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Wildlife in and around the city of Bristol

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2015 Achive

Due to space limitations I have had to archive the older blogs and leave out the photos.

Slimbridge WWT  

2nd January 2015

We went to see the female wild Ferruginous Duck at Slimbridge which had been present for a few days. When we arrived it was swimming up a channel in the Asian Pen, so we went to the Kingfisher Hide to see if the Bittern was still about. However, it was very elusive in the reed beds to the right of the hide. Mum saw the back of it walking through the reeds, but sadly I didn't. There were some Goldfinchs, Chaffinchs, Blue & Great  Tits feeding on the feeders but nothing else.  While Mum continued on to the Holden Tower, Dad and I went back to the Asian Pen where we saw the Ferruginous Duck swimming with the collection birds including a pair of Baers Pochards. Unfortunately the light was awful, so we had to wait for it to change slightly. Near the Martin Smith bridge was a Juvenile Grey Heron. We went to the Willow Hide where the Water Rail was still showing well, this time in good sunlight. This is the third time I photographed a Water Rail in brilliant sunlight. Along the Holden Walkway we saw at least 3 Bank Voles using the holes on the slope on the embankment. At the Martin Smith Hide we saw a massive flock of birds taking off from the Tack Piece but we couldn't see the culprit. We saw other birds such as Pintails, Shelduck, Mallards, Wigeon, Teal & Greylag Geese. We left Mum there and went back again to the Asian Pen and the light was slightly better for taking photos of the Ferruginous Duck which was still hanging out with a pair of Baers Pochards. We then popped to South Lake where we saw Cormorants & Great Crested Grebe. Also saw a Male Teal swimming in front of the observatory. On our way back to Holden Tower we saw a Goldfinch feeding on a teasel in the grounds. Back beside the Holden Walkway the Bank Voles were still showing well at their hole entrances. From the Martin Smith we eventually managed to see the long staying Pink- footed Goose with a flock of White-fronted Geese thanks to the help of Dave Paynter, Head Warden at Slimbridge. A Marsh Harrier appeared and flew towards the estuary. We hadn’t seen the Whooper Swan at all & were told that you need to look out of the Sloane Tower towards the fields for a glimpse of it. We finished the day at the Peng Observatory for the floodlight feed on the Rushy Pen and hoped that the Whooper Swan would come into roost with the Bewick's Swans. Sadly it didn't. It must have come in well after dark, but it was lovely to watch all the Bewick Swan families flying in after spending the day feeding in the surrounding fields. The interaction and calling was lovely to see. It was a great day and the weather was good as well. A very nice way to begin my 2015 bird list!

Frampton on Severn & Cheltenham

11th January 2015

We went to Frampton on Severn to see the Tawny Owl which was roosting in a tall tree in Court Field. We also looked for the Female Greater Scaup and Goldeneye but weren't successful. We then continued to Pittville Park in Cheltenham to see the Dartford Warbler on it's 26th day in the county. As I didn't have a proper look last time through my bins, I didn't take any pictures except of the local Male Stonechat.

Slimbridge WWT

16th January 2015

As my birthday was approaching Mum and I thought we would start the celebrations off by going to Slimbridge WWT on the Friday. Dad dropped us off before he went to work. We got there early at 8am in the hope of seeing the Whooper Swan in the Rushy Pen before it leaves to feed in the surrounding fields. Not didn’t see it. We went to the Willow Hide to see if the Water Rail was there but no sign. (Not a good start!) A Female Reed Bunting was feeding on the feeder with Blue & Great Tits, Robin, Long - tailed Tits & Greenfinch. A Wren was foraging in the reeds behind. Then the Rooks & Jackdaws came to hog some of the feeders. There were lots of birds on the Tack Piece. The 5 Common Cranes from the Great Crane Project were present on site. The waders included Curlews, Black - tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Ruff & Lapwings, also groups of Bewick's Swans which was viewable from the Robbie Garnett. Back at the Willow Hide we saw a few Brown Rats including one swimming across. We had a quick look in the Knott Hide where there was a flock of Wigeon in front of the hide. They quickly returned to the water. We went to the Holden Tower and looked out on the Dumbles where a flock of Barnacle Geese were and a Sparrowhawk, which flew past the hide quite close and I had the camera on the wrong setting, aargh! There was not much else. Back along the Holden walkway we saw the Bank Voles in their usual holes. We went to have a look in Martin Smith but there was no Snipe still. One of the Mallards had finished bathing in front of the hide. Two of the Cranes flew over the Rushy Pen. Along the boardwalk we had a friendly Wood Pigeon who was happy enough to be hand fed. We popped down to the Kingfisher Hide to see what was there. On the feeders were the usual birds - the Chaffinches, Great & Blue Tits & Brown Rats. We had another new tick for the year which were 4 Avocets present on Bottom New Piece. On the way back we saw a Common Buzzard soaring over the grounds. The only wader we saw in the Rushy Pen was a Male Lapwing which was right in front of the hide. The Bank Voles were still showing well along the Holden walkway when we went back to look for the Water Rail but there was still no sign. There was a few birds still feeding on the feeders including the Long - tailed Tits. Back on the Tack Peice we saw the Cranes again and the other birds which were spooked by the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine then turned it's attention to a solitary Pintail and was right on it's tail and flashed past the hide really close. We thought it was a goner, Mum couldn’t watch, as it looked like it was going to get caught. Fortunately, (for the duck), the Pintail got away, but we don't know how. Possibly, it dived into the water or perhaps the Peregrine just gave up. We didn’t see what happened. Then the Peregrine just sat at the back of the Tack Piece for about 15 minutes before taking off and starting to hunt over the Dumbles. Outside the Willow Hide there was a Female Great Tit calling.  We went up to the Sloane Tower to look for the Whooper Swan as Dave Paynter, the head warden told us where to look for it. Mum had the scope and we saw a flock of Swans two fields away from the centre but still too far to identify. Finally we ended the day back at the Rushy Pen in the warm heated Peng Observatory for the afternoon swan feed in the hope that the Whooper Swan would come in, but only the Bewick's Swans and lots of other ducks & Geese flew in to take advantage of the free meal of grain from the wardens. A good day, but very cold. Lucky there is a cafe and restaurant there, so we were able to warm up during the day.

Chew Valley Lake

17th January 2015

We went to Chew Valley Lake to look for the Great White Egret & Great Northern Diver. We started at Woodford Lodge to look for the Diver. The Juvenile Great Northern Diver that had been here since the 16th Nov 2014 was near the dam, so quite a far away. We had a very nice Male Goldeneye swimming past Woodford bank though. We then went along to Heron's Green Bay which had nothing out of the ordinary except for a nice a Female Pochard close to the bank. We popped in to have a look at Moreton Hide. We saw a Little Egret in front of the hide briefly flying into cover. A pair of Goldeneye and Goosanders swam past the hide. A Great Crested Grebe was doing a bit of fishing as well. On the way back along Moreton Lane were a pair of Roe Deer. At Herriott's Bridge there was another Great Crested Grebe and a Cormorant  fishing in the channel along with a Female Tufted Duck. We saw a Kingfisher perched in the willow tree at the end of the channel and a Chiffchaff in the reed bed. We quickly popped into Stratford Hide where a Cormorant of the Sinesis race was stretching it's wings on a post. There was a pair of Great Crested Grebes practising their courtship display although they have got another month to go yet before their full display.  A Little Grebe or Dabchick swam past the hide twice. Also a Grey Heron flew past the hide and from the hide was pair of Goldeneye. We finished the day with a quick look around Nunnery Point where there were more Goosanders and a Grey Heron. Driving back down the road we spotted the elusive Great White Egret by Villice Bay and flew off towards Moreton Bay.

Brean Down &  Somerset Levels

18th January 2015

We went to Brean Down to look for the Twite & Black Redstart. We spotted the Black Redstart on the wall and then on the roof of a house. While we were waiting for the Black Redstart to make an appearance I went to try and photograph a Male Stonechat, but it  flew off beforehand. There was also a Robin perched on a stick and before it flew onto the beach. Then the Male Black Redstart landed on some of the rocks that Mum was sitting on along the beach. So I went up to see it and it was chased by a Pied Wagtail. It came quite close a few times, so I managed to get some photos of it. We then to Brean Down Farm where the Twite had been seen, but not today. We did saw Wren, Meadow Pipits, Sparrowhawk, Shelducks, Curlews, Song Thrushes, Redshanks and some Dunlin. On the way back to the car park we saw a Chiffchaff, Song Thrush & Sparrowhawk which we saw earlier over the  salt marsh. We also saw some Goats grazing on the hillside. We don't know exactly what breed they were, but they had very large horns. We then headed down to the Somerset Levels and to Ham Wall RSPB. There not much around except Shovelers, Mallards, Mute Swans from the viewpoint & Canada Geese on the rafts from the viewing screens. Also a Robin feeding on grain near the viewpoint. On the way to Shapwick Heath to see the Starlings, at Ashcott Bridge, we saw a Female Roe Deer feeding on the bank of the river.  Finally we finished the day at Shapwick Heath with thousands of Starlings coming into roost, but no spectacular murmurations that evening. It was still a good way to finish the day.

Forest of Dean

19th January 2015

We went to the Forest of Dean to look for Hawfinches for our year list. We went to Parkend to look for them but unfortunately, no luck. They had been seen at the top of some tall trees, but we’d missed them. We went to Parkend Church where we also dipped out on the Hawfinches, but managed to see a lovely pair of Common Crossbills, which are also not very easy to see as they cover a wide area. The Females are dull green, whilst the Males are bright red. At one time the Male fed the Female, but they stayed high in the tree all the time we were there, after which both were spooked by a dog walker. We went to Cannop Ponds to catch up with the Mandarin Ducks and Marsh Tits. We saw  quite a few Mandarins swimming on the pond, while on the feeders were Coal Tits, Nuthatch, Blue & Great Tits, Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinches & 2 Marsh Tits. We went to Speech House where we saw Nuthatches, Song Thrush, Blackbirds & Stock Doves.

