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


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



Sunday 22nd May 2016
Duke of Burgundy, Edge Common, Glos.
This morning two Duke of Burgundy at Edge Common; the only other butterfly was an Orange Tip.
Duke of Burgundy
I also spotted lots of Common Twayblade just starting to flower.
Common Twayblade, Edge Common
At Burford this afternoon there were lots of Mayflies on the River Windrush.
Mayfly - I think Ephemera danica
Also at Burford, a Red Kite was soaring overhead.
Red Kite, Burford, Oxon


Iceland Gull, Nightingale and Others

Sunday 8th to Tuesday 10th May 2016
Iceland Gull, Longney Crib (in Grain-o-visionTM)
An immature Iceland Gull at Longney Crib on 10th May was nice to see after dipping it the previous evening. This late date bird was almost the same date as my sighting last year with Andy of an immature Iceland Gull seen on the river at WWT from the Holden Tower. 
On the local patch I recently managed to photograph this Nightingale, no mean feat!
Nightingale in full flow
On Sunday, an Amigos day out taking in Frampton and the Forest, 92 species, finished at WWT on a very warm afternoon, with very close views of a Common Sandpiper on WWT South Lake
Common Sandpiper, WWT
Common Sandpiper, WWT
These captions make the photos line up better



Monday 2nd May 2016
After finding a local Nightingale on Tuesday (26th April) near the canal, it has since moved nearer to my house. This short piece of film captures the song:


Cheshire Trip

Sunday 24th April 2016
Black-necked Grebe, Woolston Eyes
It's been a while since my last post, and that's just down to not getting round to it! Anyway, here are some highlights from my trip with the West Midlands Bird Club to Woolston Eyes NR and Burton Mere RSPB reserve in Cheshire on Sunday.
Woolston Eyes
At Woolston Eyes, sandwiched between the Manchester Ship canal and the Mersey, Black-necked Grebes are the star attraction. I noted 12, all in stunning breeding plumage. A designated SSSI, the reserve comprises four large lagoons or 'beds' used in rotation for depositing material dredged from the canal. A footbridge bridge crosses a redundant arm of the Mersey to Number 3 Bed, effectively an island surrounded by the river. Access in normally permit only - details: www.woolstoneyes.co.uk   
The footbridge, Woolston Eyes
Other highlights of the visit included a female Marsh Harrier and two adult Mediterranean Gulls, plus my first Reed Warbler of the year, and a good range of duck. The reserve is a stronghold for Willow Tit, but apart from some brief distant calls I didn't connect, not helped by the cold and damp weather during the morning visit.
Common Gull - one of at least two, apparently not a 'common' gull at Woolston
Female Marsh Harrier, Woolson Eyes
The weather perked up en route to Burton Mere, situated on the edge of the Dee Estuary on The Wirral. This RSPB reserve is part of the RSPB's Dee Estuary reserve covering more than 6,000 hectares and it's a fantastic place. The visitor centre gives views over the Reception Pool, and beyod, the Welsh bordercuts through a portion of the reserve. Highlights included nine Spotted Redshanks, all in dusky breeding attire, two Knot, 20+ Avocets, 200+ Black-tailed Godwits and nine Yellow Wagtails. I spotted among the Yellow Wagtail flock a nice male Blue-headed Wagtail. A Stoat was also nice to see. Thanks to Paul F. and the West Midland Bird Club for another great trip.
Burton Mere - the view from near Burton Point
The nine Spotted Redshanks, Burton Mere
The nine Yellow Wagtails; Blue-headed top left
The RSPB visitor centre at Burton Mere
Looking across the Dee Estuary saltmarsh from Burton Point
Bluebells, Burton Mere


February Highlights

Saturday 6th - Sunday 28th February
Great Grey Shrike, Crabtree Hill
The first trip of the month was to the Cotswold Water Park with Mark, and a long walk (nearly 6 miles) covering several pits looking for Smew. It hasn't been a good winter for Smew and we drew a blank, but year-ticked Goosander, Goldeneye and Red-crested Pochard.
Little Gull, Tack Piece, WWT
The next morning I spent at WWT Slimbidge. After a quiet couple of hours I was just leaving via the shop and happened to see Martin and Neil. They told me there was a Little Gull on the Tack Piece, so I headed straight there in time to see it. A Bar-tailed Godwit, which I had thus far missed, was also on the Tack Piece with the Black-tailed Godwits, so that was a nice bonus. I've seen the Barwit a couple of times since on South Lake.
Bar-tailed Godwit, South Lake, WWT
Bar-tailed Godwit, South Lake, WWT
The last two Saturday mornings I have spent carried out Winter Random Square Surveys. Last Saturday was Hock Cliff, and this Saturday I was surveying Ruspidge in the Forest. The Ruspidge survey turned up lots of Siskins, 70+, and two nice Bramblings. On the way back from Ruspidge I fitted in the GREEN-WINGED TEAL at Ashleworth Ham. The Teal was asleep most of the time and partially obscured, but thankfully did wake up a couple of times revealing its vertical white stripes.
Siskin, Ruspidge
Brambling, Ruspidge
Green-winged Teal, Ashleworth Ham
It was a trip back to the Forest this morning with Andy and Mark, covering Woorgreens - Crabtree Hill - Drybrook Road Station. It was generally rather quiet, the main highlights being a Goshawk and on the lake six Goosanders.
Goosanders, Woorgreens Lake (5 of the 6)