Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A trip to the Somerset Levels - part 1

Last Monday's weather forecast promised a lovely sunny day, so I thought I'd drive the 40 minutes to the Somerset Levels to see what was about. As it turned out there was a fair amount of cloud about. That should teach me not to take much notice of forecasts! I should know by now shouldn't I! I started out at Westhay National Nature Reserve which is managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. This is the reserve where I first started serious birding on my own before joining a club so it has special memories for me. Here's the carved entrance arch. Click to enlarge any photos.
There are several hides around the Reserve. This is the view from the first one. I enjoyed watching the Sand Martins and Swallows zooming and swooping high and low over the water and reeds. The air was alive with the buzzing sounds of the Martins and the chitterings of the Swallows.
 A Cormorant came in to land. The shots aren't great but I loved the way his landing gear came down prior to skidding onto the water! (-:
 Having left the first hide, I walked along the path between the two droves that cross the Reserve. It was quite a muddy crossing but do-able. 
 On the left in the photo above, you can see the water is high and almost crossing the path. As I walked along this stretch the reflections of the pathside trees on the still water produced some amazing zigzag patterns. 
 Further along this path I came across a lovely bird sculpture which must have been done since I was last there. I have to confess, I've not been to Westhay for a over a year! (-:
Before getting to the far drove, there's a loop walk with a blind halfway along. I got a lovely view from here over part of the reserve. I could hear a Bittern booming and my first cuckoo of the year.
There had been some maintenance done recently with some reed cutting and in the cut area were a couple of Greylag Geese. They were aware of me viewing from the blind but seemed quite a ease, doing a swim by at one point.

There'll be more from Westhay and the Levels in my next post.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rodden Reserve recently

Over the last few days, I've made a couple of quick trips over to my local reserve at Rodden. I can never pass up taking a photo from my favourite vantage point. 
 It was lovely to hear the first Willow Warblers coming back at last. I managed to track one of them down and take a couple of photos. You can see the pale legs in these photos which is one of the ways to tell them apart from the similar Chiffchaff which has dark legs.
 It was sat up alert singing its beautiful, slightly melancholic cascading song. One of my favourites!
This isn't the best shot, but it shows a Wren busy nest building with a beak full of dried leaves.
 Another thing I've been waiting for is the flowering of the Marsh Marigold. It's such a wonderful burst of golden yellow in a still drab landscape each year.
 Just a photo of the beautiful bark of the Silver Birch.
A Moorhen checking himself out in the reflection. I'm sure it must be a male! (-;
We have some feeders up at the reserve and this female Pheasant was standing underneath and kept looking up to the feeding finches above, waiting for some tasty morsels!
There'll be a Somerset Levels post shortly.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Poppy versus Pica pica!

The other day I was up in our back bedroom (computer room) talking to Chris who was working at the computer when I noticed a Magpie (Latin name Pica pica) close by in our Cherry tree. Then all of a sudden there was Poppy slinking along the ridge line of our kitchen trying to sneak up on it. I raced to get my camera and got back in time to show the following sequence of events! (-:

Here's the Magpie minding its own business.
 And here's Poppy trying unsuccessfully to hide behind the grey pipe at the end of the roof! (you can see the first Magpie in the bottom left of the photo).
The Magpie sets up a right racket and is soon joined in the tree by its mate, both of them making a lot of noise!
Poppy tries to crouch down even more at this second arrival (her tail is waving madly at this point)! The Magpies continue their scolding.
Poppy is so disconcerted by this that she decides that discretion is the better part of valour and attempts a ignominious retreat.
 Oooops, that's a bit steep and slippy......
 Perhaps I should try a bit further along.....
 Nope, still very steep and very slippy.......on second thoughts,  I better just go back they way I came in the first place!
 She slunk back into the house via the bathroom window and spent the rest of the day on the bed!
This one seemed just a wee bit smug I think! (-:
  That's probably the last time she tries to sneak up on those Magpies! (-:

Friday, 12 April 2013

A quick visit to Edford Woods.

As I mentioned in my last post, I stopped off at Edford Woods on the way back from Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes. I had to get back home for an appointment, so it was just a quick walk around the woods to see if the Daffodils had defied the recent weather and flowered yet. As you'll see, they're beginning to flower, but not in full bloom. No time for much birding on this occasion, so it's Daffs and nothing but Daffs in this post. (-:
About halfway round the walk the path starts running along the Mells Stream. Very often I would see Dippers along this stretch, but I wasn't able to take my time on this occasion. I wasn't aware of disturbing any though.
 I'll hope to come back in about another month when the Bluebells should be the main attraction. My next post is a promised treat for Pix from Pix Under the Oaks! (-:

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lake

I had a morning free last Saturday so I drove the 40 or so minutes over to Chew Valley Lake to see if I could see the Ospreys that had been report from there and Blagdon Lake over the previous several days. I also took my new camera hoping for some Osprey fishing action (optimistic is my middle name) (-:  As it turned out, having tried both Lakes, I didn't see any Osprey at all. I did take a few photos of more obliging birds though.  At Chew Valley Lake this Great Crested Grebe was fishing reasonably close to shore. Click on any of the photos to enlarge.
A Coot was even closer. I love the disruption to the reflected reeds making a beautiful pattern.
A smart looking male Tufted Duck showing off that lovely purple sheen on the head and his quiff!
Blagdon Lake is just 15 minutes drive from Chew Valley Lake (shorter as the Osprey flies I'm sure, not that I'm bitter)! (-: Although no Osprey turned up, I was very pleased to see my first Common Sandpiper of the year feeding along the edge of the dam end of the Lake. 
On the way home, I stopped off at Edford Woods to see if the wild Daffodils were out. I'll post about that next time.