30 Days Wild 2019 โ€“ Day 28

This afternoon I took a couple of hours off of work and headed to Wiltshire Wildlife Trustโ€™s Lower Moor Farm.  It was a quiet afternoon.  There were few birds flying (apart from a grey heron) and the only birds I saw on the water were a family of mute swans.

I guessed it was just too warm for our avian friends to be putting too much energy into moving around so my attention was drawn to looking at the flowers in bloom.  There were so many to look at; some I know and some which are new to me, like the grass vetchling. 

But of course if you are looking at the flowers you canโ€™t but help look at the insects too ๐Ÿ™‚

RSPB Ham wall – August 2018

I headed to RSPB Ham Wall over the August Bank Holiday weekend with a friend who wanted to try out a couple of cameras he had hired. I also had with me my new Sigma 150mm Macro 2.8, I had put it on my old Nikon D300 seeing I probably wouldnโ€™t need to crop into the images much.  Although we had gone to go bird watching we were also trying out new kit ๐Ÿ™‚    

We headed down to Tor hide; from previous visits we know it is a good place to spot bitterns!  There was a fair amount of activity, a marsh harrier, gadwall, great white egret, cormorant, swallow, little brown thing that flew between the reeds that I just saw out of the corner of my eye (I have no idea at all what it was!), black headed gull, moorhen, the Red Arrows flew over!, little grebe, and of course a bittern.  It took a very short flight over the reed beds, I was lucky to get a photo as by the time you had seen it, it was gone! 

After a few hours I walked back to the car park to use the facilities!  On the way I saw a mute swan and 4 cygnets and a little creature ran across the path.  I’m not sure who was most surprised, me or him, we both stopped, looked at each other briefly and he shot into the grass.  I think it was a vole but it was such a brief encounter I can’t be certain.  That will teach me for not taking my camera!

On the walk to the Avalon Hide I saw another vole! This one didn’t stop to look, he just shot across the path!  The hide wasnโ€™t too busy when we got there but people were very spread out, it became obvious after a while that people who were there together were taking up a window each rather than sitting together to allow others to sit down. Now I do see the value of a window each because it allows you more room, however, I have always moved to sit with a companion if others come in to sit down, I just see it as polite. We had to squeeze in a gap in between a window and someoneโ€™s scope because they were taking up two windows, they were sat a good few feet away from the windows and at an angle, it was a little odd, they didn’t even acknowledge we were there!  After a while of feeling rather uncomfortable we were able to move to a window that became available.  

There wasn’t a huge number of birds about but enough to keep us occupied: little egret, great white egret, mute swan, coot, house martin, cormorant, 4 marsh harriers at once and a sparrowhawk!  The lady sat next to me noticed it at the same time and we were debating on what it was at the time.  I think it took us both by surprise sat in the water by the reeds. 

With regards to my new lens, after a bit of testing I think it would work better on my D3s, the D300 just doesn’t seem to work properly with it, it didn’t seem to want to focus, it just wasn’t right.  I normally have a wide angle on the D3s so looks like I might have to do some switching of lenses while out in the field when necessary!  Not something I like to do if I can help it, I rather dislike cleaning camera sensors!

30 Days Wild 2018 โ€“ Day 17

I haven’t been to Wildlife Trust’s Lower Moor Farm since January, so I thought it was about time I made another visit and went along this afternoon.  I’m not sure if it was the weather or I just picked the wrong time of day but there didn’t seem to be much bird life about!  There was a cormorant sat on a post, a few woodpigeon’s flying from tree to tree, a black headed gull, a grey heron flew over and a family of mute swans were on Cottage lake.  There were smaller birds flitting from tree to tree but everything seemed to be hiding away in all the leaf cover.  

The most exciting event of the afternoon was spotting my first orchid – a common spotted-orchid.  I have probably seem them before but no knowingly so! 

Also there are loads of froglets! One poor little chap had got himself caught in spiders webs on the floor of the hide, so after carefully removing the web from his back legs I placed him safely back outside.  The walk back to the car was slow and careful, I counted 28 froglets ๐Ÿ™‚


30 Days Wild 2018 – Day 13

This evening on the way home from work I spent about an hour at Wildlife Trusts Whelford Pools.  This is the first time I have visited this year.  I only went to the first hide but it was nice to see the regular birds there: 2 swans and a cygnet, 4 black headed gulls, common tern, 4 great crested grebe & 3 young, 3 tufted ducks, a woodpigeon, a herring gull, 24 cormorants, a coot, a lesser black backed gull and a magpie.  There were also a few smaller birds that flitted in front of the hide although I didn’t get a good enough look at them to enable identification.

