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25th March 2018 – WWT Steart and RSPB Greylake

We made the most of the first day of British Summer Time which was a sunny day but with a cold wind. We started at WWT Steart and had a really good 10 km walk around the reserve but we didn’t see an awful lot of birds. In fact all we saw was a reed bunting and a mute swan on the walk out to the furthest point and then some distant views of curlews, shelduck, shovelers, oystercatchers and some gulls.

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FP5A5828Bath time for the mute swan

FP5A5762Distant view of curlew

We decided to go on to RSPB Greylake which was only 10 miles inland.

There we had a lot more success with great views of lots of wigeon, shoveler, teal, lapwing, reed bunting, blue and great tits, house sparrows, chaffinch, goldfinch, a kestrel, a grey heron and two overflying crane.

FP5A5859Wigeon orchestrating his mates

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FP5A5931Reinforcements of wigeon – safety in numbers

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FP5A5968Kestrel

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I have to thank Angela Edwards and her husband for spotting the crane, which I was lucky to get a shot of, as I had already packed my camera in the boot of the car.

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FP5A6061Common crane

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_crane

Some of the birds at the car park:

FP5A5988Female reed bunting

FP5A6020Goldfinch

FP5A6034Chaffinch

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FP5A6050Male reed bunting

FP5A6055House sparrow

FP5A6066Blue tit

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RSPB Greylake is such a lovely small reserve with good hides and viewing points. The display of birds feeding in the car park is worth the visit alone.

We called in at Aust Warth (Severn Estuary) on the way home to see if we could see the barn and short-eared owls but we were not lucky and all we saw were a crowd of twitchers waiting hopefully.

Click below for gallery of photos from today:

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23rd March 2018 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

I only had an hour to spare and so I wandered across to Stoke Park. The cold wind had ceased and it was good to feel some warmth in the day even though it was still quite grey.

At first I only saw a few crows (one with a tasty meal) and some wood pigeon.

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Then a kestrel flew by the trees surrounding Duchess Pond and it stayed long enough for me to make my way round and get close to it next to the pond.

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A male stonechat made a brief appearance.

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There weren’t many ducks on the pond just a pair of mallard and 4 moorhen.

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On the way back there were lots of robins staking their territories noisily and a dunnock.

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20th March 2018 – Severn Estuary

I arrived at Aust Warth in the sunshine but by the time I had taken my camera out of the car it had clouded over and stayed that way for the rest of the morning. I was hoping to have more sightings of the short-eared owl but it doesn’t work that way and all I saw was a distant kestrel. However, I did have an interesting chat with Dave Knowles who (with owl in his name and a personalised registration of  DK …OWL) filled the vacuum of no owls on the warth.

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I moved on to Northwick Warth and found the tide was too far in for waders but spotted a few redshank, a dunlin and wigeon waiting in the pill for the tide to go out.

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There were shelduck all over the warth but not really close enough for decent  photographs.

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I walked out to the Pilning Wetlands with Don Smith and his son (who I had met here last year) who kindly pointed out the peculiar behaviour of the shovelers who were pairing up and circling around each other with their bills immersed in the water. I had never noticed this before.

 

Shovelers circling their mates

There wasn’t much else around – just some tufted ducks, a little egret, a grey heron, a little grebe and some lapwings trying to impress with their acrobatic flying.

MT1D4979Little grebe

MT1D4984Tufted ducks

MT1D4965Tufted duck about to dive.

MT1D4939Lapwings trying to impress

MT1D4993A flock of starling flew by.

On the way back I spotted a buzzard on a pole and only had time to take a photo without a tripod before it flew off. Fortunately I managed to spot it again in a nearby tree.

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Buzzard

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By the time I had got back to the estuary the tide had gone out enough for me to get good views of redshank, dunlin, a turnstone and lots of wigeon.

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MT1D5063Dunlin photobombing a redshank

MT1D5083Dunlin showing a lack of interest in my camera

MT1D5094Wigeon in flight

MT1D5095Redshank

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MT1D5159Wigeon posing

MT1D5161Turnstone breaking its camouflage by walking in front of a wigeon

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MT1D5175Redshank and a dunlin

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Before getting back in the car a robin, a wood pigeon, a blackbird and a pair of starling caught the limelight.

