for tracking purposes only.
The birds of
Due to space limitations I have had to archive the older blogs and leave out the photos.
12th January 2014
We went on a coach trip to the River Exe with the BOC. We stopped to look at Exminster Marshes but due to flooding it meant we couldn't walk down to Powderham. After looking at Exminster Marshes we headed straight to Dawlish Warren. We did a bit of sea watching before lunch, there were Herring Gulls, Shag, a flock of Common Scoter and a few Velvet Scoters with white in the wings. All the Scoters were too far for photo and the sea was very rough. We ate our lunch in the coach out of the wind. In the afternoon we walked down to the hide, stopping to look out to sea, where we saw a female longtailed duck. It was quite close, but it dived a lot and was only visible for short spells. We couldn’t see the Boneparte’s Gull anywhere, which had been around for a few days, even though it had been reported that day, We dropped down the sandbank to the River Exe side, by which time it started to rain so quickly got to the hide. There were Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover and a few Brent Geese. A small flock of Skylarks dropped in front of the hide along with a Rock Pipit. The tide was coming in fast and bringing the waders closer to us, but unfortunately it was getting darker all the time. It had been a very grey day and not good for taking photos and we had to walk back to the coach in very heavy rain. We were soaked!
Chew Valley Lake
19th January 2014
We went to Chew Valley Lake to look for the Pink -
On my birthday we went to look at Forest Farm in South Wales, one of the best places to see Kingfishers. As we were walking up to the hide I spotted a Fox running around in the field and it started to run towards us. Then it saw a dog and headed off into a log pile. In the hide looking over one of the pools Moorhens were catching fish. After about an hour of waiting a Female Kingfisher appeared on a perch. She then had a preen to keep her feathers in tip top condition. We were hoping she might fish here, but she must have already eaten as she flew to a small perch close to the hide where she coughed up a pellet. Then it disappeared back to the river. On our way to the 2nd Hide we saw it briefly twice flying up and then back down the river again. In the next hide were Rabbits and 7 Common Snipe. In the field were several Jays and small songbirds like Great Tit and Robin. A dog ran though and all the birds disappeared. Back in the Kigfisher Hide, a Grey Squirrel was feeding in front of the hide. We walked along to look at the station and had to go over the river Taff. We saw a Pair of Goosander on the river from the bridge. Having heard the Short -
1st February 2014
We went to the Slimbridge Festival of Birds to listen to a talk by Martin McGill about the birding highlights of Slimbridge last year. Afterwards we went to look for a Greenland White -
Forest of Dean
2nd February 2014
We went to the Forest of Dean to look for Hawfinches at Parkend by the cricket club. We stayed in the car, so that we wouldn’t disturb them and saw our first one perched in a small tree with no leaves rather than the Yew. Unfortunately, a car pulled up nearby with cycles on, and the people got out and started to put their bikes together and generally made a lot of noise, so the Hawfinch disappeared. As the morning went on, it got a lot busier with people and the birds stayed perched in the tall trees at the back. We went to Speech House to have our lunch and have a look on the log. We put some seed out and waited while we ate. There were Blackbirds, Robins, Nuthatches (fighting over the food), Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush and Chaffinch. We heard a Jay fly in, but it didn’t come down to the log. We went to Nagshead, but the carpark was very busy and while we were there saw lots of dog walkers. We decided not to bother to walk around as last time it was not very good with all the dogs running around. I do love dogs, but I really cannot understand why people let their dogs off their leads in a nature reserve when they have the whole forest to walk them in. We went to Cannop Ponds to look for Mandarins for our year list, but there were none there. We saw some Little Grebes, Mallards andTufted Ducks. We heard a Raven calling and saw him perched up in the tree. In the next tree there were two Cormorants, which is the first time I’ve seen them there. We went to a couple of other usual haunts of the Mandarins, but still no luck. On the way home we even stopped at the Dean Heritage Centre to have a look. Still none. I wonder where they all are!
3rd February 2014
We went to Aust Warth this morning to see the high tide coming in. We saw our first Short -
4th February 2014
We went to Marshfield to see the Red -
Marshfield and Aust
10th February 2014
We went to Marshfield today to have another look at the Red -
Kent 14th -
Cliffe Pools RSPB 14 February 14
We went to Kent for the weekend with BOC. It was a really yucky day on the Friday with torrential rain. We walked around the RSPB reserve in a continuous downpour, and even though there were lots of birds on the scrapes, it was difficult to see them. We did see the Avocets on the Thames Estuary and there was quite a number of Ducks, Geese & Waders. Despite the rain the Marsh Harrier was out hunting, but no other birds of prey on a day like this. After a soggy wet day we returned to the mini bus and headed for the King Charles Hotel in Gillingham to dry out.
Isle of Sheppey
15 February 14
We went to explore the Isle of Sheppey and the first port of call was Riverside Country Park and we had a quick look around. The sun was out, but we kept having heavy showers. There was a Ringed Plover and Grey Plover showing quite close, along with lots of other more distant waders. Chapel Fleet raptor view point was next where we saw two MarshHarriers flying around but no Owls. It was very windy so that could be why. Next stop was Leysdown on seato do a bit of seawatching and have lunch. There was a flock of
16 February 14
For the final day of the Kent weekend we went to Dungeness. We went to one of the hides to see the Smew. The Redhead Smews were swimming in the middle of lake with Gadwall, Goldeneye, Mallard and Teal. A Long -
On the way back to RSPB Dungeness, we stopped to look at the two Black-
A total of 95 species seen by most people during the weekend.
Forest of Dean
22nd February 2014
We went to the Forest of Dean to look for the Two -
Chipping Sodbury 26th February 2014
We went to Chipping Sodbury to look for the Dipper on our local river. We walked up the Frome and saw a Grey Wagtail foraging on the bank. However we didn't see the Dipper on this occasion but I saw a Kingfisher briefly flying up the river. On the 16th when we were in Kent, Dad saw the Dipper perched on a concrete bunker by the Bridge, so we will keep our eyes open.
1st March 2014
We went to Great Barrington to look for the Hen Harrier that had there for a few weeks. There were loads of Red Kites and Skylarks. In the trees opposite the trig point was a Great Grey Shrike -
8th March 2014
We went to Slimbridge to look for the Spoonbill. We started at the Rushy Pen. There were no Bewick's Swans in the pen, just Shelducks, Teals, Pochards and Pintails. We went to South Lake where the Adult Mediterranean Gull was present in the Black -
12th March 2014
We caught the bus to Durdham Downs in the city of Bristol to see the Peregrine Falcons displaying. When we first arrived the fog didn't really lift fully and so there was not much displaying. We could see one perched on the over side of the gorge in the mist. Very distant. The Carrion Crows were feeding on bits of bread on the ground. Common Buzzards soared on V shaped wings and were mobbedby other birds such as a Raven.
