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.
Happy New Year! The Great Tits were enjoying the string of peanuts that Janet had put up in the garden. I went out with Mum and Dad today on a walk to Dell Woods. We walked along the river and found a lovely bridge called the Black Bridge, but it looked green to me. When we got to Dell Woods, the Cresties were still visiting the feeders, so I took some photos of them.
We left Nethybridge to head to our overnight stop in Lancashire. Driving through the Drumochter Pass we saw a hazard of Red Deer, probably having trouble finding food in the snow. We crossed over the Forth Bridge and there was a big traffic jam. The road here was like an ice rink, and cars were skidding all over the place. We took it very steady. Eventually, we reached our B&B in Carnforth. It was still very snowy here, but not as deep as in Scotland.
After breakfast we went to Leighton Moss. We could not get to many of the hides because it was far too icy. We had a job walking from the car park, it was so slippery. Sadly no Bitterns but Pheasants by the reedbeds and a Rabbit. We had a nice Song Thrush near the feeders and also a Marsh Tit on a branch. There were all sorts of birds on the feeders -
Garden Birds 2010
We had about 10cm of snow and unusually it stay around for a while as it was so cold. The most noticeable visitor to the garden were the Fieldfares and Redwings. It is only during really bad weather that these birds come near the garden let alone in it. The large Maple next to the garden was covered with Fieldfares and Redwings about 100 in all, all waiting to come down to the few remaining berries in the garden. We put out some apples in the bushes and on the ground and soon we had up to 14 Fieldfares and 5 Redwings in garden, unheard of. Eventually over the next few days they reduced down to a couple birds, each defending their own apple.
The Grey Wagtail comes to the pond in the back garden most days, he likes to eat the mealworms that are left out for the hedgehog. We still put these out at night just in case he wakes up. Most days he is chased off by the Pied Wagtail. Long-
Mean while up in Stroud, Christopher was watching a Waxwing Grrrrr!
Even as we head into February we still have 2 male Blackcaps and 2 females in the garden, we have also been visited in the last few days by up to 3 Bullfinches, a male and 2 females. And also a single Redwing still visits to have some apple.
Christopher came home for the weekend and we all went up to Gigrin Farm in mid Wales, hoping to see the White and the Black Kite. As we drove up, some of the valleys were in deep mist, and we hoped the farm was high enough to stay in the sunshine, all was fine.
We arrived at opening time to find the car park half full, probably due to the recent article on Snow Watch and the Black Kite. The birds were beginning to gather and as soon as the food was put out they started to come down, Buzzards, Rooks, Crows, Ravens and the odd Heron came down first with the Kites circling above. The Kites then came down plucking the meat off the ground, the odd mid air crash could be heard, or even seen as two birds collided, one Kite clipped the head of aBuzzard sending some feathers flying. We spotted the Black Kite eventually, but it waited until the frenzy was over before he eventually took some food. He is not very well liked by the other Kites, along with the White Kite which did not turn up. It only comes to the feeding centre every few days, and usually waits until the end before it comes down. A good day was had by all, a couple of pictures, some video, although it is always difficult with dark birds against a bright sky. Never mind !
Today we went with the Poole local RSPB Group around Poole Harbour and on to Brownsea. On leaving Poole Quay we soon stopped by one of the jetties to look for a Black Redstart and Snow Bunting which had both been seen the previous day, no luck.
We headed off across towards Brownsea, Cormorants where sitting around on the jetties and small groups of Red-
Dad paid £6.50 to get the car out of the car park !!!!!!! and off to Arne. As time was getting on, we decided to walk to the hide overlooking Middlebere. Some Sika were seen in the woods on the way. At the hide a few Teal were seen drifting down the river, while over in one of the fields a large flock of Brent Geese with some Lapwings were put up. Way across in the fading light a male Hen Harrier was quartering the reed bed. More Sika were seen on the way back as they emerged from the woods.
