Friday, 29 April 2016

Cheddar Way

Date: 28/04/2016
Location: Velvet Bottom - Cheddar Res - Crook Peak
Weather: Blue Skies > Cloud > Rain
Other Species: 
Common Redstarts, Raven, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Buzzard  - 35 Species Seen
Still after a Redstart so I headed to Velvet Bottom again, Black Rock end this time it all seemed very quiet there with almost nothing showing. First saw a female then this stunning male hiding away in branches.

With dog walkers frequently passing by I stayed patiently bins in hand scanning, after lying in ants nest and spiders disappearing into my coat this great looking male landed some 40ft away stayed for 3 shots and disappeared not to be seen by me again !

Brought my small lens so headed round to Long Mead Wood to see if any Bluebells about, thousands of them covering the hill side .

UK's best Bluebell wood and only a mile walk with Bluebells, Cuckoo flower, Wood Anemone covering the floor. 

Small stream that trickles through Long Wood, apart from some irresponsible dog walkers who'd lost their dog had the wood to myself.

After arriving back to van headed to Cheddar Reservoir there were a few Common Sandpipers on shoreside but little else on Reservoir. But this male Whitethroat was very showy in fact 2 Whitethroat,1 Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff all on same small bush !

Here's the female just as showy !

Had all the Wagtails a pair of Grey Wagtails not really posing for long as walkers, runners and dogs kept them on the move !

Just about  2 White Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail !

The Pied Wagtails much happier to pose. 

Around 20 Great Crested Grebes always at distance but striking just the same. A few Gulls Lesser Black Backed, Coot, and a few Cormorants made up what was on Res.

Crook Peak seen from halfway round, next destination.

Not after a few Jackdaws flypast collecting sheep wool from reservoir banks.

A few Barn Swallows about, this almost perfect shot, almost !

Sandpipers constantly moving, flight shots best views of them around 20 I'd say .

After a Pot noodle, sausage casserole flavor mmmmm, headed to Crooks Peak with the hope a butterflies maybe Grizzled Skipper or Dingy Skipper but nout weather had changed now and heavy cloud was covering the skies !
The only Butterfly was a Peacock at bottom. But on way up had Buzzard, Meadow Pipits and this cracking Stonechat, such obliging birds !

Early Purple Orchid, I think not many other nectar sources on hill apart from gorse.

Rain coming down, Brent Knoll to right and the Quantocks in distance .

Final image of the day is at the summit of Crook Peak (191 metres-627 ft) looking towards Cheddar Reservoir and the Mendip hills beyond.
A lovely day and will return hopefully in sunshine for Butterflies. :)

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Monday, 25 April 2016

First's Of The Year!

Date: 25th April 2016
Location: Westhay > Ham Wall > Shapwick Heath - Somerset Levels
Weather: Cloudy, Sunny Intervals, Showers + Windy
Other Species: 8+ Blackcap, Little Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Great-Crested Grebe, Reed Warbler, Gadwall, Cormorant, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Bittern, Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, 6+ Swift, Goldcrest, Pochard, Shoveler, 1 Brambling, Siskin, Sedge Warbler, 1 Glossy Ibis, 12 Greenshank, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2 Great White Egret, 1 Garganey, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Buzzard, Teal, 1 Hobby, 1 Whitethroat - Of Note - 62 Species Total

Observation: A visit to the Somerset Levels was in order, in the hope of seeing some spring migrants. We stopped off at Westhay first, the hides were pretty quiet but there were plenty of birds in song around the Reserve including Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. There were also a few booming Bittern's.

On exiting Westhay, there were approx 200 Mute Swan present in the nearby fields, gave quite a backdrop with Glastonbury Tor distant.

We arrived at Ham Wall for around 11am, so the car-park was nice and quiet, there were plenty of House Martin, Sand Martin and Barn Swallow filling the skies around the reserve.

We also counted a group of 6 Swift but there were singles numbers about aswell so the possibility for a few more.

Walking around Walton's Heath, the highlight was a female Roe Deer, who stopped for a few pictures before she returned eating.

A pair of Great-Crested Grebe's were close into the footpath, they looked stunning in the brief sunlight.

As we were joining the main track back at Viewpoint 2, a surprise find was a female Brambling, with a singular Siskin, who was fluttering from tree to tree before moving across the path where we couldn't relocate.

Plenty of singing Blackcaps also, we only seen 1 female, but around 10+ male Blackcaps.

