Friday, 25 August 2017


Went to my old stomping ground Cwmtillery lake and reservoir and around what we used to call the horse shoe bend. It's walk number 14 on the GOS (Gwent Ornithological Society) publication "Birdwatching walks in Gwent".

It is especially on a nice day a beautiful walk, (although not easy) as was the case yesterday - but to be honest bird wise there wasn't much to see. There was very little bird song or calls and I couldn't believe how quiet it was especially at the top by the horse shoe bend where it was almost silent.  I think August can be a quiet time especially in this sort of habitat. Soon enough though birds will start to move as part of the Autumn migration but there wasn't much movement or birds on this walk.

some waterfowl on the bottom lake

view from the bridge at the top corner of the lake

There were a couple of species of waterfowl on the lake.
Like a few of these:-

The bird on the left is still sitting on the nest.

There were couple of these:-


And quite a lot of these as there always are on and around the lake:-

drake mallard in eclipse plumage
Walking up to the reservoir I did spot this Heron resting in a tree.

grey heron
There were a few Swallows up and around the farm and treatment works, on the reservoir were some more Coots, a Little Grebe and a family of Cormorants.

walking along side of reservoir 

one of the adult cormorants amongst the volta- whatever they're called

the other adult with three juveniles on the opposite side of the res
I left the res and walked up the path to the woods, on the path were these bright yellow mushrooms I'd never seen them before.

bright coloured mushrooms
Through the wood and along the top there was nothing about a couple of great tit, a Nuthatch or two, some alarming Wrens a few Carrion Crows and the odd Raven an alarming Blackbird, some Woodpigeons, some Magpie's, a Mistle Thrush, and one solitary Willow warbler.

a nice view of the res

part of the path through the woods

top of the horse shoe bend the coity mountain to the right and the mynydd james to the left

at least the heather is looking nice.

I also did spot this juvenile Green woodpecker in a distant tree.

I walked around and back down to the bottom road and did a final circle of the lakes before I got in the car and headed home.

old mine shaft at the top of the lake below the mynydd james 

walking back down towards the lake above Cwmtillery (I can see my old house from here)
I did see a pair of Buzzards near the bottom of the road.  

I can't leave it there living up here for 40 years I know there's more here than it's showed me today and will hopefully get up and around here again. The habitat is superb for a host of different birds but they just didn't show for me today.
There's a lot of work been done at the lake (I don't know who maintains it, the council maybe?) and they've made it into a lovely beauty spot with some really good habitat created. I think perhaps an early winter and/or spring visit will yield a bigger variety of birds fingers crossed. 

Species seen:-
                        Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Raven, Magpie, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Nuthatch, Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Buzzard.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


A nice surprise today a small group of Spotted Flycatchers were diving about the garden. This is only the second time I've seen these birds up here.

I think the humid weather we've been having over the last couple of days have coincided with the emergence of thousands of flying ants, they're bleeding everywhere.

spotted flycatcher

Although it was warm it was very murky today so I had to use a high iso setting on my camera so I could get a half decent shutter speed and so it made the pic's very noisy. I've got a Canon eos 450d and anything over 400 iso gives the pic's a lot of noise, I shot these at iso 800.

I also had a first in my garden today a Treecreeper, no pic's I'm sorry to say because of the bad light they were to blurred to publish. A nice hour though watching these two species just hope they swallow up most of them flying ants, I haven't stopped itching yet.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


After my week away in Norfolk I decided to do a bit of local birding today with a walk around the farm where I live suppose you could call it my local patch.
Total species list was 27 for the two hours I was out, not bad and nice to see some of the migrants still here and a couple of surprises. 

The species list is:-
Meadow pipit, Pied wagtail, Stonechat, Redstart, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Wren, Blackbird, Songthrush, Dunnock, Robin, Raven, Carrion crow, Magpie, Jay, Great tit, Blue tit, Coal tit, Green Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Willow warbler, Swallow, Buzzard, Red kite and Sparrowhawk.