There was pair of Buzzards flying around the gorge. Two Goldcrests very briefly moved through the bushes and we saw 2 Jays in the area when we first arrived, but they are shy birds that keep themselves to themselves, except in the autumn when they look for nuts. We had a brief view of the Peregrine flying below us, but it disappeared. We walked alongthe path and saw a couple of Goldfinches calling in a tree and a Coal Tit was also singing in the middle of the city. A Kestrel flew past the viewpoint away from us and also a Sparrowhawk. Down on the River Avon, some Oystercatchers flew up. A Dunnock was singing from the nearby bush. Finally just as we were about to give up and go to catch the bus home, a Peregrine flew up from beneath us and circled around twice before heading for the city centre to hunt for Pigeons. It must have been sitting below us all that time. No display from the Peregrines today, just have to come back and try again another day.
15th March 2014
We went to London WWT at Barnes with Chauffeurhire Coaches. Due to the traffic into London and stopping for 20 minutes at the services in Maidenhead, we didn't get to the Wetland Centre until 12 o’clock. We only had four hours so we started at Dulverton Hide. There was Gadwall, Redshanks in Summer Plumage, Canada Geese, 2 Little Grebes (or Dabchicks), Great Crested Grebe (all in Summer Plumage), Lapwings, Cormorants and also various Gulls. Two Wigeon were feeding on a small island. A sign that Spring is here were the Marsh Marigolds in full flower and 2 Comma Butterflies near the Wader Scrape Hide. From the hide another Summer Plumage Redshank. We were so busy looking up at some Ringnecked Parakeets flying over, that we didn’t see a Green Woodpecker on the path in front of us and it took off with a loud yaffle call. It flew to a tree, but didn’t stay there. On the boardwalk to Wildside Hide another Little Grebe in full breeding plumage swam towards the boardwalk and underneath us to the other side. The Ringnecked Parakeets were proving very elusive for a photo. Lots kept flying over, but none of them perched. At the feeders we saw a male Great Spotted Woodpecker and male Brambling very briefly before it took off with the Chaffinches. I didn't see it myself but Mum did. I hoped it might have come back, but I think there were too many people now as it had turned into a lovely warm day.
The feeders were now Parakeet-
16th March 2014
We went to Giltar Point at Penally near Tenby to see the Great Spotted Cuckoo that had been showing well for a few days. We were a bit worried if we would see it, as the previous day it flew to Caldey Island and was not seen until later in the day. We first saw it feeding on the ground and flew up into a small tree. It sat in amongst the branches for quite a while, giving us only the slightest view. Then it flew over us to another tree on the other side of the golf course. This was the tree that it had roosted in apparently. It flew to the ground and started to feed, and we had a good view of it from where we were. The local Magpies didn’t seem to like it much and they kept having a go at it. We saw it feeding on lots of large Caterpillars and even a small Lizard. It was past lunch time so we went to Skrinkle Head to have it and look for Choughs. There were loads of Fulmars nesting on the cliffs and flying around. There wasn’t any Razorbills or Guillemots. It might be too early for them, but there had been a lot of Auks washed up dead in the recent storms, so that might have been why. The scenery was lovely there and we thought we might come here again if we are passing. We didn’t see any Chough on the cliff top, but we did see two flying over the car park. They were too quick for me to photograph as I wanted to have a look at them through my binoculars. I always like to have a good view of birds and photos come second I’m afraid. Sorry about that!
23rd March 2014
We went to Aust to see if theTwite was still about. We saw a few Reed Buntings feeding on the ground and on the log. Then the Twite appeared singing on the fence and was feeding on the log. Then after digesting its
food the Twite came back and sang on the fence. After we went for a walk around Ruskin Mill. We saw a Grey Heron, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and some Grey Wagtails. We then went to Stroud to see if the Dippers had come back after all the work on the canal there, but we saw no sign of them, which was a shame as I always used to see them there when I lived in Stroud. We did see more Grey Wagtails. We drove back along the country lanes and saw a Brown Hare crouched down. We waited to see if he would move, but he must have seen us, as he remained motionless in the grass.
29th March 2014
We went to Slimbridge to see what was about. From the Robbie Garnett Hide we saw 2 Cranes from the GCP and the Pale Greylag Goose. We went to the Holden Tower where the Barnacle Geese were resting on the Dumbles. A Chiffchchaff was in song on the Holden Walkway. In the Willow Hide were Reed Bunting, Blue & Great Tits, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. There was still some Teal at Robbie Garnett. Back at Martin Smith Hide the Cranes were thinking about nesting here again. A Buzzard flew low over the Tack Piece. The Cranes then walked back on to the Tack Piece. They took off and flew around and landed further back, calling in response to another Crane flying over. The Avocets were repairing their nest in the Rushy Pen. We went to South Finger Hide to see how the Kingfishers were getting on with excavating the hole. A Grey Heron perched on the tree in front of the hide. Then flew to a low perch. The Male Kingfisher gave a fish to the Female. It was nice to see them back here nesting. There was Cetti's Warbler singing in a small Elder Tree close by and showed well briefly but not well enough for photo. Never mind maybe next time. A Peacock Butterfly was basking in the sunshine. I saw my first Willow Warbler of the year perched in the bush close to the hide. We then went to South Lake where there were more Avocets and Teal. The Great Crested Grebe was full Summer plumage and I hoped that they might display, but no luck. Maybe it was too late in the season now for that.
Chew Valley Lake
30th March 2014 We went to take Nan out for Mother's Day at Chew Valley Lake. We went to Heron'sGreen where a pair of Goldeneyes were swimming in the bay. The Male was displaying to the Female but not feeling the joys of Spring yet. It was very quiet bird wise for Chew but in few weeks time, it will be alive with songs from Summer Migrants.
31st March 2014
We went to look for Dippers on a stretch of the River Frome. The Dippers have had a lot to cope with this year with the floods making the water levels so high. Happily, the rivers around Southern England are back to normal for this time of year and you are seeing a few birds about now. It was great to see this Dipper as it was feeding in the water and there was also a couple of GreyWagtails along the river.
2nd April 2014
We went to Slimbridge to look for the Water Vole, Taiga Bean Geese and the Hooded Crow. We started at Martin Smith Hide where a Wren was singing and claiming territory, but we didn’t see any Water Voles. A Grey Squirrel was at the Willow Hide on our way to the Holden Tower. At the Robbie Garnett was a small flock of Shovelers. Some Rabbits were in front of the Knott Hide along with an Oystercatcher foraging on the edge of the pool. There were Avocets starting to nest on the islands in front of the Holden Tower but no sign of the Bean Geese. We then went to South Finger to see the Kingfishers. A Cetti's Warbler was showing extremely well and I was able to get some photos of it in the small Elder Tree. We saw the Hooded Crow in the fields by the Kingfisher Hide, but it was distant. We went to the South Lake where an Adult Little Gull was doing several flight passes. It was easy to pick out as it was the only Gull with pure black underwings and a pink tinge on the belly and tail flanks. Lovely to see, very hard to photograph. Back at the Willow Hide we saw Goldfinches, Blue & Great Tits, Greenfinches and Chaffinches. There was a Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding on the tops of the Willow stumps, which was nice. We went back to Holden Tower where two Cranes were giving excellent views until they took off and flew to the 100 Acre. When we passed by the Willow Hide again, we saw a Brown Rat feeding on the seeds in front. At Robbie Garnett the Oystercatchers were doing their piping display with their head pointing to the ground. Before leaving, we had one last look for Water Voles and saw one briefly in the reeds. Next time hopefully they will be out in the open.
