Saturday, 19 July 2014

Week Away

During the first week of July it was the annual family holiday, this year with headed off to Somerset just on the outskirts of Minehead staying at a farm cottage that seemed to quite a bit of wildlife within the cottage let alone outside!
One nice thing was just how peaceful the place was and the fact we had a Chiffchaff visit the hedgerow by the dinning area window quite frequently, although never when my camera was handy.
We didn't do that much wildlife watching while we down in the south west although on a trek up to Hurlstone Point we did have great views of Harbour Porpoises just below the point.
We all had quite a few fly Gannets which added to the spectacle a auk of some sort flew by but I was preoccupied with watch the Porpoise to pay it too much attention. 
Hurlstone Point

Harbour Porpoise at Hurlstone Point






Gannet at Hurlstone Point

On our final day we visited the WWT new reserve at Steart Marshes this unlike their other centers is a pure nature reserve unfortunately the site is not fully opened when called in the first two hides we still a couple of weeks off from opening even.
But it was a nice spot and there were plenty of Dragonflies around.








Saturday, 14 June 2014

Hitting the Beach

We Lesley being off and the weather being fine we headed for the beach with a spot of birding along the way.
First port of call was for the birds and particularly Little Terns at Gronant as we walked along the path a Grasshopper Warbler was calling from the reeds around where the Grey Phalarope was and plenty of Meadow Pipits feeding and displaying along the way plus a few Juv Stone Chats.

We soon picked up our target bird and got some great views.




It was then off to Abergele for a spot of playing around on the beach, a Ringed Plover was noted in the fenced off area so hopefully they have been allowed to breed in peace.

Silverdale

On the 08 Jun it was case of lots of odd jobs to be done so me and Gem just had a quick walk out to Silverdale Country Park just down the road, had a nice and pleasant walk seeing Black Cap, Linnet, Common White Throat on the bird front and quite a few Damselflies around the waters edge.



In the wood behind the house a Garden Warbler continues to call and the Stock have returned to the garden and it looks like the Bull Finch have raised 3 young.

Martin Mere

On the 17th May I was playing Daddy day care again and with the forecast for a fine day I fancied a day out but some where along the line a park had to be involved as I had promised Gem I would take her to one.
So it was off to Martin Mere I didn't expect to see much which was good as I didn't.
But a Little Ringed Plover showed nicely in front one of the hides, so it wasn't a total loss.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Coombe Valley

We headed off to what turned out to be a rather brief walk around Coombes Valley as we arrived the weather was starting to turn to we headed off any way.

Down by the bridge a pair of Pied Flycatchers were using the traditional box giving good views although due to a bird club being on site the place was rather packed and rather ruined the atmosphere.


 Again for the second year running a rather brown looking male is using the box, maybe it makes a good first time home for these young families?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Doxey Marsh

With the weather being fine and the fact we had the joy of the super market shop to look forward to we just stayed nice and local and headed for Doxey Marsh near Stafford.

From the car park we could hear Sedge Warbler and even a Grasshopper could be heard calling which I got the briefest of views (but a tick is a tick), as we walked along past Creswell Flash we picked more Sedge Warbler plus a single Common White Throat.

On a train front I managed to pick up 37706 dragging 47760 South and 66425 light engine south.



By the first pool in the main body of the reserve we had Common Tern, Swift and House Martin plus Reed Warbler calling although we never got a glimpse of any birds.


From the Tin hide we noted that the water levels is still quite high and probably explained why we saw no waders around apart from a single Lapwing, in fact there was no much of note at all.
Train wise I saw 90034 in DRS being dragged back down to Willesden, 86501 on a south bound liner and 66129 on a south bound liner.

From where the former viewing platform was we picked up Shelduck and another Lapwing plus a Little Egret took flight.
Just leaving the reserve a final freight was noted in the form of 66708 on a south bound biomass train I am assuming the Ellesmere Port - Ironbridge working.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lake Vyrnwy

On the Bank Holiday Monday we headed off for our annual visit to Lake Vyrnwy as we are a pair of old romantics as it was here we got engaged and it was our seventh wedding anniversary (it also holds some great bird species), our targets today were Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler.
Usually we have no problem in finding these birds around the "Yellow Walk" just below the dam, but this year we struggled to locate any of our target birds although we did eventually find Common Redstart and Pied Flycatcher, plus Goldcrest and Treecreeper.
Treecreeper at Lake Vyrnwy

 We then headed off to the moors along the road to Dinas Mawddwy just by the turn off from the lake we picked up our missing Wood Warbler and then another about 10m further along the road.
 The moors themselves held for us Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and Wheatear. We couldn't find any Winchat which are along this road and we had no better luck along the road to Bala.

Stonechat

At the Centenary Hide we had been tipped off by someone I met earlier on the moors about Pied Flycatchers using a nest box near the hide and sure enough we soon the birds nice and close in.

