Monday, 31 March 2014

Herepath in reverse 29/3/14

An early start again saw us set off from the Neroche car park 8:30 am for the start of the 12.5 mile Herepath walk.  We decided to walk it in reverse which in fact made it seem a different walk. 
A walk of many different landscapes from woodland, forest, field ,open glades and once again the route did not disappoint with views and a variety of flora and fauna.
Highlights were Red legged Partridge, Yellowhammer, Jays, Buzzard, and the beautiful sight and song of Skylarks.
Quite a few Brimstone butterflies on the sunny woodland rides as well as a single White and Peacock and Comma's.
Every where is really 'greening' up with an increase of wild flowers including Primroses, Celandines, Stitchwort, and even a few Bluebells.  Amazed to see some leaves of the Early Purple Orchids fully through.
A lovely sunny and warm Spring day out with nature, pure therapy on the hoof!

Lake within the forest.  A buzzard was perched on the dead tree until we scared it

The sun starting to break through the trees - the woodland alive with bird song

Red legged Partridge - one of a pair seen along the field edge. Thought they were rabbits until closer inspection with binoculars! We have never seen partridges in the UK before so it was a great start to the walk.  Lovely birds with beautiful colours.

Yellowhammer - stunning vibrant yellow just sitting and calling from the top of the hedgerow. First one seen in Somerset and the first seen for a few years.

Plenty of early Spring wildflowers from Celandines, Primroses, Stitchwort, Violets and already signs of Bluebells as well as the leaves of the Early Purple Orchid. I must admit these leaves are the biggest I have ever seen - will the plant produce a hefty mutant flower?

Starling - in its glossy prime

First showing of Bluebells - has the mild Spring brought them on earlier?

Lesser Celandine - great swathes of striking yellow this year brightening up the verges and woodlands.

Bee-fly - the first time I have seen one of these insects and fascinating to watch it feed on the nectar of the primrose.

Peacock butterfly - they look so dark and large in flight, what a picture of perfection when they land.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Ham Wall, Shapwick and Greylake

Arrived at Ham Wall for 7:30am on what was a frosty blue sky sunny morning.  
Our path first took us to the Ham Wall reserve where the birds from the start were in full song from booming Bitterns to Chiffchaffs. One male Garganey was seen amongst Teal and a few Canada Geese. We got a good view of a Cettis Warbler but as always we were too slow to get a photo! Also present in good numbers were Sand Martins in the sky and also skimming the water, great to see and hear them again.
Highlight of Ham Wall was a single male Bearded Tit which we were able to observe for some time on the reeds leading to the new hide. Amazing how they make their way to the top of the reeds and what fantastic colours and call they have.
Plenty of other birds to be seen including Chiffchaffs, Tufted Duck, Great Creasted Grebes, Shovelers etc.

Bearded Tit viewed from the new hide

Shapwick Heath side was also rewarding where we got a sighting of a Bittern.  The Srape had 5 Great White Egrets as well a 3 Little Egrets, 2 Garganey towards the back and about 20 plus Gadwall in a group.

2 of the 5 Great White Egret seen on the Scrape today

Not a lot was seen from Noah's Hide. Grebes, Tufted Duck, Cormorants.  From the Screen behind Noah's though we did get some great views of a displaying male and female Marsh Harrier.
Next stop Greylake and great to see that the flood water had receded and the reserve is now open.
The car park had its usual visitors of Chaffinch, Dunnocks, and Reed Buntings visiting the logs and tables in search of food.
From the hide you can see that the area of marshy still waterlogged land stretches a long way back.  From here though we saw a female Marsh Harrier being mobbed briefly by a female Peregrine. Still some Teal, Lapwing and also a lone Curlew
Highlight of Greylake ..... Seeing a flock of 5 Cranes fly past ...awesome!

Distant view of the Cranes

Reed Bunting (male)

Reed Bunting (female)

Bluet it

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Somerset Levels 16/3/14

Wow what a lovely sunny warm Spring day to head down to the Levels. The anticipation of what we may see is always amazing and today did not disappoint.  Highlight of the day was seeing 2 Adders, we felt so privileged to see these beautiful snakes. We saw many aspects of wildlife from Garganey to Kingfishers, singing Chiffchaffs, Marsh Harriers, and butterflies, we even heard our first our first booming Bittern of the year.  Not long until the Cuckoo returns!

Two Adders basking in the morning sun

Amazing red eyes of the Adder

On the move - this Adder was the smaller of the two and more active seeking out the heat of the sun

                Garganey - seen at Ham Wall at some distance!

Spring Willow - just says everything about Spring has sprung!

                Small Tortoiseshell 

Ham Wall view

                Kingfisher pair seen chasing each other

Chiffchaff - plenty seen and heard. Love this song as the herald of Spring.

                Brimstone - in flight the yellow is amazing and really bright

One more Adder - just love those markings

Herepath Walk - Somerset 15/3/14

The Herepath is a glorious 13.5 mile walk through lovely Somerset countryside just outside Taunton.  It takes in various terrains from forest tracks and woodland to fields. We set out early on what was to become a wonderful sunny day.  Once again the birds were singing and the skies were blue and we saw a total of 5 butterflies Red Admiral, Peacock, Brimstone, Small Tortoishell and plenty of Commas.

Primroses in abundance along the walk

Great to see so many Spring wild flowers making a strong appearance and also attracting butterflies and bees.

                Violets - yes these are white!

Fleabane - one of the earliest Spring flowers to appear

                Toad - met this toad along our path through damp woodlands

Bee on Celandine - great to see so many bees around this Spring

                Red Admiral soaking up the sun

Brimstone on Celandine

Comma - one of many seen today. Surprised to see so many.

Stover Lake 8th March 2014

We are quite frequent visitors to Devon and no visit is complete without a visit to Stover Lake great for birds, reptiles and insects as well as a lovely picturesque walk through woodland, heathland and of course the lake.
The weather was warm and very Spring like and the open forest paths revealed Peacock, Comma and Brimstone butterflies.  Large bees were also noticeable buzzing by like little 'bombers' heading for the flowering primroses or violets.


Bee soaking up the sun

On the lake we observed Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Goosander, Pochard and Cormorants.  On the lake reed margins we were lucky to glimpse a Water Rail as it scurried into cover.

Cormorants keeping watch over the lake


Female Goosander one of 5 on the lake

Male Goosander - just the 2 on the lake


The woodlands were full of bird song most noticeably the Nuthatch and the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Everywhere though the woods seemed alive with birds ducking and diving and chasing each other.  Spring is definitely in the air. Great to see a few Willow Tits as well as Great and Blue.

Great Tit on Bullrush - using the seed for food


                Great Creasted Grebe - fine Spring plumage

Cheeky looking Robin!