Monday, 17 January 2022

Otter in the marshes, Cornwall 17th Jan 22

 An early start for me on a frosty winter morning paid dividends with some fantastic views of an otter hunting in the pools and reeds of the marshes.

I first noticed it at about 8 am before the sun had crested the valley sides and my camera settings were really poor, however I still took photos and it came ever closer. 

After about 40 minutes it disappeared into the reeds and didn't show until almost 10 o'clock. This time the light was much better although it didn't venture quite so close.

It was fantastic to watch it swirling in the calm mirrored surface of the pools and a joy to follow its line of bubbles as it went from place to place.

Tracking the underwater movement by watching the line of bubbles

Often the tail is the most visible bit of the otter


The prey must have been in the muddy depths of the pool as it kept surfacing with food but also adorned in mud and weeds. 

Covered in mud so must have been scouring the bottom of the pool

Covered in weeds


Eventually I spotted it come out of the water and trot across the meadow into a drainage ditch but then it showed up again 15 minutes later in another patch of open water. 

Here are a few of the several hundred images I took this morning......

a rare event for it to clamber out of the water

A good set of teeth

Did it hear my camera or smell my toast


Thursday, 13 January 2022

Glossy Ibis at Walmsley & the Amble marshes. Jan 2022.


We've had a single Glossy Ibis at Walmsley reserve since September 2021, it was joined by a second bird into October and since then they've stayed in the area venturing out onto the Camel estuary on occasions and into various creeks and adjoining farmland. 

Fast forward to the 22nd December and a flock of 11 turned up at roosting time, to be more precise at 4:36 pm. 

They turned up for 3 consecutive days at that exact time again. 

The numbers then started to rise, one day there were 16 and now on 13th January there are 18 birds.

This beat our previous record of 14 in July 2017.

They have been difficult to photograph as they've been arriving at dusk and leaving at dawn with very few people seeing them during the daytime.

I know they've been seen on a local farmers substantial dung heap and can be seen circling the reserve at times with a group of cattle egrets.

However today I found them on the marshes happily feeding in semi flooded pasture.

All 18 were there but I couldn't get them all in the same photos so you'll need to take my word for that.

Here are some pics from a sunny day on the Amble marshes... a rarity in itself!

Monday, 27 December 2021

A White tailed Eagle on Bodmin Moor. 26th Dec 2021.

White tailed Eagle at Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall,


Eagles are majestic birds and seeing one does stir your senses, but to see one near home in Cornwall is very exciting.

I kept seeing and hearing reports of a white tailed eagle around the Bodmin moor area and had 2 fruitless trips up there looking for it.

On Boxing Day morning I got lucky. I'd parked the car at the top of the lane that runs down to the Loveny reserve and hide, knowing that it was now out of bounds to people after a couple of issues with cattle had been reported.

However this spot gave me the best views of the North arm of the reservoir which is surprisingly low on water despite all the rain we've had. I'm guessing this suits the eagle as there are many suitable dead stumps & snags for it to perch on and consume fish.

After a an hour and a half I spotted it flying towards me at a reasonable height and thinking it was going to pitch up on the ground in the corner of the reservoir I started taking a few photos.

It didn't land but circled once almost over my head before disappearing over the hill toward the forestry of Halvana Plantation.

My first sighting of one of these birds in Cornwall & indeed in the UK I think.

Local birders think this is one of the birds that have been released on the Isle of Wight in conjunction with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation & Forestry England. As such I've logged the details on their website with photos and will await confirmation.

The bird does appear to have a metal ring on its right leg and also looks to have a GPS transmitter at the back of its neck.


UPDATE from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation....

Dear Adrian,

Many thanks for taking the time to send in your Eagle sighting. I can confirm that the bird that you have seen is a female with the leg ring

G405 she was released from the Isle of Wight in 2020 so is in her second calendar year (1 year old in human terms). The young Eagles are very nomadic you can find out more about her movements here:

All records are useful and will be added to our database.

Best wishes,

Zoe Smith

Associate Ornithologist

Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation



White tailed Eagle at Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall,

White tailed Eagle at Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall,


My previous views have been in Norway, Poland, Hungary & a captive bird used for hunting by a falconer in the Czech Republic. 

Here are a few images from my archives.....


A wild White tailed Eagle, Norway. 
A wild White tailed Eagle, Hungary.

A wild White tailed Eagle, Hungary. 

A wild White tailed Eagle, Poland.

Falconry hunting White tailed Eagle, Czech Republic.

Falconry hunting White tailed Eagle, Czech Republic. 

Falconry hunting White tailed Eagle, Czech Republic.

Falconry hunting White tailed Eagle, Czech Republic.

Falconry hunting White tailed Eagle, Czech Republic.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Glossy Ibis at Walmsley sanctuary & Amble marshes December 2021.


We've been seeing a Glossy Ibis in the reserve since early October and it was then joined by a second bird later in that month. They've been a bit secretive in the past few weeks and when 2 turned up at Newquay I thought it was these birds. However one was still here at Walmsley and twice I watched it flying into the reserve at dusk presumably to roost.

It was yesterday that I stayed late at Walmsley so I could paint the steps to the tower hide with anti-slip paint after everyone had vacated. It was almost dark when Jenny Hale & myself watched a flock of ibis fly in and settle to roost in the margins of a reed bed. They seemed to fly in with purpose as if they'd done it many times before...strange!

I counted a definite 11 birds although Jenny thought more. 

So I was there this morning in the dark at 07:10 to watch them leave the reeds. Ha! no such luck, they'd already left and were feeding in a group in another part of the reserve. I watched them through my scope but it was too dark for photographs. As the light brightened a buzzard flew across the water & all the waders took flight. Maybe 700 Lapwing, 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 50+ Redshank, 4 Greenshank & numerous wildfowl all took to the wing. Unfortunately the ibis flew farther up the Amble valley & out of the reserve.

After watching an otter hunting in the shallows I went over to Chapel Amble to see if I could relocate the flock but couldn't find them. Fortunately my phone rang & it was Shaun Grose who told me which field they were in as he was watching from a distance. 

Neither of us could get enough height to get a good detailed shot of them and we each came up with different counts. Eventually we settled on 13 birds but they were fragmented when they flew and I wonder if there aren't more than that if they all stuck together.



It would need to be over 14 to beat my previous reserve record from July 2017.

Here's a link back to that date on this blog if you're interested in seeing the photos.


Thursday, 18 November 2021

Barn Owls hunting over the marshes. November 2021.

 I've been really fortunate to have been able to photograph some amazing Barn Owls in the past few days.

There have been up to 3 individuals hunting over the marshes during the late afternoons & early evenings.

The only thing that has limited my photography has been the low light levels.

There's been 2 males, one of which is ringed, and a female. At times there have been 2 birds competing for the same voles but mostly they seem to get on well together when quartering the same meadow. Maybe they're a family group or siblings, although we ringed all the young birds for the past 3 years in this locale so possibly they're 2 adults and a juvenile.

Anyhow I've had some incredible experiences with these birds , one of which circled me very closely and then hovered over my head at about 6 feet away. It then continued hunting so I reckon I may have been accepted as "part of the environmental furniture"!

Here are a few images not in any special order.