We quickly popped back to Parkend to look and see if the Hawfinches came back but sadly only Song Thrush, Grey Squirrels, Magpie and a few small birds feeding under the Yew Trees.

We stopped at Aust on the way back, just in case any Short - eared Owls were showing, but it looks like its not such a good place to see them this year. No Twite have been seen here either, which is a shame. They were great to watch last year.

Cotswold Water Park & Hawling

20th January 2015

We went to Cotswold Water Park in the morning for my birthday outing to look for Red - crested Pochards & Smew. On lake 44 where saw the Smew in 2013 is now housed a flock of wintering Red - crested Pochards which we saw on the other side of the lake. We tried getting a closer look by walking around a bit,  but they all swam out into the middle. At least l saw them anyway for the year. I spotted a Drake Smew with a Goosander after a long struggle of finding lake 43. When I first saw the Smew, it was quite close to the bank and it then flew with the Goosander to the far side. It then dived under water and disappeared. Again, I least I saw it. We had lunch by Lakeside which only had Gulls and Great Crested Grebes on. Last time there were Goldeneye on it. We didn’t go to Shorncote, as we were told you need wellies to get to the hide as the water was so deep. In the afternoon we popped to Hawling, but by that time the weather got very cloudy and dull. There was 3 Short - eared Owls & 2 Barn Owls hunting over the rough grassland. We also saw a Fox nearby to end the day with.


24th January

We returned to Hawling this afternoon as it was forecast sunshine for the day. As soon as we arrived a Red Kite flew low over the road, but I was a bit slow getting out of the car with my camera so hence, no photos! The Short - eared Owls were flying about again, but this time they disappeared for long periods. Dad and I walked down the road to see if we could get a better view as they seemed to be hunting in the field further back. Then suddenly, we saw some birderwatchers running down towards the wall of the field, so we quickly walked down too. There was a Short - eared Owl perched on top of the fence post and gave fantastic views to us until a birder walked up the path that runs behind the trees. It then took off to hunt and was joined later in the day by a Barn Owl. We also saw two Hares & two Roe Deer. A great end to a splendid day.

Forest Farm

8th February 2015

We went to Forest Farm to see the Little Bunting which had been present for a few days. It was showing well in front of the hide at the feeding station with a few Reed Buntings. We also saw 3 Bullfinches feeding on the ground and on the feeder. These were 2 Males and a Female. We watched the Little Bunting for a little while before we headed to see if the Kingfisher was showing in the other hide. The Female Kingfisher was there when we arrived, but she didn’t stay long as the pond was still frozen over. I managed a couple of photos before she flew off to fish, in the river probably. We saw one of the Moorhens walking out on the icy pond. It was quite funny to see as it was slipping all over the place. There were two Common Snipe on the right hand side of the hide and a Dunnock was foraging in front of the hide on the still frosty ground. On the way back to the car park we saw 2 Nuthatches up in the tree. One was taking quite an interest in a nestbox there. We had one last look at the Little Bunting on the way back. Lovely little bird!

Forest Farm

8th February 2015

We went to Forest Farm to see the Little Bunting which had been present for a few days. It was showing well in front of the hide at the feeding station with a few Reed Buntings. We also saw 3 Bullfinches feeding on the ground and on the feeder. These were 2 Males and a Female. We watched the Little Bunting for a little while before we headed to see if the Kingfisher was showing in the other hide. The Female Kingfisher was there when we arrived, but she didn’t stay long as the pond was still frozen over. I managed a couple of photos before she flew off to fish, in the river probably. We saw one of the Moorhens walking out on the icy pond. It was quite funny to see as it was slipping all over the place. There were two Common Snipe on the right hand side of the hide and a Dunnock was foraging in front of the hide on the still frosty ground. On the way back to the car park we saw 2 Nuthatches up in the tree. One was taking quite an interest in a nestbox there. We had one last look at the Little Bunting on the way back. Lovely little bird!

Radipole Lake & Arne RSPB  

9th February 2015

We went to Radipole Lake Reserve in Weymouth to look for Bearded Tits. We first saw a Adult Mediterranean Gull bathing from the Visitor Centre. It was moulting from Winter into Summer Plumage. We went down to the viewing platform where we can see over the reeds, but nothing. Then I heard some 'pinging' calls from the Bearded Tits so Mum and I walked back down towards the Visitor Centre where I thought I had heard the calls coming from. Just before we got to the bridge, we met a gentleman who told us that we had just missed four Bearded Tits that were on the reedheads! Grr! Just then I saw one in the bush. Fortunately a Male came back to feed on the reedheads and gave us a fantastic view that we wanted to see for ages. A Bearded Reedling on a reed! Brilliant! There was a Water Rail showing behind us, and I was a bit torn for a moment which way to look. But, its not every day I get to see a Bearded Tit. Just a shame that Dad missed it. He did see it briefly though. After a successful morning here, we headed to the RSPB Arne for the afternoon. I spent a few minutes photographing the birds around the feeders before I had my lunch. There were Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinches & House Sparrows. As we were just about to go for a walk around the reserve we saw 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers arguing over a conifer tree. We went to look for Dartford Warblers on the heath. We saw 2 birds which were an Adult Male and a Juvenile. We went to look at Middlebeare Creek where the Avocets, Redshanks & Ducks were foraging along the estuary. We also our first Spoonbills of the year on the creek. We then walked to Shipstal Point where we were hoping to see some Sika Deer. We saw a small herd in the field and further on we saw an Adult Stag with a Pricket. Looking out on the saltmarsh we spotted a few Sika Deer that were feeding quite a way out with a Leucistic White Stag. From Shipstal Point there were a few Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls. It had been a great day!

Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Lynford & Salthouse  

21st February 2015

We went to Norfolk for Mum’s birthday weekend. We popped into Mildenhall to see if the Waxwing was still about. The 1st Winter Female was first seen on top of a birch tree. Then it flew onto some berries in the bush. It perched on top of a small tree to digest the berries before flying down for more. Afterwards it flew back to the birch tree and we went back to the car. As we were close to Lakenheath, we thought we would pop into the visitor centre and have a look on the feeders. There were Reed Buntings, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Blue & Great Tits. We went to look at Lynford Arboretum to look for Hawfinches. We saw Marsh Tits, Blue, Great & Coal Tits, Grey Squirrel & Nuthatch. We finally spotted a Male Hawfinch feeding right at the back of the feeding station. He was joined briefly by a Female. I only managed a couple of distant record shots. We also saw a Female Brambling feeding at the back as well. While Mum stayed by the feeding station, Dad & I walked to have a look at the paddocks where Hawfinches are sometimes seen. There was Nuthatch, Great, Blue, Marsh, Coal & Long - tailed Tit feeding on seed by the bridges.

Before we went to the B&B at Cley we had a quick look for Snow Buntings at Salthouse. Unfortunately, the car park had all but disappeared due to the storms, although the Turnstones were still about, the Snow Buntings weren’t sadly.

Salthouse, Cley & Holkham

22nd February 2015

We started our first day in Norfolk at Salthouse watching the Turnstones foraging along the shingle beach. There were still no Snow Buntings this morning so we continued to the marshes at Cley. We walked along the East Bank where we saw at least 8 - 10 Bearded Tits feeding on some seeds that had been blown across from the reed beds. I saw my best ever view of a Bearded Tit perched on the reeds at Radipole, but to see a group of them together feeding on the ground was certainly a joy to witness. It was also nice to see a couple of Females there that I didn’t see at Radipole. I just couldn’t get enough of them and we stayed for 2 hours. We walked further along and saw a Grey Plover on Arnold’s Marsh. In the afternoon we went to Holkham, unfortunately there no were no Pink - footed Geese from Lady Ann’s Drive today but we saw Fieldfares, Stonechat, Mistle Thrush, Common Snipe, Redshanks & a Pair of Marsh Harriers sky dancing. Then at 14:45 it started raining so it was time to head back to Cley. We saw some Dark - bellied Brent Geese feeding in a field. We went to shelter in Bishop’s Hide and saw Avocets, Snipe, Shelducks & Lapwing. We decided to go to Sheringham for some chips, when we spotted some steam from the NNR Sheringham Station. We headed to the road bridge over the line outside the station but couldn’t see over. The loco which was in service today was B12 8572 which was filling up with water before returning to Weybourne Shed. We then followed the loco up the line as far as Bridge 303 where the line crosses over the main road and I had a good view of it.

Titchwell Marsh RSPB  

23rd February 2015

We went to the RSPB reserve at Titchwell Marsh. On the way we spotted some birders looking over the marsh, so we had a quick look to see if there was anything about. One of the birders told us about some Grey Partridges in the nearby field. I managed a couple of record shots. We had a quick look at Choseley Barns and the only birds of note were Yellowhammers. In the ploughed field was a Brown Hare.

We continued to Titchwell itself and there was a Woodcock hiding in the undergrowth a few metres away from the car park. We headed to the beach to look for Snow Buntings & Twite. On the beach were a quite few Sanderlings & Bar - tailed Godwits. We saw a few small birds about but it was very windy and they were keeping themselves hidden. We then looked on the Saltmarsh where there were Redshanks & Black - tailed Godwits. From the hide there were a few Knots & Grey Plovers foraging on the scrape. We had brief view of a Common Snipe from the other hide. After a cup of tea to warm us up, we headed to nearby Thornham Marsh to look for Twite and we saw at least 20 birds present on the salt marsh. Dad and I sat down on the marsh where we had the Twite come and perch a couple of metres in front of us. Which was amazing!  A Barn Owl showed up hunting briefly and a Female Muntjac was foraging in the fields until it was spooked by something. We had another quick look at Choseley Barns and saw a couple of Hares this time.

