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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
There were also lots of swallows with many of them perching on a nearby tree.
From the hide I saw gadwall and teal and a single great white egret.
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.
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.
A very satisfactory day.
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.
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.
The starlings and house sparrows all had a fright when a kestrel appeared but unfortunately I did not manage a photo.