for tracking purposes only.
The birds of
Cheltenham Diver 10th
RSPB Criuse, Exe 9th
Slimbridge 26th & 27th
Garden Sparrowhawk 8th
Portishead & Chew 7th
Cheltenham & Highnam 1st
Due to space limitations I have had to archive the older blogs and leave out the photos.
We went to Slimbridge to see a new species of bird for me, the Glaucous Gull, although it wasn't an adult bird it was worth seeing.The first birds we saw when we got there were a flock of Lesser Redpolls feeding on the Alder by the boardwalk. The red crown stood out really well as I took this picture [see above] you can see how the bird gets it’s name, but be really careful that it’s not a Mealy Redpoll which can also show a similar pattern. The Glaucous Gull is regular winter visitor to Britain, the first one recorded at Slimbridge in 2007, but unfortunately several visitors noticed that the Glaucous Gull was unwell and it was taken into care at Slimbridge, but even with all the best attempts to save the bird, unfortunately it died a couple days after we saw it. Near the Holden Tower are some feeders that attract many birds including a very shy weary Water Rail which normally stick close to a reed bed. There were also Long -
We went to Devon to look for Cirl Buntings and the best place to find them was Broadsands near Paignton. There were four altogether two males and two females. Then we went to Berry Head to try to find a Black Redstart, but no luck. We saw some Rock Doves and Goats on the cliff and were surprised to see Guillemots and Razorbill on the water. We thought it was a bit early to be seeing them. There was also a Grey Seal present. I tried to photograph it but every time I tried, it dived. There was a pair of Fulmars on the cliff face below some Herring Gulls, who looked like they were thinking about breeding already. Then we went to where the Penduline Tit had been seen that day, but we had no luck at all. We did see three nice Buzzards and the three Tufted Duck were lovely as well. There were some Mute Swans too and very close views of a drake Shoveler and finally we went to Powderham to find the Cattle Egrets. I saw Cattle Egrets at Slimbridge during my work experience. This was the first I saw them in winter plumage. I’ m chuffed! On the way home we stopped at the services and saw flocks of Pied Wagtails going to roost in the trees. This is the first time time I have seen a winter roost. There were also some Starlings further over from the car park flying around. There was quite a big flock of them and they made some nice shapes before they too roosted in some trees out of sight. Not quite as good as Bill Oddie, but still nice!
On our way up to Scotland we stopped off at Leighton Moss.
We went to Leighton Moss in the evening. On the feeders when we first arrived were two Bullfinches, male and female. We went first to Lillan’s Hide where all we saw were mainly Black-
After breakfast we set out to Carnforth Steam town to see the fourth day of the Great Britain II being prepared for the run to Preston behind Royal Scot class 46115 Scots Guardsman. Then we went to Vane Farm just over the borders. Through the telescope I spotted a juvenile Whooper Swan on one of the lakes. We to Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld then. We started by seeing what was on the feeders -
We woke up to a wonderful view of the Cairngorms from our B&B. The Great Britain II was coming through Aviemore later that day, but first we went to Loch Garten to see the Ospreys. One of which is called EJ and her new mate is called Odin. When we first arrived they were both up in the camera tree until Odin did a fly past collecting twigs for the nest which is where he landed afterwards. The other attractions included Red Squirrel , Chaffinches and the odd Siskin, but no Crested Tits this time. When leaving the Osprey Centre there was a little Bank Vole which kept popping up and running down into his hole. After having a cup of tea at Inshriach Nursery and watching the feeders there we went to Feshiebridge and walked around the Sculpture Trail. It was soon time for the Great Britain II, and we stopped just outside Aviemore to see it go past. The train is headed by a pair of Black 5s, 45231 ‘The Sherwood Forester’ and 45407 ‘The Lancashire Fusilier’ for the Glasgow -
When we were having breakfast in our B&B we saw a cheeky Red Squirrel on the feeder outside the window. We went to Insh Marsh today, but there was not a lot there and then on to Uath Lochan. We now headed to the River Spey and saw more Goldeneye. The Goldeneye seem to be doing really now.
