Saturday, December 1, 2012
One species already arriving in good numbers are the tiny Goldcrests. It may seem amazing that they migrate across the North Sea to our milder shores but they do and I have been noticing them around our lanes regularly in the last few weeks. They are often heard before they are seen, with their very high pitch contact calls sounding a bit like a lisp. If you hear them, look out for a tiny bird moving almost mouse like through the trees. Perhaps because numbers are higher than usual they seem to be fighting off others to protect a food source once they find it. As a result they can often be seen chasing each other when they meet up! ( Of course they could be pairing up, but I suspect, with the cold weather approaching, they are more interested in feeding). This tiny bird has to eat its weight in food daily to survive cold periods and feeds constantly in the short winter daylight hours. The cold winters of 2009 and 2010 decimated the native population though they recovered well last spring.This morning I saw a pair, along with a small family group of Long tailed tits, as they flew out of SSW and into a small tree in Stantway. They did not stay long enough for me to get any pictures of them, dashing off to the next feeding post up the hill.
We met at 10.30am timing our visit for high tide in the Exe estuary as the views from the hide overlooking the estuary are best for the birds which come to feed on the mud then.
We walked through the reserve through the dunes, alongside the golf course, spotting a pair of beautiful Stonechats en route to the hide. The mud was just exposed as we arrived and we were delighted to see plenty of birds busily feeding, or in some cases just hanging about resting before fore mud was exposed. This estuary is protected as a reserve by RAMSAR and is home in the winter to thousands of waders and wildfowl.
It is also a good spot for interesting vagrants from America and most of the group were very pleased to be able to see the Bonaparte's Gull which has been hanging around, using the wooden groynes to rest up. On the day we visited ther was a lot of disturbance as the weather encouraged more people than usual for the time of hear to walk on the beach. Fortunately, this who did not see it at the beginning of the morning caught up with it feeding along the shore towards Langstone Cliff later in the afternoon.
Birds seen from the hide included Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone, Little Egret,Shelduck and Red breasted Merganser. or a full list see the group website.
Unfortunately I did not take my camera along so have no bird close-ups but used my phone for some views. See below.
Exe estuary looking upstream from Dawlish Warren
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Since then there has been plenty of the usual rain, with a little sunshne, which, when combined produced a wonderful double rainbow, like this one last week over the centre of the village.
We have also had snow this week, (but that melted too quickly to capture on film this time), very early for the season, but maybe a promise of what we have in store for the rest of the winter!
One thing to note, due to the poor summer weather this year is that the natural food for the birds is not very abundant, with few berries on the Hawthorn and few spare fruits on the crab apples and other fruit trees, which could spell a hard time for our wildlife over the winter.
|Crab apple 1|
|Crab apple 2|
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Walking around the lanes I spotted flocks of small birds such as Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits which were busy foraging for food in the hedgerows as if they knew the colder weather was on its way. One nice sighting were a small flock of Goldcrests moving through the trees alongside the R. Isle near Pudleigh. In winter, the Goldcrest must find an insect or spider every 2.5 seconds to maintain its bodyweight so they are constantly flitting as they search for food.
We were delighted to see that there were still swallows about too . A dozen young birds were seen preening on the telegraph wires over the stables alongside Combe Wood Lane on the morning before a full moon on the 30th September but were gone the next day. There were however a couple still about a few days later and and they lingered on well into October.
Reports of single birds are still being recorded along the coast as they fly off to warmer climes in South Africa but sadly, "our" birds have all gone for another year now. The other sad thing is, that for the first time in some years there were no active nests in the church South porch this year. Let's hope they take up residence again in the future.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Whilst California is not eactly local, it was a wildlife trip and some of the sights are worth sharing.
For example, whilst we did not see any foxes like the one from an earlier post seen on the Blackdowns, we did see a number of Coyotes. This one wandered into the road as we drove along and stood staring at us defiantly as we approached ever closer.
We were lucky enough to travel to Yosemite and see the huge Sequoia trees, many of which are over a thousand years old. Some are so huge you could drive a car through them but this is one where our group could easily fit under the trunk!
|Sequoia in Yosemite|
|"A Very Big Bird!"|
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
After about ten minutes it started to rain and as quickly as they had appeared they had all gone. Be interesting to see if they appear again tomorrow or that was their last appearance until next "summer"!
Monday, August 6, 2012
It was completely oblivious of us, even though we had a dog with us, and it caught no scent of us as the wind was blowing towards us.
Its attention was distracted by a gull and it watched it as it flew close to the ground before disappearing.
Finally it must have heard us as it gave us a meaningful stare before it loped across the field back in the direction from which it first came and disappeared through the hedge line.
The first was seen on the road in Wadeford and at first I thought it was dead as it was completely still.
It was missing the end of its tail and only when we tried to move it onto the verge did it move its head and then twirled about as we lifted it up with a stick.
Now I am very fond of most types of wildlife but I do have a phobia about snakes or snake like creatures. I know it is irrational, especially with Slow Worms as they are really legless lizards, but I think it is the way they move that causes me to shudder. I thought I was very brave getting the close up shot!
The second encounter was even more scary (well for me at least!) I was doing some weeding of the raised bed in my front garden and felt something drop on my foot. I was wearing sandals and looking down saw a slow worm had crawled across my foot! I moved rather fast to the safety of the doorstep and watched it slither in a side way movement across the tarmac of the drive coming to rest under the car. This time my husband managed to pick it up and put it back on the grass but needless to say, that was the end of the weeding that evening!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
|Large Skipper (female?)|
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Robins are certainly still doing so and a pair have been visitng my Mum's garden to collect the live meal worms she put out for them three or four times a day.