5th April 2014
We went back to Slimbridge for the morning, as we saw on the sightings the previous day that the Taiga Bean Geese were back. We went to Martin Smith where we just missed them. We saw them from Robbie Garnett Hide, but very distant. Then they flew off to the Dumbles. We went to the Holden Tower where they were right out on the Severn Estuary miles away. We decided to go to South Finger and the Cetti's Warbler was still showing well and singing in the small Elder Tree. The Hooded Crow was present in the fields, but still a long off. There was a Goldfinch nearer, feeding on teasel. The Kingfisher was posing on a branch outside the nest hole. Back at the Holden Tower we saw a Jay perched on a fence post. The first time I’ve seen Jay here. Then two flew past the hide. The Bean Geese were still quite distant, so we left. After a tip off about the Bean Geese being closer, I dashed back up to Holden Tower. The Male was sitting on the Dumbles and the Female was still feeding. After a while, both birds got up and started to walk away. But I managed to take a couple of photos. We also had a tip off that the Water Vole was showing down by the bridge, so I had a better view of them.These Voles are doing well at Slimbridge now. At least there are no Mink here!
12th April 2014
We went to Farmoor Reservoir to see Red -
19th April 2014
We went to Labrador Bay near Teignouth to look for Cirl Buntings. We saw them up in a tree when we first arrived. They were feeding on seed in a ploughed field. The Female has duller markings on the head whilst the Male had bright head patterns. It looked like the seed had been put out for them as there were quite a lot coming and going. We stayed there for a couple of hours watching them. It was out of the wind as well, so that was good. We were going to have lunch at Haldon Forest, but it was really busy there, so we went to Darts Farm instead. After having something to eat we went to Aylesbeare Common to look for Dartford Warbler. We’ve always been quite successful in seeing them here, but they’ve never stayed still enough to photograph. We saw our first one perched on a small bush and it flew onto a small tree, so I was able to take a couple of quick pictures before it flew away. I heard another Dartford Warbler singing, and we could see it flitting amongst the branches, but it never come on the very top sadly. Still, I managed a few photos.
Chipping Sodbury Common
21st April 2014
We went to Chipping Sodbury Common to look for Redstart and Whinchat. There were loads of Skylarks in full songflight. There was also a good number of Lesser Whitethroats and one showed itself on top of a tall bush. There were qite a few Linnets as well on the common. Dad saw the Redstart briefly through but I couldn't see it. After a while we spotted the Male Whinchat perched on a small bush. It flew onto a bramble bush and then back to the small bush. After a tip off about the Grasshopper Warblers in Wiltshire, we headed to Chippenham and looked around the scrubby land for them. Although we heard reeling, they were only giving us brief and distant views. Looks like it has to be early morning to see them singing. We'll try again. We went home through Marshfield where there were loads of Corn Buntings singing on the bushes, on the ground and on the fence posts. Corn Buntings are really doing at Marshfield and seems early evening is the best time to see them. During the day they seem to spend a lot of the time feeding and less time perching. There were quite a few Pheasants about, but not many Red-
Rodborough Common & Breakheart
3rd May 2014
We went to Rodborough Common to look for Duke of Burgundy Fritillary. We saw a few Early Purple Orchids & Dingy Skippers on the wing. There was also Small Heath and Green Hairstreak. We saw our first and only Duke of Burgundy Fritillary perched in the grass. We went to Breakheart Quarry on the way home to look for Grizzled Skippers. There were at least three on the wing as well as the Dingy Skippers.
4th May 2014
We went to Slimbridge WWT to see the Spoonbill and the 1st Summer Little Gull. We started at Martin Smith where the Spoonbill in the stunning breeding plumage was very active in front of the hide. After seeing the brilliant performance of the Spoonbill we continued down the Holden Walkway. We saw a couple of Rabbits from the Stephen Kirk Hide. The Avocets were nesting on one of the islands which were viewable from the Holden Tower. When we went back to Martin Smith the Spoonbill continued feeding and preening in front of the hide. We then went to South Lake where we saw the 1st Summer Little Gull mainly in flight. However for couple of seconds it was swimming on the water with Black -
5th May 2014
We were on our way out to Chippenham to look for a Gropper when a tweet came through that a Bonaparte's Gull had been reported at Slimbridge WWT. We decided to go Slimbridge WWT to see it. We thought the bird had flown off somewhere else as was reported at 09:18 from the South Lake. But thanks to a tip off from a birder, we saw it was resting amongst the Black -
all the Gulls took off including the Bonaparte's. Although the Black -
Camargue 7th to 11th May
We had to leave early to get to Gatwick Airport to catch the Easyjet flight to Montpellier in Provance, South of France. After arrival at Montpellier we met up with the Naturetrek group. Minibuses loaded, we then headed to the hotel at Arles. On the way we had our first glimpse of Greater Flamingos, as well as Glossy Ibis, Black-
8th May 2014
The first full day in the Camargue began at Mas D' Agon which was a good place to see all sorts of birds. We stopped by a farm building where Stone Curlews have been seen. We did see one right at the back of the field and also Tree Sparrows. There was a frog on the road so I went down to see what that one was. It was a Marsh Frog which is brighter coloured than our Common Frog. We made sure it got safely off the road. We saw some Glossy Ibis in the field as well. The reedbeds were full of the sounds of Common & Great Reed Warblers. There were lots of birds flying over the road including Purple Herons and Little Egrets and a good number of Whiskered Tern flying around. We saw a Marsh Harrier quartering over the reeds. Another Bird of Prey appeared but in the form of a Short -
9th May 2014
We went for an early morning walk from the hotel. We saw a Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler briefly in the bush. 3 European Rollers [2 on the wire and another flew past]. Shame I didn’t take my camera! Melodius Warbler was singing and showed well in the bush and a Redstart perched on the fence.Then we made our way back to the hotel for breakfast. After we headed to Etang De Vaccares, where we saw a Short -
10th May 2014
We had early start to head to La Crau before the sun creates too much heat haze. We stop along the way to watch up to a dozen Birds of prey soaring, most of which were Honey Buzzards. We saw a Short -
11th May 2014
On the last morning we went to Arles to drop some people off to look around the town. We continued on to Mas D'Agon for a last bit of bird watching. We stopped the minibuses when wen saw a snake in the road. It was a Montpellier Snake, but it had got ran over unfortunately. We stopped by the Stone Curlew field where we saw 2 Great Spotted Cuckoos flying over, shortly followed by a normal Cuckoo. In a another field three Glossy Ibis were joined by four Sqaucco Herons along the fence line. We to the viewing tower where a Cattle Egret was riding on the back of a Camargue Wild Horse. Also a Black -
In total I saw 107 birds (including 21 lifers) plus some new butterflies, and of course insects, mammals and reptiles. Many thanks to the Naturetrek leaders Ian Nicholson and Dave Smith.
