It was very gloomy in the park this afternoon but quite mild. I could hear lots of bird activity but saw very little.
The best of the (poor) photos was a grey heron coming in to land.
I had an hour to kill between appointments in Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol and so went on to Durdham Down (an area of public open space in Bristol) for a spot of nature watching.
I had intended to look for peregrines but only managed a short walk (more like a scramble really) through a gully in Avon Gorge.
I saw lots of robins but, to my frustration, didn’t get a single shot, However I did manage a few shots of a song thrush (hiding between two trees) and a nuthatch which was at some distance.
Not great photos, I know, but good for the record.
I also saw the wild goats which have been introduced into the gully to restore wildflower-rich grassland and help rare plants by controlling scrub, bramble and ivy.
A few of the wildflowers were already in flower.
I have learned over the years (I’m a slow learner) that if you want decent photos you need decent light. Well today I went down to the Severn Estuary in the most dismal light because I had seen reported that there was a Little Ringed Plover on the Pilning Wetlands; and LRPs are one of my favourite birds. Although, I’m probably going to change my mind about “favourite birds” as a fellow birder said that to me this morning that his favourite bird was “the next one” – a very good adage indeed.
Well I did manage to see it but, not surprisingly, I did struggle to get a decent photo.
Little ringed plover
Little ringed plover
I started at Aust Warth to see if I could see a short eared owl but had no luck. There was a kestrel but it only ever showed me a rear view.
Rear view of kestrel
When I arrived at New Passage the tide had already gone too far out for me to really record anything of interest. I could see redshank, black-tailed godwits and turnstones. Others saw a ruff.
I’ve included this photo of redshank to show how dismal it was!
I walked out to Pilning Wetlands and soon saw my little ringed plover. I also enjoyed watching pied wagtails flit about and I made feeble attempts to photograph them at a distance in poor light.
The previously mentioned birder helpfully pointed out with his telescope a male merlin and, although it was quite some way away, I did manage to get some shots.
Merlin after heavy cropping
In fact this is what it looked like (if you look hard) with 800 mm lens:
Teal with pied wagtail for size comparison
Meadow pipts having a bath
Not a brilliant day for photographs but I met several friendly birders and saw quite a few birds; and so, quite a successful morning.
The wind and rain have let up for a moment and, although it was a dismal morning, I enjoyed getting out for a short walk across to Stoke Park.
I was hoping to see some stonechats and a little grebe which had been reported but I didn’t even get a glimpse.
Duchess Pond was full to the brim and there were mallards, moorhen, coots and Canada geese. Rather menacingly 4 buzzards circled overhead and squabbled and mewed amongst themselves but they didn’t bother anything else. I could see ravens in the distance over the woods. A green woodpecker also flew over and a solitary black-headed gull swooped quite close to me.
The best of the morning was a chiffchaff – my first of this year. A few people on Twitter have suggested it is a Siberian Chiffchaff and this has now been confirmed.
I have spent some of my time in the last few days (whilst the wet and windy weather has not been conducive to getting out and about) cataloguing the birds I have seen on recent trips to Southern Africa. None of these trips have been specifically “bird watching” trips but I have found plenty of time and opportunity to keep me fulfilled.
Gallery of some of the birds I have seen recently in Southern Africa
Here are some of the links to pages I have created (which are also on the menu system under Additional Links):
My catalogue of Birds of Southern Africa.
Gallery of birds of the Western Cape
Slideshow gallery of the birds of Namibia and Zimbabwe
I have even found some photographs from 2011 (when I was not particularly interested in bird watching) – see Birds in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – March 2011
I am sure I have misidentified many birds and I even have a section of birds which I am still to identify. If you are able to correct me or assist me I would be very pleased to hear from you either through this WordPress Blog or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
After days of strong winds and rain it was a pleasure to get out this morning. Although the wind was still quite fresh it was very pleasant in the sun.
The highlight of this morning’s walk around the park was a treecreeper. I had a good few sightings of a kingfisher but didn’t manage a photo. There were a pair of grey wagtails, a wren, a grey heron and robins everywhere. The Canada Geese on the lake were quite tetchy as they begin to pair up.
Pair of grey wagtails
Lesser black-backed gull
Following the incredibly (unseasonable) warm spell last week we were blasted by Storm Freya over the weekend. I thought I was being rather brave this morning going down to New Passage on the Severn Estuary (between the two Severn Bridges) but in fact it was not too cold or blustery and I had an enjoyable hour or two watching lots of waders feeding and flying around as the time ebbed.
Redshank one way
And then redshank the other way
And then redshank on the ground
… and close ups
Turnstone and redshank
Dunlin and redshank
Lots of waders
A lone gull