May 2024

28th. Peregrine carrying prey around St Michael's Hospital chimney.

23rd. My first swifts of the year near Eglwys Nunydd reservoir while stuck in a traffic jam on the M4. I hadn't seen any in Bristol yet.

21st-23rd. While in the New Forest we booked a late cancellation for two nights on Skomer Island. We set off at 04.00h on 21st, and landed on the island around 09.30h. We were greeted by 2 short-eared owls, and saw up to three in total. Other migrants included 3 red kites, and a spotted flycatcher. It was a perfect time to visit - still good swards of bluebells, masses of red campion, and puffins beginning to bring sand eels to their burrows. Peregrines nested in an old raven nest in The Wick, and one carried a prey item, probably a puffin. The full moon deterred many shearwaters from landings, though we still saw good numbers coming ashore when mist made the moon dimmer around 2.30h in the morning.

The Old Farm, where we stayed

Looking to Skokholm around dusk,

Skokholm

The bluebells and red campion provided super backdrops for photography on Skomer. Short-eared owl, spotted flycatcher, whitethroat and oystercatcher.

short-eared owl

short-eared owl

short-eared owl

With a Skomer vole.

short-eared owl

Spotted flycatcher

Whitethroat

Oystercatcher

Swallow, nesting in Moorey Mere hide, where the kittiwakes collected mud for their nests.

Swallow

Kittiwake

Orthodox, black and piebald rabbits.

Rabbit

Black rabbit

Piebald rabbit

Guillemot, mating razorbills, and swimming puffins in North Haven.

Guillemot

Razorbill

Razorbills

Puffin

Puffin

Puffins

Puffins on The Wick.

Puffins

Puffins

Puffins

Puffins

Puffin

Puffins

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffins

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffins

Puffin

Puffin

Puffins

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Puffin

Manx shearwater under red light. In the video below, they seem to be using their burrows to amplify the sound.

15th. We visited the New Forest on a sunny day. We walked from Beaulieu Road Station across Shatterford Bottom (a favourite route from student days) to Pig Bush and back. A pair of Dartford warblers popped up right next to the footpath. We didn't see any woodlarks, though did see 4 cuckoos, 2 hobbies and lots of redstarts. We also saw a grass snake and a slow worm.

Shatterford Bottom

Dartford warbler

Dartford warbler

Cuckoo

Redstart

Stonechat

Wren

13th. A red kite flew over the St Michael's Hospital chimney, and was chased off by a peregrine.

12th. Slimbridge - the male white-spotted bluethroat is back for its fourth summer, and has not found a mate. It showed three times in about 2.5 hours, and we had good views of reed warblers and sedge warblers too.

White-spotted bluethroat

11th. Forest of Dean. Male pied flycatcher at Nagshead. Very quiet otherwise.

10th. I found out about tonight's Aurora from R4 as I was driving back from collecting the car after its service. The biggest solar storm in 20 years would happen on a still night with a crescent moon, clear skies and warm temperatures. We drove to Whale Wharf on the Severn where we could park close to the estuary, and look over to the Forest of Dean, while also seeing the Second Severn Crossing and Oldbury Power Station. Many more reds than we saw in Sweden. Magical.

At first some purple and green tinges in the sky were apparent.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora borealis

After 23.00h the action kicked off.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

 

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

The Aurora does not look like these photos in real life. It is faint, and hints of pink or green sheets can be seen moving across the sky. Below is an unedited 15s exposure, and the same image overexposed further in Photoshop. Even the 15s exposure is vivid compared with what we see.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora borealis

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