Sunday, 29 March 2009

Chew Valley Lake

It was a gorgeous spring day today and I'd arranged to go birding to Chew Valley Lake with a friend before going to see another dear birding friend in hospital in the afternoon.
This male Tufted Duck looked very smart in the sunshine, shame that twig in the water spoilt his reflection!Have you ever wanted to see the backside of a Barn Owl? Well, that is all I could get of this bird which was hunting at around 11am this morning. Someone should tell him he's supposed to be hunting at night. I'm glad he was bucking the trend though!The water was perfect for reflections today and this Mute Swan was a lovely subject.Shelduck are large gooselike ducks that mainly breed along the seashore, but will breed at larger lakes too.This male Reed Bunting was singing away in a bush quite some distance from me (hence the heavy cropping), but they are such smart birds that I couldn't resist trying for some photos. Here's the front view.........and then the back. As their name suggests their preferred habitat is Reedbeds. By the way, the black smudges in the sky are midges. There were gazillions of them out there today.The best part of the day for me though was watching this pair of Great Crested Grebes in their courtship display. I wish I could have been closer for better photographs, but it was still a real pleasure to watch.They gradually come together with lots of vigorous head shaking and flicking.........
........and copycat preening.
They are without doubt one of the most graceful and charasmatic of birds.This is my favourite shot of the day............and cropped. A perfect end to a wonderful mornings birding.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Daffy Day!

The other day I decided to take a walk around Edford Woods. This is a small woodland owned by the Somerset Wildlife Trust that is about a 15 minute drive west of my home town of Frome. It is well known locally for its display at this time of year of wild daffodils.Within a few minutes of walking into the wood the daffodils seemed to be everywhere. It was quite a sight!These wild daffs are lovely and delicate with slightly nodding flowers.
On the whole they seemed to be beautiful pale petals with an almost lemon coloured trumpet though I believe they can vary somewhat.As I went deeper into the wood, the paths became more soggy and sometimes it was a challenge not to have the mud up over my boots!About halfway around this circular walk the Mells stream starts meandering through the wood.I wanted to get some photos of the daffs against the fast running stream and managed to spoil this one with a boot sticking up!!! If' I'd cropped my boot out, I would have lost some of the daffs. Always learning!!! (-:Here's a bootless one.As I walked along the path by the stream I kept coming across a dipper standing on rocks and boughs in the stream though unfortunately it never allowed me close enough to snap a photo.There were other things of interest apart from the Daffs. I loved the sunlight on this mossy stump.I couldn't figure out how the hole was made in this tree, whether it was once one or two trees. Any thoughts anyone?I'm not very good an fungi, but I'm reliably informed that these are called Elf Cups which seems entirely appropriate.It was a lovely peaceful walk around this local wood. The circular walk is open to the public from February to May, so I might go back in a month or so to see what else is coming up then.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Rounding up at Rodden Reserve

That Mill house teases me every time I visit this local reserve. My house is somewhere behind it in the distance, not that you can see it from this photo.I love these male catkins of the Alder tree. We have many of these water loving trees on the reserve and the Siskins and Redpolls and Goldfinches love them for their seeds.This cormorant flew overhead for a few minutes checking out the reserve. It didn't land though which is a shame. This is the best shot I could get as it circled over me.I couldn't resist a pair of Long-tailed Tits that were flitting amongst the shrubbery looking for nesting material. I think this one was keeping an eye out for the local Sparrowhawk too!
This was a really enjoyable walk around the reserve, firstly because I'd been stuck indoors for the best part of a fortnight and secondly because it was such a lovely spring morning which was an added bonus!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Rodden Reserve stroll part 2

The 'pussy willow' (Salix caprea) was out and at its best. These are the male catkins. It is one of the commonest and most widespread of the willows in Britain, growing in ditches, reedbeds, scrub, wet woodland and even urban wasteland.
As I was walking round the reserve I noticed this pair of Meadow Pipits getting flirty with each other. Lots of wing and tail flicking. It would be great if they stayed to breed here, but they are probably just passing through. Notice the particularly long hind claw.
I'll finish this really enjoyable walk in my next post.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Early morning stroll around Rodden

It was a beautiful morning so I got up early and took a stroll around the local reserve before the last day of our exhibition started. This is a view from the top of the reserve with the mill house to the right (I'd love to live in that house!)A pair of Canada Geese were taking a wash in the main pond area. This one was standing guard (keeping a keen eye on me) while its mate took a bath.
I loved the various colours and textures of this humpy looking grass at the top of the reserve.This Tortoishell butterfly was enjoying the early morning sunshine (as was I). This is the first butterfly I've seen this year. It was great to get out and about after being cooped up inside for this last week or so. More on my walk in my next post.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Spring progress.

Our annual exhibition at home is still on till this Sunday, so no birding has been done for a while now. I'm getting the shakes from withdrawal symptoms! These beautiful primroses have started to bloom in the garden though which is always a lovely sight.
I love the soft creamy yellow of our native Primrose. Such a subtle shade and very pure and simple.
The gorgeously crinkled Rhubarb leaves are now starting to show through the red bulbous buds.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Spring Sprogs

As I'm pretty much stuck indoors during our annual selling exhibition, I've had to find inspiration for a blog post from the house. Here is a little story I found unfolding in the front garden this morning. I'm afraid the photos were taken through double glazing.

What shall we do today dear? Sit here sunbathing in this lovely comfortable Cotoneaster hedge?I know! Spring as sprung! The sap is rising!Let's start house building!I know a perfect nest hole in the eaves of No 24!