21st of April 2012.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 45.

Looking at the weather today, a day at home doing chores was planned. This soon went right out the window when I read a Tweet from Keith Yates on Twitter.

A Nightingale was heard singing at the reserve. Therefore, off I went in pursuit to hopefully see it.

There was a number of people at the locations reported and quite a few quid’s worth of photographic equipment too! Sadly, everyone I spoke to didn’t actually see the Nightingale? We all heard it, but no-one could see it!
In the meantime I managed a Cetti’s Warbler sighting as well as this beautiful Mute Swan landing in the Carlton Pool.                                                
Other notables were, Common Tern, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Oystercatcher. Later talking to a fellow birder, he told me that earlier that morning another sighting of Otters was reported. Hopefully one day I will be able to blog my own Otter report?
Stop press, just read a Brandon Marsh sightings update, the Nightingale was seen at 8.30pm from the Carlton hide.

19th of April 2012.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 37.

Paying an evening visit, it was one with many rain showers; well it is April after all?

The highlight was seeing my first Cuckoo of the year. It was first heard somewhere over the Newlands area then it flew in to view over the river Avon and then perched in a tree for a good 5 minutes.

Also seen was a Barn Owl watched over Newlands, as it began to rain again, it stayed for quite a while in one of the trees that surround the area, giving me time to view it at reasonably close quarters. Sadly a little too far for my lense!

Other notables seen were, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel.

14th of April 2012.

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 56.

Arriving at 6.45am the weather was already showing signs of being another beautiful sunny day and it stayed like this all day. My day included two full circuits of the reserve, something I’ve not done for quite a while. With migrants now turning up throughout the country, I was hoping for sightings of some birds that I have yet to see this year.

First off was a walk to the tip area in search of Wheatears that have been reported, sadly none today. Then on through Horsetail Glade, where Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Tree creeper, Magpie, Jay, Goldcrest and a very friendly Robin were seen. While in the Steetley hide 3 Little Grebes were showing well along with Canada Geese, Mallards, Coots and Reed Buntings.
My first stop at the Sheep field fence had the binoculars searching the trees, bushes and shrubs, here and all around the reserve a good number of Blackcaps were seen, mainly male birds, however, I did get to see one female with her fabulous chestnut cap, sadly no clear shots!

On many of my visits I get to bump in to some of the Brandon regulars who kindly offer the latest on recent sightings. Today was no exception with a Whitethoat reported? I didn’t make contact with one in the morning, however in my afternoon tour; I did manage to see one near the golf course after patiently following its call up and down the footpath. It really did give me the run around! Also seen here were Cetti’s Warbler (which took ages to find following its call) and a fabulous Willow Warbler. All 3 were heard before seeing them.

Other notables seen throughout the day were, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, Chiffchaff, Great Crested Grebe, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Gadwall, Buzzard, Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Pied Wagtail and Long Tailed Tit. Also seen today very early on was a Red Fox.

A very enjoyable leisurely day was spent and as always I’m looking forward to my next visit which will be an evening one during the week.

Finally, I must thank one of the Brandon regular photographers for her kind comments and also for her advise relating to my early photographic efforts.

10th of April 2012.

Woolacombe - North Devon

As the sun sets over Woolacombe and Lundy Island another trip to North Devon sadly comes to an end.

Devon always shows you it's natural beauty in all weathers and this time was no exception.

Of the 65 species of bird's seen this trip they included a few migrants that I've not yet seen inland this year, plus the best sightings, which was that of an Osprey and the great many Little Egrets along the Taw Estuary.

I'm already planning my next West Country trip which will include Lundy Island, the Exe Estuary and Cornwall's River Camel.

Until then, it's back to the central area for more local birding.

8th of April 2012.

Species seen 25.
Baggy Point – National Trust - North Devon.

Our walk today took us around Croyde Bay and on towards the National Trust site of Baggy Point. The route taken was along the cliffs in an upward incline towards the point. Some of the path has shear drops which I’m sure many visitors may find a bit scary? However the views are superb.

Birds seen were Wheatear, Stonechat, Redstart, Swallow, Kestrel, Skylark, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Robin, Also seen in or around the cliffs were Kittiwake, Cormorant, Herring, Great Blacked Backed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls. Once at the top of Baggy Point we had fantastic views of Woolacombe bay and the beach, Morte Point across the bay and of course Lundy Island.  Upon arriving back at the car park this Robin was happily chirping on a post.

5th of April 2012.

Species seen 43.

RSPB Isley Marsh & the Taw Estuary – North Devon.

I heard the Buzzard again early this morning along from our pitch. Sadly no sign of it once I surfaced or when I returned later in the day!

A much colder day today.  It’s hard to believe that only a week ago we were in T-shirts because of the warm weather?

Upon arrival at Yelland, I walked towards Isley Marsh, an RSPB site off the Tarka Trail, walking along the footpath I saw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Redpoll, Robin, Wren, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow and Willow Warbler. Once in Isley Marsh and following the perimeter path, the sound of Skylarks was heard and very soon they were seen too. The hedges were full of Dunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Blue Tit.

Scanning over the sandbanks, produced Shelduck, Little Egret, Great Black backed, Black Headed, Herring and Lesser Black backed Gulls, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew and these Bar Tailed Godwits with the Oystercatchers.

At the Quay area a Rock Pipit was viewed along with more Oystercatchers, at least 200 plus this time. Making my way past the inland pond, which had Teal, Mallard and Canada Geese on it, I heard a Cetti’s Warbler from within the reeds. Back towards the Estuary, a single Swallow caught my eye, then much commotion was heard from a number of Gulls, they were chasing a large raptor sized bird, and the binoculars quickly confirmed an Osprey carrying a large fish. The pursuit was on to get a record shot; alas this was not to be, running a mile after the Osprey didn't happen. I did however, catch up with a local birder and we chatted for a while about this fabulous sighting.

My last stop was Fremington Quay to see the Little Egrets roosting, this tree held 12 birds before they were all spooked by two buzzards. For the first time ever, I wasn't pleased to see Buzzards, as all the Egrets left and dissappeared towards the Estuary!

A great day birding in North Devon.

2nd of April 2012.

Species seen 37.

Stowford Meadows – Coombe Martin – North Devon.

Before leaving the campsite a buzzard was heard over one of the fields nearby, after following it with my binoculars it started to come closer and closer to where I was. It came very close, almost directly above me and then landed in a nest for a few minutes, the nest was high in the trees and no more than 30 metres from my pitch and then it took off. This is the closest I’ve ever been to a wild buzzard.

Fremington Quay - Tarka Trail - North Devon.

As with all visits to the Fremington Quay area, a must is a cream tea at the old station cafĂ© before setting out to see what is in the area. As I set off walking towards Barnstable through the tree lined footpath of this old dismantled railway line, the sound of many Chiffchaffs, Chaffinches, and Great Tits was heard, I lost count of how many I actually saw? Notables seen were Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Sand Martin, Goldfinch, Curlew, Shelduck, Redshank, Little Egret, Great Spotted Woodpecker and good numbers of House Sparrow.

The adjacent fields were occupied with many sheep tendering to their lambs, stopping to look at one ewe, it was obvious that it had recently given birth as it was cleaning the mess from the new lamb, which then eventually got to its feet and started to suckle. What a privilege to witness the first moments of the lambs first few hours of life.