Half time analysis!

Time flies when you’re having fun, not an original remark I know but none the less true! I am half way through my ‘gap year’ and my goodness it is going very quickly. Although looking back, some of the birds I have seen, the places I have visited seem a long way back, funny old thing time don’t you think? If my calculations are correct I have spent nights in 21 different places in the past 6 months! But first a quick look back at June; we said goodbye to it yesterday until 2017 and for me it was fantastic, well if we leave politics out of it !!!

Definitely the highlight was our trip to  Mull, we had fantastic weather, even better company and new birds, butterflies and dragonflies too. (Please see blogs, “Mull here we come” through to “Mulling it over”)imageThanks to Roo for the photo above, timer set we were sat waiting for the click but she alone knew that we were ‘titled’ on the seat! As well as blogging I am making a scrapbook of our year and I try to do it monthly. So with that in mind I have been looking through June’s photos to pick the ones to feature when I came upon a butterfly I had written off as a tatty white one! Oh no it isn’t it is in fact a Green hairstreak, a first ever for us so it was worth looking through again!Green hairstreak (on Mull)

As well as the birds we saw on Mull, Golden and White-tailed eagles included, we were pleased with the new butterflies and dragonflies we saw there too, albeit frustratingly fleetingly sometimes.

Working our way back home was fun too although the atrocious change in weather as we returned to England and the man who caused the M1 to be shut for 28 hours was not so amusing!

We visited some more of the WWT sites and have been really impressed by them all. Mind you when we learnt they had opened another one in Somerset it was a bit of a blow to our resolve to visit all the mainland one, hey ho to Somerset we must go. I have been struck by the friendliness of the staff/volunteers we have met at the sites and my stranger of the month is one of these. Heather, a volunteer at Caerlaverock who was simply a charming lady and a real pleasure to chat to, as I admired the Lego!

This posing Swallow was a treat at Martin Mere another WWT site.

We bought ourselves a present whilst on Mull as a reminder of our time away, not a bird we saw there but on The Farne Islands.IMG_6459 crop

Our time away may have come to an end but not June, that still had plenty to offer including four life ticks! The Great reed warbler at Paxton Pits, Great Knot at Titchwell, Bluethroat at Lowestoft and Caspian tern at Breydon water and it is the Bluethroat that I pick as my bird of the month. IMG_6250

We still sometimes procrastinate when we hear of a new bird but on that occasion we got straight on to it and we were very pleased we did. She was a lovely little bird, showing pretty well but was gone by the next morning  so it was a good job we didn’t mess about.

Now to the half time analysis! I am loving it and am not sure how I will feel when the year is complete. No regrets other than I haven’t seen as much of my friends and sister as I would normally do and I apologise for that. I am definitely spending more time with Ian than I have for many a long year but I suspect his golf is suffering. He is in fact out playing golf now but I think it is only the second or third time all year! To be brutally honest I am slightly missing occasional time alone although I maybe next year I may regret saying that! Our garden has seen better times of that I am sure and as we can’t afford a gardener, we must take a bit of time to sort it out before it reverts totally to the wild.

But over this first six months we have seen:

235 Birds which included 20 life ticks

115 Moths plus 15 micros ( should be more micros but they are tricky!!!)

17 Butterflies

10 dragon/damselflies

20 Mammals

13 insects  (but plenty left if I can ID them!)

Reptiles and amphibians are sadly lacking so I will leave them for now and try to sort them out, I had better get out snake hunting I think!

So for now the total is 425

In case you don’t bother with the lists let me say thank you for sticking with me through the first half of the year, I hope you hang on for part two. Please leave comments on the blog is it really encouraging to read them.

If you want to read the lists you may need to refresh your coffee first but here goes:

Bird list to the end of June those in bold are new this month and those in red are life ticks

