Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ticks for the year list and snakes...

A great day on the Somerset Levels today with biting wind and blazing sunshine.

What's not to love...?
Wonderful old tussock sedge

Its been a slow start for most of us this year, but our bird list was pretty good:
  • swift, housemartin, swallow
  • willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, whitethroat and sedge (?) warblers
  • cuckoo, waterrail and bittern calling
  • several marsh harriers and numerous hobbies.
Grainy marsh harrier


To cap it all we also saw a pair of black winged stilts - the first time I've seen them in the UK.  That's a great haul to kick of summer birds species.  We dipped out on a  few others but its good to leave something for next time!


The bright green of the new spring leaves and yellow pussy willow means that ti is also time for the reptiles. 

Adder and slow-worms were in evidence in their usual secret places.


And finally...

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Latest observations

Great to see the first brimstone butterfly and bee-flies today, hawking from one primrose flower to another (they're quite late really), with blackcaps, willow warblers and native birds singing...and maybe even a distant cuckoo.  The odd bluebell was flowering along the cycle track where sunny and warm.

File:Grosser Wollschweber Bombylius major.jpg
Bee-fly - courtesy of Wikipedia
Bee-flies are interesting as they mimic bees but have no sting as they are flies!  They're a real sign of spring seeking early nectar.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Spring is's official

THIS morning I wiped off the cobwebs, pumped up the tires and oiled the gears of my (very old) Gary Fisher HOO KOO E KOO to take to the newly opened Sustrans route, near our house, that opened last weekend: the wonderful Two Tunnels route.  This provides us with a way of getting out of Bath without having to climb any hills - worth all the £££!

The stretch near us has the longest cyclable tunnel in the country - its dark and seems endless - but I love the speakers embedded in the walls with ambient sound...

Before it started raining the signs of spring were obvious, with rosettes of yellow primrose and strong smelling ramsons leaves in the woods boarding the track.  Also I heard my first chiff-chaff and willow warbler of the year - what a joy!

Footnote (Sunday): the warmth today has paid dividends - the first pond skater and whirligig beetle on our pond; queen bees bumbling around the lungwort flowers; the frog spawn is now growing into discernible tadpole shapes.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

New Zealand

THE absence of any recent blogging is due to the fact that we went off to NZ for a few weeks, via Singapore, which was great.  I took loads of images of landscapes, birds, dolphins and human family, but unfortunately my picture taking skills appear to have taken a step back, as many of them are blurred and frankly rubbish.  Probably the equipment...!

Here are a few that did get through the sift:

Praying Mantis
Kauri tree

Bottlenosed dolphin

We visited Tiritiri Matangi Island where intensive conservation work, including replanting of native bush and reintroductions of native (mainly endemic) birds species has yielded fabulous results.  The birds seen included: bellbirds, redcrowned parakeets, north-island robin, whiteheads, stitchbird, saddleback, tahaka and the ubiquitous tui.  They were all very confiding and frankly rather noisy.  We all quickly learnt their calls and names.  It was an excellent experience and well worth the cost.

Common dolphin

Fullers shearwater
Fairy Terns
Red-billed gull

Waders with pied stilt in foreground