Tuesday, 3 June 2014

We ♥ Birdwatching!

We're fond of our garden birds (remember Chirpy?) and always enjoy time outdoors, whether it's gardening, walking or cycling, but really, we wouldn't call ourselves serious birdwatchers.

However when it's one of the best times of year for birdwatching and you're staying next to a nature reserve you can't help but ♥ birdwatching and become serious birdwatchers for a few days. You don't need to wear special clothes or have expensive telescopic equipment or to 'twitch'; birdwatching can be fun for everyone.


Shelduck


That was what we found last week when we visited our Devon relatives in Seaton. Seaton's not just about its shingle beach and sharply shelving seashore (try saying that after a few Devon ciders). Or its tramline running alongside the river. It's all about the Axe Estuary Wetlands at this time of year.


View from the wetlands towards the coast

Not far from the beach and easily visible from the tram, the Wetlands consists of three nature reserves managed by East Devon District Council on the lower river Axe. The three reserves almost link up by footpath to make one huge nature area, and that is the long term goal. 


There is a lot to see and do there: saltmarsh, freshwater grazing marsh, ponds, a purpose-built Sand Marten habitat, birdhides, a classroom and information centre (currently with a live webcam streaming the latest news from a Kestrel and a Bluetits' nest - BBC Springwatch eat your heart out!). All this is accessible via a network of footpaths including some that are buggy, wheelchair and bicycle friendly. And it's all free.



We walked through the reserve a few times during our stay, but the highlight has to be the sunny evening we spent in one of the birdhides, anticipating the arrival of the local Barn Owl on its nightly hunting excursion. Whilst we were waiting, we enjoyed the antics of all sorts of water birds. At this time of year, many are sitting on nests (can you spot the Coot's nest in the photo above?) or looking after young. The goslings and ducklings were super cute.


Canada Goose and young

Just when we were about to give up hope of seeing the Barn Owl, it swooped over the shallow scrape in exactly the place we weren't looking for it (thank heavens for a knowledgeable, eagle-eyed local). Even with the Barn Owl, though, it would still have been a magical evening. 


Blurry barn owl shot
Yes, Barn Owl or no Barn Owl, we all ♥ birdwatching. Eco, frugal and simple.

Birdwatchers notes:

Check out a proper birdwatching blog by an Axe Valley birder - click here

Axe Estuary Wetlands information - click here

Seaton Tramway - click here


Information about Seaton (the poor relation of Lyme Regis, Sidmouth, Beer and all those posher places - but we think Seaton's much more down-to-earth and well worth a visit) - click here


Our favourite binoculars (Daughter was given a pair by Granmy and Grandad and we all fight to use them). They're really lightweight and portable, and we'd say they're not just for children - click here


Watch Springwatch on TV, by all means, but don't forget to take advantage of the light evenings and get out there and do some real 'watching'!

Many thanks to Daughter for all the photography in this blog post, except for the Barn Owl photo which was taken by Son.


13 comments:

  1. I'm not much of a bird watcher but you have some beautiful pictures here x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter was pleased with her photos, so I'm glad you appreciate them!

      Delete
  2. Sounds wonderful. I do love owls, we have one who stops at the end of the garden occasionally and has the odd night when s/he hoots. Never seen her/him but a lovely sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Likewise, we hear Tawny Owls in the trees alongside the railway line near us, but never see them. The Barn Owl was beautiful.

      Delete
  3. That sounds like it was a lot of fun. Marshes are always a good place for bird watching. However, sometimes they are also full of mosquitoes. Did you have any bug problems?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I reckon there were midges about although I'm lucky and never get bitten much.

      Delete
  4. We was out on a bike ride last week and we saw a Heron. It was beautiful and so big. It was great watching it hunting for fish till it flew away

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We saw a heron too, but didn't get any good pics of him.

      Delete
  5. I never thought of Canadian geese living anywhere but North America -- funny! We have them everywhere, here. Any place there's a low spot that collects water, there will be Canadian geese on the adjacent lawns. In spring, there's a spot nearby where we can watch parents and their young.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, there's plenty of them here in the UK. There's plenty on our local lake. So much so that when I worked in outer London for a park authority, the Countryside Service had a 'culling' programme where a certain number of eggs were pricked in the spring so that the young would not hatch out, as they were disturbing the balance of native wildlife. That's going back 20 years. I'm guessing it's probably still a problem. I like our local geese though, as they fly over our house honking, on their way to and fro between the lake and wherever it is they roost.

      Delete
  6. Love bird watching though mostly it's through the kitchen window. This looks like a beautiful spot to stop and watch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like birdwatching from my window as much as nature reserve birdwatching. We have a large sparrow family in the garden and I love observing them.

      Delete
  7. I used to love birdwatching as a child, and hope when I have kids they will enjoy it too
    Two Hearts One Roof

    ReplyDelete