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Bewick Swan
  3. Whooper Swan
  4. Pink-footed Goose
  5. White-fronted Goose
  6. Greylag Goose
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Barnacle Goose
  9. Brent Goose
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Common Shelduck
  12. Muscovy duck
  13. Mandarin Duck
  14. Eurasian Wigeon
  15. Gadwall
  16. Eurasian Teal
  17. Mallard
  18. Pintail
  19. Garganey
  20. Shoveler
  21. Red-crested Pochard
  22. Common Pochard
  23. Ferruginous Duck *
  24. Tufted duck
  25. Greater Scaup
  26. Common Eider
  27. Long-tailed Duck
  28. Common Scoter
  29. Velvet Scoter
  30. Goldeneye
  31. Smew
  32. Hooded merganser *
  33. Red-breasted Merganser
  34. Red Grouse
  35. Black Grouse
  36. Goosander
  37. Red-legged Partridge
  38. Grey Partridge
  39. Common Pheasant
  40. Golden Pheasant
  41. Little Grebe
  42. Great Crested Grebe
  43. Red-necked Grebe *
  44. Slavonian Grebe
  45. Black-necked Grebe
  46. Fulmar
  47. Manx Shearwater
  48. Gannet
  49. Cormorant
  50. Shag
  51. Bittern
  52. Little Egret
  53. Great Egret
  54. Grey Heron
  55. White Stork
  56. Glossy Ibis
  57. Red Kite
  58. White-tailed Eagle
  59. Marsh Harrier
  60. Hen Harrier
  61. Pallid Harrier *
  62. Goshawk *
  63. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  64. Common Buzzard
  65. Rough-legged Buzzard
  66. Golden Eagle
  67. Osprey
  68. Kestrel
  69. Merlin
  70. Hobby
  71. Peregrine Falcon
  72. Water Rail
  73. Corn Crake
  74. Moorhen
  75. Coot
  76. Common Crane
  77. Great bustard *
  78. Oystercatcher
  79. Black-winged Stilt
  80. Pied Avocet
  81. Stone-curlew
  82. Little ringed Plover
  83. Ringed Plover
  84. Dotterel
  85. European Golden Plover
  86. Grey Plover
  87. Lapwing
  88. Great Knot*
  89. Knot
  90. Sanderling
  91. Little Stint
  92. Temminck’s Stint
  93. Curlew Sandpiper
  94. Purple Sandpiper
  95. Dunlin
  96. Broad-billed Sandpiper *
  97. Ruff
  98. Jack Snipe
  99. Common Snipe
  100. Long-billed Dowitcher*
  101. Black-tailed Godwit
  102. Bar-tailed Godwit
  103. Whimbrel
  104. Curlew
  105. Spotted Redshank
  106. Common Redshank
  107. Common Greenshank
  108. Lesser Yellowlegs
  109. Wood Sandpiper
  110. Common Sandpiper
  111. Ruddy Turnstone
  112. Grey Phalarope
  113. Mediterranean Gull
  114. Little Gull
  115. Black-headed Gull
  116. Common Gull
  117. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  118. Herring Gull
  119. Iceland Gull
  120. Glaucous Gull *
  121. Great Black-backed Gull
  122. Kittiwake
  123. Caspian Tern *
  124. Sandwich Tern
  125. Common Tern
  126. Arctic Tern
  127. Common Guillemot
  128. Razorbill
  129. Black Guillemot
  130. Puffin
  131. Rock Pigeon
  132. Stock Pigeon
  133. Wood Pigeon
  134. Collared Dove
  135. Turtle Dove
  136. Rose-ringed Parakeet *
  137. Cuckoo
  138. Barn Owl
  139. Tawny Owl
  140. Short-eared Owl
  141. Common Swift
  142. Common Kingfisher
  143. European Bee-eater *
  144. Hoopoe
  145. Green Woodpecker
  146. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  147. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  148. Wood Lark
  149. Sky Lark
  150. Shore Lark (horned lark)
  151. Sand Martin
  152. Swallow
  153. Red-rumped Swallow *
  154. House Martin
  155. Tree Pipit
  156. Meadow Pipit
  157. Rock Pipit
  158. Water Pipit
  159. Yellow Wagtail (Grey-headed)
  160. Grey Wagtail
  161. Pied Wagtail
  162. Dipper
  163. Wren
  164. Dunnock
  165. Robin
  166. Common Nightingale *
  167. Bluethroat*
  168. Black Redstart
  169. Common Redstart
  170. Whinchat
  171. Stonechat
  172. Wheatear
  173. Ring Ouzel
  174. Blackbird
  175. Fieldfare
  176. Song Thrush
  177. Redwing
  178. Mistle Thrush
  179. Cetti’s Warbler
  180. Grasshopper Warbler
  181. Sedge Warbler
  182. Eurasian Reed Warbler
  183. Great Reed Warbler*
  184. Dartford Warbler
  185. Lesser Whitethroat
  186. Whitethroat
  187. Blackcap
  188. Wood Warbler
  189. Common Chiffchaff
  190. Willow Warbler
  191. Goldcrest
  192. Firecrest
  193. Spotted Flycatcher
  194. Red-breasted Flycatcher
  195. Pied Flycatcher
  196. Bearded Tit
  197. Long-tailed Tit
  198. Marsh Tit
  199. Willow Tit
  200. Crested Tit *
  201. Coal Tit
  202. Blue Tit
  203. Great Tit
  204. Nuthatch
  205. Treecreeper
  206. Penduline tit *
  207. Great Grey Shrike
  208. Jay
  209. Magpie
  210. Jackdaw
  211. Rook
  212. Crow
  213. Hooded Crow
  214. Common Raven
  215. Starling
  216. House Sparrow
  217. Tree Sparrow
  218. Chaffinch
  219. Brambling
  220. Serin *
  221. Greenfinch
  222. Goldfinch
  223. Siskin
  224. Linnet
  225. Twite
  226. Lesser Redpoll
  227. Mealy Redpoll
  228. Bullfinch
  229. Hawfinch
  230. Lapland Longspur
  231. Snow Bunting
  232. Yellowhammer
  233. Cirl Bunting
  234. Reed Bunting
  235. Corn Bunting

