages and come back, call, then the female would come off the nest in the reeds for a food pass.... brilliant..!!

We heard Bittern booming all over the place, but in the few hours we were there, none showed. All in all a great day, would recommend all three reserves.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Somerset - Day 1 - Westhay Moor & Ham Wall

Because we are gluttons for punishment and had a gap in our caqlendar, we took ourselves off to Somerset for a few days over half-term. Not a great time to choose because of the holiday traffic, but we had wanted to spend a few days down there as we hadn't been for a while and a recent half day down there had whetted our appetite and this would be the only window that we would get.

We travelled down on the Monday of half term and decided to have a lunch stop at Dyrham Park NT on the way, from a birding point of view there was little of note, but the Deer offered some nice views:

We had three full days, so decided to start with Westhay Moor a site that we had never been to before. Its a nice reserve with a couple of nice hides, although some of the hides are standing only and when you are little like Tina, you can't see anything through the openings! (Much to her annoyance!) Particularly when the Hobbys were displaying so well!
Red Kite,
 Dragonfly and
We spent a good few hours at Westhay, but without much else to report apart from Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Heron and booming Bittern, though none were seen.

We decided to go to Ham Wall for the late afternoon, hopefully in this case for Barn Owl near the bridge. However we should have done our homework, the bridge was closed for repair work, so we walked the long way round to the first viewing platform and the screens. The weather by now had turned a bit dull and windy, so it wasn't much fun, but we stuck it out for a while.
Great Crested Grebe,
 Grey Heron,
 Great White Egret,
We did manage to see a Bittern this time, but too quick for me to get a photo.

So off to Tesco in Glastonbury to find something for tea!