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Griswold's Vacations 2019

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Old Monday 27th May 2019, 20:49   #51
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If you get a chance while in the area a visit to Ham Wall is well worth it. A great reserve with breeding great egrets and more bitterns than you can shake a stick at.
Cheers Paul. It must be the in my top 3 of reserves. Fantastic place to visit. I may have visited Sunday btw. On the way to Catcott Lows

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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 18:21   #52
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So we arrived at the holiday cottage on the 24th of May. The bird of note on the way down was a Yellowhammer

We stayed here:

https://www.cottages.com/cottages/mi...-cottage-27191

A fantastic cottage. No wi-fi but that just meant I got my 12 year old off Fortnite for a whole 7 days! The cottage had access to the field behind so was ideal for the pup. Speaking of which. Heís now 26.4Kgs of pure muscle. Weíve bought a rope figure 8 anti-pull lead. It works an absolute treat and Iíd highly recommend them.
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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 18:41   #53
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With the alarm set for 04:00 on Saturday my youngest and I set off for Dorset. Driving speed had to be seriously curtailed due to the amount of suicidal Wood Pigeons on the road.


Arriving at RSPB Arne we could hear a couple of Woodlarks and saw a few more out on the heath. Also on the heath Max spotted a Sitka Deer and a few Stonechats, Tree Pipits and Mistle Thrush were around. Nearing the hide overlooking the marsh we were treated to great views of a couple of Dartford Warblers and heard a distant Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker. Walking back to the car we had brief views of a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch.


Next it was off to Radipole. The weather was beautiful so it was a very enjoyable little walk. An immaculate male Garganey immediately presented itself and we put it out on RBA. This greatly amused Max as by the time we had our little walk there were 5 toggers present


Through the reed beds we had views of ChiffChaffs, Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers and Cettis Warblers. A little further round I had a brief view of a Bearded Tit but it was too quick for me to get Max on to it.


Still being early we headed over to Chesil Beach. Getting hungry now we decided to check out the cafť there. Unfortunately it didn't open until 10:00 so we decided to walk around the shingle beach. We had pleasant, if heat haze spoiled views of the Little Tern colony. I'm sure I had a Skua species flyover but I was too slow to get a +ve. ID. Out at sea the only species of note were a few Gannets

Back at the Cafť (Taste Cafť) we had breakfast. It was fine but overpriced. Coffee was good though. From here we booked on to the Fleet Explorer. £10 each but it was dearer as all the proceeds went to the Tern project. Some very decent company and the boat afforded much better views of the Little Terns. We also had views of a Kestrel, Oycs and a Ringed Plover with young. No sign of the local Hares though. I was hoping that whilst on the boat trip something decent would turn up on Portland - typically it didn't The boy was beginning to flake now so we decided to head for home and a dip in the hot tub. He'd been out with me for 10 hours so he did well
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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 19:53   #54
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Up early on Sunday, the pup myself, and the boys wandered over the field. A couple of Whitethroats and Blackcaps were singing in the hedgerows and a Common Buzzard and Red Kite drifted over. These were to be regular over the next week.


Back at the cottage we had breakfast and then headed over to Ham Wall. Here we met my sister, brother-in-law and 1 year old nephew. His first visit to Ham Wall. I must sound like a broken record but this really is a superb reserve and well worth a visit. Several Bitterns were booming and a couple of Cuckoos were around. U.nfortunately the weather was a bit drizzly so we couldn't find any Hobbys. Swifts, House Martins and Swallows were out in good numbers though along with Great White Egrets. Plenty of Reed, Garden, Sedge and Cettis Warblers along with Blackcaps as well. We weren't able to access the hides as we had the pup with us but his behaviour was impeccable. He enjoyed a fuss off pretty much everyone who walked past him.


Next it was off to Catcott Lows. A reserve I haven't been to before but will definitely be calling in on again. You can park by the hide and, thanks to the assistance of the very helpful birders already present, we were quickly on to our target birds - a pair of Black-winged Stilts. Also present were a few Black-tailed Godwits and some Lapwings. Next we headed back down the lane to get better views of the birds we saw earlier. Still there were 6 Cattle Egrets. Now it was time to head back to the cottage. Whilst I cooked up a ham, parsley sauce and Jersey Royals, my nephew had a brilliant time in the hot tub with my boys, and his father. A good end to the day.
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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 20:05   #55
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Given the Monday was a Bank Holiday we left quite early and headed to RSPB Winterbourne. Drove through some lovely countryside to get there. At the reserve there was a sign to say no dogs allowed. I have zero issue with this but it wasn't immediately apparent on their website. Whilst the OH went with the pup for a walk up the road, Max and I headed to the viewing screen. It's a lovely short walk at this time of the year with the hedgerows stuffed with songbirds. At the screen we quickly saw a Corn Bunting on the fence and then spent 10 minutes looking for our target species. Not really knowing where to look, we focussed in on a likely looking habitat. With a bit of patience we got on to two Stone Curlews. This absolutely made Max's day. Must admit I was pretty happy too as I've only seen them at Weeting Heath before.