They have become quite tame and even sit on her window ledge looking into the kitchen as if to say where are our worms!
Once the worms are placed in a pot on the wall outside the kitchen, they waste no time in dashing down to see what is on offer
and choosing a tasty morsel!
The Ducks were not the usual Mallards, often to be found swimming to and fro here, but more like the ones you might float in your bath!
Everyone dashed down to the bridge over the river and waited in anticipation for the first Ducks to arrive.
After some anxious minutes, the first Duck finally "swam" into sight, closely followed by the rest of the flock, and of course the duck herder!
(Apologies to the more serious readers of this blog, but this local event deserved a mention, occuring as it does on the River Isle which rises in and flows through the parish, before wending its way to Ilminster and then on to join the River Parrett downstream before reaching the Severn Estuary at Bridgwarer Bay. As such it provides an important habitat in the parish for wildlife, so whilst today's Ducks were not real, records of Kingfisher, Dipper and even Otter have been recorded here, so it is worth keeping an eye open when passing by).
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The ones I saw earlier in the season on my "Magical evening" have now been joined by some beautiful Common Spotted Orchids (I think?) in SSW
and a good few Pyramidal Orchids along the verges near the Humpty Dumpty fields in Combe Wood Lane. Sadly, the cattle in the field have eaten the ones that have appeared on their side of the fence!
Apologies for quality of the pictures below, taken with my phone!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
If only I had my camera with me, it was a really exciting sight and good to know the smaller birds do sometimes have the upper hand!
Then we were shown how to decide if they were male or females. The latter having an obvious point at the tail end of the body. Also, only the females collect pollen, so they are the only ones with pollen baskets on their legs! When they have been busy these get very full and are quite obvious.
We also had to decide if they were true Bumble bees or cuckoo bees. The cuckoo bees do not collect pollen and their leg is coverd in thick hair, whereas the true Bumble bee has a shiny pollen sac.
I think I still need more practice, but I was amazed at how easy it was to catch them and then apply some id steps.For more info have a look at http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/top-tips-for-bee-id/
Sunday, June 17, 2012
On a field trip to the Ham Wall and Shapwick reserves yesterday, the weather was kind and we had great views of Bittern, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and this delightful swan family! which was not amused as the local herd of highland cattle approached from one direction and our group came from the other. After trying unsuccessfully to head off the cattle, they walked towards us and then crossed the path and led their cygnets back to the water.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Next I was delighted to see a Barn Owl quartering some fields and as the light dimmed I heard the sound of young Tawny Owls calling their parents with their wispy squeak. After patiently waiting I saw movement near the field boundary and as I crossed toward a stile, I saw two fluffy babies and an adult altogether in one tree.
Time to start to head for home and I entered another field and followed the footpath uphill near . Turning to look back I spotted another (or maybe the same one?) Barn Owl in the air. Amazing, I have never seen one in the parish before and now I get two sightings in one evening! Magic!
As I walked back home along the lane in the gloom Bats were swooping between the hedgerows greedily catching insects, which have been in short supply during the cold,damp weather we have been experiencing for what seems like weeks now. This is bad news for much of our wildlife as no insects mean the young birds will suffer and the bees aren't pollinating the flowers. Let's hope summer comes soon!
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Wildflowers in SSW now include masses of Yellow Rattle, ox-eye daisies and some beautiful Foxgloves along the bank by the steps. The May blossom has been beautiful in frothy white and pink but as we enter June it will begin to fade,so here is a reminder from the edge of the "Humpty Dumpty field"!
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
The RSPB are asking for any sightings to be sent to them so they can build up a picture of their range and whether they are declining or not. http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/surveys/swifts/
The verges in the lanes around have grown very lush in all the rain we have been having and are now swathed in cow parlsey which looks just like lace and very pretty, if a slight problem for driver,s as the view of the road is often obscured.
After being alerted by a friend to the possibility of a Tawny Owl fledgling being in the SSW I had a walk on Tuesday evening to see if I could find it. It had been on the ground and whilst it is tempting to pick them up and take them to a safe place, they should never be moved unless in obvious danger from traffic or predators. Thisn is because the young Tawny Owls will often leave the nest before they can fly and will engae in what is known as "branching" this is where they may fall to the ground unharmed, but then climb back up to the nest under the watchful eye of a parent. It is a way of exercising their wings before they take flight. The parents will watch their progeress and this will attracgt the interst of other birds who view it is a threat to their young. This is because Tawny Owls will takeother young birds as food.
I followed my usual walk, up Stantway and into the fileds via the footpath behind CME. As I approached there were loud chinking calls which signify the alarm calls of a number of Blackbirds and sure enough, when I peered through the hedge I could see an adult Tawny Owl sitting in a low bush. It flew off as I walked on and then when as I entered SSW from the track off of Combe Wood Lane, the Blackbirds were calling again. After watching and listening I finally located both a young fledgling and the parent bird sitting in two adjacent trees in the old rectory garden.
My photos are not very good as I could not, and indeed would not, approach too close, as I did not want to disturb them but it is great to know though that they are about!
|Watchful parent Tawny Owl|
|Fluffy Fledgling Tawny Owl|
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
We saw and/or heard 26 bird species in all, (listed below) which for a walk in early April, in a slight drizzle, was quite good going. We also saw roe deer and numerous rabbits, plus wildflowers such as cowslips and bluebells, so hopefully everyone who joined us felt it had been worth getting up so early for!
Thanks to Debbie and Andy for the catering, Sue for the posters, Rob for assisting with birdsong identification and the Village Shop for selling the tickets