Dyfi & Ynys -
18th May 2014
We went t o Wales to see how the Ospreys were doing this at Dyfi. Monty and Glesni took turns guarding the nest site. A few weeks before, there was huge drama of other Opreys around the site before Glesni's return. Happily they can now get on with incubating the eggs.Then Monty went off to fish in the estuary. There were a few Dragonflies on the wing including a Four Spotted Chaser. We spotted the two Water Buffalo doing a good job of grazing the reserve. We then went to Ynys -
19th May 2014
In the morning at the B&B I photographed a Male Great Spotted Woodpecker perched on top of the conifer branch from my window, which is something I don't see very often. We had breakfast watching the Osprey nest on Live Streaming. The B&B has everything for the Osprey fanatic! So Mum was happy! We went to back to Ynys -
They were certainly difficult to see this year. We met up with Dad by the river where there are usually Dippers breeding, but we didn’t even see any of these. Perhaps they are further up the river this year. We walked along the board walk towards the carpark, but only saw Nuthatch. No Spotted or Pied Flycatchers this year. Back at the car park we sat and watched a Marsh Tit and a Great Tit feeding on a log before setting off towards home. A good weekend, but the birds we usually see were not around in great numbers which was a little disappointing. But then that’s birdwatching for you! Some you win and some you don’t!
21st May 2014
We went to Slimbridge to see the Crane Chicks on the Tack Piece. We saw some House Martins nesting on the lock -
emerged. It is such a lovely moth and when it got active and dried off properly, we released it in the garden. We waited until it got darker and all the birds had gone to bed. It flew off strongly and we never saw it again. I must admit I had hoped it might stay around the garden for a little bit. That’s gratitude for you!!
25th May 2014
On Saturday we took Dad to Slimbridge to see the Crane Chicks. They were on other side of the gate and not showing very well so we went to look on South Lake. There was a 1st Summer Mediterranean Gull present with the Black -
15th June 2014
We went to Haddon Hill to look for the rare Heath Fritillary. Unfortunately, we had picked the wrong day as there was a bike race on and a lot of roads were closed. We managed to get there eventually. The first creatures we saw were some Exmoor Ponies that graze on the heathland. There was a few Small Heaths and Tree Pipits. We spotted a Redstart perched in a tree briefly and a couple of Deer ran past which I think might have been Roe Deer. We saw a special Dragonfly of the heath, a Golden -
21st June 2014
We popped into Fairburn Ings on the way up to Northumberland to have a look around. There was quite a few Tree Sparrows feeding on the feeders and on the ground and we also saw 2 Bullfinches feeding with the Sparrows. We had a bit of a walk around but we didn't have the time to walk all the way round. Quite a number of Blue Damselflies on the wing as well as a Ringlet basking with it's wings open. In the field was a Pyramidal Orchid. At another feeding station was a pair of Pheasants, Goldfinch and a Tree Sparrow. A view from another hide of some more Tree Sparrows and Sand Martins were flying to and from the sandbank. We finished with the last views of Bullfinch and Tree Sparrows at the visitor centre feeders. It’s a lovely RSPB reserve and we would like to have longer there another time. We continued our northbound journey to our B&B in Seahouses for the next four nights.
22nd June 2014
We went to Kielder Water to see how White YA was getting on, after getting caught under the net last year at Blagdon. At Leaplish Waterside Park we saw the chicks and the female on the nest cam. White YA was sitting in the conifer trees on the other side of the water. He was only just visible in the telescope, only a white dot in the tree. The juvenile House Martins were in nests under the roof and adult was bringing food to them. There was a juvenile Swallow perched on the fence near the Martin's Nest. This one still had downy fluff as well as it's new Adult feathers. The others had lost the downy fluff. We drove up to Kielder Castle Visitor Centre and went for a walk to the Red Squirrel Hide and saw a flock of Siskins feeding on the feeders. We waited a while, but no Squirrels came. Perhaps they only come early mornings and evenings when it’s quieter. On the way back to the car park we saw a few Chimney Sweeper Moths. We decided to head home along the Forest Drive, which is a toll road with great views of the forest and moor. We saw a Spotted Flycatcher perched on a conifer and further on was a pair of Whinchats and a Tree Pipit on the moors. Back at Seahouses we sat watching a family of Common Eiders in the harbour.
23rd June 2014
We had booked with Billy Shiels for the All Day Birdwatch on the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland. On leaving Seahouses we saw a Male Common Eider still in the middle of moulting. Unfortunately, due to the swell, we didn't manage to land on Staple Island. We did however sail around the island. There were Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwake and Shags and also had a special bonus of seeing a Guillemot chick in the water after leaping off the cliff. We sailed towards Brownman's Island where the Grey Seals have their pups in the Autumn. In the Summer they can be seen anywhere around the Farnes. Also a few Arctic Terns flying around the islands and a couple of Gannets flew past the island. As we couldn’t get onto the island, we headed back to the harbour and were told we would have longer on Inner Farne instead.We went back to Seahouses for lunch and a couple of Linnets were on the fence in the car park. We went back to the harbour to board the boat again to go over to Inner Farne. After arriving we saw quite a number of Arctic Terns that breed there. Some of the Chicks were still very small, while the larger Chicks were struggling to hide in the grass. The Adults were not happy and started attacking us, pecking and pooing! I had a bit of Tern dropping on me and Dad was covered in it. These droppings can cause damage to other birds wing feathers which is why there are no birds of prey on the Farnes. There were also a few Common Terns and 2 colonys of Sandwich Terns. When my parents visited the Farnes Islands in 1990, there was a Lesser Crested Tern which nested with Sandwich Terns.
Amble and Coquet Island
24th June 2014
We went to a location where we saw Little Terns nesting in a fenced off area. We saw them distantly from the Warden’s hut and no pictures of the Terns as they are Schedule 1 birds. Arctic Terns were present in the area as well as Linnet, Meadow Pipits and Reed Buntings. We followed the coast road down and found a Kittiwake colony at Howick. The weather today wasn’t as good as yesterday and we kept having rain showers so didn’t stay long and carried on to Amble to see if the boat to Coquet Island was running. Fortunately there was one at 14:00 and we were even luckier that we managed to get on. There is no landing allowed on this island, but you can view from the boat. We sailed around the island where there were Auks, Sandwich Terns, Arctic Terns, Common Terns and Kittiwakes and the rarest nesting Tern in the British Isles. The one that we wanted to see -
Quarry/Bempton Cliffs RSPB
25th June 2014 It was a long journey from Northumberland down to Yorkshire. We stopped at a place called Bishop Middleham Quarry to look for Northern Brown Argus. It was very busy there as there was a field meeting on, but not as busy as it was a few years ago when Beeeaters tried to nest here. There was plenty of Butterflies and lots of Orchids, so we probably stayed longer than we should have. Before going to our B&B in Bridlington, we stopped at Bempton for a quick look around. More Tree Sparrows here on the feeders and in the nearby bushes. The seabird population is almost similar to that of the Farnes. Except for two birds that are special to the area: Fulmar and Gannets. The Gannets were nesting further along the cliff face and although the soft sunlight was good for photos, it was starting to fade, so we made our way to the hotel.
