It’s almost a tradition for us to go to Slimbridge at this time of year: it’s definitely worth it even if you only go to the hides and don’t visit all the exotic wildfowl in the pens (which isn’t really our cup of tea anyway).
The stars were the whooper, Bewick’s and mute swans in flight. although pintails and the water rail were a close second. Its always good to see teal, wigeon and redshank close up too.
I have mixed feelings about the bust up between the whooper/Bewick swans; in the end it was probably no worse than the stand-offs seen by rugby players in most matches these days. However, it did remind me of the infamous “99” call made by the England rugby team v Australia in 1975 with an element of pre-meditation.
I wandered over to Stoke Park Estate at the beginning of my walk this morning but it was very wet underfoot and very slippery. There wasn’t much to keep me there other than a moorhen and some gulls fishing at Duchess Pond.
A black-headed gull has success with a small fish
The moorhen was quite bold and didn’t dash for cover
On the way across to Eastville Park I saw a song thrush but couldn’t get a clear shot.
Song thrush hiding behind the branches
There wasn’t a lot going on in the park either. The water in the River Frome was very high and the only bird I saw on the river was a cormorant.
Cormorant by Wickham Bridge
A kingfisher was busy around the lake and more cormorants (six in all) were keeping the fish stocks well under control. I could only see one grey heron, which is quite unusual. The tawny owl was in its box but didn’t show its face any better than any other day.
The kingfisher was quite easy to see but challenging to photograph as it was always in poor light.
Difficult to catch the eye of the coot
… no such trouble with the cormorant
If only the tawny owl would show her face.
I heard the robin as I entered the park but it wasn’t until I was leaving that it popped out (to say good bye?).
My last blog before Christmas and so I would like to thank anyone who reads my blog and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Following even more rain this weekend the River Frome and the water in the lake in Eastville Park were very high.
Robins are very visible at the moment as they stake out their territory and there always seems to be one to greet me as I enter the park.
A kingfisher darted around the lake and paused every now and again to fish and (maybe) have its photo taken.
Cormorants (I could see 7) seemed to be the most successful of the fishermen but a grey heron also had reasonable success but only very small fry.
I thought I would be a little less parochial this morning and try and see a few of the rarities reported on Barrow Tanks (a reservoir just south of Bristol). I managed to see the great northern diver (but it was a long way out) but failed with the black-throated diver and the long-tailed duck. Whilst walking around the reservoir I saw a common sandpiper, a common buzzard and a grey wagtail and on the lake there were coots, great crested grebes and cormorants. The light was not terribly good and it was very cold.
Great northern diver
As I was that side of Bristol I carried on to Chew Valley Lake. The light was better when I arrived at Herons Green but it was no warmer. I stayed briefly and spent most of my time watching lapwings circle around the lake. There was also a great white egret and a grey heron.I carried on to Herriotts Bridge but saw very little – but that was because it was too cold and I spent nearly all the time in the car eating my lunch. I’m clearly not a dedicated birder.
Great white egret
Great white egret
I know its not terribly exciting writing about my walks in Eastville Park again but I’m always excited about seeing a kingfisher. I don’t quite know what it is but it always lifts my spirits.
Today I saw both a male (on the lake) and a female (on the river). I so enjoyed seeing them that I found myself watching them rather than taking photos.
Two visiting birders (who had made the trip from Yatton by train) reciprocated my showing them a kingfisher by pointing out to me a goldcrest: I didn’t, however, manage to take a very good photo of it. I also enjoyed putting a face to Trevor and Mark (whose names I have seen on reports to Avon Bird Blog) and chatting to them.
Goldcrest (rather poor photo I know)
I was pleased that other passers-by (who had seen my photos on the Facebook page of The Friends of Eastville Park) stopped to introduce themselves. I also spent time talking to two other photographers (Steve and Dani) and hence the reason for not too many photos today.
We were popping in to town but we couldn’t resist stopping at Eastville Park for a walk around the lake.
A robin greeted us at the entrance to the park
The lake looked no more frozen over than a few days ago even though we had another heavy frost last night.
The park was very quiet but there were a few photographers drawn by the ubiquitous kingfisher. We weren’t disappointed and saw it flitting around the (appropriately named) Kingfisher Island. It was rather gloomy and so I put my energies into trying to capture her in flight
Even the swans were placid.
I don’t seem to have time to venture far at the moment so I am very pleased to be able to go for a quick walk around my local park and see some wildlife.
After a heavy frost last night a large part of the lake was frozen. I do feel sorry for the birds when it freezes over but the gulls seemed quite happy standing on the ice and the fish must get some respite.
Black-headed gull on ice
A female kingfisher was very active on the lake and, although the light was poor, I tried to capture her in flight (with limited success).
Grey heron reflecting
One swan was again being very aggressive and assaulted another one.
Common assault on the lake – ouch
There was a dipper on the River Frome but it seemed very reluctant to try its chances at feeding below the water in the fast flowing river.