The most interesting event of the evening was watching a lesser black backed gull (I think, I’m not great at gull identification!) catching what I think was a crayfish!  It will be nice to visit again soon and go on to the second hide; I’m yet to see a kingfisher this year and I was lucky enough to see one there last year ๐Ÿ™‚


My Patch – February 2018

February has been a much more successful month in the field, with Spring finally on its way I have seen many more goings on…  

February 12th – I noticed this morning a Jackdaw looking in the chimney. They nested in it last year so hopefully it is a good sign that they will nest there again. 

February 13th – there were 32 mute swans in the field this morning. It’s nice to see they are still visiting in good numbers. 

February 15th – 10 starlings were sat on the roof chattering.  I noticed one sitting on the guttering near one of last years nest sites, it then popped in under the roof tile – looks like they are revisiting last years nests ๐Ÿ™‚ The crows were also up on the chimney again.

February 20th – this morning there were 30 mute swans and a pheasant in the field. I know pheasants are around the field but this was the first time I had seen one at the top end of it. I had a quick visit to the garden tonight, I discovered fox scat in the flowerbed!

February 22nd – this morning there were two male pheasants in the field. They were closer to the garden and I am starting to wonder if they are picking up bird food that might have been dropped over the fence. Also 21 mute swans ๐Ÿ™‚ 

February 23rd – I put the trailcam out in the garden over night to see if the foxy visitor returned. Unfortunately nothing but plants swaying in the wind.

February 24th – the trailcam was put out over night in the field, the plan was to try and find out what was using the holes in the field as home (I assume rabbits).  Nothing came out of them, there were however a few visitors that passed by – fox, roe deer and possibly 2 badgers… or one that walked the same route a couple of times!  

February 25th – I decided seeing it was a sunny afternoon to head out in the field to look around.  Now I don’t normally see any other humans at all, however it being a Sunday afternoon I saw three!! Which might explain why I saw less than the normal amount of wildlife! Note to self – only go on the weekend if its really early! Along the north hedge I saw more than normal (no other humans there!) 5 starlings, 2 house sparrow and a blue tit, there were other small birds flitting around but they were hard to see darting into the hedge so I can only assume they are more of the same.  I know that there are tree sparrows in the area but I am yet to see any here.  

Walking passed the copse I again spooked the roe deer, 6 of them ran out the other side and settled in the next field over, through the trees I could also see where all of the mute swans have slowly disappeared to ๐Ÿ™‚  Along the edge of the trees as I was walking down to the river I saw a bird running along the hedgerow, 99% sure it was a red-legged partridge.  I’ve not seen one in the field before.

Walking along the river I saw 2 of the humans, 2 mute swans and I heard both a moorhen and robin.  I still haven’t been able to have help to go and collect the litter, good news is its still there and hasn’t washed away! I’m still unsure if the ‘land’ its on is actually stable to stand on! 

On my walk back up I’m sure I saw a tawny owl sat on a tree branch on the edge of the copse, it flew off as soon as I saw it so I didn’t have a good view, but it looked owl like in flight, it flew back into the copse.  

February 26th – 5 mute swans and 11 roe deer near the copse this morning ๐Ÿ™‚

February 27th – 1 pheasant and 2 mute swans in the field with 5 long-tailed tits on the feeder and a robin pottering around in the flowerbed. The mute swans have reduced in number over the month, but at least I know they are just in the next field over ๐Ÿ™‚

My Patch โ€“ January 2018

January at the field has not been overly successful.  I have only spent one day in the field and not had many encounters in the evenings and mornings because of the lack of light at the moment – though it is improving ๐Ÿ™‚

January 10th – the mute swans are still in the field this morning there were 16 ๐Ÿ™‚

January 26th – I took the day off of work to spend some time at the field. I was lucky it was a sunny as the days either side were wet and gloomy.  I donโ€™t ever see a lot walking along the top edge of the field, I think part of that fact is I have to look down a lot!   There are lots of holes/burrows in the ground, though the ones I have mentioned before seem to have collapsed as the ground has sunk though new holes have appeared! Iโ€™m sure they belong to rabbits, but I am yet to see a rabbit in the field!  I did have a quick glimpse of a robin and a blue tit that were in the hedgerow.  There are a lot of paw prints along the track I was walking, though I am 100% sure they belong to the cat!

