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30 April 2018

Swifts

Those of you interested in Swifts, please go to this website, its run by Mark Glanvile. www.bristolswifts.co.uk/



30 April 2018

Black-winged Stilt

Just for once a rarity flies in local and when Iam off duty! Came into Exminster Marshes just down the back path from the RSPB carpark. It looks like a female? Great to see everybody out.



29 April 2018

Dartmoor

Went up on Dartmoor to try and touch base with some summer migrants, unfortunately the weather wasn't very summery with a grey cold day and in certain places a biting wind.

Started off on Trendlebere, a couple of Jays, Woodpigeon, Great Tit and a very mobile Garden Warbler which was the first of the day, over the road to an area I call the triangle to see a Stonechat and another summer migrant a Tree Pipit which was a nice find, surprisingly enough nothing else seen in this area?

Then down into Yarner, the clouds came in and very difficult to take any pictures, all the feeders had been taken away from around the hides, but still saw Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Great, Blue, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed Tits, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, wren, fly over Raven and Buzzard, heard but didn't see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Also went up to look into the lake area with the new hide but nothing to see, could do with some islands here for birds to rest on?

Then onto Challacombe, was hoping to do a circular walk but the weather was so changeable, so did a circular walk around the buildings and farm. Plenty to see with several Redstarts, Garden Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Great and Blue Tit, Stockdove, Woodpigeon, Buzzard and a Cuckoo calling from several different places and eventually flew across the farm.

Then jumped into the car and went up the road to Headland Warren, Parked on the road and walked to the farm, plenty of birds in the fields to the left as you walk to the farm, several Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and a very smart Whinchat which put on a show for me! It started at the bottom of the field and hopped its way across the field and stood in front of me while I was stood behind a wall, patience is a great thing!

Also saw Swallows, Raven, Jackdaw, Rooks, Buzzard and a Kestrel while driving around. Talking about driving, had the usual idiots on the road today, I know I've said it before but if you cant reverse stay off the bloody road!

Met lots of birders today and great to chew the cud!



28 April 2018

West side of the Exe

After a difficult couple of weeks went out with the camera up the Exe.

Started at the Cockwood steps, it was a bit grey, cold and miserable. Looking out over the river, the tide was out and not many birds about, used my scope to see the Slavonian Grebe which looked very smart in its summer plumage, a few gulls, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Cormorant, Carrion Crow, Shelduck and Mute Swans. As I went to cross the railway a Sparrowhawk flew over being harassed by a Jackdaw.

I walked up the road to have a look at the Harbour at Cockwood which has a lot of construction work being done on the wall, a few swallows flying around with Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, House Sparrow and Wren. In the harbour there was very little in the way of birdlife except for a Herring Gull.

Up then to the River Kenn outfall, unfortunately there was a lot of people about on the mud, couple of people walking their dog, some digging bait and another taking pictures of the river so apart from a few gulls very little about. On Powderham side there was Shelduck, Canada Geese, Mallard, Mute Swan, Woodpigeon, Blackbird and the sound of a Sedge Warbler filled the air-first of the year-brill!

Then off to Exminster Marshes, parked up in the RSPB carpark and walked down to Turf by the back path, plenty of birds about with Swallows, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, plenty of song from Sedge, Reed and Cettis Warblers, Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. A pair of displaying Lapwings, 20+ Whimbrel, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Coot, Moorhen, Shelduck, Mallard and a Snow Goose which was a surprise, there had been one around the area for couple of months, presume a escapee? Showing well what ever it is!

At Turf the mud was bare, just a few Gulls and a couple of Whimbrel.

Also saw my 7th species of Butterfly this year a Green-veined White which was nice, in the cold very little insect activity today.

On the way home I popped into Dawlish Warren to look around the entrance bushes and pond areas, House Sparrows, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Coot, Moorhen and a Mallard with 11 chicks.

Met lots of nice people today including a visiting couple of birdwatchers from South Wales, lets hope the weather is a bit warmer tomorrow.



14 April 2018

Scotland

With Easter break from work decided to head north to Scotland. Plan was to spend some time around the Cairngorms then the last week on the Isle of Mull. Also hoped to pop in and see some friends close to Perth, so a full couple of weeks.

