30th November 2020 – Dyrham Park NT

In order to get some good exercise and avoid people as much as possible we returned to Dyrham Park for a morning walk. Last week I was complaining that the light was so bright I had difficulty capturing decent photos. Well careful what you wish for. Today there was scarcely any light!

Fortunately by the time we had had our coffee sitting in the car in the car park the rain had stopped and we managed a walk down to the house, around the garden and back through the deer park without getting wet.

I was not anticipating taking any photos and missed the fallow deer running right in front the house as they moved from one area of the park to another. However it did encourage me to take my camera out of my bag and attempt to capture something of the English countryside in winter.

I could have had better photos of the deer if I had had my wits about me
A misty murky morning
Signs of Christmas appearing everywhere
There’s always a Christmas feel about a robin
This plant looked as though it was decorated with Christmas baubles

A pair of little grebe on the lake
The deer were moving through a narrow gap to another field
These two were rather young to cause much damage but you have to start somewhere
Welcome to Mud Island

26th November 2020 – Dyrham Park NT

We are finding that the ancient deer park and garden at Dyrham Park is a great place to take some exercise during lockdown.

The National Trust in its overview says “A £10-million project is underway to restore, revitalise and reimagine Dyrham Park, created in the 17th century by William Blathwayt. It is an early example of how a fortune made from empire was invested in a landed estate, transforming Dyrham into one of the most notable stately homes of its age. The 270-acre (110 hectare) ancient parkland is full of magnificent trees and breathtaking views …”

It was a gloriously sunny day but I found the harsh light was very difficult to take interesting photos and I was disappointed with most of what I took. Nonetheless, we really enjoyed our walk around the estate and gardens and were pleased to see a mistle thrush and the herd of wild fallow deer.

Dyrham Park house nestled at the bottom of the hill
The surrounding countryside was shrouded in mist
Deep shadows dominated the gardens
Mistle thrush
My favourite photo of the day
We didn’t see the deer at all on our last visit and so we were very pleased to get a view of them today

24th November 2020 – Severn Estuary

We couldn’t face walking in the mud today and so went to Severn Beach to walk on the tarmac and concrete path along the Severn Estuary to New Passage. It was cloudy but with a gentle southerly wind it felt no colder than the actual temperature of 13 ° C.

There were scattered pockets of wigeon all along the shoreline and Canada geese in numbers at New Passage. We saw 2 pairs of pied wagtail close up but not much else until we returned to Severn Beach where there was a mixed flock of about 100 turnstone, dunlin and ringed plovers and a single red shank on the shore line. It was all a bit too dull for decent photos but we enjoyed the exercise and didn’t get wet or muddy.

There were pockets of wigeon all along the coast
Pied wagtail
Silhouette of a wren
Turnstone,dunlin and ringed plover
Ringed plover
A single redshank


22nd November 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

This second “Covid-19” lockdown in England doesn’t seem as restrictive as the first but I must admit that, with shorter days, poorer weather and less opportunities to engage with nature, I am feeling the negative effects of the situation. We have two very good local parks nearby but they seem so busy that recently we have been forced to drive out into the local countryside to get our regular exercise and to raise our spirits. However, this morning it was so foggy that I couldn’t face driving and we took our chance by walking in Stoke Park. I knew that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to see any bird life but I didn’t really expect to see quite so many people or to have to cope with such muddy conditions (a consequence of lots of rain and so many people exercising in this area). In the main we were able to keep our distance from everyone else but I didn’t see others trying to keep their distance (from us or other walkers). I did enjoy being out in the open but felt quite anxious about having to make such an effort to distance ourselves.

My nature photos are restricted to trees, spiders webs and wide open spaces with an atmospheric feel in the fog – all of which certainly lifted our spirits towards the end of our three hour walk.

