26/03/2014

Rhea of the year

I finished work on time today and decided to head down to Ham Wall to try out the new hide.

On my way I was somewhat surprised to see this just outside of Glastonbury

My first Rhea of the year!

I wanted to get some more pics but the traffic was building behind me.  So on I went.  At Ham Wall I had the unenviable task of changing from work clothes into outdoors garb.  I didn't want to get done for in decent exposure, but it is very hard to change in the back of a Peugeot 107 so I apologise to any passers by who may have seen more than what is necessary.

Conditions were pretty good.  Nice and still with a hint on sun.  Immediately I noticed large flocks of Sand Martins, heralds of spring!  I did attempt to get a few shots but their speed and skill far exceeded mine...

At the hide I settled in.  After a few minutes a male Sparrowhawk flew down onto the grassy pathway to the left of the hide.  Unfortunately he didn't stay long enough for me to get a shot.  Moments later a \Bittern took off and flew low over the reeds.

Plenty of GC Grebes fishing and also one on the nest.

This fella was a pro fisherman

After that it went rather quiet...

Packing up my stuff I headed back.  As I walked along the main track I noticed a Roe Deer lying down on a grassy pathway.  Silently I crept closer and got a decent shot.


As I write this I realise I should have filmed it... damn!




16/03/2014

Run VT

A glorious sunny day and mass indecision on at the EFRS.

We started driving then minds were changed and we ended up cycling over classic turf... Ham Wall, Shapwick, Catcott.

Its March which means that birds are "in transit".  Most of the winter ones are going back to their summer homes and most of the summer ones haven't arrived yet.

Ham Wall offered a brief view of a flying Bittern and that was about it.  Also, Andrew pointed out my wobbly tripod leg (ebay - never trust).

A couple of soaring Buzzards at vp 2.  It was all a bit quiet.

The wind was giving us a hard time and I was knackered so we stopped for a drink.

This little fella was quite obliging


Over at Catcott we finally caught up with a Garganey (cropped pic).

He didn't swim really close but was within range... just.

Also met up with a keen videographer with plenty of interesting insights into what he had seen.  Also had a go with a super duper video camera. He got the EFRS thinking about video rather than photos.  Watch this space...

Andrew is now a pro...

Just as we were about to leave a female Sparrowhawk flew by nice and close which provided us with a decent raptor sighting.

Later we cycled passed Westhay and another Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance flying across the road.

Finally we decamped and discussed the day at The Sheppey.  Some video recordings of Buzzards and Garganeys kept us amused.  We nearly missed a Kingfisher zipping up the river.  A great end to the day.

And here is the first video from the EFRS.................


video
James: Here is a Garganey...


and a not too exciting Buzzard!..............






15/03/2014

Beep Beep!

Well another quiet day at Shapwick and Ham Wall. Most things worth looking at where quit a way away or very fleeting. There were a few Woodpeckers about which I tried to capture on each occasion but they were way too quick for me. Had a few interesting chats to fellow birders. On these occasions I just wait for the inevitable interesting thing to occur. Today it was something very unexpected. As I cycled along through Shapwick I happened to glance down and by the skin of his teeth (If he had any) I missed squashing a Common Toad. Screeching to a halt I whipped out my camera to try and catch a shot of these flighty beasts. Luckily I was on him in a flash. With only about 5 hours of daylight left I had to work fast. So being careful not to get any toad snot on my lense I set to work....................

Just a quick hop

"If you were a slug you would be in trouble"

Gulp!

Im no expert but I think its a Male.
I must give a word of thanks to the various passers by who expressed concern over my being prostrate on the gravel path.
Not quite up to James latest offerings but a first for the EFRS nonetheless!



09/03/2014

Gone fishing...

Bright, sunny and a saturday.  A good reason to get out and about!

I bundled myself into the car and down to Catcott.  I was keen to try out my new tripod and what a beauty it is.  Soon I was panning and tilting with the best of 'em.  Despite the breeze it held fast and didn't wobble about.  I could even track flying birds (yes my old tripod  was that bad).  I was so pleased that I started looking a pigeons for a while, just because I could!

Anyway, I need something a bit more exciting to look at...

Lots of standard stuff about frolicking in the sunshine.


The herons were looking great in their breeding attire.

