Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February finale.

21st Feb A male Bullfinch in my garden in the morning which returned with a female early afternoon. It was just under 12 months since my last sighting of a Bullfinch in my garden.
23rd Feb. Blackbird and Blackcap enjoying the apples in my garden.
25th Feb A Common Buzzard over my garden.
25th Feb Brake lane. Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Starling, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Fieldfare, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Corvids, B H Gull. Snowdrops and Winter Aconite.
26th Feb Dowles Brook, Wyre Forest. Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Wren, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robin, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Dipper x2 (in flight). 26th Feb Red Kite over my garden.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Friday at the Fisheries....17/02/2012

With Saturdays weather forecast to be wet and cold and today being dull but mild I decided a Friday afternoon walk would be the best plan. A Goldcrest moving swiftly along the hedgerow was the first sighting as I walked along the top path and then a male and two female Bullfinches in the trees, I would imagine they are now eating the new buds that are starting to appear. Plenty of bird song and calls were heard from Great and Blue Tits, Robins and the odd Blackbird. The mild temperature today had brought out the gnats, I walked through small clouds of them at times making me feel a bit itchy.lol! On the pools were Mallard, Moorhen, Canada Geese and a lone Black-headed Gull circled the pools. Other highlights today were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pheasant and a flock of 30+ Winter Thrushes in flight, I reckon Redwings but couldn't be certain. So, nothing out of the ordinary seen but an enjoyable walk just the same!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Brrrrrr ....Brake Mill Pool....11/02/2012

Brrr indeed!! It was -6.9c at 6.45am so I wasn't in any rush to set out early, I waited until 9.00am with the temperature outside now being a heady -2.6c. On arrival the pool was partly frozen but had defrosted on my walk back past the lake just under a couple of hours later! On the water were Mallard, Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan family, BHG & LBBG x2, Heron and Coot. I noticed that the cold temperatures had not cooled the ardour of the Coots!! At one point a male Coot chased off a young pretender, they can certainly shift in water, they looked like two speedboats racing! I walked along the public footpath that leads towards Stakenbridge Lane, having past the first paddock I reached the wooded areas that are on each side of the path, I often linger in this area for quite a while as it is usually quite productive. The sun by now was shining brightly and I had to use the tree trunks as a shade from the sun or else I would not have seen anything at all. I was entertained by the sweet twittering of a flock of Siskins feeding high in the Alders, Blue & Great Tits were seemingly everywhere and I was thrilled with the sighting of two Treecreepers. I was even more thrilled to catch sight of a Kingfisher as it perched for a few seconds on an overhanging branch over the stream, the stream runs off from the Pool and is between two gardens. How lovely to have a stream through your garden and see such lovely birds as Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails, maybe one day I will win the Lottery and have such a garden.lol! Other highlight birds were Nuthatch, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk. An enjoyable but very cold walk/amble today.
Garden update. The female Blackcap is still daily in my garden, the downside since the recent cold snap is that I now have at least 6 Blackbirds in my garden for the majority of the day and she is having to share the apples and pears with more Blackbirds. No doubt she will soon be on her way, I shall miss seeing her. The Redwing has eaten every berry that was on the Holly tree, it was joined by a few more Redwings eventually! I had 5 Redwings and 1 Fieldfare (briefly) in the garden during the cold snap. I also had a fleeting visit on the 10th of 3 Redpoll(sp) that flew in to a Silver Birch, they are a first for my garden. A female Sparrowhawk enjoyed a rest on one of my nest boxes yesterday (15th), she looked as though she had just enjoyed a good meal!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Somerset Levels. 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th February 2012.

