Saturday 6th September 2014
Three of the Curlew Sandpipers
At WWT Slimbridge this morning with Mike and Mark a good selection of birds around, including a GARGANEY, five CURLEW SANDPIPERS, five Ruffs, a Spotted Redshank, five Little Stints and 20+ Black-tailed Godwits from Zeiss Hide, six Common Cranes (presumed GCP birds but too distant to confirm), six Ruffs and six Green Sandpipers from Robbie Garnett hide and a Greenshank from Holden Tower. The pics here were taken with my S4 phone through Mark's scope - my own scope decided to play up and is being sent to the scope hospital.
Spotted Redshank among Lapwing and Common Redshanks
It was a good birders meet last night at the Fromebridge with a good crew and lots of merriment on the occasion of Andy J's 50th. Below is Jeremy's pic shortly before mass high-fiving the local crew in a random act of bonding.


Marsh Sandpiper at Frampton-on-Severn

Thursday 28th - Saturday 30th August 2014
Marsh Sandpiper (right) with Greenshank
Now, I do like a nice rarity, especially a county first, so the brilliant find on Thursday by Martin of a juvenile MARSH SANDPIPER at Frampton was very welcome. Being on leave for the week, I was able to get to see the bird quite quickly; and returned for second and third helpings during its stay. It was always a bit distant so photography was a struggle, but it was a joy to watch this elegant wader feed among the Greenshanks and Ruffs.
Pic taken Thursday morning
Marsh Sandpiper with Ruff and Greenshank
Phone-scoped pic
On Sunday (31st) I visited Clevedon Court and was amazed at the number of dragonflies on the wing, mainly Migrant Hawkers, but also Common Darters and Ruddy Darters. I counted 11 Migrant Hawkers resting together at one location in the gardens and whilst it is hard to estimate the total number present it must have been in the order of 30 - 40. I also saw a Brimstone here - I saw one in my garden earlier - and several Large Whites.
Migrant Hawker, Clevedon Court
And finally, a Forest Shieldbug in my garden:
Forest Shieldbug, Quedgeley


Orchids and Birds

Friday 22nd - Sunday 24th August 2014
Autumn Lady's Tresses, Breakheart Hill
Friday I went in search of Orchids at Swift's Hill, near Slad, in particular Autumn Lady's Tresses and am grateful to the gentlemen there who pointed some out to me and also told me they were far more numerous at Breakheart Hill near Dursley. I went on to Breakheart Hill were, as the chap said, they were plentiful, and bigger (they're still a small plant) than the specimens at Swift's Hill. I also noted at least eight Chalkhill Blues here too, also a Redstart.
Swift's Hill, looking towards Stroud
Autumn Lady's Tresses, Breakheart Hill - not so spiralled flower spike as most specimens
Chalkhill Blue, Breakheart Hill
View from Breakheart Hill
On Saturday a morning out with Mark produced a nice selection of birds at Walmore Common included five Whinchats, a Wheatear and c20 Yellow Wagtails, also a  Migrant Hawker dragonfly. We then went on to Crabtree Hill where the best birds were a Spotted Flycatcher, two Redstarts, two Stonechats and four Whitethroats.
Four of the five Whinchats
Walmore Common
I went out in search of orchids again on Sunday, this time to Edge Common (aka Rudge Hill - but I prefer to call it Edge Common) looking for Helleborines and hoping to find some still in flower. Of the many Braod-leaved Helleborines I found just a single flower still just about photographable, although a few Green-flowered Helleborines were less aged - I must go earlier next year!
Broad-leaved Helleborine, Edge Common
Green-flowered Helleborine, Edge Common
Green-flowered Helleborine