Our first port of call this morning was to Aviemore to see the Great Marquess on its way back home. It had done a special tour on Saturday from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. Afterwards we went to Lochindorb to look for Red Grouse, but first we went to Milton Loch to see the Grey Herons. We saw quite a few Red Grouse on the moors. By the loch itself was a Common Sandpiper and Black -
In the garden at Nethybridge was a female Common Pheasant with a local male who was trying to make himself popular. One special bird we saw on Loch Morlich was one of the Sawbill family, the Goosander, a real special occasion. Mum and I walked the entire Ryvoan Pass from Glenmore to Forest Lodge. Dad walked with us as far as the bothy and then he went back to get the car to meet us at the other end. We met up with him at Rynettin. Just before we got to Forest Lodge, a female Capercaillie flew out of the tree in front of us. Mum missed it as she wanted to sit down because she was tired. We bought some chips for supper and went to Broomhill to eat them as we watched a pair of Dippers.
We went to Culbin Forest today. We walked around it but there was not much to see except Sand Wasps. We did see a very nice Golden Plover on the moors on the way up. After we looked for Dolphins at Spey Bay. We saw a couple, but they were quite distant. I was sitting in the car and did not see the Osprey fishing on the river Spey. (Mum did this time). On the way back through Tomintoul we saw some more Brown Hare, not boxing unfortunately. We were driving along towards Lecht Ski Centre when we saw male Black Grouse or Cock.
We went to Loch Garten to check up on EJ and Odin and then we went to Cairngorm. We took the funicular up and there was still some snow and people sledging. This year we had no luck with Ptarmigan and Mountain Hares, mind you, we have never seen a Mountain Hare on Cairngorm anyway. We had a walk around and we saw Mountain Hare poo, but that was all. There were Reindeer being fed on the mountain though and a Meadow Pipit, but no Ring Ouzel this year either. On Loch Morlich there was a Goldeneye trying to impress a female. (I’m not sure she was!)
We went to Milton Loch for the Herons who were a bit late nesting, don’t know why, but they were flying about the loch. We to the Heather Centre and I managed a couple of snaps of Siskins at the bird feeding station. There was some Chaffinches as well feeding away. Once again more Goldeneye on the River Spey, just can’t get away from this duck.
On the way back to our chalet we saw a Roe Deer Buck patrolling his local woodland, after looking back at us he jumped the fence and disappeared up the bank. I also saw a Buzzard perched on top of and old castle called Castle Roy, I took a quick picture of him but he flew away before Mum could video him.
We went to Chanory Point to look for Dolphins, but they were not as close as we saw them last year in July. After lunch we went to Loch Ruthven. Just as we got there, we passed a Roe Deer Doe and a young Roe Deer. While in the hide we saw some interesting birds including Treecreeper, Willow Warbler and real special bonus Golden Eagle being mobbed by Common Buzzards. Sorry no photo. It’s just what I saw through my binoculars. However there were Red -
We left Scotland this morning to head down to Wales for the Steam Gala at Llangollen. We stopped at Carnforth in the evening to watch The Citadel Express from Carlisle to Crewe pass by headed by 6233 Duchess of Sutherland from Midland Railway Centre.
The final day of our holiday and we went to Llangollen for the Steel, Steam and Stars II Gala, the first one was in 2007 which we also went to. As we arrived No 5643 was waiting at Deeside loop with a train for Llangollen. Heading the other way was a double header No 1306 Mayflower and 44086 running as Scottish engine 44801 bound for Carrog. We also headed off to Carrog. Another Scottish engine 246 Morayshire from Bo’ness and Kinnel Railway was waiting at Carrog for the doubleheader to arrive before departing. After the waiting for the arrival of the B1 and Black 5 Morayshire
sets off with the goods train. Next arrival is a Duke dog class 9017 now painted black, this loco was known since 2003 as ‘ The Earl of Berkeley’ and the last time I saw this engine in steam was at Severn Valley. The Special visitor arrives. The last time that I saw it was on the M5 -
Now this is a really special occasion, the famous 100 mph 3440 City of Truro passing the famous Royal Scot with a goods train. Irish Mail was running narrow gauge line next to standard gauge and was visiting from West Lancashire Light Railway. It was a great day and even the weather was good. On the way home we called at Lake Vyrnwy in the hope of seeing a Pied Flycatcher. But only Chaffinches, Siskins, Great Tit and Grey Squirrel, but then again they would come to the feeders. You would need to go into the woods to see the Flycatchers and we did not have time for that. They wouldhave to wait for another day.
