Image

27th September 2020 – Chew Valley lake, Somerset

It was a gloriously sunny morning but very fresh in the breeze; we thought it might be too cold to see bird migration at the seaside and headed south of Bristol to the Chew Valley and did some bird watching around the lake.

I have never seen so many egrets in one place
The lake was teeming with birds
The lake looked beautiful although, without being able to visit the hides, the access points are often busy and noisy with cars and motorbikes flashing past

It was pretty cold there too but we enjoyed a festival of large birds with lots of great white egrets, little egrets, grey herons and cormorants. I was too lazy to go for a walk (in fact I don’t like leaving my camera/lenses in the car and I didn’t fancy carting them around with me) and so we headed home and enjoyed the sunshine in the shelter of our garden. As we had visited Somerset we had a glass of cider – although that excuse could be used for many parts of the country.

Great white egrets often seem like prehistoric birds
Cormorant
Swan and cygnets
Image

22nd September 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

It was a lovely warm sunny morning which I spent chatting with a friend in his garden wearing just a T-shirt and shorts. By the time I was able to go for a walk mid afternoon I had to change into winter trousers, fleece and a coat. How bizarre is our weather in England!

I saw nothing at all in my normal birding area near Duchess Pond in Stoke Park Estate and so settled for a walk up through the woods just for some exercise. When I reached the plateau at the top of the hill I managed about 4 seconds of photos – but quite a productive few seconds all the same. Just as well as I saw nothing on my way home.

Green woodpecker
Green woodpecker
Green woodpecker
Green woodpecker
Green woodpecker
Magpie with acorn
Magpie with acorn
Image

21st September 2020 – Severn Estuary

Well I can’t believe our luck – we had another glorious trip to New Passage on the Severn Estuary today and the sun shone and there was no breeze at all (very rare here) . We only spent a couple of hours there but we saw a wheatear and plenty of waders.

We arrived just after high tide and so had a walk along Northwick Warth where we saw the wheatear. We couldn’t see much on Pilning Wetlands as we were looking in to the sun. After our walk we stopped and watched the waders as they made their way to the shore line. Most were further up the estuary but there were plenty to see close by including turnstones, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, common redshank, common ringed plover, oystercatchers, shelduck and a grey heron.

Looking up the Severn Estuary
The Prince of Wales Bridge (looking down the estuary)
Turnstone
Thought it was a curlew sandpiper among the turnstones but corrected by Brian Lancaster that it is a dunlin, long billed but probably nominate race alpina
Shelduck
Oystercatcher
Dunlin in front of the turnstone
Common ringed plover in front of dunlin
Grey heron
Wheatear
Image

18th September 2020 – Severn Estuary

The sun was shining and we thought it would be a good opportunity to visit Severnside again to see some more waders. On arrival at New Passage we met Paul Bowerman who publishes Severnside Birds just as he was leaving and he gave us a run down on what we might see but he warned us that there was a fresh north-easterly wind. He wasn’t joking. We didn’t stay long on Northwick Warth as we couldn’t see much looking in to the sun on Pilning Wetlands and it was a bit too fresh for us to hang about. We did stay a while on the shore line at New Passage as the tide had fallen sufficiently to attract the waders but even then we had limited resolve and dashed to Severn Beach to get a coffee.

Curlew on Northwick Warth
Flock of linnets on Northwick Warth
Redshank in flight
Lapwing on Pilning Wetlands
Turnstone in flight
Curlew and redshank
Oystercatcher and redshank

Dunlin everywhere

Shelduck
Turnstone
Redshank and turnstone

I’m going to need some help identifying the little ones!

Image

14th September 2020 – Severn Estuary

We felt we should be doing jobs on a Monday morning but as it was such wonderful weather we abandoned everything and popped down to the Severn Estuary again. We didn’t chose the best times for the tide but we had a lovely walk along Northwick Warth and saw plenty.

On the distant shore line we could see shelduck, oystercatchers and redshank – all of which we had not seen on recent visits. Our first bird along the warth was one of my favourite birds, a wheatear.

Wheatear

On the wetlands it was difficult to make out anything (other than lots of Canada geese) as we were looking in to the sun. We certainly didn’t see the pectoral sandpiper that had been spotted yesterday. There were dunnock, linnets and goldfinch in the hedges.

Dunnock
Goldfinch
Linnets
Canada geese on the wetlands

As we returned along the warth we saw a kestrel.

Kestrel

The only disappointment of the morning was that our favourite café was closed and we were denied a decent coffee.

I love this plaque on the back of one of the benches at New Passage.

Image

13th September 2020 – WWT Slimbridge

We have had friends staying with us this weekend and, having shown them the delights of birding on the Severn Estuary yesterday, today we accompanied them, as they drove north, for a morning visit to WWT Slimbridge further up the Severn Estuary. This may sound rather selfish but as it was them that introduced us to birding it isn’t as cruel as it may seem.

We only visited a few hides but there was plenty to see (and photograph) . There was a particularly spectacular moment when a sparrowhawk made a kill immediately in front of us and, although partially obscured by the vegetation, stayed and devoured its prey. At the same moment we were distracted too by a kingfisher flying right in front of the hide.

Apart from this the highlights were a crane in the distance, some snipe, a little egret, a black-tailed godwit in wonderful light, a flypast greylag goose, a shoveler and a Chiloe Wigeon hybrid in eclipse plumage showing its wonderful colours.

The sun was bringing out the butterflies but I only manged a photo of a peacock butterfly just as we were leaving.

Image

12th September 2020 – Severn Estuary

Such is the attraction of seeing the migrant waders on the Severn Estuary that this was our third visit to New Passage in a just over a week; and today the sun shone and we had a much better view of them.

I still have difficulty in differentiating between them all but now I can easily identify the stars for me – the curlew sandpipers, of which their were half a dozen or so. With the help of a more knowledgeable local birder I was also able to spot a pair of sanderlings among the dunlins, knots, and ringed plovers. There were also plenty of turnstones which, once you could see through their camouflage, were easier to identify as they kept apart from the others.

Sanderling standing out from the crowd
Size is the key to sorting out the knots
This curlew sandpiper came and posed in front of me
Ringed plover moving right
Flypast turnstone
Turnstone not being very sociable
A standout ringed plover with a flock of waders
A lone starling wanting to join the party
Image

9th September 2020 – Severn Estuary

We had another trip to New Passage on the Severn Estuary this morning as we like seeing the waders. We were a bit too late to see them on the shore line as the tide was too high but there were plenty of ringed plovers, dunlin and even curlew sandpipers roosting on Northwick Warth. It was very dull and not at all ideal for photographs and very difficult to pick out the curlew sandpipers. However, I managed to pick out a single curlew sandpiper on Pilning Wetlands among a group of black-headed gulls.

Waders roosting on Northwick Warth
Curlew sandpiper among the gulls

I did manage a little more colour in my photographs with a guinea foul and a green woodpecker next to the wetlands.

Guinea fowl
Green woodpecker