Bempton Cliffs RSPB/ Spurn
26th June 2014
We went to Bempton Cliffs in the morning but the light was a bit wrong. The bright sunshine was nice on the birds in flight, but it cast harsh shadows on the cliff face. Lots of Gannets were bill fencing which is a bonding greeting. It was not just Adult birds, there was a 2nd year, 1st year, 3rd year & Sub Adult. No Juveniles yet. However, there were lots with new fluffy chicks. Lots of Meadow Pipits singing along with Skylarks. In the car park were two Bee Orchids. We headed down to Spurn Head for the afternoon, but sadly due to the flood last Autumn, part of the road was broken so we were unable to drive down to the lighthouse. We were told by the wardens that Red -
few Black -
Blacktoft Sands/ Old Moor
27th June 2014
We left our B&B in Bridlington to head down to Fotheringhay for two nights. We went to Blacktoft Sands to have a look around. We went to one of the hides where five Spotted Redshanks were in stunning breeding plumage. They were all asleep of course and as soon as two of them woke up, they flew off. We caught up with them at Marsh Hide. Their breeding plumage is black with white spots, so they really are Spotted Redshank, not like I’ven usually seen them. There was a few Marsh Harriers flying around despite the overcast weather. I had a brief glimpseof a young Sedge Warbler and also saw a Hobby fly over. It was a very nice reserve and again we will have to come again when we have more time. We also had a brief look around RSPB Old Moor where a Glossy Ibis had been present for a about a week. The weather had turned quite nasty now and the bird didn’t come very close, but we did see it fly. After a cup of tea in the cafe, we went to Broomhill Flash to look at the Black -
28th June 2014
We went to look round Rutland Water to see what was around. It was very quiet there, unlike when we normally see it when we go to the Bird Fair. We saw two Pheasants, male & female, from the Woodpecker Hide. We then went to the Tern Hide where a family of Egyptian Geese were feeding on one of the islands. A couple of yards to the left was a Lapwing with chicks. On the leaving the hide four Oystercatchers flew over and landed in the water. In the other hide we saw a flock of Soay Sheep that graze on the reserve. A Oystercatcher was perched on the wall outside the hide. En route to the hide, a Juvenile Pheasant ran across the track, it looked just like a roadrunner. It kept raining, so I expect he was a bit soggy. At the Heron Hide we saw some Common Terns flying around and a few Great Crested Grebe swimming. Also saw one on a nest. Near to the Kingfisher hide, there were lots of Blue Damselflies on the leaves. The 360’ Hide presented us with 2 Great Crested Grebes and Little Ringed Plover, also some more Soay Sheep feeding on the reserve. A few Emerald Damselflies around the reserve as well as a Large Skipper Butterfly. We went to Lyndon Reserve to see if the Ospreys were around. From the visitor centre we saw a Yellowhammer at the feeding station and a few Tree Sparrows. We saw an Osprey fly around twice and a Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding on the peanut feeder. We started to walk down to the Osprey hide. On the way there was a Large & Small Skipper perched in the long grass. At the Deep Water Hide a pair of Great Crested Grebes were feeding two chicks. We saw a Osprey at the end hide on the nest briefly before flying off. This pair didn't breed this year at Manton Bay. This is a new male here as the usual male didn’t return from Africa. We saw lots of Peacock Caterpillars feeding on the Nettle leaves. A Willow Warbler was calling up in the tree. On the way back to Fotheringhay we saw a Brown Hare and a Red Kite flying over the village.
Glapthorn & Fermyn Wood
29th June 2014
We went to Glapthorn Cow Pastures to look for Black Hairstreak but we saw only Large Skippers, Ringlets and Comma. It seemed we missed out on the Black Hairstreak for this year. The peak time was a couple of weekends ago. Perhaps the heavy rain on Friday put an end to their flight period early, because there was two freshly emerged Females seen on Thursday 26th June. We went to Fermyn Woods to look for Purple Emperor. We saw a White Admiral feeding on the brambles. But the PurpleEmperor was going to be a tricky one. This time we are just a bit too early for them, they had been seen, but the weather was not too good. We'll try Savernake in Wiltshire again this year. We saw a couple of pairs of Hornet Moths perched in the grass by the track. As the weather was still quite showery, there was not much point looking for any butterflies so we started on the long journey homewards. A brilliant week!
Isle of Man 5th-
We went to Isle of Man for 5 days with Chauffeurhire Coaches. We caught the ferry from Heysham to Douglas in the afternoon.
There were not many seabirds about, but we did see some Shearwaters and a Black Guillemot as we were docking at the Isle of Man.When we arrived at Douglas it was a short drive to the Empress Hotel which is right on the seafront.
On the Sunday we went to Manx Electric Railway which runs from Douglas to Ramsey. However we only went as far as Laxey to catch the connection with the Snaefell Mountain Railway. We aboarded car no 5 to take us to the summit. On leaving Laxey we had a glimpse of Lady Isbella the giant waterwheel. When we were approaching the only level crossing on the tramway there was statue of one of local Loaghtan Sheep. As we neared the summit, we saw a Hooded Crow and a Female Hen Harrier flying over the moor! After arriving at Snaefell, car no 1 prepared to depart for Laxey. We had a short while to look around before car no 6 arrived at the summit ready to take us back down to Laxey. Having arrived back at Laxey we had quite a bit of time looking around. Car no 22 had arrived from Ramsey. Unlike the Sneafell Trams the Manx Electric had these extra trailers. We were on the way to have better view of the Laxey Wheel when we saw car no 3 leaving Laxey en route to Snaefell Summit. Car no 1 entered Laxey station after decending from Snaefell. We decideded to catch a early tram back to Douglas on car no 7. On the way to Douglas we saw a sign for the Groudle Glen Railway at Groudle and further along we saw the train heading along the cliffs and thought itwould be nice to look at it, so we caught the next tram back to Groudle. We walked to the Groudle Glen Railway' s terminus at Lhen Coan to catch the train toSea Lion Rocks at the site of a former zoo. Sea Lion Rocks is situated in a picturesque location on top of the sea cliffs. When we were there they were setting up a for a filming crew. The locomotive that was in service was Sealion. We had a cup of tea and then caught the train back to Lhen Coan. We waited for the tram back to Douglas and it was a bit late, so the Ramsey tram arrived the same time. We had decided not to have dinner at the hotel because the weather was too nice to beindoors so just bought some chips for tea and sat on the cliffs where we saw a few Hooded Crows flying around and perching on the street lamps. From the promenade we watched the ferry arriving into the port of Douglas. A Gannet was also flying over the sea. Afterwards we headed to our hotel for the night.
On Monday we had a local guide with us for the two days telling us the history of the island. We went on a tour of the northern half of island with a visit to St Johns
for Tynwald Day celebrations which was to begin at 11:00. However, as it was busy and crowded, we decided to walk a bit of disused line between Peel & Douglas. We saw a number of Meadow Browns, Black -
Oystercatchers on the beach and many Herring Gulls. At the port we saw one HerringGull wrestling with a paper bag near the ferry terminal. From the bridge near the harbour marina we saw at least 4 Black Guillemot. One swam into the harbour and started fishing in amongst the boats. After spending a bit of time watching the Guillemots, we went for some tea before heading back to the hotel.
