Saturday the 9th of April 2016 
Bideford to Lundy Island – MARINElife Wildlife Officer Trip

We arrived in Bideford at 07:30am for my first Lundy trip of 2016. As I collected my ticket from the Landmark Trust office I had a quick conversation with Beccy MacDonald the Island’s Warden who was returning to Lundy.

Following this, I proceeded to board the MS Oldenburg where I was welcomed aboard by Jason the ship’s new Captain. As I started my tour around the upper and lower decks the rain had ensured that many of the 108 passengers were below in the saloons, as such there was only a handful of people to talk to. 

The one and only cetacean sighting happened as the ship had passed over the reef which is just outside the mouth of estuary, here a brief glimpse of a single Harbour Porpoise was good to see. Birds of note were Manx Shearwater, Gannet along with Guillemot and Razorbill rafting as the ship passed them by. The usual common gulls were seen along with Kittiwake, Fulmar and a Great Skua.

As the Oldenburg made its way slowly towards the landing bay there was no sign of any Seals on the rocks of Rat Island, however I did see two during my time on the island from the higher levels. As the passengers disembarked, the sun came out and everyone proceeded to walk up to the higher levels.

As we approached the boat shed at the end of the jetty I met Simon Dell who I’ve met on a number of occasions on the Island or the Oldenburg. We chatted for a few moments while his group started to form up for his Island tour. Simon is a Lundy and Dartmoor Park Guide, Author and Speaker and his books are worth a read if you want to know about the history of the Island. Simon has a website that can be reached at,

Simon's Books about Lundy are available from these links

My route this visit was to pass the wooded areas to look out for migrant birds, here I saw Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Onwards towards halfway wall I spotted my first Wheatear of the year, both male and female. Arriving at Jenny’s Cove, named after a ship that was wrecked off the rocks, I soon had sight of my first Puffin for 2016 along with many Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake.

After a picnic lunch; we proceeded to make my way back to the jetty, passing the old light along the way were Skylark, Meadow Pipit and many more beautiful Wheatear.

Also whilst walking back, the island’s Sika Deer were spotted, plus the Lundy Ponies were seen grazing over on the eastern side of the island. Other animals observed were the usual sheep and wild goats.

The crossing back to Ilfracombe was a quiet one with the same birds being seen along the way.

Before disembarking I thanked Jason the new Captain and Vernon the ship’s first mate for his and the crews’ continued support for MARINElife.

I look forward to my next trip in May, this time I hope to see some of the Common and Bottlenose Dolphin that I regularly see and even the possibility of a Minké Whale, Basking Shark or Sunfish.

Birds seen on this trip,

Manx Shearwater, Black Headed gull, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Fulmar, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Gannet, Great Skua, Puffin, Little Egret, Swallow, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Teal, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Peregrine Falcon, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Starling, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock, Skylark, Wren, Carrion Crow, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Mallard and Pied Wagtail.

March 2016 – Birding Overview

6th of March 2016 – Rutland Water

The first opportunity of March to get out and see some birds and wildlife took us to Rutland Water in search of the Long-Billed Dowitcher and the possibility of five species of Grebe.

Upon arriving we met birding buddies Gary and Steve in the car park who had successfully ticked off the Long-Billed Dowitcher as they had arrived very much earlier in the morning.

After the short walk via some very soggy paths we arrived at the hide and didn’t need to ask where our target bird was as an elderly gentleman greeted us at the door and promptly showed me to the birds’ location. This sighting was a lifer for me and a few very distance record shots were taken. Here to 
were a couple of Little Grebes, the first Grebes of the day.

After a picnic lunch we left the hide and drove to the area near Tim’s Cottage where more birders were on hand to assist in finding Slavonian Grebe, Red-necked Grebe and three Black-necked Grebes and many Great Crested Grebes.

A very good afternoons birding with a total of fifty two species seen.

