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30 September 2019

Somerset Levels

Went up to Somerset today, hoping to see the Spotted Crake at Greylake but also hoping to see a lot more but sadly otherwise very quiet.

I did see the Crake which was at a little distance and not as much light but still managed to get a few shots.

Also went to Catcott Lows and started to look around Ham Wall but the rain stopped play.

Very little around and no more than you would expect.

Tomorrow I start a new job working for a Mental Health Charity and will be busy with that for a while settling in, training etc so not as many Blog entries for a while. Glad to be back doing something positive!



27 September 2019

Out and About

Spent the last three days around Exminster Marshes and Topsham and you can defiantly feel Autumn on its way!

Wednesday and Friday was spent walking around Exminster Marshes, parking up in the RSPB car park and walking down the back path to Turf and returning via the canal path and road.

Plenty of Corvids on the pasture and flying around, mainly Rooks but also Carrion Crow, Raven and Jackdaws in lesser numbers. Magpie, Jay, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Great-Blue and Long-tailed Tits starting to form up into Tit flocks especially on the back path. Cettis Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Pied Wagtail in varying numbers. On Wednesday large numbers of Swallows and Juveniles still being fed around the boats by the lock gate at Turf. Also about 100+ Starlings on the wires and trees around Turf making quite a racket.

Although there has been a bit of rain there is no more than puddles in the new scrapes, but there does seem to be a increase in Duck numbers, mainly Mallard but with the odd Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler. Canada Geese in good numbers with the odd Mute Swan across the Reserve, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Coot and Moorhen.

Off Turf there was the usual Gulls of all ages, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Red and Greenshanks, Oystercatchers, Shelduck, Grey Heron and Cormorants.

Thursday I spent over in Topsham, apart from the Long-Billed Dowitcher that had been reported, there was also a good range of species to see here at the moment. I parked up in a rather quiet Darts Farm and walked down the equally quiet cycle track to Goosemoor, as the tide was out it was almost empty of birds, just a few Black-headed Gulls. On the way back to the car when the tide was in there was double figures of Greenshank.

But along the path and over head there was plenty of birds to see with both Swallow and House Martins hawking over the hedges, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird looking for food among the branches, in the bigger trees a couple of stunning Jays hopping from branch to branch and a noisy Buzzard loafing about above.

From the hide there was plenty of ducks and Geese to see but no waders yet, large numbers of Pintail, Teal, Wigeon, a single Garganey, Canada and Greylag Geese, Lapwing, Shelduck, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Moorhen and Coot.

Down to the viewing platform and with the tide right out just a few Redshank on the waters edge which was the same at the Goat Walk. So off into Topsham for some Tea and Cake before my return journey back to catch the high tide. On the River Exe in Topsham as the tide came in Redshank, Godwits and Shelduck in good numbers, plenty of Black-headed Gulls and Mute Swans.

As the tide came in I stationed myself into the ever busy Hide at Bowling Green, luckily I got a seat and watched the Waders fly in, first of all Redshank then the Dunlin, Godwits and Curlew. Also singles of Ruff, Common and Curlew Sandpiper as well as the distant Long-tailed Dowitcher which was mixed up with the Redshank.

Also Sand and House Martins, Swallows and the "Psycho" Lesser-black Backed Gull that trying to take on a Grey Heron??

Still a few Butterflies about as well as the odd Dragon, the Ivy full of Bees and Wasps trying for the last nectar of the year.

Plenty of Humans about, especially in the hide which was full of the great and the good! Great to catch up with Joe King, chew the cud with Charlie F, see all the Dave's, Mark and many more. Big thank you to those who came up to me with the positive feedback for the website, very much appreciated.



23 September 2019

Dawlish Sea Wall

Well the work has started on the Sea Wall at Dawlish and thought I might share a few pictures of the fun!

Talk about men and their "Tonka" Toys, will be interesting to see what will happen when the storms arrive and where they will store their Diggers, they had to bring them in by sea as there is no access from the road?



22 September 2019

Weekends Fun

The weather has defiantly changed and is more autumnal. Spent the weekend around Exminster Marshes and Bowling Green.

Saturday parked up in the RSPB reserve and did a circular walk via Turf. It was surprisingly quiet as I was expecting to see more Ducks about but probably needs some water on the Marsh.

I did find though two Cattle Egrets just down from the Middle car park in with some cattle, I had communication with Dave B who sent me a picture of 5 Cattle Egrets flying north towards the M5 Bridges.

Plenty of Corvids about on the pastures, mainly Rook and Jackdaw but a few Carrion Crow present. Also Magpie, Woodpigeon, Little Egret, Moorhen, Pheasant, Canada Geese, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Swallow, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Black-headed and Herring Gulls.

A few Butterflies but plenty of Dragons, looks like Southern Hawker and a few Common Darter.

Sunday I went to Topsham to catch the High tide at Bowling Green and was well impressed by the numbers of Waders, and close to the hide. Interesting that the birds didnt take any notice of the humans in the hide even though people were talking and making a noise, they did though get more grief from "Psycho" the Lesser Black Backed Gull who tried to take on the Curlews with out much success!

Apart from the large numbers of Curlew there was Common Sandpiper, Red and Greenshank, Black and Bar tailed Godwits, Lapwing and good to see the Avocet are back!

A few Geese with Canada and Greylag Geese, also Grey Heron, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Pintail, Shoveler, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Jackdaws and Wood Pigeon.

At Goosemoore there was double figures of Greenshank with Redshank, Godwit, Dunlin and Lapwing.

Met loads of Humans this weekend and thankfully all happy, good to see John Wilkes at Bowling Green in the hide which has become a much friendly place.



19 September 2019

Seaton Marshes

Today was spent at Seaton Marshes, stunning day, plenty of sun and blue skies.

Saw plenty of birds but at at a distance, when I arrived it was high tide and the river was quiet but at low tide there was plenty to see, 100+ gulls with Black-headed, Herring, Great and Lesser-black Backed Gulls of all ages on the mud banks.

There was also a Osprey seen but I missed that, did see a Buzzard and Kestrel, Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Woodpigeon, pheasant, Dunnock, Robin, Great and Blue Tit, Swallow and Wren seen around the hedges and fields around the lagoons.

On the water Canada Geese, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, little Grebe, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Wimbrel, Common and Green Sandpipers, Dunlin, Lapwing and Curlew.

Still a few Butterflies and Dragons about in the Autumn sun. lots of nice humans about making the day very pleasant indeed!



16 September 2019

Exminster Marshes and the River Exe

Spent a lot of time this week in and around Exminster Marshes, doing circular walks from Powderham Church and the RSPB car park.

Work continues across the Marshes getting it ready for the winter with the fields being topped and reeds by ditches being cut back, you can see the new lagoon very slowly being filled up but the new scrapes still very dry, could do with a good rain!

Not many birds around the Marshes, the most numerous have been Swallows and Starlings especially around Turf, the Swallows hawking over the canal and hedgerows while there must be 100+ noisy Starling on the brambles and hedges, sadly no Rosy amongst them.

There has been a Cattle Egret amongst the Little Egrets just south of the turf with the Cattle or around the Pond next to the Railway line.

Plenty of corvids about the pasture and River mud with Raven, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie and Jay seen, the Jay with a Acorn in his bill would have been a good picture but was just too quick for me.

Ospreys put in a regular appearance over the week but always at a distance, other Raptors seen were Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.

A few water birds with Grey Heron, Little Egret, Moorhen, Coot, Kingfishers, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon. Waders included both Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Red and Greenshank, Dunlin and Knot, the usual Gulls Black-headed, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls of all ages.

Smaller birds included Wheatears, Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Reed Bunting and Linnet. Also Woodpigeon and a few Pheasant hiding away from the guns on the marsh.

Lots of humans about and great to sit down with Dave B and Dave S over coffee at Turf to chew the cud!!



08 September 2019

Out and About

Managed to get out and look around a few places this week and weekend, Exminster Marshes, Cockwood Steps, Cockwood Harbour, River Kenn out flow, River Kenn and Powderham Castle, Dawlish Warren, Yarner and Challacombe Farm on Dartmoor.

Its been fairly quiet, lots of Swallows gathering getting ready for the off, couple of sightings of Osprey at Turf as well as a few Sandwich Terns sat on boats and in front of the hide at the Warren.

Plenty of Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Turnstone, Red and Greenshank, Whimbrel on the Dawlish Warren Beach, Cormorants, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Moorhen and Coot.

Plenty of Gulls even on Dartmoor sat in fields, mainly Black-headed but also Herring, Great and Lesser-black Backed Gulls on the River Exe. Shelducks, Oystercatchers, Carrion Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws, Raven, Magpies, Linnet, Wheatears, Pied Wagtails, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits all add to the mixture of birds I have seen this week.

Apart from Osprey I've also seen Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk on my travels. Plenty of Wood pigeons, Stock Doves, Collard Doves, Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Chaffinch.

Still plenty of insects about, Butterflies and Dragons in good numbers as well as Great Green Crickets still on show at the Warren and I also found a Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar on some Willowherb.

The lagoon at Yarner looking good but no birds at all, not even a duck which was a bit of a surprise. Also a sight that brought my blood pressure up was that some idiot had fly-tipped some rubbish in the car-park at Middle Tremblebere? What a moron!!

Met lots of people this last week, good to stop for a coffee with Dave B and chew the cud! Good to see Alan at the Warren as well as Phil, Steve and the volunteers, lots of people on Dartmoor all happy and pleased to be out in the fresh air.



03 September 2019

Beavers

Had such a great afternoon and evening by the side of the River Otter yesterday. Arrived in Otterton and walked up river, loads of things to see with Dipper, Kingfisher, Yellow Wagtails, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird and Long-tailed Tits around the river with Raven, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie and Buzzard flying over head. Further up river in a adjoining field that had been recently been cultivated there was large number of Corvids and Gulls working the field but also a flock of about 25 Wagtails that had a mixture of Pied, Yellow and White Wagtails.

The unfortunate bit about this walk was the large number of un controlled dogs, barking at me and being encouraged to enter the water sending ducks in all directions.

Returned to the road then went south and soon came across Trees that had been cut down by Beavers and you could see areas across the river where they had sat chewing on sticks, there was a couple of hours until sunset so I sat on the River Bank and watched the world go by, just bliss!

While I was sat quietly on the bank several electric blue flashes of Kingfishers flying up and down the River and just in front of me several Brown Trout swimming and jumping out of the water after flies.

Then about 7.15pm you could see branches move in the water and then there she was, she swam down river and retrieved a branch and brought it back to the lodge, when she returned you could see just one Kitt but then another. Sadly at this point it was getting too dark for pictures but you could still hear them chewing on the wood.

Just a fantastic end to a great day and it was nice to meet up with a guy from Devon Wildlife who was there and other watchers, especially some kids who got a great thrill out of seeing these amazing mammals.



01 September 2019

Weekends Fun

Had a great weekend out walking and with the camera, decided to go to a few places I had not been for a while.

Saturday I had planned to go to Seaton Wetlands and then to Alysbere in the afternoon but Seaton Marshes was so full of birds I stayed there most of the day. The weather was good interrupted a couple of times with a shower.

Plenty of birds on show with Osprey, Buzzard, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Knot, Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Little Egret, Little Stint, Common, Green and Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Green and Redshank, Ruff, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Herring, Black-headed, Lesser and Great-black Backed Gulls, Wren, Great and Blue Tits, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Chaffinch and Willow Warbler.

Sunday was a unfortunately a late start down to me having too good a time Saturday night! Anyway eventually got down to East Soar car park in the South Hams, did a circular walk via the coastal path and Middle Soar.

Plenty of birds especially at the top of the valley, Carrion Crow, Raven, Woodpigeon, Buzzard, Skylark, Cirl Bunting, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Stonechat, House Sparrow, Robin, Wren, Wheatear and a few Butterflies with Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Spotted Wood, Small Copper, Meadow Brown and Small White.

On the way home I went to Beesands,plenty of Goldfinch in the meadow as well as Magpie, Dunnock, Blackbird and Woodpigeon. On the ley Gadwell, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Great-crested Grebe, Coot and Mallard. Also noticed large area covered in weed.

Was going to look around Slapton but because I was late all the parking was taken so it was home for tea and biscuits!

Met lots of humans especially at Seaton Marshes, great to catch up with Steph and Rod Murphy amongst many other birders. Also good to see so many family s out walking around the reserve.

Walking around Soar was great as well, still lots of people about walking the coastal path, such a lovely area to be.

Although got lots of great pictures but still having issues with the camera although its more about me than the camera, cant seem to get the settings right.

Getting it focused when the subject is coming at you at speed, especially when the light is not great, still a learning curve!



© Simon Thurgood 2019
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