We had a few days in Wales this week. We started in South Wales with Gwili Railway at Bronwydd Arms Station.
The loco in service was Hunslet 0-
instead and we had smashing views of the Water Buffalosthat were there in front of one the hides. Mum and I went back to the car and Dad followed on. Dad got lucky on the way back -
We went to the Vale ofRheidol Railway at Devil’s Bridge and while we are waiting for the train to arrive from Aberystwyth there was time to look at the waterfalls. Not a lot really to say about it as I was in the car at the time while Mum and Dad got wet in the rain looking at them. I was hoping the loco in service would be Prince of Wales No 9, but it was No 8 Llywelyn. Even though it was the same engine that I had seen before, it was well worth seeing again. We then to Nant-
Anyway we couldn't stay till 3pm I’m afraid because we still had a long way to go to our next B&B. We went Ynis Hir Nature Reserve, but because of the rain it meant there was not going to be any Dragonflies,Damselflies and Butterflies. However a Grey Squirrel doesn't mind a bit of
rain and he enjoyed my peanut butter sandwich. We went for a walk and in one of the hides there was a Swallow that had made its nest in there. It looked like it was on eggs -
The weather was no better the following day, in fact I think it got worse. The new Beddgelert Station opened in April and was in business as Garrett 87 waited to head on southwards. This was the fun part -
without changing trains at all. Speaking of Bleanau Ffestiniog I went there later in the day and saw a diesel hauled train by hydraulic diesel locomotive named Cricceith Castle. But
before that we went the RSPB reserve at Conwy. It was too wet to walk about but we had a
cup of tea in the cafe and watched the birds from there. We saw a Wood Sandpiper, but it was quite a long way away. We also went to the Glaslyn Osprey site but didn’t see any Ospreys
there, but we did see one later on in the day on our way back to the B&B in Beddgelert.
As it was the only sunny day that week we decided to go up to South Stack on Anglesey to see Britain’s rarest crow -
On the last day we went to three railways in Mid Wales, starting with the Fairbourne and Barmouth Railway. The two locos in service that day were Yeo & Russell. Yeo is a replica of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway loco. Russell 2-
the Corris Railway in Machynellth where the newly restored no 7 was giving shuttle rides from
the station to the shed. Then home keeping a lookout for Red Kites on the way.
We went for quick spin around Marshfield and did we see the Little Owl this time? No because someone parked a Combine Harvester in the barn right where the Little Owl normally sits on the wall. Well, I suppose it is his barn. Anyway back to Marshfield -
Mum and I went to Weymouth by coach. We went to RSPB nature reserve at Radipole to try and see a bird called a Hooded Merganser that has been there for about a year. We missed it last year and because it was moulting it was hiding a lot more than usual and so we missed it again this year. My next challenge was to photograph a flying Swift. Not easy as they never keep still. Marsh Harriers bred at Radipole for the first time this year and the warden told us that there was still one
about. It was very pleasing to see my first Marsh Harrier here quartering the reedbeds in front of the hide. As soon as we left the hide it started pouring down, so we just rushed back to the visitor centre without looking at anything else. We sat by the window with a cup a hot chocolate to warm us up. We were soaked through. I did some birding out of the window and saw Great Crested Grebe, Cormorants, Tufted Duck, Mute Swans, Heron and possible Redshank. Lots of Sand and House Martins, Swallows and Swifts hawking over the water. The rain stopped for a bit and the warden told us that the Hooded Merganser had been seen further up by the bridge. We went up to have a look for it and as soon as we were a long way from the visitor centre, the heavens opened and it just chucked it down. We tried to shelter under a tree, but it was not much use. Soaked through again we gave up looking and I'm sorry to say still no Hooded Merganser. However if it stays around maybe I'll pop back down again.
