31 March 2016
Scotland day 2
Went to the Cairngorm's ski centre to park up and go looking for Ptarmigans, I am especially looking for birds still in their all white winter plumage. But I couldn't get into the car park and looking to the side of the mountain it was packed with people, so I turned around and went down to Loch Garten to look for Crested Tits and Red Squirrels.
Sadly the area around the centre was closed until tomorrow but another birder/photographer had put some food out and plenty of birds turned up with Chaffinch, Siskin, Robin, Great,Blue,Coal and a Crested Tit which was just great to see! It was quite friendly as well giving some great views but not a Red Squirrel in sight.
Then off to Granton-on-Spey to get a bite to eat, there is a great cafe just down from the wildlife hotel and would recommend strongly. I took my Coffee and Bacon sarnies off to lochindoub to see what was around, plenty of Red Grouse and Common Gulls around the Heather with Oystercatcher, Mallards and Greylag Geese.
Then off to the Findhorn Valley, one of my favourite places! The road to the end is 10 miles long and has plenty of great views and chances to see the wildlife. Today I saw Mistle Thrush, Mallards, Oystercatcher, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipits, Pheasants, Red-legged Partridge and when I parked up next to a stream there was a Dipper but couldn't get a picture because I would have frightened it off. I didn't see any Golden Eagles but apparently further up the valley accessible by foot there was 4 giving great views, should have put my walking boots on!
Met some great people today especially the birders at Loch Garten.
30 March 2016
Scotland day 1
Arrived in Fort William for a 10 day stay in Scotland, came up the A82 with stunning landscapes on all sides and hoping the weather will be good enough to take pictures, from Saturday I am on the Isle of Mull looking for Eagles!
Glen Coe on the way up was just stunning, a beautiful clear day. On the way back it was shrouded in fog and it was mean and moody, just brilliant!
28 March 2016
After all the wind and rain I thought there might be a fall of migrants, but sadly I couldn't find any! In fact I found very few birds, especially in front of the hide with only a couple of Grey Plover, Shielduck a few Oystercatchers which flew over from Finger Point. At Finger point apart from the Oystercatchers there was only Cormorants, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls. On the beach there was a few Turnstones with Cormorants and Gulls on the sea. Around the reserve there was plenty of Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnock, Stonechat, Wren, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, House Sparrow and Collard Dove. On the pond there was Canada Geese and a pair of Mute Swans, Mallards and Little Grebes. On the Golf Course there was 10 Dark-bellied Brent Geese and that was that!
A few people about but nothing exciting to talk about!
Off to Scotland tomorrow which I hope will be a lot more exciting!!
27 March 2016
The weather was very different today, one minute its sunshine the next its raining hard with Hail and Thunder and Lightning and I got wet in the process but still had a good day. I split it into two walks, 1st was from Slapton to Ireland Bay and 2nd was from the Tank to the hide at Stokely Bay.
From the bridge to Ireland Bay I heard 4 Cettis Warblers, Raven, Moorhen, Coot, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls, Great-crested Grebes, Mute Swans, Grey Heron, 30+ Tufted Duck, Mallard and Gadwall, Also in the bushes Blue Tit, wren, Chiffchaff and Goldfinch. There was a few Coot and Mute Swans sitting on nests.
From the Tank I could see more Mute Swans, Coots, Great-crested Grebes and Mallards, around the feeding area there was plenty of Mallard cross and a White Aylesbury Duck ( Well I think it was !! hahaha) Walking further around there was Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Woodpigeon around the gardens and houses with Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock and Greenfinches also present. At the hide there was Canada Geese, 20+ Tufted Ducks, Coots, Moorhens, 10+ Gadwalls,1 Pochard and several Great-crested Grebes and Mute Swans. at 3pm while sat in the hide 6 Swallows and a mixed group of Martins, at least 2 House Martins and the rest Sand Martins. After this winter it was great to see this sign of Summer!
No insects to be seen which is not a surprise but plenty of Spring Flowers with Red Campion, Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Dog Violets, Herb Robert, Bluebell and others.
Plenty of others about braving the weather and all in good spirits.
25 March 2016
Powderham, Exminster Marshes and Back
Managed to get out today and earlier than normal. Its a beautiful day and no coat needed! I rolled up to a busy Powderham Church Car park and the Rookery was in full song along with other birds enjoying the sun and who could blame them!! Blackbirds, Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Dunnock and Woodpigeon. Plenty of Rooks, Carrion Crows and Pheasants in the near by fields.
Off up the path and from the bridge I could see a white breasted bird in the field and to my joy it was a Male Wheatear! 1st of the year, also a Grey Heron and Mallards in the ditches, Rooks, Carrion Crows and Jackdaws looking for food in the pasture, Pied Wagtail, Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Canada Geese. On the way back the Wheatear was still there but there was 24 Meadow Pipits close by so there must have been a drop of birds.