Norfolk and Cambridgeshire

Thursday 14th - Saturday 16th August 2014
Juvenile Ruffs, Titchwell
Here are some highlights from my recent camping trip to the east with my father, staying in Yaxham, Norfolk. The weather was better than expected, with a couple of showers on Friday morning being the only daytime rain, and then dry after that with lots of sun but also a cooling breeze.
Juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, Welney
We stopped at WWT Welney on Thursday. Eleven adult Whooper Swans seems a strange sight in August, and more than I saw two years ago there in June. A juvenile Black-tailed Godwit was on Lady Fen, and five Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper were on the main lagoon along with another Black-tailed Godwit. A male Ruff was at Lyle Hide with eight Snipe and a Hobby flew through.
Whooper Swan, Welney
Southern Hawker, Welney
Ruddy Darter, Welney
Migrant Hawker, Welney
Black-tailed Skimmer, Welney
Dragonflies at Welney included c6 each of Southern Hawkers and Migrant Hawkers, a Black-tailed Skimmer and a combined total of c30 Ruddy Darters and Common Darters.
Spoonbills, Titchwell
RSPB Titchwell Marsh on Saturday produced a flock of 16 Spoonbills, a wonderful sight, and also flocks of 15 Spotted Redshanks and 10 Greenshanks plus over 100 Avocets and c160 Black-tailed Godwits, c15 Ruff and c30 Sandwich Terns. On the beach I noted six Turnstones, two Knot, eight Sanderlings, five Dunlins and six Bar-tailed Godwits. I didn't do any serious sea-watching.
Avocet, Titchwell
The Mid-Norfolk Railway runs alongside the campsite at Yaxham
A spot of sight-seeing - Ely Cathedral
Saturday we called in at NT Wicken Fen, only a few butterflies were on the wing in the coolish breeze, but several dragonflies including several  Ruddy Darters and Common Darters, Southern Hawkers, Migrant Hawkers and five Brown Hawkers. Several Roach were in the Lode. The highlight was several Common Lizards which were basking along the edge of the boardwalk.
Common Lizard, Wicken Fen
A nice relaxing few days.
Wind pump at Sedge Fen, Wicken Fen
Roach, Wicken Lode
Knopper Galls on acorns, caused by the wasp Andricus quercuscalicis, Wicken Fen car park


Mostly Insects

Saturday 26th July 2014
Close up of a Megachile sp. Leaf-cutter - the business end
In the garden, Leaf-cutter Bees (Megachile sp.) have been very active lately, making good use of the 'solitary bee hive' I have provided. These are fascinating insects, cutting neat holes in the leaves of plants (I haven't actually witnessed them doing this) and carrying them back to the nest. Pollen is collected on a mass of hairs on the lower abdomen, and they seem to favour my Dahlias for this.
A Common Darter in the garden was very fresh-looking and allowed close study.

At WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon, the highlights were a female Marsh Harrier and two Redstarts from Holden Tower. I also saw 3+ flyover Yellow Wagtails and a juvenile on the sea wall, and 11 Green Sandpipers and four Avocets were at Robbie Garnett hide. I watched the the Marsh Harrier on The Dumbles for around 15 minutes before it took to the air, eventually heading towards the canal, and being mobbed by a Buzzard and an Avocet along the way.

A couple of garden hoverfly photos:
Episyrphus balteatus, Marmalade Fly
Eupeodes luniger
And finally, a White Adniral photo from Oversley Wood, Warwickshire, on 10th July:


Night Heron at Cheltenham and Graylings on Brean Down

Sunday 6th - Monday 7th July 2014
Night Heron, Pittville Park, Cheltenham
After dipping it on back in June, I was pleased to catch up with the NIGHT HERON at Pittville Park this evening after it was re-found yesterday. It showed very well at times as it fished the lake edge.
I spent the afternoon at Brean yesterday with family and was chuffed to find two Graylings on Brean Down, towards the fort. It was quite breezy up there but the Graylings seem to manage to get back to the stony path whenever they flew up after appearing to be caught up in the breeze for a while, giving the impression they were about to be blown off the down never to be seen again!
Grayling, Brean Down, Somerset
Grayling habitat
There were also at least four Stonechats, the males sometimes launching into song-flight before dropping back down to a perch.
Stonechat, Brean Down