Had a walk around part of Pitsford Reservoir (about 5 miles north of Northampton). It was a grey, damp, breezy day but a good walk. We did not see many species - only great crested grebe, tufted duck, pochard, one little egret and more coot than you could shake a stick at.
It is an excellent place with a variety of habitats and, if you want to do the circuit, it is an easy walk or cycle ride (cycles can be hired at the country park) of about 7 miles.
Did a walk in Glen Orchy - got very wet! with the excess of water we have been having the falls were spectacular and the waters raging. Much to my delight saw stags grazing, first seen since early last year, not seen any roe deer either. Think they all spent the year staying on the high ground. The only birds seen were lots of hoodies digging up a grassy area along with some seagulls and a buzzard. Did the usual drive through Glen Lonan first and was amazed at how green everything looked suddenly, last week it was all shades of brown. Did not take any photos, too misty rainy.
On New Year's Day I walked for about 10 miles from Amersham Old Town almost to Beaconsfield and back. Totally different conditions compared to the Chess Valley walk I did a few days earlier, only 2C when I started and grey and totally overcast throughout the walk - I timed it pretty well, there was a slight drizzle for the last 15 minutes and then it rained when I got back to the car and all the way home. Saw several Red Kites, as usual, and I had two unusual (for me) mammal sightings I've already mentioned on the Mammal of the Day thread, two Roe Deer and a Fox carrying what I think was a Pheasant in its mouth.
Odd walk - just down the driveway to watch and take photos of HMS Gannet's Sea King Rescue helicopters do a fly past, one did a fly round the house, then on the toddle back saw very cold robin and my wee squirrel, his coat getting darker the colder it gets. Did not stay out long as -4C but a stunningly beautiful day with the sun out and clear skies. flic.kr/s/aHsksE67st
This lunchtime I drove around the lanes near my office in Chippenham in the hope of finding some wintering waders or gulls. No joy though! Just nice driving around with the windows down listening to the bird song
Trudged round filling my feeders (2 lots away from the house, near woodland and near what I call the ravine and 1 up the hill at the back of the house. Finding it difficult walking in deep crisp snow. Enough! Pleased to say all birds coping well, the cola tits could not wait and came down to the feeders as I was filling them and much to my surprise so did a blackbird, saw another 2 today so that makes 6 that have suddenly made an appearance. As I trudged back the sparrow hawk dived over and got it's meal.
Against my better judgement I went to Shatterford today to try and find a Great Grey Shrike: I say against my better judgement because when go looking for GGS I never find them, today was no different.
This bird has been reasonably faithful to one particular area and has been reported from there for the last two or three days, on the walk in I met a birder coming back who said it had been there about ten minutes back but someone had spooked it and it had flown off towards another of its favourite spots - this other area definitely needs Welly boots for a visit after the wet weather we've had and I only had my walking boots on.
Ces't la vie! I'll bump into one soon enough, that's what usually happens, I just never see them when I go looking for them.
Needless to say it was reported back in the usual area this afternoon.
At last a day when I could take a walk around my patch to see what was happening. Very cold but a bit of sunshine. 3 acres bit steep here and there. After my glee at seeing so many plants making an appearance, everything seems to have come to a stand still after days of alternate snow, torrential rain and gales. I have put together some photos - comment here, photos on link. The occasional loch, still snow on the hills behind. All the large cut tree trunks were stacked on the bank on the left hand side of the photo ready for chopping. As you can see they floated off to the right when the water was higher. Apart from everywhere being extremely wet the daffodils are just peeping out the ground, the lupins are getting their leaves, the heather has flower buds and my mini daffodils also. A wee dunnock was singing his heart out in the Japanese quince, actually the main pleasure of the walk was listening to so many birds singing. Lastly pine martens - the little devils have decided to use the lean-to wood store as their latrine. I am Getting quite jealous of all you guys that have daffs, snowdrops and all sorts in bloom, me I just have a soggy mess.
Had a walk about 5 miles south east of Poolewe on what was a wonderful day.
I did not see much wildlife - something that look like a grouse, about 7 red deer and one raven that did a couple of turns very high up above my head, but it was a good walk and looked like this all day.
Barton clifftop this morning, alongside the golf course, looking for Wheatear,(and possible Purple Sandpipers on the rocks), right day wrong place. Wheatears reported on Birdguides today from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Glamorgan, but not Hampshire.
I've been a bit busy so I'm not keeping up to date with things. This one is from last Tuesday.
I started from the end of the minor road north from Poolewe and after about 4 miles of very boggy walking and one stream crossing I arrived at Camus Mor.
It is a lovely bay with rocks, fine sand and some huge boulders that have fallen from the surrounding cliffs.
Close to the cliff top is a bothy, which is surprisingly well equipped considering it is not in well frequented mountain area.
I didn't see much in the wildlife - oystercatcher, shag, great black backed. The best one was one I am not sure of. My first thought when it exploded out of the ground was Jack Snipe. I have only seen phots and videos of them and it fitted the general snipe appearance but looked really small. I compared my recollection of it to the ID video on the BTO website of Snipe and Jack Snipe and could see characteristics of both -
I was close to it when it took off, but not almost on top of it - snipe Fairly low flight after being flushed - jack snipe The pale marks on the back were very obvious - jack snipe Calling as it was flying away - snipe
The only other thing of note was a foot print I found on my way back. I've put it in the mammal section.
Wanstead Park today- the weather was great, (oh, how I wish it might last!) and the bluebells were out everywhere. This year we managed to get there at the right time, (saw them past their best last year) and the swathes of bluish-purple under the trees was just lovely.
A couple of places yesterday. One was Firemore beach (about 6 miles north of Poolewe on the shore of Loch Ewe). The beach is about 1/2 mile across with a small outcrop in the middle. Saw terns (I could not identify which) fishing, herring gull, greater black backed gull, black throated divers, oystercatchers, ringed plovers, porpoises and an otter.
Then went a couple of miles further on to the end of the road and sat on the cliffs overlooking the Minch, saw more terns, cormorants, common sandpiper and, not such a welcome sighting, - a mink.