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27th March 2021 – Eastville Park, Bristol

Early sunshine tempted us to our local park even though we knew we would have to contend with the weekend crowds. It turned out to be much colder than we anticipated, the sun disappeared and it turned to rain. There were lots of people out and so we were pleased to spend time in the woods looking for birds. We were well rewarded with a pair of nuthatches.

Nuthatch

On the lake there was a pair of grey wagtails too but the light proved very testing.

Grey wagtail in the rain
Lesser back-backed gulls are definitely the dominant gulls on the lake at the moment
A dominant mute swan

When we got home the weather improved and we had our coffee in the garden in the sun.

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24th March 2021 – Eastville Park, Bristol

It’s going to get colder they say. But for now it was a glorious day.

Lesser celandine everywhere but just one blue flower (alpine squill)

A walk round the park didn’t bring me any great surprises but at moments like that you have to look closer at what you have – and it’s all quite beautiful, even the gulls (lots of lesser black-backed gulls today).

A very aggressive but beautiful mute swan
Lesser black-backed gull
Lesser black-backed gull
Robin

It would have been even more beautiful if I had managed to capture the kingfisher which we saw flying along the river in the sun.

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23rd March 2021 – St George Park, Bristol

We visited St George Park, one of our local parks here in Bristol, this afternoon to try to get some photos at the request of the Bristol Duck Project (see thebristolduckproject on Instagram) of a coot which has taken up residence in one of their houses. It was a more difficult job than I imagined as the coot was off searching for more nesting material most of the time.

The trip was well worth it though as there were two little grebes on the lake which presented a good photographic opportunity.

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22nd March 2021 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

I had a walk over to Duchess Pond in Stoke Park this afternoon and was pleased to see that 10 ducklings (out of 12 last Thursday) are surviving.

A proud mum (and worm) with one of her ducklings

As well as mallards there were coots, moorhens, mute swans and Canada Geese all looking very purposeful on the lake but I couldn’t see the little grebe from last week.

Mallard
Coot
Moorhen

Canada Geese

Around the edges there were robins, blackbirds, great tits and I could good hear a pair of green finches with their distinctive wheezy call.

Robin

Great tit
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18th March 2021 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

I took on the challenge of the mud around Duchess Pond in Stoke Park and was well rewarded.

On the small pond I saw my first ducklings of the year – 12 in all. They had been reported yesterday so at least they had all survived one day. There were plenty of large predators around including a kestrel which, however, was more concerned by its own safety.

Kestrel taking on a big challenger
Kestrel

Also at the end of the large pond there was a little grebe which came out of the reeds momentarily.

The only small birds I saw were a green finch and a robin.

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8th March 2021 – Dyrham Park, NT

2 days before storms and gales are forecast we had a lovely walk in the sunshine in the garden and grounds of the 17th Century Dyrham Park, one of the most notable stately homes of its age.

In the gardens there were robins everywhere and two visited us very close up.

Lovely reflections in the lower gardens
I didn’t know that the first record of snowdrops growing in the wild in Britain was near to Cirencester in 1776
I don’t think the eagle on the roof counts as a bird for my blog
A nice quiet ascent of the hill
… for splendid views of the house
…with the outskirts of Bristol in the distance

Post script

Sadly there were no deer to see in the parkland – see note below from the National Trust

“We are very sad to report that due to high levels of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) detected in our deer that we have had to cull the entire herd at Dyrham Park.

Despite our efforts to try to control the disease which has included taking advice from Government agencies and other experts, infection rates have continued to rise since it was first detected on site in 2007.  We have therefore sadly been left with no other choice but to cull the deer in order to prevent any further suffering due to this terrible disease.  The health and welfare of the deer herd has always been our number one priority. 

We – all our staff and volunteers – are all devastated by this decision and the loss of the much-loved deer herd from this very special parkland setting and we understand how upsetting this is for everyone. 

While it has been a very sad few months coming to this conclusion, we do have every intention to rid the site of bTB and will reintroduce the deer to this historic parkland setting as soon as we are able. “

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1st March 2021 – Stoke Park and Eastville Park Bristol

It was chilly this morning but the sun broke through in the afternoon and I enjoyed my daily exercise walking between Stoke Park and Eastville Park. It was very muddy around Duchess Pond in Stoke Park and I was glad I had chosen to wear wellies.

Cormorant at Duchess Pond
Mallards at Duchess Pond
Carrion crow soaking up the sun

I only went as far as the entrance to Eastville Park as I spent too long watching 4 long-tailed tits building nests. What a treat.

Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit
I could just see the long-tailed tit making the nest