Monday, 29 April 2013

Somerset Levels....19th-21st April 2013‏

First stop was RSPB Swell Wood NR to see and hear the Heronry though this had to wait after being informed that Common Cranes had been seen from one of the woodland viewpoints! Distant views were had of 5 Cranes, they seemed so mobile, hardly stopping in one place for long.

We were informed that a count had recently been taken of the Heron nests, 77 being the total number of nests though normally 100+ would be the average count. Good views were had of the chicks as their parents returned to the nest with food. A few of the adults were bill clapping, it reminded me of hearing White Storks in Portugal doing the same thing but the Storks were much louder!


Next stop was RSPB Greylake, Reed Bunting, Lapwing, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan and Little Egret x3 were the highlight and practically the only birds seen on a short visit. A 'loop' walk around the reed beds in search of Bearded Tits was fruitless though with the wind blowing as it was it was hardly surprising.

 RSPB Ham Wall NR was a real treat today as the sun was shining and the birds were in full voice. Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler were heard only. Willow and Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap were seen and heard, great to see the Summer migrants back!
Bittern x3 in flight and Bitterns booming throughout the day were a sheer delight to see and also to hear their booming which could be heard from what seemed to be several areas around the reserve! A Great White Egret also Marsh Harrier x3 were seen in flight and to witness a pair of Marsh Harriers performing a food pass was a bonus! Hobby x2, Garganey, Common Sandpiper were also good to see though the main attraction for a lot of the birders present was the Pied-billed Grebe, I heard it call once but did not see it! No matter as I had had a great walk around Ham Wall and had some delightful sightings and heard some delightful calls and song. Late morning from the car park I spotted a Red Kite over the reserve, another delightful bird to see.


Shapwick Heath NNR was visited after lunch and a pleasure to see were 55 Black-tailed Godwits in summer plumage, though distant good scope views were had of these stunning looking birds, one each of Pintail and Redshank were spotted close to the Godwits. Arctic Terns x12 were later viewed from Noah's Hide ( a lovely name for a hide), though cloud cover had arrived the views of the Terns was still good!  

Several Brimstone and  Peacock Butterflies put in fleeting appearances when the sun shone   over the weekend .
On the way home a drive through Cheddar Gorge was made having not visited here before and wasn't it an eye opener! The heights of the cliff faces are mind blowing. One of the car pull-in places had been partly cordoned off due to a land slide, this was a little unnerving to say the least! The caves I will leave for others to explore as they really do not appeal to me.
It seemed quite surreal driving through the Gorge after a weekend on the Somerset 'Levels'!


All in all it was a super weekend in a most delightful County!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Load of Rubbish!

That is what I had in my car this morning..........a load of rubbish to take to the local tip or Household Waste Recycling Centre as it is known as these days.;-)  I feel sure that there must be some good birds around the area of the tip as there are plenty of trees, shrubs and hedgerow, maybe I will fork out 50p and lurk in one of the adjacent car parks one of the days to see if there is 'anything about'! Blackbird and Dunnock were the only birds seen on my trip this morning!

What a mind boggling place the 'recycling centre' is these days, one doesn't know whether one is coming or going with all the signs for various items of waste, cars and people here there and everywhere!
No pics today as I reckon they would have been rubbish...literally!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Portland, Dorset. A Blue Sky, Sea and Bird.... 5th, 6th & 7th April 2013.

My first visit to Portland, Dorset was most enjoyable. A splendid area with many places to explore and explore is something I would like to do with more time on a future visit. Due to the weather not many migrants had arrived but a Bluethroat and Ring Ouzel were a real treat to catch up with, the Bluethroat will probably be my 'Bird of the Year'! A Chiffchaff viewed from the B&B bedroom window on arrival was a good start to the weekend, though it was not my first of the year it was still good to have such good sightings of such a delightful Warbler! Highlight sightings at Portland Bill on the first afternoon and early evening were a male Stonechat, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock and on the evening a Barn Owl that was perched on the roof of The Pulpit Inn and unfortunately soon took flight as we parked up! Yellowhammer, Robin, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Raven and Buzzard were also highlight birds seen on Portland.

A useful website for Portland.



Suckthumb Quarry was the area were a Ring Ouzel had been reported and it did not take long to locate it. Splendid views were had of this bird! Redwing, Song Thrush, Wheatear, Kestrel and Peregrine were other highlight birds seen in close proximity to Suckthumb Quarry.


The White-spotted Bluethroat reported at Chesil Cove was an absolute delight to see. It gave fleeting views initially as it fed in the vegetation around the beach huts and finally it came out in to the open for a few minutes. I was pleased with the sighting and pleased to have a few record images of this delightful little bird!

Cormorants frequently flew across the sea and 5 maybe 6 Sandwich Terns were sighted and I was
delighted to have watched one fishing before they headed off.
There are several good viewpoints on Portland Bill, Cheyne Weares being one of them with a car park. It was here that I managed a few images of Gulls in flight.

There are some stunning views to be enjoyed as you make your way around Portland Bill.


On the way home a visit was made to RSPB Radipole Lake.
Garganey were the target birds and after a long walk to the hide were found sleeping on an island! Cetti's Warbler were heard only and it seemed as though there were at least 3 individual birds heard. Shoveler, G C Grebe, Wigeon and Mute Swan were also on and around the water along with the usual Coot, Mallard etc. I was thrilled to see my first of the year Barn swallow, House Martin and at least 6 Sand Martins! A Hooded Merganser suddenly appeared from under a bridge and joined Tufted Ducks and Mallards which had congregated in the hope of a feed from visitors. The Hooded Merganser did not hang around for long as the Tufties showed there annoyance of it's presence. I managed a couple of shots but not a full frontal! I have on my return home found out that the Merganser has been present for a few years and it's origin is uncertain, a delightful striking bird to see whatever it's origin.

RSPB Lodmoor was the next port of call before the journey home.
 A smashing reserve which as with Radipole Lake I would have liked more time to explore. A Spoonbill was soon located and also a Little Egret trying to hide in a reed bed!

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend on Portland and will all being well visit again sometime in the future. A pity the poor Spring weather had kept so many summer migrants back but that is birding for you. No doubt there will be ruckloads returning this weekend now that the weather has finally broken and milder temperatures are forecast.