for tracking purposes only.
The birds of
Due to space limitations I have had to archive the older blogs and leave out the photos.
20/01/12 Martin Mere
Well let’s face it, today’s weather was wild, windy, wet and wintry. Not really the weather I would have liked for my birthday. We were on our way to the Solway coast for the weekend and decided to stop off at Martin Mere as it was so bad. Martin Mere has quite a number of hides so at least we could get out of the rain for a bit. The first hide we went to was the Raines Observatory Hide where there was plenty of Whooper Swans, Pintails, Wigeons, Teal and two Ruff who didn’t seem to care whether it’s wet above or wet below. We more or less had the same view from the Hale Hide. We went to the Ron Barker Hide where two Peregrines were sitting on the bank behind the Shelduck on the small island. The Pink -
Caerlaverock WWT 21/01/12
After breakfast we went to Leighton Moss. As we drove past the fields we saw a white goose with the Greylags and joked that it was a Snow Goose. When we read the sightings book at the reserve, it said that there were 3 Snow Geese with the Greylag so that must have been what we saw. We didn’t walk round all of the reserve just went in one hides at Lillian’s. This time of year the lakes are full of the calls of Teal displaying accompanied by the female’s weak quack. There was also a Snipe visible from the hide. On the feeders were Grey Squirrels and Bullfinches and many more garden birds etc.
We went on to Caerlaverock to see more Whooper Swans at the Peter Scott Observatory Hide but this time in good sunshine and just passing showers. At the Avenue Tower there were thousands of Barnacle Geese that winter here from Greenland and Spitsbergen all grazing and flying about the reserve. We then went to see the swans being fed at 2:15 -
Mersehead RSPB/Loch Ryan and the Wig 22/01/12
We had breakfast this morning watching Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers and lots of other birds out of the window. We started today at the RSPB Reserve at Mersehead with another flock of Barnacle Geese in the car park fields. On the feeders were House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinch, Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows. A Little Egret was fishing behind the feeders.
We went to Stranraer and stopped at Loch Ryan to scan across. There were some Ringed Plover on the beach and Eider, Red-
Further down we stopped again to look at Black Guillemot in winter plumage and also some Scoters. A couple of Red-
We saw a large Diver which must have been a Great Northern Diver, but it never really came very close. We walked along the shores of Loch Ryan in the hope of seeing some Twite in the fields. We got down to the end of the Wig without seeing any. However, there were lots of seabirds including Shag and more Black Guillemot -
We then had a bit of a bonus with a handsome flock of Pale -
The birds were sometimes difficult to pinpoint in the deep muddy holes. It started to rain again and the birds all flew to the back of the field. Time to leave! We arrived at the car very cold and wet. We had a quick bite and left for the Harrier Roost. Driving along the shore of Loch Ryan, we saw a couple of Long-
Leighton Moss RSPB 23/01/12
At our B&B this morning on and around the feeders were House Sparrows, Yellowhammers, Blue Tits, Tree Sparrows, Collared Doves, Great Tit, a Stock Dove and a Pheasant. We went to Lochmaben and saw Goldeneye, Red-
On to RSPB Leighton Moss and we popped into Lillian’s Hide where the redhead Smew was giving only distant views. That made three species of Sawbills in a day. We walked down the the public hide, looking for Bearded Tits on the grit trays, but sadly saw none. I think that autumn is probably better to see them there. From the hide we saw a Sparrowhawk perched, 2 Goosanders and a Marsh Harrier. We went down to the Lower Hide, but only saw Marsh and Long-
There was a two day Festival of Birds event at Slimbridge this weekend. We went to see Simon King reopen the Ziess Hide after renovation. He made a little speech and pulled the blue curtain back to reveal the new plaque. Then afterwards he spent some time in the hide trying point out the birds to people but disappointed that it was so icy there were no birds to be seen at all. Even the Bittern seemed to have gone. Meanwhile we went down to South Finger to see what was down there. There were not many birds on the feeders. We saw more birds in our garden! Then to look on the Rushy Pen for the Lesser Scaup, no sign that day, but loads of Bewick’s Swan, Pintail, Canada Geese and other wildfowl were present. We looked at all the stalls and then went to a talk by James Lees, who is one of the wardens. He did a talk about all the wildlife seen at Slimbridge that year. In the afternoon Simon King was doing book and card signing. Since we forgot to bring our book we asked for a card. That was my third autograph and I’m thrilled! A hour later he was giving a talk in the cinema which we went to. It was really interesting and entertaining. We had been inside a lot as there was so much to see and didn’t realise how much it had been snowing, Everything looked lovely in the snowy setting. We went to the Rushy to see the Swans, Geese and Ducks being fed by Dave Paynter. A lovely finish to the day.
