Sunday, 29 May 2011

Brandon Marsh :: 28 May 2011

A blustery day which was forecast to have rain showers throughout the afternoon. After an early lunch we set off for an afternoon on the reserve; rain on the journey up made us worry that we might end up just having a coffee in the tea room. We needn't have worried as the sun broke through the clouds as soon as we got onto the paths and didn't leave us all afternoon. In fact we got a bit hot in our waterproof tops.

There were significant numbers of juvenile great and blue tits at the reserve feeders being chased by two squirrels having their fill. A good number of rabbits also populated the paths.

Again, there were whitethroats everywhere. Every bush seemed to have some; their songs singing through the wind (reducing to breeze as the afternoon wore on). We came across one guy who had spent 2hrs in the same spot watching a pair of whitethroats who were showing well and had shots where you could virtually identify the insects in their beaks. Passing views of linnet were also good.

Our species for the day numbered 37 and included: great tit, feral pigeon, chaffinch, great-spotted woodpecker, reed bunting, bullfinch, blue tit, magpie, swallow, blackbird, woodpigeon, greylag goose, mallard, canada goose, Jaycarrion crow, linnet, swift, jay, whitethroat, tufted duck, grey heron, lapwing, coot, black-headed gull, cormorant, redshank, ringed plover, pied wagtail, common tern, sand martin, mute swan, stock dove, great-crested grebe, moorhen, robin, oystercatcher and willow warbler.

Our favourite of the day was the jay who seemed to have found rather a lot of new berries on a nearby tree.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

RSPB Middleton Lakes :: 22 May 2011

RSPB Middleton Lakes is the latest RSPB nature reserve to open to the public. Last weekend it opened officially and this weekend it was hosting a Bird Fair. Since the RSPB acquired the site in 2007, they have developed the lakes, reedbeds, meadows and woodlands make it one of the best birdwatching sites in the area. Still they need more funding to install hides, bridges and a visitor centre. Still a good place to visit, even as it is.

An hour up the M40/M42 saw us arrive at 10:20, doors having opened at 10:00; we took the last parking space in the Middleton Hall courtyard. After a quick look around we located the RSPB Marquee and booked ourselves onto the 11:00 guided walk.

Our walk was scheduled for 2 hrs and aimed to introduce all of the established habitats. Immediately beside the RSPB car park there is a "play" meadow where kids can run, crawl, climb in the tree, jump and paddle in the ponds. From here you progress along a 700m trail through an ancient woodland. From here you can then choose left ot right: to the right is the meadow trail, home to English Longhorn cattle and an abundance of wild flowers; to the left a wetland trail (the "wilderness") which meanders through reedbeds, lakes and at times alongside the River Tame.

As a large group we were rather conspicuous and not likey to see much before it saw (or heard) us. We did manage to see a few birds, particularly a huge Whitethroatnumber of swifts, swallow and martins. Our species total on the walk numbered 26, including: swallow, woodpigeon, jackdaw, grey heron, carrion crow, tufted duck, whitethroat, coot, black-headed gull, mallard, housemartin, mute swan, blue tit, oystercatcher, sandmartin, swift, pied wagtail, great-crested grebe, shelduck, canada goose, chaffinch, robin, gadwall, lapwing, blackbird, and cormorant.

A quick lunch in Middleton Hall (tasty sausage and egg bap!) and a tour round the various Bird Fair stalls and marquees took us to the end of our visit. It won't be long until we come back to tour at our own speed, without a large entourage in tow.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Somerford Keynes, Cotswold Water Park :: 01 May 2011

Not really a day out birdwatching but instead lunch with family. Great to be having lunch and looking out over the water just along from the Cotswold Water Park; watching the coots with their young, moorhen, housemartin, swallows, canada geese, mute swans, mallard, black headed gull, carrion crow, blue tit, goldfinch, blackbirds, starlings and song thrush. Sedge WarblerA pair of binocs and a camera to hand we relaxed and took in the view. Then onto the water landed rather an odd looking duck which on later review turned out to be red-crested pochard. In the skies we also spotted a pair of birds which from the photos turned out be hobby. Two new species in one day.

Out for a walk after a delicious lunch and we came across a mallard family, then tufted ducks, great crested grebe, common tern, wood pigeon, dunnock, sedge warbler and this time a pair of red-crested pochard.

Red-crested pochardA great way to spend the day and still get in a little birding.

Broad-bodied chaser