Ring of Bright Water

After many many hours at various locations along the river Wye, in the forest of Dean and in darkest Wales, I was finally rewarded with about 60 seconds of Otter just before it got dark.  I am not complaining, it was absolutely magical.

I have seen Otters several times in the past but this was the first time since moving to Gloucestershire. This otter is a Welsh otter…. nothing wrong with that.

I got the tip off that it might be about when suddenly all the ducks that were settling in the reed beds for the night took off.

The otter then appeared on the far side of the lake where I was sat, freezing my nuts off in a sort of open hide… if that makes any sense. It had two sides and was open on the sides away from the lake, some of you will know where I was from that description.  I had to use ISO 16,000 as it was so dark and I was using a 400 mm zoom lens. Thus the photo quality is not 100%.

Most of the time it was swimming underwater and only surfaced a couple of times. It did do a nice dive and this produced the ‘ring of bright water as in the book title.



Argiope bruennichi

Argiope spiders

Argiope is a genus of spiders which include some impressive beasts. The one photographed most is Argiope bruennichi commonly called a Wasp Spider for obvious reasons.Argiope bruennichi


I also came across this one in Southern Spain called Argiope lobata, not as colourful but quite big and with peculiar white bumps on its back. Also if you look closely it has a long tubular shaped head which is quite odd for a spider.Argiope lobata

The pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Ripe and ready.

Possibly the origin of why Australians refer to Brits as Poms… the colour our skin goes after a bit of sun.


Other explanation is Prisoner of Mother England, as we all know Australians are all descended from the ‘ne’er do wells’ of the past..

Also may be a bit of cockney rhyming slang  as the way Australians pronounce Pomegranate sounds a bit like immigrant…. so I have been told.

Beat them in the rugby though…..


More birds along the Rio Guadalquivir

Apart from a Purple Gallinule which I was delighted to see, there was lots of other interesting stuff.

This is a marshland area, but its salt marsh as the river is tidal, big ships come up all the way to Seville.

There are tidal lagoons, this one had lots of Black-winged Stilts and a few Spoonbills. There is a bird hide but I was not sure how to get to it…swim maybe.

Plenty of small brown jobs, commonest ones were Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warblers, Stonechats, Cetti’s warblers and Chiffchafs…. always Chiffchafs.

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Not bad for raptors, I saw 4 species which were Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. I am never sure if it is a Kestrel or Lesser Kestrel, both are found in this area.

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An interesting little bird is the Waxbill, a pair turned up whilst I was waiting for a good view of the Purple Gallinule…. you have seen my Purple Gallinule haven’t you?  I am sure you would like to!

Also a rabbit made an appearance.

And there were several Moorish Geckos on an old building enjoying the sun…  Moorish like chocolate truffles or Turkish Delight?…. no North African.

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Spotted this one on the East bank of the river Guadalquivir.

This is a major river which divides Andalucia with the province of Huelva on one bank and Cadiz on the other. Where we are staying in Sanlucar de Barrameda is on the east bank and at the estuary, on the opposite bank is the famous Coto Donana reserve. You can cross over by ferry but access is highly restricted, no roads and really you can only walk or cycle along the beach.

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However on our side there are extensive marshes and some reasonable roads so most of the bird life that you get in Donana also occurs here. Including this rather stunning bird.

At first I only heard it, there were some Coots about and also a Moorhen but it was too noisy for them and also made lots of low sonorous almost snoring noises with the odd more coot like cluck.

It was deep in the reeds, so I waited and watched, not knowing what to expect, then I saw some movement and got a smidgen of a view,   Purple, bright purple so then I knew and I waited and eventually got a couple of shots where you could see its head with the red eye and red bill.

I did get a couple of shots of its rear end which is also quite distinctive and diagnostic but there was no doubt about what it was. Unfortunately it stayed put, deep in cover so that was the best I got. Eventually it started to get dark so it was time to give up.

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However whilst watching the Gallinule also called a Swamp Hen I was entertained by a Sparrowhawk flying by,  a pair of Cetti’s warblers, a pair of Waxbills ( introduced originally to Portugal and now spreading),  a  Marsh Harrier, and lots of Chiffchafs, also a rabbit briefly appeared and a horse walked past on the other bank.


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Sanlucar waders

There are some rocky areas a little walk along from where we are staying and at low tide they are exposed and a small selection of waders turn up.  So today I sat on one of the rocks for  a couple of hours and photographed what decided I was not too great a  threat and thus approached a bit closer.

First was a Bar-tailed Godwit, probing in the sand for a juicy worm. You can see the bars on it tail.

The commonest birds there are Turnstones and I did get a shot of one turning a stone.

Second commonest are Sanderlings, delightful little birds, always on the move.

There were some Plovers, mostly Kentish but also some Little Ringed Plovers.

I also saw in the distance, Little Egret, Cormorant, Yellow Legged Gull, Dunlin and probably a Whimbrel but it might have been a Curlew. .

And this is the local beach, the rocky bit is behind me…. Not many people about, just the occasional dog walker or couple taking a stroll.  No sunbathers this year!