2nd Feb. A detour to WWT Slimbridge for a short visit was made before heading onwards to the B&B in Glastonbury and a couple of days birding on the Somerset Levels. I was surprised how many cars were on the car park being a weekday and on such a cold day. A lot of people must have been around the 'Collection' area (or keeping warm in the restaurant) as it was fairly quiet along the pathways to and in the hides. On the way to the Rushy Hide the Wildfowl took flight but whatever set them up was not spotted, it was so cold (cold being an understatement) when looking through the hide windows that it literally made your eyes water! Highlight birds on and around the water were Pintail, Shelduck, Teal, Greylag and Canada Geese,Shoveler and the delightful Bewick's Swans, such a graceful looking Swan. Viewing from the Martin Smith hide there were good numbers of White-fronted Geese and Barnacle Geese, though distant good scope views were had of them as it was such a clear day. Lapwing, Wigeon and Teal were also viewed here in great numbers but I did not see any Golden Plovers which was a little disappointing as I had been looking forward to seeing at least a couple.lol! From the Holden Tower we could again see the Geese and on a grassy bank at the side of the hide were 100,s of Wigeon. A Peregrine flew to what we were told is it's favourite perching tree, a very nice sighting of it in flight! There was not enough time to walk to the remaining hides but there is always another day to enjoy this splendid reserve.
The B&B in Glastonbury was perfectly situated on the edge of the town. Blackcap (m), Blackbird, Robin, Blue & Great Tit were regularly seen in the front garden of the B&B. A short walk down the road part of the Abbey Ruins could be seen, it looked atmospheric when the snow began to fall on the 4th of Feb.
3rd Feb. On arrival at RSPB Ham Wall a Chiffchaff was spotted as it searched a grassy embankment, good to see, hope it stays safe during this long cold spell. Ham Wall is a super reserve, this was my second visit here and again in the cold but unlike my last visit not windy which was a blessing! Highlights at Ham Wall were Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Long-tailed Tit, Blue & Great Tit, Redwing, Collared Dove, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier and 2 Roe Deer. The aforementioned species were seen in the morning and after a short visit to NNR Shapwick Heath we returned to Ham Wall in the afternoon and after a lengthy wait was lucky to see a Great White Egret and 2 Bitterns! Late afternoon people were starting to arrive for the Starling Roost, having been told by an RSPB volunteer that the Starlings are tending to go straight down in to the reeds and at quite a distance coupled with the fact that I was starting to feel the cold after a long day outdoors we did not stay and wait. We were told the Starlings to date number approx one a half million this winter, which is approximately five million down from last winter. No doubt due to the milder winter..well what was a mild winter!! We had seen a Starling murmuration here last year, which was awesome, so did not feel aggrieved by not staying. A walk after lunch was taken at Shapwick Heath, Redwing, Common Snipe, Cormorant, Heron, and a Marsh Harrier were seen in a short space of time.
4th Feb. Aller Moor was on the agenda this morning to hopefully see some of the Common Cranes that have been reintroduced into the Somerset Levels and Moors. Mute Swans and a Redwing were the first sightings followed by a Robin, Lapwings and a flyover Common Snipe then two Cranes were spotted flying at a distance! They landed in a field at a fair distance but good scope views were had of them, then I found two more Cranes even further away! There is a range of habitats including grassland and supplementary sacrificial crops left by farmers for them. I have since read that Roe deer and thousands of Starlings have been seen feeding in the Barley alongside the Cranes also Skylarks, Fieldfares, Redwings, Meadow Pipits, Peregrines, Short-eared Owl, a Ring-tailed Hen harrier and Brown Hares! Good to read of such great results!
4th Feb. RSPB Swell Wood is a reserve we happened upon just a short drive from Aller Moor. It has the largest colony of breeding Grey Herons in South-West England - more than a 100 pairs and a small number of Little Egrets also nest there. There are a few feeders on the small carpark which were stocked up well but I also put down some seed and watched Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tits, Nuthatch, Wren, Chaffinch, Blackbird and Robins of which at one point there were 5 in view, Great Spotted Woodpecker was also a welcome sight. A hide a short distance away was almost wall papered with literature and posters of birds, it was clear to see that this reserve is well looked after. Nice to find a little gem of a reserve as this one clearly is. A few snow flakes began to tumble from the sky...the start of more to come.
4th Feb. RSPB Greylake was a reserve I had looked forward to visiting, a pity that the snow had started to fall more steadily. Once arable farmland the RSPB have created miles of new ditches and shallow water-filled gutters, dug out numerous scrapes and put in structures to keep the water level high. Well today the water was frozen solid! The only birds on the ice were two pairs of Mallards and a pair of Mute Swans. A Common Snipe flew over and 3 Buzzards were seen on distant fence posts and a distant Kestrel was hovering, the RSPB volunteer in the hide had his scope on a Hen Harrier but within seconds it had gone down before I had my scope anywhere close to it. Never mind a confiding Water Rail was a delight to see as it searched around for it's next meal alongside a side hide window, I was told that it must be the most photographed Water Rail ever. Binoculars were not needed as it was so close! I placed bird seed on a gatepost next to the car park, the takers were Robins, Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinch and a Pied Wagtail that was so territorial with the seed, the only bird to stand up to it was a Blackbird!
With the snow starting to 'stick' it was time to head back to Glastonbury, well after a visit to Clarks Village and a bit of retail therapy! Many flocks of Starlings in trees, on barn roofs and hedgerows were seen throughout the trip. On the journey to and from Somerset and whilst travelling to reserves numerous perched Buzzards were also seen on farm gate posts and hedgerows, the cold weather no doubt bringing the Buzzards closer to the roads in readiness for any road kill. A most enjoyable trip to Somerset, I just wish the weather had been a little warmer! I am thinking that a Spring visit to the Somerset Levels would be interesting and a touch milder perhaps.