Back to the cottage, stopping to get some proper cider on the way home I must admit I fell asleep on the sofa with pup sleeping across my chest. A very relaxing end to the day.
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 18:54   #56
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So Tuesday we headed a little further West. Labrador Bay to be exact. A nice little reserve but quite noisy from the nearby A road. After a bit of searching a male Cirl Bunting showed quite well. A Green Woodpecker was also at the site. Next it was off to Shaldon where e had a decent meal. Lovely Devon ice cream as well with clotted cream on top
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 18:59   #57
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On Wednesday we dropped the OH off at Clarke's Village and went to WestHay. Huge numbers of House Martins along with the usual reed bed specialities. Was just about to leave for Greylake when the OH phoned, ready to be picked up.


Stopped of at Castle Cary on the way home. A fantastic little bakers there called The Bakehouse. I can recommend the toffee apple muffins and quiche. Back to the hot tub.
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Old Thursday 6th June 2019, 16:41   #58
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Alarm set for 04:00, Max and I set off for Ham Wall. Absolutely stunning morning. Our mission was to see a Bittern. Spent some time by the hides by VP1 as at least 2 were booming. Nothing doing though. Heading over to the Avalon Hide, Max enjoyed watching a Song Thrush cracking open snails on the footpath.


At the Avalon Hide a Water Rail made a brief appearance and Max enjoyed taking photos of Great Crested Grebe with chicks riding on it's back. The we had a Bittern fly by at eye level. Superb. Pressure off. We then enjoyed some great views of several Marsh Harriers and Great White Egrets before heading back to Shapwick Heath. Some more views of Marsh Harriers along with our only GSW of the trip. We also had a nice view of a male Roe Deer. Heading back to Ham Wall, Max enjoyed buying a few RSPB pins. He's beginning to start a nice little collection.

That was it for our birding trip. All of us really enjoyed Somerset with the boys asking to go back soon. Given the cottage was so dog friendly we'll probably end up at the same location. A real plus from the trip was how much fun Max was enjoying photographing the birds. I've posted these elsewhere but these are his best shots.
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Old Thursday 6th June 2019, 16:43   #59
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I might have accidentally booked us a week on Mull in August so that's the next trip. Hoping to go out on a boat trip with the boys to look for Basking Sharks at some stage
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Old Thursday 6th June 2019, 18:26   #60
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I might have accidentally booked us a week on Mull in August so that's the next trip. Hoping to go out on a boat trip with the boys to look for Basking Sharks at some stage
My kind of accident!! Ham Wall is a place I've always wanted to visit, didn't they have Little Bitterns there a few years ago?
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Old Thursday 6th June 2019, 19:00   #61
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Youíd love Ham Wall Paul. A stunner of a place. Yup Little Bitterns were there a couple of years back. Donít think thereís been any there for a while though.

Rich
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 09:33   #62
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I might have accidentally booked us a week on Mull in August so that's the next trip. Hoping to go out on a boat trip with the boys to look for Basking Sharks at some stage
Sea Life Surveys possibly your best bet for that out of Tobermory. I know Martin on Lady Jayne gets them as well sometimes.

Had a very enjoyable week over Easter this year.
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 14:31   #63
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Rich
Always enjoy your reports. Have to agree that Ham wall really is turning into a gem of a site.

beginning to think you have some sort of hot tub fetish LOL. All your recent holiday cottages seem to have them and I am not sure how much longer you can refer to a 4 stone pooch made entirely of solid muscle as a pup though.

You obviously had a cracking time with some nice birds thrown in for good measure. sounds like a perfect holiday to me.
Big up to the youngster too for the lovely shot of the grebe with the fish. He certainly seems to have an eye for a good shot.
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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 14:42   #64
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Sea Life Surveys possibly your best bet for that out of Tobermory. I know Martin on Lady Jayne gets them as well sometimes.

Had a very enjoyable week over Easter this year.
Cheers Rich. I'll look in to the boat trips over the coming weeks.
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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 14:46   #65
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Rich
Always enjoy your reports. Have to agree that Ham wall really is turning into a gem of a site.

beginning to think you have some sort of hot tub fetish LOL. All your recent holiday cottages seem to have them and I am not sure how much longer you can refer to a 4 stone pooch made entirely of solid muscle as a pup though.