With news of a Spoonbill at Slimbridge we had to pop down to the WWT to have a look around.We started at the Holden Tower where we saw a couple of young Sparrowhawk through the sceen, so I wasn't surprised that there were no birds on the feeders, because they would be an easy target for
the Sparrowhawks. We went to the South Finger and we had good views of a Kingfisher. I think probably a young male perched on a branch right in front of the hide. We went to the new Back from Brink which has got Harvest Mouse, Water Vole and Shrew, Otter (but not British one I'm afraid), Beaver and Common Crane. The Beavers were not out because they are nocturnal but the Otters and Cranes were quite active. And the Spoonbill? Of course not. We dipped out on that. It had been there for 3 days and it leaves the day we try to see it. Such is life!
Chinnor and Otmoor
We went to Chinnor Station the southern terminus of the CPRR. First to arrive was Great Western Pannier tank 9682 who is going to be withdrawn for overhaul in two months time. Meanwhile 5542 draws forward onto the train that 9682 brought from Thame Junction and pulls it into Chinnor to pick up passengers. We watched the train depart. I was surprised to see lots of Red Kites flying over the station. We had seen a few on our way here. We went through Princes Risborough on our way out and there was even a Red Kite flying over Tesco's. We went to Otmoor Nature Reserve to see what's about. We saw a couple of Painted Ladys and quite a lot of Common Blues which seem to be doing well. We saw a Brimstone for about 10 seconds, but I couldn't get a photo of it. We also saw a Brown Argus but unfortunately, no Brown Hairstreak, which feed on the sloans that are on the blackthorns.There were also a few Red Kites flying over the reserve. On the way back to the car I spotted a nice Ruddy Darter. We met another birder who said to us on the "Have you seen the Hen Harrier in the field over there?" When we looked at it through the binoculars we realised it was a Marsh Harrier not a Hen Harrier. We saw a mystery bird on a fence which looked like a Cuckoo but who knows? We called in at Uffington White Horse before going home, but you cannot get a good view of it from the road.
We started by looking for butterfiles -
where to go. It had lots more birds than the other one. Canada Geese, Hybrid White/Greylag
Goose, five Snipe Tufted Duck, Mallard, Heron Lapwing, Common and Green Sandpipers. We went to Strawberry Banks on the way home to look for Chalkhill Blue, but no sign, which isn't surprising because afterwards we found out you don't get them there. But we did try a hill in Nailsworth and we
saw Adonis Blue roosting in the grass. However we did catch up with the Chalkhill Blue another day, but that's another story.
Chew, Cheddar and Clevedon
Mum and I went on a coach trip and our first stop was Chew Valley Lake. It was only a short
stop so we couldn't walk very far. There were lots of Mallards by the Car Park being fed by some children. We had a look at the lake and saw a Heron which soon flew off. There was a Pied Wagtail and a juvenile by the waters edge and lots of Blackheaded Gulls and more Mallard. The next stop we had was a lunch stop at Cheddar. After we had something to eat, we went to look for the Water Vole and saw at least two swimming about -
preening each other and sat side by side. Really sweet!