We went to the last day of the Slimbridge bird fair and started with a search for the Lesser Scaup -
We went to Slimbridge to meet up with my friend Joe. We started at the Rushy Pen to look for the Lesser Scaup again but no luck. Mum and I went to the feeders at Robbie Garnett while Dad went to the Holden Tower. There were Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Great Tits also a unusual sight of a Bullfinch, but the star of the show was the shy and elusive Water Rail. It had regularly been seen in the open during the day. However a Buzzard appeared at the top of a tree alarming the birds, then it took off calling. It took a while before the Water Rail came back out of the reeds. On the floor below the feeders, a male Reed Bunting was still in it’s winter plumage -
Westerleigh/ Kingsgate Park/ Marshfield 26/02/12
Mum was away in Wales for the weekend birdwatching with the BOC, so Dad and I had a day birding ourselves. We started at Westerleigh Common looking for Jack Snipe but no sign. We then went to a local park to see what was there. A few common species -
Forest of Dean 11/03/12
We went to the Forest of Dean today. We started at Parkend Church in search of Hawfinches but no sign, then moved on to New Fancy Viewpoint to see Goshawks displaying. We saw one perched in the tree and two in flight. We were just about to leave when we met Gordon from the BOC who told us about some Willow Tits that they had seen at Woorgreens. We went to have a look for them as I hadn’t seen one at all. Mum had seen some in Wales. We heard them singing and calling and then we caught a glimpse of them. On the lake we saw about 14 Goosanders and a Grey Heron was perched on the log in the nice sunshine. There were lots of Common Toad crossing the path on their way back to the pond to breed. Some of the females had males on their backs already. One female had managed to hitch two males on her back and one was trying to push the second male off. The female rolled on to her back and was having trouble walking with them both, so we picked them up and took them to the waters edge. Once in the water, the male that was on top pushed the other one off and he swam off to find his own mate.
We stopped at Cannop to look at a couple of Mandarins. Back to Parkend Church we looked around the Beech Tree again but no still Hawfinches. While we were at the church we saw two Goshawks doing display flights with typical Hawk flight [flap flap and glide] motion. A Green Woodpecker flew over the church spire into a private garden.
The Dean Forest Railway runs into the northern terminus at Parkend below the church and we saw the auto train with 1450 sandwiched between two auto coaches.
Dad dropped Mum and I at Slimbridge for the day to see what was there. We started at South Lake to see if there were any Kingfishers using the new perches that were put in front of the Observatory. However we didn’t see any, but saw an unusually coloured female Mallard which was a brighter orangey brown than normal. She was showing well until the male led her up the bank. There were a couple of Great Crested Grebes which were doing a bit of head shaking but annoyingly hiding behind the bushes. When they were visible and floated out into the open, they fell asleep. The Continental Cormorant was still present with the nomadic Cormorant flock on one the islands. The Lesser Scaup was on the Rushy Pen with other wildfowl like Tufted Duck andTeal. We went to Robbie Garnett feeders where we had a male Reed Bunting in stunning breeding plummage and the Water Rail kept coming out of the reeds, and on two occasions came right down to water’s edge. It also hopped on to a branch for the fat cake but it got chased off by Moorhens because they’re a bit bigger. Back at the South Lake still no Kingfishers on the perches, but the Woodpigeons thought it was a good place to sit on. We popped to the Holden Tower where we saw two Bar -
Chew Valley Lake/Somerset Levels 25/03/12
We went to Somerset Levels to look for the Long -
However, dipping out on the Great White Egret was disappointing. We went to Ham Wall in search for Marsh Frogs but no luck. There was a Grey Heron flying into reeds and calling so who could blame them for keeping their heads down. We did see Bearded Tits briefly before they flew over to the other side of the lake. I spotted the male on the reedhead on the left side of the path before it flew. We walked back along the railway path to see what the people were looking at as we saw a group of people from the lower path. When we got nearer it was a sight worth seeing -
We went to Slimbridge again, and this time Dad came too. At the feeders the Reed Bunting was still around . We left Mum having a cup of tea in the cafe and went to South Finger where I saw a Pheasant running across the field. We went to the Zeiss hide and Dad saw two Avocets, so we rang Mum to come and have a look. She made it just in time before they flew away. On the way back to the visitor centre, there was a Grey Heron by the flamingos. It looked a picture of grace and elegance but I wondered if there was any fish in the pool? No idea, but the Heron didn’t seem to be bothered by anybody and kept on walking along trying to catch fish. There are some stepping stones across the water here and a Woodpigeon was crossing them by jumping from one to the other. It was quite comical to see and he made it all the way to the other side. The first bird to cross the stepping stones! Back in the car park, a Goldfinch was singing in a nearby tree and looked lovely in the sunshine.
Chew Valley Lake 31/03/12
We went to Chew for the bird fair and were surprised to find a female Long-
We went to Slimbridge to look for the Snow Geese, so we went straight to Robbie Garnett hide. They were still on the Tack Piece and the best view was from the Stephen Kirk Hide. We went along the Summer Walkway to Middle Point and there were two Roe Deer in the distant field. Not a lot at the point because the tide was out, only Shelduck and Curlew, and a distant Peregrine on some rocks. On the way back to the Holden Tower, an Orange Tip Butterfly flew past. We went up to the top of the Tower where we saw a Brown Hare crouched in the grass. Suddenly I noticed all the Snow Geese were swimming in the water, so we quickly headed back to Stephen Kirk. However although there were a few still swimming most had got out. The very last one had a bit of bath and preen before it too got out. Along the walkway was a Speckled Wood Butterfly sitting in the sunshine. Finally to South Lake where the two Avocets were displaying and may even think of nesting here, fingers crossed. Loads of Black -
Chew Valley Lake 06/04/12
We went to Chew to see what was there. The Long -
We went early to Slimbridge for the land rover safari but it was a very rainy day. However we heard a few birds such as Cetti’s Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Despite the downpours we saw a lot of birds.