I watched a Roe deer feeding for a while and then noticed something else.  In the reeds a brownish looking wader skulking around.  I couldn't work out what it was - very heron like.  I thought it was a Bittern.  But its head was quite pale and contrasted with its body. It looked a bit bigger as well, and not as stocky.  It had a black stripe running behind its eye (i think - it was a long way off). A grey cap was also evident. Anyway it disappeared and re appeared a few times. I was puzzled.

On to Tealham and plenty of herons.






Back home I checked the herons pages.  The mysterious bird looked like a Purple heron to me...



05/03/2014

Duck Tails

Now the evenings are getting a bit brighter I thought I would take the opportunity to go down to Cheddar reservoir.  Now I don't go here all that often and when I do it is normally in the company of my 2 year old daughter.  She doesn't like birding.  She does like shouting.  This doesn't sit well with the local creatures who call the lake home.  Normally the local wildlife scarpers to the middle of the lake and stays there until the loud and rather enthusiastic bipedal beast has departed the area.

Today I was flying solo.  I was quite keen to see the Long Tailed duck which has been hanging around.  I have never seen one before but had a vague idea of what one looked like.  So off I went...

Fortunately I came across two birders who were "dug in" with scope and binoculars at the ready.  They had already seen the duck but it wasnt around when I turned up (what a surprise).

Now heres the interesting part.  They had a Iceland gull in the scope.  Now my gull knowledge is limited and I have to say that they are not may favourite bird.  This all stems from a horrific experience in Glastonbury high street a few years back.  At Natwest cash machine I felt a large, cold, wet sensation on my head.  Looking up I quickly identified a number of Herring gulls flying about...

Herring gulls aren't noted for being picky with their food.  Kebabs, chips, chocolate bars... You name it.  Now what goes in has to come out.  The backside of a Herring gull is not a pretty place to be.  As you can tell I haven't fully recovered from what I had to wash out of my hair.

Anyway, I got a look at a juvenile Iceland gull.  An incredible spot and with confirmation from the bird book there was no doubt as to its identity.  A first for me.

I carried on round the resevoir with the normal pochard and Coots milling around.  A group of Tufted ducks caught my eye as one of them looked a bit different.




What a handsome critter.  I have to confess the the Long Tailed duck caught my attention for far too long.  It took me ages to get any worthwhile shots.  After about 20 minutes it did come reasonably close but the light was on its way out.

Rather pleased with finding the proverbial needle in the haystack I turned to go home.  Then some more interesting ducks flew over and landed.

Now I am seriously impressed by these guys (and gals).  Goosanders are bigger than I thought and have some really nice striking colours.  Need to see more of them (in good light).


The evening ended with a very pleasant sunset. ...

Three new species for me... on a school night!!!

04/03/2014

Oh Deer!

Well James is certainly getting the A list stuff isn't he! What do I get? A few deer and a Hercules thats what. I had a sneaky half day so popped down to Shapwick and Ham Wall for an hour or so. Absolutely nothing was happening. One brief Marsh harrier, a few Bitterns calling, a few Pochards in the distance. That was it save for a brief flurry of excitement about a Grebe but it was just an adult in winter plumage. But on the way back I was stopped in my tracks by these delightful beauties at Shapwick across the water having and early evening nibble.

Roe Deer

 
Roe Deer

Then I saw who's Hareem it was...

Stagg Roe Deer

The most interesting thing in the air today? This.....

Lockheed C-130 Hercules

 I was out in the morning along the A303 and did see 4 Red Kites as I drove along. Should have took my gear and stopped in a layby!


02/03/2014

Short, Long or Little...

After seeing the Short Eared Owls a while back and after Andrew encountering a Barn owl up in Norfolk.  My thoughts have turned to these enigmatic characters.  On Friday night I thought it would be a good idea to try and see a Long eared owl.  So off I went to the mendips, it was cold and rather muddy.  I managed 1 Coot and 2 Mallards.  Not successful.

Saturday night I took a stroll around my home village of Wookey Hole. Tawny owls are in abundance here... normally.  I didn't see a single one (although at least I heard a few).

Finally, Sunday gave me the opportunity to perhaps see a Short Eared, down at Westhay... You guessed it, bugger all.

I did redeem myself slightly with a nice view of a female Marsh harrier at Catcott and a good view of a male harrier at Westhay (well, good for someone trying to drive whilst fumbling with bags and cameras, trying not to end up in the ditch as the harrier flew close to the car).

The main highlight came from an unexpected source.  A very focused Little Egret took no notice of me whilst fishing for worms and other slimy denizens




Perhaps I will get some luck looking for Little Owls.  Here's hoping.