Thursday, 30 April 2009

Up at Mums

Here are a few images from my couple of days up to see Mum in the Cotswolds. First from a short walk along the lane........
A beechwood in spring is one of my favourite sights. The fresh green silky leaves contrasting with the dark trunks and branches is special to me.A spring lamb taking its early morning sweet, I love the pink ears!On the feeders on Mums patio, this male Siskin is still hanging around. It should be off finding somewhere to breed by now I'd have thought!One of my Mum's favourite birds. She has a pair of Collared Doves coming to the patio at the moment.Here are some of the trees and flowers blooming in the garden right now........Crab Apple.
More Crab Apple blossom. If we don't get a frost these trees should be covered in small red apples this autumn.Mum has lots of Cowslips in the garden growing wild. I tried taking some for my garden, but they just seem to disappear. I suppose the soil isn't right for them.Forget me not, kind of a weed, but a very pretty one!Polyanthus, a nice blaze of colour at the front of the house.Down by the river Churn at the bottom of the garden these Marsh Marigolds are in full flower and look wonderful.Here's a close up. I should be going up for another visit later on this coming week, it will be interesting to see what else there is to photograph since this last visit.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Early Spring Bird Survey

The other day I did my third visit for this particular area at Stourhead for the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Atlas. Two visits are made over the winter period and two during the breeding season. The idea is to note all birds seen and heard in a two hour time period while walking a route that will cover as many different habitats in your given area (tetrad). During the breeding season walks, you are also asked to assign possible, probable or definite breeding status by way of various codes as well as whether a bird is on migration.I know this female Wheatear was on migration as it doesn't breed in this area of the country.This Barn Swallow is a possible breeder as it was in an area of suitable habitat for breeding.I pass through some lovely countryside on this walk, but didn't really have time to stop and take loads of photos. The birds and survey take precedence on these walks.I did however, take this shot of the early morning sunlight on these Bluebells. (-:I was able to assign this Great Crested Grebe with definite breeding status as it was showing courtship display with another Grebe.This male Chaffinch was singing in suitable habitat so was put down as a possible breeder.My last survey walk for this area will be just at the beginning of June and so should show up more evidence of breeding I hope. I've really enjoyed doing these surveys around my local area, they certainly make me walk around places that I wouldn't normally go to. I'm sure I'll put my name down for more tetrads in the next couple of years. The survey goes on till 2011.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sky Watch Friday

I got up one morning earlier this week to go to my local nature reserve on the outskirts of Frome and found this lovely sky sweeping across the reserve.It was amazing seeing the leading edge of this weather front slowly smothering the blue sky ahead of it.The quilt effect is magical I think! Thanks to the team that keep the SWF up and running. For more amazing skies from around the world, click on the icon on the right hand side.Nearly forgot, I promised to include this link to listen to the sound of the Cetti's Warbler. It's not the best or most pure rendition, but gives an idea of this powerful song.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Somerset Levels supplement!

While the computer was in computer hospital, I took another short trip to the Somerset Levels. It was on a weekend and a lovely day so there were lots of people about (I should've got up about 3 hours earlier)! Anyway, a week or so can make alot of difference at this time of year and on this day there were lots of new bird arrivals onto the wetlands. There were Sedge and Reed Warblers singing everywhere in the reedbeds and this Cetti's Warbler (pronounced Chetties) was unusually right out in the open singing it's explosive song to attract a partner. These birds are usually very skulking. They are a real success story as they have expanded their European range to Britain over the last 20 to 30 years and are now a relatively common bird in wetlands at least in the south of the country. I tried to find a website where you could hear the very distinctive song, but couldn't find one. Anyone know of a good British bird song website?Here I caught him in full song. I like the way the light was falling on him in this photo.Another Warbler that was obliging today was the Chiffchaff. This bird and the Willow Warbler are quite similar in looks, but at this time of year they don't present too much of a problem as the songs are completely different.The Chiffchaff's song sounds like it's name, in other words it is onomatopoeic. One of the easier ones to learn when starting out birding.This young swan seemed to give me quite a haughty look as it sailed by me (I think it hissed too), not very friendly! I love the oily look to the reflection here.It was a lovely couple of hours, but I definitely think I need to get out there earlier in the day.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Somerset Levels part 2 slightly late!

Well, finally we got our computer back after getting a nasty virus. We had to be completely wiped, so had to re-install everything. It's good to be back at last! I just want to thank Evie at for putting that post up on her blog to tell everyone that I was out of action for a while. Thanks Evie!
Below is a photo taken at one of my favourite reserves on the Somerset Levels at Ashcott Corner. I love the different zig-zag lines of colour in this scene.I can't resist fluffy bulrush photos!This Common Buzzard is flying over typical Levels countryside, very flat and peaty.Here he is cropped down.There is a long and strong tradition of 'pollarding' trees for willow withys on the Levels. These are used for fence making and basket making and more recently for decorative sculpture work. They give the countryside around here a unique character that I love.I was driving along near Tealham and Tadham Moor when I saw this Grey Heron by the side of the lane. I had the camera ready, but of course, just the act of my stopping the car cause it to fly off. I love the way one of his toes is sticking up at he flies off. (-:And lastly, I couldn't resist this slightly less than beautiful lamb. He reminds me a little bit of a hyena! Shame! (-:

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Somerset Levels part 1

The other day I took a drive over to the Somerset Levels for a mornings birding. This is the view from one of the hides at a place called Catcott Lows. It is a specially good place in winter for wildfowl and during migration for waders (shorebirds). On this day in late March there were still plenty of ducks around. This pair of Eurasian Wigeon were reasonably close for me to take a photo. A male Northern Shoveler was also showing off his smart spring plumage.Any guesses as this this dabbling duck? (-:I guess that pin of a tail was a good giveaway. This male Northern Pintail was further out and required quite a bit of cropping.On the way to my next stop on the Levels this male Kestrel was intent enough on his next meal to allow me a couple of shots.
Tomorrow I'll finish off this trip into west Somerset.