We managed to see a Brown Hare running about on the reserve. Under a piece of corregated iron there was Water Shrew -
We went to the Rushy Pen to look for the Lesser Scaup but no sign. There was a Coot that made a nest on one of the islands using Daffodils and the male was bringing more nesting material. The Greylag chicks were down to two now.
Cleeve Hill/ North Meadow 15/04/12
We started at Cleeve Hill to look for Ring Ouzel which is a upland cousin of the Blackbird except with a white crescent on the chest. But with loads of people and a bike race on no chance whatsoever. It was really cold up there even though the sun was out. We continued to Cricklade and North Meadow in search of Snake’s Head Fritillary which is a rare flower and Cricklade is one of the best places in Britain for this rarity. There was a few Cuckooflower out as well and is an important food plant for the caterpillars of the Orange Tip Butterfly. Also in flower was Marsh Marigold which grows anywhere where it is damp. We heard a Skylark singing above our heads and saw him fly high in the sky, and a Heron flew over. We went to the Cotswold Water Park to have something to eat, but there was not a lot there to see at the moment. We will have to come back when the Hobbies and Terns arrive.
Blagdon and Chew Valley Lakes 12/05/12
We first went to Blagdon Lake to see the Squacco Heron and it was very easy to spot as it was perched in the tree for a few minutes before flying a few yards right. We managed to get a closer view of it walking and posing in front of the lake before flying off further back down the road. We went down the road to park up by the lake for lunch and saw two Great Crested Grebes displaying head shaking and collecting weeds and both birds rose up as they performed the Penguin Dance, the first time I seen the Grebes dance. We had a tip-
We went to Slimbridge to see what was about, in the sightings book it said 4 Common Cranes at the Holden Tower. These Cranes were born at Slimbridge and taken to the Somerset Levels for release as part of the Great Crane Project. Two of them have satellite transmitters on them. It was good to think that they managed to find their way back home. We saw the Cranes flying over from the left hand side of the hide and flew almost straight past. It was great to hear them calling. They were gaining height pretty much every time they soared. We went to the Martin Smith hide and saw a Little Egret fishing -
Wales 26th -
Dyfi and Ynys-
The weather forecast for hot and sunny so we went up to Wales for the weekend and our first stop was the Dyfi Osprey Project to see how Monty and Nora are getting on with this year’s brood. Monty was on the nest first thing when we arrived, then Nora came in and took over, while he went fishing. While Nora and Monty took turns of incubating the eggs, there were a pair of Siskins on the feeders and afterwards the pair flew off. The male returned alone to feed on the feeders. No sign of the eggs hatching, so we make our way to the Ynys-
27.05.12 Ynys Hir RSPB, Dyfi and Dinas RSPB
We woke up this morning to the sound of Red Kites calling and there were at least two flying around outside the window. They came really close at times. We went back to Ynys Hir again for the Springwatch tour, but as we were early we went for a walk and we saw the second of the three specialist birds -
We headed up today once again to the highlands of Scotland.
Before we got to Nethybridge, we stopped at Dalwhinnie to see the Aviemore and Inverness steam tour train on the return journey to Glenrothes hauled by 46115 Scots Guardsman leaving Newtonmore behind and starting its climb through Drumochter Pass.
We arrived late at Loch Garten because we had a lie in after a long journey from Bristol. The two Osprey chicks were ringed and tagged last Friday by Roy Dennis and were named Alba and Caledonia, the Gaelic and Roman names for Scotland. The other wildlife there included Siskin, Greenfinch, Red Squirrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bank Vole on and around the feeders.
There was also a Wood Mouse under the feeders by the entrance.
We then went to Aviemore to see what was at the Farmer’s Market this year and to do a bit of shopping as the weather was a bit rainy. I was waiting for the train from Broomhill to arrive. From where we parked behind Aviemore Signal Box, opposite the Strathsprey Railway sheds, I could just see Class 27 D5394 which returned in 2009 after a major overhaul from Bo’ness. In the shed was Caley 812 and No 828, which has just been relieved from service this year. The Loco which was in service today was the one that failed last year on more or less the first day we came up, No. 46512 E.V. Cooper Engineer.
We stayed to watch it depart from Aviemore for Broomhill.
We went to up to Tullochgrue Black Park to see three special Orchids: Fragrant, Small White and Lesser Butterfly. There were loads of Fragrant Orchids all over the place and a few Small White Orchids but no Lesser Butterfly, so we went to another site, where we saw lots of the Lesser Butterfly Orchid.