26th of March 2016 – Garden birds

As I sat enjoying the Saturday morning watching the birds on my feeders and drinking copious amounts of coffee, my eyes became focused on a raptor high above the garden fence, Red Kite! I’ve never had one in Rugby before and as it went over my house I found myself outside the front door catching sight of it before it disappeared west towards the Swift Valley area. The nearest I’ve seen one to Rugby before was at Brandon Marsh to the North and junction one of the A14 to the east.

Red Kite Image from last year

My garden list up to March is now as follows,

Feral and Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Starling, House Sparrow and Sparrowhawk.

Birds seen either overhead or flying past the garden are, Grey Heron, Mallard, Mute Swan, Jackdaw, Jay, Black-headed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gull. Raptors too have often been seen going over, Kestrel and Buzzard nearly every day.

The last Sunday of March was ended with a different day of watching things that fly! We spent a few hours at Birmingham International Airport to watch the first flight of an Emirates Airbus A380. 

 An enourmous aircraft which attracted a huge crowd at Sheldon County Park. Nothing to do about birds and wildlife, however a fabulous sight to see.

February 2016 – Birding Overview

7th of February 2016 – Daventry Country Park

A lovely sunny afternoon was ideal weather conditions to go over to Daventry in search of the Green-Winged Teal that had been reported a few days before. Upon arrival I and my fiancée enjoyed a good walk around the whole park. Starting at the car park our route was a clockwise one firstly checking the water for anything resembling a Teal. Plenty of common birds were on the lake such as Tufted duck, Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler and Wigeon. Since my last visit here there is now a green shipping container that has been adapted in to a bird hide complete with disabled ramp access. Sadly and on a cold and windy day it was locked! The wooded area was full of Blue, Great and Long-Tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and many Wren were seen and heard. Stopping to view the small stream from the wooden bridge gave me my first Grey Wagtail of the year.

Carrying on with our walk we came to an area where it was clear that the ground had been flattened by quite a few people that had walked from the cinder path towards the back pool. Looking out over the water I soon had many Eurasian Teal in view, a scan of the grit trap had Teal all along its edge, something awoke from its slumber and hey presto, the Yank was seen for the first time. Due to the distance it was not possible to get any photographs only scope views. It's always good to see one of these stunning little ducks. This year tick, makes it the third year in a row for Green-Winged Teal.

14th of February 2016 – Pitsford Reservoir

As with last Sunday the weather was very sunny, however the wind made for a cold afternoon.

First of all a short walk along the causeway gave up the usual ducks along with plenty of Lapwing.  Here to was a Mediterranean Gull and few Common Gull amongst the many Black Headed and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. Moving from here to the first hide, I passed Yellowhammer, Siskin, Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.

Taking shelter from the cold wind in hide I soon spotted a Ruddy Shelduck rafting on the water along with some Greylag geese. Little Grebe were constantly diving as their neighbouring Shoveler circled in male and female pairs. 

Above the trees on the opposite side of the reservoir were Buzzards souring on the thermals and a single Red Kite made an appearance too. Walking back to the car park I flushed a Green Woodpecker that was digging for worms on the muddy track. As it took off, it was clearly not happy at being disturbed making a lot of noise as it flew away.

In the few hours spent here I saw 39 species of birds.

28th of February 2016 – RSPB Pagham Harbour

This month’s local Coventry and Warwickshire RSPB Group trip was to the Sussex coast on a very cold and windy day with mixed sunshine and showers. Leaving Coventry at 07:00am the coach trip to Pagham Harbour was as always full of chat amongst the birders that regularly sit at the back end of the coach.

As the title of the reserves name suggests it was coastal with inland scrapes, a small estuary and a pebble beach. As many people know I have a great fondness for the sea and everything that lives and breathes within it. So as with all trips, I spent a considerable time looking out to sea looking for ceteaceans and maybe a few seals, sadly this time none were seen. There were however a few Turnstone rushing up and down the incoming waves and I did manage to use my camera to get a few record shots.


The species of birds seen were; in alphabetical order, Avocet, Bar-tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Brent Goose, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Grey Partridge, Grey Plover, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-legged Partridge, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Turnstone, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren.