Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Devon delights and Somerset stars

WE paid a visit to south Devon for a wonderful staycation in the highly recommended Mason's Arms in Branscombe.  This sits in a beautiful valley running down to the sea, with hanging woodlands and grazed pastures.

I got up especially early one day to hear the dawn chorus, but perhaps the best spot of the stay were two female redstarts flitting between the hedgerows.


On a local reserve we tracked down a Dartford warbler, which was fantastic, and I managed a record shot (less fantastic):

At the weekend I went to Ham Wall RSPB reserve and Shapwick Heath NNR in Somerset - I dipped out on the Hudsonian Godwit (boo) but did enjoy the following: swifts, hobbies, bitterns, marsh harriers,whitethroats, egrets, reed warblers, cuckoo calling, grebes and this garden warbler, singing in exactly the same spot as last year (same bird?):

Monday, 20 April 2015

Out and about at last

FOR the first time this spring I was able to get out onto the Somerset Levels thanks to having a personal chauffeur for the day (thanks Steve!).  Having a "forced" incarceration doesn't half make you appreciate the chances when they come along.

New bluetit colouration? No - just pollen from pussy willow
It was a wonderfully day and the early summer migrants were in full song: reed\sedge and willow warblers, chiffchaffs, blackcaps and whitethroats were all in evidence, plus a few swallows and lots of sandmartins swooping after flying bugs.  We heard a few booming bitterns and saw several marsh harriers, but the full complement of migrants is yet to come...something to look forward to.

We enjoyed watching the egret, heron and grebe all hunting amongst the reeds.  There were also some enormous pike making sudden rushes on the fish, causing momentary panic, followed by utter calm.

Singing blackcap

Little egret

A very noisy marsh frog male (left) pursuing a female (right)
Mallards (rear end view)

Great crested grebe competing with pike for a fishy meal
Wading heron

Friday, 3 April 2015

Nice signage!

Normally I'm not a big fan of the trend to make our landscape into an outdoors museum, and putting up signs can have that feel sometimes.  But a well designed and engaging wildlife related sign - particularly a good diorama - can be something special.  I particularly like ones that do not compromise on being scientific, but still remain interesting and informative.

This one below is just such an example, and lives at the pond dipping site of the RSPB's Ham Wall Reserve in Somerset; well done RSPB!

...and you should see the huge new otter sculpture going up...