In the chalet garden there was: Red Squirrel on the feeder and on the antlers outside the window which contain calcium, a few Siskins, a juvenile Robin bathing in the grass, a pair of Yellowhammers, pair of Greenfinches and Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldfinch as well as Blue and Great Tits. The Pine Marten has been seen quite regularly and so we are hoping for Pine Marten this evening -
We went to Loch Garten and saw a Common Sandpiper walking along the loch. It started to flap its wings and call while looking at something in the water and we think it might have been a small Pike.
The forecast was not very good for the end of the week so we decided to go up Cairngorm to search for Dotterel today, but due to very misty conditions we didn’t hear or see any again. It was a long walk and there was not much about except for a few Meadow Pipits calling here and there. However on the way back down we had a pair of Ptarmigan on the misty ridge and another female being chased by the dominant female. Further down we encountered the second Grouse member: Red Grouse -
Today was supposed to be the best weather of the week so we thought that we would try looking for Mountain Ringlet on Creag Meagaidh. As we were passing, we went to look at the dragonfly pond at Loch Garten, but only saw Large Red and Northern Damselflies. We stopped at Loch Insh to look at the Ospreys. We show an adult, but couldn’t see any chicks. Maybe they were still quite small. We got to Creag Meagaidh and it was very cloudy. Mountain Ringlets only fly if it’s sunny, so we decided not to bother to look and left. We then thought we would go up Corrieyairack Pass in search of Red Deer. We stopped to look at the Sand Martins in their nest bank. It looked like some were just fledging. There were a few showers of rain, so maybe we made they right decision. Another Common Sandpiper was in the pass -
We went to Loch Garten to have a look at behind the scenes of what happens in the forward hide. John, one of the wardens, took us down and the man on duty today was Andy. They showed me what they have to do looking after the nest and keeping records. After looking around the forward hide for a while, there was no sign of Odin bringing back a fish to the nest. Never mind, can’t win them all. Back at the car park we managed to get good views of the resident Bank Vole feeding under the bird feeders. We went to Lochindorb to look for Black -
Thanks to Richard Thaxton and all the staff at Loch Garten for showing us inside the forward hide.
We went to a boggy pond near Loch Garten to look for White -
We then went to Loch Ruthven RSPB Reserve to look for the Slavonian Grebe -
We saw at least four grebes swimming on the loch which were two adults and juveniles. We saw one on a nest just in front of the hide in the reeds. There was also a pair of Little Grebes around as well. On the outskirts of Loch Ruthven was a Roe Deer Doe which took off running as soon as we stopped. In the fields were loads of Oystercatchers and Redshanks with chicks showing not red but black on the bills. In another field few yards up, a Curlew and on the other side were two Brown Hares. We went down to some nearby Lochans in search of Divers. We saw a couple of Black-
The weather was still quite nice and not at all what we had been expecting so we went back to the pond to look again at the White -
On our way back south to Carnforth we popped in to Loch of the Lowes to see how Lady Marge was doing. The chick is nearly as big as his Mum and has been satellite tagged. Marge’s new mate: Laddie was perched on a tree a couple of metres from the nest. We did not see the male at first until we went back to the centre and saw him on the webcam. Due to the bird disease in that area, some of the feeders were temporarily removed, which meant there was not a lot of birds to see there. However there were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers: a male and a juvenile. Also making good use of the peanut box was a juvenile Red Squirrel. We also went to what used to be called Vane Farm, but is now called RSPB Loch Leven to see if the Swallow was still nesting near the toilets. The building is now bit different but the Swallows were still nesting there flying in and out. The Swallows were also singing a bit near the nest site.
We had a cup of tea in the café and looked to see what was on the feeders. There were three different male Siskins on the trees and bushes. Onwards and southwards we headed over the Forth Bridge towards our B&B in Carnforth, stopping at Biggar for our chip supper in the award-
On the last day we popped into Leighton Moss RSPB to see what’s about. We started at the feeders with a handsome male Bullfinch feeding and perching on the tree branch, this is the best place to see these shy Finches. We saw two males and female in total.
We went to Lillian’s Hide where there is a Black -
There was nothing at the Tim Jackson Hide, maybe it was because they have recently rebuilt it. We walked back towards Lillan’s, when we stopped in the wooded area and saw an adult Treecreeper feeding a fledgling juvenile. The first juvenile Treecreeper I’ve ever seen! Nearly back at Lillian’s and a female Mallard led some ducklings down the flooded marsh. Back at the feeders the Grey Squirrel was picking and eating bits that the birds drop on the floor so too was the Common Brown Rat. We went to the Public Hide because there was an Otter sighting yesterday, but not when we were there sadly. There was plenty of Marsh Harrier for a couple of minutes anyway.
The female has been satellite tagged like the Ospreys. There was another Black -
A young Moorhen was standing on the top of the reeds making himself at risk from the Marsh Harriers. We saw a Cormorant with a very large Eel and eat it all in one go. On the way back to the visitor centre along the edges of the path were loads of Common Spotted Orchids. In the fields with the sheep were quite a few Rabbits. Back in the woods a Marsh Tit was giving fine but brief views.
