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Griswold's Vacations 2019 (1 Viewer)

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
So the alarm was set and Kev had kindly offered to accompany me as two pairs of eyes are better than one. Again, another beautiful walk when all you can hear is the bird song.

And then, after so many years of trying and failing, there she was. I'd love to say it was due to superior field craft but the reality was she was at the side of the path (after grit?) and flew off when I stepped too close to her. I doubt I would have seen her had she stayed put. Capercaillie finally seenB :)B :)B :)B :). Big thanks to a good friend of mine who has given me so much advice over the years:t::t:

On Loch Garten were a few Goldeneye. I couldn't pick out he Scoters that JP had found but we didn't linger long. GSW's seemed to be very common this year but at the Osprey Centre we again failed to catch up with any Cresties. A Red Squirrel was taking advantage of some free food.


In the car park itself an organised group had arrived. They moved up to the hide but a certain Iolo Williams stayed behind to have a chat with me and Kev. Bloody brilliant. He really is a likeable fella and came across as extremely genuine. Cracking to just discuss birds we had seen over the last few days. Evidently the weather had been better yesterday when his group were up at the Findhorn and they had connected with 2 Golden Eagles.


Time to head back to the hot tub and a celebratory beer. Chilling out in the hot tub whilst the snow was coming down was a good way to end the day.
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Bravo! Quality birds Capers, and seem to be tougher than they used to be, great to hear you scored. Hopefully it'll follow the frequent pattern that a much dipped bird, once seen, suddenly becomes a lot easier to find again.

Hope the rest of the trip is a success.
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Our day of departure. Down to the recycling bins by the Spar and I decided to try for Cresties one more time. And for once it worked out:t: A couple of Crested Tits were in the canopy by the Osprey Centre:t:

We had originally planned to stop at Deeping Lakes on the way home but knocked that on the head. To be honest I just wanted to get back to see the family and the pup (had the most amazing welcome off him when we finally got home).


Another brilliant trip to Scotland but now thoughts are turning to next year's trip. Islay, Arran or back to Ardnamurchan are possibilities. I've not been to either Islay or Arran so would need to look further in to those.

Rich
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Bravo! Quality birds Capers, and seem to be tougher than they used to be, great to hear you scored. Hopefully it'll follow the frequent pattern that a much dipped bird, once seen, suddenly becomes a lot easier to find again.

Hope the rest of the trip is a success.

Cheers James. We definitely had 2 individuals and probably 3. It'll be interesting to see if the Caper watch at Loch Garten will be more successful this year.

Rich
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Bravo Rich. I am so glad you have finally connected!

I've never been to Islay but can definitely recommend Ardnamurchan.

John
Cheers John. It's been a long time coming and as I mentioned earlier, I've relied heavily on good advice and guidance from a good friend.

Ardnamurchan is superb and might be the front runner.

Rich
 

gordon hamlett

Well-known member
Hi Rich,

Congrats on the Caper. We're up in May so I'll be picking your brains before then - send me a pm if the info is sensitive.

I would put Arran at the bottom of your list - a relatively small island with nowhere to go if you want to escape for the day.

I'm always happy to sing the praises of Ardnamurchan. As well as the peninsula itself (stunning, stunning, stunning), there is much to explore nearby as well - day trips to Mull, morvern, Mallaig, Glenfinnan (boat trips on Loch Shiel, ties in well with your love of Mike Tomkies), as well as some of the glens near Fort William - Loch Arkaig etc. There's a very good book I could recommend <grin>. Save Islay for winter.

Cheers,

Gordon
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Cheers Gordon. One of the reasons we went to Ardnamurchan last year was on the recommendation of that (outstanding:t:) book you mention. I know John and Sandra have sung it's praises in the past as well.

I'll be turning 50 the year after next and the very early plans are that myself and the pup will head to the Outer Hebs for a week. Then we'll pick up the family at Inverness airport and head back to Ardnamurchan for the second week. Hopefully in the accommodation we stayed in previously. It was absolutely superb.

Islay looks very appealing and if this is where we go it's likely to be in February. Would love to see those flocks of Barnies. It does appear that we'll have one less in our group next year though so we might save Islay for a time when he (Kev) can join us. He is a Whisky lover - Ych a fi!!! So, after all that, another winter visit to the North Norfolk coast might be on the cards.

I'm hoping the next update to this thread will be from Somerset in May. Another of my favourite places to go birding.

Rich
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Just arrived in Somerset. Horrible 3 hour drive in traffic. Boys are enjoying the hot tub. I’m going to have an early night as off to Arne first thing. Like Paul, no WiFi here. So will have to write up when I get home.

Rich
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
Just arrived in Somerset. Horrible 3 hour drive in traffic. Boys are enjoying the hot tub. I’m going to have an early night as off to Arne first thing. Like Paul, no WiFi here. So will have to write up when I get home.

Rich

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.
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
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:t:

Rich
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
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Wales
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/midknowle-farm-cottages-the-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. He’s now 26.4Kgs of pure muscle. We’ve bought a rope figure 8 anti-pull lead. It works an absolute treat and I’d highly recommend them. :t:
 

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ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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:-O


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 café 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 Café (Taste Café) 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:-C 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:t:
 

ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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.
 

ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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 homeB :) I must admit I fell asleep on the sofa with pup sleeping across my chest. A very relaxing end to the day.:t:
 

ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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:eat:
 

ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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.
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
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Wales
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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ClarkWGriswold

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Wales
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 :t:
 

Original PaulE

Well-known member
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 :t:

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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