Went up on Tuesday 3rd, stayed over night at Carlisle as normal for me when traveling to Scotland. After an exciting night at Premier Inn I travelled across country to Edinburgh and across the bridge to Perth. The weather was awful with snow and wind, then at Perth it suddenly turned to rain?? Great to meet up with Steve and Rachel, Steve does a mean Bacon Sarnie!

I had planned in going over the top of the Cairngorms to Elgin where I was staying for a couple of nights, but because of the snow went up the A9 and off to Grantown-on-Spey and up to Elgin.

While in the area I went to "Lochindorb" which is an oasis of life in the middle of miles of Grouse Moor, just miles of lifeless moor apart from some Red Grouse-depressing! If you never have seen Grouse Moor, this the place to see it.

Back to Lochindorb, its a freshwater loch north of Grantown on Spey. This loch is home to the ruins of Lochindorb Castle, a former stronghold of the Clan Comyn and is built on what now is said to be an artificially created island. This Island has become home to nesting Divers, I've seen both Black and Red -throated Divers here but on this visit there was a couple very smart Black-throated Divers, stunning birds! Also saw Greylag Geese, Oystercatchers, Lapwings-many displaying, Kestrel, Common and Black-headed Gulls, Redshank's, Pied Wagtails, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Mallards and Red Grouse by road.

Thursday was a full day, started off at Loch Garten to see the Ospreys which had turned up, great views from the Cameras set up to look at the nest. Plenty of other birds on the feeders, one very smart Siskin as well as Blue, Great and Crested Tits, joined by Chaffinch, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Great spotted Woodpecker, and a Treecreeper around the feeding area.

Then off to Findhorn Valley also known as "Valley of the Raptors". I have been here lots of times with very mixed results but today was the best by far with Goshawk, Peregrine, Red Kite, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Golden Eagle all seen as well as Raven flying around the mountains.

Along the river there was Oystercatcher, Curlew, Lapwings, Dippers, Mistle Thrush, Wheatear, Pied Wagtails, Blackbirds, Mallard, pair of Mandarins and up on the mountain tops several hundred Red Deer could be seen.

In the snow the valley looked stunning and a real joy to walk it, its worth the effort to walk to the far end, its like a big theatre with the mountains all around.

After a stay at Fort William I went over to the Isle of Mull on Saturday, if you never have been there the best way to describe it is Dartmoor on Steroid's! The scenery is just stunning and the wildlife amazing!

I stay at Achnadrish House which is close to Dervaig in the north of the island, its self catering and suits me.

I saw plenty of Sea Eagles, on average two a day and that doesn't include watching the birds on the nest at the Golf Course at Craignure or the boat trip with Mark from Mull Charters which was brilliant! I've been on this trip a couple of times now, obviously having 4 Eagles come to the back of the boat was amazing but also being able to talk about the birds over a cuppa tea added to it, also going past the massive cliffs and talking about how they were formed by the glaciers added to the trip.

I saw Golden Eagles every day, there is a nest site at the end of Loch na Keal that can be viewed from the car park with the aid of a scope. The best though was in Glen More on Sunday when 3 Goldie's were soaring above me which was a real thrill.

Was also very lucky to see Hen Harriers every day sometimes pairs together but always at a distance and needing a scope, still the blue/grey of the male still looked stunning at a distance!

Other Raptors seen were Peregrine, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. There was reports of Short Eared Owl but I sadly didn't see any but it wasn't from the lack of trying.

I spent most dinnertimes sat by a Loch or coast waiting for a sighting of an Otter, there is apparently one Otter per Mile of coastline on Mull but sadly no luck except I saw one while I was driving by Loch Scridain, but by the time I had stopped it had disappeared.

When I first got to the island there was plenty of Divers, probably stopping off while the bad weather was around, Black and Red-throated, Great-northern Divers, Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes all seen around the Lochs.

Most of the Gulls are Common Gulls but also Great-black and Lesser-black Backed Gulls, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, also an Iceland Gull seen on Loch na Keal.

