22nd April 2018 – Chew Valley Lake

We spent the day at Chew Valley, renewing our birdwatching passes and visiting Villice Bay and Herriots Bridge.

We did consider trying to get a bite to eat at the Lakeside Café but, even though we did find one free parking slot, we baulked at the thought of competing with the hundreds of visitors (mainly there for the fish and chips). In comparison, we were the only customers at the new outdoor coffee kiosk next to Woodford Lodge.

At Villice we saw great crested grebe, tufted ducks, coots and barnacle geese, a passerine I couldn’t make out, a pair of mallards making their way through the undergrowth going about what mallards do at this time of year and a grey heron. However, the best was the orange-tip and peacock butterflies and the flowers in the meadow en route to the hide.

FP5A6535Male orange-tip

FP5A6540Peacock butterfly

FP5A6549Geranium molle, the Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill or Dovesfoot Geranium

FP5A6551Cardamine pratensis (cuckooflower, lady’s smock or milkmaids)


FP5A6556Anacamptis morio, the green-winged orchid or green-veined orchid

FP5A6576Bluebells (hyacinthoides non-scripta)

FP5A6581Great crested grebe

FP5A6651Prunella vulgaris (known as common self-heal, heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter’s herb, brownwort and blue curls)


FP5A6678Barnacle goose

FP5A6686Primula veris (cowslip, common cowslip, cowslip primrose). In French it is commonly known as cuckoo.


FP5A6692Grey heron

At Herriots there were lovely displays of  male behaviour from the mute swans and the Canada geese. On the other hand, two more barnacle geese were behaving quite serenely.  There was a distant buzzard, some splendid great black-backed gulls (and other gulls too), more tufted duck, a few shelduck and shovelers and I heard a cuckoo (my first of the year).

MT1D5434Great back-backed gulls

MT1D5470Tufted duck

MT1D5490Canada geese

MT1D5516Barnacle goose


MT1D5563Mute swan

MT1D5574Canada geese


MT1D5586-2Tufted duck

Click below for gallery of photos from today at Chew plus a goldfinch in the garden before we left:


21st April 2018 – Lower Woods, Gloucestershire

Lower Woods between Wickwar and Hawkesbury Upton off Inglestone Common in Gloucestershire is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the south-west of England and covers three square kilometres. The reserve has 23 woods and coppices whose boundaries have remained unchanged for several centuries. This is normally an excellent time to visit the woods to see the bluebells. However, the views would have benefited from some sunshine and the paths, which were still very muddy, could certainly have done with some drying out. Neil, the very helpful wood warden, advised us that walking boots and not wellies would be okay – fake news (I think he was confused by his excitement of seeing a beautiful old Landrover arrive as the same time as us).

We only covered 8 kilometres but our boots were so clogged up that the inclines seemed much more arduous than on our previous visits and we were quite weary at the end and glad to get back. Its my view that the woods are prettier when the bluebells are just dying back and the ransoms (which were about to flower) are in full bloom. Tempting to go back in a few weeks but I fear we are bound to get more rain and have to cope with even more muddy paths.

DSC04246Neil was confused by his excitement of seeing this old Landrover – he had three Landrovers of his own in the yard.

DSC04320Walking boot terrain – I think not especially when it started raining

DSC04287The bluebells would have looked better with sunlight filtering through


DSC04286Wood anemones, violets, primroses and lesser celendine complemented the bluebells.

DSC04296The ramsons were so close to blooming

DSC04285The dandelions are certainly at their best at the moment

Click below for gallery of photos from today