Moths to end of June

Winter moth

Pale brindle beauty

Mottled umber

Early moth

Common Quaker

Early grey

Hebrew character

Small brindled beauty

March moth

Small Quaker

Clouded drab

Shoulder stripe

Double-striped pug

Oak beauty

Brindled pug

Early thorn

Early toothed-stripe

Emperor moth

Brindled beauty

Dotted chestnut

Powdered Quaker


Frosted green

Shuttle-shaped dart


Waved umber

Nut-tree tussock

Poplar hawkmoth

White ermine

Least black arches

Swallow prominent

Treble lines


Pale tussock

Pale prominent

Coxcomb prominent


Grey pine carpet

Eyed hawkmoth


Flame shoulder

Common swift

Heart and dart

Common footman

Buff ermine

Scorched wing


Large yellow underwing

Double square spot

Treble bar

Common wainscot


Lobster moth

Foxglove pug

Mottled pug

Currant pug

Marbled brown

Ruby tiger

Brown-line bright-eye

Setaceous Hebrew character


Purple bar

Bright-line brown-eye

Brown rustic

Angle shades

Clouded-bordered brindle

Garden carpet

Common carpet

Green carpet

Common pug

Pale-shouldered brocade

Mouse moth

Silver-ground carpet

Marbled minor

Small square-spot

Pale mottled willow

Vine’s rustic

Cabbage moth

Mottled rustic


Spruce carpet

Rustic shoulder-knot

Garden tiger

Orange footman

Great prominent

Lime hawkmoth

Peach blossom

Map-winged swift

Elephant hawkmoth

Beautiful golden Y

Straw dot


Ghost moth


Smoky wainscot

Buff tip

Clouded border

Silver Y

Beautiful hook-tip

Dark arches

Riband wave

Large nutmeg

Clouded silver

The flame

Light emerald

Pine hawkmoth

Dark/grey dagger

Yellow shell

Small dusty wave

Four-dotted footman

Heart and club

Common rustic

Swallow-tailed moth

Micro moths  to end June 2016

  1. Common plume Emmelina monodactyla
  2. Semioscopis steinkellneriana…
  3. Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella…
  4. White shouldered house moth Endrosis sarcitrella
  5. Many plumed moth Aluctia hexadactyla
  6. Garden pebble Evergestis forficalis
  7. Yellow-faced bell Notocella cynosbatella
  8. Large fruit-tree tortrix Archips podana
  9. Rough-winged conch   Phtheochroa rugosana
  10. Brown house moth   Hofmannophila pseudospretella
  11. Triple-blotched bell
  12. Small magpie
  13. Common grey
  14. London dowd Blastobasis lacticolella
  15. Diamond back moth



Butterflies to the end of June   (I don’t know why this is spaced like this but I can’t change it sorry!)

Red admiral



Small tortoiseshell

Speckled wood

Green-vein white

Orange tip

Small white

Holly blue

Small copper

Small heath

Dark green fritillary

Common blue

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Green hairstreak

Painted lady



Dragon flies

Golden banded dragonfly

Keeled skimmer

Migrant hawker

Black-winged skimmer

Scarce chaser



Azure damselfly

Large red damselfly

Small red damselfly

Blue-tailed damselfly

Banded demoiselle



Mammal list to end of June

  1. Rabbit.
  2. Stoat
  3. Hare
  4. Grey squirrel
  5. Common seal
  6. Roe deer
  7. Red deer
  8. Muntjak deer
  9. Sperm whale
  10. Grey seal
  11. Otter
  12. Weasel
  13. Bank vole
  14. Fallow deer
  15. Red squirrel
  16. Pine marten
  17. Beaver
  18. Daubenton’s bat
  19. Common pipistrelle
  20. Water vole


What lies ahead for July and beyond? Plenty I am sure especially if the summer kicks in soon!

A special coffee companion!

We have now seen Southport in the sun and the rain, not hard to guess which I prefer! We walked down to look for the sea last night but we didn’t see it as it goes out further than I have ever seen anywhere. The fact that people ride cars on the beach shows how much space there is. Mind you I am pretty sure the tide must come in very quickly as it seems dead flat so I do wonder if anyone that plays in their cars ever get stuck! The pier stretched out over the beach but was still way short of the sea

We crossed a bridge which gave us a good view of the other one, The Millennium Bridge. Bird of the town would seem to be the Canada goose; there were loads of them including some young ones.

