Sunday, 28 May 2017

North Devon

A couple of nights under canvas at our favorite north Devon campsite, which hovers over rolling hills down to a steep cliff and ultimately the rocky beach, and the bird life did not disappoint.

My target species was a grasshopper warbler - last year I managed to get a good close up, but this time round all I could experience was the drifting sound of its reeling song.  Some compensation came in the form of numerous chirpy wheatears - several of which were quite confiding - hopping between grassy mounds and sheep poop after insects.  These were accompanied by the ever present stonechats, calling frequently but also singing - something that I'd not noticed before,

Away from the cliff edges and short grass, where the valley flattens out and reeds take hold on boggy ground, a (ringed) sedge warbler vigorously defended its territory.  Numerous whitethroats scratched out their song, perched upon the gorse and hawthorn, where the woodbine flowers were starting to burst open and foxgloves spikes enticed many a bumble bee to clamber into their long pink flowers.

The occasional willow warbler and blackbird were also holding territories, along with linnets and goldfinches.  A fulmar passed overhead and a possible peregrine made an appearance.

Although overcast I did catch a few images:

sedge warbler with leg ring
willow warbler
willow warbler

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Stonking Sunday in Somerset

Last Sunday I had a truly stonking visit to the Somerset Levels - the spring birds were out in force and giving good views - albeit quite distant for most.

Highlights were cuckoos, bitterns, bearded tits, glossy ibis, gw egrets, hobbys, Cetti's and garden warblers, baby tawny owls and a single garganey.  None of these were particularly easy to photograph as they were all distant but I managed to get some record shots.

great white egret

Black-tailed godwits
Cetti's warbler

female bullfinch
Glossy ibis
hobby - in the original you can see the dragonfly in its beak but the bird is very dark
reed warbler
Oh yes - and it rained rocks at one point - but I was safety tucked in a hide thank goodness

Bearded tit with insect in beak

marsh harrier
tawny owletts
reed warblers collecting nesting material
garden warbler singing

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Spring harvest in Somerset

OUR visit to the Somerset Levels reaped rich rewards, with a long list of summer bird ticks and others, including cuckoos, swifts, swallows, hobbies, warblers (reed, white-throat, willow, chiffchaff, garden, blackcap), cattle and great white egrets, bitterns, bt godwits, marsh harriers, plus smooth snakes, (black) adder and grass snake.

One surprise was a predated swift, which we were sure was a victim of a hobby as nothing else could capture one in flight and they would not be on land.  Also we found a discarded clutch of hatched moorhen eggs and another egg not yet identified.

slow worm
white throat
Moorhen eggs

Some record shots:

7 (!) Cattle egrets
Grass snake

Friday, 5 May 2017

Kittiwakes and moors

A visit up north to York, Newcastle\Gateshead and Manchester - what a weekend!

We did not go for the wildlife, but we managed to slip in a visit to the pretty amazing kittwakes nesting (or at least queuing up to start the breeding season) on the riverside bridges and the Baltic Flour Mill.  A special viewing gallery lets you get up close and personal.

Whilst up north we traveled to the beautiful North York Moors NP, which looked stunning with a big open, rolling landscape.  We went for a short hike from Litton along the river, through a small nature reserve and back round.  The spring had certainly arrived with curlews and oyster catchers calling and many spring flowers, such as primroses, early purple orchids and water avens blooming.