Walking down the side of the copse was again the most productive part of my walk. The squirrel drey is still securely in the tree and as I was looking up a heard a nose and looking at the base of the tree a saw the whites of two large back paws bounding away, I had disturbed a hare that I think was sunbathing in the cover of the part of the hedgerow.  I hadn’t seen it, if I had it would have made a lovely photograph.  I was looking out across the field and saw a couple of lumps, I had a look through the binoculars thinking they would be clumps of mud, nope TWO HARES!!!! They were a fair way off in the field and didnโ€™t seem at all bothered by me watching, they were grazing, cleaning etc  I was having problems photographing them, I was looking into the sun and there was a heat haze across the field โ€“ typical! I have never seen two hares together before and I was so surprised to see them. My attention was drawn away to the birds in the hedgerow, two robins that were hoping about having a slight territorial dispute and then to long-tailed tits in the top of the trees.  Walking down the lower part of the copse towards the river I again spooked the roe deer.  I hear them moving then normally see white bottoms bouncing off through the trees.  I need to locate myself in the copse at some point to photograph them.  My guess is there is normally two or three that run off. 

The river was full.  It had obviously burst its banks recently as a patch of the field was a large puddle.  I have never seen it that full before.  It did look pretty with the sun shining and the neutral tones of the fields behind. Two swans flew over and later a cormorant.  I heard a wren and a moorhen but didnโ€™t see them.  The holes that I have seen in the bank previously were fully submerged so if they were homes to any creature they were 100% flooded out.  I was stood watching three goldfinch flitting between the trees, I turned round to find a hare metres from me.  I slowly lifted the camera to take a photo but it was gone as soon as I moved a muscle, I hadnโ€™t expected to see one right behind me!  I estimate there were 3 to 4 hares in the field! As the river receded from its original flooded level it has dropped lots of plastic bottles along the rivers edge, I did think about trying to get them out, however, I was on my own and didnโ€™t know how sturdy the bank was! I will take backup and fish them out next time I go.  If the water level doesnโ€™t rise again they look like they will remain wedged in the tree line.

Rather than walking round the field I walked back up the copse. Two wren were in the hedgerow and a blackbird was keeping a few meters ahead of me all the way along, I’d get close it would fly a little further along and the continued.  I heard a bee, a queen buff-tailed bumble bee, it was buzzing along the side of the hedgerow.

As I reached the top of the field I heard a buzzard calling, when I turned I realised there were three circling over the copse riding the thermals.  Looking over the slight ridge to the left I could see the mute swans, 24 of them ๐Ÿ™‚

As I wouldn’t be able to visit the patch over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend I decided to do a count in the garden for my own records.

Great spotted woodpecker 1
Blue tit 7
Great tit 3
Goldfinch 10
Robin 2
Collard dove 3
Starling 14
House sparrow 6
Dunnock 1
Carrion crow 1
Chaffinch 2
Total no. of species 11
Total no. of birds 50
Weather Light cloud

January 29th – It is now noticeable that the evening are very slowly getting lighter.  I am looking forward to February as Iโ€™ve scanned the sunset calendar and by the time February 20th rolls round the sun will be setting at 5:31pm which means I will be able to get about half an hour of light to have a quick look around or start work on the garden at my patch โ€“ the land owner hasnโ€™t done anything with the garden for a while due to personal reasons and I have been granted permission to โ€˜improve its wildlife friendliness! ๐Ÿ™‚

January 30th – 31 mute swans were just on the other side of the fence, I didn’t have my camera so I took a quick photograph on my phone.  I haven’t seen them that far up the field before.  Hopefully they will be staying around for a little longer, I think they will still be there for as long as the crop is still sprouting.  

My Patch – December 2017

So December was a more successful month for me out in the field, primarily this was down to having days off work (I had to use up my remaining annual leave) and what better way of doing it than out on the patch ๐Ÿ™‚

December 2nd – So I had planned to go walking around the field, but, there was the sound of shotguns.  I wasn’t sure how close they were. I assume they were shooting pheasant or maybe the roe deer.  As I have stated before they aren’t allowed to kill anything in the field, nor should they shoot in the direction of the field but to be on the safe side I thought it was best to monitor the garden birds instead! 1 great spotted woodpecker, 4 robin, 2 dunnock, 5 goldfinch, 5 blue tit, 3 great tit, 7 house sparrow, 5 starling, a coal tit, 2 chaffinch and a blackbird 

December 13th – It snowed quite heavily in the region, unfortunately it had started to melt when I was back in work so only got to see a partially covered field.

December 14th – Today was a horrible day for travel, the road next to the patch was covered in black ice.  There was already one car in the ditch and as I watched another car snaked all over the road and ended up in the entrance way to the barn.  The lady was okay and got out of her car, though I later discovered she fractured her wrist.  I was stood with her in the barn area and there was a heard of roe deer in the distance.  

December 18th – Was another horrible day for travel.  I hadn’t long parked up and was getting ready to go round the field when another car ended up in the ditch, this time at the field’s entrance.  The road is horrendous for black ice.  The awful part is you just watch people driving like its a summer day and wonder why they can’t stop when they brake!  

I made my way out into the field through the owners back garden as the road wasn’t a safe place to be! The mute swans are back ๐Ÿ™‚ there were six feeding on the crop! I’m sure the farmer isn’t too pleased to see them but I was ๐Ÿ™‚  Last April there were approximately 40 grazing so I am expecting the numbers to increase.  I walked a different route to normal as I was trying to avoid the accident.  I didn’t see a lot, a pheasant that ran away very quickly and a great tit in the trees.  There were other small birds about but they were difficult to see as the sun was in my eyes and they were just shadows.  As I got closer to the river I noticed a huge number of woodpigeon; I counted approximately 96, they were all feeding on the crop too! The river is so much easier to see into now its Winter.  I can even sort of tell where the edge of the bank is! Today I only spotted a wren, grey heron and a moorhen.

On the walk back up I stuck to my normal route, I did however quickly realise it was the much muddier choice! There were three advantages though; I briefly glimpsed two roe deer in the copse, a brown hare ran out from the hedgerow in front of me and a buzzard flew over.  I know there are brown hare in the copse and I have seen them in the next field along but but this is the first time on my patch ๐Ÿ™‚

December 22nd – I made a brief stop at the field, today there were 8 mute swans and the roe deer were grazing.  I finally got to see the pale/white deer.  Looking at the herd there are a wide variety of shades but the two pale ones really do stand out.  

The garden bird count today showed: 2 great spotted woodpecker (a pair), 2 chaffinch, a robin, 2 great tit, 5 blue tit, 9 house sparrow, 6 goldfinch, 1 coal tit and 8 starlings.

I put the TrailCam out overnight on the 22nd, the fox was back.  I think its the same one and I’m fairly sure now that shes a female ๐Ÿ™‚

30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 6 – 10

Day 6 – Birdwatching at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Whelford Pools. I visit Whelford Pools every now and then; I knew a Swan had nested and I wanted to go back as see how they had got on. I didn’t manage to get a photograph as they were across the other side of the lake but as far as I can tell it looks as though they have 5 Cygnets. There were quite a few birds with young, including Cormorants, Coots and Great Crested Grebes ๐Ÿ™‚

My sightings were: 4 Coot, pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets, 25 Cormorants, 2 Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 4 chicks, Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, 3 Carrion Crows, 7 Black-headed Gulls, Egyptian Goose, Swallows

Day 7 – Exploring Bampton Cemetery for the nature within. As soon as I walked into the Cemetery I saw a Song Thrush sitting on one of the grave stones so I sat for a while letting the birds get used to me being there. The Song Thrush had moved to the other end of the site but slowly moved closer hopping from stone to stone using them as a vantage point looking down in search of food. The Robins were doing the same, hopping around the stones. Also present were Blackbirds, Goldfinch and Woodpigeon. I took a closer look around me and found Daisy’s and Herb robert growing in the grassed areas. I was pleased to spot a Ladybird larve, the first time I had actually seen any. 

Day 8 – Today Plantlife launched their Great British Wildflower Hunt. I really like the spotter sheets you can download from their website to identify the plants, they are super helpful. I took a walk down the track that runs alongside my patch, there are crops and trees on one side and a hedgerow on the other. I was surprised at the amount of Wildflowers I found – 9 in total (Cow Parsley, Oxeye Daisy, Common Poppy, Dandelion, Shepherd’s Purse, Creeping buttercup, Bramble, White Clover and Meadow buttercup). There was a mix of Country and Town species and some not listed on the spotter sheets. I’ve loaded my findings to the Plantlife website for a Country search – a score of 5. I really liked learning what was next to my patch, I need to do a proper survey on other areas of it now ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 9 – I was watching the garden birds wondering what to do for 30 Days Wild when unusual movement in the flower bed caught my eye. I had my binoculars to hand and quickly realised it was a mouse. I ran off to grab my camera hoping that it would come back. Thankfully it did. It’s a Wood Mouse and was eating the grain that the birds drop on the floor from the feeders ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 10 – I went out specifically looking for Dippers on By Brook; I didn’t find any this time but I did come across a very cute family of Mute Swans and a female Mallard with her 5 ducklings ๐Ÿ™‚ Along my route I also saw Carrion Crows, Swallows, Magpie, Woodpigeon and a heard of Cows! Next time I am going to walk south along the brook in the hope I can find the Dippers. 