We got something to eat and sat looking out to where we guessed the sea must be when a couple came along, good evening we all said. Pleasant enough but I laugh when I remember what followed, the lady began a conversation which went on, pretty much one sided, and consisted of her telling us about all the local bus routes. What goes where and how long the journeys are, where to change in Preston and oh so much more. She told us about all the place we must visit, (in spite of me telling her we were only here for another day) the cheapest places to buy clothes and goodness knows what else. She was just so funny and even after we had managed to leave she ran after us to tell us that the busses marked with an X were the fastest ones! Bless her she should get a job in the tourist information centre!!!

Today we have continued on our quest to visit WWT sites by going to Martin Mere and we were so very pleased that we did. We got such a lovely welcome and as has been our experience elsewhere the staff were, both friendly and helpful. We hoped to visit all the ones on the mainland and we thought this was number 7 of 8 (ignoring the Irish one) but it turns out they have opened a new one in Somerset! Oh well we shall have to head down there later in the year.

IMG_5923 sign

As usual we bypassed the captured bird side of the site and headed off for the hides that overlook the wild side’, we did however pass the duckling nursery where young ducklings were housed. My eye was caught by one particular type of duckling and I feel unable not to share it with you, so I am breaking my own rule and posting captive birds!!! The name of the bird won’t shock you when you look at the pictures, they are crested ducks. How funny are they?

Martin mere has some rather different looking hides, some new and some on their last legs! One of the newer ones is the Discovery hide and is the main showpiece.  I particularly thought it good that the windows go down so low and lots of small chairs are provided so that the very youngest naturalist can feel welcome. They also had lots of binoculars including little ones so no one needs to be left out of the viewing.

Another rather different hide was the Kingfisher hide, there is no seating and it appears to be held up by a giant mushroom, well I did say it was different. I have been in several Kingfisher hides this year and so far not one has produced the bird suggested! IMG_5936 kingfisher hide

There were plenty of Black headed gulls, including this fine looking youngster. Also including this one that was taking advantage of someone leaving a few bits on their plat eat lunch time!

There were also an unusually large number of Shell duck although we saw no young ones. We did however come across this Mallard family, totally unperturbed by us passing by.

Another really impressive hide is the Harrier hide, how cool is this?!IMG_5975 Harrier hide

It looks super as you approach it and is a lovely hide to view from, well once I could get up onto the rather high seats! We also saw a good amount of bird life from there including a Reed warbler which was new for the year, bird number 231. There was a good supply of Herons and a pair of nesting Great crested grebe; you could see the eggs as they did a changeover.

Another hide was nameless and not on the map and we understand is to be removed soon. It certainly was in a very sorry state of repair but it obviously had been fantastic in its day. On enquiry we discovered its length, 75 metres long, amazing, if there was a hide on a cruise ship this would be the design! It overlooked water where we understand in the winter is visited by many swans, I think the new Discovery hide probably views similar water.IMG_5967 hide 75 mtrs

Although it has been a fairly warm day there has been little sunshine and that may be the reason for the lack of butterflies and dragonflies etc. never mind we did well for them yesterday. The views around the site were lovely and I must admit Martin mere scored pretty high on my list of WWT sites!

I have saved the best till last and that is to tell/show you about a visitor we had as we sat outside drinking a coffee. I have never seen a Swallow so tolerant of humans. We were sat at a table when this fella landed, he stayed and stayed, flew off and came straight back. What a rare treat and rarer still that I had camera to hand!


IMG_3036 Swallow

We are back at our hotel now and the rain looks to have set in, I am just grateful that it stayed dry for our Martin mere visit. I think we are probably in for the night so I may get this post earlier than usual, there is the off chance we may venture out to the cinema but I feel that our enthusiasm is waning a little.

So today has been the first full day of my life that I have spent in Lancashire and I can honestly say it has been very good. As for tomorrow what county we may be in we have no idea at the moment, no bed booked we are just going to wait and see which birds tempts us off in pursuit!


England here we come

Farewell to Ardwhin Cottage, Lochdon, Mull and of course to Ruth, Stu and Sprocket! Few final shots of a hooded crow before we return down south to our jet black version.IMG_5792 Ardwhin an all

Not far to Craignure to wait for the ferry, it fascinated me watching it come in and open up ready for the cars to unload and fresh ones board.

Just a few scenes from our trip across to Oban, not so sunny for the return journey but dry and warm enough. We saw a group of Guillemot on the water and later the odd black one. We said our goodbyes as we got back into the cars ready to go our different ways; we have loved sharing this past week with family.

We began the journey down to visit some dear friends in Moffatt, a last minute arrangement. It is safe to say the weather had changed! Gone was the beautiful sunshine to be replaced with grey skies with intermittent very heavy downpours!