Here's some of the pictures I took on my walk.

meadow pipit


redstart (first winter male)

coal tit


willow warbler

red kite

swallow (juvenile)
I plan to get out birding a bit more in the coming months. I've been reading the GOS publication "BIRDWATCHING WALKS IN GWENT" there's a lot of good birding places in our county that I haven't visited yet so will hopefully get out and explore them and hopefully bring my findings and pic's back here to you. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017



This is the second reserve I visited on my holidays to the north Norfolk coast. The car park is situated about a mile from the reserve and there is a gravel path and some steps that you walk along which takes you onto the reserve. ( Be aware that there are no toilets at Snettisham so my advice is - do your bodily functions before you get here).You'll walk passed a couple of nice lakes with some scrubby bushy areas, as soon as I walked out from the car park I could hear the Common Terns and the noise of the Geese the lakes are quite active with Greylag and Canada Geese and I also spotted a small group of Egyptian Geese. There is also in Winter a huge migration of Pink footed Geese here.

greylag geese

common tern

This Egret was also fishing at the edge of one of the lakes.

little egret
I finally came out onto the shore line where there is a large estuary, luckily it was still high tide so the birds were still on the edge of the water waiting for the tide to go out.

There were Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin along the shore and out on the estuary were hundreds of wading birds which the main bulk of them were knot.

ringed plover, sanderling and dunlin

adult and juvenile oystercatcher


estuary at high tide
There are three hides at Snettisham two of which look over a lagoon which is opposite the estuary. The other allows you to look over the mudflats of the estuary where once the tide recedes is very busy with feeding waders.

common sandpiper from one of the hides
the birds gathering on one of the scrapes in the lagoon

a greylag
The Common Terns nest on the lagoons and some were still feeding chicks, the Terns as well as a few other species were constantly flying back and forth from the sea to the lagoons.


grey heron

little egret

more common terns (they were everywhere)


Finally when the tide goes out revealing the mudflats the birds all take off  in one cloud of whirring birds it was an absolutely incredible sight.

the waders take off

In late autumn and winter the birds numbers swell into the tens of thousands (or maybe even more) what a spectacle that must be. 

The North Norfolk coast is an incredible place for birds I only went to two reserves but there are a lot more reserves and wild places to visit and I wish I could have gone to them all but it was a family holiday and we were only there for a week so I had to make do with my two day passes off the wife " thanks love"but the memories will last a life time.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


I spent this years holidays on the North Norfolk coast where nearby there were two RSPB reserves.


This reserve is well known and played host to Springwatch a couple of years back. 
I first walked down the East side of the reserve where there were lots of reed beds, a small lake and scrubby bushy areas where there were lots of common passerine species. The lake hosted quite a few water birds including Moorhen and Coots, Mallard, Gadwall and Pochard as well as Great crested and Little Grebes. The photo opportunities were though few and far between, as the bushes were thick with leaves and although I saw Reed warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow warbler, Cetti's warbler and quite a few others trying to get close to them for a decent picture was almost impossible. On the lake the duck species were to far away and although I suppose it's a good thing to stop to much disturbance it was very frustrating trying to photograph them.

lake with distant ducks
 Then my mood suddenly changed as this beauty flew over the reed bed.

Yes a Marsh Harrier a female, she circled above me them flew back over the reed bed.

female marsh harrier

 I walked back towards the main hides on the Western side of the reserve a happy man.

As you walk towards the main hides there is on your left a huge expanse of wet muddy grassy flatlands where I saw this solitary Grey Plover.

grey plover
There were also a few Curlew.


In the hides there was lots to see and photograph.

waders out on the scrapes


juvenile shellduck


a heavily cropped pic of my first bearded tits
All the birds went up at one point when a Hobby flew over trying I expect to catch it's dinner.

After the hides you can walk down towards the sea shore where there are two lagoons on one of them I saw another first.

A Turnstone there were about five of them and this one was still in it's breeding plumage.

So an excellent day spent at Titchwell and the highlight had to be that Marsh Harrier.

marsh harrier
I'll bring you my day at the other reserve I visited in my next blog.