Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UK Birding - Somerset Levels and Hunstanton Cliffs

Whilst en-route from Plymouth to Northampton, I passed through the Somerset Levels, another favourite birding spot. Most of the time was spent at the new RSPB Reserve at Ham Wall, under the watchful gaze of Glastonbury Tor.

There were plenty of birds on the reserve, but most of them were pretty distant.  I did manage pics of Grey Heron, Common Pochard and Tufted Duck.



After another visit with the grandkids I was headed to Norfolk.  As I was going to Hunstanton for dinner I called in at the cliffs there to try and photograph the Northern Fulmars.  The cliffs are now fenced of by no less than three fences, and the view is much poorer than I remember, but after numerous attempts, practising on Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, I finally got a few shots of the Fulmar.





On the way back to my accommodation, I saw a family of Greylag Geese, some Red-legged Partridge and Collared Dove.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UK Birding - Devon and Cornwall

While I was staying with Mum in Plymouth I did some birding in Devon and Cornwall.  Mum is only a few minutes from the edge of Dartmoor, so that is a regular pre-breakfast spot.  A favourite spot of mine is Shaugh Bridge. This is a regular location for Dipper and Grey Wagtail.  No Dippers this time, but I did see some Mandarin Ducks here.



Higher on the moor there are always lots of Yellowhammers, Stonechats and Robins.




I also spotted this very newly born Dartmoor Pony foal with is mother.

In the oak woodland, the summer migrants, (Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler), were back, but proved impossible to photograph.  Easier were the Coal Tit and Nuthatch.


I checked Aylesbeare Common for Dartford Warbler, and almost stepped on this Adder sunning itself on the path (Apologies for the quality - my camera had switched settings).  I did eventually see some Dartford Warblers foraging low in the gorse.


Common in the hedgerows, Dunnock is also known as Hedge Sparrow.  Herring Gulls are everywhere, and are becoming a nuisance in some cities.


A day in Cornwall produced some good birding, with Whimbrel, Little Egrets, always flighty Shelduck, Pied Wagtails, Rock Pipit, Common Whitethroat and Northern Gannets amongst the birds seen and photographed.






Monday, May 22, 2017

UK Birding - Summer Leys LNR

Whilst in the UK I did manage to go birding a few times. The first place I visited was Summer Leys Local Nature Reserve, on the River Nene at Earls Barton near Northampton.  This is one of my favourite spots in Northampton, and the last time I was here was in 2008.

I settled into the hide, and immediately noticed a pair of Mediterranean Gulls on the island in front of me.  Once a rarity, these gulls are becoming increasingly common now.

The Black-headed Gulls were busy collecting nesting material, and the Common Terns were already on eggs.


Other common birds were Woodpigeon, Mute Swan and Grey Heron.



There is a feeding station on the reserve that used to have a resident population of rare Tree Sparrows, but these have not been seen here for a few years now.


The most numerous bird here was Bullfinch, along with Chaffinch, and Blue Tit.




As usual, the local Grey Squirrels are quick to take advantage of a free feed, as are the Magpies.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Catching up with my family

I am just back from a quick visit to the UK to catch up with my family.  It's been 5 years since my last visit, so this one was well overdue.

I flew with Qatar Airways via Doha, with direct flights only recently started from Adelaide.  The flights were on brand new Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft. The service and food on board were excellent and I would definitely fly this airline again.



Once in the UK, first stop was Northampton, to see Ileana, Mark and the grandchildren.  It was lovely to see Maggie and Alex again, and to meet Eliza for the first time.

 
 
 


Then it was off to Plymouth for Mum's 85th birthday, and a celebration dinner with my brother Colin and his family.


Of course, I also fitted in some birdwatching. which I'll include in a separate post, (or posts LOL), so as not to bore all of the non-birders!! .