Saturday, 30 April 2016

Durlston Country Park, Swanage and RSPB Arne

I'M not sure what plant twitching is called, but yesterday we took a longish drive to hunt out early spider orchids on the coast near Swanage at Durlston Country Park managed by Dorset CC.  

This wonderful reserve is made up of sea cliffs, rough grassland and meadows, and with views over to the Isle of Wight, on a sunny day there can be no place better.  We were slightly challenged by a cold, penetrating wind which reduced the bird song, but did not affect the orchids of course.

Looking out to sea, a peregrine had a great view of the raft of bathing guillemots.
 







The warblers mainly hid in the scrub but the occasional white-throat scratched out its song on a tall bramble. A pair of stonechats showed in the sunshine, cracking stones from a gorse bush.


We accidentally flushed the occasional deer from the scrub, which dashed off seemingly towards the cliff edge..


The early spider orchids did not disappoint and were so much more spectacular then I remembered. Walking through the reserve and beyond onto the NT land we soon came across the occasional spike and then large clusters of early spider orchid.








For the botanical geeks amongst you a number of other plants starting to show, including small patches of bastard toadflax (Thesium humifusum


We walked a loop further in land through the wonderful meadows, filled with nodding yellow cowslips.




Two other orchids (green-winged and early purple) were flowering on the reserve.

Early purple orchid

We loved the County Park and with some time left we headed onto RSPB's Arne reserve for a quick whiz round. There was not much showing and frankly I was a bit disappointed, which is unfair to this fabulous site, but when we reached the car park again there was a surprise or two.

The bird feeders were awash with small birds and woodpeckers drummed the trees around us.  Then my wife spotted that there was a fox under the feeder (I totally missed this!) and it gave us some great views - it seemed pretty unaffected by our presence.

 




Can't wait to go back.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Spring on the Levels

THERE was plenty of interest on the Somerset Levels last weekend, with a cattle egret poking around some cattle (!) and even getting the odd tail swish, great white and little egrets, hundreds of hirundines of all types, the grebes actively going about their spring courting and warblers singing and bitterns booming.  There were also good sightings of quartering marsh harriers and, although I did not see them, lots of snakes around.


Also I could have sworn that I heard the cranes fly over, but as I was in a dense woodland could not get any views...
 
Blackcap

 

Record shot of the cattle egret




Great white egret

Monday, 18 April 2016

Beautiful Bybrook, Wiltshire and maybe an otter passed by

A wonderful Sunday afternoon amble along the Bybrook river on the edge of the Cotswolds, and a hunt for signs of otters may just have paid off.  The small valley is bordered by ancient woodland and there is a fair smattering of riverside trees and small overgrown meanders - good for wildlife and nice habitat for otters...




With my iPhone in hand these are the images showing where a crayfish met its last moments and also some fishy remains turning up as a marker by way of a scat - could be mink - hope that it was an otter...: