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17th-19th November 2021 – Gloucestershire/Worcestershire borders

We have had a couple of nights away with friends at Dumbleton Hall Hotel on the border of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire between the towns of Evesham and Tewkesbury. Dumbleton Hall is an impressive traditional Cotswold Manor House set in 19 acres of private gardens and woodland with its own lake.

I hadn’t really expected to be taking “nature” photos during our stay and was only equipped with my bridge camera. However, there were many more opportunities than I expected and as the countryside was so colourful I am publishing a little more than just the bird photos.

We stopped at Tewkesbury on our way there and visited the Abbey. No birds, just trees!

This beech was my favourite tree in the Abbey grounds

Our second day we spent walking around the grounds of the hotel, on to the village of Dumbleton and over the hill to the nearby village of Alderton and its pub! Red Kites, buzzards and kestrels didn’t quite match the numbers of redwings, fieldfare and pheasants but there were plenty to see. Again the trees were amazing.

A very close encounter with a red kite
Redwing hiding behind a branch
The only way I want to “shoot” a pheasant – with my camera
Mistle thrush
Kestrel in poor light
Cedars in front of Dumbleton Hall
Amazing colours all around in the unseasonably warm weather
The church at Dumbleton stands just outside the grounds of Dumbleton Hall
Beautiful trees surround Dumbleton cricket ground

On the third day we visited the National Trust property of Croome. The Croome website says to ” Expect the unexpected. Incredible innovation, colonial links, devastating loss, remarkable survival and magnificent restoration all in one place.” Stonechats, more redwings and a kestrel wasn’t what I was expecting. With a great backdrop of the Malverns we had a splendid walk around the grounds.

The Malverns in the background
Croome Court
Stonechats at Croome
Stonechat in flight
Redwing
A distant kestrel
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16th November 2021 – Near Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset

I had a very uneventful day birding near Weston-super-Mare. I started at the disused airfield in Weston which I had never visited before. There were lots of gulls (to be expected by the seaside), lots of starlings, a little egret, goldfinches, a meadow pipit and a pair of stonechats.

Little egret
Meadow pipit
Herring gull
Stonechat

I moved on to Uphill where I saw even less. Just another meadow pipit, a little egret and some teal.

Meadow pipit

In the afternoon I had a pleasant walk on Sand Point – I only saw a few stonechats but the light was so poor that I didn’t take any photos.

There will be better birding days!

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13th November 2021 – Severn Estuary

It was another amazing November morning and we had a pleasant walk along the Severn Estuary from New Passage to Severn Beach and back. We then lingered a while to watch the birds at New Passage.

Amazingly mild and still on the Severn Estuary

We could make out good flocks of wigeon, Canada geese, black-tailed godwits, lapwing and curlew as well as two northern pintail but they were all a bit distant. However, there was one spectacular moment when a peregrine spooked the black-tailed godwits and we could make it out flying above and amongst them.

Peregrine amongst the black-tailed godwits
Peregrine flying above the godwits
Peregrine flying above the godwits
Curlews
Northern pintail
Lapwing
Black-tailed godwits
Plenty of curlew on the warth
Friendly starlings
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5th November 2021 – New Passage, Severn Estuary

There were lots of waders on the foreshore (and on the warth) at New Passage this morning but generally they were too far away for my lens. However, a few redshank and turnstone came closer and allowed me to get some close-ups. The meadow pipit on the rocks on our walk to Severn Beach was probably the highlight for me. although I did confuse it for a rock pipit at first.

More for those with telescopes
Redshank
Redshank
Redshank in flight
Turnstone
Wigeon
Meadow pipit
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2nd November 2021 – Chew Valley, North Somerset

Fortnightly my wife has a patchwork and quilting class in North Somerset and I take the opportunity to drop her off and go birdwatching in that area. The last few occasions I have been further south to the Somerset Levels but this time I had a day in the Chew Valley at Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lake. The weather was fabulous and there were plenty of birds to keep me occupied.

Chew Valley lake – a great place for fishing and birdwatching

At my first spot, at Herriott’s bridge at Chew Valley Lake, I saw bearded tits (everyone’s favourites) but they didn’t hang around for me to photograph them. My first photos were of a pair of gadwall (could they have been the pair that I saw in Eastville Park?)

Gadwall
Marsh harrier spooked the waterfowl for a while

There were thousands of waterfowl on the lakes but most of them were telescope distance away. Here are some of the ones that came close enough to photograph.

Great white egret in the distance

Great white egret close up
Shoveler
Teal
Wigeon
Wigeon

And some of the woodland birds …

Wren
Chaffinch
Nuthatch
Robin
Great tit
It can’t be the countryside without a pheasant

At Blagdon the highlight was three Egyptian geese which looked stunning in the late afternoon sun.

Egyptian goose
Egyptian goose
Great black-backed gull in the middle
The birds have to share this lake too with the fishermen

Needless to say I was late getting back to pick up my wife.