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10th October 2021 – Catcott Moor, Somerset Levels

We had a very enjoyable hour or so in glorious sunshine at Catcott Moor on the Somerset Levels this afternoon. There is a very pleasant hide here looking across the moor towards Glastonbury Tor but we benefited fully from this lovely October day by watching from behind a screen at the side of the hide. From here we had good views of three marsh harriers and a stonechat. There was also a roe buck in an adjoining field and driving to the hide we also saw 17 little egret in one field.

Marsh harrier flying across the moor with Glastonbury Tor in the background
Roe buck
Stonechat
Marsh harrier
Marsh harrier
Marsh harrier
The little egret were very difficult to photograph in the bright light
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5th October 2021 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

After a cold and blustery morning I had decent light on my walk around Duchess Pond in Stoke Park Estate this afternoon. As well as the grey heron and the stonechats in my photos I saw six swallows lingering before their flights back to Africa. Even the castle (the Dower House) looked good in the sunshine.

Stonechat
Stonechat
A fairer representation of the stonechat’s size
The Dower House
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24th September 2021 – Peak District, Derbyshire

The weather forecast didn’t live up to its promises but it didn’t spoil a lovely walk with friends through Millers Dale in the Wye Valley of Derbyshire in the Peak District.

We started our walk at the Monsal viaduct

We started along the Monsal Trail along with cyclists, joggers and other walkers through two well-lit former railway tunnels and then dropped down to the River Wye and made our way back through the Cramside Wood Nature Reserve back to Cressbrook Mill.

The noticeboard for the nature reserve promised us dippers and grey wagtail and we weren’t disappointed. In addition we saw a little grebe (also referred to as dab chicks in these parts), a wren, moorhen, mallards, swans and heard a woodpecker.

Dipper
Grey wagtail
Wren
Little grebe
Other activities were available
Cressbrook Mill near the end of our walk (now residential)
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21st September 2021 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

So many beautiful things to see (and photograph) around Duchess Pond this morning. The shelduck by all accounts is a rarity here.

The grey heron moved so gracefully around the lake
Mallards were often in flight as they were chased off by others
The small copper butterfly in the swampy area was a treat
The red clover is quite dense
Not sure what this is
Coots can be quite vicious – you wouldn’t think so looking at them here
Moorhens are no angels either
Ive missed seeing the robins – they must have been hiding whilst moulting
This young female has become my favourite
She likes to show all sides
I was very pleased to capture her reflection too
A jay in flight
… and then annoyingly hiding behind branches
A common chiffchaff
Who says magpies are black and white?
A star appearance of a shelduck with three cormorants
Shelduck
Shelduck
Cormorant
Migrant hawker
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17th September 2021 – New Passage, Severn Estuary

I had to drop off the car for servicing at Cribbs Causeway so we benefited from a fairly early start to have a walk along the Severn Estuary between New Passage and Severn Beach. The tide was fairly low so the waders on the waterline were quite distant but quite easy to pick out in the sunlight.

Black-tailed godwits
Black-tailed godwits in flight
Black-tailed godwits landing
Oystercatcher and curlew
Turnstone and redshank
Grey heron
Little egret
Oystercatcher
Redshank
Prince Charles bridge

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14th September 2021 – Somerset Levels

Thundery showers were forecast for this part of the country and as not a drop of rain fell during the 5 hours I spent on the Somerset Levels I am in no position to complain about the gloomy light conditions.

I started my birding day at Cheddar Reservoir and the first bird I saw was a kingfisher flying across the lake followed by a common sandpiper. An encouraging start.

Common sandpiper at Cheddar Reservoir

My next destination was Catcott Moor on the Avalon Marshes. This was my first ever visit here and I was rewarded with a flock of a dozen cattle egret near the car park.

Cattle egret
Cattle egret
Cattle egret in flight

There were also lots of swallows with many of them perching on a nearby tree.

Swallow
Looks like the swallows are getting ready to fly back to Africa

From the hide I saw gadwall and teal and a single great white egret.

Gadwall

I also saw the flock of cattle egret take to the air and then saw a buzzard on a post which must have scared them. I also had a good view of a snipe.

Common buzzard causing consternation to the cattle egret
Snipe

On my way back to Puxton near Weston-Super-Mare (where my wife had been doing a textile class) I stopped off at Cheddar Reservoir where I saw the common sandpiper again along with a grey wagtail, a small flock of pied wagtails and a great crested grebe.

Grey wagtail
Pied wagtail
Common sandpiper flying past great crested grebe
Common sandpiper
Great crested grebe

A very satisfactory day.

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8th September 2021 – New Passage, Severn Estuary

It was good to see waders again at New Passage. When we arrived we only saw gulls and 4 grey wagtails. However, after a walk to Severn Beach and a good cup of coffee, waders appeared. Although it was still very warm there was a lot of cloud cover and they were not easy to make out. A curlew and an oystercatcher were easy, redshank were not too difficult either (especially when their red legs stood out against the seaweed) but there were also dunlin and turnstone and maybe even more.

Confrontation between oystercatcher and curlew
The luminous legs of the redshank stood out against the seaweed but turnstone were almost impossible to pick out
Not really good enough light to photograph birds in flight
There was still sunshine when we saw the wagtails
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31st August 2021 – Severn Beach, Gloucestershire

It’s that time of the year again when we see birds migrating south. The weather at Severn Beach suggested it was a very sensible thing to be doing. We saw a couple of wheatears. The name wheatear is derived from the Old English for ‘white’ (wheat) and ‘arse’ (ear) referring to their white rump which was very visible.

Wheatear

The starlings and house sparrows all had a fright when a kestrel appeared but unfortunately I did not manage a photo.

Starling and house sparrow
Pied wagtail
A second wheatear