We were delighted to be able to have a chance to meet, albeit briefly, with our friends who we hadn’t seen for about two years. The older I get the more I value friendship. Whatever life may throw it is good to find the people unchanged even though outward circumstances may have changed dramatically.

So off on the last short leg of the day’s journey to Dumfries. We were checked into a nice little hotel, Rivendell, with a very nice room and an exceedingly comfortable four poster bed! I slept better last night than I have for some time. We found a nice little Italian place around the corner to go and get a very welcome meal.IMG_5795 Rivendell

Up and out this morning in search of Caerlaverock WWT the sixth of their sites we have visited this year (another tomorrow). The weather looked decidedly iffy but we were fortunate and it stayed dry. We knew they would be emptying moth traps today and were keen to see if they had any new owns for us. They were a friendly group and made us feel included. We saw several that were new for the year and a few that are new altogether.

The peach-blossom moth was one I have been waiting to see so was very pleased when they came out of the trap. Also this Map-winged swift, I hadn’t even heard of that one! The next new one was, I think, a ghost moth and the last one pictured here wasn’t new but only the second garden tiger we have seen and we are still waiting to see one at home!


When mothing was finished we walked all around the site visiting firstly the Sir Peter Scott hide, not quite as posh as the one at Welney but not too shabby! I also include several views from around the site; can you see what they have in common?


A lack of birds! Oh well yet again right place, wrong time but it was still good to see the place and who know we may return one day. I did see this poor little Jackdaw chick, out of its nest a tad early. The parents were around but not paying it too much attention, hopefully they will do their duty and take care of it.

I was rather taken with these Longhorn cattle but I can tell you I wouldn’t be walking through any field they were lose in!

. Apart from moths we also saw a few damselflies and thankfully someone was alongside to tell me what they were! Firstly Azure Damselfly the male and female in one shot! Then the Blue-tailed damselfly male and the female too. A painted lady butterfly flew past as we were watching the damselflies.

I must say all the people working there were delightful, especially Heather on the shop/reception desk. What a lovely chat I had with her while Ian grabbed a short nap in the car. This rather emperor dragonfly made from Lego caught my eye as we were chatting and I have a feeling a few members of my family might have rather liked it!

After our visit to Caerlaverock we headed for Southport where we are staying for two nights. Hotel looks good, although it lacks the charm of last night’s one! After checking in we decided to go for a walk and see a bit of what Southport has to offer but I think I will leave that for tomorrow’s blog when we have seen a bit more.




Yesterday’s dip is today’s tick!

We made an early start this morning and arrived at the WWT Washington at opening time. Unlike the other WWT sites we have visited this year it has an understated building which houses the visitors centre and café and it all sits in the landscape beautifully.IMG_3347

We were greeted by very friendly staff and were given the run down on the site and when asked I was delighted to hear that yes they have Willow tits on site, we were off! Like yesterday we were advised to wait were there were feeders, in a beautiful woodland position. The feeders and surrounding area had plenty of visitors, including those shown below.

The poor Robin looked as though she’d had a rough spring, at first I thought it was a young one not yet red but no she was just very worn!

After nearly an hour I was chuffed to see what we were waiting for a Willow tit, in fact two appeared. They didn’t stay long and we didn’t see them again, but we were happy enough, mission accomplished and he was bird number 216.

We spent most of the morning in the woodland area before heading off in search of lunch in the café. It was a simple lunch but delicious, we would certainly recommend it to others.

Off we went again to explore more of the site, passing quickly the captive birds which don’t really hold much interest for us although I did rather like these Flamingos!IMG_3346 flamingoes! Common terns were abundant and just the occasional wader including this Little ringed plover. There were plenty of duckling and goslings around the site.


These Avocet chicks were rather delightful! I have noticed in Norfolk that Heron numbers seem to be getting lower, maybe they have moved up north!

Time to carry on with our journey and head for Northumberland and a few days in Seahouses. We found our B & B and happily found it to be lovely and well position just a few minutes walk to the harbour. After getting a few things unpacked and a quick cuppa we went out for a walk to find the harbour. We were very pleased to find Eiders in beautiful plumage swimming not too far away.

Today has been a lovely day and Tomorrow we we hope to get a boat out to the Frane islands and see what we find there! Eiders brought our bird count to 217


Heading north

After months of planning, booking accommodation, changing our minds, cancelling and booking again we are off…up north! We decided to break the journey up with a stop in Yorkshire to do some birding there, in fact the site we visited is in North and West Yorkshire! Fairburn Ings and RSPB site was to be our first stop and the journey was going well, ETA 11.30am but it wasn’t to be. Suddenly the traffic on the A1 ground to a halt and for about five miles we crawled very slowly along until we saw what had been the cause, a nasty looking accident. Thankful to have arrived safely we got there about an hour late.