When we went to Coombe Hill Meadows we popped into Nature in Art on the way home and Dad bought a book on Butterflies in Gloucestershire. This is where we found out that Strawberry Banks haven't got any Chalkhill Blues. However, Rodborough Common does. So Dad and I went for a walk there. The first blue Butterfly we saw was an Adonis Blue but the next one we saw was a female Chalkhill. Then we had a quest to find a male and we found one in the grass with its wings open. Success! I took some pictures of it. We saw other Butterflies such as Brown Argus and Common Blue and some Burnet Moths. A Kestrel flew over the common while we were there. We did look for Duke of Burgundy Fritillary as there was a second brood here, which is unusual. But there must only have been a few as we did not see any. Can't win them all. As it was a hot day, we treated ourselves to an ice-
Greylake and Chew
We went to Greylake in Somerset to look for a rare rail called a Spotted Crake. Our first glimpse of the Crake was by the water's edge on a little island of reeds, but it was a bit weary being close to where we were. It swam across to the other side and it must have felt safer over there as it showed itself a lot better. It even sat preening out in the open for a bit. We watched it feeding and walking on top of the reeds before it swam on it's belly like Moorhens and Coots back into the undercover of reeds. It was a very windy day and although Dad managed to get quite a close up film of it on video, because of the wind it was a bit shaky in places. I had a job holding my camera steady and it was just that bit too far for my lens, but I at least got a record photo of it. We then went to Chew Valley Lake. There were many wildfowl, Tufted Ducks, Mallard, Pochard, Canada Geese, Greylags, Mute Swans, Great Crested and Little Grebes and even a White Wagtail. There had been a Ferruginus Duck a bit back but we did not see it today and there was also a first-
Frampton 100 Acres/ Slimbridge
We went to Frampton-
over the pond which was probably what the Hobbys were catching. Also on the pond were Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mallard. Mum and I decided to walk on to Slimbridge while Dadwent back to get the car at Splatts Bridge. On the way down to the canal we saw quite a few Long-
hungry and Dad would be waiting for us at Slimbridge. Along the canal there were lots of Swallows and House Martins skimming across the water and a Jay and Buzzard flew over. When we got to the bridge at Slimbridge, Dad was just driving over, so we timed at just right. We went into the WWT centre for lunch and after I showed Dad the new 'Back from the Brink' that had just recently opened with Otters, Beavers, small mammals and Cranes. The Otters were being really playful, swimming through a tube in the water and running about. We had a quick look at South Lake before we left but there was not a lot there.
Barn Owl Centre
We went to the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester where they had recently opened a new visitor centre. They have flying demonstrations and you can also learn how to fly the birds. There was a group being taught with a Harris Hawk and an Eagle Owl, and the nice thing is that they take them into the fields which gives a more natural appearance. We went for a walk around the nature trail and you could see the Hawk perched in a tree. The birds seem to attract wild birds of prey. We saw a Buzzard and a Kestrel while we were there and a noisy Heron flew over. The Kestrel didn't seem to bother the flocks of Goldfinches too much, but they did keep flying about. One of the fields on the trail was a mass of flowers, Cornflower, Corn Cockle, and Corn Marigold to name just a few. There some Butterflies still flying around as the weather was nice and we saw Comma and Small Copper. There was lots of Owls and Birds of Prey there, most of which had been rescued in one way or another. It was a really nice morning and I look forward to seeing it develop, as there are plans in place to expand. In the afternoon we popped in to Berkeley Deer Park to see the Red Deer and Fallow Deer. We found a nice group of both and hid ourselves by a tree trunk to watch them. Unfortunately, as it was such a nice day, lots of other people had decided to walk in the park as well and they were not as quiet and scared them off. They were very nervous considering they must see people all the time. I got a few pictures, but as you can see, most of them are running!
Radipole and Portland
We went back to Radipole Lake in Weymouth in the hope that the Hooded Merganser that we tried to see in August would be about and in breeding plumage. The last time it was hiding away because it was in eclipse and it was also a really rainy day. Dad and I went down to the swannery bridge to see if it was there and Mum went round the reserve. We saw Dabchick and Gulls there, and also a very tired Cormorant. I caught him yawning. He looks more like a Pelican! We walked on round to where Mum was -
thought that it was probably only a Skylark. Oh well! Nice try. We went for a walk on the Bill to see if there was any unusual birds there. We only saw Gannets and some Rock Pipits. When I was taking a picture of the Pipit, somebody asked if we were watching the Grey Phalarope. Apparently there was one near the lighthouse. It hadbeen seen a few times that day, but we never saw it.
Dad had a few days holiday, so we went down to Dorset to Brownsea Island to see if we could see any Spoonbills. We parked the car at Studland and caught the ferry across to Sandbanks.We saw some
Cormorants and Shags on the way over, and then boarded the yellow boat to the Island. It was quite busy as it was a nice day and half-
excellent views of some Avocets, Little Egrets, Greenshanks, Redshanks, and second year in a row for me to photograph -
time to walk around as it was getting dark, but we did see some Sika.