We went to Allen’s and Eric Morecambe Hides which are next to be done up after the breeding season is over. At Allen’s Hide we had great views of Avocet Chicks which we missed seeing at Slimbridge. The two chicks were risking their lives getting close to the gulls on the island and the adult had to run after them. Fortunately no harm done. There were also a few juvenile Avocets just getting their Black and white markings. At Eric Morecombe hide we saw loads of Redshank on the bank and one of them was definitely a Spotted one. A Sparrowhawk flashed through putting all the birds up and it caught a Starling. It flew past the hide window with it. On the way back there were some Peacock Caterpillars on the stinging nettles. We had a last look at Lillian’s where the Marsh Harrier was still flying around and then made our way back to Bristol. That’s all from this year in Scotland. Weather was not brilliant, but better than was forecasted!
Cheddar/ Priddy 23/07/12 We went to Cheddar to see if the Peregrine was in the area. We saw two Goats fighting each other when another one came along and got pushed of the cliff but survived amazingly! There were two Peregrines flying and one was perched on top of the gorge -
Coombe Hill Meadows 29/07/12 We decided to have another go of looking for the Purple Heron at Coombe Hill Meadows seeing as we didn't see it the previous day. At the Grundon Hide there was a few birds in view such as Grey Heron, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover and flying out of the reeds with a Grey Heron was the Purple Heron! Even better view of the Heron was when it flew over the hide and landed out of sight on the right hand side of the hide. It flew about a few more times until after 12:00PM it vanished until 18:00PM but a fantastic bird nontheless.
Breakheart Quarry and Inglestone/ Lower Woods 11/08/12As it was only nice day of the weekend we decided to go butterfly watching around Gloucestershire, we started at Breakheart Quarry where we saw quite a few butterflies including Chalkhill Blue. The Male is chalky blue and the Female is dark brown which has a bit of blue in the wing. There were loads of common butterflies such as Gatekeeper, Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma. We had also a good view of a Male Brimstone perched on a leaf on our way back to the car park. We went to a local nature reserve in Inglestone at Lower Woods. We saw a few speices that are quite common mainly the Sliver -
We went to Rutland Bird Fair for the three days as we had only been once before and that was only for one day. On the first day I met Johnny Kingdom on his stall with his wife Julie and Mum bought me his latest DVD. He told us that he had been to Alaska filming a TV show going out at Christmas.
We went to a talk by Charlie Hamilton -
We went to look at some of the hides around Rutland Water starting at Lyndon. We saw a lot of Tree Sparrows feeding on the feeders and in the bushes and on the ground. We went to the furthest hide on this side at Lyndon, the Wader Hide. From here there was a great view of the Osprey nest and we saw three birds a Male with a fish and didn't share, a Female and Juvenile. We never saw the other Juvenile. There were a couple of Common Terns flying around and a few were mobbing the Osprey Male with the fish. We also saw some Terns diving for fish. We went back to the Bird Fair at Marquee 3 where One Show presenter Mike Dilger was doing a book signing, once again I didn't have a book so I asked him to sign my programme. We went to look at some more hides on the reserve. The first one was the Snipe Hide. There were a Pair of Green Sandpipers feeding. Walking up to the Shelduck Hide, we saw 4 Egyptian Geese on a lake, but the light was very bad. On the way back to the Bird Fair we spotted a Female Southern Hawker by the path. After lunch we went to a talk by Tim Mackrill on Return of the Osprey to Rutland. We happened to get to the BTO stand when they were ringing a Garden Warbler. It was a Juvenile which will be making it's first journey to Africa soon. We looked around more of the stalls and I collected the book that I won. It was very hot and we decided to go to some more hides. We went first to the Plover Hide where there were more Green Sandpipers and the odd Common Sandpiper wading and swimming in the water. The Little Egret population has remarkably inceased in this part of Britian because we saw 8 in the next hide. Outside the Sandpiper hide was a Emerald Damselfly and a Banded Demoiselle and it was a male. This species normally stops flying at the end of July so this one is a slightly late Female. In the Sandpiper hide was, yes a few Green Sandpipers but they were not the special birds. The star was a Little Stint, which is smaller than a Dunlin and has a stouter bill, but it was elusive at times. Another star was of course the Black Tern but it wasn't Adult, it was a Juvenile. Another bird we couldn't ignore was the Osprey which was perched by another Osprey nest. We walked round to some of the other hides and at the Lapwing Hide we saw another Osprey flying over the hide with satellite transmitter.
Back at the Dunlin Hide we saw the Osprey on the perch again against the setting sun. Another wader seen was a Snipe right out in the open and showing its white belly. The Osprey was still on the perch until dusk fell then flew off to roost. Loads of Eygptian Geese made a sudden appearance in front of the hide coming in to roost. The setting sun made a lovely backdrop to all the birds that were also coming in to roost on the lagoon for the night.
