Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Week off Work Part One 2nd - 5th May 2011

So my week off work began on the Bank Holiday Monday with sunshine but a strong blustery East wind. A walk around Burrator reservoir was quiet bird-wise due to the strong, chilly wind but a songflighting siskin, a female grey wagtail along one of the streams entering the reservoir and singing willow warblers were the highlights. The yellow flag iris was nowhere near ready to flower unlike those at Wembury. We also bumped into Davids sister Julie and her husband Gibson out walking to see the bluebells in flower

Tuesday and we headed off to Tyntesfield House, a National Trust House near Bristol, spending the day enjoying the house and gardens. It was a beautiful sunny day but still with a strong wind which eased as the day went on. The house and grounds were lovely with a nice walled vegetable garden which had relatively little in it, we have more growing on our allotment at the moment!. Wildlife highlights were a huge hornet flying by and 2 fox cubs, one dragging a dead young rabbit across the grass to its den where a second one was seen before they both disappeared into the den which was in the wall of the HaHa.

The Library

Tyntesfield House

Fox cub

 After visiting Tyntesfield we travelled the 14 odd miles to Bath which took an hour in the busy traffic and on the crappy roads with loads of traffic lights and junctions and roundabouts! We stayed in the Bath Hilton which was very nice. Bath was beautiful in the evening sunshine, it had a lovely glow with all the sandstone buildings. Herring gulls were notable in that they were joined by lesser black backed gulls scavenging around the rubbish bins and squawking on the rooftops. The lessers were surprisingly dominate over the herrings and very attractive with their dark backs and yellow legs.

Wednesday and we headed to Wells to have a look at the cathedral which was very interesting with its scissor arches. A trapped male blackbird flying around in the roof top trying to find a way out was a sad sight. I was accosted by a stern church warden who was not happy I was taking photos without a permit but I managed to get a quick photo of the famous arches.

Wells cathedrals famous scissor arches

We then headed to Glastonbury Tor, walking up to the Tor top where we had a great view including Wells. Some new age hippies chanting inside the ruined tower on top of the Tor spoilt the general atmosphere but it was a grand view. My first swifts of the year were seen flying up into the eaves of a house near to where we parked the car and a green woodpecker was seen briefly flying up into a tree yaffling away, the first I have actually seen this year, having heard but not seen them in numerous places.
Glastonbury Tor

We then headed to Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall RSPB nature reserve nearby and within a few minutes of arriving were watching hobbies flying over the extensive reed beds catching dragonflies in the sunshine. No more than 2 were seen at any one time but they were very mobile so it was difficult to assess numbers, they reminded me of inferior versions of the Eleanoras Falcons I saw in Essaouria in Morocco last September but were nevertheless beautiful to watch. Also seen were a male marsh harrier, a ruff (or rather reeve), a greenshank,black tailed godwits in summer plumage and a kingfisher. Best bird was an unfortunantly distant black tern in summer plumage swooping over the water with black headed gulls and a commic tern. Warbler song was everywhere - blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff and reed warbler. A brimstone butterfly was also seen. David was not overly excited about the place but it was very busy with lots of birders who would disagree and I thought it was a beautiful place, reminding me of my youth spent birdwatching at Minsmere RSPB reserve in Suffolk. To compensate for Davids boredom we then headed off to Clarks Village at nearby Strete for some retail therapy but it was quite disappointing and we came away having only bought some chocolate and tea and some bed linen.

Mute Swan at Shapwick Heath
On getting back to Plymouth that evening I decided to get out the moth box and the next morning I had a nice bufftip moth, one of my favourite moths and only the second one I have caught in the garden.

Thursday and back in Plymouth with grey skies and rain so we headed off to the cinema to see "Thor", not my first choice but it was actually very good and I quite enjoyed it for all its polished, frothy nonsense.

So Part One of my week off work had been quite eventful so far!

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