Friday, 14 July 2017

Red Kite Feeding Station

On Tuesday, I went to Aberystwyth University for a taster day. On the taster day we visited Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre where there is a Red Kite feeding station. We headed over in the pouring rain at around 2pm to the beautiful site until eventually at around 3pm (when the food is put out) about a dozen Red Kites appeared, dramatically flying overhead at. We were surprised so many red kites turned up because of the terrible weather, so I was very happy to see so many of these gorgeous birds of prey! And with awesome views through my Opticron binoculars too! I don't think I could go anywhere without them. Red Kites have previously suffered a lot of persecution, much like the Hen Harrier today. The species was reduced to very small numbers but due to reintroduction, the Red Kite population increased to around 1800 in Britain. This is what makes seeing the Red Kites in such high numbers so special. One day I hope I can say the same about the Hen Harrier.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Cornwall

On Saturday my dad, mum and I drove to Exeter University (Penryn campus) in Falmouth for an open day. We took this opportunity to take a coastal walk the day after, before our long journey home.

We stopped off at Crantock Bay and took the 3 mile coastal walk to Hollywell, at Crantock Bay -
the views were incredible!

Just 5 minutes into our walk we came across a Grey Seal, bobbing close to the shore - we had an amazing view of the lone seal because it was so close and it gave me an opportunity to use my Opticron scope, which I hadn't used for a while due to being so busy at school!

Although it was extremely windy, the sun was still shining, so there was plenty of wildlife to admire! Skylarks were rising higher and higher belting out their beautiful song, whilst Swallows and Swifts were swooping around our heads. My Opticron binoculars came in handy here, trying to get clear view on the Skylarks really high up! We later spotted a pair of Stonechats, I first noticed their call because as their name suggests it sounds like 2 stones hitting each other. There was also lots of Linnets flying around, along the coastal path. We saw many butterflies, including a Red Admiral and Common Blue. In amongst the flowers in the sand dunes we also found many, many 6-spot Burnet Moths and some Oak Eggar caterpillars.

So, overall it was a lovely day out, and a nice way to break up our 5 hour journey home!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Early Spring

Last Saturday morning, my family and I took a long awaited trip to our local nature reserve: Willington Gravel Pits. I haven't been out much due to lots of school work but with it being an extremely sunny morning I couldn't resist.  I took this opportunity to take my Opticron Natura BGA ED binoculars and MM3 60 ED scope, I haven't used the scope much this year, so I thought it would be a good chance to use it.

We stopped at each of the hides to see the usual species: Mallards, Canada Geese, Black Headed Gulls and Cormorants. It was also really nice to see a pair of Teal and a male and female Reed Bunting just a few meters away, the Reed Buntings swinging on the reeds in the soft breeze and sunshine really created a beautiful scene.

We saw Brimstone and Orange Tip butterflies and lots of Bees buzzing around - at last Spring is here!  We heard plenty of Warblers, such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers and Cetti's Warblers, another sign of Spring! However we didn'ts see any Hirundines, but it is still fairly early, so we will have to visit again in a couple of weeks when they are more likely to be there!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Coombe Valley, Cornwall

My dads photo
On the 13th of February, my family and I headed down to Cornwall for our holiday. We were going to be staying in a cottage in Coombe Valley until Friday. We went on many a walks, which gave us the opportunity to see lots of wildlife and spectacular views.
Another of my dads photos

The first morning we took a walk around the local area, which is mostly ancient woodland, it was brimming with nature! During this walk I thought I'd fully try out my Opticron Natura BGA ED binoculars. I'd normally go for a magnification of 8x42, however this time I thought I would try 10x42, and I have to say I love the magnification because it provides closer views. We saw plenty of Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Robins, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Ravens overhead, Mistle Thrushes and a Goldcrest and Marsh Tit! It was a beautiful, bright, sunny morning, almost like a warm spring day!

My dads photo again!
My mums photo this time!
Longer walks later that day and later that week to several different bays and King Arthur's Castle in Tintagel also gave me plenty of opportunity to try out the binoculars for the whole day, luckily they are a nice weight yet still are very robust. We saw lots of the usual (Blackbird, Mistle Thrush etc.) but we also got great views of a Kestrel hunting over the castle ruins and lots of Fulmars! My binoculars provided a great, clear view of the Kestrel, so it was lovely to see. The Fulmars were sat on cliff edges, mostly in pairs, perhaps thinking about the breeding season?