Female Pied Flycatcher 

Male Pied Flycatcher

Male Pied Flycatcher

Male Pied Pied Flycatcher
We then headed off back to the visitor centre to report in our sightings and get the usual close up views of Siskin.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Martin Mere

Today was to be a family day out with a spot of birding thrown in for good measure, so it was off to Martin Mere for Toddler Thursday, a great little activity that the WWT put on at no extra cost as well, a spot of singing, story and craft/drawing keeps Gem nice and happy.

The birding though began before we got to Martin Mere we two Corn Buntings on the wires by Curlew Lane plus two Grey Partridge that ran across the road right in front of the car. A really great start to the day.
Corn Bunting near Martin Mere

Another Corn Bunting could be heard as we got out of the car, but we didn't bother to go looking as they were already on the list for the day.
A Little Gull had been reported the day before but we weren't that bothered at seeing the birds as we had already bagged them earlier in the week but if we got closer views all the better.

From the Ron Baker hide we saw Redshank, Avocet, Lapwing plus Shelduck being the high the lights plus a showy Wren just outside the hide.


From the Swan Link hide there was plenty of Black Headed Gull activity going on plus a rather horny Med Gull trying to chat any Black Headed Gull up it could, I went around to the Rains Observatory to get a better view and hopefully a shot although taken through glass.

Mediterranean Gull at Martin Mere

It was then lunch and the park for a spot of building sand castles, playing in the water and generally messing around.


From the Harrier hide we added Little Grebe, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Grey Heron and Sedge Warbler.

Not a bad day and three more for the slowly but surely growing year list.




Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Attenborough

With Monday's weather forecast so good we headed off to Attenborough getting there we saw we weren't the only one's with the idea as all the car parks we full and we ended up parking up on the road near the over spill car park.

Walking down the path towards the visitor centre we started to pick up birds Common Tern, Red Crested Pochard, Gadwall, Blackcap and Cetti's Warbler. After forgetting something and having to walk back to the car this gave me a lucky break in seeing a Weasel run out across the path in front of me a great little find.

 We firstly headed for the new Sand Martin hide which either side of it has an artificial Sand Martin colony set up built into it, its not been finished too long but already Sand Martins are checking out the site looks like this is going to be another great hide on the reserve. Also noted was a Common Sandpiper in front of the hide.

Along the path to the Tower hide we picked Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Northern Wheater (actually in the Wheater Field), Little Ringed Plover, Black Headed Gull and more Common Terns.

Sitting for a while just beyond the hide we were pointed out the Little Gulls that were on site (we unfortunately hadn't got time to go and find the Black Tern).

All said a very good day, got the rest of the week off but the weather looks rather dodgy so we will have to see what other birding we can get done.





Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hanchurch Common

Took Gem for a walk around Hanchurch Common, looks like a lot of trees have been felled around the Woodsman Cottage so will be a longer walk to find the Crossbill.

After hearing Blackcap for about a week now in the wood behind the house I was on the hunt to find these great songsters this was quite an easy task as a couple of males were around the area of the feeding area in the car park. Also noted in this area were Nuthatch, Jay, Chaffinch, Great and Blue Tit plus a Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were heard.

Moving down to the Common itself a Woodpecker could be heard drumming and calling from further ahead in the wood plus again a Blackcap could be heard which soon showed itself along with Willow Warbler and Wren and the Great Spotted Woodpecker eventually flew across the Common. So for not a lot of effort quite a nice few birds were noted.

Roll on Easter week and some proper days out!




Sunday, 6 April 2014

Spring meets Winter

It was one of those days where Spring clashed with Winter garden bird wise.

Putting the seed out in the morning I could hear Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler calling plus the first Black Cap of the year which I must go and hunt out. But the bird feeders had a very much a Winter feel to them with a female Brambling (maybe they are going to breed in sunny Silverdale after all a male has been calling recently around the area). We also have had a pair of Redpoll in the garden all very confusing bird wise.




Sunday, 23 March 2014

Wye Dale

Well around this time of year we generally head up to Wye Dale just outside Buxton for the nice and easy tick of a Dipper, not too many years ago this area from the car park down to the cottages held at least 3 - 4 pairs now we are down to just a single pair. Unsure if it is the fact the area has got busier with visitors or the habitat has been destroyed in some way but there are definitely less of these great little birds.

In one of the usual areas we soon found a pair, well we think a pair as they were both feeding close to one another.

Dipper at Wye Dale near Buxton




 It was turning out to be a great little walk as a bit latter Lesley pointed out a pair of Grey Wagtail a bit further along the river.

Grey Wagtail Wye Dale



 But the best was still to come we a first ever sighting for this location in the form of a Water Vole good old Ratty himself swimming across the river in front of us and they watching us from the opposite bank, this really finished off the afternoons walk.

Water Vole aka Ratty at Wye Dale.