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 Hoverflies Episyrphus 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 every time the sun came out. Also, some Marmalade Hoverflies, Episyrphus balteatus, which hadn't been eaten yet by Reed Warblers, and Common Banded Hoverflies, Syrphus ribesii.
Essex Skipper:


Small Skipper:

Small Skipper with Common Red Soldier Beetle:

Let's talk antennae; Essex left, Small right:

Brown Argus:

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on Ragwort:

Common Red Soldier Beetle:

Marmalade Hoverfly on Great Mullein:

Common Banded Hoverfly:

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