Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Saturday, 23rd February 2013: Cotswold Water Park (Leader: Elizabeth Allen)

New quarry workings and diversions obstructed our planned 5-mile walk, so the 15 RSPB and Bath Nats members, who gathered on this very cold day, took an alternative route.
Within minutes of setting off, we saw 5 Smew (2 male and 3 female) and a pair of Red-crested Pochard on the lake at Lower Mill. Then in the hope of hearing early spring birdsong, we set off along the Thames Path following the river, here little more than a stream.
Although we did hear Green Woodpecker calling frequently, the birds were generally very quiet. As day was very cold perhaps the small birds were otherwise engaged, feeding or conserving energy. A Goldcrest was spotted by Godfrey Evans’ young niece, feeding along grasses twined in the fencing here. We found a reasonable selection of ducks on many of the lakes that we passed, including innumerable Tufted Duck, and Wigeon, Goosander, Mallard, Pochard and displaying Goldeneye. We were surprised to see more Smew (up to 10 for the day) as we walked on. There were also Canada and Greylag Geese, Cormorants drying in the trees, Herons and a Buzzard. Hazels showing male and female flowers were evident, and I caught sight of one patch of early Coltsfoot.

We moved on to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s site at Lower Moor Farm for lunch.  A visit to the three hides here revealed very little apart from a pair of Goosander showing well. But on Mallard Lake between 40 and 50 Red-crested Pochard made a great sighting for the end of the trip.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Tuesday, 12th February 2013: Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre (Leader: Phillip Delve).

 Bittern click photo to enlarge

On this visit, timed to take advantage of a 10.4 metre high tide and a less crowded weekday, eight members met at the Centre ready for the 10am start. On this cool morning, some of our party made use of the excellent facilities here, including a warm coffee shop, before setting out to see the vast flocks of wildfowl and wading birds pushed inland by the high tide.

Lapwing click photo to enlarge
Armed with binoculars and two telescopes, we began watching birds from the Holden Tower. From here we could see wildfowl feeding on the part flooded ground leading down to the Severn Estuary and spent some time comparing the subtle differences between three species of grey geese present. Nearby Greylag Geese and in the middle distance a flock of White-fronted Geese with their black striped bellies and white face blazes. Then on checking carefully through this flock we found a single Tundra Bean Goose subspecies Anser fabalis rossicus.

On our route towards the centre we used hides skirting Tack Piece, a flooded meadow inland of the sea wall where we saw large numbers of Lapwing, Golden plover, Dunlin, Bewick’s Swans, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler and Shelducks, among many other species. Three well-camouflaged Snipe sat close in front of the Martin Smith hide and once located, provided an opportunity to see them in detail. While watching small birds using feeders nearby some of our party saw a Bank Vole foraging for spilt seed.

We took lunch in a heated hide overlooking Rushy Penn while watching Bewick’s Swans and interesting behaviour of diving ducks, which seemed to be purposely swimming under the feeding swans.

After lunch we spent time along the South Finger hides most notably the Zeiss Hide, where we were lucky to see a Bittern creeping over flattened reeds; also seen from here a Water Rail feeding in a small pool close to the hide.

click photo to enlarge

Bank Vole
Water Rail 

Thanks to Phillip Delve for the report and to Paul Wilkins for the excellent photos

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Frog spawn

Three clumps of Frog spawn appeared in the pond last night , my earliest date yet.
Has anyone else seen any yet ?


Tuesday, 12 February 2013



These Blackcaps have been seen in my Oldfield Park garden since late December. They eat everything but particularly like the suet cake.I've had winter Blackcaps visiting every year since 1986. (Click photos to enlarge)


Friday, 1 February 2013

Wonderful photo from Paul Wilkins of Bath

Click Photo to enlarge

Thank you for posting Paul

Meeting report

Tuesday 15th January: Life in a weird world: ciid beetles and their bracket fungus hosts. Glenda Orledge.
Click here for account