We returned to Lyndon for the last view of Tree Sparrows on feeders and one of them went over the top and actually landed on top of the feeder. There was also a male Pheasant here today, yeterday we saw a female. There was plenty of food for the local Grey Squirrel. Our final view of the Ospreys was of the Juvenile Male on the live nest cam. Back at Bird Fair and we went to Events Marquee for the Mike Dilger talk which was called "My Garden and Other Animals" which is also the name of his book. We stayed for the other peformance which was "Bird Brain of Britiain" featuring the chairman Stephen Moss and the contestants Rob Lambert, Dominic Couzens, Mike Dilger and Insect Expert Nick Baker. Next on was Johnny Kingdom to give a talk about Exmoor where he has lived all his life. Simon King finshed the Bird Fair with his last Wild Secrets talk. We are hoping to head back up there for 25th Bird Fair next year which should be a real special one.
Dawlish and Exe
2nd September 2012
We went to Dawlish to see the Torbay Express and the Royal Duchy come through from Bristol and to look for another Orchid called Autumn Ladies Tresses. Our first port of call was Bowling Green Marsh as the tide was high. There were lots of Little Egrets and Waders, mostly Curlews also a few Knot and Dunlins. Time to move on to Dawlish Warren for the special train, the Torbay Express from Bristol to Kingswear which runs during the summer. The loco was 4464 Bittern in new LNER orignal Garter Blue livery storming through non stop. Shortly afterwards another special train, the Royal Duchy from Bristol to Par, who shared the same line with the Torbay Express until Newton Abbot, where it headed on to the Devon banks. This loco was 34067 Tangmere and it left Dawlish Warren station puffing slowly towards it's next stop. While at Dawlish we had good view of a Jersey Tiger Moth that had landed on one of the plants. We saw some Sandwich Terns flying around and diving for fish. We also saw some Turnstones on the very tip of the breakwater and went to have a closer look. These Turnstones were very obliging and started walking towards us. They looked as though they wanted to come on to the beach so we moved back a bit. Once they were confident, they flew down. There were five birds altogether and when they were on the beach they seperated. They didn’t seem to mind us, one sat on a rock and looked like he was having a nap. A few were still around when we came back from looking at the Gulls. We started to make our way towards the Visitor Centre. Mum walked along the top, Dad and I walked along the beach looking for a Rock Pipit that we had spotted from the top. It was a brief view of an adult which unfortunately had a bit of a limp but flew very well. We went along the beach to find it again, but no sign. We did however see a Red Knot. It was in Winter plumage so therefore not red. In breeding plumage they are indeed red and orange. Normally in winter Knots form big flocks, seeing a single bird like this is very unusual. This bird might have got seperated from it's flock and ended up here. It didn’t seem to mind all the people around. While I was trying to get a closer look at this attractive Wader, one of the small rocks that I stood on was very slippery and I fell into a rockpool and was absolutely soaked. Nevertheless, my screams of agony didn't seem to disturb the Knot because it was too busy foraging. Well, moving on now I think! We saw lots of Autumn Ladies Tresses near the Visitor Centre, some were in flower and some just gone over. On the way back, there were six Common Lizards on the boardwalk basking in the heat in different places. We went back along the beach to show Mum the Knot and surprisingly it was still in the area but had moved onto a different rock. We went back to Bowling Green Marsh where we had fine views of an Osprey on a post. We were told that before we got here, it had been flying around and had caught two fish. The unringed adult seemed satisfied for the moment as it sat on the post, so it didn't fly around sadly. Finally we went to Cullompton between Tiverton and Taunton to see the Torbay Express on it’s return journey to Bristol.
Chew Valley Lake/ Somerset Levels 08/09/12We went to Chew Valley Lake to see if the Red -
Newport Wetlands RSPB 09/09/12 We went to the Newport to look for a Buff -
Radipole Lake and Lodmoor RSPB 16/09/12
We went to Weymouth and Portland to see if the Monarch Butterfly and Short -
There was quite a lot of Ringed Plovers about the reserve. Just when we were about to leave a pair of Sandwich Terns flew in and landed on the island. The birds turned out to be a Winter Adult and a Juvenile which kept pestering the adult for fish. On our way back to the car park I spotted a Common Snipe feeding on the edge of the tussochy grass. We then went to Easton near Portland to look for the Monarch and even though sun was out, the butterfly wasn't. We continued to Portland Bill and the wildlife there was also very quiet apart from the local Kestrel and Rock Pipit. Having been giving a tip off that the Dowitcher was showing at 2pm we headed back to Lodmoor. The Short -
There was some sad news in September when Rutlands Satellite tagged Osprey 09 (98) was found dead in Morocco. He was probably predated by an Eagle Owl or Mammal as he roosted on a low bush waiting to cross the Sahara.
I saw him when we went to the Bird Fair in August and have fond memories of him (see my Bird Fair page). He was a magnificent Bird RIP 09 (98).
