Thursday, 16 March 2017

Out and about

Managed to get out on a couple of days in-between the windy and rainy days, here in north Wales. A place I always like to visit when I'm here is Loggerheads Country Park.

Had a bit of storm damage.

Grey Wagtail at Loggerheads

On a visit to RSPB Conwy, I found a very obliging Meadow Pipit.

The usual gang of Wigeon, at this time of the year,

and plenty of displaying Red Breasted Mergansers.

An outing to Rhos-on-sea one morning in search of Purple Sandpipers didn't disappoint.

I only found two though, with a group of Turnstones.

A quick trip along the coast to Gronant sand dunes, and a nice find there.

Two Snow Buntings foraging amongst the dunes.

My first Chiffchaff of the year.

He was at RSPB Ynyis-hir.

The view from one of the hides that looks out to the Dyfi estuary.

I'll finish with the three new additions here, where I stay.

Along with the dogs, the chickens, the goose, the horses, and the sheep in the field, we now have some cows.

Have a good day.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

In Wales

We arrived here in North Wales just before storm Doris smashed its way through the country, followed by a second, called Ewan.
The damage where we are staying was minimal, but I doubt my fence back home survived in one piece.

Whisky has enjoyed himself being reunited with one of his brothers, and his two friends that live here.

Plenty of fields to run free in,

and plenty of water too. It's been pretty much non stop rain,

and when it's not rained, it's snowed.

The sheep are having a hard time too.

 To think they will be lambing soon.

Currently it is snowing again,

and 20 minutes later,

Still snowing now.

Could be an interesting day.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Ouse Washes

The Ouse Washes, under the RSPB's guidance, is in Cambridgeshire, just down the road from WWT Welney.

I paid my first visit there a few days ago.

Set in the fenlands, it's an important area for wildlife and wildfowl, attracting thousands of Whooper Swans and Bewick Swans in the winter months. One of the differences between the two reserves is the opening times. Ouse Washes is open all year, all the time; WWT Welney, although open all year, doesn't open until 10 a.m. in the winter months.
I wanted to go early to see the swans leave their roosting areas, so it was the RSPB site that won for this day.
Comparing the two sites though, I would say that WWT Welney has the edge. You get to view the wildfowl much closer.

There are 10 hides at Ouse Washes, and they are well spaced out.
From the visitor centre and car park, a right turn, along a boardwalk, takes you past Welches Dam, and on to the first of 3 hides.

The bank on the left, looks out to flooded fields with the waterfowl way off in the distance.
The sound of the swans preparing for take off as it got lighter was amazing, and pretty soon there were thousands taking to the air, flying overhead.

From what I could see, they all seemed to be Whooper Swans, although I'm sure there were some Bewicks flying over too.

Their short flight takes them to their feeding area; a field in the distance.

The hides are impressive,

and a welcome retreat from the biting wind that day.

After visiting 3 of the hides, I made my way back, and decided to see the other end of the reserve.

This is going past Welches Dam, and looking back the way I'd come.

And looking forward, with the  first hide in the distance.

After a long walk, the first hide.

The next distant hide, just visible on the centre of the horizon.

I only visited 2 of the hides along this stretch, because I was mindful of the time, and getting back home for Whisky.

From one of these I did manage some fairly close views of some Snipe though.


Then it was time to make my way back to the car park.

On their website, they do say that Tree Sparrows visit the feeders outside the visitor centre.

I wasn't disappointed.

I'll finish with a short video of the swans.


Full list of the sightings for the day

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Greater Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Stock Pigeon [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
British Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes indigenus)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola torquatus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
Eurasian Jackdaw [sp] (Corvus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
British Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs gengleri)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Total species  41

Have a good day

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Bearded Tits and Crows

I had a visit to RSPB Lakenheath a couple of days ago, in the county of Suffolk.

I took Whisky for an early morning walk, and then set off by myself because unfortunately the RSPB don't allow dogs on their reserves, however well behaved they are, or even on a lead.

I got to the car park as it was still dark; about 7:15 a.m.
I did hope to maybe see a Barn Owl in the field by the car park, but no luck.

As I was getting ready for my walk round the reserve I could hear lots of birds in the distance.
I quickly made my way towards the sound, and found thousands of Crows leaving their roosting site. A bit like a noisier Starling murmuration in reverse.

An amazing sight and sound to witness.

After watching them all disperse, I made my way up to New Fen Viewpoint that overlooks one of the reed beds.
A Little Egret in the water, a few Mallards and quite a few Teal; and a distant Grey Heron.
I scanned the tops of the reeds hoping to see a Marsh Harrier.
Not a Marsh Harrier, but a Hen Harrier, slowly gliding over the reed bed.
Luckily enough one of the wardens was there to see it too, and confirm its ID.
Shortly after, two Great White Egrets flew over the reed bed too.

I made my way down the path towards the riverbank, and when I got there, out on the washland pool was two Mute Swans, and three Great White Egrets.

What a great start to the morning.

I carried on along a muddy footpath towards the Joist Fen Viewpoint at the far end of the reserve. In the woods to my left, I spotted a couple of Roe Deer, and over the reed bed a couple of Marsh Harriers.

At the viewpoint I scanned the reeds to see if any Cranes were out there.

No luck; and no Bitterns either. I could hear the faint 'pinging' call of Bearded Tits, but no sign of them. There was another Marsh Harrier flying over the reeds though.

I started to make my way down the footpath towards Mere Hide, usually a good spot to find Bearded Tits.
I hadn't gone too far when I heard the unmistakable 'pinging' sound!
A dozen or more working their way through the tops of the reeds at the side of the footpath.

Male Bearded Tit

Fantastic to see them so close.

I took quite a few pictures; after all, it's not that often you get to see these little beauties so close.




Female, male, female

Male, female


What a fantastic visit.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

In search of Waxwings

This morning I decided that we'd go and have a look for some Waxwings.

Back in 2010, a few turned up on the berry laden trees on Tongwell Industrial Estate, so I thought given there has been a few reports of them locally recently, it might be worth going to have a look, just in case.
Lots of Redwings and Fieldfare feasting on the berries, but no Waxwings yet.

After slowly driving up and down the roads on the estate, looking like a kerb crawler, I decided to park up at Tongwell Lake, and walk round there. Last time I looked round there was the end of 2010.

It's not a very large lake, but has some great potential, plus Whisky had a good walk somewhere new.

It was very foggy, so visibility wasn't very good.

Apparently it's used for water ski-ing. Not today though.

We walked round the edge of the lake, and quite a few ducks and geese out on the water. Not much of it was frozen either.

There are a few large houses round the edge in places,

 not in my price range though

and a few joggers and dog walkers out and about too.

At one part there are some steps, that go down to a gully at the edge of the lake.

A few Mallard in there, some Gadwall, and along the edge, a pair of Grey Wagtails.

The best surprise though, was a Green Sandpiper. Sadly, no picture though.

We'll certainly return soon for another visit.

Full list of today's sightings

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Greater Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)
Common Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
British Dunnock (Prunella modularis occidentalis)
British Robin (Erithacus rubecula melophilus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
British Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus obscurus)
British Great Tit (Parus major newtoni)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
British Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula pileata)

Total species  24