It was a nice looking site with a really good visitors centre and very friendly staff. We spent some while overlooking the feeders, as we were told that Willow tits often visit them, not today it seems! We were treated to lots of Tree sparrows including this young one that sat on the feeding station demanding to be fed.

Nuthatches, Bullfinches and other small birds but sadly still no sign of a Willow tit. Off we  good walk out to some of the hides much of the time in the pouring rain. Not a great deal on the water but at least this little Robin was put off by the weather.

We enjoyed the visit and if it were nearer I suspect we would visit again but it was rather a long way to go and sadly no tick today. Off to continue the journey northward, next stop Darlington to Hall Garth Hotel our stop for the night and by the time we arrived the weather had improved dramatically. We were able to have a walk around the garden and golf course and work up an apitite for what we hope would be a delicious meal at the ‘local pub’ in the hotel grounds as an alternative to eating in the hotel dining room.

We found a small, ‘secret’ garden, a peaceful spot that with an enthusiastic Gardner at work could be beautiful. Then off around the hold course we went, I suspect Ian was feeling a few pangs of missing golf!

There must be a lot of work involved in keeping the course looking good but then I wonder if this little fella help keep the grass so short!

Well sadly our meal wasn’t a great hit, ok but not anything to make a return visit appealing! Thankfully our room is very pleasant and I think we will both sleep well. When we awake we are off again heading to Seahouses but we plan to detour on the way to the WWT site at Washington (sadly not D.C.). We are planning to visit most of their sites this year probably just leaving out one as that is in Ireland!

Hopefully the next few days will bring some exciting reports…watch this space.

A day of two halves!

After saying our farewells at Godalming we decided to visit another WWT site this time at Arundel. Another beautiful day with blue skies and very warm, we were getting used to those conditions!IMG_0835

Arundel seemed to be a fairly small site compared to other WWT places we had been to previously but it was still a lovely place and had something to offer that the others hadn’t; a boat ride and it was included in the entrance price! It was definitely the highlight of the day we both enjoyed it so much we went on it twice. We got a year tick from the boat, not a bird but a snake! We saw something swimming in front of us and it turned out to be a small grass snake, first reptile of the year!



From the boat we had good views of a Peregrine falcon flying overhead along with several Buzzards and a Red kite. We saw nesting ducks, swans and geese as the boat went silently through the water. It also provided us with good views of Arundel castle looming in the background.

We’d had a lovely day as we set off for our next stop in the New Forrest a place neither Ian nor I have ever visited.

On our arrival we found a lovely little cottage set in a beautiful garden and at the bottom of the garden a gate led straight out into the ‘forest’ itself. A somewhat dramatic change in weather saw for day one saw rain, rain and more rain until about 6 o’clock when we ventured out for a brief walk. Ponies all around and yet more signs of spring.

Today has been a very mixed day and most of the morning is best forgotten! We did at one point put our destination into the satnav and were surprised when it announce that in a quarter of a mile we were to ‘board the ferry’ of well it made a change from driving!

The afternoon was spent at Blashford Lakes a wildlife trust site and what a lovely afternoon they provided! We added three ticks there, one bird, one mammal and one moth an excellent variety! Our first tick followed a chat with the warden about moths and he was able to show us our first Emperor moth, what a stunner, hope we get one of them in the garden one day.IMG_0873 Emperor moth
We visited one hide which was surrounded by bird feeders so gave good views of all the typical feeder visitors including Siskin and one I was particularly pleased to get a picture of, a Redpoll.

We decided next to go for a good walk around the place as we seemed to have done an awful lot of sitting still today. We got back to the beginning quicker than anticipated so went down another track and into one more hide and we were pleased we did. We got a lovely sight of a Kingfisher, saw up to about 150 Swallows swooping over the water, got two Common terns (a year tick) and a little Bank vole another year tick.

IMG_0933 bank vole


I think it fair to say that our day did not begin perfectly but it certainly improved rapidly, I wonder what tomorrow will bring.


Family, friends and farewells


We left Norfolk in torrential rain and it continued like that until we reached Essex when the rain eased and by the time we reached London we were roasting as the sun was streaming through the car windows! Unfortunatly we had spoken too early about how easy the journey was as the North Circular became busier and busier and we were so near our first stop, The London Wetland Centre. This statue of Peter Scott greeted us on our first visit to the oasis in the midst of the bustle of London.



If you have been travelling along with us this year it won’t surprise you to hear that coffee was the first stop then off to see what this WWT site had to offer. The first thing we saw was this rather unusual duck, I have a feeling it isn’t on the British list though so I had better not count it! A Little grebe was there, then in a flash or should I say splash, it was gone.

