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4th June 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

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I nearly didn’t bother to write a blog about our walk across to Stoke Park on Thursday as, after the eruption of dragonflies on our last visit, what we saw seemed fairly mundane. However, looking at my photos again (and following some encouraging comments from visitors to my blog) I thought that there was merit in sharing the photos, especially of the greenfinch and the chiffchaff.

Of course after the abundance of dragonflies on the previous visit I was disappointed not to see any today. It wasn’t really surprising though as it was dull, windy and cold. It wasn’t surprising either that we didn’t see many other birds because we didn’t hang about.

DSC02103Moorhen

DSC02107Coot (I was surprised how grey the coots have become)

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DSC02139Greenfinch

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DSC02168A different greenfinch

DSC02176Canada geese goslings hunkered down

DSC02181Chiffchaff

DSC02197Chiffchaff

DSC02209Chiffchaff

DSC02203Chiffchaff

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DSC02229All the water lilies need now is a bit of sunshine

 

 

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2nd June 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

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It seemed very hot (much hotter than the 24 °C recorded) when we took an afternoon walk around Duchess Pond on Stoke Park Estate. Even though we don’t see many birds at the moment it is comforting that we can now identify an increasing number of birds by their calls and their song. Around the lake we could pick out with confidence whitethroat, chiffchaff, goldfinch and greenfinch. The birds that we could see clearly were swifts as half a dozen soared above and occasionally swooped down to the lake for a drink. The goslings are growing rapidly and are being protected by very attentive parents.

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DSC01955Swifts

The main point of interest at the moment is the increasing number of dragonflies and damselflies. I must say that Wendy was very patient as I attempted to photograph these and the swallows. I am now (with the help of Larry Sweetland) beginning to ID a few of them. Just wait until I get in to butterflies!

DSC02044Emperor Dragonfly

DSC02017Black-tailed Skimmer

DSC01881Blue-tailed Damselfly

DSC01722Small Red-eyed Damselflies (by all accounts these are just coming out and will soon be more numerous than the Red-eyed Damselflies)

DSC01865White-legged Damselfly

DSC01648Azure Damselfly

DSC01893Scarce Chaser

The water lilies are now beginning to bloom and I look forward to seeing the coots and moorhens scamper across them.

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There were lots of youngsters sitting around the lake enjoying the sunshine and there was very little evidence of anti-social behaviour except for a few on bicycles and a motorised scooter.

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I’m not sure the fishermen will be pleased with people swimming in the lake but I find this less of a problem than the people who leave all the litter and other detritus after their visit to the park.

 

 

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31st May 2020 – Chew Valley, North Somerset

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We needed a change of scene and drove south of Bristol to Chew Valley. It was wonderful to go along the lanes I had cycled when I was a boy growing up in this area and seeing the countryside in all its glory. However, I did feel a bit guilty spoiling the fun for cyclists and ramblers as we disturbed the peace of these quiet lanes.

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DSC01196Chew Valley lake

There are two ideal spots to view the birds on the lake. Unfortunately they are just where there are stretches of straight road where cars and motorbikes roar along at ridiculous (and no doubt illegal) speeds. It does seem rather incongruous that the two areas that draw a large number of people (and consequently ice cream vans) that vehicles can travel at such unsafe speeds. However, on this occasion, as bird hides and lakeside are forbidden to us, we did stop there to see the wildlife.

DSC00839You can just make out a  greenshank if you look hard enough

DSC00837The solitary oystercatcher

Herriot’s Bridge, to the east of the lake, was teeming with birds. A friendly bird watcher (I find they are either very obliging or grumpy and secretive) pointed out a distant greenshank. As I was stretching my telephoto lens to its maximum capability I also saw a solitary oystercatcher. Much easier to see were the grey herons and great white egrets even though they were quite far off.

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DSC01261Grey heron

However, eventually one great white egret flew much closer and gave me a glorious opportunity to photograph it in flight.

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One of the frustrations of the lock-down has not being able to see these wonderful (and once very rare) birds which now seem to be here permanently. Even more frustrating has been not being able to see great crested grebes and their young which we look forward to every year.  We were delighted when we were treated to a family of great crested grebes as they came out of the reeds and made off to the lake. We were rather anxious when one chick got separated and was agitated by a group of Canada geese but it safely circumnavigated them.

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DSC01053Great crested grebe

DSC00884Canada geese and goslings

DSC00893A very agressive swan splits the family

On Herons’ Green there wasn’t as much to see except for pied wagtails with their young catching damselflies.

DSC01100Juvenile pied wagtail devouring damselfly

DSC01131Pied wagtail feeding its young a damselfly

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The trip certainly lifted our spirits.