The tide was on its way out and there was 20+ Shelduck on the mud by the bridge as well as Curlew, Carrion Crows, Little Egrets, Cormorants, Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and several Teal and Mallard on the mud flats. At Turf I was surprised to see a lack of birds on the mud flats with just Gulls and Ducks to be seen.
On the reserve there was Mallard, Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted, Teal, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Coot, Moorhen, Lapwing, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits.
Wild flowers had started to show with Lesser Celandine, White and red Dead Nettle, Dandelion, Daisy and Cuckoo Flowers all showing well.
Insects out with plenty of Bumble bees, 3 Peacock and 3 Small Tortishell Butterflies which was great to see!
Another welcome surprise was a Stoat walk in front of me on the cycle path, I was to busy watching the Wheatear that I didn't get the camera in position quick enough!
Lots of people about of all ages and genders, walkers, runners and cyclists all having fun in the sun and why not!!
13 March 2016
Soussons Woods, Headland Warren,Challacombe Farm and Back!
After spending yesterday doing shopping and watching England beat the Welsh in the 6 Nations it was time to get out onto Dartmoor, the weather was great so decided I would do one of my favourite circular walks on Dartmoor which starts off at Soussons, then off to Headland Warren and back to Soussons via Challacombe. It has many different types of Habitat and you never know what you will find.
I walked through Soussons which if you have never been is a Conifer plantation of various aged trees from saplings to mature and cleared land. With clear blue sky I was surprised only to see one bird in the sky which was a Buzzard who was calling but no one joined him, saw this bird several times around the walk. A couple of noisy Raven with plenty of Greenfinch, Robin, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit, Goldcrest and Wren seen. The Buzzard seem to follow me into the cleared area where a large number of trees were clear felled early last year, surprised they haven't started to re plant?
Into the Scrub area in the valley, here there is running water, reeds and bushes and can be a good area for birds like Redpoll but none seen today, did see though Great and Blue Tit, Robin, Wren and several Blackbirds. Also saw a Bumble Bee here which is a good sign of Spring although no flowers seen yet!
Onto the open Moor with plenty of Dartmoor Ponies enjoying the sun, several Stonechat, fly over Raven, Robin, Blackbird and Carrion Crows seen. Then over the top to Headland Warren and the habitat changes to fields with stone walls, this area is good for Wheatear and Whinchat but a bit early for these! 10+ Meadow Pipits though were seen in the fields and Pied Wagtails, Dunnock and several Stonechats seen on the walls. At Challacombe Farm lots of small birds about especially near a bird feeder with Blue, Great Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbirds and a couple of Mallards on the pond.
Then from Challacombe Farm to Soussons Farm which is fields with sheep in there was just a few Carrion Crows on the pasture looking for food and a Stonechat on the fence. At Soussons Farm there was House Sparrows, Chaffinch, Robin, Blue and Coal Tit, Wren and a Green Woodpecker which was a bit of a surprise.
Had a great day out with plenty of people out walking enjoying the sun and the moor, looking forward to all the migrants to arrive.
05 March 2016
River Exe and Exminster Marshes
With it being dry for a change decided to make a day of it with stopping off several places on my way to Exminster Marshes to look at the River Exe. The tide was coming in so thought I might catch some waders close in.
Well the first stop just outside Cockwood was a bit of a disappointment with very few birds close by with most still down the salt marsh by the golf course at Dawlish Warren. Still saw plenty of Brent Geese and Shelduck with Cormorant, Curlew, Oystercatchers and a few Redshank on offer.
On to Cockwood harbour, there was 40+ Redshank and 1 Greenshank showing well, Little Egret and a few Black-headed Gulls.
Off Powderham there was several Red breasted Mergansers, Redshank, Cormorants, Mallards, Black-headed and Herring Gulls.
Then off to Exminster Marshes, parked up in the RSPB carpark and walked to Turf using the road and plenty of birds on the reserve with Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Pintail, Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler, Plenty of Curlew and Lapwing all over the Marshes. Woodpigeon, Magpies, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Pied Wagtails, Robin, Starlings, House Sparrows, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Pheasants, Peregrine sat on the Pylon and a few Goldcrests along the back footpath.
Off Turf there wasn't much except 4 Brent Geese and a large flock flying around further down the river looking for a field to land in. Lot of birds north of Turf with large numbers of birds on the mud flats with Avocets, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshanks, Godwits, Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Cormorants, Herring Gulls and large numbers of Black-headed Gulls, many already in their summer plumage.
A really good day out, especially as the days are getting longer, surprised I didn't see more birders about the place?
© Simon Thurgood 2017
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