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24th April 2019 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

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After a wonderful spell of sunny, warm weather it was normal service resumed with plenty of rain and a steep drop in temperature; however, late in the day I did manage a walk over to Stoke Park.

The light was not good but I got some fairly decent photos of a chiffchaff and some ducklings and then experimented taking close-ups of flora and fauna with not much success; but never mind hey.

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DSCF1037One of several buzzards, often being mobbed by crows

DSCF1098There were at least a dozen ducklings on Duchess Pond.

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18th April 2019 – Somerset

 

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As the Bank Holiday weekend doesn’t start until tomorrow we thought it would be okay to take the motorway south to Somerset but we got caught in a traffic jam just south of Bristol (due to an accident involving at least one caravan) but fortunately the delay was not too long.

On the Somerset levels at RSPB Ham Wall it was warm and misty (yes, more excuses for poor photos). but we had a lovely day, saw plenty of birds and had a picnic.

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MT1D0998Great crested grebess

MT1D1007Song thrush

MT1D1010Great white egret

MT1D1020Peacock butterfly

MT1D1063Treecreeper

MT1D1075Marsh harrier

MT1D1087Great white egret

MT1D1102Marsh harrier

MT1D1105Marsh harrier

MT1D1107Marsh harrier

MT1D1039Common pochard

MT1D1060Immature female common pochard

 

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On the way home we stopped off at Chew Valley lake briefly; large white birds (mute swans and great white egrets) were the stars again.

MT1D1122Great white egret

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MT1D1166Mute swans

MT1D1219Gadwall

MT1D1174Shoveler

MT1D1153Common pochard

MT1D1198Scary great white egret

MT1D1224… and some small birds too

MT1D1173Not sure about this one. I have since been informed it is a white-cheeked pintail, an escapee from somewhere as they don’t live round here – more likely to be found in the Galapagos

 

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17th April 2019 – Avon Gorge, Bristol

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I had an hour to kill before going to the dentist and went to The Downs to see if I could see a peregrine; well you don’t want to sit around thinking about the dentist, do you?

The weather took an upward turn today and its starting to get warmer. Unfortunately that meant there was a haze and, although I did see a peregrine, it wasn’t the best of light for photos. (Always excuses, I hear you saying). I need to come back for another go.

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11th April 2019 – Longleat Safari Park

 

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I have very mixed feelings about zoos and safari parks but I must admit that I really enjoyed visiting Longleat Safari Park (only just over an hour from home) where the welfare of all the animals seemed at the heart of the enterprise. All the visitors seemed to enjoy the experience and were wowed by the animals. An awareness and interest in animals must be a good thing.

A few of my favourites:

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8th April 2019 – Eastville Park, Bristol

 

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As I drove home from golf this morning, having played a round in misty murky weather, I listened to the weather forecast and heard that the rest of the country was bathed in sunshine. Ergh!

I wasn’t going to give in and still had a walk around our local park because, even though there wasn’t much hope of decent photos, I was still encouraged by all the bird song I had heard on the golf course earlier.

And there was lots of bird activity in the park. In Fishponds Brook we had good views of a treecreeper bathing among the rocks. There was then a pair of grey wagtails which came closer.

DSC09270I see no trees – treecreeper among the rocks in Fishponds Brook

DSC09281… before flying off.

DSC09246Grey wagtail

DSC09445Robin

Robins were singing everywhere. As soon as we arrived at the lake we caught sight of a kingfisher but it didn’t stay for long. There was another pair of grey wagtails too.

DSC09297Kingfisher

DSC09378Grey wagtail posing on the lake

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A wren out-sang the robins. Over the lake a male sparrowhawk worked its way up in the sky on a thermal (or was that just wishful thinking).

DSC09418Wren

DSC09322Sparrowhawk

On the way home there was a small flock of long-tailed tits and more robins, blue tits and great tits.

DSC09473Long-tailed tit

There were more bluebells out than our last visit and the blossom and the leaves on the trees were bursting out. All it now needed was a bit of sunshine.