For more information on 09 and how he was found visit Rutland Ospreys at http://www.ospreys.org.uk/osprey-
Leighton Moss RSPB
We decided on the spur of the moment to go up to Lancashire for the weekend as the weather didn’t seem to be too bad up there. We went to Leighton Moss first as I wanted to see if the Bearded Tits were still feeding on the grit trays. As we entered the reserve we saw a Treecreeper climbing up the trees near Lillian's Hide in search of insects. On Lillian's Lake there were Coot, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal and 5 Goldeneye. Two males were joined by three females and one of the males displayed once briefly to the females. We went to the Public Hide to see what was there but sadly all that was there was a Cormorant with fishing line stuck in it's beak and couldn't get it out. We didn't like watching that Cormorant anymore and moved on to the next the hide. I just hope he managed to get it out. We looked on the grit trays but no Bearded Tits again. When we got back to the visitor centre there was a report in the sightings book that morning of some there, so we must have just missed them. There were groups of Long -
At the the Grisedale Hide we saw a Marsh Harrier flying over the reedbed away from the hide. There was also quite a number of Teal on the lake and one of them flapped it's wings and stretched it's back wing to show the green speculum.
We finished the day by watching flocks of Starlings coming in to roost in the reedbeds at Lillian's Lake. The last time we tried to watch the Starling at Leighton Moss was a bit disappointing as the whole flock flew over our heads and roosted somewhere behind us. I think the reason why they did was because a Marsh Harrier was sitting in the middle of the reeds. This time they displayed beautifully and most of them came down to roost in front of us. They then stayed down making a tremendous noise chattering away to each other. We spoke to some people who told us they saw an Otter at the Public Hide. I didn’t like to ask about the Cormorant. We saw lots of Egrets flying past to roost, but I can’t say for sure if one was the Great White Egret that had been reported there. None of them really looked big enough, but they were quite distant. A Marsh Harrier came quartering the reed beds, but it seemed to be after the ducks and not the Starlings. It was getting quite dark now, so we made our way back to the car and went into Carnforth for supper then on to our B&B.
Martin Mere WWT
We went to Martin Mere today as there was a Bird Fair on. The first hide we went to was the Raines Observatory where there were masses of Shelduck amongst the Whooper Swans, Ducks and Geese. There was a solitary Ruff on the bank. We saw a ringing demonstration at the Kingfisher Hide. The first two birds ringed were a female Chaffinch and then a male which the ringer gave to Mum to release after it was ringed, measured and weighed. The other birds were a Great Tit, Greenfinch and Woodpigeon. From the hide we could see a flock of Pink -
On the posts by the mere, were three Peregrine Falcons which were resting after putting up the ducks. The Juvenile kept flying into the ducks to scare them. Perhaps it was learning to hunt. On route to our next hide we spotted a Nuthatch on a tree. At the Swanlink Hide, the Whooper Swans were swimming gracefully in the sunshine.There were other winter wildfowl including Pintail and Wigeon. There was a fly-
Sand Point 03/11/12
We went to see if the Hoopoe was still at Sand Point just south of Weston -
I went to Slimbridge with my friend Joe to see if the Bewick's Swan numbers had increased. We started at the Ziess Hide looking for a Green -
Then on to South Lake where we had seen a Marsh Harrier flying around the last time we came, but the only birds that were there was the usual wildfowl. We finished up at Rushy Pen to watch the birds being fed. The Swans and Geese all gather here for the evening feed. Martin McGill, the senior reserve Warden was doing the feeding of the Wildfowl which included Pintails, Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Mallards but no Bewick's Swans yet. After the birds were fed a group of 4 Common Cranes from the Great Crane Project flew over the pen and we saw them again for the final time over South Lake.
Snow Buntings at Severn Beach 10/11/12 We went to Severn Beach to look for the six Snow Buntings which had been present for a while. We went onto the beach and saw all six of them foraging around on the pebbles looking for anything they could find that's edible. They did a couple of fly passes with the 2nd Severn Bridge providing a iconic backdrop. The weather was not too great for photography, there were lots of heavy downpours and it was difficult to protect cameras, scopes and binoculars. I think we should have taken a brolly! We were all soaked through and it was quite cold once you had got wet, but at least I had some good views of the Snow Bunting. On a negative note though, if anyone should read this that walks their dog there, please clear up their mess. The beach was covered and I’m afraid I was so intent on watching the birds that I not only walked in it, I put my camera bag in some as well. Not nice!
BOC Aylesbeare/Axe/Exe 11/11/12
We went to Aylesbeare Common to meet up with BOC Group. We went to the common to look for Dartford Warbler. We saw quite a few Stonechats and there were also a few Dartford Warblers on the heath but I missed them all by looking in the wrong place.
We then went to Seaton Marshes which is a local nature reserve. The hide overlooks the Axe estaury and is right by the Seaton Tramway. No trams today unfortunately. In front of the hide were a few Waders such as Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin Oystercatcher and Lapwing. On the overhead tram wire was a Wagtail which then dropped down onto the tramway. There is always Little Egret present on the Axe all year around as they nest in a nearby Heronry. A Buzzard was being mobbed by local Carrion Crows and a Sparrowhawk across the field on the other side of the river. Near the car park there was a female Blackbird feeding on worms and a Grey Wagtail was foraging in a small pond.
We to the other side of the Axe for lunch and see what else was about. As well as various Gulls, Godwits, Cormorant and Wigeon, we saw a Knot through the telescope.
