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.

Rock Thrush

Saturday 14th October 2017
The ROCK THRUSH at Blorenge was a welcome twitch, joined by Andy and Mark, after a relatively quiet autumn so far locally. Arriving on site around 8am in quite gloomy conditions, it was some time before the Rock Thrush was seen above the main quarry and then some time late when it was relocated below the main path beyond the second small quarry at 9.45am. It was fairly mobile, but always soon relocated after every flight by the numerous pairs of human eyes present, and provided some very good views near to the path.

Mainly Insects and Flowers

Saturday 24th June - Saturday 8th July 2017
A visit to Lower Woods yesterday morning with Mark produced seven White Admirals and c30 Silver-washed Fritillaries - these included a valezina female, too quick to photograph, but the first one I've seen. Other butterflies included three Purple Hairstreaks.
  This Lizard Orchid at a South Glos site had gone over; I'll have to visit earlier next year.

By contrast, the Barrow Wake Musk Orchids were at their peak last Saturday.
A few Bee Orchids were in the area.

I got good views of Purple Hairstreaks recently at RHS Wisley in one of the formal gardens and in the Oak Wood area.
  And finally, some wildlife from NT Coughton Court yesterday:

Red-backed Shrike at Blakehill Farm

Friday 16th June 2017
With news on a Friday afternoon of a species I've never managed to see, I had to head off straight from getting home from work. Just 43 minutes later, within 30 seconds of leaving the car I was looking at a cracking male Red-backed Shrike at the wonderful Blakehill Farm Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve.This former military airfield is being turned back into wildlife-rich hay meadow and pasture and is always a rewarding site to visit, but especially when there is a Red-backed Shrike. The Shrike was feeding and singing occasionally, not worried by cars or other passers-by using the farm track behind its chosen brambly hedge.

Cambridgeshire Visit and Local Sightings

Sunday 30th April - Sunday 14th May 2017
On 30th April I went with the West Midlands Bird Club to Cambridgeshire. The first stop was at RSPB Fowlmere where it was great to see and hear two Turtle Doves. By the time we arrived at the second stop, Paxton Pits, it was apparent that there had been an influx of Black Terns in the country, and one was reported at Paxton. There was unfortunately no sign of it, although the sight of up to 30 Common Terns was nice to see. I also dipped on Nightingale here but the numbers of warblers, especially the large number of Garden Warblers maintained interest. I eventually caught up with Black Term at WWT on 6th May.
A visit to Edge Common on 7th May produced three Duke of Burgundy butterflies and a few Dingy Skippers plus some Common Twayblade coming in to flower.
I had a mainly botanical afternoon at Siccaridge Wood on 12th May with the highlight being Lily of the Valley. I also noted lots of Sanicle and Wild Garlic plus a solitary Early Purple Orchid