On the trail of River Birds..

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  • On the trail of River Birds..
  • sharki

    In usual form, i come here once more to warble on about the wildlife encounters that i am privileged to experience during my passage through life.

    Last week i found myself in Gloucestershire, in the area that’s known as the Golden Valley. I was there to stick a roof on a Garage(mancave) but as ever the camera and Bino’s came along, just in case..

    After day 1 of the job, we hit a snag meaning i could escape for a day, and go for a mooch down by the river and Canal. And it wasn’t long before the Camera was brought to my eye to grab a few images, of a Lesser Redpoll, that was enjoying the seeds of the Willow herb, that grew alongside the canal. But even this proved a game of patience. The sun never really came out, and when it did gusts of wind swayed the plant of which the bird sat upon.

    The Lesser Redpoll is a Red List species, which means it’s in decline in the UK.

    They favour Birch and Alder, but like here, can also be seen on Willow herb as well as Bird feeders if ya lucky.

    I popped from the Canal side to the river Frome, within minutes the flash of Blue, signalled to me that i was in Kingfisher territory and moments later a Darker shape flashed over the fast flowing water. Sight of it’s white chest brought a smile to my face as i’ve not seen a Dipper since Autumn 2010 on the Water of Leith.
    A quick walk alongside the river and i saw tell tale signs of dipper presence, so i set my trail cam down nearby on the steep river bank, over seeing the poo points and a nearby prominent perch, ideal for Kingfishers. Covering the cam and straps with foliage, i then left the site to settle back to normal, relying upon the PIR to capture in video, visitors to the riverside.

    The camera remained there through the afternoon, evening and morning and on Wednesday, i eagerly ventured back to recover it( after scanning the area so as not to disturb the kingfishers if present).
    A quick review of the cam, revealed several visitors, including Kingfisher, Dipper, Moorhen, ducks as well as a heron. So all in all Great!
    And i was keen to revisit with the DLSR for a Patient wait. But first i had the finish the roof, it’s not all play in my life!

    I managed to get that done and gain a couple hours to lay in wait for wildlife. So i headed back to the site checked to make sure i wasn’t scaring things away and settled down behind a old moss covered tree limb.
    I cleared a few bits of twig from the river bank, clearing the line of site to the perch i had my eye on and waited, Hood Up, gloves on, motionless….

    20 mins passed my by, when from behind me, the distinct sssipp sssip sound and the flash of blue and orange dash by me and turned right by the perch and settled from view behind the bank around the slight corner. Hmmmm! The temptation to move was there, but knowledge is everything so i stayed still and waited some more.
    Another 20mins passed me by all the time, i could hear the sssipp sssipp and an occasional plop as the bird dropped into the water. So close, the perch was just 2 metres from me and bird , i knew was still close, when suddenly it darted into the water in view i readied the camera and watched as the bird flew out and landed just beyond the grassy edge of the bank. I dare not move, i could see it so clearly, it’s muddied glistening bill, those gorgeous colours, that beady eye. Hmmmph! Patience, i will get a chance..

    Meanwhile i could hear the Dippers around the corner, a slightly mixed song of chirps and squeaks, but out of site, teasingly close. Meh!

    20mins more of teasing and with a rapid wing beat, the kingfisher flew across the river and perched in full view, 6 metres from me. It wasn’t the shot i was aiming for, but a quick few snaps before it dashed away, off down the river. I slowly and quietly moved from my damp position and left, content and hopefully with no disturbance, the way it should be.

    Moorhen getting told off by a Kingfisher

    A Dipper and it left it’s tell tale mark

    This Heron got a little too close to fit it in to the frame.

    And finally, the kingfisher, wait for it to return to the branch..

    Once i’d watched all the video footage, i realised that i was in fact, by a probable nest site, therefore i needed a licence to film or photograph there.
    One piece footage shows a Moorhen getting told to clear off during the night and another shows the Kingfisher, flying from the river bank which has all the criteria for a nest.
    So i’m ashamed to say, i broke a law that protects breeding birds, but thankful my conduct was done in a way that respects the wildlife and wasn’t of disturbance to them, which is pretty much the criteria to gain a licence.

    Thankyou Mr Kingfisher, may you have a good breeding season where you don’t get flooded out, like last year.

    I also managed to spot a rare UK vagrant bird on the Quantocks so sent the local twitchers mad with excitement and on their own mission to spot it..lol

    The Little Bunting was far from home.

    Enjoy, feedback and general responses all welcome.



    Lovely photos, sharki, especially the Redpoll. You were in a good place for the wildlife, it features regularly on TV. You know who lives along the Golden Valley, don’t you?


    Cheers Count. Other than an Otter lady(so i’ve been told) Keith Allen lives there somewhere.


    we get about 10-12 of these visiting the garden over the winter, amazing camouflage


    Yes Klunk.
    I almost thought is was a piece of Barbed wire. 😉

    Lovely image.


    🙂 great camo but the tail twitch they have is an bit of a give away.


    Ah! Little Asian Otters. Captives. Still awfully cute.

    Cheers qwerty. 🙂


    Nice, I live up the hill. I think the first BBC ‘lets have a wander and see whats about’ doc was done in the valley.
    I never tire of walking around there. The beech woods are on the cusp of their finest time; spring. Ever since I was a child growing up in the woods(We lived right in the woods) I have to put aside much time to wander about and drink it in. Damien Hurst has his studio in the valley. Keith lives up the hill(with one of my ex’s!)


    I never doubted it would be anything more than lovely around there.
    We’re really blessed in this green land of ours.
    Long may it remain.

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