Wolferton & Welney WWT

24th February 2015

Our final day in Norfolk began at Holkham with a very pale Common Buzzard perched on tree. As we were driving along the road, a bird flew over which we think might have been a Rough - legged Buzzard, but were not 100% certain. We continued to Thornham Marsh where the Twite were still showing well close to the bank. We had a quick drive around the Wolferton Triangle for Golden Pheasant but only saw brief views of Muntjacs and a Fallow Deer Doe in the vegetation. We finished the day at Welney WWT watching Brown Hares chasing around and doing a bit of boxing. Also there was a Male Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground. We went to the main observatory to see the Whooper Swans being fed at 15:30PM along with some Pochards & a pair of Wigeon. A Sparrowhawk was perched on the gate on the far side on the lake and flew past the observatory. It had been an amazing four days in Norfolk!

Clatworthy, Darts Farm & Powderham

2nd March 2015

We went to Clatworthy Reservoir to look for the Ring - necked Duck in the south west corner. We eventually spotted the drake swimming by itself on the other side of the reservoir. We saw it fly down to join the 3 Tufted Ducks that were also on the reservoir. There were also 2 Little Grebes and a Great Crested Grebe. It was a long walk around the reservoir but it was worth the effort, even in a snow shower.

We continued our journey into Devon and stopped at the RSPB Darts Farm to look for the Penduline Tits. Fortunately we saw at least 2 Penduline Tits feeding on the reedmace. The Male had a bold black mask through the eye and a grey head. Females generally have narrow black mask through the eye and a dusky browner head. Suddenly the rain came down and the Penduline Tits took cover in the reeds and we went back to the car.

After we had lunch, we headed off to our last port of call along the Exe Estuary at Powderham to look for the Snow Bunting. There were a few Grey Plovers, Dunlin & Black-tailed Godwit wading in the water at high tide. We spotted the Snow Bunting perched on the seawall and it gave excellent views. It certainly was a good bird to see in Devon as we didn't see any in Norfolk at all. Weather had been okay, with just a bit of snow on the high ground and a couple of showers. We had a splendid beginning and splendid ending to a splendid day!


16th March 2015

We popped to Stroud for a couple of hours to look for the Dipper. We saw a pair along the river as well as Grey Wagtails.

Greenham Common

4th April 2015

We went to Greenham Common on Saturday to look for Woodlarks. We saw a few Red Kites on the common including 2 sitting on the ground. After the Red Kites disappeared we had a brief view of a Dartford Warbler & heard our first Woodlark singing. We eventually saw a pair of Woodlarks fighting on the ground and were a bit difficult to see amongst the twigs. We walked around to see what else was about and we saw another Dartford Warbler. This bird had a bigger beak than normal. Then we went back to see the Woodlarks foraging on the ground. We saw one of the Woodlarks singing from a perch. Also the short crest was visible at times on the Woodlarks. A brilliant day, shame it was overcast but another new tick for me!

Portland Bill

6th April 2015

We went to Dorset yesterday in search of three special birds: Bonaparte's Gull, Firecrest & Black - winged Stilt. We started at Radipole Lake RSPB  in Weymouth. The 1st Winter Bonaparte's Gull was still showing well from the Buddleia Loop having been there since March. Also Great Crested Grebes, Grey Heron, Gadwall, Great Black - backed Gull, Cetti's Warbler,Pochards, Willow Warbler, Shovelers & Teals. We went to look at Portland Bill, but sadly no Firecrests in the observatory garden. They had been there the day before, but they must have moved on. The Little Owls were not showing either. We did see our first Wheatear of the year though plus Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel and Linnet in the meadow and near the MOD area. We also saw some Guillemots, Razorbill, Fulmar, & Shags on the sea. We went to Abbotsbury to look for the Black - winged Stilt. We parked along the road overlooking a small pool. We saw the Stilt for a couple of minutes in the open water, long enough for good views in the scope. This Adult Female has been present since the 3rd April. We went back to Radipole Lake to see the Bonaparte's Gull again. However beforehand we had to stop to watch the Hooded Merganser down by the visitor's centre bridge. He’s been here a few years now and is always nice to see. A few Butterflies were on the wing in form of Peacock & Small Tortoiseshell. We didn't see the Bonapartes's in the early evening but we had a obliging Chiffchaff to end the day with.

Slimbridge WWT

12th April 2015

We went to Slimbridge WWT to see what was there. We walked along the Holden walkway to the Willow Hide where  Male Reed Bunting was feeding on the ground. At the Robbie Garnett Hide there was mainly Canada Geese and a solitary Barnacle Goose. There was nothing much from the Holden Tower except a low flying aeroplane which scared all the birds including a Juvenile Pink - footed Goose which was still present with some Greylag Geese. It even disturbed some Avocets which were nesting on the island. Back near the Martin Smith Hide we saw a Male Orange Tip nectering some flowers including it's food plant, Cuckooflower.It was our first Orange Tip of the year. We saw our first Bee - fly which was also nectoring on the flowers. In the Rushy Pen the Greylag Geese were looking after their Goslings. We went to South Lake where we saw another pair of Avocets and a Great Crested Grebe showed very well in front of the observatory in stunning breeding plumage. Finally we popped to South Finger Hide where a Male Kingfisher was showing well by the nest entrance. As well as Cuckooflower in bloom there was a few Marsh Marigolds in flower.

Chew Valley Lake

13th April 2015

We went to Chew Valley Lake for a couple of hours. We started at the Picnic Site and a solitary Egyptian Goose was present with other wildfowl. There was even a Common Gull that had moulted into Summer plumage resting on the dam with a Black - headed Gull. Some Chaffinches were doing a bit of displaying in the car park. We went along to Heron's Green which didn't seem to produce much except a Common Sandpiper on edge on the pool. We then popped to Herriott's Bridge where a Great Crested Grebe pair were swimming in the channel. As we had a day permit we went to Moreton & Stratford Hides but nothing much there at both sites. We finished at Nunnery Point and the last sightings were the Great Northern Diver and a Male Blackcap.

Cleeve Hill

18th April 2015

We went to Cleeve Hill to see the Ring Ouzels that had been present since early morning. They was very elusive at times and gave very brief views. There was also two Wheatears and a Skylark foraging nearby. It was a lovely sunny day though, so it was nice to just sit in the sun while we were waiting for the Ouzel to show themselves. We must have seen about five in total including some females.

Forest of Dean

20th April 2015

We went to Parkend in the Forest of Dean in hope of seeing a Hawfinch. Mum saw one briefly on the ground then it flew up into the Yew and was not seen again sadly. We did see a Marsh Tit and some Long-tailed Tits though. We continued to RSPB Nagshead and at the Campbell Hide were 2 Jays feeding on the ground. We saw a few Pied Flycatchers around the reserve using some of the nest boxes. Dad saw a Redstart but we didn't, grr! Still there always Ynys Hir or Dinas RSPB Reserves. I saw an egg sack of a Cave Spider inside a small cave. We had a brief view of a Male Blackcap perched on a low hanging branch. A few Dog Violets & Wood Sorrel were in flower around the reserve. There was a Treecreeper & a few Nuthatches as well. We walked all round the long trail but although we heard a lot of birds singing, they were hard to spot. Mum wandered on ahead and while she was having a rest on one of the seats she saw a small herd of Fallow Deer cross the path. They took no notice of her sitting there. Dad and I arrived just as the last one disappeared into the forest.

We then walked down to the Lower Hide. On the way we saw a Dor Beetle also known as a Lousy Watchman. From the hide we saw a pair of Mandarin Ducks that might have came from nearby Cannop Ponds. Finally we popped back to Parkend to see if any Hawfinches came back but here was only a Magpie. We decided to go into Lydney to have a chip supper as we wanted to pop to Aust on the way home & it was just as well we did.

We went to Aust to see if we could see any Whinchats as there was a sighting by the sheep field. We only saw a Common Whitethroat. I went to try and get a picture of it, when Dad called me back. He had spotted a Short-eared Owl. It was an unexpected bonus to see a Short-eared Owl hunting at this time of year. It landed further down and as I was walking down to see it, I saw a Fox running along in the field. We stayed until it got too dark to see much, but it had been a brilliant day.

Pied - billed Grebe, Berkeley

24th April 2015

We popped to Berkeley Power Station as there was a mega rarity. A Pied - billed Grebe had been reported that morning on the edge of the Severn Estuary. Unfortunately as we arrived the light had already started to fade and the Grebe was beaching itself up on the rocks to roost. Still, nice to see and year tick it. It must have left during the night as one turned up at Leighton Moss the next day as was still there at the time of writing my blog. If it stays there, there is always a chance to try to see it on the way to Scotland!

Northwick Warth

25th April 2015

We went to Northwick Warth to look for the Ring Ouzel. We first saw some Linnets and a couple of Wheatears including this handsome Male. We popped down into the field where the Ouzel was the previous day but sadly no sign. On the shoreline there Dunlin, Ringed & Little Ringed Plovers. Most of Dunlin were showing the black belly markings of their Summer plumage. We saw somebody down by the water filming & wondered what they had. We didn’t like to go and look in case we disturbed them. We didn't know until later in the day that the Ouzel was seen feeding on the edge of the estuary, so that was what they were filming. We never expected to look for them on the coastline! Still at least we saw some at Cleeve Hill.

Chipping Sodbury Common  

26th April 2015

Dad & I went to Chipping Sodbury Common this morning to look for Redstart and Whinchat. There was a few Lesser Whitethroats singing around the common but very elusive, at least Wheatears, 2 Reed Buntings and finally we spotted a Male Whinchat very distant. Suddenly, all the birds disappeared except the Linnets & Skylarks. In the afternoon we went to Chippenham to look for Grasshopper Warbler but heard none this year. We saw a couple of Whitethroats singing around the area and a Male Orange Tip. On the way back home we went through Marshfield and saw a few Linnets, Yellowhammer & Corn Buntings. The birds always seem to get in a bush that is by a busy road, so I had to take a few pictures through the window of the car as Dad slowed down. Not much else around at the moment there. We missed the Little Owl yet again!