We went to Westonbirt and our first port of call is the Old Arboretum where they have the feeding station -
We went to Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve we saw a few Blackcaps singing on the top of bushes and shrubs. On our way to Meare Heath there was a female Orange Tip and a Brimstone flying past also a Goldcrest was heard singing. A presence of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We then went to Noah's Lake where we just missed a Marsh Harrier flying past. However the Cormorants were repairing their nest sites and also heard the deep booming sound of the male Bittern. Near the car park a Willow Warbler sang from an exposed perch. A Hobby Falcon flew over the reserve. On the way to the viewpoint a Cetti's Warbler, a resident bird, was perched out in the open for a second and then... blink and it's gone. Nevertheless the Chiffchaff wasa better example singing out in the open going "Chiffchaff Chiffchaff" again and again. It's worth keeping your ears open for an unusual call of Marsh Frogs, the call is very unlike anything you ever heard and by the way they look like plastic green frogs. There were some a Ruff in post breeding plumage, Ringed Plover and one Little Ringed Plover which is summer visitor only. Also in breeding plumage are the Black -
We went up to Cleeve Hill today to see if we could find Duke of Burgundy Fritillary and Small Blue, I have not seen these Butterflies before, and Dad has not seen them for quite a few years. Our first stop was the Bill Smyllie Reserve, as we made our way down the hill a Tree Pipit was displaying and singing and a couple of hobbies flying over the wood. Soon after we came across the first and only Small Blue we saw on the reserve. At the bottom we found a Dingy Skipper, by this time the sun was starting to come out, and within 10 minutes we also had Duke of Burgundy, Green Hairstreaks, Speckled Wood and Orange Tips flying around. We made our way back up the hill and through Happy Valley, just a couple of Dukes and Peacock with singing Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer and Whitethroat. Next we made our way to The Mast Reserve and again had to walk down to the bottom, where it is a bit more sheltered. Here we found some Small Blues, a Duke and further along a Brown Argus, Small Heath and Green Hairstreak. While trying to take a picture of the Small Blues the grass moved and a Lizard eventually came out, though not far enough for a good picture. Dad eventually made it back up to the top of the hill where we started to make our way home, only to stop by the Bill Smyllie Reserve, as a Adder was spotted by the side of the road, unfortunately if was dead. I still looking forward to photographing a live one, one day.
Bathurst Estate and Strawberry Banks
Off to the Bathhurst Estate today near Cirencester. This was to hopefully see the Pearl bordered Fritillary. This is one of our rarest Butterflies in this area. We parked the car and walked down the track, within a 100 yards a Fritillary flew by. It likes to feed on Bugle but today being very hot it kept on flying. We turned off the track onto a ride and soon in an open area found up to 5 Fritillaries, but they were reluctant to stop. Eventually one did and we managed to get some pictures and confirm they were Pearl bordered before it was off again. On the back up the track we found one feeding on bugle. On the way back we stopped at Strawberry banks hoping to get the Marsh Fritillary. And did we see some -
Forest of Dean
Off to the Forest of Dean today in search of the Wood White and Small Pearl bordered Fritillary. Our first stop was Brierley, after a couple of hundred yards our first Wood White flew by, it was a bit warm so it did not stop, we carried on and soon came across a couple of males flying around a female, she was not impressed and off they went. She rested, then flew off in search of the
food plant to start laying, which she did. A late Grizzled Skipperlanded briefly nearby and was then chased off by Small Copper. Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Green-
A really hot day today so a walk along the top of Sand Point in the sea breeze was just the job. On the way up an Orange Tip flew by with Small and Green-
Up to Dinas today, just north of Llandovery, after a short discussion, we made a slight detour from Abergavenny to visit Blorenge and the Marmora's
Warbler, only to find 150 Birdwatchers all looking in different directions. We stayed about 10 mins, got fed up and went on to Dinas. We had lunch in the picnic area at RSPB Dinas, A pair of Pied Flycatcher were in and out of a nearby box, the female then came and had a dust bath in the sun. We started to walk into the reserve and soon came across a nest box with young Nuthatches about to leave, after about 10 mins the first fledged, and sat on a branch above us preening. On hearing a Redstart we retraced our steps and found him sat in a tree with a beak full of food. But as soon had we taken a picture he was disturbed by a family with an out of control dog and kids, who should have been on a lead -
went down to the edge to try and help it out as it just managed to make it to the bank. And guess what, it obviously wasn’t on a lead and the Dippers had flown off. Off we went around the rocky outcrops by the river, a Garden Warbler was seen singing over the other side and could just be heard above the noise of the river. As we moved away from the river more birds could be heard, Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts and Wood Warblers. Strangely we only saw a couple of Kites all day. There seems to be more in Gloucestershire lately. We made out way back to the car, and drove up to the dam, very quiet here with some Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and a Buzzard. When we got home we found that the Marmora's Warbler was not
seen until 12.30pm and we were there at 9.45am, glad we did not wait.
