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27th November 2022 – WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

A dull day at Slimbridge can still be very rewarding. A great spotted woodpecker was one of the highlights along with large flocks of lapwings and golden plover. Plenty of northern pintails too.

Great spotted woodpecker

Little and large

Northern pintail

Teal

Wigeon

Mainly golden plover

Lapwing

Bewick swan

Mute swans

Avocet

Shelduck

Slideshow of this morning’s photos:

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22nd November 2022 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

It was very wet underfoot but there was good light and it was still quite mild on my walk through our local park this morning.

Stoke Park Estate with the Dower House in the background and the annex to Duchess pond in the foreground

Duchess Pond

A pair of stonechats brightened my day which might have been even better if I had managed to find the firecrests which other local birders have been reporting regularly in the last few days. Another challenge for another day.

Female stonechat

Male stonechat

Grey heron

Moorhen

Coot
Mute swans

Slideshow of my photos from this morning:

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8th November 2022 – Catcott Lows, Somerset Levels

I stopped off at Cheddar Reservoir on my way to the Avalon Marshes in Somerset but a heavy shower sent me scurrying back to my car; and so my only photo of my brief walk was of a pied wagtail.

Pied wagtail

I made another stop by the roadside after Wedmore when I saw a flock of 22 cattle egret. I even managed some shots of a pair of buzzards in the same area.

It’s quite clear why they are called cattle egret
Cattle egret

Buzzard

When I arrived at Catcott everyone in the hide was in a state of excitement having seen a hen harrier, marsh harriers and red kites in the last few minutes. Before too long the hen harrier flashed right in front of the hide. I had wonderful views of it but, even though I have a photographic record of it, my photos were rather disappointing.

Hen harrier

Hen harrier

It was great to see much more water on the levels and the number of shoveler, wigeon and lapwings is beginning to increase.

The water is building up

Wigeon

Shoveler

A female marsh harrier also appeared. I could see distant great white egrets and my full collection of egrets was soon completed with the arrival of a little egret.

Marsh harrier flying with Glastonbury Tor as a backdrop

Little egret

On my way back I had another look for the cattle egrets and found that the flock was more than twice as big as I had seen earlier.

Cattle egret

Slideshow of today’s photos:

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4th November 2022 – RSPB Ham Wall, Somerset Levels

A glorious day on the Somerset Levels. We had a brief visit to RSPB Greylake. However, it was very quiet there other than a flock of lapwing which, along with a bittern, were spooked by a marsh harrier.

We moved on to RSPB Ham Wall and spent a good deal of our time watching a pair of marsh harriers hunting. Quite spectacular.

Glastonbury Tor dominates the Somerset Levels here

Marsh harrier with the Tor as a backdrop

Marsh harrier

Great crested grebe with lunch

Marsh harrier

The shoveler spent much of their time on the wing avoiding the marsh harriers

Gadwall

Marsh harrier hovering over its prey

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26th October 2022 – Eastville Park, Bristol

I had a walk around my local park this morning – the first time I felt I could do this since rupturing my Achilles’ tendon at the beginning of the year. No kingfisher today but I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw.

I was caught out by the buzzard – at least I had my camera out of the bag even though I didn’t have the correct settings

I was better prepared for the dipper as this is a common spot to see it
Dipper

Dipper

Dipper

Grey heron

Cormorant

Black-headed gull

Mute swans

Mallard

Grey wagtail

Slideshow of my photos from my walk this morning:

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25th October 2022 – Westhay Moor, Somerset

It was a glorious morning for birding at Westhay Moor on the Somerset Levels. I had hoped to see bearded tits (reedlings) but, although I did hear them, I had no success in seeing them. However, I did have several sightings of reed buntings and a kingfisher but didn’t manage any photos.

There were plenty birds there to keep me clicking (although modern cameras thankfully don’t even have to make that annoying sound) and I was not disappointed with the photos I took.

View from the North Hide

Great white egret

Grey heron

Stonechat are much more obliging than bearded tits

Marsh harrier

Marsh harrier

It felt more like Norfolk with this flock of Canada geese flying over

Wigeon

Gadwall

Shoveler

Little grebe

A (very) distant jay

I was most surprised to see a swallow late in the afternoon

Quite the star of the day

Slideshow of my photos from today:

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22nd October 2022 – Severn Estuary

Following a very wet day yesterday, it was great to get out and enjoy a walk along the Severn Estuary between New Passage and Severn Beach. The tide was already quite low when we arrived at New Passage but we were allowed some distant views of waders. However, before we reached Severn Beach there was nothing to be seen and my camera was packed away for the return journey.

Grey heron

Little egret

Turnstone

Redshank

Oystercatcher

Curlew

We often see grey wagtails on the rocks, sometimes even a robin but the wren was a first for us

Flocks of Canada geese and wigeon on the Warth

The two bridges on this section of the estuary are always a delight to see

Slideshow of this morning’s photos:

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18th October 2022 – Cannington and Steart Marshes, Somerset

On our way to Steart Marshes in Somerset to do a spot of birdwatching we discovered a gem of a garden at Cannington near Bridgwater. In fact, we spent most of the day at The Walled Gardens of Cannington and left only a small amount of time for Steart Marshes (which was just as well as the wetlands were very dry and not as exciting as usual).

One section of the garden was called “The Mediterranean Garden” and it was such a beautiful day that you could easily have thought that you had been transported to the Mediterranean.

“The Willow Monster” with Cannington Priory behind

A section of the Mediterranean Garden

Wedding Cake Tree

A section of the Blue Garden

A dunnock adorned the wall

The Bishop’s Garden

The Southern Hemisphere Garden

The rose beds were quite amazing with lots of flowers still in bloom

The Botanical Glasshouse was worth the visit alone

It felt cooler in the glasshouse than outdoors

Such wonderful colours everywhere

Slideshow of photos from the Walled Gardens of Cannington:

There weren’t many waders at Steart as everything was so dry but we saw plenty of raptors looking for a meal.

A lone little egret on the marshes

Kestrel in flight

Little egret in flight

Slideshow of photos from Steart Marshes:

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4th October 2022 – Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes, North Somerset

A pleasant enough day birding in the Chew Valley but I didn’t have much in the way of photographs at the end of the day as the water levels are still very low and all the waterbirds are quite a way out and the light was not great.

Great white egret at Herriots Pool at Chew Valley

Common buzzard at Herriots Pool at Chew Valley

Rather a lot of coots in the middle of the lake at Chew

Great crested grebe at Blagdon Lake

Male and female tufted ducks at Blagdon Lake