We decided to have yet another attempt at seeing Bearded Tits here. We were given a tip off that there were two Little Owls in the tree with broken branches coming down, and sure enough, there they were. There were also Redwings on the berries at the back. The woods were pretty quiet and not a lot to see on the estuary. However, walking along by the reedbeds, we could hear the pinging call of the Bearded Tit. Then a little flock of about 6 or 7 flew through so quickly that Dad couldn't video them, let alone me take a photo of them. Never mind! One day! Even though the views were brief, they were great. What do you want prettier than that? As Johnny Kingdom says. Not much else on the ponds, but for Dabchick and Mute Swans. I did see a Weasel run across the path, but again that was a very brief sighting. There is a very nice visitor centre here. It can get a bit busy though because they have a children's playground. Lovely for the kids, but not so good if you are looking for peace and quiet. We decided against having a cup of tea here and instead went to Goldcliff where they have screens to look at the birds in the lagoons. There were quite a few distant Snipe and a funny coloured Lapwing. It was very pale in colour. I wonder if it was the same leucistic bird that was seen at Slimbridge on 6th September? Not many birds here though, and there were even fewer when all the cows in in nearby field decided to stampede! It don't know what could have scared them, but I've never seen them move so fast. Mind you, they seemed very interested in Mum! When we were driving out over the little wooden bridge, I spotted a Kingfisher. It sat in a branch for a while so I managed to get a good look at it. Then home, stopping off at Aust Wharf to see if the Short-
The weather had taken the turn for the worse. The snow was very deep so I stayed in Nethybridge watching the garden birds and mammals such as Red Squirrel, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock , Robin, a Blackbird which looked fed up, Coal Tit and a Pheasant hogging the food. The Yellowhammer was also a pleasant sight, usually accompanied by a female. We also saw Crested Tit on the feeders.
Something we have not seen in the garden before. We walked to Broomhill Station to see no 17 Breariach in the snow but due to the water column freezing up the engine ran out of the water at Boat of Garten! Still never mind, the Dipper was nice to see down by the bridge on the edge of the ice.
Another snowy day. The usual garden visitors. Red Squirrel still feeding on peanuts as well as Robins, Dunnocks etc., including a return visit of the Crested Tit. We managed to get the car out and went a short way to Loch Garten. No Ospreys, of course, because they’re down in Africa, but to the feeding station where a good show is put on by Red Squirrel, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches and Siskins, sadly no Crested Tits at these feeders. The Loch was frozen solid and you could see the footprints where people hade been walking on it. We were going to go to Cairngorm, but it was too busy with skiers. There was nowhere to park so we went to the Reindeer Centre to see them in the snow. There were lots of birds hopping around their food including a cheeky Robin. This came to land on my head briefly before flying into a tree to have a Christmas card look photo (top).
Once again another cold winter’s day and once again, three days in a row, the return of the Crested Tit. The usual garden birds were still hanging about. We went to the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie to see what the animals make of this weather. The Yaks looked totally fed up. It was also good to see the Snow Monkeys in the snow! New arrivals on the scene are the Bengal Tigers in a new enclosure recently built. The Arctic Fox was in its winter coat, three years ago I photographed it in it’s black summer coat. We couldn’t drive through the main part of the park due to the deep snow, we had to view Bison and Red Deer from where the Wild Boar enclosure [but not actually in it]. Some Greylag Geese flew overhead. Another recent arrival is a Polar Bear which has taken over the old Wolf enclosure. The Wolves have got a smaller one. There are Red Pandas there now and they look really cute. We stayed to watch them being fed and they didn’t look quite so cute anymore tucking into a rabbit leg. I thought they were vegetarians!
On our way to the coast to look for King Eider, we passed Lochindorb where we saw only one female Red Grouse in the snow by the roadside. A few miles up we passed a field with a flock of several Grey Partridge gathered together. We arrived at Burghead where we only saw Common Eiders in the harbour. A distant flock of Common Scoter were out at sea, also a couple of Long-
Overnight snowfall made it more impossible to use the car, so we stayed around Nethybridge. The snow was so thick that there no Crested Tit that morning. Mum and Dad went for a walk and found a feeder in Dell Woods that had Crested Tit on it. I might go with them tomorrow.Lots of Hogmany parties had been cancelled because of the snow. There was one on in the village but I decided not to go as it was so cold. Dad wandered down to have a look though.