Cotswold Orchids and a Garden Hobby

Monday 7th - Tuesday 15th May 2018

Recently I have caught up with Fly Orchids and Sword-leaved Helleborines in the Cotswolds, the latter being a threatened and particularly scarce species in the UK. I have only previously seen Sword-leaved Helleborine, also known as Narrow-leaved Helleborine, in Switzerland, where it more common. Fly Orchid, a close relative of the Bee Orchid, are more widespread but with a localised distribution and not one I have seen before. Both are exquisitely beautiful and very special plants.

On 7th I had a Hobby fly over the garden and managed a couple of hurried record shots of this garden tick. A Coal Tit was a surprise garden visitor on 15th as I haven't seen one in the garden since the early spring.

Forest Hawfinch in Garden

Sunday 8th April 2018
As Hawfinches continue to visit my garden, I have had an email back from Jerry Lewis on a ringed male seen on 8th April (one of at least five different individuals seen): "this bird ringed by me [Jerry] (as an adult) on 08/04/2016, Nr Cinderford, so a decent movement. metal = NW76417 colour = orange IL. (First record since ringed)" fascinating stuff.

Lots of Garden Thrushes and another Hawfinch

Thursday 1st - Friday 2nd March 2018
A different male Hawfinch arrived on the garden bird table on Thursday morning at 8.20am just as I was leaving for work and as it was snowing.

On Friday I worked at home having decided not to venture out in the thick snow. The apples I put out created a frenzy among visiting Fieldfares, no less than 18 of them. Two or three of them, and one in particular, spent an awful amount of time trying to defend the apples and very very aggressive towards not only the other Fieldfares but anything else that posed a threat including seven Redwings, two Blackbirds, and a Song Thrush which were tolerated in the main as long as they sat quietly at a safe distant. Othe birds in the garden included a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, nine Wood Pigeons, 37 Chaffinches (but no Bramblings yet!), 14 Greenfinches and four Starlings.

Hawfinch in Garden

Saturday 24th -Tuesday 27th February 2018
I was delighted to see this male Hawfinch on the bird table this morning at 7.40 this morning. I saw a male and female around the Fisher's Meadow/canal area (Quedgeley) on Saturday so I knew they weren't far away. I just love them.

Saturday was also a chance to look for Water Pipit at Saul Warth with Andy, and it duly obliged. A male Merlin was also present, although distant, and a Stonechat and a Peregrine were the other highlights.

On Sunday I caught up with the drake Ring-necked Duck on pit 16 in the Cotswold Water Park west, with Andy and Mark.

Woorgreens and Crabtree Hill

Sunday 28th January 2018
I spent the morning in the Forest of Dean on Sunday, with Andy and Mark, at Woorgreens/Crabtree Hill. The Great Grey Shrike showed well, for us and the nearby BBC Winterwatch team, and at one point flew to a perch quite near us. Other birds of note were a nice flock of mainly Lesser Redpolls by the lake with Siskins and Goldfinches, 12 Crossbills (groups of three and 12), singing Mistle Thrushes, and two (a male and a redhead) Goosanders on the lake.

Spiders and Some Birds

Friday 5th - Thursday 18th January 2018

With the help of the folk on the spider ID Facebook group I have the identification of two Spiders seen in my house recently. A rather dehydrated male False Widow Spider Steatoda nobilis baffled me, I am familiar with females but this one initially struck me as False Widow but the more I looked through the guides the more puzzled I became. The other Spider was a bit more straightforward. I was pretty certain it was a male Lace Weaver, Amaurobius sp. and that given it was in my house it was most likely to be similis. However, when I read that microscopic examination of the genitalia is necessary to separate from similar species, in this case fenestralis, I turned to the experts. Luckily there is a good view of the palps which confirms it as Amaurobius similis
The Great Norther Diver has continued its long stay at Sharpness marina / SARA into the New Year, and I couldn't resist another visit to study it recently on 5th January. Later at WWT…

Penduline Tit at Longford

Monday 18th December 2017
Some photos here of the male PENDULINE TIT at Plock Court, Longford, I took during my lunch hour on Monday; a great find by Sarah Payne at the weekend. I have never actually strayed on to Plock Court before despite working only 9 minutes away. The bird is around the wetland area in the NW corner of Plock Court at SO837204.