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03 March 2024

Labrador Bay and Powderham Marsh

Spent this morning visiting a couple of local reserves which I hadn't visited in a while, RSPB Labrador Bay and Powderham Marshes.

Starting off early on a crisp but beautiful morning at Labrador Bay, when I got out of the car I knew it was going to be a good session when you could hear the bird song, especially the Skylarks in full swing singing over the fields on the other side of the field. It wasn't long before I could hear the Cirl Buntings which were stationed in the hedges along the walk, they appeared to be mostly Female and Juveniles with the odd male singing for position.

Also plenty of Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Herring Gulls around the hedges and fields. Also heard was the Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers in the woodland close bye.

Off then to Powderham Marsh which was very wet and was only able to get to the first couple of fields, should have worn my wellies!

Did see and hear plenty of birds with Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Reed Bunting, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jay, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and my first in a long time a single Greenfinch. In the fields Pheasant, Canada Geese and Mute Swans.

Couple of Raptors with Kestrel and Buzzard,several Bumblebees around the Willows but still sadly no Butterflies! Very few humans about today and had the place to myself.



27 February 2024

Dartmoor

Spent the day on Dartmoor, it's quite rare these days to get a day off and it's not raining so making the most of it!

Started off early at Yarner, parking on Trendlebere, as soon as I got out of the car the air was filled with Bird Song and Woodpeckers drumming. Walking into Yarner I realised its start of silly season here with people already staring into the trees looking for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, plenty of Great but no Lesser I was told!

So I moved on down the track and great to see Lesser Redpoll on the floor and Siskins in the trees, plenty of other birds about especially around the feeders with Great, Blue, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Bullfinch and a Treecreeper, so a good start to the day.

Off into Dartmoor stopping off in several places as normal and compared to Yarner a bit quiet. Plenty of Corvids especially Rooks and Jackdaws on pasture looking for food, a few Carrion Crows, Ravens in the air, groups of Magpies and a single Jay.

Smaller birds included Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipit, also Woodpigeon and Stock Doves.

A couple of Buzzards were the only raptors seen and that was that!



16 February 2024

Aylesbere Common

Spent a fruitfull couple of hours here although sat in my car for a short period due to rain, the forcast was no rain but as normal never correct!

Saw a few Dartfords which was the reason for coming here, both male and female, plenty of chatter going on but didnt hear any song.

Did see see and hear plenty of other stuff such as Stonechat, Yellowhamer, Linnet, Great Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Raven, Woodpigeon and a flyover Kestrel.

A few humans about and all in good humour.



09 February 2024

Beachcoming

Spent a few hours on the beach by Langstone Cliff on the Dawlish side, this is the top end of a long beach and as i have said before, long shore drift pushes allsorts of stuff up here and it gets coaught by the cliff because it cant go any further.

Todays haul included Razor Shells, Muscles, Slipper and Common Limpets, Tellins, Otter Shells, Common and Rough Cockles, Common Oyster, Turban Top Shells, Whelks, Scallops and Cuttlefish.

Also found piece of spine which could of been off anything?

Good time spent even though soaked through!



05 February 2024

Out and About

Been all over the place fitting in some birdwatching and photography in between work, being a Granddad and bad weather.

Several trips to Dartmoor didn't bring any surprises, in fact it was very quiet, very few winter Thrushes and haven't seen a Redwing in weeks, so don't know what has happened to them or where they are?

A morning trip to RSPB Aylesbere has been the best part of these couple of weeks with several Dartford Warblers seen as well as Linnet and Yellow hammers seen and heard.

Around the back fields of Starcross, Kenton, Dawlish and Exminster plenty of game birds with Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge, large numbers of Corvids on cultivated fields, Buzzards and Woodpigeons in good numbers, singles of Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers.

Quite quiet on the sea front of Dawlish with the odd Herring Gull, Rock Pipit and Cormorant.



19 January 2024

Norfolk and Suffolk

As Iam 65 on the 20th,I booked some days off to go to East Anglia, left work on Thursday and drove to stay at Premier Inn in Worcester for the night before an early start to drive East.

Started at 5am and surprised to see so much traffic on the M5 and M6, after a couple of hours traveling east into the sun as it was rising, the sky was clear and plenty of plane trails high up but lower down so many birds on the move, while still concentrating on driving the car, I still could see flocks of Gulls, Corvids, Woodpigeons, Waders and the odd Grey Heron crossing the motorway, great start to the weekend, further on the A14 Red Kites, Buzzards, Corvids everywhere and hunting Kestrels made the journey an interesting one.

Iam staying a few nights in Lowestoft, but wanted to visit a couple of places on route, first being Welney Wetland Centre. Like the last time I visited it was flooded, not surprised after all the rain, but this time only the main hide was open. Great to see Tree Sparrows in the car park, not seen any of these for a while. The water in front of the main hide was thick ice with 50+ ducks, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon and Pochard.

