Thursday, 28 December 2017

Final Levels visit for 2017

A beautiful, cold and clear day meant only one thing - a visit to he Levels was in order;  nothing new to see today but the sheer number of birds and the closeness of the superstars made it a good one - egrets, marsh harriers, wintering ducks and bitterns were the highlights:

Sunday, 26 November 2017


ON a cold windy Sunday a few weeks ago I popped down to Ham Wall to view the spectacle of the starlings.  The numbers are high (and will get higher) and with the sunset it was a great experience.

What's that bird?

Seen on King Sedge Moor, Somerset in the distance amongst plovers - is it a sandpiper (the top right bird)?

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Beardie heaven

OUR plan for the day was to start by hunting out the bearded tits (reedlings) and then go from there.  

We were excited to hear four fly high overhead as soon as we stepped onto the Somerset reserve, but they were going the other way and we were informed by a helpful couple of birders that they had just been showing for an hour and were very close up...

So with our expectations dashed, we were surprised and delighted to see a number of individuals still pecking up the shells on the boardwalk, as hoped, and eventually we saw three pairs altogether.

Over the day we found beardies at three totally separate and distinct locations on our travels around Westhay SWT and Wall Hall RSPB reserves.

I had to get down very low to capture these beauties as I wanted, but it was worth it.



Other sightings were as expected: the back end of a bittern, marsh harriers, GW egrets, lapwings and ducks - no glossy ibis this time.

Distant marsh harriers

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Yorkshire Dales NP

WE had a late summer\early autumn visit to the Yorkshire Dales and stayed in the excellent Queens Arms in Littondale.  The weather was dramatic and made for amazing views.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Swiss Alps - fantastically flowery

OUR Summer holiday this year was a week or so in the Swiss alps to walk and see the wonderful alpine meadows and WOW we were not disappointed.



We had mixed weather at the start, but the richness of the flora and the amazing views of the Jungfrau, Monch and the Eiger when the cloud lifted were spectacular.  One particularly special area was the Schynigge Platte which we visited twice, reaching it on a little alpine train.  We stayed in Interlaken and Murren enjoying the rich Swiss cuisine.

We had timed our visit carefully - almost all of the snows had gone and where the slopes faced north the early flowers were still out, such as the masses of crocuses and the alpine snowbell.


In other places the niches were characterised by damp, gently sloping ground, dry rocky screes and everything in between, and the dominant flowers reflected the conditions.  

Animals were few but marmots, ring ouzels and black redstarts were occasionally seen.

moonwort fern

prolific globe flower - found spread over huge ares where the ground was a bit damper
bilberry and juniper where grazing was less intense

pasque flowers

alpine gentian



Lilly of the valley

alpine chough




A magnificent walk heavily reviewed on Tripadvisor was one near Murren called the Blumental Panorama Trail - this was quite out of this world - there were breath taking panoramas filled with alpine flowers and many butterflies such as swallowtails zipping by.  This was the only place I found edelweiss after a long search.





There was often the evocative sound of clanking cows bells in the lower meadows.


the old was of cutting

Whilst traveling through France we passed a field of hay being cut and 30 attendant kites wheeled around to swoop on any small mammal caught out and exposed - they then fought in an aerial battle for the find.