Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Nene and Natterjack!....18th-19th August 2014.

A couple of days were enjoyed at and around Slimbridge with our eldest Grandson (5) who enjoyed his first visit to the Wetlands Reserve and also testing out his new RSPB binoculars. We were very lucky weather wise having to only run for cover once and even then we enjoyed viewing the Greater Flamingos whilst sitting inside the new sunken observatory! A great addition to the reserve.

A few grateful recipients of the bird seed purchased from the Visitor centre.
Little and Large. :-)
Moorhens aplenty around the reserve.

The Bewick's Swan is one of I believe 6 Bewick's that are now resident and as such part of the Collection now, due I believe to their inability to return to their breeding grounds.
I was just a little surprised when our Grandson asked what the different Swan was called, though I shouldn't have been too surprised as he has for a long time now had a great interest in nature and is always asking questions. As he had been seeing Mute Swans regularly at a local pool we frequent he knew the Bewick's were different. His observation skills are good.

Nene Geese,  Greylag Geese and Jackdaws were seen numerous times throughout the day. I felt that there didn't seem as many 'Captive' species seen as we walked around, though maybe they were in hiding with so much vegetation to secret themselves away in.
An interesting talk about salamanders, exotic frogs and newts was given in Toad Hall and afterwards children and adults were invited to hold a Salamander and Natterjack Toad. It would have been rude to refuse the invitation! Great fun!

 Pond Dipping
We found Damselfly Larvae, Water snails, Sticklebacks and Water Boatmen!
A good variety of homes for insects.

Views from the Sloane Severn View Observation tower.

Gloucester-Sharpness Canal.
A great couple of days was enjoyed at WWT Slimbridge seeing captive and wild birds, having fun in Welly boot land and the play area, seeing the Otters and learning about them. So many highlights, roll on the next visit!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sail away, sail away,....03/07/2014

Sail away to.........nowhere exotic but an interesting Island.....the Isle of Wight!

My first visit and a place I would certainly return to in the future. A smooth ferry crossing from Portsmouth of just 40 odd minutes and we were on the Island and on the road to Shanklyn which was to be our base for the long weekend. A short detour was made first to Ventnor for a lunch of freshly caught fish with hand cut chips, delicious! Especially so being eaten outdoors in glorious sunshine.

3rd July

Ventnor Harbour
Cascade gardens: On the esplanade the garden is crossed with a waterfall, laid out in 1903.

Common Lizard. Sunbathing on a wall next to the Cascade gardens.

Culver Down. Subtle sunset colours.

Shanklyn Old Village. There are numerous delightful thatched dwellings in the village.

4th July.

Newtown Estuary and Harbour.

I imagine someone would know where to find what they were looking for amongst the colourful collection of bits and bobs.

Fort Victoria Pier.
The pier was erected in 1856 to service Fort Victoria near Yarmouth. The fort is now part of the Fort Victoria Country Park.

Sadly, although Fort Victoria pier still exists it has been badly neglected, and is now fenced off to prevent the public from approaching. Without urgent restoration work, the pier is in danger of being lost forever.

Newtown Nature Reserve.

White Admiral.

 Sightings board.
A pity I did not spot any Corky-fruited water dropwort to photograph.....what a wonderful name for a wildflower. It is a member of the carrot family and poisonous to grazing stock so maybe there is not too much of it present, especially as there is a flock of Hebridean sheep grazing in a field not too far away from the reserve.

5th July

Isle of Wight Steam Railway 1940s weekend.

Jitterbug dance displays, songs from the 40's, civilian and military vehicles, a working farmyard threshing machine, Spitfire fighter plane, Punch and Judy, fairground rides, steam train rides......a fun filled day!

      6th July                                                                                                                                                                                           
Brading Station
Brading Station (very quaint with helpful volunteers) is the main gateway to the RSPB Brading Marsh Reserve.


Butterflies were the highlight at the reserve. A lot of habitat work needs to be done for better views over the reserve. Funding I was told was the problem, such a pity as it could be a well used and productive reserve given a little attention. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable walk.


Large skipper
Small Tortoiseshell

Small White

Speckled Wood

Alverston Mead.
Alverston Mead was the next port of call.
The woodland walk was good with a boardwalk along a decent stretch of the walk. We waited patiently by the hide along with a 'local' couple for Red Squirrels to hopefully put in an appearance at the feeding station as they regularly do to feast on the monkey nuts that are left for them. We waited in vain but on the return walk were rewarded with super views of 3 Red Squirrels as they seemingly played as they raced along the branches of the trees. A lovely end to an enjoyable day.

Banded Demoiselle

 River Yar, Alverston Mead.

7th July
Alum Bay
An interesting link added for any Geologists amongst us.
Alum bay is well known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs and the area in general. Leading up to the
Needles Old Battery there are spectacular views across the Solent. The Chairlift to the beach and views of the multi-coloured sand cliffs did not appeal so we took a ride on an open topped bus and enjoyed the views as the bus wound its way along the cliff top to the National trust Property, The Needles Battery.The views of the Needles, Lighthouse and beyond were really good.


Multi-coloured sand cliffs

 The Needles and Needles Lighthouse

 A long way downnnnnnnn!


Meadow Brown

Summer Chafer
 Birds were at a premium though I did not expect an abundance of birds at this time of year. The highlights were the sightings of Little Owl, Common and Little Tern, Little Egret, Cormorant, Curlew, Buzzard, Oystercatcher and female Gadwall  at Newtown Nature Reserve with Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff  heard only. Whitethroat, Blue and Great Tit, Grey Heron, and
Skylark at Brading Marsh. Gannet, B H Gull, Robin, Kestrel, Starlings, Rook and Jackdaw at Alum Bay. Pied Wagtail and Common Tern at Fort Victoria Country Park.
Oystercatchers at Newtown Estuary and of course the numerous Hirundines and Swifts seen whilst out and about on the island.
Butterflies were seen in the majority of places visited and a Stoat was seen dashing across a road as we headed for Alum Bay.

That is all from my enjoyable trip to the Isle of Wight, I hope you have enjoyed reading about it.