Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Devon Visit 21/3/17 Slapton Sands - Terns, Gannets & Porpoise

A trip down to Devon and the beautiful area of Slapton Sands to hopefully get a sighting of the Humpback Whale that has been seen on numerous occasions in the area. 
A beautiful sunny day but with a very cold strong wind but at least we had brilliant visibility looking out to sea.  So good to see plenty of Gannets feeding out to sea, amazing watching them dive from a height into the sea like torpedos that beak must be lethal! Good views also of Porpoises as they fished below the Gannets. Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and Herring Gulls also on the sea and to our delight our first Sandwich Terns of the year fishing along the sea edge for sand eels.
From the hide on the Ley side there wasn't too much on the lake apart from Coots, Tufted Ducks, Canada Geese, Great black backed Gulls, a Little Grebe and Sand Martins skimming across the water.
Along the Sandy rocky path we spotted 2 Wheatears another first for the year. We spent a good few hours sea watching and looking for the Humpback but alas the whale did not show. However we were highly entertained by the scanning and watching all the other wildlife, very relaxing and the time quickly passed.
Before the day was out we took a quick stop to Labrador Bay for the Cirl Buntings.  The skies quickly blackened but between two very heavy showers we were able to spot just 2 Cirls, a nice end to the day.  So tempted to return to Slapton again soon if the Whale is still around.

    Gannet flying across the sea with such ease


   Like a glider taking advantage of the air currents 


    Porpoise, one of many seen today. Must be rich fishing grounds 

                   Where there is a Porpoise there are usually Gannets


   A tiny dorsal fin this is all you usually see of a Porpoise 


   Sandwich Tern so very elegant as it fishes over the waves



   Characteristic dive of the Tern


   Like a bullet into the waves - fishing for sand eels


   Great to see the return of these birds from South Africa


   Labrador Bay near Torquay just before the downpour 


   Cirl Bunting, only 2 seen between the very heavy showers!


Monday, 20 March 2017

Ham Wall 15/3/16 Glossy Ibis, Bittern, Mating Harriers, Dancing Grebes

An incredibly dull, misty grey day for a visit to the Levels and not good for photography.   Once again an early start and we chose Ham Wall for a walk starting at the Tor view hide where we had a great view of the Glossy Ibis with some Snipe.
On to the Avalon hide where we stayed for some time and we were rewarded with great views of Bittern, mating Marsh Harriers, and a dance from the Great Crested Grebes. We were even able to see some Bearded Reedlings as they fed on the lower margins of the reeds.  Another Glossy Ibis? Flew into the middle of the reeds as well.  
On to Loxtons and as we approached the hide we spotted a Mink running up the path.  Bitterns were continuing to boom and Great Egrets were flying overhead quite frequently. A round the trees at Loxtons was a large group of Goldfinches and on closer inspection there were a good number of Redpoll.  Coming back to the first platform we had yet another view of a Bittern.  Several groups of Sand Martins were also seen from all over the reserve.
A brilliant birding day in incredibly dull and misty weather - just goes to show, its all out there if you look for it what ever the weather wildlife and nature still goes about its business.

   Glossy Ibis and Snipe


                  Bittern climbing to the top of the reeds

                  Suddenly the Bittern took flight

                  They danced! A little distant but wow, they danced




                   Male Marsh Harrier

    Looking good for future Harriers





   Off he goes


   Male and female Harriers - lovers tiff?


                   The second Ibis?

    Tigger impression - Great Egret


   Mink - not a favourite on a nature reserve


                  Redpoll, one of several in with a flock of Goldfinches

                    Bittern from the first platform