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18th January 2021 – Eastville Park, Bristol

The sun only seems to shine at the weekends but I can’t cope with the huge number of people taking their daily lockdown exercise in our local park at that time; and so I have to content myself with seeing the world in black and white on a dull day.

A pied wagtail had no other colours to show anyway. However, the kingfisher did provide enough colour to make an impression on my camera sensor and put a smile on the face of the visitors to the park who are now getting used to spotting it on the aptly named island in the middle of the lake.

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9th January 2021 – Eastville Park, Bristol

I felt like ranting and raving about the injustice of two girls being fined £200 for driving 5 miles to go for a socially distanced walk around a beauty spot in Derbyshire. I was even more furious this morning when I found that it was impossible to socially distance when walking around my local park due to the lack of consideration of other walkers and especially runners who make little or no effort to give you a wide birth as you pass. Both young and old looked at us as if we were bonkers as we continuously stepped off the path or stopped to allow others to pass. I bet there are a fair number of those who made no effort at all who are quick to blame politicians for whatever measures they take to stop the pandemic.

However, I then saw a kingfisher and I calmed down.

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6th January 2021 – Clifton Down, Bristol

Reports of a pair of firecrests on The Downs in Bristol enticed us out on a gloomy cold day. We didn’t see them but we did enjoy our lockdown ration of one daily exercise.

The best of the birds we saw were a pair of redwing and a jay. It needed fairly bright birds to get any sort of photograph in the very poor light.

Redwing
Jay

As we returned to our car there was a very surreal moment when we heard the very loud roar of a lion. With lockdown (and the lack of cars) we had forgotten that we had parked right next to Bristol Zoo.

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24th December 2020 – Eastville Park

It felt that this robin was giving us a special Christmas welcome as we walked around our local park this morning.

Robins are the nation’s favourite bird and have such strong association with Christmas that it seems very appropriate to wish everyone who reads my blog a very Merry Christmas by posting this picture and my header photo which I took earlier this week at Tyntesfield in North Somerset.

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7th December 2020 – Tyntesfield NT

Health warning – photographs taken on a dismal morning in December in North Somerset probably don’t have a lot of merit or interest for visitors to this blog but for the record (and to keep me occupied) I am publishing a blog of our visit to the National Trust estate of Tyntesfield (see the National Trust website for details and better photos) and our brief visit to the nearby seaside town of Clevedon.

Thrush
Blackbird
Dunnock

There were a few trappings of Christmas to be seen but, as the house is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic , nothing like the fabulous Christmas decorations which we saw last year.

A great source of mistletoe
A few Christmas decorations on the veranda of Tyntesfield
There’s a robin on top (honestly!)

At Tyntesfield we saw robins, blackbirds, dunnocks and thrushes and at Clevedon black-headed gulls and a pied wagtail. Oh for the black redstart that has been reported on the pier at Clevedon!

A very grumpy black-headed gull
Pied wagtail
Clevedon pier (but no sighting of a black redstart)
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6th December 2020 – Eastville Park, Bristol

We thought we would take an early-ish walk to Eastville Park before the crowds arrived but clearly we were’t early enough and, as the park soon became quite congested, we limited the time we spent there.

We were rewarded with a good view of a kingfisher on the River Frome but I’m sorry to say I was much too slow to get a shot.

Black-headed gull testing the water

There were three grey herons on the lake and lots of cormorants. On a small brook that feeds into the River Frome there were several birds taking a bath, including a song thrush which I haven’t seen in the park for a while.

Song thrush taking a bath in Fishponds Brook
Blue tit also taking advantage of the amenities
The grey wagtail wasn’t so sure about getting wet

The sun didn’t last long in the park and neither did we.

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2nd December 2020 – New Passage, Severn Estuary

It was very dull as we walked along the Severn Way from Severn Beach to New Passage and back, but at least we got back to the car before the rain set in.

There was very little to see until we reached New Passage where there were lots of waders. Unfortunately the tide was rather low by this point and the light was so dismal that there wasn’t much joy in photographing them in these conditions. For the record though we did see dunlin, redshank, black-tailed godwits, wigeon, little egret, curlew and plenty of oystercatchers. Back at Severn Beach there were pied wagtails. All in all we considered ourselves to be lucky rather than unlucky.

Loads of waders
The ostercatchers with their orange bills were the easiest to pick out
We could hear the curlew long before we saw it
The whistling wigeon were rather noisy too
This black-tailed godwit came a little closer
The red legs of the redshank could just be seen
No problem seeing the little egret
Oystercatchers were the best of the day
The pied wagtail at Severn Beach was certainly close enough
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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
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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