Extremely close Kestrel encounter at Brean Down and Cattle Egrets at Catcott Lows!

This week I visited Brean Down in Somerset with my family.It's an extension of the Mendip Hills that sticks right out into the Bristol Channel for about a mile! It's a wonderful place to walk with great views and wonderful wildlife!   I saw W...

This week I visited Brean Down in Somerset with my family.
It's an extension of the Mendip Hills that sticks right out into the Bristol Channel for about a mile! It's a wonderful place to walk with great views and wonderful wildlife!
   I saw Wheatear, Ravens, Oystercatchers, Stonechats, Curlews, Rock Pipits and a Kestrel.

The Kestrel gave me the closest views I've ever had of a healthy wild bird of prey!
I saw it hover-hunting a couple of hundred yards away near the cliff edge, then it dropped down out of view. I quickly made my way in it's direction and then went off slightly to the right to stand on the flat roof of one of the old concrete World War 2 buildings that are dotted about the Down near the Fort at the end. I hoped this would give me a view of the bird without disturbing it, however I could not see it from this vantage point!
  I slowly walked up the hill to the area that I had thought it had come down, then tentatively peered over the cliff edge onto the grassy slopes that lead down to the sea. Nothing.
  I hadn't seen it fly up again, so it seemed like it had just disapeared into thin air!
  Then I noticed a slight movement right between the rocks I was stood on.....to my total amazement, it was the back of the Kestrels head!! It was below me, no more than 2 metres away! I froze! I slowly lifted my camera and and took a photo of the back of it's head. I had to almost stand on tip toes as I was almost too close for my 150-600mm Sigma lens to focus on!
   The Kestrel heard the camera click and turned it's head to look straight at me!
I froze again, my heart racing!
I expected it to fly off right there and then, but no, it carried on staring at me intently, so I grabbed a few photo's of it's stunning face whilst I had the chance! At this stage I could only see it's head and shoulders between the rocks, so I crept a little closer to the edge of the cliff, until I had the whole bird in the frame. The Kestrel didn't mind me being there at all!
She was totally relaxed, had a scratch and a stretch and continued to survey her surroundings! Even when my 2 youngest daughters and other half came over to see what i was photographing, the Kestrel didn't fly, just looked up nonchantly at us all then looked away again, non-plussed!
  Eventually, she dropped on an insect a few feet in front of her, then flew off around the headland and out of view!
It was one of those magical close encounters with nature that lives with you forever! :)

There had been Cattle Egrets at the new scrape put in at the Catcott Lows nature reserve on the Somerset Levels this week. Lots of people had seen and photographed them, but when I visited earlier in the week they had flown off shortly before I had arrived, and had apparently returned half an hour after I had left!!
  However, I did watch a couple of Marsh Harriers on the reserve for the couple of hours I was there, which was a very rewarding consolation!
Way off in the distance a Hobby sat in a dead bare tree, and a Kestrel sat on a hay bail with what appeared to be a prey item.

  Yesterday I returned to Catcott Lows to see if I had better luck, and sure enough, there were 4 Cattle Egrets at the back of the scrape, walking about hunting insects in the grass and stopping every now and then to have a preen! A Great White Egret flew in from the back of the reserve and walked past the Cattle Egrets, giving a striking view of the difference in size between the 2 birds!
  Also there were a number of Lapwings. They look to be building up for the Autumn and Winter, and are always a delightful bird to see and watch! I think this new scarpe is going to be very popular for the birds and the birders alike!

Below are photo's of everything mentioned above, plus a few other things I've seen during the last week, such as Buzzard, Swallows, House Martins, Rabbits and Magpies;




























^Above ^ - My extremely close encounter with a wild Kestrel at Brean Down!


^Above ^ - A YouTube slideshow of the pics! :)









^Above ^ - Cattle Egrets at Catcott Lows.


^Above ^ - Footage of the Cattle Egrets hunting bugs in the grass!







^Above ^ - Great White Egret joining the Cattle Egrets at Catcott Lows!



^Above ^ - Lapwings at Catcott Lows.


^Above ^ - Footage of the Lapwings at Catcott Lows.
















































^Above ^ - Marsh Harriers at Catcott lows....regularly harassed by Carrion Crows!


^Above ^ - Slideshow of the Marsh Harrier pics!





^Above ^ - Hobby in the distance at Catcott Lows.


^Above ^ - Kestrel at Catcott Lows.


^Above ^ - Grey Heron at Catcott Lows.



^Above ^ - Canada Geese at Catcott Lows.



^Above ^ - Mute Swan family at Catcott Lows.






^Above ^ - House Sparrows at Burtle in Somerset.




^Above ^ - Light Phase Buzzard with a Mouse at Huntworth in Somerset.


^Above ^ - Epic fail photo of a Cetti's Warbler at the Bridgwater and Taunton canal in Somerset. :P


^Above ^ - Reed Warbler at the Canal.


^Above ^ - Speckled Wood Butterfly at the canal.


^Above ^ - Juvenile Goldfinch at Glastonbury Tor in Somerset.



^Above ^ - Painted Lady Butterflies at Glastonbury Tor.


^Above ^ - Feral Pigeon at Glastonbury Tor.



^Above ^ - Jackdaws at Brean Down.





^Above ^ - Juvenile Herring Gulls at Brean Down.



^Above ^ - House Martins at Brean Down.

















^Above ^ - Magpies at Brean Down.





^Above ^ - Ravens at Brean Down.




















^Above ^ - Rock Pipit at Brean Down.










^Above ^ - Stonechats at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Swallow at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Wheatear at Brean Down.











^Above ^ - House Sparrows at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Curlew at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Carrion Crow at Brean Down.



^Above ^ - Oystercatchers and Curlews at Brean Down.



^Above ^ - Lesser Black Back Gulls at Brean Down.



^Above ^ - Rabbits at Brean Down.



^Above ^ - Juvenile Robin at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Buzzard at Moorlinch in Somerset.


^Above ^ - Carrion Crow at Catcott.






^Above ^ - House Sparrows enjoying blackberries in my home Somerset village.





^Above ^ - Sea Thrift, grasses, Berries and Dahlias at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Goats on the cliffs at Brean Down.


^Above ^ - View of Berrow and Brean Beach from Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Dog walker on Brean Down.


^Above ^ - Garden Spider spinning a web in my garden....fascinating!