We went on a tour of the Southern half of the Island starting with a visit toNiarbyl, Dalby. We saw a few Choughs flying around and 3were perched on the nearby cliffs. One was feeding along the edge before flying off. A Hooded Crow also flew past the cliffs. Our next port ofcall was at Port Erin for a look around the town. We started at the Isle of Man Railway's Terminus. We sat to watch the train arrive while we had something to eat. The engine that was in service was no 12 Hutchinson built by Breyer Peacock in 1908. On arrival from Douglas the loco comes off the train to be fueled at the shed before backing onto the train for departure back to Douglas. We would be back there later for our ride on the train. Down on the beach we saw another Hooded Crow by a puddle. There seems to be more Hooded Crows than Carrion here. We still had time for a quick look in the Railway Museum at Port Erin. Two locos are on display, these are no 6 Peveril and 16 Mannin. The coach then headed to the Calf of Man. Well, to Sound Point which is as close you can get. There was quite a number of Grey Seals sleeping on the rocks.We saw few Choughs flying past and a Hooded Crow. There were some Sea Pinks, but they were past their best. I spotted my first Grayling of the year on a couple of stones, sadly it never opens it wings while at rest to show the orangey upperwing. We made our way back to Port Erin to catch our train back to Douglas. No 4 Loch built by Breyer Peacock in 1874 was the other serviceable engine to do the honours. We passed Hutchinson on a Port Erin service at Ballasalla Station. Near to Stanton Station was where the Fairy Bridge was, but we didn't see it. After we got back to Douglas, Loch shunted the carriages back to the shed and we headed back to the hotel. We didn’t go out for a walk tonight as we had an early night.
We got up early at 6:00 to have breakfast before catching the ferry back to Heysham. In the harbour we saw at least seven Black Guillemots swimming and diving for fish. It had been a brilliant 5 days and I really enjoyed myself. Even though it wasn’t a birding holiday, we saw quite a few nice birds.
27th July 2014
We went to Ham Wall in the Somerset Levels to see if the new visitor centre was built. Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment to see that they hadn't even started! At Ham Wall RSPB there was quite a few Red -
which was chased off by a Common Blue Damselfly. Along the channel we saw a Female Emperor Dragonfly egg laying. This is something you don't always see unless you're really lucky. It had been a few years since we went to Greylake RSPB and saw a Spotted Crake, so we decided to see what was there. This time in the car park we saw a family of Spotted Flycatchers which included some Juveniles which soon will be heading to their wintering grounds in Africa. We watched them for a long time as we don't see enough of them. We went for quick walk around the reserve and saw a Brown Hawker [which didn't land] and at least 4 Black -
Echo Lodge Meadows,
Ravensroost Woods &
3rd August 2014
We went to check out a site for Brown Hairstreaks at Echo Lodge Meadows. We saw a Purple Hairstreak perched on a leaf. It may look a bit worn but the Adult is a Female as it has a purple line on upperwing and the Male's upperwing is all purple. A Buzzard soared overhead. Due to long spells of dry weather, the bramble flowers have gone over quickly, so the Browns would have to start feeding on the top of trees. We then went to Ravensroost Wood to look there. Perched in the grass was a Female Common Blue Damselfly. There were plenty of Common Blues and Green -
Rutland Water Thursday
14th August 2014
We went to Rutland Water for the annual Birdfair and to kick it off on the Thursday, we went on the Osprey cruise around Rutland Water with Simon King. There was still plenty of Swallows hanging around at Whitwell Harbour. Also on the shore was a couple of Pied Wagtails. We watched a few Common Terns flying past as we got on the Rutland Belle. Not long after we left Whitwell we saw our first Osprey flying over. Further along a Yellow -
Rutland Water Friday
15th August 2014
The hotel we were staying was very nice and there is no set time for breakfast which is easier. When we went down I had a surprise seeing Bill Oddie having his as well. On the Friday we spent much of the day looking around the Birdfair. It was a strange start to the day. First Mum saw a Rabbit in the car park and was worried it might get run over as the cars were still coming in. She picked it up and put it in the hedge. Poor thing had myxomatosis. We first went to BAWC stand to see Findlay Wilde’s giant Hen Harrier and while Mum was taking a photo of me by it, a man close by collapsed and fell face down into some water. Dad and a man from the stand managed to pull him out and then got the first aiders to look after him. There seems to be even more marquees and stalls and you really do need three days to look at everything and go to lectures. At 14:00 we went to a talk by Simon King called "Mini Eden -
Rutland Water Saturday
16th August 2014
On the Saturday we went to a talk by Dave Sexton about "Springwatch -
Rutland Water Sunday
17th August 2014
We went to a talk by Paul Eele at 9:30 called "Birding RSPB Titchwell." Which was very interesting and showed all different species of birds including the Sammy the Black -
Dyfi/ Nant yr Arian 23rd
We went to Dyfi Osprey Project to see Monty and the Juveniles before they head off back to Africa. The female, Glesni had already left. Along the boardwalk we saw a lot of Common Lizards including a few without tails and a Common Darter. A Juvenile Robin, which was just beginning to get it's red breast was sunbathing on the boardwalk. In the far distance on a telegraph post was a Juvenile Female called Deri. The Juvenile Male that was on a perch above the nest was Gwynant. After a couple of minutes he flew off to join Deri on the telegraph post. No sooner had we got back to visitor centre than Monty returned with a fish and fed Deri on the nest. Further down the road was a new viewpoint overlooking the river Dyfi and you could see the Observatory in the distance. There were lots of Goosanders on the bank but sadly they flew further back and we just saw a few swimming down river. We got to Nant yr Arian a bit late and just missed the Kites being fed. They were lots of Red Kites flying around but none were perching. The reason why was that all the larch trees had been cut down because of the larch disease. After they finished the food the Kites soon disappeared, but a few stayed around the area. I missed the white Kite, unfortunately, but Dad saw it briefly. It was not as good as it was, which is a bit of a shame. On the feeders there were Siskins, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and House Sparrows. Finally in the car park were a couple of Carrion Crows with a Juvenile. We then made our way home.
Frampton & Northwick
Warth 30th August 2014
We went to Splatt Bridge at Frampton on Severn to look for the Marsh Sandpiper. We eventually picked it out feeding with the much larger Greenshank. It was lucky we went to see it as the bird disappeared overnight. It was a bit distant for photos, but I got a record shot. We went to Northwick Warth to look for another Sandpiper of the Tringa family. When we first got there, we were told it had not been seen for an hour.While we were waiting we saw a Whinchat perched above the reedbed and some Yellow Wagtail feeding amongst the cattle with a Pied Wagtail. A Wheatear was out on the flash but I didn't see it. The Sandpiper which we went to see was a Wood Sandpiper and at last it flew in. This was a Juvenile bird on it's way down south. The Juvenile Waders are certainly more confiding and approachable birds. Adults are more wary and tend to keep their distance. The last time I saw a Wood Sandpiper was distant blob on the Tack Piece at Slimbridge in 2012. I had an enjoyable time taking pictures of it as it took no notice of all the people. Lovely bird!