Plenty of Greylag Geese seen with a few Canada's and Mute Swans. Lots of Grey Herons and a few Shelducks, Eider, Mallard, Teal and Widgeon seen, Shag, lots of Red-breasted Mergansers, pair of Goosanders. Waders seen were Curlew, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Dunlin, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Greenshank. Corvides were restricted to Hooded Crows and Ravens, there might have been others but I didn't see any.

At the beginning of the week there was a massive influx of Redwing, they seemed to be everywhere but by Wednesday most had gone, also Mistle and Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Wheatears, Starling, House Sparrow, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Stonechat, Swallow and Collard Doves.

Apart from the solitary Otter the other mammals seen were about 20 Common Seals that had hauled themselves up on rocks close to Salen on the East coast, in the evenings plenty of Red Deer seen.

Apart from the Lochs and Mountains there are lots of Bays, Beaches, Woods and Valleys that Iam yet to explore. I met lots of old friends and met some new ones, its been a great week mixed with a touch of sadness as half way through the week I was told my brother had died, he had been ill for some time so wasn't surprised, so some reflective time sat watching the birds. Life goes on!



03 April 2018

Off to Scotland

Iam off to Scotland for the next 10 days, so no entries until the 15th.



02 April 2018

Easter Weekend

Spent two and half days out of the four out and about, the weather has been crap making it difficult to take any pictures and some of the places I visited where very difficult to gain access due to flooding.

Friday saw me on Dartmoor, hoping to see a few Wheatears amongst others but no luck in that department. After driving around all the usual places I did a circular walk around Challacombe Farm via the Warren. Very few people about and very few birds, I parked up by Soussons woods to look across the moor when I felt this sensation of being watched, as I looked around there was a stunning Roe Deer watching me from the wood. It stayed there for some time trying to work out what I was and what I was doing, real privilege to stand so close to this beautiful animal!

While walking around I saw Buzzard, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Raven, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Stonechat, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Wren, Robin, Starling, Great, Long-tailed and Blue Tit, Reed Bunting and Pied Wagtail.

On Sunday after a late start saw me at Exminster Marshes, thought it would be wet so well prepared with wellies but even with these I had to turn back from the back path, completely flooded by the "discovery area" so I had to turn back. The road was also flooded but passable with wellies. Bird wise saw a good variety of ducks, numbers had gone down but still Widgeon, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted, Shelduck and Pintail seen. Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Lapwing, Curlew, Rook, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Wren, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff, The sound of Cettis Warbler and Skylark giving the sound of spring even if the weather didn't match up!

Reed Bunting, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Stonechat and a couple of Buzzards and a Peregrine where the Raptors on show. At Turf there was very few birds on the mud, a few Redshanks and Curlew.

Today ( Monday ) I went to the South Hams, started off at Slapton by the middle car park, quite windy and cold, the Ley showing waves and making it difficult to see birds on the water, plenty of Gulls though, not only on the water but on the near bye fields, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls of all ages. At Torcross the water was a lot calmer as out of wind, plenty of birds here with Great-crested Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Ducks, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Jackdaw and Mute Swans.

Went onto Beesands Ley which was a lot calmer, but flooded making it difficult to get to the hide, the water was also a dirty red colour from all the run off from the fields. No Red-necked Grebe but did see the Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Tufted Ducks, Pochard, Mallard, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Great-crested and Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Cettis Warbler, Great and Blue Tits, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Herring and Great-black Backed Gull, Stonechat, House Sparrows, Starling, Dunnock and not forgetting 3 Swallows!

Then over to the River Avon at Aveton Gifford, although the tide was out there was so much water coming down the river there was very little mud so only a Redshank and a couple of Greenshank to go with a Little Egret, Mallard, Shelduck, Black-headed and Herring Gulls. I went to South Efford Marsh as there was a Spoonbill seen there earlier but sadly gone by the time I arrived, 20+ Mute Swans there as well as Shelduck, Mallard and Canada Geese. Quite a few small birds in the hedges and bushes with Wren, Chiffchaff, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Great Tit. Also a few Buff-tailed Bumble Bees and a Peacock Butterfly to give some sign of spring.

Met lots of birders out over the weekend and good to meet Paul, Perry, Roger and others. The weather might have been crap but it was good fun getting around meeting loads of interesting people, some more interesting than others hahahahaha!



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