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2nd April 2019 – Severnside

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It was a foul afternoon (but not particularly a fowl afternoon) at Northwick Warth on the Severn Estuary; there was a little sunshine but mainly cold winds, rain and hail.

My perseverance was rewarded with a close-up view of a black-tailed godwit, 12 little ringed plovers, a small flock of pied wagtails and three redshank on the shore line. On the Pilning Wetlands there were surprisingly few birds. For me the best was a not too distant teal and a very distant little grebe.

MT1D0705Black-tailed godwit

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MT1D0763Little grebe

MT1D0830Pied wagtails

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MT1D0869Little ringed plovers

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30th March 2019 – Avalon Marshes, Somerset Levels

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When we set off this morning it was very foggy but by the time I dropped Wendy off for a Textile Art Workshop at Midsomer Quilters in the Mendip Hills it was very sunny. However, to my disappointment as I dropped back down on to the Somerset Levels the fog returned and stayed with me until midday when, fortunately, the sun burnt through the mist.

MT1D0502I was lucky to get a photo of this dunnock as it was really misty – the magic of editing.

RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve (which are adjacent to each other but run by different bodies) are usually abundant with birds and are my favourite local birding areas;  but it was much quieter today. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around either.

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However, I did manage to see a blackcap, which the Nature Notes in today’s Times newspaper described as “the king of the warblers” and which are coming back in to the country in their hundreds of thousands: the article stated that there are over a million nesting pairs in Britain. This one certainly lived up to its reputation with a very cheerful and loud song.

MT1D0632A very melodious blackcap

MT1D0625I was so dazzled by the pinkness of this bird’s breast that I couldn’t work out if it was a bullfinch or a chaffinch but sure it’s a chaffinch

MT1D0638I was surprised how much pink there was in this wood pigeon too

MT1D0639I saw several butterflies but only managed a photo of this one – a Green-Veined White

The other highlight of the day was seeing great crested grebes courting, although I didn’t manage to see them dancing!

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MT1D0674These two great crested grebes started the courting in the open and then coyly disappeared behind the reeds

Another joy was hearing bitterns booming across the reserves; they didn’t show their faces though.

There were plenty of sightings of great white egrets but I only saw one little egret.

MT1D0588Great white egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0598Great white egret and little egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0683This great white egret flew overhead at Shapwick Heath as I walked back to the car

From Noah’s Hide at Shapwick Heath I could just make out in the distance my first swallows of the year; but I didn’t manage to see the glossy ibis that had been reported.

 

 

 

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28th March 2019 – Forest of Dean

 

 

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The English language is full of weather lore and the  proverb that says that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” has certainly been true this year: today was another superb day with wall to wall sunshine and plenty of warmth in the sun.

The adders in The Forest of Dean (where I went with a birding friend) made the most of it and came out to bask in the sun. We also saw a slow worm and a common lizard but not too many birds (except for a distant goshawk).

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DSCF9427Slow worms

DSCF9526Common Lizard

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My friend, who has a good knowledge of the area, showed me all the different birding spots but I think I had a jinx on him and I returned home with not too much editing to do. Nonetheless, we had some good walks through the beautiful forest and I came home richer for the experience.

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DSCF9449Nuthatch

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DSCF9454Chaffinch

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27th March 2019 – Eastville Park, Bristol

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We had an early (early for us anyway) morning walk in the park in beautiful sunshine. There was very little until we reached the lake and then a pair of grey wagtails, a kingfisher and a cormorant made our day even better. We were home by 10 and then got ready and went out to Clevedon as tourists!

IMG_5148Clevedon Pier was opened in 1869 to receive paddle steamer passengers from Devon and Wales. It is the only Grade 1 listed pier you can visit in England.

DSCF9332We enjoyed watching the kingfisher fishing and then I took this poor (out-of-focus) shot …

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DSCF9315Grey wagtail on the lake

DSCF9385Grey wagtail strutting his stuff on the weir.

DSCF9355Were these two the same grey wagtails we had seen on the lake, this time on the weir?

DSCF9372Head for heights?

DSCF9349The robins are heard and seen everywhere