Another dry day and so we made the most of it by crossing the Severn Estuary and visiting the Forest of Dean. Not that I had a lot of luck with birds except I took my first ever photo of a goldcrest (even if it was a rather poor photo). At the same pool there was a tree creeper, a coal tit and a great tit bathing. We had a pleasant walk and a rather nice cream tea before heading home.
Treecreeper (easier to see in the pool rather than against the bark of a tree)
The rain stopped for a while and we had a walk to our local park. We didn’t see many birds except for three grey herons and at least half a dozen cormorants around the lake. Probably not enough for a blog but as I haven’t taken many bird photographs for some time I was pleased at least to get something to publish.
We had a last minute opportunity to go out birding this afternoon and so, not to waste time planning, we plumped for WWT Slimbridge where we can generally count on seeing something interesting.
The first few hides didn’t produce anything very special (teal, lapwings and lots of greylag geese) but there was some excitement about a snipe which, however, was very difficult to see (with its head tucked in to its body).
Well camouflaged snipe
We then wandered through the captive watefowl where I took a few photos and we made our way to the Zeiss Hide.
Here we were richly rewarded as a crane flew right in front of us: this huge graceful bird made a very dramatic appearance and circled around before landing. I was busy trying to photograph it when spectacularly two more flew in front of us. We couldn’t believe our eyes when yet another two appeared.
They remained for a very short while before flying off over the reed beds towards the Severn estuary.
From the same hide we could also see more lapwing, a grey heron, redshank, several snipe and a greenshank (too far away for a photo).
A few of my favourite captive wildfowl.
The beautiful weather lasted all day and so we ventured out for another walk in the afternoon to Eastville Park. Still more dragonflies. The best of the birds was a grey wagtail which performed right in front of our eyes on the lake. Lots of good photos but I couldn’t quite manage to capture the beauty of its flight as it darted off its perch in search of insects above the lake – but I had a good try.
I really liked this moorhen too but didn’t see the little grebe others had reported.
I haven’t had much opportunity to take nature photos recently and so I particularly enjoyed getting out to my local parks this morning (Stoke Park) and this afternoon (Eastville Park).
Here are some of my photos from this morning featuring a juvenile female reed bunting, a grey heron in flight and lots of dragonflies. This afternoon’s walk will follow in a separate blog.
We felt the need to get away from the city today and where better to go than to the seaside? Weymouth, on the south coast. is only 70 odd miles from Bristol (although not the easiest of roads to travel on) and has a couple of lovely nature reserves.
Our first visit was to RSPB Lodmore but we didn’t stay long as, after a couple of hours of driving, we needed to find some toilets.
Little egret at Lodmore
Nearby RSPB Radipole Lakes is right in Weymouth and has a visitors’ centre and toilets adjacent. We were quite pleased to see some butterflies and dragonflies and then overjoyed to hear and then see bearded tits (or bearded reedlings as they are often now referred to) – one of our favourite birds. They were only there for seconds and then gone, but long enough for us to see them in binoculars and capture with the camera.
We moved on to Portland Bill for lunch but didn’t have much luck with birds other than a kestrel.
We were then going to vist the swannery at Abbotsbury but the entrance fee was quite stiff and, as the weather had deteriorated, we didn’t think it was worth it on this occasion. We then tried to find somewhere to have a cup of tea and a cake on the way home but, being England, all the cafés were closed by 4.30 pm. Never mind, a lovely day anyway.
Pheasants enjoying the evening sun
There were a couple of redshank on the shore when I arrived and I was feeling optimistic as the light was good. However, as I walked out along the the coastal path I could see very few birds on Northwick Warth and had difficulty picking out what was on the Pilning Wetlands. I spent a little while trying to take photos of House Martins and was distracted by a distant buzzard.
I could see in the distance on the wetlands the great white egret, a couple of little egrets and a grey heron but all too far away for photos.
On my way back there were a couple of meadow pipits within reach.
As I reached the first pill box (there used to be a firing range here at Pilning) I met a group of birders and had a very enjoyable time chatting to them. Some of them had telescopes and were very generous in showing me a couple of curlew sandpipers. They were among a large mixed flock of ringed plovers, dunlin and turnstones but all really too far away for me to photograph (but it didn’t stop me trying!).
I had a little bit of time to kill before going home to watch the Test match and so stopped at Aust Warth where I saw a kestrel.
Only chance for a short walk around Stoke Park Estate this afternoon as I spent the morning playing golf. I probably saw more birds on the golf course than in the park but I managed a few photos and hence my blog.
The juvenile green woodpecker was particularly difficult to photograph as it was continuously in the shade and its colours are not as vivid as the adults.
The grey heron moved often around the pond and so I had a few chances of photographing it in flight.
The juvenile coots were very noisy.
I set off to go birding in a T-Shirt and had even contemplated wearing shorts but when I arrived at New Passage on the Severn Estuary I was glad I hadn’t and even more glad that I had several layers and a waterproof. The tide was very high and had clearly crossed over on the Northwick Warth when at its highest an hour before.
This stretch of water is normally a narrow Pill leading in to the Severn Estuary between the two Severn Bridges
It was very poor light but I still managed a few passable photos of swallows, yellow wagtails, wheatears, starlings and waders (mainly black-tailed godwits) on Pilning Wetlands and flying over the Warth. I even worked my way along the Pill and saw the Great White Egret which has been there in recent days.
Great white egret
2 yellow wagtails ( I saw 4 but others saw more)
Wheatear ( I saw another one too)
Godwits on the estuary – this image is not really in black and white, just the weather
We made a last minute decision to go and try to see an osprey which has been reported at Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve on the Avalon Marshes in Somerset.
We set off from Bristol in bright sunshine and I was still full of optimism when I met a photographer in the car park and saw his magnificent photos of the osprey flying around the reserve; but when I realised he had been there since 6.15 a.m. and that he was setting off home because the light was deteriorating I began to suspect that I might not be so fortunate.
We did see the osprey but it was sitting on a very distant stump of a tree and never left its post for all the time we were there. There were a few distant sightings of marsh harriers and a buzzard but not much else of interest and as the hide was very congested we didn’t spend long there.
A very heavily cropped photo of the osprey
Mute swan with seven cygnets
There wasn’t much activity either at the nearby RSPB Ham Wall and, as we really only had the morning available to us, I settled for a few photos of insects and a distant great white egret and a kingfisher.
Speckled Wood butterfly
A very distant kingfisher
A great white egret in the same bushes
Disappointing maybe, but still lots of fun to see such a magnificent bird as an osprey.