We woke to a tiny sprinkle of snow which was the 1st of the winter by 08.45 it had gone and we had a fairly bright but cold morning.
We had a good flypast of the Male Marsh Harrier in Titchfield Haven. There is a pair in the haven they can often be seen over the reedbeds. There are about breeding 400 pairs in the UK mainly in the south and south-east. Their wingspan can be a good 4.25 feet.
A Heron resting before a fishing trip into the cold water.
We were surprised to see 2 Sandwich Terns still on the beach normally they would be back in South Africa by now.
The seaside towns we visit along the coast at North Devon and Somerset are empty of most holidaymakers seasonal shops are closed for the winter. Pleasure boats have been taken out of the water and many car parks have become winter boat parks.
MINEHEAD. old harbour area.
WATCHET. a small historic harbour town.
John Short was born near Watchet in 1839. He first went to sea from Watchet as a boy in 1860’s joined a Yankee ship in the American Civil War. At the age of 61 he retired and returned to Watchet. He brought the songs of the sea home with him. He became known as ‘Yankee Jack’ he became known for sea shanties. They were collected and collated by Cecil Sharp and Sir Richard Terry for our English musical heritage. A statue of “Jack” was placed overlooking the harbourside.
Christmas has started in the town of Watchet.
Watchet harbour became the inspiration for the epic poem The Ancient Mariner by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He walked over the Quantock Hills from his home in Nether Stowey, with his friends William and Dorothy Wordsworth. It has been said that looking down on Watchet from St. Decuman’s Church gave him inspiration for his poem.
2003 statue of the Ancient Mariner also on the harbourside.
PORLOCK WEIR. The settlement at the sea here is like stepping back in history and if it was not for the modern cars and TV ariel you could be could get lost in the moment.
WW2 Pillboxes using local beach stones to camouflage their outline.
ILFRACOMBE. you can tell the season is over in this town many of the waterfront businesses have shut and are boarded up for the winter, the hustle and bustle has now gone – it is so different here in the summer. The boat trip kiosks on the harbour are waiting for spring.
A 66 foot stainless steel and bronze sculpture named Verity, created by artist Damien Hirst, stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.
Tarr Steps is a clapper bridge across the River Barle in the Exmoor National Park, Somerset, England.
Its age is unknown, as several theories claim that Tarr Steps dates from the Bronze Age but others date them from around 1400 AD. The stones forming the spans weigh between one and two tons each. Over the years the bridge has been badly damaged by floodwaters and branches floating down with the flood and smashing into the bridge. After the flood of 1952 debris has been trapped by cables strung across the river upstream of the bridge. These cables were damaged in 2016 and failed which caused the bridge to be damaged so again had to be repaired.
While visiting the steps workmen arrived to remove a build up of logs.
Upstream, the log catcher looks like a damaged suspension foot bridge.
A few days away in our campervan and some different wildlife spotting on and around Exmoor.
Lots of cock Pheasants were about and their colour come to life in the Autumn sunshine.
The fast-flowing rivers and streams on Exmoor are the place to spot Dippers. The Dipper is a short-tailed, plump bird a little bit bigger than the size of a Robin. When perched on a rock it bobs up and down and frequently cocks its tail. Its white throat and breast is a contrast with its dark body plumage. Their diet is small fish insect larvae and freshwater shrimps. They enter the fast-flowing water going underwater in search of food.
The Redwing is a member of the Thrush family and our smallest thrush. A small number can be encountered all year in the UK but their number increase in winter and over 8 million birds have been recorded. They roam across the UK’s countryside, in small flocks – feeding in fields and hedgerows, they can often be spotted on Holly bushes or other red-berried trees stripping off the berries.
A Mistle Thrush had joined the flock of Redwings.- I only just caught him with the camera!
As always I seem to always be close to a Robin especially this time of year.
I spotted this group of young Fallow Deer many were much darker than the ones I see in the New Forest they were a true Black in colour.
A bright cold morning bird watching at Meon Shore and Titchfield Haven.
A female Stonechat at the edge of the reedbed.
A solitary male Pochard – although a fairly common UK winter duck this is the 1st I have seen this year at Titchfield Haven and in fact the first I have seen here for many years so I am hoping others may arrive in the coming weeks.
Just one Great Crested Grebe out in the sea today fairly close to shore but I have seen up to 8 recently their numbers also increase significantly in the winter. Their colours really tone down this time of year.
Today’s highlight was a relative of the Common Snipe which have been in the haven in large numbers this year (over 100 spotted on some visits) was a Jack Snipe. These smaller birds are present in fairly good numbers but are shyer and spend much of the time hidden in the reeds. They are smaller and have shorter beaks. They also bob up and down when feeding. I managed to get a few pictures (not as close or as sharp as I would have liked maybe next time!).
A short film showing the bobbing.
I have added a Common Snipe picture to give a comparison.
As usual, a flock of Sanderling were resting on the shingle.
After getting our COVID booster shot today we headed into the New Forest. Cadmams pool near Stoney Cross Airfield. Opened in 1942, it served both the Royal Air Force and United States Army 9Air Forces. During WW2 it functioned primarily as a combat bomber and fighter airfield. It closed in January 1948.
Locals routinely leave birdseed on the ground or on posts in the copse next to the pond, So it is a good place to spot some of our small woodland birds close up.
Marsh Tits and Willow Tits are very similar and difficult to tell apart, here at Chapmans Pool it was the Marsh Tit enjoying the sunflower seeds.
You are never far from deer or fungi in the New Forest.