Slimbridge & New Passage
31st August 2014
We went to Slimbridge to book for the Landrover Safari. We had a quick look in the Rushy Pen and saw both Common and Green Sandpipers. Not often you get a chance to see both Sandpipers together. Wewent back to the foyer and boarded the trailer for the Safari. We didn't see much on the reserve except for Whinchat, Clouded Yellow (which didn't land, neither did the Brimstone that it was chasing), a brief view of two Garganey, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Kestrel, Curlews, Grey Heron, Yellow Wagtails flying over & Shelducks. I had hoped for Hobby or Marsh Harrier but not today. While we were on the Landrover Safari, Dad was watching a Kingfisher and Marsh Harrier from the Knott Hide. Grrr! We had a quick look at South Lake, but again not much there. Mum saw on Twitter that a Wryneck was seen at New Passage so we decided to look on the way home. As we were walking back past the Waderscape, we spotted some juvenile Swallows perched on a beam and the adults kept coming back to feed it. When we got to New Passage the Wryneck was partly hidden and sat on the wall for couple of minutes to sun bathe. It had been feeding on the ground and I hoped it might come back down again. Sadly my last view of the Wryneck was as it flew off at 15:20 and hid itself. We couldn’t really stay much longer as Dad had some work to do, so we left it at that. It came back later in the day but it was not reported the next morning. Still, it least I saw it.
Cornwall 13th -
Saturday 13th September
We went to Cornwall for a couple of days as we haven't been there for 11 years and for Dad's birthday. We stopped at St. Agnes and saw two Northern Wheatears by the roadside. We had abrief look around before driving around to Chapel Porth to look at the old tin mines. We then went to Porthtowan to see how much it's changed since 2003. Quite a bit, was the answer. We to went Hayle RSPB but the tide was out so there wasn’t many birds in front of the hide. We saw a Kingfisher perched on the telegraph wires and it flashed past a couple of times. There is a lot of building going on in Hayle and we couldn’t get to Carnsew Pool so we went for a look at Copperhouse Creek where we saw an obliging Little Egret, Redshanks and a Oystercatcher. We drove further up the road and we saw a small flock of Common Sandpipers foraging on the estuary. Never seen so many at one time. There was also a Curlew. We then headed into Redruth to go the restuarant we always used to eat at, but it had gone a bit upmarket for us. We decided to just get some chips for tea before going to our B&B near Truro.
Sunday 14th September
The B&B was lovely, withPeacocks and Guinea Fowl in the garden. We headed to the Lizard to look for Cornish Choughs and we started at Kynance Cove to have a look around. We didn't see any Choughs but we saw some Meadow Pipits along the way and the scenery was lovely. We drove up to Lizard Point to see we would have any luck there. We saw a Grey Seal swimming lazily in the bay, it even enjoyed having a snooze at one point. There were a few Turnstones on the beach so I went down for a closer look and a Rock Pipit was foraging in the seaweed. Suddenly we heard the Choughs fly over which Mum and Dad saw [but I missed them the first time round.]We went back up to the watchpoint and sat there having a cup of tea. The Choughs flew around a few more times and went into the crevice that they nested. These were my first Cornish Choughs I've seen! On the way back to the car park we saw a Juvenile Raven perched on the cliff having a good preen. We headed to the RSPB Marazion Marsh to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper which is regular vagrant from Amercia. This was a Juvenile and hid much of the time in the reeds but it gradually ventured out slightly. Unfortunately, being late in the day the light was awful. Still, I was quite pleased with seeing one and I got a few pictures of it. On the way back through the marsh there was a Male Southern Hawker roosting on a twig. We checked the beach for any more Autumn waders that might have come in. There was a small flock of Sanderlings feeding along the edge of the waves. These delightful Waders must have a lot of energy as they keep running back and forth like clockwork toys. Marazion Beach stands in the shadow of St Michael's Mount. The causeway to St Michael's Mounts is only visible at low tide. On the way back to the car we spotted a 2nd Winter Mediterranean Gull with the Black -
Monday 15th September
We started at Hayle RSPB looking over Ryan's Field as it was high tide. A Common Sandpiper foraged along the bank in front of the hide. We saw the Kingfisher perched on the wire and judging by the orange base to the mandible showed that it was a Female. After a while it flew off but there were still a few birds about including Black -
Tuesday 16th September
Our final day in Cornwall began in Hayle at Ryan's Field. A Grey Heron & Black -
along the edge of Ryan's Field. Two Kingfishers were sitting on the bank on the far side. We walked back to the hide for the last look around. The Kingfisher returned to the post in front but the sky was bright and not good photographic condition. We went for a cup of tea before heading to Marazion for the final time. The Pectoral Sandpiper wasn't there that time in the marsh as the RSPB volunteers were busy working in the area. We went to look for the Sanderlings again on the beach. They were very flighty and didn't stay in one place for long. In the the end they all flew further up the coast. There was also a Wheatear and a Ringed Plover. We saw a small wader fly towards the bridge over Red River. We saw it emerge from under the bridge and wondered if it wasithe Pect. However, Pectoral Sandpipers have yellow legs, this wader had black legs and white braces down the back. We decided that this must be a Juvenile Little Stint. It took no notice of us at all. We had a wonderful weekend and the weather wasn't too bad either (not like the Cornish weather we remember!)
Chew Valley Lake/ Sand
Point 22nd September
We went to look around Chew Valley Lake starting at the Stratford Hide. A Juvenile Marsh Harrier flew past the hide. We were given a tip off that a Great White Egret was seen flying towards Stratford Island which was viewable from Herriott's Bridge so we went round to Herriott's to have a look for it. It was feeding near the edge of the reedbed, so I had stand on the railing to get my pics. After a little while it flew back towards the island where it landed with a few Little Egrets. We then went to look for the Red-
Chew Valley Lake 11th
We went to Blagdon to look for the Black -
Portland & Radipole Lake
12th October 2014
We went to Portland to look for the Rose -
Budleigh Salterton &
Powderham 25th October
We went to Devon to see what was about. We popped to the Otter Estuary near Budleigh Salterton to see if the Grey Phalarope was still present. We first saw it feeding in the small channel and foraging along the edge into the main channel. This 1st Winter bird has been showing there for a week and didn’t seem worried about the people there watching him. It moved further along though when a dog jumped into the water and some children started throwing stones in. There was a Black -
Steart Marshes WWT 27th
We went to Steart Marshes WWT to search for the Pallid Harrier that had been present for a few days. From the viewpoint near the Mendip Hide we saw a Great White Egret that had been there for a while as well. But the bird was very distant for a photo. We were walking towards the breach alongside the River Parrett when I spotted a pair of Stonechats on top of some tall bushes. Because it was windy I had a good opportunity to photograph a Male Stonechat hovering like a hummingbird. Further up a Little Egret flew by past. We got to as near the breach as possible and waited for the raptor to appear. We saw another pair of Stonechats near the path. There were some waders on the Parrett estuary including some Avocets, also Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatcher. A Kestrel was hovering in search of prey and then landed on the post briefly. Suddenly Dad spotted the Pallid Harrier flying left and right quite distantly. Then it flew past again a little bit closer but still distant for a photo, although I managed a couple of record shots. After that we lost sight of it. We thought it might had caught something and was feeding on the ground, when all of sudden it reappeared from somewhere and was being chased by a Carrion Crow, but instead of chasing it towards us, the Crow chased it further away.