17. 07. 10
On the way up we stopped at Carnforth to see a steam train special heading to Ravenglass. We continued into Scotland to the SWT reserve at Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld. The Osprey youngsters were still hanging around the nest site. We feared the most a few weeks ago with the tragic sight of Marge, the female who has nested here for many years, being ill and looked like she was dying. She is looking fine now but this could be the last year she comes back as she is so old. Pleased we saw her one last time. Anyway! There was a new generation of baby birds around the feeding station from Siskins to Great Spotted Woodpeckers. We also saw a Fallow Deer fawn come to the edge of the loch for a cooling drink.
18. 07. 10
We went to the RSPB Loch Garten Osprey centre near Boat of Garten. The 3 juveniles are also hanging around the nest but one fledged successfully and was seen on the lower branch. Unfortunately they couldn’t ring the chicks this year as the weather was so bad and it would not have been safe for the chicks, or the ringer. A few miles down the road are some pools where you might see Large Red Damselfly and the very rare Emerald Damselfly. If you walk along the boardwalk quietly you might come some CommonLizards when I took these images [above] there were three together. We went to Broomhill station to see 828 in service at the Strathspey Railway. In the evening we drove along Tulloch Moor looking for Black Grouse and we saw a Male on the top of the moorland. I also got a feather from the wing of a Greyhen that Stewart gave me for my collection in my feather book. Thanks Stewart!
19. 07. 10
It was a bit wet today so we went to Lochindorb as we could stay in the car. The rain didn’t bother the Wheatears and Meadow Pipits, But I’m afraid to
say that we only had distant views of Red Grouse and their chicks. Happily, we had some great views of an Osprey flying over the loch.
We headed off to Loch an Eilean as the sun came out, which proved to be good for butterflies such as Ringlet but we had three specialities. Scotch Argus, Small Pearl-
20. 07. 10
We went to Strathdearn and Loch Ruthven today. We started by going through Strathdearn and amazingly we saw a Grey Partridge with Chicks. Further up in the glen, there was a good number of birds of prey -
21. 07. 10
This morning the birds were alarm calling possibly a Pine Marten in the area but no sign of it. Are we going to have any luck with Pine Martens? Not a flipping chance! We saw a Willow Warbler briefly but it didn’t stay very long. There was a Red Squirrel feeding on peanuts upside down which is bizarre way to eat peanuts. The weather was very wet and windy today so we went to Glenmore Cafe stopping at Loch Morlich to watch a family of Goosanders. We then went to Chanory Point thinking that the Dolphins wouldn’t worry about abit of rain. Wrong! We did see a couple but not very good views and we got soaked to the skin for our efforts.
22. 07. 10
What a difference a day makes! We had good weather today so we went to see the Ospreys at Loch Insh and the 3 chicks that fledged successfully. One of the adults flew over the loch with a Pike in it’s talons. We have a wonderful view of it. After we went to Creag Meagaidh to look for Small Mountain Ringlet -
23. 07. 10
We went to a road verge near Tomintoul where there were some interesting plants including Dark Red Helleborine and Broadleaved Helleborine. But the main propose was to see the Northern Brown Argus and two were seen on the wing. Very similar to the common Brown Argus you get down south but these have a white spot on each wing. We went to the Cairngorms in the afternoon but sadly not to see the Dotterel. We just didn’t have the time. We heard that Ring Ouzel had been seen at Lower Corrie Cas, so we went to have a look for it, but no sign. Dad spoke to some birdwatchers and they had seen Ptarmigan, Dotterel, and believe it or not Purple Sandpiper that made it worse. Never mind, maybe next time!