After we left the BOC Group we continued to the RSPB Darts Farm in Topsham to have look at the new hide and for Brambling. Mike Dilger opened the new hide in early November, and the birds we saw here were the Dark -
The star bird of the evening was the Kingfisher, which normally you just see flying past and disappear. We heard it first, and then it appeared and sat on a reed stem in front of us. This handsome male was using four different perches and did a bit of diving. It caught a couple of small fish and then rested in the glow of the setting sun.
After it flew off, we decided to have a quick look at RSPB Bowling Green Marsh hide before it got too dark. There were hundreds of Avocets there that had come in to roost. Most were just floating around in the middle of the pool. There were also a great many Godwits and Redshanks. A Spotted Redshank was pointed out to us along with a couple of Greenshank. The light was fading fast, but it was a wonderful finish to a lovely day. The weather had been really sunny and warm for November.
Portishead/ Portbury 18/11/12
We went to Portishead to look for the Black Redstarts. We did see a Male which seemed to favour the rooftops and didn't land on the beach unfortunately. When the tide went out it gave a Rock Pipit a chance to feed on insects in the seaweed. The Black Redstart reappeared on top of the roof of an old railway station building. There were also Curlews flying along the River Severn which was shortly followed by a Mute Swan with it's throbbing wingbeats. We went to Portbury Wharf to look for the Little Owl again but still nothing. We did see a first winter Female Scaup with Coots and other wildfowl such as Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwell and Tufted Duck on one of the lakes. There were also some Snipe and Lapwing on the island and some Dabchicks. All the birds were a bit too far away for any photos. We decided to call in at Aust Warth on the way home to look for Short-
Waxwings at Yate
1st December 2012
We went out to look for Waxwings and as we came out on to Shire Way we had a look to see if there was any in the Rowan tree. We could see a few birds feeding on the berries, then I spotted a Waxwing perched in the tall tree. We waited to see if it was going come down to feed on the berries. There were a few birds on them such as Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing and Starlings. The Waxwing did eventually land on the Rowan Tree. It was a bit nervous and kept flying up to the tall tree. There wasn't many berries on the tree so we had a drive around Yate to see if we could find more Rowan, but most we found didn't have berries on. When we went back to Shire Way the second Waxwing had appeared on top the tree. They flew down and started to feed on the berries. In between feeding the pair sat in the big tree to digest their meal. When we got home we looked out of the bedroom window and we could see them in the tall tree. Then we saw them fly off to roost somewhere for the night.
On Sunday 2nd December we went to look for them again, but they had already flown off by 8:10am towards the park. We went to have a look there. The pond was very frozen and the ducks and swans only had a small area to swim. We saw a Shoveler there amongst the varied coloured Mallards. On the way back home we found some more Rowan, but the only bird feeding on it was a Blackcap. When we got home, we kept checking out of the window to see if any Waxwings appeared in the tree, but only saw Starlings, Fieldfare and Redwings.
We decided to go to Marshfield to look for Owls. There were lots of Pheasants and Red-
Waxwings at Bradley Stoke 9th December 2012 We went to Bradley Stoke to look for more Waxwings in the Tesco car park. While we were waiting for them we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker on top of one of the trees. A flock of birds flew over our heads and at first I thought they were Starlings, but when I heard them calling I realised that it was the Waxwings. Mum made the same mistake a couple of years ago when she was at Dumfries on a BOC trip. The flock of 30+ Waxwings landed on the Rowans briefly and began gorging themselves in a feeding frenzy, ignoring all the shoppers and photographers just a few feet away. They then flew off to perch in a big tree to digest the berries. While they were away a Fieldfare flew in to feed on the berries as well and even he didn't worry about people walking past. He had a very strange bill, it seemed to cross over like a Crossbill's beak. He stayed for a while filling himself up on Rowan berries before the Waxwings came back. A Buzzard flew over and I wondered if the flock of Waxwings in the tree would fly off, but they didn't.
The Waxwings flew back and forth from the big tree to the Rowans a few times but they were also dropping down behind the houses for some reason. The flock seemed to split up and go their separate ways. We couldn't see them perched anywhere, so decided to call it a day and come home. As we were leaving we saw a couple of Jays fly over the car park. I did some bird watching in the garden for the rest of the day and I took some pictures yesterday of some of our birds. Our regular visitors are Blackcap (at least 2 males and a female), Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, loads of Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Long-
We went to Slimbridge to see if the Bittern was there on show at the Ziess Hide. Down by the entrance ramp were a small group of Long -
We went to Slimbridge on Boxing Day to see if the Bittern was about today. We started by going to the Ziess Hide where a Green -
We then went to the Robbie Garnett Hide to look to see what was on the Tack Piece and saw lots of waders which included Redshank, Ruff, Lapwing and Curlews. There were also quite a number of Pochards,Tufted Ducks and Wigeon. A huge of group of Pintails were seen on the flooded field. A Male Shoveler was swimming alongside the Pochard group. It was wet for most of the day and not much wildlife on show. The White -