Mute and a few Whooper Swans with Greylag Geese on the bank and there was a flock flying around. After an hour left to look around the surrounding fields where there was 100s of Swans on the fields, mostly Whooper a few Mute but couldn't find any Bewick. Red-legged Partridge, Corvids, Lapwings, Blackbirds, Flock of Starlings, Woodpigeons, Great-spotted Woodpecker on a fence post, Fieldfare, Buzzards and Kestrels.

Then off to Lynford Arboretum, probably at the wrong time which was mid day, on my next visit it will be in the morning or evening when birds coming into roost.

Did see and hear a lot of birds, Siskins, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Crossbill and a Female Hawfinch which frustratingly couldn't get a picture because of others blocking me, got to see it with my bins beautiful bird.

So off to Lowestoft where iam staying again in a Premier Inn, Saturday saw me off to RSPB Minsmere for the day. Its about an hours drive from where I was staying and I arrived about 9am, the car park was already busy with a few coaches parked up, experience told me that the hides would be full but I also knew that Minsmere was a big place so I could "lose" myself. As I thought when I got to the Bittern Hide it was packed to the point I couldn't get in so off to the Island Mere Hide which was a lot different.

But before I got there it wasn't the birds that brought my attention but a couple of Muntjac Deer, smart looking animals but have always thought why they have been allowed to stay, like the Chinese Water Deer?

Anyway back to the birds, Mere hide had lots to see and the crowds hadn't made it that far yet, Water Rail x3, Water Pipit, Snipe and Bittern all close with some excellent views especially of the Bittern that just casually walked in front of the hide on the Ice.

Out of the hide to a path to an area known as the Rhodadren Tunnel where there was reported Mealy Redpols, there was a mixed flock of Redpolls, Siskin and Goldfinch but couldn't say if any where Mealy as they were at the top of the trees, so unsure if the pics I took where of them or not.

After having some food and drink in the café spent the afternoon around the East Scrape, plenty of Ducks here with Pintail, Mallard, Widgeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Shelduck plus Gooseander, Mute Whooper and Bewick Swans with Marsh Harriers in the distance.

Saw plenty of other birds around the reserve with Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Green Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, carrion Crow, Raven, Magpie, Jay, Wren, Buzzard, Lapwing, Great and Lesser-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

So an excellent day and met some great humans as well so happy on my journey back to Lowestoft.

Sunday saw me leaving Lowestoft and head for Kings Lynn again staying in Premier Inn for a couple of nights. Headed for Cromer and not much to see on route, but as soon as I got onto the coast road A149 it was a different matter. Stopped in lay-bys, pull ins Harbours and car-parks using my car as a hide as the weather starting to get windy with Storm Isha.

Plenty of Geese in the fields and flying overhead, Brent, Pink Footed, Greylag and Canada Geese, all in good numbers. Raptors out in force, especially Red Kites but Sparrowhawk, Kestrels, Buzzards and Marsh Harriers hunting over the fields. Around the Harbours and fields, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Little Egret, Teal, Mallard, Widgeon and Goosanders.

Lucky to see some Twite, also Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Fieldfare, House Sparrow, Starling, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Black-headed and Herring Gulls and Pheasants.

Did see plenty of Muntjac Deer, some alive and sadly dead by the side of the road.

Monday was an early start and off to Holkham Beach to look for Shore Lark, this is a good place to see them as well as Snow Buntings. On route did see plenty of Red-footed Geese, Red Kites, Lapwings, Woodpigeons, Grey Pheasants and Hares.

Got to the beach and went to the roped off area where I have seen the Shore Larks regularly over the years, it was wind swept and not a bird in sight. Plenty of birds by the car parks with Widgeon, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Shelduck, Pink-footed and Greylag Geese, Redshank, Red Kite, Lapwing, Curlew, Blackbird, Wren and Robin. An hour and half after I left I noted on Birdguides that Shore Larks had been seen in the area but on further investigation they where further west to were I was.

I then spent a few hours around the fields further inland, hundreds of Geese, Pink-footed, Brent and Greylag Geese making an impressive sight! It was still quite windy so most birds on the ground, good numbers of Lapwing, Jackdaw and Gulls. In hedges while I was parked up lucky to see a small flock of Bullfinch, 7 in total, never seen that many in one place. Buzzard, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin and Great Tit. Also saw a couple of Cattle Egret at Thornham. Also popped into a few harbours saw all the usual things as well as several Gooseanders.

Off to Snettisham to see a Juv Black-throated Diver, parked up and as I was putting money in the car park machine two booms from a air cannon went off almost next to me and scared the shit out of me!!

Those of you have visited here before will know that before you get to the reserve there is several lakes fenced off that belong to the Angling Association, after talking to a laughing fisherman they have been having problems with Cormorants taking all the fish, well it put them up as well as the Diver, so while waving at it as it flew off I turned to the car and left, just past the entrance there was 4 Egyptian Geese in the field.