Somerset Levels

27th April 2015

We went to the Somerset Levels today to see what was about. In the morning we started at Shapwick Heath and on Meare Heath we saw a Great White Egret in Summer Plumage with Little Egrets, Black - tailed Godwits, Ruff, Whimbrels & Curlews. There was also quite a few Common Whitethroats singing around the reserve along with some Blackcaps. A few butterflies were on the wing such as Peacock, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood & Green - veined Whites. We popped into Noah's Hide where we saw a Common Tern [very distant, mind] and a Little Egret. From the viewing screen we had a very enjoyable moment of seeing a pair of Marsh Harriers displaying. In the afternoon we walked around the RSPB Reserve at Ham Wall. As soon we walked down to the reserve 2 Great White Egrets flew over and landed in the wetlands opposite the viewing platform. We could hear Marsh Frogs all along by the path and there was another Whitethroat  singing from the bushes. A Bittern was booming, so we walked towards the sound. It was just as well we did as I heard a Garden Warbler singing from a bush. We all managed a good look at him, but only had a fleeting glimpse of the Cuckoo fly down the ride. It was a good spot to be and as we were talking to the warden, a Bittern flew out of the reeds. No wonder it sounded close when it was booming - it WAS close. I was too busy watching it to try to take a photo. Just as we looked away, the warden said ‘another one’, and a second Bittern flew out trailing its legs in the water. The sky was suddenly alive with Hobbies and Swifts. We saw about 6 Hobby. Dad saw another Bittern fly over the reeds.  We walked back to the path, when suddenly the heavens opened and we retreated back to the car. Brilliant day!

Hudsonian Godwit, Shapwick Heath

1st May 2015

After Dad had finished work we went to the Somerset Levels to see the Hudsonian Godwit which was found on Meare Heath on Saturday 25th April. The Female was present with quite a lot of Black - tailed Godwits. While we were watching it, there was a brief appearance of a Marsh Harrier and a Bittern flying over the reeds. A Great White Egret was also feeding on Meare Heath and flew down into the reed bed. A Cetti’s Warbler was calling behind us as well as a Water Rail, but they both remained invisible. We managed to see a Male Garganey right at the back of the Scrape along the edge of the reed bed. Very distant, Even more distant than the Godwit. It was a shame that it didn’t come very close and the light was not good, but at least I saw it and got some record shots. On our way to the levels as we drove through Emerson's Green we saw a Hobby briefly chasing a hirundine.

Slimbridge and Coombe Hill Meadows

4th May

We popped into Slimbridge on the way to Coombe Hill Meadows to look for the Little Gull. The 2nd Summer was present with the other Gulls at the back of the South Lake. It also did a couple of fly passes as well. There was a Pink - footed Goose in front of the observatory. They  normally breed up in Spitsbergen. However this bird was aged as a Juvenile which isn't old enough to breed and seems to be spending the Summer at Slimbridge. A couple of Greylag Geese in front of the observatory had very young Goslings.  We had quick look around Coombe Hill to see if there was anything about. There were the usual birds Mallards, Moorhens, Coots, Common & Lesser Whitethroats & Grey Heron. Also a couple of Male Brimstones in pursuit of a Female. On our way up to the Grundon Hide we saw a Blackbird bathing in one of the puddles. There was not much from the Grundon Hide as the water in the lake was low. The only highlight was a pair of Yellow Wagtails which were too distant for a photograph. On our way home we popped to Rodborough Common to look for Duke of Burgundy , but sadly didn't see any except a Forester Moth which was my first one this year.

Slimbridge WWT

11th May 2015

We went to Slimbridge for a couple of hours to see what was about. The first bird I saw was a Long - tailed Tit from South Lake bridge. We didn't see much on the South Lake that day. We went to see if the Kingfisher was there at South Finger but no sign. Surprisingly, a Female Marsh Harrier appeared from nowhere being mobbed by Carrion Crows. The Harrier also put up some Black - tailed Godwits and made a spectacular sight flying through the flock. At Robbie Garnett Hide we had a good view of an Oystercatcher pair, Avocets & the Cranes from GCP. Later at South Lake Dad was watching a Common Tern on a raft until it was chased of by a Black - headed Gull. We missed it by a couple of mintues because we watching a pair of Swallows that were perched by the bridge.

Duke of Burgundy, Rodborough Common

13th May 2015

We went to Rodborough after work to look for Duke of Burgundy Fritillary and saw a Male perched with his wings open. According to the Butterfly books, the Female has six legs & a Male four, which is a good way of telling the sexes apart. There was also a few Small Heaths, Dingy Skippers and Brown Argus, plus Mother Shipton Moth and Forester Moths.

Strawberry Banks, Pensile Hill & Breakheart Quarry

16th May 2015

We went to Strawberry Banks in the Cotswolds to look for Marsh Fritillary. They were everywhere on the flowers. They must have had a good year because in 2010 there were just a few on the wing. Other species included Small Heath and Dingy Skippers. We saw a Beetle and I didn't have a clue what it was until I got home and looked it up. It was a Rhagium mordax, one of the many beetles without an english name.  We went to nearby Pensile Hill to see what else was about. We managed to see our first Adonis Blue of the year, but unfortunately didn't open it’s wings at all. We then went to Breakheart Quarry to look for Grizzled Skippers. We saw at least 2 perched in different areas. As well as Grizzled on the wing there was some more Dingy Skippers.

Pearl - bordered Fritillary

18th May 2015

We went to see the Pearl - bordered Fritillary on the Bathurst Estate. This was an elusive butterfly, as it is very active on sunny days. We found at least 3 different individuals but, unfortunately they didn't feed on the bugle for very long. On our way home we spotted a Fox sitting on the wall enjoying the sunshine.

Leighton Moss

12th June 2015

We got to Leighton Moss RSPB later in the day after we stopped in one of the services on the M6. We started looking on the feeders but annoyingly missed the Great Spotted Woodpecker. We saw a Male Bullfinch feeding on the seeds. We started to walk down to the Grizedale Hide and on the way we saw Great, Blue, Coal & Marsh Tits feeding on the log with Chaffinches & Blackbirds. At the Grizedale Hide parts of the lake had dried up. There was a family of Greylag Geese walking past in front of the hide and a Red Deer was grazing at the edge of the reed bed. After a while the hind walked out into the open and had a scratch on the tree. A second Hind emerged from the reed bed and walked up alongside.

We briefly looked in the Tim Jackson Hide but not much from there. On the way back to Lillian’s Hide we stopped by the log and saw Great Tits, Blackbirds, Chaffinches & Blue Tits. After Mum & Dad continued to Lillian’s Hide, I was watching a Jay feeding on the log and on the ground. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly on top of the log. At Lillian’s Hide we saw a Female Marsh Harrier quartering the marsh. We also had an unexpected bonus of seeing a couple of Otters diving along the edge of the reeds. One of the Otters was being mobbed by some Black - headed Gulls. The Marsh Harriers were also performing well with a couple of food passes. There was a camera on the nest and you could see the chicks eating their food. The adults tended to just drop the food in the nest and the chicks just grabbed it. After leaving the hide we saw a Moth roosting on the handrail, but not sure on the species. After we had our tea we continued to our overnight stop. At the B&B, I saw a Red-legged Partridge perched on a nearby roof before it flew down into the field.

Loch Leven & Loch of the Lowes

13th June 2015

The next leg of our journey was into Scotland over the Forth Road bridge. We made a brief stop at RSPB Loch Leven which was formerly called Vane Farm for a cup of tea. On the feeders were Starlings, Robins, Greenfinch, Goldfinch & the unexpected appearance of Tree Sparrows. We then continued to the Scottish Wildlife Reserve at Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld. The new Female was called Lassie who spent most of her time on the nest with 3 chicks. Lady, the old Osprey who had been there for about 20 years, didn’t come back this year. We saw the Male bring a fish back to the nest & some nesting material. He accepted the new female eventually & at least the nest was successful this year. I’ll always remember ‘Lady of the Loch’ though. Other wildlife around the loch were Swallows, Great Crested Grebes, Reed Bunting & a Female Goosander. The feeders were not so busy with birds, perhaps some of them were still breeding. However we did see Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Greenfinch & Robins. Sadly no Red Squirrels on this occasion but hopefully we’ll see some at Nethybridge. At the chalet, while looking out for Pine Marten, Mum was surprised to see a Hedgehog snuffling around under the feeders. First time we had seen one there.


14th June 2015

At our chalet in Nethybridge, we saw a few birds feeding on the feeders including Blackbirds, Robins, Siskins, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blue, Great & Coal Tits, Chaffinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We also had a brief first view of the delightful Red Squirrel. Our first port of call was to Abernethy Forest to search for Crossbills, but they just flew over. We saw our first Crested Tit of the year flitting around the top of a Scots Pine. We went to Loch Garten RSPB  to have a look at the Ospreys, EJ & Odin, as we were passing through. Sadly the eggs were kicked out of the nest in early May by another Male Osprey and so there were no Chicks this year. However by the entrance we saw a Common Toad and another Crested Tit feeding on the feeders. As there wasn’t any Chicks on the nest, the Ospreys weren’t in view, until just as we were about to leave when Odin returned to the camera tree. Mum bought some Hedgehog food and a bowl in the RSPB shop so she could feed the Hedgehog at the chalet. Meanwhile Dad went down to the loch and was watching a family of Goldeneye. I also saw a Bank Vole briefly below the feeders.