There was no hope of seeing any wildlife around Duchess Pond
We took the steep climb to the top of Purdown
Love this ancient tree
The younger ones aren’t too bad either
Nature’s lacemakes had been busy overnight
There were some very testing conditions before we reached the top
A glimpse of blue sky on top of Purdown
The 2nd World War gun placements must have been a grimmer place to have been during the war
At last some colour and some light
Families were taking advantage of getting out the house
There has been much discussion about the merits of a tarmac path through this area – although I have been very much against it I could certainly see the advantages today
We escaped to the woods for a while
Sunshine at the top of the hill
… but still mist through the city

12th November 2020 – Dyrham Park NT

We made the most of the lovely sunny day and had a walk in and around the ancient deer park of Dyrham Park in South Gloucestershire. We had never visited the nearby village of Cold Ashton and enjoyed seeing its church and having fleeting views of the Manor House.

The church at Cold Ashton
Cold Ashton Manor

There wasn’t a lot of wildlife to see and strangely no sign of the deer. Perhaps they are being kept out of sight to stop visitors from breaking social distancing rules.

Not too sure about this bird – sky lark maybe

The highlights were a pair of buzzards near Marshfield and the trees in the parkland some of which retained some colour to catch the sunlight.

The 17th Century House at Dyram Park


11th November 2020 – Eastville Park, Bristol

I had an hour spare this afternoon and wanted a little exercise. The light was very poor and so I didn’t attempt to photograph any little birds. Fortunately there are lots of cormorants, grey herons and mute swans at the lake at the moment.

I tried to pick out some of the colour of the lake too.

A grey heron sitting in this “burning” bush
This cormorant was trying to dry its wings before take-off
Grey heron


“This is how to make yourself beautiful”

I was surprised, with the poor light, that I could manage to photograph some of them in flight – such is the progress of technology, both with the camera and the computer.

Cormorant in flight
Spot the real bird
Grey heron in flight

And its not all about birds …


10th November 2020 – Eastville Park, Bristol

This morning, following lockdown rules, I met up with a friend in a churchyard in Winterbourne and I took a few snaps as we took our gentle exercise socially distancing.

A very distant goldfinch

In the afternoon I had another walk with my wife around Eastville Park.

We saw kingfishers on a number of occasions but I only managed a couple of pathetically poor photos. Never mind, somehow these magical birds seem to lift our spirits. However, I must say my spirits would have been lifted even more if I had got a decent shot!

Publish and be damned!

We love the golden look to the lake at the moment and all the swans (even though they are quite aggressive to each other) but the din of crows and black-headed gulls is quite a cacophony.


9th November 2020 – Severn Beach

We took our daily lockdown exercise by walking from Severn Beach to New Passage along the Severn Estuary and back. We saw a few waders at New Passage but must have walked past the snow bunting (definitely the star bird for me this year) on our journey out. Luckily, with a helpful tip off from another birder (thank you Lisa), we had fabulous views of it on the way back. It was so close to the pathway and was unperturbed by walkers or dogs. Quite amazing.

Apologies for so many photos of one bird but it was rather special.


8th November 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

The rain didn’t stop until late in the day and just before the light went I popped across to Stoke Park to get my daily exercise. I was well rewarded with a pair of stonechats, a reed bunting, a green woodpecker, a black-headed gull, a cormorant, moorhen and mallards (all around Duchess Pond).

The island on Duchess Pond was quite atmospheric shrouded in mist
The cormorant was drying its wings perched on a platform submerged beneath the water
The mallards were quite eerie too on the pond
One black-headed gull seems to spend a lot of time around the pond
There’s a green woodpecker in there somewhere
I got quite wet getting this photo of a female stonechat in the swampy area
Female stonechat
Reed bunting
Male stonechat just before it was impossible to take any more photos

7th November 2020 – Eastville Park Bristol

There were lots of people managing to benefit this morning from having a beautiful park in which to exercise during lockdown and being able to see so much wonderful wildlife to raise their spirits

Cormorant taking off
… and landing
Grey heron having its elevenses
Black-headed gull
A very aggressive swan
… which chased each of the other swans one by one
…but still managed to look rather beautiful
Tawny owl keeping out the way
Even the crows looked handsome in the sun
Animals everywhere
… and still lots of colour