Sunday 29 January 2023

Reculver, late January 2023


Walked the footpath that runs behind the Oyster hatchery, down to the railway line and back to the coastal path.

Bearded tits and Reed buntings were busy on the reeds near the railway line.

Brent geese were in a shifting flotilla by the beach. Redshank, Sanderlings and Ringed plover were showing well on the half-tide flats. Plus a few Cormorants resting on the posts.

Fantastic to stumble across a small group of Snow buntings as well. They were very well disguised against the variegated pebbles on the beach.


Wednesday 25 January 2023

Best birding outings of 2022 3/3: Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is a fantastic body of water carefully managed for industry, recreation, and nature. Brownsea island is partly managed by the Dorset WT and Brownsea lagoon is a haven for waterbirds including Spoonbills. RSPB Arne is a large reserve with a variety of habitats and offers good views of the water.

Birds of Poole Harbour is a charity that has teamed up with the Roy Dennis foundation to introduce Osprey to the Harbour. The pairing of CJ7 and 022 produced the first successful hatching in 2022, with two chicks. One of the chicks, 5H1 migrated but the other was sadly lost to Goshawk predation. As a bonus, a pair of White tailed eagles seem to have made the Harbour their home base this year.

BOPH works to enhance the bird life of the harbour and provides courses and educational cruises on the water.  These include winter safari, bird identification courses, osprey and puffin cruises, depending on the time of the year.

The team are hugely enthusiastic and knowledgeable. It is a great way to see some of the rarer waterbirds, and have someone else spot them for you! I highly recommend these cruises.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Best birding outings of 2022 2/3: Rutland Water

 Rutland water is a huge recreational reservoir in the middle of England. It is also a fabulous natural resource. Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife trust run two main areas, Lyndon and Egleton, with plenty of hides for bird observation.

Our particular interest was the Osprey platform in Manton Bay (Lyndon). There were an estimated 50 Osprey at Rutland Water this year. Maya is a star attraction, having raised 20 chicks since 2015. Her nest platform can be viewed from the Waderscrape hide.

The boat ‘Rutland Belle’ runs cruises in Osprey season, going to likely parts of the reservoir where Ospreys fly and fish. Results are, obviously, not guaranteed.

We went twice in 2022 and plan to go back in 2023.

Best birding outings of 2022 1/3: Gigrin Farm


Visited Gigrin Farm, Rhayader, Wales in the late summer 2022. The farm started feeding Red kites officially in the winter of 1992. Now they feed them every day of the year and it is an awesome spectacle. Hundreds of Red kites turn up for the free food.

The farm has invested in photographic hides that can be hired to help ensure you get a great photographic record of the experience.  I booked a slot in the ‘Big Tower Hide’, which cost £35. On the day, the weather turned out to be excellent and Red kites turned up en masse, so it was well worth the expense.

Hardcore birders may think it is cheating but I would recommend it to anyone interested in raptors.


Monday 23 January 2023

Elmley, late January 2023


The drive through the Elmley reserve can be a fantastic experience for birders.  It certainly was for me, as a novice birder, last spring. Everywhere you looked from your car, there were Lapwing, Skylarks, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Godwits and Curlew.  Marsh Harriers were a common sight. Once you got to the carpark, there were often Short-eared owls and the resident Little owls to see.  If you were very lucky, you could get a glimpse of the Long-eared owls. The hides on the reserve offered great views of a variety of waders and gulls.

The dry summer seems to have been hard on the reserve and this winter there seem to be less birds present, although perhaps it is recovering for a spring ‘rush’.

In late January 2023, there were plenty of Lapwing, Starlings, Godwits, an occasional Curlew, and as Kestrel on the drive.

 As 'Friends of Elmley' we will continue to visit during the year.

Slimbridge, late November 2023