We headed down the Findhorn Valley along Strathdearn and saw quite a lot of Mistle Thrushes. A Common Sandpiper and a family of Dippers were feeding on the river. We saw a Common Tern flying up the river which we hadn’t seen in the valley before. We parked in a lay-by for lunch, where there was a herd of Red Deer, Oystercatcher pair with 3 Chicks, Spotted Flycatcher & a pair of Redstarts. Fantastic! There were also lots of Common Gulls flying around the area. We continued to the end of the road where we saw a probable Golden Eagle soaring around the mountain tops but weren’t sure. I saw a Green - veined White perched in the grass beside the track. We went back along the valley where we had stopped and spotted a Tree Pipit singing on the wire. There were also more Red Deer up on the hill above the road and further along were the Feral Goats that are always in the valley.

We then headed to RSPB Loch Ruthven along the Farr Road and saw a few Red Grouse with Chicks on route. I also spotted a Mountain Hare in one of the ditches on the moor and it sat there for a while before running up the hill. At Strath Nairn was a Wheatear, Brown Hare & a Meadow Pipit feeding a Juvenile. We arrived at RSPB Loch Ruthven to see the Slavonian Grebe which were in the middle of the loch. Also there were 2 Reed Buntings, Willow Warbler & 2 Little Grebes. In the nearby field were Red - legged Partridges & a Lapwing with Chicks which were slightly spooked by nothing but a Brown Hare sharing the same field. On our way back to the chalet a Roe Deer crossed the road near Abernethy Forest and at Loch Garten the Goldeneye sadly only had one duckling left.

Ythan Estuary

15th June 2015

Another morning at Nethybridge and we were woken by a brief visit from a local Red Squirrel. We went to Ythan Estuary at Newbourgh in Aberdeenshire to look for the Male King Eider which had been present there a while. There were loads of Seals, Sandwich, Arctic, Common & Little Terns in the area. We scanned through all the Eiders a couple of times and Dad eventually spotted it fast asleep on the bank. It spent all day resting on the bank and I managed to see it once on the water before it went back onto the bank. A few Dunlin & Ringed Plovers were feeding on the beach. Also saw some Eiders with chicks. A pair of Linnets were perched on the gorse bush. Sadly the King Eider didn’t put in much activity on the day we were there. Still, at least we saw it and a new tick for all of us! On the route back to Nethybridge we spotted a Short - eared Owl flying over Baddoch Hill near Tomintoul. There was four Mountain Hares running about on the moorland and didn’t seem to care about the Owl’s presence. Back at Nethybridge, it was just after 10:30pm that we saw a family of Pine Martens feeding in the garden.


16th June 2015

In Nethybridge this morning we were greeted by 2 Crested Tits in the garden and one of them was perched in the hedge briefly. The Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding on peanuts.We spent a bit of time waiting for the Crested Tits which kept coming back and forth. A Young Roe Deer was feeding on a gorse bush behind the garden. Outside the chalet we saw the Crested Tit perched on top the roof. We travelled over to Lochindorb and our first sighting was a flock of Common Gulls. We saw several more Red Grouse on the moor with Chicks. Down by the loch was a Meadow Pipit and pair of Common Sandpipers flew pass. However the best highlight of the day was a sighting of a Black - throated Divers. Not only were they in close to the bay at times but they also had one Chick as well, which made it even more special. We finished at Loch Morlich and the last sighting was of a family of Goosanders.

Tomintoul & Glenshee

17th June 2015

The Crested Tit was back on the feeder again this morning. We had a drive to Tomintoul where we saw a few Red Grouse on the way. We were hoping to see some Black Grouse around on the Lecht road but sadly no sign. At Glenshee we decided not to walk up as it was windy. We only saw a Red Grouse from the car park however just the round the corner I spotted a Male Ring Ouzel feeding by the road. We pulled into a lay-by and saw it again very briefly there was also a Wheatear present as well. We headed to Kinniard near Pitclochry & Dunalastair, where in the past we have seen Black Grouse perched in the tree and lekking. But it was a bit late in the year for lekking Black Grouse. Even the rest of Dunalastair was devoid of wildlife exept for a Roe Deer Doe with two newborn kids. When we stayed there a few years ago, we saw lots of wildlife. We even saw a Male Hen Harrier from the cottage. It does make you wonder where they have all gone. Afterwards we to the chip shop at Kingussie and then back to Nethybridge. When we got back, Stewart told us that the Pine Marten family had been back in the daylight, about 19.00pm and he showed us the signs that they had left. About half hour or so later, the Martens came back for a quick drink and feed before disappearing into the forest, followed by the Hedgehog. It was quite funny as it looked like the Hedgehog was chasing them!


18th June 2015

We were woken up this morning at 5.00am by the family of Pine Martens as they chased each other about on the feeders. The weather was rather dull and there were lots of midges so we decided to go to Chanory Point for a chance of Bottle - nosed Dolphins. We first popped along to Strathdearn again and this time we managed to see some more Ring Ouzels. The Male & Female were busy feeding the young with worms on the other side the road. There were also a couple of Red Deer Stags right by the road as well as a Male Wheatear. We got to Chanory Point after the tide was very high and only saw Common Terns & a unknown Diver flying up the Moray Firth. After we were told that the Dolphins were seen at 09:00 in the morning, we headed to look at Udale Bay RSPB. They had recently built new hide overlooking the Moray Firth and I saw Red - breasted Mergansers, Hooded Crow, Black - headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Swallow & Oystercatchers all feeding around the bay as the tide went out. We then headed back to Nethybridge. On the way back we stopped to look for Slavonian Grebe and we managed to see one of the Adults swimming past at close range. It’s always lovely bird to see. One of the Pine Martens turned up again this evening and had a wander around the garden. It even came right up to the front door! Perhaps it wanted to come in away from the midges.

Loch Morlich & Cairngorm

19th June 2015

We stayed local today and saw a pair of Short - eared Owls hunting over the moor. We popped into Loch Morlich for a quick look and unexpectedly a pair of Red - throated Divers were swimming quite close to the shore, even though the beach was full of people and dogs. I quickly got out for a look and a few pictures, but they gradually drifted further out into the middle of the loch. We then went up to Cairngorm to look for more Ring Ouzels and we were not disappointed, as we saw a pair around by the carpark. We never got to go up Cairngorm to look for Ptarmigan and Dotterell as it had either been too windy or too misty. Today it was very cloudy on top and really cold in the carpark, so the temperature on top must have been freezing! We quickly popped back to Loch Morlich for a quick look at the Divers but they were still rather distant. That was it from Speyside this year, hope wildlife on Mull will be even better!


20th June 2015

Our last day in Speyside was a visit from a Male Bullfinch at one feeders in the garden with other regulars. The Red Squirrel also made a few brief appearances. We then headed south to Oban via Loch Insh. We only saw one Osprey perched in the tree. We arrived at Oban in plenty of time to catch the 18:00 ferry to Craignure. On the way to Mull saw Kittiwakes & Gannets on the sea. After arrival on Mull we headed straight to the cottage at Pennyghael.


21st June 2015

The first full day on Mull was exploring much of the southern part of the island and drove to Fidden.We saw a few birds including Eiders, Meadow Pipits, Wheatear & of course, Mull is the best place to see Hen Harriers. On this occasion it was a Ringtail. There was a Redshank perched on the wall alarm calling. Mull is also the place to see Hooded Crows and we saw at least 6 birds. We then went on to Kintra where we saw another or the same Hen Harrier flying around the area. We also spotted 2 Ravens and a Mountain Hare was chasing them. The Hare probably had young nearby & was keeping the Crows away. We saw quite few more Mountain Hares on the way back down the road. Near Pennyghael we saw some Seal lying out on the rocks. Back at the cottage, a Bank Vole kept running up to the food we put out for the birds. It ran back and forth a few times. When we were looking our our window, at about 22:30 the Otter appeared on one of the rocks in Loch Scridain. It was lovely to see.

Mull Charters Boat Trip

22nd June 2015

We were heading to Ulva for the 13:30 boat to see the White - tailed Eagles. We made a few stops along the way & saw Hooded Crows, Common Sandpiper, Hen Harrier [Ringtail], Wheatear, Meadow Pipit & a pair of Otters on Loch na Keal. Probably a Mum & youngster. Further around the loch we saw a few cars parked & people looking around. We eventually managed to see 2 White - tailed Eagles perched up in the conifers & calling. After we had all boarded the boat, we headed out to where the Eagles were. This was the highlight of the week as the Eagles swooped down 4 times to pick up the fish thrown out to it and take it back the nest. We had really close views as they flew over. On the way back to Ulva we passed a colony of Common Seals resting on the rocks and some got into the water as we passed. Afterwards we made our way back to Pennyghaeal the long way round to look at some of the scenery. We saw a third Ringtail Harrier over Glen Aros. At high tide the Otters appeared again, but at 23:00 we were surprised to see a Red Deer walking up the road by the loch. I wondered why the garden had a Deer fence!


23rd June 2015

I had an early morning walk along the loch and saw a couple of Otters. Again probably a Mum with a youngster. We then went to Iona to look for Corncrakes. Although Mum & Dad saw one briefly, they weren’t performing for me unfortunately. Still you can’t win them all and at least they’re easier to hear. We saw a pod Dolphins off the Coast diving and a bit of jumping. It certainly made up for not seeing any at Chanonry Point. We had lunch on Iona’s peak Dun I , and we could even hear a Corncrake calling from a patch of Iris there. As usual, no sign of it. After a disappointing search we only  saw a Meadow Pipit by the abbey, so we headed back to Mull.