You obviously had a cracking time with some nice birds thrown in for good measure. sounds like a perfect holiday to me.
Big up to the youngster too for the lovely shot of the grebe with the fish. He certainly seems to have an eye for a good shot.
Thanks Paul. I do like a hot tub

Funnily enough a colleague yesterday said I should stop calling him a pup now - given he's the size of a small horse

The only drawback with Mull is the time of the year. I need to stock up on Smidge

Rich
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 01:18   #66
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Sounds like a great holiday - and a cracking-looking hound!
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 18:23   #67
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Sounds like a great holiday - and a cracking-looking hound!
Cheers Mike. Heís got a lovely nature and is great with the children. Iíve been looking into the Sealife Survey boat trips that Rich mentioned. Think Iíll be booking it for me and the 2. boys

Rich
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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 11:41   #68
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last time I was on Mull we took the Turus Mara boat tour of Staffa and treshnish isles form Ulva. the puffins come within feet of you! Although I think in august you will be too late for them but will have aa decent chance of cetaceans and passing seabirds.
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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 18:05   #69
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last time I was on Mull we took the Turus Mara boat tour of Staffa and treshnish isles form Ulva. the puffins come within feet of you! Although I think in august you will be too late for them but will have aa decent chance of cetaceans and passing seabirds.
Cheers Paul. If myself and the youngest weren’t heading to Skomer on Saturday we’d definitely be booking on to that trip.

Rich
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Old Tuesday 6th August 2019, 18:19   #70
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Sea Life Surveys possibly your best bet for that out of Tobermory. I know Martin on Lady Jayne gets them as well sometimes.

Had a very enjoyable week over Easter this year.
Cheers Rich. Just booked a 4 hour trip for the 2 boys, my parents , and myself for the Sunday morning that we are there. Canít wait.

Rich
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 12:06   #71
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Cheers Rich. Just booked a 4 hour trip for the 2 boys, my parents , and myself for the Sunday morning that we are there. Canít wait.

Rich
Enjoy :-)

Check their FB page for regular reports on sightings. Minkes & different dolphin species are definitely the order of the day just now.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 17:59   #72
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Enjoy :-)

Check their FB page for regular reports on sightings. Minkes & different dolphin species are definitely the order of the day just now.
Thanks again Rich. I donít do FB but the OH does so Iíll ask her to take a look. Iíve also booked Cafe Fish for the Saturday night so thatís something else to look forward to. Hope the weather improves though.

Rich
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Old Saturday 17th August 2019, 16:02   #73
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Mull

So we set off yesterday at just before 02:00 and only just made our check in for 15:25. Partly due to a slight diversion to Frankfield Loch; partly due to some extended stops to stretch the hounds legs but most annoyingly was the camper van driver we were stuck behind for the last 20-30 miles! Unbelievably ignorant @£&!!&.

First bird of the trip was a Tawny Owl hooting away behind the house. Next significant bird was the fairly longish staying Blue-winged Teal on Frankfield Loch, Glasgow. A lifer for all of us.

From here we stopped at Asda in Dumbarton which was a great tip from Occasional on last years thread. Stocked up with plenty of everything. Next it was Oban. Having only been out of season before it was quite a shock to see how rammed it was.

Have been following a vegetarian diet for the last 6 weeks but decided to go pescatarian for the Scottish week. Some superb fish and chips were had whilst queuing for the ferry. The fact that I was starving made them even more delicious.

From the ferry itself we had the usual Gannets, Tystiesand Kittiwakes but 4 Manxies were a nice year tick.

Leaving the ferry itself we drove North to Dervaig. Common Seals were loafing by Salen and a Sparrowhawk flew in front of the car. Some Common Buzzards were around as well.
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Old Saturday 17th August 2019, 16:11   #74
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When we started unpacking, things got a lot more interesting though. 2 White-Tailed Eagles flew over the cottage with a Golden Eagle away to the West. I then decided to walk Bud to get him out of the way whilst things were put away and we had at least 3 Golden Eagles to the East. Happy days

Speaking of the hound, his behaviour was absolutely superb for the whole trip. Bodes well for future trips. I presumed the Goldies to be a family and taking advantage of a break in the weather. Sitting outside the cottage, drinking a bottle of Dark Island, it appears we also have a couple of noisy young Common Buzzards in the conifers to the West. It was time for an early night.
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Old Sunday 18th August 2019, 08:05   #75
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So yesterday I had a lie in and until 06:00. Nice to be woken by the sound of Curlews and Redshanks. Went down to Croig with Max with his fishing rod. Nobody was more surprised than me when we actually caught 2 Pollock with a small spinner Both were returned unharmed.

Almost managed a great view of an Otter ( down to less than 20 feet) and a distant White-Tailed Eagle. Max also spotted the first Red Deer of the trip on the way down to Croig. Time to head back for breakfast.
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