At Viewpoint 2 (VP2), the long-staying Glossy Ibis was still present (first seen 13th September!).

A male Marsh Harrier spooked all the birds including the Glossy Ibis.

Just as we were leaving VP2, a Bittern took off and gave us some good views and photographs (for once!)

On returning along the new path towards Avalon Hide at the new screens, we spotted a male Garganey who was feeding approx 60 foot from us. We then got distracted by a male Sparrowhawk who flew within inches of us, then a Common Sandpiper landed in front the new screen. Excellent new screens by the RSPB, good job!

At the new Avalon Hide, a sudden flurry of action, we had a group of 4 Bittern following each other flying along the reeds and then a low-flying Marsh Harrier attacking a Crow, who came in quite close at times.

A quick visit to Shapwick Heath, was worth it as a fly-past Hobby took us to 60 species!

At Meare Heath Scrape, there were plenty of summer plumage Black-Tailed Godwit and a flock of 12 Greenshank flew in as the sun re-appeared.

The wind was picking up so we started heading back before hearing a Whitethroat and 2 fly-over Black-Headed Gull's taking our total for today to 62!
An excellent day as usual on the Somerset Levels and a new species count record for us !

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Common Sandpiper - New Patch Tick

Date: 24/04/2016
Location: Patch - Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue Skies > Turning Cloudy
Other Species: 
7 Blackcap, Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, 6 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Buzzard, Kestrel, 10+ Yellowhammer, 4 Whitethroat, Skylark, Barn Swallow, Greenfinch, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Common Sandpiper, 2 Stock Dove, 4 Linnet, Nuthatch, Bullfinch - Of Note 

Headed out through Bath Mill with sunshine. On "Sunnybank" we had 5 species of Butterfly including Orange Tip and Brimstone's.

Also this rather smart Blackcap catching flies.

Also Small White, although Id'ing Small and Large White I find very hard  
so maybe be Large :)

Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler all singing merrily on Dog Walk and Skylark up on fields, then one use for dogs a Small Tortoiseshell on poo.

Whitethroat numbers have risen to 2 ! 
 A few Yellowhammers about, this one posed for a moment.

Another failed Skylark shot! 
At Village Barn Swallow numbers not really increased much, still around 7ish.

Also a Fox far off, but stalking something?

Grey Herons in Heronry just 2 today, at Lake's normal stuff, Mute Swan 2 Bottom Lake + 2 Top Lake, but 1 still on nest. Then while eating my banana spotted a Common Sandpiper !!

Far end of Top lake a new tick taking us to all time 86 species! Year total 70.

Grey Wagtail for scale :)

Mistle Thrush, Song Thrushes and 2 Stock Doves best of walk towards Stanton Prior. 
Up on to Lanes more Skylark 5/6 Linnets and Yellowhammer at Park Farm. 
But no Pied Wagtails at all !! On the whole walk.

Walking down Lanes to home, 2 Buzzards and a final Kestrel .
Walk total 46.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Swallows Return

Date: 19/04/2016
Location: Patch - Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue skies and warm
Other Species: Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, Whitethroat (Male), Blackcap, Skylark, 7 Barn Swallow, Coal Tit - Of Note 
Butterflies: 3 Peacock, 2 Small White, 2 Tortoiseshell, 1 Brimstone.
With the light looking nice and not many birds on feeders apart from the Coal Tit.

And the always present Goldfinches

I had a spare hour so headed out through Bath Mill with Chiffchaff singing merrily along brook, and on Dog Track with at least 5 and Blackcap also in song. One particular Chiffy didn't seem to worry that I was stood 10ft from him.

And after many pictures of him decided to leave him to it .

Skylark although not as many as other years were up singing, 3 Euro Peacocks Butterflies flitting together along lane and the fields in full bloom of Oilseed Rape.

Then I heard a song I haven't heard this year, a Whitethroat !!

Didn't stay very still but patch tick (number 69!), 
Doing well this year, A record year? One can only hope !

A Kestrel and 3 Buzzards soaring on thermals not much else along towards Pennyquick.
But in Village good news, the Swallows have returned !!

The Barn Swallow have returned, there were just 2, this one having a good stretch and well deserved !

But numbers now up to 7, I'm sure more to arrive soon.

Hawking around horse fields and their voices a great sound to be heard !

 Although a short walk bird numbers good with 24 species seen. With also a Butterfly tick as well Brimstone on Sunnybank (That's the bank just inside Bath Mill, off Newton Road) 
Total butterfly species this year on patch 6.

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