Off then to Titchwell to catch the Marsh Harriers going to roost. Was starting to get dark at 3pm when I arrived, all the usual stuff although not in great numbers, the best place was the East Hide where I was watching the Harriers, 7 in total. But also a couple of Snipe in front of the hide.

Again plenty of Muntjac Deer both alive and dead by the side of the road. Single Squirrel and several Hares sat in the fields.

The journey home wasnt as nice as the journey up, 6hrs of grey skies and rain!

( more text and pictures to follow )



12 January 2024

Dartmoor

Spent today on Dartmoor, not raining for a change but grey and dull not making it the best for taking pictures.

Started off at Yarner and after a nice chat to one of the Rangers I went to the bottom hide to see what was about, a steady flow of birds but not great in number, sadly because the trees and bushes to the right of the hide for some reason have been taken out many birds especially the Marsh Tits where going straight to the feeders whereas before they used to stop on the bushes giving you opportunities to take a picture in a more natural setting instead of being on a feeder.

Did see Great, Blue, Marsh, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Robin and Chaffinch around the feeders but not a lot else.

Up onto a grey moor and plenty of Corvids about with Raven, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw and Magpie seen all over the moor with plenty of Jay seen especially around Challacombe Farm.

Woodpigeon, single Collard Dove and a flock numbering 13 of Stock Dove in their usual haunt. Saw a couple of Great spotted Woodpeckers, both flying, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat, flocks of Chaffinch, Starling and Fieldfare, sadly didn't see one Redwing.

Several Buzzard seen of different shades, mostly pale but the best sighting of all was a Female/juv Merlin, as I came around a bend in the road it was sat on top of a small tree and when I stopped the car it flew off into the valley, beautiful bird and great to see.

Surprising to see lots of humans out walking but thankfully the roads were relatively free from idiots!



05 January 2024

River Exe

On this lovely sunny day, spent some time around the River Exe which was on a rising tide and ended up at Bowling Green Marsh in Topsham, on the journey there and back stopped off at Cockwood Steps and Harbour, Starcross Golf course, around Starcross and Powderham, down the road at Exminster Marsh and Goose Moor.

Obviously around the water and on the fields plenty of Waders with Curlew, Godwits, Dunlin, Oystercatchers, Redshank, Greenshank, Grey and Golden Plovers, Lapwing, Snipe and Avocet.

Mute Swans, Brent, Greylag and Canada Geese in good numbers as well as Mallard, Pintail, Teal, Widgeon, Shoveler and Shelduck. Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot and Kingfisher. All the normal Gulls.

In the bushes and fields, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Jackdaw.

Kestrel, Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier put in a lengthy appearance at BGM but sadly at a distance, great to see though!

Also nice to see was a Fox at BGM sunning himself without a care in the world at the back by the hedge.

Met plenty of nice humans and a very enjoyable day!



26 December 2023

Boxing day on Dartmoor

Went for a trip around Dartmoor today, my knee was playing up so spent time with my trusty flask of tea sat watching from my car.

Started early as expecting a few humans about it being Boxing Day but wasn't until midday at Cadover Bridge when did I really come across many humans.

As the sun was coming up and quite strong, plenty of birds sat high in the trees warming up, the best of these was a Goshawk, sadly a bit far away for a picture but watched for 20 minutes with the bins although its white chest stood out in the sun, beautiful bird, it flew into the forest and then alarm calls from Great spotted Woodpecker as it was on the hunt for breakfast!

Saw quite a few Fieldfare but no other Thrushes seen of any species? Plenty of Blackbird, Robin, Great, Blue and Coal Tits. Several flocks of Chaffinch, large flock of Starling close to Challacombe Farm, Good numbers of Stock Dove, Woodpigeon and single Collard Dove. Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Stonechat, Siskin, Crossbill, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, several Buzzard, Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie and Jay seen.

All in all a good day out.



17 December 2023

Exminster Marshes

Went for a nice walk around Exminster Marshes today, doing a circuit from the carpark to Turf via the road and back along the back path which wasn't as wet as I expected. A bit grey, not the best for taking pictures!

The tide was on its way out but still high enough to keep birds off the mud for the first part of the walk, by the time I got to Turf the tide had gone down enough to show some mud and waders doing their thing in front of me especially the Avocets, sadly because of an idiot with a camera trying to get closer and closer he kept frightening off the birds, the stupid thing was he had a massive lens so he could have done what I did and sat on the bench and they came closer, sadly no "Field Craft"!!!

Saw a good selection of Waders, both on the marsh and River Exe with Lapwing, Avocet, Godwits, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Golden and Grey Plover.

Other Water based Birds were Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Widgeon, Pintail, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Water Rail, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Brent and Canada Geese, Black-headed, Common, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls.

Around the hedgerows Starling, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Woodpigeon, Goldcrest, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail and Robin.

A few humans about and great to see Steph and Rob Murphy.



© Simon Thurgood 2024
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