30th March 2019 – Avalon Marshes, Somerset Levels

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When we set off this morning it was very foggy but by the time I dropped Wendy off for a Textile Art Workshop at Midsomer Quilters in the Mendip Hills it was very sunny. However, to my disappointment as I dropped back down on to the Somerset Levels the fog returned and stayed with me until midday when, fortunately, the sun burnt through the mist.

MT1D0502I was lucky to get a photo of this dunnock as it was really misty – the magic of editing.

RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve (which are adjacent to each other but run by different bodies) are usually abundant with birds and are my favourite local birding areas;  but it was much quieter today. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around either.

MT1D0518Great crested grebe

MT1D0527Great crested grebe




However, I did manage to see a blackcap, which the Nature Notes in today’s Times newspaper described as “the king of the warblers” and which are coming back in to the country in their hundreds of thousands: the article stated that there are over a million nesting pairs in Britain. This one certainly lived up to its reputation with a very cheerful and loud song.

MT1D0632A very melodious blackcap

MT1D0625I was so dazzled by the pinkness of this bird’s breast that I couldn’t work out if it was a bullfinch or a chaffinch but sure it’s a chaffinch

MT1D0638I was surprised how much pink there was in this wood pigeon too

MT1D0639I saw several butterflies but only managed a photo of this one – a Green-Veined White

The other highlight of the day was seeing great crested grebes courting, although I didn’t manage to see them dancing!



MT1D0674These two great crested grebes started the courting in the open and then coyly disappeared behind the reeds

Another joy was hearing bitterns booming across the reserves; they didn’t show their faces though.

There were plenty of sightings of great white egrets but I only saw one little egret.

MT1D0588Great white egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0598Great white egret and little egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0683This great white egret flew overhead at Shapwick Heath as I walked back to the car

From Noah’s Hide at Shapwick Heath I could just make out in the distance my first swallows of the year; but I didn’t manage to see the glossy ibis that had been reported.





28th March 2019 – Forest of Dean



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The English language is full of weather lore and the  proverb that says that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” has certainly been true this year: today was another superb day with wall to wall sunshine and plenty of warmth in the sun.

The adders in The Forest of Dean (where I went with a birding friend) made the most of it and came out to bask in the sun. We also saw a slow worm and a common lizard but not too many birds (except for a distant goshawk).



DSCF94632 Adders

DSCF94742 Adders

DSCF9427Slow worms

DSCF9526Common Lizard

DSCF9539Common Lizard

DSCF9536Common Lizard

DSCF9502Common Lizard

My friend, who has a good knowledge of the area, showed me all the different birding spots but I think I had a jinx on him and I returned home with not too much editing to do. Nonetheless, we had some good walks through the beautiful forest and I came home richer for the experience.

DSCF9436Song thrush

DSCF9439Song thrush



DSCF9452Coal tit




DSCF9559Blue tit


DSCF9574Great tit

DSCF9434Not quite The New Forest




27th March 2019 – Eastville Park, Bristol

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We had an early (early for us anyway) morning walk in the park in beautiful sunshine. There was very little until we reached the lake and then a pair of grey wagtails, a kingfisher and a cormorant made our day even better. We were home by 10 and then got ready and went out to Clevedon as tourists!

IMG_5148Clevedon Pier was opened in 1869 to receive paddle steamer passengers from Devon and Wales. It is the only Grade 1 listed pier you can visit in England.

DSCF9332We enjoyed watching the kingfisher fishing and then I took this poor (out-of-focus) shot …


DSCF9315Grey wagtail on the lake

DSCF9385Grey wagtail strutting his stuff on the weir.

DSCF9355Were these two the same grey wagtails we had seen on the lake, this time on the weir?

DSCF9372Head for heights?

DSCF9349The robins are heard and seen everywhere




24th March 2019 – Gigrin Farm, Wales

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On a most fantastic spring day we had a wonderful trip to the Red Kite Centre at Gigrin Farm which is located in beautiful countryside, in the heart of Mid Wales, overlooking both the Wye and Elan Valleys,  just half a mile from the market town of Rhayader.

MT1D9697The view from Gigrin Farm

The 2 hour drive  was a sheer delight through this beautiful part of Wales. We arrived in good time for the kite feeding which takes place at 2 pm (or 3 pm in summer as the Red Kites don’t understand about the clocks going forward).

I anticipated that it would be very easy to take photos of the birds and was quite surprised how difficult it was to focus on the swooping kites and how exhausting the whole exercise was. Nonetheless, I was very pleased with the results.

The drive back was just as interesting although we failed to find a café open on a Sunday afternoon to break our journey.

There were rather a lot of photos to edit but these are some of my favourites:
















20th March 2019 – Avon Gorge

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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.

DSCF9224Song Thrush


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.







19th March 2019 – Severn Estuary

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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.

MT1D9505Little ringed plover

MT1D9470Little 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.



MT1D9374Rear 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.

MT1D9592I’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.





MT1D9579Pied wagtail

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.



MT1D9558Merlin after heavy cropping

In fact this is what it looked like (if you look hard) with 800 mm lens:MT1D9546

MT1D9539Little grebe


MT1D9497Teal with pied wagtail for size comparison


MT1D9560Meadow 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.


18th March 2019 – Stoke Park, Bristol

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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.

MT1D9240Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9245Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9239Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9246Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9247Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9248Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9249Siberian Chiffchaff

MT1D9250Siberian Chiffchaff




MT1D9337Black-headed gull


Birds of Southern Africa

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.

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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


11th March 2019 -Eastville Park

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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.





DSCF9135Grey heron

DSCF9136Grey heron

DSCF9048Canada Geese

DSCF9074Pair of grey wagtails


DSCF9006Lesser black-backed gull

DSCF7919Grey wagtail