Showing posts from July, 2011

One Day of Surveying Left for the BTO Atlas

Saturday 30th July 2011

Above: juvenile Siskin at Oakenhill
After four winters and four summers, tomorrow is the final day of surveying for the new BTO Atlas project. I have spent most of my birding in recent weeks looking for evidence of breeding, usually being able to confirm breeding by spotting recently-fledged birds like the Siskin above photographed at Oakenhill today. My first priority was SO81, being square steward for the 10km square, and being where I live. Many of the confirmed breeding species in my local tetrad SO81B have been as a result of garden observations, for example, nesting Blue Tits, Great Tits, Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons, and recently-fledged Robin, Blackbird, Goldfinch and Blackcap.

Having achieved (with of course the the invaluable help of the many tetradders and rovers) at least 15 confirmed breeding species in each of the 25 SO81 tetrads, in the last couple of weeks I have been, with the help of Mark and Andy, turning my attention to SO50 and SO60 in the…

Alney Island

Sunday 17th July 2011

Above: Essex Skipper
After an unpromising wet start this morning, I headed for Alney Island specifically to try and confirm breeding Reed Warbler for BTO Atlas square SO81. I eventually came across a pair of Reed Warlbers on Castle Meads (I thought I was on Port Ham until I checked the map later) foraging for insects among the Willows and Himalayan Balsam next to the River Severn. After watching the pair for some time, the male turned up with a beakful of insects, including two Marmalade HoverfliesEpisyrphus balteatus, still managing the odd burst of song (below). This is the only confirmation of breeding Reed Warbler within SO81 over the four-year Atlas recording period, and it's cool to think that my record will therefore appear on the map for that species, as a square or dot, when the book is published.
Reed Warbler:

Nearby I saw my first Essex Skippers of the year, along with some Small Skippers; these little butterflies seemed to immediately materialise ever…

Purple Emperor, and others, Oversley Wood

Sunday 3rd July 2011

I met up with my friend Paul from Solihull this morning, at a site in Warwickshire he had heard about through Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire. The guided walk at Oversley Wood, near Alcester, was excellent, and I am grateful to Mike Slater for a brilliant couple of hours seeing some special butterflies. I found the only Purple Emperor(above and below), as it was extracting minerals from the path ahead. This was almost at the end of the walk - we had all but given up on seeing one, but thankfully struck gold!

Also seen, c7 White Admirals, c6 Purple Hairstreaks, 4 White-letter Hairstreaks and 8+ Silver-washed Fritillaries, plus Comma, Red Admiral, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, and a Brimstone.
Purple Hairstreak:

White Admiral:

Silver-washed Fritillary:

Dark Green Fritillaries at Rudge Hill NR

Saturday 2nd July 2011

After doing some atlas work on SO81K (Huddinknoll Hill) with Mark, finding breeding evidence for several species, we stopped off at nearby Rudge Hill NR (Edge Common). Several Dark Green Fritillaries were on the wing, but rarely stopping, and without my DSLR I was unable to get any photos. So I had to return this afternoon, and thankfully did get some pics of these beautiful butterflies (above and below), seeing at least six in total.

The common was teeming with Marbled Whites, occupying it seemed just about every Great Knapweed flower, and Meadow Browns and Ringlets, plus Small Skippers, Large Skippers, Small Heaths and Small Tortoiseshells. Also four Scarlet Tiger moths, two of which were mating, and a displaying Tree Pipit.
Marbled White, Rudge Hill NR:

Small Skipper, Rudge Hill NR:

Large Skipper, Rudge Hill NR:

Scarlet Tiger, Rudge Hill NR:

Nettle-leaved Bellflower, Huddinknoll Hill:

Greater Knapweed, Huddinknoll Hill: