Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

Sunday saw us taking the walk from Malham Village up to and over Malham Cove, it was a strenuous walk but well worth arriving on the Limestone Pavement at the top. Of course a few birds were seen as we went,
we started with a Wren,
 followed by a young Redstart.
 There were plenty of House Martins zooming around keeping the insects down,
 whilst a male Redstart looked on
 and luckily another Grey Wagtail posed very well.
There were plenty of Corvids around, Jackdaw, Rook and Crow. We did hear a Peregrine but couldn't find it which was a shame.

Malham Cove itself though is pretty spectacular;

Wharfedale , Yorkshire Dales

We went to spend the weekend up in Yorkshire, stopping with our good friends Tim & Wendy.
On the Saturday we went for a walk along the River Wharfe starting out from Addingham.

We had some quality sightings on the walk, starting with a Kingfisher just a few minutes into the walk,
 we were to have four separate sightings as we progressed, but this was the best of them, though it was on the other side of the river.
 There were quite a few female Mandarin Duck about, no sign of any magnificent males though.
 A couple of Grey Heron were seen too.
 As well as plenty of young Goosander, seen in two different places, so that was a total of about 20, unless it was the same group flying up river and sneaking past us!

 At least 3 Grey Wagtail were seen
 and two Dipper sightings although I do think that may have been the same bird,
 the second was in very bad light under some trees, so difficult to say, but it was only about 200 yards from the first.

So a lovely afternoon with 20 species seen in total.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The first time we have ever twitched!

I follow with interest the goings on up and down the country and like to know what rarities are about, but a long time ago we said that we would never jump in the car and do the twitcher thing. Our philosophy has always been to go to a reserve or just a walk somewhere and just see what turns up, but as we adore Bee-eaters and they were only just over an hour away, we set off for East Leake near Nottingham, taking the opportunity as well to meet up with our great friends Tim & Wendy who were in the area.

We paid our fiver to the RSPB volunteers who were controlling the parking then set off to the quarry where the seven Bee-eaters had taken up residence. The viewing area was a little way from the tree that they seemed to favour, but with bins and friendly people with good scopes we had really good views. The weather was overcast and I struggled get any decent shots, but here are some for the record.

Monday, 24 July 2017

RSPB Nagshead

At the end of our wonderful trip to Somerset and as we had to be out of our digs by 10am, we took the opportunity for a detour, crossed the Severn (paying an extortionate £6.70 for the privilege) and ended up at RSPB Nagshead in Gloucestershire (just!) luckily we still don't need passports for Wales, but with the way this barmy country is going who knows what the future may hold.

So we arrived at a very quiet Nagshead visitor centre, that was closed, we then discovered it only opens weekends and bank holidays! Hey ho!

We took the short walk up into the woods to the Campbell Hide, this overlooks a pond in a woodland clearing, we were surprised how busy the hide was as there were only a few cars in the car park. We had a great hour in here, with many fledglings coming down to the water for a bath and a drink, I didn't take any photos here as although warm it was overcast and the hide is raised very high above the pond, so I would be shooting into very poor light.

We did however see, Nuthatch, Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Spotted Flycatcher. One eagle eyed chap saw a Pied Flycatcher, but we couldn't find it, a shame as that would have been a new species for us, it's one of those birds that keeps eluding us. One day.

After a while it all went very quiet and we got chatting to the locals, (I have to say I could hardly understand a word, thick west country accents) But Tina got the gist of it and it persuaded us to walk down to the Lower Hide, we had intended to head home after coffee and lunch. But the chance of a Redstart made us stay longer.

So we took the 15 minute walk down, seeing Wren, Blackcap and Song Thrush on the way.

This hide was quiet we were the only ones there, brilliant just the way we like it, sorry to be so anti-social. Tina quickly spotted a Kingfisher at the big pond below us, it kindly put in a few appearances, but never showed that well, as you can see for yourself.

A female Redstart then arrived,
we were pleased with that one. First one this year and only the third time ever. A Great Spotted Woodpecker then turned up way to the left of the hide,
not the greatest of photos. This was followed by a Jay and great views of a Treecreeper or two.
It was certainly turning into a great visit. Then came our star of the show a male Redstart,

he stayed well away from the hide unfortunately, but you can't have everything. He was busy for a while catching various insects and we took this as the time to leave and go home. Always best to leave on a high.

So Nagshead a great place and I'm sure we will be back sometime.

An unexpected trip to Somerset

Following a tough week earlier in the month, my brilliant wife surprised me by booking us a couple of nights down in Somerset not far from RSPB Ham Wall. It was a much needed break.

We arrived early enough to spend a few hours at Ham Wall before checking in to our Hotel. The weather was glorious and stayed that way for the whole time we were there, in fact way to hot at times especially when walking the reserve. We stayed at Ham Wall for the duration, with our walk 'over the road' to Shapwick Heath as well.

I have to say that Ham Wall is one of our favourite places, nice and flat for walking and even after the birds have quietened down after the spring, still plenty to see.
Great White Egret,
 Young Great Crested Grebe asking for food!
 Distant Bittern in the reeds,
 Little Egret and Mallard,
 Speckled Wood Butterfly,
 Grey Heron,
 Great White Egret,
 Bittern flying past the Avalon Hide,
 Proud parents?
 Little Egret,
Army Merlin,
 Army Chinook,
 Glossy Ibis with Egrets and Lapwing (Shapwick Heath)
 Royal Navy Lynx,
 Tea Time,
 Great White Egret,
 Great Crested Grebe bring the lunch home,
 RAF Airbus A400,
 Male Marsh Harrier looking for lunch,

 Great Crested Grebe being very ambitious!

 It took at least 20 minutes for this fish to be eaten, finally one of the youngsters managed to get it down.
 Starling tree!
It was a much needed and great couple of days. Ham Wall and the Somerset Levels are just top places to spend some time.