I was slightly amused by this sign in a hide and wondered if the pilots that fly overhead knew the rule.

We saw more Herons there than we have seen in Norfolk for weeks! At one point we were watching three around one piece of water and I was intrigued by the structure behind one of them. On investigation we discovered it to be a bat house! We also saw, at a distance, a Kingfisher and we hear that they are beginning to nest there.

The bird we were most pleased to see was the Ring-necked parakeet, one flew over us as were looking for warblers (we were pretty sure we heard a Willow warbler but haven’t counted it yet!) an excellent tick for the year. We later saw two sat in a tree, sadly partly obscured but never mind, we saw them!

I got my first butterfly picture of the year, a Peacock and also a spotless ladybird which I have never seen before. But no time linger it was to journey on to Surrey to spend a couple of nights with my brother Brian and his wife Margaret.

The journey was a pleasure after the North circular experience and we were soon being welcomed to their lovely home. It was great to catch up today we have been out and about having a smashing time. The day has included a trip around a pottery, a visit to my great niece Cariad, where I met her second son for the first time! Now Dylan has a brother Jesse and they seem to be every bit as gorgeous as each other!

We went to The devil’s punchbowl for lunch and a lovely walk, it really is a smashing place and amazing to think that until fairly recently the A3 ran through it! We had a very enjoyable walk with some birds thrown in for good measure.

We were a tad puzzled by this sign, were we not supposed to chat as we walked? At least the rabbits were quiet.

Back home and after an early meal we were out again this time in search of the place where many Parakeets roost, we saw lots but never quite connected with the tree they landed in. None the less it was a sight to see them fly over and we had an added bonus of seeing a fox which was a mammal tick for our year. Since moving to Norfolk they are a rare sight unlike whe  we lived in a town.

We have had a lovely stay, feeling very welcomed and enjoyed seeing samples of both of their art work, but tomorrow we must say farewell.

That does lead me to the one very sad part of our day, the news that a VERY dear friend has died. He has been unwell for a very long time and thankfully we saw him just a short while ago. He has lived a fantastic life, been loved by friends and family and was prepared for this day, God bless you Richard we will miss you.









Stuck on 149!

We are still on 149 but that is a pretty good place to be at time of year I reckon, although I hope to reach 150 by the weekend!

Yesterday was one of those days that couldn’t quite make it’s mind up, sun or gloom, cold or not too bad!!! We decided that we would make another trip to Welney, not with any real hope of adding to our number but with every hope of enjoying ourselves.

It is tricky to adequately describe the road that leads to Welney, Ten Mile Bank, except to say that if you suffer from seasickness you had best avoid it! It is reminiscent of, what was called in my childhood, a journey on a scenic railway. The reason I am telling you about it today is because I was greatly amused by the sign that has appearedIMG_8433 (Custom)

I kid you not, I think it was the smoothest part of the road and for certain you couldn’t detect where the ramp was.

Anyway we survived the journey and arrived at Welney in time, you won’t be surprised to hear, for coffee. We watched the feeders and lost count of the Goldfinches that take advantage of the free feed. There were also good numbers of Reed buntings around the feeders and in the reeds behind.

Coffee finished and over to the main hide to see what was there. A young Goldeneye was lurking amongst the Pochards, spot the odd one out in the picture below. Fortunately he came closer later on for better views.

There was a reasonable number of Whooper swans present, no Bewicks and of course plenty of Mute swans that happily call Welney home throughout the year. Most of the swans are out feeding on the fields during the day (I guess the farmers have mixed feelings about them) and come in to spend the night on the safety of the water.

IMG_8434 (Custom)IMG_0916 (Custom)

The coots are beginning to get feisty and bad though this may sound (and probably be)  I rather like it when they get in full scraping mode but they didn’t oblige today. The pictures here are of a group of Moorhen at Slimbridge a couple of weeks ago, that were having a set to. It reminded me of a school playground when the word went around of a fight and others gathered to watch or join in!

Nothing much else at Welney so we decided to leave and pop into the arboretum to try, yet again, to get sight of the Hawfinches. We were again unlucky but did meet some interesting people. One couple that were walking six, yes six dogs, well I think they were all dogs they were so small it was hard to tell exactly what they were! The man was not a bird watcher but was intent on keep catching up with us to tell us all the places we could go to see birds where no one else ever goes! He was rather a strange chap but he meant well…I think! Another two couple like us looking in vain for the Hawfinch and being equally disappointed.

Lastly we met a really nice couple that had just got back from a cruise around South America and had been watching some fantastic birds, a soft shade of green may have come over us. We got into cruise mode with them for some time talking of places visited and yet more simply dreamed of. Turned out the chap was just four days younger than Ian and to celebrate his upcoming 70th birthday they were taking all their family to Mexico, oh well how the other half live! Still good luck to them they did seem  exceedingly nice people so I won’t begrudge them a good time.

