Blakehill Nature Reserve features in a guide put together by the Wildlife Trust of great places to see raptors in the UK. Blakehill Nature Reserve is just a 10 minute drive from the Lower Mill Estate. Short-eared owls are often seen hunting over the meadow. Short-eared owls are unlike many other owls in that they can often be seen hunting during the day. Their very good sight and hearing is good enough to locate a small mammal in the undergrowths. This amazing photo was taken by local wildlife photographer Dave Soons.
Throughout the summer visitors to the Lower Mill Estate and the wider Cotswold Water Park have been able to enjoy the sight of swallows swooping over the lakes. This amazing photograph of an albino swallow was taken a couple of weeks ago by local wildlife photographer Dave Soons in the Cirencester area. He was priveledged to watch this stunning albino swallow being fed in flight by it's parents. This is just one of his fabulous collection of images. To read more about his sightings and to see more of his collection of photographs do read the article he has written in Bird Guides. http://birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=5221
Exploring Somerford Lagoon on the Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswold Water Park by canoe is a great way to get up close to the wildlife. As we canoed around the lake on Sunday there were lots of egrets enjoying fishing in the shallows. These 3 took to the air to show off their yellow wellies beautifully.
Over the last few weeks lots of Hobbys have been seen in Cotswold Water Park, and over Somerford Lagoon, the lake which Daisy Chain is on. The Hobbys are on migration from Africa and on enjoy the damselflies and dragonflies which they find over the lake (although this year is a late dragonfly season. This is more fabulous photography by local wildlife photographer Dave Soons. The count for the number of bird species that have been see in Cotswold Water Park during 2015 has just passed 150. It's a great location for bird watchers – more unusual sightings in the last few days have included Common Crane and Spoonbills.
The central location of the Cotswold Water Park and its vast area of wetland habitats makes it an important stop-over location for migrating birds in the Spring. This year 121 species have already been seen in the Water Park. In the last week an osprey has been seen as well as the first swallows and an avocet. Other species seen recently on the Lower Mill Estate include red crested pochard, goldeneye, widgeon, gadwall, teal, cettis warblers, blackcap, meadow pipits, reed buntings and kingfisher.
A great resource is http://buff.ly/1yZ9V89 where an ongoing record of species sighted in the water park is kept. Maps can also be downloaded showing different areas of the water park to explore.
Grab your binoculars or your telescope and enjoy the spring migration. While you’re watching for birds don’t forget to keep an eye out for otters and beavers too!
This fabulous photo of a Water Rail was taken by local wildlife photographer Dave Soons. He wasn't content to take a photo standing up…or from in a hide. He had to lie down in environment that Water Rail inhabit – you've got it – cold wet marshy land. It resulted in this superb shot. Water Rail are easily recognised by their call known as "sharming". This is a series of grunts followed by a high-pitched piglet-like squeal and ending in more grunts. When you hear it you really do think there are piglets on the loose! Water Rail are often sighted in Cotswold Water Park.
I'd never really considered how well camouflaged chaffinches were until I was trying to take this photo and kept losing the chaffinch! There are certainly lots of leaves around for them to hide in at the moment!
At this time of year Little Egrets are in abundance throughout Cotswold Water Park. On Saturday, 18 were reported as having been seen on one of the lakes. The Little Egret is a small white heron, which has attractive white plumes on it's crest, back and chest. The Little Egret has striking black legs with yellow feet (although you may only see his feet if he is flying as much of the rest of the time he will be standing in water!).
Little Egrets are relatively new to the UK. They first appeared in significant numbers in 1989 and first bred in 1996. It is now at home in many locations in southern England, both as a breeding species and a winter visitor.
Unlike many other owls, short-eared owls can often be seen hunting during the day as well as at dusk. They have very good sight and hearing which is good enough to locate a small mammal in the undergrowth. Short-eared owls are medium sized owls with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and yellow eyes. In winter there is a migration of short eared owls into England from Scandanavia, Russia and Iceland. There were sightings of Short-Eared Owls this weekend in Cotswold Water Park. This amazing photo was taken by local wildlife photographer Phil Cull – thank you for allowing me to share it Phil.
The barn owl is instantly recognisable with its heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white chest. Sadly barn owl numbers have fallen by over 50% since 1932. Cotswold Water Park is a great place to see them – their preferred hunting places are open county, along field edges and river banks. The best time of day to be on the look out is at dusk when they are out hunting for voles, shrews and wood mice. This amazing photo was taken by local wildlife photographer Dave Soons.