Lunga & Staffa

24th June 2015

We had a boat trip with Staffa Tours to see the Treshnish Islands & Staffa. We went to Lunga first, where we had two hours on shore. Dad spotted some Black Guillemots in the water as we neared the island. The forecast had not been very good for today, but we were lucky so far as we wandered around looking at the Puffins. There were loads of them feeding young in the burrow around the tops of the cliffs. While Mum stayed to watch the Puffins, Dad & I walked up higher to see the Guillemots & Razorbills. We also saw a couple of Shags on a nest with some Juveniles. There was a few Razorbills about and a large of Colony of Guillemots with a few Bridled birds. We also saw Fulmars & Kittwakes. We met back up with Mum who told us that she had heard Corncrake calling from a patch of nettles near the old ruined croft, but of course it never showed itself. We went back on the boat at 13:05 and headed to Staffa, but unfortunately the weather had turned rainy. Most people went inside out of the rain, but as it was a bit full up in there, we braved the weather. As the stairs to the top of Staffa were very steep and the walkway to Fingal’s Cave was slippery, Mum decided to stay on the boat and so did I. My reason was that it was too wet to walk on the top and poor weather for pictures. We sat inside & had our lunch. We also managed to see some Black Guillemots from the boat. When Dad got back, he told me there was a pair of Black Guillemots resting on the rock above the boat. As the rain had eased slightly, I managed to get some photos from the boat. We made our back to Fionnphort and we saw a Gannet fly past the boat. It was very enjoyable despite the rain showers. Still, it  could have been worse!


25th June 2015

We went to the Sea Eagle Watchpoint this morning. You could see th youngster in the nest through the telescope, but it was very distant.When we arrived, there was an adult sat in the tree before flying off soon after we arrived. It was a very damp morning and the midges were relentless. I couldn’t stand them, so I went to sit in the car while Mum & Dad stayed for a little longer. The rain continued to get worse and so we went for a drive around Loch na Keal and had lunch there. When Dad tried to start the car, it was completely dead. Dad tried a few things and somehow it started, but he couldn’t turn the lights off. After a short while it seemed to sort itself out, so we don’t really know what happened. We went to Grasspoint in the afternoon and the first thing we saw was a Short-eared Owl flying past. We had a quick look from the point before going for a run around Loch Spelve to Lochbuie. Lovely scenery, but not much wildlife in the rain!


26th June 2015

Our last full day on the island started off wet again and the midges were awful. We went for a drive to Ardtun where we saw Buzzards, Hen Harrier and we also managed to see some Whinchats. We saw one soggy Buzzard sat on a telegraph pole like a Cormorant, trying to dry its wings off. It reminded me of a Totem Pole with a carved bird on top. We then headed up the Carsaig road where we stopped for lunch in Glen Leidle. There was a group of Red Deer feeding in the grass and we could hear Cuckoos calling. Moments later, we saw 3 Cuckoos fly across the valley. The sun had come out now so we went to Glen More to look for Eagles. We pulled into a layby as we saw some birds in the air. It was a family of White-tailed Eagles! 2 Juveniles and an adult. Other smaller birds kept mobbing them, but I’ve no idea what they were. I think some were Buzzards and possibly Ravens. Just then 2 more birds appeared over the mountains and joined them. Golden Eagles! We looked through the scope and could see a golden head on one and one was a juvenile. It was a real raptor fest as some Kestrel joined in to mob them. It was an amazing sight and one I won’t forget in a hurry. I managed a few record shots, but the birds were very high up. After they all drifted away over the mountains, we went to Lochdon, as Mum wanted to look for Ospreys. They had been seen there in the week, so thought we’d try. Sadly, one raptor that we didn’t see that day. But you can’t see everything in one go. It was a splendid holiday and a splendid ending.


27th June 2015

As our ferry was not until the afternoon, we spent a final couple of hours exploring Grasspoint. Down by the bridge we saw an Otter diving for fish. We had a tip off about a White - tailed Eagle at the point so we went down to see it. We saw it perched on a rock very distantly, then it flew a couple of metres on to the ground. The weather was nice now and it would have been lovely to have stayed longer, but we had to get to the ferry at Craignure. While we were waiting, we saw another Otter. Dad and I went to have a closer look and saw some Hooded Crows, but the Otter had vanished. On board the ferry we saw a Gannet fly over and some Black Guillemots. When we disembarked at Oban, Mum and I walked around the harbour to look for the Black Guillemots that nest in the walls. We found a couple and managed to get quite close. Then it was the long drive back to Penrith for the night and onwards to Bristol in the morning. A great two weeks!

River Exe with Applegates Coaches

5th July 2015

We went with Applegates Coaches on a boat trip around the River Exe from Exmouth. Unfortunately we didn't go all the way up the River Exe as the boat broke down at Powderham. We had to wait for about an hour for the Exmouth ferry to arrive, because it was low tide, it had to travel quite slow. We then boarded the ferry back to Exmouth, while en route we saw a Juvenile Common Seal resting on the mud. It was the first time we had seen a Seal on the Exe.


6th July 2015

We went to Arne RSPB in Dorset to look for Silver - studded Blues. In the morning we walked around Coombe Heath when we saw a couple of paler blue Butterflies. The Male is paler blue with a bit greyer edges to the wings. Females are very much like any other Female blue Butterflies, but the underside shows a row of silver studs that gives the species it's name.  A larva of an Emperor Moth was crawling along the path and we put on the heather out of harm's way. By the ponds were a few Dragonflies & Damselflies including Four Spotted Chaser. We managed to find one of the resident Raft Spiders hiding in the vegetation. A couple of Green Tiger Beetles were about on the heathland. Back in the car park we saw an Adult Cinnabar Moth. In the afternoon we walked down to Shipstal. We saw Ringlets & Marbled Whites on the wing. Also a few Keeled Skimmers on the heath. At Shipstal Heath we found more Silver - studded Blues. While we photographing & filming the Silver - studded Blues, Mum was in the hide watching a Fox. Unfortunately Me & Dad just missed it when we arrived. There were Little Egret, Black - tailed Godwits, Redshank & Curlews. We didn't see many Sika Deer on this occasion. The only one we saw was a Hind that ran across the path and we weren't quite prepared. The last sighting of the day was a young Fox which was walking around the car park and foraging under the bird feeders. Splendid ending to a splendid day.

Lower Woods

11th July 2015

We went to Lower Woods in Inglestone to look for Silver - washed Fritillaries & White Admirals. Other Butterflies on the wing included Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Large & Small Skippers. There were a few Silver - washed Fritillaries on the wing which were mostly Males but saw at least one Female. Also 4 White Admirals on the wing which were in good condition.

Chatterley Whitfield

19th July 2015

We went up to Staffordshire to see the Red - footed Falcon at Chatterley Whitfield. The 1st Summer Male spent most it's time around the Horse Paddocks feeding on worms and also made a few fly pasts. The Juvenile Black Redstart was also showing well in the next field and foraging on the ground.

Slimbridge WWT

29th July 2015

We went to Slimbridge to go on an evening Landrover Safari with the DPWPS. We saw a pair of Common Cranes in one of the fields. Further on we saw a Female Marsh Harrier perched on a bush. Then it flew over the reed bed. Also nearby was a Family of Roe Deer. An Adult Female with Calves. We then went to the south end of the reserve to look for Yellow Wagtails, but only saw Swallows & Meadow Pipits. We went to the Robbie Garnett Hide to look for Wood Sandpiper but it was very elusive, however the Green Sandpipers were showing well at the other end of the channel. We also went to look in the Rushy Pen. A few Green Sandpipers were present as well as a Female Mandarin which was next to a Grey Heron. We then spotted a Juvenile Garganey on the right hand side of the hide. Unfortunately it flew off and went around and landed out of sight behind some vegetation. Back at the Robbie Garnett Hide we had good views of the GCP Common Cranes right in front of hide in good sunlight.  We headed out to the estuary to look at the Gull roost before making our way back to the car park.

Cotswold Water Park

2nd August 2015

Our visit to the Cotswold Water Park began at Lower Moor Farm looking for Brown Hairstreaks but sadly none. There were other species such as Gatekeepers, Common Blue, Meadow Browns, Peacocks & Commas. Also a couple of Common Darters were on the wing as well. There was a Male Brimstone perched on a bush and very camouflaged. A couple of Female Brown Hawkers were egg laying in one of the ponds. A Emperor Male was also flying over the pond. There were 2 Juvenile Grass Snakes under the tins but far too quick for a picture. We had an explore around Whelford Pools. There were Cormorants, Greyleg Geese, Coots, Canada Geese, Mute Swans & a Male Red - crested Pochard in Eclipse pulmage. We hoped to return later in the year to see them in their Breeding plumage. We finished at the Edward Richardson & Phyllis Amey Reserve. We saw Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Tufted Duck with Duckling, Brown Hawkers, Emperor Dragonfly egg laying, Green Sandpipers, Black - tailed Skimmers & the last sighting of the day was a Grass Snake swimming across the pond. What a perfect way to end the day.

Slimbridge WWT

8th August 2015

We went to Slimbridge WWT and started with a Landrover Safari led by Dave Paynter, who also led the evening Safari on the 29th July. We saw a pair of Cranes on the edge of the barley field with the recently fledged Juvenile. This was the first Juvenile that fledged successfully in the West Country for over 400 years. You can certainly tick it! A Roe Deer was with the Cranes at the back of the barley field. Also a Female Marsh Harrier was in the area perched on a bush. (By the way, the two bird species were spotted by Mum!)  We went to look for Dragonflies and Damselflies. We saw Common & Ruddy Darters, Emperor Dragonflies, Brown Hawker, Azure & Common Blue Damselflies. We also heard an alarm call of a Cetti's Warbler. There was Small Copper & Gatekeeper nectaring on a flower and a Grass Snake was under the tin, again too quick for a picture. When we arrived back, we had lunch in the cafe. In the afternoon we had a look at South Lake where a pair of Common Terns were resting on the rafts as well as flying around. A Great Crested Grebe was feeding a Juvenile in front of the observatory. We also looked at the 9 Lego Sculptures:1 Chris the Crane, 2 Mac the Mallard, 3 Benedict the Bewick's Swan, 4 Natalie the Nene, 5 Lottie the Otter, 6 Bruce the Red - breasted Goose, 7 Suki the Spoon - billed Sandpiper, 8 Flavia the Flamingo & 9 Emily the Emperor Dragonfly. We popped to the Zeiss Hide to look for Little Stint but didn't see it. A flock of Dunlin with some Barnacle Geese were next to the sea wall. We went to the Hogarth Hide where we had better views of Black - tailed Godwits in good sunlight. Also 5 Juvenile Avocets wading and resting on the bank until all the birds got spooked by a possible bird of prey, although we didn’t see it. At the ‘Back from the Brink’ house was a Dark Marbled Carpet Moth roosting there until the evening.  We finished at the Rushy Pen where we saw a nice Green Sandpiper quite close to the hide and a Male Grey Wagtail foraging in the stream.  Back in the car park the last sighting was a young Swallow in the nest and was being fed by the Adult

Wood Sandpiper at Slimbridge WWT

10th August 2015

We popped out to Slimbridge to see the Wood Sandpiper that had been reported on the Slimbridge sightings from yesterday. The Juvenile was present in the Rushy Pen with 13 Green Sandpipers spread out around the pen. After spending a couple of minutes feeding it flew to the back of the pen.  We quickly popped into the Martin Smith Hide where a Mallard Duck and Juvenile were keeping a Juvenile Lapwing company. Back at the Rushy Pen the Wood Sandpiper was still foraging at the back & didn't come close again. ‘Willow’ & ‘Sedge’, the 2 GCP Cranes were present on the Tack Piece and another was in the Rushy Pen. We finished with a last look at four Juvenile Swallows in a nest by the Ladies’ toilet, still being fed by the adults.

