12/07/2016

East Coast Excursions

Saturday 2nd - Sunday 10th July 2016
Puffin with puffling, Bempton Cliffs
On Sunday (10th) I went on another West Midland Bird Club field trip with 'Team Kestrel', this time to East Yorkshire. First stop was RSPB Bempton Cliffs, and what a treat. This was my first visit here, and I can't remember how long I have wanted to go. The impressive hard chalk cliffs here are home to nesting Puffins, Gannets (only mainland breeding colony in England I believe), Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Fulmars. It was also nice seeing c10 Tree Sparrows around the visitor centre feeders - they seem to have disappeared from Gloucestershire. I heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling briefly from long grass near one of the cliff viewpoints, the first of the year for me.
Puffin, Bempton
Puffin, Bempton
Puffin, Bempton
Puffin, Bempton
Gannets, Bempton
Gannet, Bempton
Gannet chick, Bempton
Guillemots, Bempton
Guillemots, Bempton
Fulmars, Bempton
Kittiwake with young, Bempton
Razorbills, Bempton
Tree Sparrow, Bempton
Tree Sparrow, Bempton
Part of one of the Gannet colonies, Bempton
Bempton Cliffs
Bempton Cliffs
Bempton Cliffs
Bempton Cliffs
The second port of call was another new site for me, RSPB Blacktoft Sands. This reserve of tidal reedbed fringes the River Ouse just before it is joined by the Trent to form the Humber.The highlights included 2+ Bearded Tits seen from Marshland Hide, with one bird, a juvenile, spending around 10 minutes in view picking on the mud in front of the reedbed. The other highlights on the reserve were two adult moulting Spotted Redshanks, a Hobby, 4+ Marsh Harriers (at least one male and one female and two juveniles), five Green Sandpipers and more Tree Sparrows. A excellent day out, and thanks to Paul F, Matt, Amanda, Steve and Andy for the company.
Juvenile Bearded Tit (I think a male), Blacktoft Sands
Spotted Redshanks, Blacktoft Sands
View from Xerox Hide, Blacktoft Sands
The Saturday before (2nd) I went with Richard and Mike on a twitch to the north Norfolk coast. We checked out Holme for the target bird without success, just a few Sanderling and Dunlin.  So on to RSPB Titchwell Marsh. On arrival, positive news on the pager, and before long we were in the Parrinder Hide watching the GREAT KNOT. This adult bird in breeding plumage is a superb-looking bird, with colours reminiscent of Turnstone; noticeably bigger than the accompanying 1,500 Red Knot and with a proportionately small head. An adult Mediterranean Gull, Marsh Harrier and an immature Spoonbill added to a great trip. At least one Chinese Water Deer was to the west of the main path. I can recommend Thornham Deli where we had a delicious breakfast. Thanks Richard and Mike - super driving Richard, and back home in time for afternoon tea.
Great Knot, Titchwell
Great Knot, Titchwell
Nope, it's not here at Holme Dunes
View towards the Knot flock on Fresh Marsh from Parrinder Hide, Titchwell

A few other recent natural observations below nearer to home of the Odonata kind including a first for me, Small Red-eyed Damselfly:
Small Red-eyed Damselfy, Highnam Court
Small Red-eyed Damselfies, Highnam Court
Four-spotted Chaser, Highnam Court
Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Woorgreens
Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Woorgreens

23/06/2016

Isle of Wight

Tuesday 7th - Saturday 11th June 2016
Glanville Fritillary, Compton Bay
Here are some highlights from my recent holiday on the Isle of Wight staying in Shanklin: Glanville Fritillaries at Compton Bay, Wall Lizards at Ventnor, Red Squirels at the hotel, Painted Ladies everywhere, and generally everything else - I do love the IoW.
Glanville Fritillary, Compton Bay
Glanville Fritillary, Compton Bay on Sea Thrift
Compton Bay
Ribwort Plantain, Compton Bay, Glanville Fritillary larval foodplant
Painted Lady, Shanklin
Bee Orchid, Shanklin
Diamond-back Moth, Sandown
Southern Marsh Orchid, Shanklin
Common Spotted-orchid, Osborne House
Wall Lizard, Ventnor Botanic Garden
Wall Lizard, Ventnor Botanic Garden
Red Squirrel, Shanklin
Red Squirrel, Shanklin
Wall Brown, Ventnor Downs
Speckled Yellow, Ventnor Downs

05/06/2016

Heath Fritillary at Haddon Hill

Sunday 5th June 2016
Heath Fritillary, Haddon Hill, Somerset
The forecast looked ideal, but when I arrived at Haddon Hill it was, although bright and warm, cloudy. The roads showed signs of it having rained earlier. This wasn't what I wanted. An initial search for the rare butterfly I had come to see was fruitless; just a couple of Small Heaths.I found lots of Common Cow-wheat, the food plant of the target species. Tree Pipits, Stonechats, a Willow Warbler and a singing Redstart provided further interest. With conditions not improving I adjourned to the main car park to eat me picnic and check the weather app. It didn't look promising despite the glorious weather I had left behind, but I went for another look. Patches of blue sky were beginning to appear, and my spirit raised. This butterfly is only active in bright sunshine and at last. this was appearing. A Green Hairstreak fluttered by and landed close by. And then, at last, a Heath Fritillary. It was the only one I saw, but it was enough, and was very obliging, allowing close study, Eventually it moved on. Another Green Hairstreak appeared, it was getting very warm now.
The underwing is exquisite, as in other Fritillaries
This individual, a female, was very fresh looking
Another underwing shot
The Heath Fritillary site at Haddon Hill
Common Cow-wheat
Green Hairstreak