24. 07. 10
Home today. But first one last look at the Ospreys at Loch Garten. I bought myself a couple of books in the shop. As we got near to Boat of Garten, we saw the train going to the station. So we stopped to have one last look at 828 for this year. Braeraich wasn’t running today. It was only a two-
We went to Durlston Head to look for Lulworth Skippers today. The first butterfly we saw was a Holly Blue with his wings open a bit which I haven’t seen very often. A Marbled White was sat on a Knapweed flower and a Soldier Beetle was on a leaf near it. There were quite a few Lulworth Skippers about and I was surprised how small it was compared with other Skippers that I've photographed various times. Their range is only along the Jurassic Coast. There were quite a lot of Gatekeepers, one which looked very yellow and it looked like a Clouded Yellow -
We popped to Swanage Railway to see what was running, and it was the loco that should have come to Strathsprey Railway in 2008 -
Richmond Park/ WWT Barnes
We to Richmond Park on the outskirts of London. We went to the visitor centre to get some information about the park and when we got out of the car I could hear some Parakeets. They were flying around by the car park. You can't miss Ring-
Forest of Dean
We went to Forest of Dean as there was 130 Waxwings in the area. We searched all of Cinderford trying to locate a flock but the problem was there were hardly any berries left on the trees. Finally we found about 10 Waxwings feeding on the remains of the berries at Littledean before they flew over the hill. We bought some chips and went to Soudley Ponds to eat them. We had birdseed in the car, so we put some on the ground to see what came and also put out the rest of our chips. There was Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit & Robin all feeding on some of our chips! From there to Speech House Arboretum to try and see a Hawfinch -
We were on our way to Chew Valley Lake when we thought we should look for the Waxwings again in Yate for the second time. We looked for them yesterday, but couldn’t find them. We found them this time, there were more than 10 and quite a lot with Redwings also present eating some Rowan berries in a garden in Brimsham Park. At Chew Valley Lake we put some food down on the ground to see if we could get a Water Rail out into the open but no luck. We saw a Buzzard sitting on the ice and a Peregrine kept attacking it and we wondered why. A bit later we saw the Buzzard eating something and realised the Peregrine must have made a kill and was trying to keep the Buzzard away, to no avail, because while the Peregrine was dive-
Some Reed Bunting came down for the seed we had put out as well as feeding on the reeds. Some Pintail were also there until a bottle floated past them and scared them off. We saw a Bittern flying around and it landed briefly by the island before it flew away over to the other side of the trees [no picture sadly].
Garden Wildlife December
I thought I would like to put some of the photographs of the garden birds on my blog. During December, when it was very cold, frosty and indeed snowy, we had quite a few different birds visiting the feeders. We must have counted at least six Blackcaps. The highest number of males seen at one time were 3 and that was the same with the females, so we think there must have been about 6 different birds. There was one female that kept chasing all the others away, so it was a bit difficult at times to count them. We had more Redwings than Fieldfares this year and once they had eaten all the berries in the garden, they started on the apples we put out for them. They seemed to disappear once the snow and ice had gone. The Sparrowhawk was a regular visitor to the garden always on the lookout for his lunch. He knew where all the small birds were. They are lovely birds to look at but you do feel a bit sad when you see a pile of gold feathers on the ground and you know there is one less Goldfinch. There are quite a lot of Goldfinch coming to the garden, they outnumber the Greenfinch. We only get a few a these now along with Chaffinch. The Longtailed Tits are a cheery little bunch. They flit from feeder to feeder, never sitting still. They make it quite hard to get a nice photograph of them. We also had Blue and Great Tits. A couple of Bullfinches (male and female) started to make regular visits to the sunflower seed feeder. Mum bought some black sunflower seed for them, but they seemed to prefer the husk free seed. Lazy lot! I never did get a good picture of them, there always seemed to be a branch in the way. Meanwhile in the back garden, the Starlings had to beat the Blackbirds to the mealworms. The regular Pied Wagtails were joined by a Grey Wagtail. They also liked mealworms if there was any left. I thought the Robin would like them, but he seemed to eat the husk free sunflower seeds most of the time. He did have a bit a cake occasionally. Most of the House Sparrows always seem to be in the back garden, they are both doing very well.