Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dawn Chorus - Somerset Levels 18/4/14

Arrived for the dawn chorus at 05:30 am to a glowing moon and the deafening sound of bird song.  It seemed every bird was in full song even booming Bitterns and at least 2 Cuckoos joined in!  No amount of words can describe natures orchestra -  talk about lifting the spirits!
Our path took us to one of the hides at Ham Wall where we watched the sunrise as well as getting great views of Little Egret, Great Crested Grebes, Pochard, Reed Buntings, Coots, and a Water Rail.
A total of 7 hours was spent between the two reserves of Shapwick and Ham Wall and our walk round produced sightings of a Bittern, male Garganey, Kingfisher, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Godwits, Cettis Warbler, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, Great White Egret, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a few Marsh Harriers as well as all the usual suspects.  However the highlight of the day was seeing and listening to a Nightingale a first for us in th UK.  So good to hear and see all the summer migrants return though.
A few butterflies were seen Brimstone, Small Tortoishell, Peacock, Green Veined White   and plenty of Orange Tips which proved very flighty and difficult to photograph.
The early morning start was fantastic and well worth it so much so we will doing another dawn chorus visit in a few weeks time! 

Lunar View greets us to the levels

Sunrise on the levels

Little Egret at sunrise

Water Rail - nice surprise to get a good view, must have been the early start!

Great Creasted Grebe - great crest and colours at this time of year

Marsh Harrier - quite a few seen today. Just love the way they glide and hunt over the reeds.

Green Veined White with lovely fresh markings

Sedge Warbler - quite a few calling and some great views from time to time

Cowslip seen in a few areas of the grassy verges.  A great signal of Spring.

The Lizard Cornwall - Peregrines to Choughs 11/4/14 to 14/4/14

We spent 4 wonderful sunny days walking the coast path around the Lizard and wow the area did not disappoint for scenery, flora and fauna. Every step taken and every corner we turned was stunning!
Plenty of Summer migrants arriving including Swallows, Martins and Wheatears.  Rock Pipits, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were plentyfull and seen all along the coast path.  The scrub and trees around the area was a great place to see Linnets, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps etc.  Out to sea it was great to watch the diving of Gannets and the fly past of Fulmars.  We were very lucky as well when  a female Peregrine landed quite close by on the cliffs.  From Lizard Point to Kaynance Cove we were fortunate to watch Choughs many times.
The wildflowers are just beginning to grace the paths and sea cliffs with their presence.  Thrift, Sea Campion, Bluebells and Squill adding to the colourful drama.
From Lizard point on the last morning of our visit as well as seeing a group of Choughs we watched a  Grey Seal for some time between the rocks and also a small group of Porpoises feeding out to sea.
The Lizard - quite remarkably a walkers and wild life paradise .... We will be back!

Typical view

Sea Campion - seen everywhere along the cliffs

Fresh Water river leading down to the sea, alas no dippers

Rock Pipit 

Squill - lovely little flower growing on the grassy cliff edges

Wheatear in fine fresh colours

Female Peregrine which shortly flew of with a male.  Great to see them on the sea cliffs

One of the many Skylarks seen along the path.  So good to hear their song

A Wren singing its heart out - such a loud song for a little bird!

Bee on Thrift

Early Purple Orchid - ony one seen and this was growing on top of a dry stone wall

The coast path full of twists and turns blue skies and blue sea

Sea Campion 

Thrift - a carpet of pink for the cliffs

Chough - so lucky to see these along the path.  Fantastic call and quite acrobatic in flight.

Grey Seal - quite at home in the small cove of Lizard Point

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Brean Down Somerset 6/4/14

A blustery overcast start to a walk around Brean Down hoping to spot a few Wheatears and maybe a Ring Ouzel!
The steep path up revealed Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing their hearts out. Overhead we spotted a passing Peregrine and the usual Jackdaws, Magpies and Ravens. 
Everywhere there are Cowslips their bright yellow seemed to glow on this dull day.  The Blackthorn is in full flower and the Hawthorn in places in full leaf, this scrubland providing great cover for the Chiffchaffs etc. Male and female Stonechats were seen in a few areas perching on top of the scrub.
Looking out to sea we had the occasional views of Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Mallards and Cormorants.
At the fort we had some good views of Rock Pipits but unfortunately no Wheatears or Ring Ouzels.
Along the path we had a glimpse of our first Swallow fighting the strong breeze, just the one!
As we took a seat before our climb back down to the lower path a Willow Warbler started singing and we were actually able to see it perched in a Hawthorn, now we know it's Spring, just love the sound of the Willow Warbler!
At the bottom of the down we saw more Stonechats and the rocky beach area revealed a pair of Rock Pipits as well as small areas of White Rock Rose and White Campion growing high on the rock face.
Another great morning out with nature!

Cowslip - seen everywhere over the down

Blackthorn and Hawthorn the scrub bursting into life.  Great area for Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps etc

Stonechat - several pairs seen around Brean Down

White Campion ( I think) - high up on the rock face

White Rock Rose again high up on the rock face. Surprised to see it in flower

Rock Pipit at distance - a pair seen on the rocky shore.