And again..my dads photograph!
We took a coastal walk, which caused us to cross paths with several Stonechats; the Stonechats we came across were often sat on coastal scrub scanning for food. We also saw many Buzzards, often perched on posts all over, appearing very authoritative. On the last day I got a fantastic view of a Grey Wagtail on the thatched roof of our cottage, wagging its very long tail constantly, allowing us to see the yellow on it - this gave me a very big smile!




Saturday, 11 February 2017

Big Schools' Birdwatch

On Wednesday the 8th of February I organised our school to take part in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch. We soon received our free id poster and I before we knew it we were outside counting the birds!

We decided the best place to do this was in our newly developed conservation area which includes bird feeders, 2 fat ball feeders, a ground feeder, one hanging feeder and a bird table.



The children from year 6 (aged 10-11) came out in two groups; they sat outside doing some colouring in whilst they came over in groups of 4-7 to a small hide we set up. Each group had about 10 minutes to spot as many birds as they could. All the children were very enthusiastic and were eager to tell me what birds they see at home on their own bird feeders too! Overall, we had a good turnout of birds, including Black-headed gulls, Goldfinches, Blue tits, Magpies, Wood pigeons and House Sparrows. Each of the children brought their own binoculars, which gave me a good chance to try out for the first time Opticron Natura BGA ED binoculars. They are fantastic; they feel very sturdy in the hand and provide light clear views!

Due to its success this year I am looking forward to doing the Big Schools' Birdwatch next year and getting more children involved and perhaps doing more activities on the day, such as making our own bird feeders.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Willington Gravel Pits..again!

Willington Gravel Pits is our local birding reserve, therefore its is our most visited site and a good job too, because I love it! There are 4 fantastic platforms and one of which has a magnificent hide (which you have to be a member of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to get into).

This morning Abby, my mum and I went on a guided walk run by the Derbyshire Ornithological Society, with about 5 others, including our guide.

We straight away saw the usual: Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tailed Tits, Robins etc. We also heard and caught a glimpse of the wonderful Cetti's Warbler, which you can often hear walking down the path in the dense vegetation either side of you. Its amazing really. You just stroll on the soft mud of the track and listen to the powerful bursts of the delicate bird. I hear it every time we visit! At one of the platforms we stopped at, we saw a beautiful Mandarin duck, full of colour, which was nice to see.

We soon made our way to the hide at the end of the path, where we spent most of our time observing the vast amount of birds. We enjoyed fabulous views of 3 Water Rail emerging from the vegetation to the edge of the water, as well as a couple of Snipe hiding in the overhang of the plants for a while.

One species I sat watching for a while was the Little Egret. I usually see it at Willington but this time I paid more attention to it! I zoomed in on my travel Opticron MM3 60 ED scope, getting crystal clear views of it and watched it. I found its movement so amusing to watch. It would pace slowly through the water, gliding smoothy. Then, suddenly it would see a fish and run as fast as it could through the water lifting its legs high up. It looked almost excited when it ran!

After a few more minutes we headed back, raring for our next trip to Willington Gravel Pits!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Our Trip To Spurn


Last year I took part in the 'Young Birder of the Year' competition at the Spurn MigFest, one prize I won was a free stay in the new Spurn bird Observatory. Last weekend I decided to use my free stay with my family and spend our time birding. Since we live in Derby I saw this as a good opportunity to improve my wader skills!

As my family and I are trainee ringers, we want to improve our ringing by experiencing ringing with different groups and people, learning individual approaches and methods. We contacted Paul, the warden, to ask him if we could help out and on the Saturday morning we headed out. It was a fantastic opportunity as I got to ring a House Martin and a Swallow, two species I had never done but always wanted to.

Spurn is a fantastic place, on the Humber estuary there were several species of waders, some of which included: Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Redshank and Golden Plovers.


Saturday evening we watched murmurations of thousands of Dunlin and Knot, creating patterns in the sky. Not only that, but a pair of Peregrines appeared to catch their meal amidst the thousands of waders however they unsuccessful. And to top it all off, just as we were leaving to head off to bed, a Barn Owl flew into the sunset with its prey in its claws.

Sunday involved more ringing, however due to the weather conditions, there weren't many birds about only a few birds were caught. We then went to the canal hide which was quiet, although there were some Yellow Wagtails and a Swallow nest inside the hide, which was being regularly fed by the parents. We also spent some time sea watching a skill I want to develop and hearing the experienced sea watchers shouting out what they have seen was inspiring.

It was also nice to see Georgia Locock, who has been staying there during the week, helping out counting the birds for Spurn.