Just watching this Grey heron standing in the partially iced-over lake made me feel cold this morning, and I was bundled up in several layers of clothing, woolly hat and scarf and 2 pairs of gloves.
I’ve had two close encounters with Grey herons in recent days, this first in a tree near the bridge between the lakes at Cosmeston Country Park (which is why I was at eye level with the bird).
The second was along the canals in Cardiff, the bird this time standing on a log at water level. When I posted this photo on Twitter one of my followers commented that she thought the heron could ‘change from an old man to an elegant ballerina depending on stance’ – thank you, Jane. I think she was absolutely right – the bird above is the elegant ballerina, and below is the grumpy old man.
Cardiff Bay has a reputation as a lovely area but the sad reality is that when you place a barrier across a bay into which two rivers discharge then the garbage that flows down those rivers, especially after raging storms and heavy rain, is bound to accumulate. And, though the local council does remove some rubbish, this particular corner of the Bay is never cleared. No chance of any lunch for the Grey heron here, I’m afraid.
If you think this Grey heron looks grumpy, you’re right. According to the lovely woman who pointed it out to me, her dog had disturbed the bird when it rushed into the brook and, having flown up into the tree above, the heron stood glowering at the three annoying animals below.
During today’s wander around parts of Cardiff that I only occasionally visit, I managed to get very close to, and spend quite a long time watching, several birds. These are three: a Grey heron, and two Cormorants, an adult and a juvenile. It was magic!
Today’s was another merry meander, this time around Forest Farm Nature Reserve. The sun was actually shining for part of the time, which was a very pleasant change, and I was lucky with my bird sightings.
As soon as I stepped on to the pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Taff from Radyr Station to Forest Farm, I could hear a Dipper singing – such a delightful melody! And there it was, sitting on a rock on the far bank, almost directly under the bridge. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day.
The little birds – the tits and finches, Robins and Wrens – were also very vocal and it wasn’t long before I had paused to hand out some sunflower seeds and enjoy their feasting. As I watched, I caught a flash of red – my first Great spotted woodpecker of the year. I also heard, then saw a Green woodpecker but wasn’t quick enough for any photos.
I popped along to the second bird hide but all was quiet there and I’m not one to just sit and wait for the birds to come, so I headed along to wander the length of the old Glamorgan Canal, and back. I was soon lucky there too – a Kingfisher was flying and perching on low branches, trying to fish but being almost continuously disturbed by passing dogs and their walkers and noisy families.
Four hours later, I had dished out all of my seed offerings and managed to clock 30 species, four of which were new for 2020 and all of which were lovely to see. But the highlight of the day was probably the sight of 10 Grey herons in one huge dead tree (at one point also joined by a Buzzard but two Magpies soon saw it off)!
On the way to Portland last Friday our birding group stopped off at the RSPB’s Lodmoor Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Weymouth. It’s a wonderful environment for birds, with small lakes and large reedbeds, open saltmarshes and hedge-enclosed pathways, and it always turns up a good variety of birds.
Now, I’ve only been in Britain four years so I don’t remember the ‘old days’ when twitchers would race across the country to see a Little egret or a Great white egret, but even I can see how much these birds have increased in number in a very short time.
At Lodmoor, there were several Little egrets (above) – I didn’t count the ones I did see, and I’m sure there were several lurking amongst the reeds that I couldn’t see and, amazingly, there were six (!) Great white egrets (below), for a time all congregated in one spot. Now, that was a sight to see.
I was also impressed by the large numbers of Grey herons, especially those at nearby RSPB Radipole, all lined up along the edge of the reeds, sheltering from the strong westerly winds.
You’re just going to have to believe me when I tell you that the photo on the left below is of a Cuckoo in a tree, and the photo on the right is of a Hobby in the same tree four minutes later.
Today’s photos were taken during yesterday’s Glamorgan Bird Club field trip to RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath on the Somerset Levels, a very watery place, as you can imagine, and one where, depending on the time of year, you’re almost guaranteed to see Marsh harriers, Bitterns, Great white and Little egrets. So, here they are, plus a couple of extras. It was a grand day out, as usual on these birding field trips.
A Grey heron hunts in one of the lush reens …
The obligatory blurry bittern fly-past shot.
The equally obligatory distant Marsh harrier shot … but I did manage to get two in one frame.
Great white egrets aplenty …
Black-tailed godwits and a couple of Lapwings doing a turn of the pond. And “Look at me! Look at me!” called the handsome little Whitethroat, so we did.
It was a cracking blue-sky day for our Glamorgan Bird Club trip to the Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Magor Marsh Reserve today, and what a fabulous place it is! A natural area of fenland, divided by the lush waterways of ancient reens, home to large areas of reed bed and magnificent wildflower meadows, interspersed with small wooded areas.
The bird list today was not extensive but I think it was the first time any of us had seen Little egrets nesting in Britain, and one of those was easy to see from the bird hide, and it was sharing its tree with a nesting Grey heron.
Plus the reserve was alive with Redgies – Reed and Sedge warblers – and you know how much I love those little birds. One Sedgie even hopped out for a few photos.
And, because Bird Club outings are about more than just birds, when the bird life was a bit sparse we simply turned our attention to all the other interesting flora and fauna that surrounded us.
Like a tree adorned with huge bundles of Mistletoe, and another, probably a Blackthorn, with what looked like galls affecting its fruit.
And all the damselflies and beetles, bees and butterflies (though not as many butterflies as I was hoping for – I’m blaming the coolish wind). All in all, it was a pleasure to explore this lovely reserve and another most excellent field trip.
It may have been grey and occasionally mizzling but that didn’t stop me enjoying a fabulous walk back from Sully beach to Penarth today. A tribe of 30 Turnstones flew in, as did 4 Grey plover and a little Dunlin friend; Rock pipits were flitting to and fro; there were 27 Curlew grazing on the playing fields – always a treat to watch; and I saw my first Kestrel of the year, perched on a high wire, watching. I did feel a little sorry for this Grey heron though, being harassed by a juvenile gull (Herring, I think).