Saturday, 31 December 2016

Ham Wall, Somerset Levels

The last day of the year and a trip to Ham Wall was planned. The mist would lift quickly they said but it didn't! So we arrived to reed beds of mist and at times a fine 'mizzle' - not ideal for photography but our spirits were high and we had coffee and cake. 
However despite the grim and dull weather the day would prove to be a great birding day.
We walked out to the Avalon hide and looped back to the second platform and then to the screens and the Tor View hide.  Saving the best to last and in heavy drizzle we had jaw dropping views of the Glossy Ibis plus at long last the Water Pipit landed for a few seconds not too far away. Tally for the day was 44 birds including Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Great Egret, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier, Snipe, Glossy Ibis, Water Pipit, Little Grebe.
So lesson learned despite the weather the birds are still out there. Here's to some great wildlife watching in 2017

    Great Egret 

                  Water Pipit - present in the same area for several weeks now


   Glossy Ibis - closest views ever! 



   Superb iridescent colours


                  Several Great Egrets seen around the reeds near the Tor view hide


   Little Egret


                   Marsh Harrier

River Exe area, Devon. Avocets, Brent Geese, Godwits etc

A beautiful sunny morning for our first stop Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham Devon.  It's the first visit since the new garden has been made by the hide. A fantastic area set up with feeders attracting Greenfinch, Great and Blue Tits, Dunnocks, etc.  From the hide we had some good views of Wigeon, Teal, Black Tailed Godwits, Snipe, Lapwing, Curlew, Canada & Greylag Geese.
On to Goat Walk where  we were able to watch fairly closely good numbers of Avocets, BlkWits, Dunlin and Redshank feeding on the mudflats as the tide receded. It's always a brilliant moment to see the Avocets. In The fields near the hide on closer inspection we saw Fieldfares, Redwings, Song Thrush and a pair of Stonechats. Unfortunately this time there wasn't much to be seen from the screens on the River Exe trail except for a few Redshank and a lone Grey Plover.
We left Topsham with quite a list and ventured on to the Powderham area.  The tide was now at its lowest so there were no birds close by on the mudflats. However in a field we found a large group of about 100 Brent Geese plus a few Oystercatchers which to our delight took flight all at once and flew overhead to the estuary. Wow! What an amazing sight and the noise, a true gaggle of geese. One more bird to add to the list was a single Red breasted Merganser on the sea. 
Another great trip to the River Exe with 55 bird species seen.  Can't wait to return! 



   Wigeon flying off

                 Black tailed Godwits 

                   Plenty of BlkWits feeding on the Exe

   The famous River Exe Avocets from Goat Walk

                    Good numbers of Avocets feeding as the tide went out

                   Great to watch the 'swishing' action of that beak

  'Fanciful' Lapwing

            Snipe at Bowling Green

                  The Snipe that got the worm

  Grey Plover


   Brent Geese


    Brent's feeding in the fields of Powderham


   From the field to the estuary here come the geese



   Note the white headed Oystercatcher

                   Oystercatchers flying towards the sea

Friday, 30 December 2016

Devon Visit - Cirls, Scoters, Guillemots etc 24/12/16

Xmas Eve saw us taking a beautiful walk along the Bovey river near Bovey Tracey. Despite many walkers plus their dogs we managed to see Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Dipper, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Redwing etc.
Tuesday 27th December took us to Labrador Bay to catch up with Cirl Buntings and then on to Berry Head and Brixham. We managed to find a good flock of about 20 Cirls which were very flighty but fantastic to find and see.
From the heights of Berry Head we had fantastic views of a large colony of noisy Guillemots, I was surprised to see so many at this time of year. We also spotted a Pheasant on the cliff edge, "Don't do it" we cried!
From the head there were plenty of Gannets and a few Fulmars amongst the waves and lower cliffs. We also had a distant view of a Great Norther Diver and a group of Common Scoter in flying formation.  A couple of surfacing Porpoises also grabbed our attention. A Rock Pipit got very close before being frightened by unsuspecting folk. To be honest we could of scanned the seas for ages but next stop Brixham Harbour for Turnstones.
We could not believe how close you can get to the Turnstones in Brixham Harbour. Fascinating to watch and realise how they got their name as they busily flipped over the pebbles. Only other birds of note were Great Black Backed Gulls and a single Razorbill far out to sea.

   Grey Wagtail

                   Kingfisher female darted up and down river

   Dipper - seen for only seconds before a dog jumped into the river!!!


  Still a few fungi around


   Male Cirl Bunting

                  Female Cirl Bunting

    Cirl Bunting

                   Pheasant on the edge

Guillemot colony


  Gannet - good numbers out to sea

                   Common Scoter flypast- we've never seen a flock like this


   Rock Pipit




   Turnstone - feeding on their mind and oblivious to the people close by