Sunday 29 July 2018

Patch Update- 10th Trip to Barnes

26th July 2018
This was my 10th visit to my third patch, WWT London, where I was joined by another young birder from London, Arjun Dutta. After meeting each other, we headed straight to the Wader Scrapes Hide, with hopes of seeing our first Garganeys, which had been sighted the day before. 

Despite the hot weather, many Lapwing and a few Redshank were out and about

Female Emperor Dragonfly

Grey Heron

Common Blue

With no Garganeys seen, we walked to the Peacock Tower, where we got impressive views of Lapwing and many gulls. Suddenly, a duck with a white eyestripe and green and white wing stripes zoomed past- A GARGANEY! Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo, but we saw what we were looking for.

Juvenile Little Grebe

Female Tufted Duck with ducklings

A Canada Goose x Bar-headed Goose Hybrid

Digiscope shot of a Common Sandpiper

Egyptian Goose at the WWF Hide

After lunch, we walked down the west route to the Wildside Hide. Unfortunately, the Summer Route was closed, so we couldn't get to see most of the butterflies.

Female Pochard with ducklings

Female Pochard

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

I had a great day birding with Arjun, seeing my first Garganey and many butterflies, dragonflies and moths. Also, I saw my first Reed Bunting in London and on patch!

Thursday 26 July 2018

Concert Tour to the Rhineland

19th July 2018
It was 6:30 in the morning, and I departed school on a coach, heading for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, more commonly known as the Rhineland, in Germany. I was going to perform with the school orchestra in various towns across the River Rhine, but at the same time, I was on the lookout for some stunning wildlife, which the area is home to. On the way, I saw many Red Kites, Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk, and eventually took about eight hours to get to Kaub, where I was staying, which was filled with the song of Tree Sparrows, and Swallows and House Martins darting across the Rhine.

20th July 2018
In the morning, I was allowed quite a lot of free time, so I decided to scan the river for wildfowl. Despite the river being a major trade route, used by many boats, trains and even cable cars, wildlife has managed to coexist with humans on the river:

A distant flock of Greylag Geese

A shoal of Allis Shad

Greylag Geese near a castle in the middle of the river

Female House Sparrow

Swallows on a wire above train tracks


Black Headed Gull in flight over the Rhine

After around half an hour of free time, I went on a river cruise, going from Kaub to St Goar, a historical village up the river. Just when the ship had left, two huge birds with extremely long necks sailed past- my first Cranes! (no photo though!)

 Black Kite

Mixed flock of gulls

Probably the most beautiful church I've ever seen- the Church of Our Lady, Oberwesel

Egyptian Geese

Greylag Geese and Grey Herons on the banks of the river

Grey Herons and Cormorants


After walking around St Goar for about an hour,  I travelled to Bad Bertrich, my first concert venue. 'Bad' doesn't mean the town has done wrong, but it's the equivalent of a 'Spa' in Britain, e.g. Leamington Spa. There was a small audience of 20-30 people, and I tried not to get distracted by a Long-tailed Tit nest above the bandstand! It was so windy, that the music instead of the audience was blown away (sorry for the bad pun).

21st July 2018
In the afternoon, I visited Koblenz, a city an hour up the river from Kaub. It is home to memorials symbolising the two reunifications of Germany, and one of them, the Deutsches Eck, which also marks the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine. After exploring that area of the city, I took a ride on the cable car, connecting Koblenz to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (yes, it's a mouthful), an ancient Prussian fortress. I stood at the viewpoint, in the hopes of seeing some visible migration, but all I saw were a few Woodpigeons!

Mute Swan

Deutsches Eck, between the Moselle and the Rhine

In the evening, I performed at the ancient Florinskirche, a cream-coloured church with two massive steeples. there was an audience of about 100 people, and was, in my opinion, the best of the three concerts.

22nd July 2018
I woke up early for a 7km run between Kaub and another village called Lorch, and saw many Red Adrmirals, hundreds of Greylag Geese and a few Tree Sparrows. After breakfast, I visited the ancient to of Rudesheim, down the river. The town is home to many ancient, historical churches, something you'd expect from a typical Rhineland village. The town square had many Swifts overhead, which were hard to get a shot of.

Female Blackbird

My attempt of a Swift

Collared Dove

Female Blackbird

Female Blackbird

After Rudesheim, I performed my last concert, at another Spa called Bad Munster, which had a huge park and bandstand, with and audience of about 150 people. This trip has been one of the best I have been on, and not just for its amazing wildlife, but its historic atmosphere, and overall, getting to play to people in another country.