My Patch – April 2017

At the beginning of April there was still Swan activity in the field, approximately 40 Mute Swans were feeding on the shoots but by mid April had moved on.  While they were still there they were joined one evening by a heard of 22 Roe Deer. It was a fairly warm evening and they were primarily led down in the middle of the field.  They stayed until dusk, when they got up and started to graze. I believe they moved on when it got dark, but it was too dark for me to see where they had moved to!  I like it when the Deer are in the field, I know it means that they are safe. The land owner has an agreement with the farmer that no wildlife is to be harmed on the land.  This means when the culling season is upon us they can’t be shot in this field.

The middle of April I decided to take a closer look in one of the hedgerows, it didn’t go to plan.  I had company on my walk that isn’t the type of company that goes with looking for birds – a cat! My friend lives in one of the houses adjacent to my patch and has a cat that lives outdoors.  She’s very friendly and decided that coming for a walk with me was the way she would spend her evening.  I didn’t expect her to walk all the way down the track and into a copse with me, then walk all the way back! If I stopped to look at something she stopped and waited for me! All I saw was a Robin at the top of a tree and a Rabbit who was quite a distance away thankfully! 

My attention has been drawn to the birds in the garden, who are nesting in my friends house. As far as we know there are 2 Jackdaw nests and 3 Starling nests all located in the roof, be it the chimneys where the Jackdaws have made home or underneath the roof tiles where the Starlings are. I’m looking forward to seeing their fledglings in the garden ๐Ÿ™‚

RSPB Lodmoor – April 2017

I decided it was time to take a few days off work, so thatโ€™s what I did just before Easter and headed to the coast.  I have been following Weymouth Wetlands on Twitter for a while now, knowing that it would be a destination I would be visiting. I think Twitter is great for researching what wildlife you can spot around the country, specifically when you are going to a named site.  

I arrived in Weymouth in the afternoon and quickly visited the Discovery Centre to have a look at their recent sightings board before moving on to Lodmoor.  Lodmoor is about 4 miles along the coast from the Discovery Centre and really easy to find.  Both of the car parks for the RSPB sites in Weymouth are council owned so make sure you take change with you.  The worse part it deciding how long you think you are going to stay!

I decided to walk the Marsh Trail and the Reedbed Trail which join together to make a loop.  One of my first sightings was a Canada Goose sat on a nest on an island fairly close to the path, it was nice to see. There were quite a few people out in the reserve, so I walked on until I found a free bench to sit on.  I could see, over to the left a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits but they flew off before I could get a proper look.  They did fly back over later and I managed to grab a quick photograph.

I was suddenly aware of movement to my left and a Rabbit hopped out of the grass, it didnโ€™t seem bothered by me which is always concerning.  As I walked passed it only moved a few feet, it looked like it had been hit in the head, but I am more inclined to think it had Mixamytosis ๐Ÿ™

It was a lovely sunny day though and as I moved along the Reedbed Trail I became aware of the Swallows that were flying overhead, my first sighting this year ๐Ÿ™‚

There were about 20 House Sparrows darting in and out of the hedgerow opposite the houses and Blackbirds that kept hoping about on the grass.  All afternoon there was one bird that I heard continually, I had no idea what it was but was sure I was being stalked by it!! I would think I heard approx. 10+ of them on the site.  I am still in the very early stages of learning bird songโ€™s but this one I will now remember โ€“ a Cettiโ€™s Warbler! 

I ended my afternoon with a quick walk across the road to the beach, no trip to the coast would be right without seeing the sea ๐Ÿ™‚

My full sightings list:
Birds: Canada Goose (1 on nest), Shelduck, Coot, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Black-tailed Godwit, Mallards, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Dunnock, Pochard, Teal,  Gadwall, Woodpigeon, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Magpie, Great Tit, Swallow, Grey Heron, Carrion Crow, heard Cetti’s Warbler, Black-headed Gull
Mammals: Rabbit
Butterflies: Speckled Wood