Slimbridge WWT

6th September 2015

We went to Slimbridge WWT to go on the early morning Landrover Safari and almost immediately after entring the reserve we spotted a Green Sandpiper & a Greenshank. We managed to see the Crane family on the reserve before they flew off & out of the view. We saw a couple of Whinchats on their migration back to Africa along the edge of the Severn Estuary. There were a few Raptors about the reserve including Buzzards, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier & Sparrowhawk. We had a good view of a perched Sparrowhawk on a post at one of the lakes on the reserve. It was a Adult Female. Meanwhile Dad was down at Martin Smith watching Yellow Wagtails, Water Rail & a Kingfisher and from the Holden Tower was a Juvenile Peregrine Falcon. GRR!!! However when went to the Holden Tower we saw a Ruff, Wren, Reed Warblers & a Lesser Whitethroat but sadly no Peregrine. We popped to the Martin Smith hide and after a bit of a wait, the Water Rail made a couple of appearances in and out of the reeds. After about an hour or so the Kingfisher appeared & sat on a post in between fishing duties. Finally on the Rushy Pen were some Black - tailed Godwits, Green Sandpiper & 3 Snipe. A pair of Brimstones were nectering on some Buddleias. Afterwards on our way home we had a quick drive around Marshfield which was very queit for birdlife. We did see some Juvenile Swallows perched on the wire still being fed by the Adults.

Cornwall 10th - 13th September 2015

10th September 2015

We went down to Cornwall for the weekend and stayed in a hotel at Penzance. After arrival we saw some Turnstones around the harbour carpark while we had our tea. It was a lovely evening & we wondered what tomorrow might bring for our crossing to Scilly, as the forecast didn’t sound too good!

11th September 2015

The following the day we got up quite early to catch the Scillonian III from Penzance to St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly. It was very misty, but at least the rain kept off for our crossing.We saw a few seabirds on route including European Shag, Gannets, Manx Shearwaters [distant], Balearic Shearwaters & Sooty Shearwaters which was another new tick for me. As well as Dolphin and a Heron, which was odd to see out at sea.

We had a couple of hours to explore the island but sadly not all of it. A couple of Wheatears were on their way back to Africa. Also a Rock Pipit & some Sandwich Terns mixed in with Black - headed Gulls. Also had a Whinchat briefly. We even had a bit of sunshine while we were ashore.

There were some more Turnstones around the harbour at St Mary's. Some even still showed a trace of their orangey Summer Plumage that gives them the full name of Ruddy Turnstone. Others however had already moulted into Winter Plumage. We saw one of the Turnstones feeding on a crab. It was starting to rain a bit so we got back on the Scillonian III. Everybody had gone inside but we decided to brave the rain and stay outside. We found a bit of shelter under a canopy by the stairs. A few other people joined us. It was very wet and rough going back but still enjoyable, and the birds were still about. We got back to Penzance and decided to have a meal downstairs in our hotel rather than going anywhere else in the rain.

12th September 2015

We were our way to Lizard Point when we stopped at Marazion Marsh RSPB to look on Long Rock Pool. We managed to see the Garganey with a few other widfowl. The bird was aged as young drake by the green speculum when it flapped it's wings. We went to the Lizard to look for the Choughs. They didn’t nest in their usual site this year and they hadn’t been spotted yet today as there was nothing on the list.We saw a Grey Seal swimming in the sea below the viewpoint and some hauled out on the rock. We heard the Choughs calling before we saw them. The Pair were sitting on the clifftop opposite us. The warden looked through his scope at the legrings and told us the Male with a green & white ring on the leg is called George. The Female with no rings on the legs is Nora. The youngsters have disbursed from the nest site and gone eslewhere, so we never saw them. We walked along the cliff and we managed to get a close view of the Chough pair feeding around the clifftops. There were also few more Grey Seals lay out on the rocks including a Female called Archalady. Also a couple Rabbits were grazing around the Lizard. We then went to Porthgwarra to see what was there. There was a few Shags flying past the cliffs as well as Gannets and some distant Shearwaters. A couple of Wheatears of note as well. We went to Botallack where they filmed the Poldark series and we even saw the mine that was featured in the series. The birdlife was good as well including Goldfinches, Raven, Whinchat, Dunnock, Swallow, Stonechats and a flyover Chough.

13th September 2015

We started our final day in Cornwall at Marazion Beach looking at waders. There were Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings, Dunlin, Turnstones & Little Stint [which I missed.] We went to the Hayle Estuary to see what birds were about as the tide was out. A couple of Little Egrets, Greeenshanks, Oystercatcher, various ducks & Bar - tailed Godwit. We then popped along Ryan's Field RSPB where a Buzzard was perched in a tree near the car park. From the hide was a Little Egret & a Grey Heron. A Kingfisher was flying across but sadly didn't perch anywhere except in a bush, hidden by twigs. There was also a Speckled Wood and a late Beautiful Demoiselle on the wing. We looked through the Black - headed Gulls and managed to pick out an Adult Winter Mediterranean Gull amongst the flock on the estuary. Also a Redshank & a couple of Curlews. Back on the Ryan's Field side of Hayle we saw a Curlew by the wall embankment and a Little Egret. On our way to the hide we spotted a Grey Wagtail by the a small weir. When got back to the hide Dad managed to find a Whimbrel through the scope at the back of the Reserve. Our final view at Hayle was a Little Egret fishing in front of hide. We had a quick look around Davidstow airfield on the way home but sadly didn't produce much except for a flock of Linnets, which is nice to see.

Slimbridge WWT

19th September 2015

We went to Slimbridge WWT for a couple of hours on Saturday for the Black Tern. The Juvenile was still present on South Lake although was very active in flight and didn't perch. It was very misty, so my photos were not a sharp as I would have liked. We went down to the Kingfisher Hide to look for the Purple Heron and some of the people were out with the volunteer wardens looking for it, including Mum, who had got there before us. Dad & I looked from the Kingfisher Hide, but despite searching up & down the reed bed there was no sign of it at all. On our way to the visitor centre for some lunch, Dad spotted a Dragonfly that looked like it might have been an Emperor. However, this was a Male Migrant Hawker perched on a twig. In the same reed bed was a Juvenile Sedge Warbler feeding up before travelling to Africa for the first time. After lunch we went to the Martin Smith Hide where there was a Grey Heron & a Little Egret. There were 2 of the GCP Cranes feeding & sitting on the Tack Piece. A few late Butterflies were nectering on flowers like Red Admiral & Comma.

Our final port of call was Robbie Garnett Hide which was where Knot was found with a couple of Black - tailed Godwits.

Brownsea Island

27th September 2015

We went on a coach trip with Applegates to Brownsea Island. We caught the Greenslades boat from Poole Quay over to the Island. Unfortunately we only had the afternoon on Brownsea, as it takes quite a while to get there. We went to the hides to see the Spoonbills, but they spent all the time we were there asleep on the lagoon. We then popped down to the Villa to see the Red Squirrels. We must have just missed them as I saw one running off and we were told there had been about 8 there. After waiting for quite a while we saw at least 4 Red Squirrels around  the feeding station. On our way back to the pier we had one last look in the hides & the Spoonbills were still asleep. We a few waders such Oystercatchers, Avocets, Redshanks and Dunlin. We then caught the boat back to Poole Quay and ready for the journey back to the Thornbury. A very enjoyable day, but a lot of travelling.


18th October 2015

We went to Devon for the day. We were on way to our first port of call which was going to be Labrador Bay to see the Cirl Buntings, but as a report had said that the Isabelline Shrike was showing well at 9:30 that morning, we headed for South Huish Marsh instead. The first Winter Isabelline Shrike was indeed showing well on the wire feeding on Bees and Wasps. It also perched along the hedgerow a few times. It was a great bird to see and brought my total for the life to 300. Before we left we saw a Buzzard perched on a fence briefly & a few waders. Finally, we made our way to Labrador Bay RSPB to search for any Cirl Buntings in the fields. They weren't quite so many this time and were all perched in the bushes, very distantly! We did see a Female perched briefly in an Ash Tree and a Male in the hedge calling before we headed back home.

Titchfield Haven

25th October 2015

We went to Titchfield Haven in Hampshire with the Dursley Bird Watching & Preservation Society. We saw a few Bearded Tits briefly flying across the reeds & a pair of Stonechats by the entrance gate. After we were giving our entrance tickets we explored the whole reserve. We started at the Meon Shore Hide where we saw quite lot of birds. There were Oystercatchers, Snipe, Black - tailed Godwits, Lapwings  & Redshanks. We had a similar view from the Pumfrett Hide. We didn't even spot a Common Gull until we got back home and I was going through my pictures. We saw 2 Reed Bunting feeding in on the path briefly. We did also see a Goldcrest but very quickly through the bushes. We popped into the Spurgin Hide where we saw a late Green Sandpiper foraging with a Black - tailed Godwit. The Great Grey Shrike had been present around the reserve since about 09:30 at the harbour & was giving us a bit of a wild goose chase. We eventually caught up with it in the afternoon from the Meon Shore Hide. We went to look quickly at the other hides as we had to get back on the bus at 15:00 which was a shame as there were lots to see and no time to have a good look round. Still, a very good day and my picture of the Shrike made it into the Rare Bird Alert weekly round up.

Arne & Radipole Lake RSPB

31st October 2015

As it was nice & sunny we went down to Arne RSPB to see if there was anything about. The car park was full to the brim because of an event which we didn't know about.  We had a look around the feeders, in the hope of seeing some Bramblings. We saw a Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Blue, Great & Coal Tits. We popped along to the Raptor Hide as it was only opened at this time of year. When we arrived we had just missed a pair of Marsh Harriers flying past. However we saw a Little Grebe, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit & Common Darters, but sadly no Raptors. Back at the car park while we were having lunch, I spotted a Red Admiral perched on a insect hibernaculum. Dad also managed to spot a Female Brambling feeding with the Chaffinch flock. The car park at Arne RSPB did not get better during the afternoon as they were parking in the field where the Sika Deer use to graze. We then went to Radipole Lake RSPB in Weymouth where the Hooded Merganser was still present since 2008. Hoody was showing well by the visitor centre bridge before swimming out into the main lake. We didn't see much wildlife along the path to the hide on this occasion except a Male Blackap. At the North Hide we saw a Female Kestrel soaring and hovering over the reserve. The Marsh Harriers too, put on some performance. The Adult Male with grey tips to the wings flew past in front of the hide. The Juvenile & a possible Female were also foraging over the reedbeds but kept their distance.  A Female Kingfisher then flashed into view and came in to a perch in front of the hide with a fish. After a quick preen to it's feathers, the Kingfisher flew off. It was

Cotswold Water Park

1st November 2015

We went to the Cotswold Water Park in Wiltshire to look for Red - necked Grebes. We saw a Female Bullfinch and 2 Goldcrests on the way. We saw our first Red - necked Grebe over the other side of the lake at Waterhay with some Little Grebes. We also had one very obliging individual quite close to the shore. Even when they're not in breeding plumage, they are still good birds to see.

Norfolk  7th - 10th November 2015

7th November 2015

We went to Norfolk for 4 days and our first port of call was Titchwell RSPB. After heavy rain all the way up, the sun broke through and it was a lovely sunny evening. There had been a sighting of a Jack Snipe from the Parrinder Hide but sadly we only saw Common Snipe. There was loads of Teals in front of the hide, Dunlin and a Ruff. Afterwards me & Dad went to look on the beach. There was a Grey Plover & a couple of Sanderlings but very little else. We also saw some Pink - footed Geese fly over. Back at Parrinder Hide we watched the Harriers come in to roost and Dad just managed to spot a Ringtail among the Marsh Harriers. As the light started to fade we started making our way back to the car park. Our last sighting on the first day was a Greenshank with some Common Redshank.  We then went to Docking to our cottage for the next three nights.

8th November 2015

We went to Titchwell RSPB the next morning to see what was about. On the far side of the grazing marsh was a Juvenile Rough - legged Buzzard perched on a tree stump. We went back to the Parrinder Hide where some of the Common Snipe were still showing but no Jack Snipe. Lots a Avocets and Ruff along with the other usual waders & wildfowl. We went to have a look around Cley next the sea & saw a flock of Dark - bellied Brent Geese. Every Winter in Southern & Eastern England where there is a flock of Brent Geese, usually have at least one Black Brant in the flock. Not only has it a larger white neck patch, it also has white flanks. This Adult was certainly showing well by the beach near Cley village unlike the Darts Farm bird. From the new Visitor Centre at Cley in near darkness was a Brown Hare running in a field.

9th November 2015  

We went back to Titchwell RSPB to look around the East Trail. We saw a Marsh Harrier flying at the back of the reedbed but very quiet from the Fen Hide. We went to look at feeders and saw a Female Brambling & a couple of Siskins in the tree with the Goldfinch flock. We also popped along to Thornham Marsh where we saw 5 Dark - bellied Brent Geese but no Twite this time. We went to Holkham, unfortunately it started to rain and we didn't see much from the hide or along the dunes. Back along Lady Ann's Drive the field was partly covered by Pink - footed Geese. As it was very windy and wet we went to the Deer Park at Holkham Hall. There were loads of Fallow Deer amongst the trees. Also we saw 2 Eygptian Geese with one Pink - footed Goose, Brown Hare briefly and as we walked to the monument, unexpectently flushed 4 Grey Partridges twice!  We walked through the woods back to the car, but it was very quiet for birds and only saw more deer.

10th November 2015

Our last day in Norfolk or rather Suffolk was at the RSPB Reserve at Minsmere. After all the bad weather the last few days, today was warm and sunny. Amazing! From the North Hide we saw some Highland Cattle grazing on the marsh. There were some Red Deer on the grassland at North bushes and a Shaggy Inkcap by the Noth wall path to the beach. We went to the East hide, but not many birds. There was only one Avocet that we could see.There were a pair of Stonechats perched on some brambles near the coast. We scanned the marsh and around the sluice where Short-eared Owl & Ring Ouzel had been seen, but nothing. We saw some Koniks that also graze on the reserve. From the South Hide we saw a Spotted Redshank & a Knot. We walked through the woods to the Bittern Hide. Mum spotted some Flying ants emerging which seems odd in November. There was nothing at the Bittern Hide as they had been working there cutting the reeds down. Further along the track, we noticed another odd sight. About ten Common Darters perched on a bench. Nothing at Island Mere Hide as there were bonfires in front, so we couldn’t stay with the smoke. Dad & I walked to the viewpoint where we had a good view of the Springwatch Studio. We went to the Canopy Hide while Mum went back to Bittern Hide. At the Bittern Hide, Mum watched some Marsh Harriers coming into roost. We then went for a cup of tea before heading home. A great weekend, even though the weather was a bit bad at times.

Chew Valley Lake

16th November 2015

We went to Chew Valley Lake in the afternoon to look for the Red - throated Diver that had been present since the 7th. The Juvenile had been swimming around the fishing nets off Woodford Lodge. We went to look at Herriott's Bridge where a Great White Egret was fishing in the channel along with a Grey Heron & 6 Little Egrets. Went back to Woodford just as the light was beginning to fade. The Red - throated Diver started to swim in close to the bank. Once it's quiet of fishing boat traffic we'll pop back to see the Diver & hopefully it will overwinter.


23rd November 2015

We went to Slimbridge to look for the 1st Winter Female Greater Scaup & 5 Greenland White - fronted Geese. The Greater Scaup was showing well with the captive Eiders in the Big Pen. Afterwards we went to Martin Smith and saw a Common Snipe foraging in the marshes. There was some White - fronted Geese out on the Tack Peice but the ones we saw were European White - fronts from Siberia. In the Rushy Pen,  the widfowl were gathering for the foodlit feed. These included Pochards, Pintails & Bewick's Swans.

Farmoor Reservoir

5th December 2015

We went to Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire to look for three special birds: Grey Phalarope, Red-necked Grebe & Great Northern Diver. The two 1st Winter Grey Phalaropes were both present on the north bank of Reservoir 1. It was very windy and it made it the water look like the sea, as it was choppy. It's not every day you get to see two Phalaropes together. We then walked round the reservoir to look for the Grebe. We saw some Female Goldeneye. We eventually managed to see the Red - necked Grebe on the same reservoir as the Phalaropes, but further round. There were also Great Crested & Little Grebes around the site as well as a Grey Wagtail on the causeway. The Juvenile Great Northern Diver was on Reservoir 2 and showed well during late afternoon. We went back to have a last look at the Phalaropes before heading back home after a very successful day. It was nice to see Katie, Helen and Graham Horrocks there as well.

Hoopoe at Kingswinford

14th December 2015

We went to Kingswinford to see the Hoopoe that had been present for about 3 weeks and spent most of the time feeding on the ground. Afterwards it flew up to the fence post for a bit of a preen to it's feathers. It had a quick stretch before flying off down the hill, just as it started to rain. A lovely bird and an enjoyable couple of hours with it.


29th December 2015

We went to Broadsands to look for the Yellow - browed Warbler & Firecrest. Our first bird we saw near the car park was a Male Cirl Bunting perched in the bushes for a couple of minutes. We also saw some very obliging Goldcrests. We managed to see the Yellow - browed Warbler flitting around the tops of the trees. The Firecrest was also present in the area and after it showed well on top of a tree and then flew off. The Yellow - browed Warbler reappeared in the same corner of the car park. This is a scarce Visitor from Siberia but is a regular sight in Britain. We went to have a look on the sea and viewed through a telescope, saw some birds that might have been Black - necked Grebes, but weren't sure & lots of Great Northern Divers. We also saw 2 Shags, Grey Seal and a Kingfisher flying past . The Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway were running services on the day. The loco in steam was 7827 Lydham Manor on one of it's final trains before its overhaul. We sat on the seawall and watched it's progress on the climb up to Churston as far as Hookhills Viaduct. Back in the car park was another Warbler sighting this time a Siberian Chiffchaff which was seen feeding on the ground briefly. The Cirl Buntings were still feeding in the same part of the car park when we saw them in 2009. We heard a call which we thought was the Sib. Chiffchaff and while we were looking a flock of Long - tailed Tits flitted through the trees giving some close-up views. We finished at Topsham & had a look amongst the hundreds of Wigeon for the American one, but couldn’t see it. We then had something to eat at Darts Farm before heading home. 2 new ticks! Brilliant!