We were heading back to the car park when Dad and I spotted the Great White Egret together with Little Egret and Grey Heron. There isn't many places where you can photograph two species of Egret and a Heron. The Great White Egret flew and landed in the middle of the lake where we left it to continue feeding. We went back to the car and drove down to the other carpark. On the way we saw a Merlin perched on the fence, but couldn’t stop for a photo. We walked up to the viewpoint and had another view of the Harrier before it flew off over to the estuary. We went home after a quite successful afternoon. I can see the reserve getting even better in the future when things get more established. I will be back again.
Great Grey Shrike at
Marshfield 28th October
Before I went to work, we went via Marshfield to see the Great Grey Shrike that been found the day before by Martyn Hayes of South Gloucestershire Birds. We went to Rushmead Lane and there were lots of other people we knew there with the same idea. I managed to see it perched on the furthest bush a couple of fields, very distant! We went back again on the way home but the light was starting to fade by then so my record shots weren't that great, although I was quite happy with one I got and of course the main thing was that I’d seen it.
Slimbridge WWT 3rd
We went to Slimbridge WWT to see if any winter wildfowl had come in yet. We started at the Rushy Pen where there were quite a few Pintails, Teals & Pochards. We then went to look at Willow Hide to see if any birds were on the feeders. We only saw Great & Blue Tits plus a very nice Dunnock. We also saw two Cranes from GCP feeding on the Tack Piece from the Robbie Garnett Hide. The male Teal are now in superb breeding plumage and were feeding in front of the hide. From the Holden Tower we saw flock of Dunlin fly past and over the Dumbles. A massive flock of Wigeon were feeding below the hide by the Knott Pool. Suddenly the flock were disturbed by something but what? The answer came from right hand side of the hide and landed on the post. It was a Male Sparrowhawk. Then he started looking in the bushes for small birds and finding none he took off. There were three more Cranes on the Dumbles and they were joined by the other two from the Tack Piece. One of the Cranes flew past the Holden. Back at the Rushy a few of the Pintails were foraging along with a few Black -
Marshfield 22nd November
After a dull, dreary morning, the weather picked up a bit so we went for a drive around Marshfield in the afternoon. The sun even came out for about an hour which was nice. We saw Pheasants, Kestrels, Red -
Sharpness & Slimbridge
WWT 24th November 2014
We went to Sharpness to look for the Black Redstart. We also saw a Wren, Grey & Pied Wagtails. We managed to locate the Male Black Redstart on top of the Ned West Building with a Robin. We also saw it perched in 2 of the trees. In the afternoon we went to Slimbridge WWT to look for the Pink -
Forest of Dean 29th November 2014
We went to the Forest of Dean at Crabtree Hill to look for the Great Grey Shrike. We first saw it perched on a conifer tree then it flew to a small tree by the path. When it flew off we sat stood a couple of metres from the tree and waited. It flew back on the tree and gave excellent close views. It then flew and landed on some twigs at ground level, giving us an lovely view. At one time it even flew towards us and landed briefly on the path which I missed. Cracking bird, wonderful sunlight!
Bristol & Chew Valley Lake
30th November 2014
We went to Bishopton near Bristol to look for the Adult Rose -
Brean Down Cove
6th December 2014
We went to see the Black Redstart at Brean Down Cove. We couldn’t go until the afternoon because Mum had to sort out the Hedgehogs first. When we got there we had a bite to eat and the local Robin came looking for some crumbs. We put a little on the seawall for him. We walked along the beach where we saw a RockPipit foraging around the stones. We saw a Male Black Redstart briefly by the cove before flying off. We sat down to wait for it. First it was a Pied Wagtail that appeared and then the Male Black Redstart came down. I was sitting on one of the rocks minding my own business when a Male Black Redstart suddenly appeared from nowhere and hopped closer and closer to me. Also we were entertained by a Rock Pipit and a Female Stonechat. But it was the Black Redstart that was the star attraction at Brean Down. Even though we didn't see the tailless Female, The Male put on a excellent show for us.
Portland Bill 13th
We went to Portland Bill to see the Barred Warbler that had been present since the 6th and we saw it feeding in the Observatory garden. The 1st Winter bird spent much of it's time during the last few days feeding on apples and chasing the other birds off the feeders. Other birds such as Goldfinch, Blackcap, Greenfinch, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blackbird and Chaffinch came back to the feeders after the Barred Warbler had disappeared into a bush to digest it's food. After a while the Barred Warbler would return to the apples but first chase all the other birds off again and he chased them off each time he appeared. We were thinking that if he kept this up, he would run out of energy to continue his migration back to Africa. I had good views of it unlike the Barred Warbler at Splatt Bridge, Frampton last month that we went to see. We did just see it but didn't tick it because it was really a blob in a bush by the reedbed. This bird was also a bit vocal and it reminded me of a Dartford Warbler alarm call, which is another Sylvia Warbler. We heard someone mention "Purple Sandpipers down by the bill" so we thought we'll go and find them as Mum hadn’t got one for this year. I spotted a pair on the rocks and foraging along the coastline by the bill. They kept being pushed off by the waves so they were always keeping watch on the tide. We went to look for the Little Owl in the quarry, but it wasn’t showing so Dad and I left Mum there and went for a walk along the coast looking for Black Redstart, but didn't see any. We then had lunch back in the car while waiting for Mum. However Mum was watching a Little Owl in the quarry hole. Grr! And she had pictures and video! But luckily, as we were leaving, Dad stopped the car and we looked over to see the Little Owl was sunning himself at his hole. Dad quickly parked the car and we both ran over and I managed to get a few shots -
Slimbridge WWT 23rd
We went to Slimbridge WWT to see if the Bittern was showing at the Kingfisher Hide. It spent much of time hidden in the reeds and was very elusive, but we had a few glimpses of it. We then went to the Willow Hide to see if the Water Rail was showing at all. We spotted it on the other side of the water and swam across. It then showed well posing in the reedbed edge for a couple of minutes before disappearing back in. It showed itself a few more times for us, but it was a very cold and windy day and we left him to it. Hopefully we might see him there again during the Winter. It certainly is a fantastic bird to see at Slimbridge.
Chew Valley Lake 25th
As the weather was nice today we decided to look around Chew Valley Lake. Although Woodford Lodge was closed until 29th. We started down by the picnic site where I spotted the long staying Red -
Devon 28th December
We went to look for the Penduline Tit and the Black Brant around Devon. We started at Darts Farm RSPB to look for the Penduline Tit but it had not been seen. There was an enormous flock of Dark -
Cheltenham & Hawling
29th December 2014
We went to Pittville Park in Cheltenham to see the long -