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A very cold but very enjoyable morning.

Click below for gallery of photos from this morning:

 

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18th March 2018 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

Not many birds around this morning in Stoke Park but more people than usual enjoying winter sports in the snow.

There were 4 mallards and 4 moorhen on the lake; 2 meadow pipits flew over the frozen boggy area and also a cormorant flew over much higher up and then a couple of blue tits on the path home. It all looked very pretty though (especially the trees and the reeds) even though there was a strong wind which made it feel very. cold.

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Click for a gallery of photos from this morning:

 

 

 

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13th March 2018 – Severn Estuary

Quite out of the blue a stunning day with blue skies throughout and some warmth in the sun.

I spent a wonderful morning on the Severn Estuary meeting lots of interesting people and seeing lots of birds: I started at Aust Warth where I had great views of a short-eared owl and a kestrel; I then moved on to Northwick Warth where, for me, the bird of most interest was a golden plover.

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On Pilning Wetlands I could make out Canada geese, mute swans, shovelers, tufted ducks, a little grebe, lapwings, a grey heron, a little egret and plenty I couldn’t make out.

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I was about to leave, as it was getting a little fresh in the wind, when I realised the tide had come in enough to make the estuary quite interesting with shelduck, wigeon, dunlin, turnstone, redshank, and black-headed gulls.

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Click below for gallery of photos from this morning:

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10th March 2018 – North Somerset

On a trip to Midsomer Quilting in Chilcompton,  Somerset (the UK’s favourite quilting shop) we stopped off very briefly at Chew Valley Lakes but the only photos Oli (my young apprentice) and I managed were of tufted ducks and a shelduck at Herriott’s Bridge. There were also 4 shovelers but they were too far away to get a decent photo.

FP5A5565Male tufted duck (my photo)

DSCF2946Female tufted duck (Oli’s photo – for more see Oli’s page)

FP5A5571Shelduck

We supported Wendy for a while in the shop but then sneaked out to see what birds were about.

We saw a pied wagtail, 4 collared doves, 2 house sparrows, 4 robins and then to our surprise a little egret in a tree (the shop had reported there were 3 around).

FP5A5615Little egret

There was also a very cheery dunnock in a nearby tree.

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9th March 2018 – Eastville Park

After two weeks in the sunshine of South Africa I was expecting not to see much colour on a walk round my local patch of Eastville Park this morning but I was pleasantly surprised.

As well as the following birds which are photographed we saw the beautiful flash of blue as a kingfisher darted up river, the brown and fresh white of a treecreeper very close up and lots of great and blue tits (although their colour did not show too well).

We saw a dipper on the River Frome and the stream leading off.

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There were robins in their usual territories (looking alert and making lots of noise) but blackbirds higher up in trees away from their normal territory.

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The Canada geese were very feisty.

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The mallards were on the lake and up trees (and who says the drakes are more attractive than the females?)

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The black-headed gulls had heads of all colours:

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The swan woke up when we were there and followed the moulting cygnet around the lake.

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Even the lesser black backed gull looked quite attractive.

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A couple of moorhen also added some contrast.

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It would have been a lovely morning’s walk if a dog had not jumped up to my wife’s shoulders and knocked her flat on the floor causing her lots of bruising but thankfully nothing broken.

 

 

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Birds of the Western Cape South Africa

I have been trying to catalogue the birds I saw on my recent trip to Cape Town and have created a page of Western Cape Birds.

It is still a work in progress and I hope my young birdwatching friends Pierre and Gregory in Cape Town will help me to check and identify the birds (I would be pleased for anyone to help me with this project).

Although this was not a birdwatching trip there were plenty of opportunities to see and photograph a large selection of birds in very pleasant conditions.

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5th March 2018 – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

Our last visit to Kirstenbosch on this trip to Cape Town: I was hoping to see male sunbirds (which we had seen on a previous trip) but we were unsuccessful but not unhappy as we had another lovely walk around the gardens and saw a spotted eagle-owl, and plenty of other birds

DSC02693Does this count for a sun bird? A bird of paradise plant

DSC02729Spotted eagle-owl

DSC02760Olive thrush

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Not sure about this one – maybe Cape robin-chat?

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Cape bulbul

DSC02847Pair of Cape bulbuls

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Click below for gallery of photos

 

 

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