February 17th of February 2013.

WWT – Swift Valley Nature Reserve.

Species seen 20.

Another sunny day and a walk around my nearest Warwickshire Wildlife Trust site included yours truly falling in the mire which had me soaked right up to the waist in mud! The things we do in our quest for enjoying the outdoors and it's wildlife. Upon arriving back at the car I was really pleased that the rucksack waterproof cover I keep in the boot, was just the right size to cover for my seat while I drove home to change!

Birds seen, Greylag Geese, Moorhen, Coot, Wood Pigeon, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Black Headed Gull, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Starling and Goldfinch.

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Later in the afternoon I went to Brandon Marsh for a few hours before it got dark. The highlights were a Red Kite, high above the Newlands reed beds, also seen was a Bittern and two Barn Owls at dusk.

Also noted and the topic of great hide discussion, were around 3000 plus Black Headed Gulls along with a few Great Black Backed Gulls seen above and beyond the golf coarse heading in a southern direction. 

16th of February 2013.

Napton Reservoir.

Having woken up to a beautiful clear frosty and blue sky day, there was only one thing to do today and that was get out in the “Shire” and enjoy the fresh air and some wildlife. First stop was Napton Reservoir, my first visit this year and indeed for some time.

Species seen 19.

These were Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Black Head Gull, Herring Gull, Mallard, Coot, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon, Magpie, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Buzzard, Kestrel, and Raven.
Both the single Raven and three Buzzards were heard before catching sight of them over the fields of Home Farm.
After an hour here, I set off for Brandon Marsh to see what was about?

WWT – Brandon Marsh.

Species seen 32.

An afternoon visit to Brandon Marsh started as usual in the over-spill car park, while taking my stuff from the boot of the car I was immediately drawn to a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers high in the tree tops above the car park.

The highlight of the afternoon was seeing a Marsh Harrier over the Newlands reed beds. It perched for quite a while at the far end of Newlands and when in flight, it looked so graceful and almost appeared to be flying in slow motion! It disappeared from sight heading towards the screen area, however, due to the recent flooding I was not going to risk life and limp in my pursuit to see it at close quarters.  Let’s hope it visits again and the water levels continue to drop too?

10th of February 2013.

WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre.

Species seen 47.

Our second day away was spent at the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre. This is always a great place to see both their captive birds, and the mass of wild birds that drop in to the Severn Estuary area. Amongst the captive birds were Flamingos whose rich colours were very vibrant even in the dull rainy conditions.

The highlight was three Tundra Bean Geese which had the Holden Tower hide full to bursting. Other notables were the 1000 plus Lapwings with at least 400 plus Golden Plover amongst their numbers.
Bewick Swan numbers were well over 250 and there were at least 100 or more Barnacle Geese, plus I guess about 80 or more White Fronted Geese.

Other birds seen today were, Greylag, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Widgeon, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, Buzzard, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin, Black headed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Starling, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.  

The Kingfisher hide had a notice explaining that due to the severe weather in 2012 there have been no Kingfishers nesting at Slimbridge, which is a real shame; however after looking at the recent sightings lists, I see one has been reported on the site. Let’s hope that Kingfisher numbers will increase so that more people can enjoy these truly beautiful birds?

Slimbridge also has an Otter programme and it was good to see these mammals at close quarters. All be it through transparent walls. They were very playful and extremely inquisitive when it came to the birds that perched from time to time around their enclosure.

I will return to Slimbridge once the clocks have changed to enjoy another visit, hopefully next time the weather will be a lot more brighter and somewhat warmer?

9th of February 2013.

Forest of Dean.

Species seen 20.

A weekend away in Gloucestershire began with a drive through the Forest of Dean stopping off at the Heritage Centre.  

Our walk started outside the Centre where the pool had both Mandarin and Mallard ducks looking to the visitors for food.  After watching the stunning Mandarins we took to the Forest footpath to explore the area’s woodland and pools, first through Foundry wood then Abbots wood and back around the pools to the main road.

Upon reaching the highest forest point, I came across a sign asking that visitors do not feed the wild boars! Sadly no boar were seen.

Other birds seen were Pheasant, Moorhen, Black Headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Willow, Great and Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Tree Creeper, Dunnock, Starling and a wintering Chiffchaff.

A most enjoyable walk and at the end we did finally see a wild boar; however, it was on the side of a local woodcarvers van! While chatting to said woodcarver, he told us stories of huge pigs up in the woods, so as visitors to the area we went along believing and enjoying his tales.

1st of February 2013.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust - Swift Valley Nature Reserve.

An early morning walk before work saw my first visit this year to the Reserve. Following all the snow and rain, the whole reserve was water logged; all the paths and fields were awash with rain water, in fact there are numerous new small ponds and lakes there due to the recent bad weather conditions. Taking the route along the old disused canal, I managed to see the following birds;

Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Chaffinch, Moorhen & Green Woodpecker.

Also noted were the many Mole hills along the way. Taking a few moments along the cinder paths, I tried to identify some of the many animal tracks in the mud, well the only ones of note were, small dog, middle sized dog and large dog, plus, man’s & woman’s boot, wellingtons & Doc Martins!

Lets hope my next visit proves to be more productive in terms of species seen and a few mammals too?