So nothing new today although we did add an insect over the weekend, a ladybird, but again no moths.  I end with a picture for Alice, Robins never fail to appear and are happy to pose! IMG_8453 (Custom)

Tomorrow I hope will be more productive as we are off for a walk around a reserve with the warden…watch this space.


Bad knee at Welney

Things have been rather quiet this week as both the car and Ian have been in need of attention! The car has been off for a service and it has returned unrecognisably clean, it won’t last long but it does look good for now.

Ian has been a bit trickier to sort out! His knee has been very troublesome and more importantly his heart has been playing up a bit. This has meant doctors visits and a few quiet days while medication kicks in, hopefully he will get the all clear on Tuesday.IMG_6676

So having been in for a few days we ventured out to Welney, lots to see but not lots of walking involved, onour way we saw our first Corn bunting of the year.

You can see the visitors’ centre from some distance and attached to it is the bridge which crosses the river Great Ouse.

We were pleasantly surprised by how bright the day was when we arrived, we had anticipated cloud all day!

Just outside the main building are several feeders much loved by Goldfinches and Reed buntings. The only way to get to the hides is across the bridge and very often, like today, a Pied wagtail lurks on the bridge! So after a coffee off we went!

The water level was a lot lower than when we visited a couple of weeks ago, today the warden who went out to do the swan feed could walk easily along the concrete edging.

The swans, Mute and Whooper were joined by numerous Pochards, Mallards, Tufted ducks and more, they all joined in the feeding frenzy!

I had a feeling these ducks were trying to express an opinion, what do you think?IMG_0766

We enjoyed the wildfowl and the waders more distant on the spit and every now and then some would take to flight including these Lapwings. We also saw a very distant Peregrine falcon, unfortunately far to distant for a picture.

Time to leave Welney, fortunately Ian survived the day without incident! As so often a Robin was in the car park to send us on our way. On our way home we had another first of the year, Roe deer!

Lovely weather for ducks and swans!

Today has indeed been lovely weather for ducks and swans but not so good for going on a wild goose chase so we decided to shelf that for a day or so. Holkham and surrounding area can wait and instead we went to Welney which has the benefit of a large indoor, very comfy hide from which to watch the wildfowl.

It rained heavily on the way there and the road out of our village was water covered in several places so we made a mental note to avoid it on the way home and take a different route. Although the rain ease off the day stayed gloomy and grey and I apologise that it is reflected in today’s pictures!

A Great white egret had been on the reserve for some while so we hoped to see that. Fortunately when we asked about it we were told it was on Lady Fen which is best viewed from the coffee shop. So of course we did the only decent thing, got some coffee and settled in! We didn’t have to wait too long and got good, though distant views of it.

If you have ever been to Welney you will know the layout but in case you haven’t let me tell you. A large visitor centre complete with cafe and shop is one side of the road then a long bridge across the river leads to the hides and main part of the reserve.

The water levels were very high so there was no sign of the island which is just outside the hide. There were however plenty of swans both Mute and Whoopers and loads of duck, mainly Pochard. We were fortunate to have about a dozen Bewick swans flew right in front of us and over the hide.

Further away was a spit of land with hundreds of waders on the majority being Black tailed godwits. Every now and then they took to flight, circled and landed back where they had been originally!

Almost all the Pochard are male, the females arrive later, oh my goodness this reminds me of a very embarrassing conversation I had at Welney some while ago. I was chatting with my birding companion about where the swans came from and where they move on to next. I was just saying that although I see why they come I can’t see why some then move back to Russia as it is so cold! ( I know it is instinct and their food must be there at the right time etc). Just as we were talking about this a couple came in and he asked a couple of questions about the birds and got chatting. I then mentioned what we had been talking about and repeated that I didn’t  understand why they returned to Russia. The lady had been silent up till then but at that she said, in a beautiful, clear Eastern European accent, “Russia is a beautiful country, I would go back tomorrow if I could!”

As the ground didn’t open up and swallow me I could only try to talk my way out explaining that my thinking was simply based on the weather, oops oh well hopefully she has forgiven me, I really didn’t mean any insult to her homeland.

After leaving Welney we drove slowly along the bank of the Great Ouse hoping to see Grebes. We were not disappointed as almost immediately we saw a solitary Great crested grebe, I am hoping later in the year to get good views of these birds doing their courting dance…watch this space!

Cormorants gathered up near Denver slice and there we also saw three Goosanders, beautiful birds, I just managed a quick snap from the car before they swam too far off.

So the rain changed our plans today but didn’t stop us enjoying a day out. We added 11 new birds, nothing else as sadly I can’t allow myself to count the two alpacas that we saw 😉

Birds now 90 we are hoping to get to 100 by the start of next week.