Fritillaries, Warblers, and other Highlights

Friday 10th - Tuesday 21st April 2015
Snake's Head Fritillaries, North Meadow, Cricklade
On Saturday afternoon, 18th, me and Linda made what has become an annual pilgrimage to admire the wild Snake's Head Frtillaries of North Meadow, Cricklade. In several years of visiting, I have never seen them look as stunning, the meadow a haze of purple; indeed a purple haze - see what I did there?
The town's St Samson's Church forms the backdrop in this shot
Thousands of plants in full flower
The white form is quite common amongst the chequered 'standard' type
The fascinating pattern of the dominant purple form
The morning high tide at Hock Ditch with Andy had been rather quiet, no waders, but a fine adult summer Mediterranean Gull was a year tick, floating somewhat distantly with c150 Black-headed Gulls. Going on to WWT Slimbridge afterwards was more productive with four Little Ringed Plovers and a White Wagtail around the Holden scrape, and an Egyptian Goose on the Rushy; the Pink-footed Goose was on the Tack Piece and the escaped Red-breasted Goose  of unknown origin was distant near Spartina Island with Canada Geese. On Sunday, the goose trio were all on the Tack Piece. Also on Sunday, 12 Ringed Plover, four Dunlin and two Little Stints were on the edge of the Dumbles at high tide, with a Common Seal on the river eating a large Mullet. Five Little Ringed Plovers were on the Holden scrape. A male Ruff attaining summer plumage was on South Lake with 102 Black-tailed Godwits.
Egyptian Goose - tick
Pink-foot - already ticked
Red-breasted Goose - can't tick that one
Recently-fledged Mistle Thrush, Cricklade churchyard, one of two, I hope they learned fear before falling prey to the church cat
In the evening, I caught up with a local Grasshopper Warbler and saw my first common Whitethroat of the year. I've year-ticked Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler on the local patch too. And - I year ticked Willow Warbler in my garden recently, on 10th April. I was pleased at seeing one in the front garden, and then found a further four Willow Warblers in the back garden - five at once, a fantastic sight and sound. One has continued to visit the garden and was there again this morning (21st).
Willow Warbler - this was the first I heard and then spotted
One of the back garden Willow Warblers
Willow Warbler again
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler
Chiffchaffs too have been regular garden visitors recently
My first White Wagtail of the year was one at NT Westbury Court Garden on 12th.
White Wagtail, National Trust Westbury Court Garden
Another of the White Wagtail
On the way back from a meeting in Weston-s-Mare late afternoon, I stopped off at Aust Warth, where a lovely Whinchat was present at Cake Pill with seven Wheatears.
Whinchat, Aust Warth - rather distant (full zoom/cropped), but a very smart individual
Cake Pill, Aust Warth
Back in the garden, insect visitors have included Red Mason Bees, investigating the bee hotel:


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