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28th May 2019 -Stapleton, Bristol

We are very pleased to see that at least one of the blue tit chicks in our garden has fledged.

We put up a nest box last year, more in hope than anything as our garden is so tiny we  couldn’t really see a suitable spot which would afford birds plenty of cover. However, on the 19th April this year I took the following photo of a blue tit, clearly preparing a nest.

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Over the last couple of weeks we have seen plenty of action with the blue tits coming and going.

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… and voilà today I encountered this young fellow:

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Slideshow of blue tit fledgling.

Encouraged, we’ve now added two more nest boxes and are looking at other ways of attracting wildlife to our garden – no matter how small.

 

 

 

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25th May 2019 – RSPB Ham Wall

As my wife Wendy was doing a sewing workshop in Somerset I went a little further in to the county and spent the day at one of my favourite bird reserves at RSPB Ham Wall on the Somerset levels.

My time was very much taken up watching just 4 species of bird: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and Great Crested Grebe although I did see a Grey Heron, a Little Egret,  a male Gadwall, Garganey and Common Pochard.

There were a few damselflies and dragonflies but only small numbers and so that’s probably why I didn’t see any Hobbies. I did hear a cuckoo but it sounded quite distant.

Slideshow of today’s photos

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A26I1409Great Spotted Woodpecker with chick

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A26I1491Great White Egret

A26I1510Great Crested Grebe with chicks (on her back)

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A26I1597Female pochard

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A26I1668Marsh harrier

A26I1683Little egret

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19th May 2019 – Mottisfont

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Sldeshow of the gardens at Mottisfont

We broke our journey back home from the New Forest by stopping at Mottisfont, a romantic house and gallery set in beautiful riverside gardens in the Test Valley in Hampshire, which is run by the National Trust.

We didn’t have time to visit the 18th-century house with its 20th-century art collection and major exhibitions in the top-floor gallery (the National Trust continues the artistic traditions of Maud Russell who made Mottisfont her home in the 1930s, bringing artists there to relax and create works inspired by Mottisfont’s past). I’m sure we will return here another time for a fuller visit and to discover the  local area, including the nearby market town of Stockbridge, Stockbridge Down and Marsh, and Curbridge Nature Reserve (more a note for myself).

In the time we had we did enjoy the gardens and, in particular, the stunning walled gardens. Mottisfont has a world-famous collection of old-fashioned roses and, although we were a little early for most of them, there were enough in bloom to show the beauty of the collection; and certainly worthy of inclusion in my nature blog.

DSCF2993Mottisfont

DSCF3073Riverside walk along the River Test

DSCF3082Fish were easy to spot in the shallow river bed

DSCF3061The shepherd’s hut among some of the splendid trees (by all accounts there are more than 35 species of trees).

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DSCF2999Some of the roses in the walled garden

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DSCF3039Irises are a main feature at this time of the year.

DSCF3033It’s not all roses

DSCF3038Still room for birds (which I found difficult to photograph with a wide angle lens)

DSCF3085Mottisfont in the spring sunshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17th May 2019 – RSPB Arne, Dorset

RSPB Arne situated on Poole Harbour on the south coast of England  is one of the few places where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found but today it seemed much too cold to look for reptiles (both for us and them). However, we enjoyed the walks on the heathland and in the ancient oak woodland and saw some interesting birds.

We were staying near to Corfe Castle on our way to a Golden Wedding anniversary in the New Forest and as we looked down on Corfe Castle from our accommodation we could see how gloomy a day it was to be.

DSCF2471Corfe Castle

The visit started promisingly when on our approach to Arne we saw a kestrel sitting in a tree.

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Kestrel slideshow

At Arne we first did a loop of the heathland and saw a stonechat, a Dartford warbler, a chiffchaff and a great spotted woodpecker. We could see shelduck and other waders down on the estuary but it was too distant and too gloomy for photos. Nor did we see the osprey which had been spotted there the day before.

 

DSCF2668.jpgPart of the heathland walk

DSCF2531Stonechat

DSCF2532Stonechat

 

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Dartford warbler slideshow

 

DSCF2568.jpgA very noisy chiffchaff

DSCF2617Great spotted woodpecker

DSCF2626Dunnock in the car park

DSCF2629Goldfinch in the car park

Whilst we were having a coffee at the café we again had close-up views of a great spotted woodpecker and of a pied wagtail.

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Pied wagtail

 

As we did the second part of our walk we went down to the estuary where there were Canada and Brent geese, shelduck, plenty of gulls, little egrets. oystercatchers and cormorants.

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Little egret

DSCF2756.jpgOystercatcher

 

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There were lots of rather invasive rhododendrons in the oak woodland.

 

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The only butterfly/moth we saw.

 

The previous evening we had gone down to the pretty seaside resort of Swanage and saw the beautiful white cliffs in the distance and close-up views of black-headed gulls.

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The white cliffs of the south coast
DSCF2457Black-headed gull

 

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15th May 2019 – The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park

With a group of “senior” members from the Old Colstonian Society (the association of the alumni of Colston’s School in Bristol, UK) we visited The Savill Garden, an amazing garden in Windsor Great Park near London which describes itself as Britain’s finest ornamental garden.

DSC03441Windsor Great Park with Windsor Castle in the background

DSC03048The start of the tour

The Savill Garden is an enclosed part of Windsor Great Park, created by Sir Eric Savill in the 1930s. It is managed by the Crown Estate. The garden includes woodland, ornamental areas and a pond. However, at this spring time the speciality was the exotic azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias.

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Eric Savill (1895–1980) was the grandson of Alfred Savill the founder of a large firm of estate agents and was involved in managing Windsor Great Park from 1930 to 1970, being Director of Gardens from 1962 to 1970. He opened the Savill Garden to the public in 1951 and left it as a heritage to the nation.

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There were a few birds which you would expect to see in gardens and woodland (such as blackbird, robin, jackdaw, Canada goose, pheasant) and a few surprising ones (such as a red kite, a parakeet and a family of Egyptian Geese). We even heard a cuckoo.

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DSC03130European robin

DSC03061Family of Egyptian geese

DSC03398Pheasant

DSC03233Jackdaw

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DSC03436Female blackbird

DSC03235A very out-of-focus photo of red kite (which surprised me as it flew very close overhead)

DSC03367Parakeet (now quite common in London)

The whole experience was enhanced by the superb modern visitors’ centre with  restaurant, café and even retail opportunities.

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DSC03439The modern visitors’ centre

But today was not really about the birds, it was the flora which was truly magnificent in the beautiful sunshine.

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12th May 2019 – St Ives, Cornwall

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Well I know it’s not the most obvious of bird blogs but I felt I had to publish the “nature” photos of this morning’s visit to The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives which was truly memorable. I hope my photos do it some justice.

A few of my favourites:

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11th May 2019 – Cornwall

 

 

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Another beautiful day in Cornwall with sunshine and blue skies all day; however, the wind was a little fresh and so not a T-shirt and shorts day, although a lot of people had not worked that out.

In the morning we walked along the coastal path by the Godrevy Lighthouse and had good views of birds at sea and inland. The best at sea were guillemots and inland we saw common  whitethroats, rock pipits, stonechats, skylarks and swallows.

DSC01890 Whitethroat

DSC02080Rock pipit

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DSC02192Stonechat

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DSC02243Stonechat

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DSC02376Shelduck

DSC01958Guillemots

In the afternoon we crossed to the south coast to visit St Michael’s Mount but it wasn’t open so we spent time at RSPB Marazion Marshes where there were more stonechats, various warblers including Cetti’s, dunnocks, house sparrows, little egrets and grey herons.

DSC02456Stonechat

DSC02496Sedge warbler

DSC02538Grey heron

DSC02554Little egret

DSC02597Grey heron

DSC02625Grey heron

DSC02702Dunnock

DSC02737House sparrrow

 

 

 

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9th May 2019 – Cornwall

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It was a bright and breezy day in Cornwall. We spent most of the day on The Lizard Peninsula; firstly at Kynance Cove and then at Lizard Point (the most southerly point in England). There were lots of small birds around, the most common of which were stonechats.

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The spring flowers were quite amazing and more like we had seen in Portugal at this time of year than any where else in the UK.

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8th May 2019 – Cornwall

 

 

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The 200 mile journey through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall to St Ives, where we are spending a short holiday, passes through some beautiful lush countryside and wasn’t particularly spoilt by the regular periods of torrential rain that we encountered en route.

Having seen the weather forecast we didn’t really expect to have much opportunity for nature photos but we are able to stop briefly at the Hayle Estuary where we saw whimbrel, curlew and little egrets;  later in the afternoon we got out for a walk around St Ives when it brightened up a little. There we were particularly pleased to catch sight of a pair of gannets.

The flora here is certainly different from what I saw in our local park yesterday.

DSC00565Whimbrel

DSC00598Curlew

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DSC00712Gannet

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7th May 2019 – Eastville Park and Snuff Mills

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As the birds become more difficult to see the butterflies begin to appear in good numbers; in the park this morning there were plenty to see.

The only  birds I managed to photograph were grey wagtails, a robin, a grey heron (skulking underneath the road bridge) and the first ducklings I have seen in Eastville Park this season (one pair of mallards with ten ducklings).

FP5A1398Grey wagtail

FP5A1388Robin

FP5A1343Ducklings

FP5A1447Grey heron

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FP5A1381Green Hairstreak

FP5A1413Speckled Wood

FP5A1419Orange Tip

FP5A1424Green-Veined White

IMG_5432.jpgRamsons besides the River Frome

The trees are beginning to look their best.

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And pollinators too:

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IMG_5433The Snuff Mill