Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diary Update #37

 Thursday 20th July 2017 ~ Thought I'd give the local patch a look today, with a good search of the marina, Napton Hill and Napton Reservoir!

Excellent year for ~ Reed Warbler
It's been another excellent year at the marine for Reed Warblers, with several broods noted flitting around the reeds and even now birds are singing, often through the night, in truth a little annoying when we happen to be moored right next to the reeds. However, this is easily remedied by turning the boat around for the duration so that the bedroom is furthest away 😴

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat is another of the marina's regular nesting birds, but thus far, despite birds singing regularly, no sign of any fledgelings.

Spotted Flycatchers back at Napton
Napton-on-the-Hill was particularly quiet with only a distant view of a Common Redstart across the fields, plus a couple of local Ravens. However, just as I was giving up hope of seeing the first Spotted Flycatchers of the year a group of noisy individuals in the tree canopy got my attention. In fact a family group of at least four youngsters, along with the parent.

Black-tailed Skimmer
Napton Reservoir produced two Common Terns, Yellow Wagtail and as per usual Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly's seemed abundant.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Diary Update #36

☀️ Monday 17th July 2017 ~ I've not had much chance recently to get out a little further afield so decided it was time to make amends. With the Bee-eaters at East Leake, Nottinghamshire still in residence and the sun set to shine I thought why not!

One of four Bee-eaters at East Leake
I have to say that of the few 'twitches' I've attended this one was very well organised! Five quid for the car parking (split between RSPB and the farmer apparently) and once pointed in the right direction a 15-minute hike has you at the viewing area! Today only around 15 or so were there to witness this rare UK treat. Four birds were showing very nicely, although at distance and happily feeding, returning to the same preferred tall tree and offering some record shots for posterity!

Another record shot!
On the trek back to the car park a Lesser Whitethroat in song and at least three Yellow Wagtails, although I suspect there were more.

White Admiral to the year list!
Where to next? With the sun still shining and plenty left of the day a quick plot on my GPS had me heading for Fermyn Woods Country Park, Northants in search of Purple Emperor butterfly! A couple of enjoyable hours here and a nice selection of butterflies and dragonflies. Unfortunately, despite some tree top sightings of Purple Emporer I never managed to find a ground dwelling one for that record shot.

Silver-washed Fritillary
Still, 18 species of butterflies is a decent haul, including White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary and Purple Emporer to add to the year list!

Southern Hawker at Fermyn Woods

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Diary Update #35

☔  Sunday 16th July 2017 ~ Visits to Brandon Marsh last Friday and today and frankly with the amount of disruption both on the pools and in the reedbeds, which seems to occur daily these days, I'm always surprised to find anything of interest during my visits to the hides! This is one reason why I've adopted the idea of bypassing them in favour of exploring the woods and meadows that Brandon's diversity provides.

Small Copper ~ River Meadow
Friday, despite cloudy skies I managed a nice selection of butterflies and moths, particularly around River Meadow, where a single Purple Hairstreak was along the treeline.  The meadow itself provided the usual array of Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies. Five Small Copper but no sign on this occasion of any Marbled White, doing so well this year. Gatekeepers are in abundance now and another butterfly seemingly doing well, Red Admiral, with 15 sightings throughout the reserve!

Shaded Broad-bar
I'm spending more time seeking out moths, for me a real learning curve and came across Common Carpet and Shaded Broad-bar, feel free to correct my ID at any time! Both Six-spot Burnet and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet could be found along the 'Tip', plus several Cinnabar. Dragonfly's included: Brown Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer and both Ruddy and Common Darter.

Gorgeous Broadleaf Helleborine

Today, no surprise to find East Marsh pool disrupted once more, ringing birds seem to take priority, to the detriment of any visitor but to be honest, my visit was mainly to catch up with the Sunday regulars! After a brief spell in East Marsh hide a walk over to the 'Tip' area and River Meadow.

Broadleaf Helleborine ~ Lovely shade loving Orchid!
On route, a look at a nice specimen of Broadleaf Helleborine, so often bypassed by visitors and despite the rain now falling, a couple of Common Blues on the 'Tip', possibly 2nd generation and a welcome find (pretty scarce on the reserve this year!)

Green Lacewing
Purple Hairstreak once more along the River Meadow treeline and an opportunity to photograph a Green Lacewing near the Farm reedbed ended another frustrating visit!

Purple Hairstreak ~ River Meadow

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diary Update #34

⛅   Sunday 9th July 2017 ~ A nice cruise back to our home mooring on Sunday evening after an enjoyable stay out on the canal.

Grass Snake ~ Amazing swimmers!
On the cruise home Dee managed a nice photo of a Grass Snake swimming alongside the boat.

⛅   Monday 10th July 2017 ~ I decided on a visit to Brandon Marsh today, arriving a little after 10:30am. As per usual these days I spend little time in the hides, preferring to tour the woods and meadows, which are less disrupted!! Despite the overcast conditions there was still plenty on offer and after passing through Horsetail Glade, where I encountered a family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, I took time out at the bench. Scanning the surrounding vegetation I was a little surprised to find a White-letter Hairstreak, not in the best condition I might add but a species I've not encountered in this area before.

White-letter Hairstreak opposite the Horsetail Bench!
From here a walk to the Ted Jury hide with stops at East Marsh and Teal Pool hides along the way. As predicted nothing too much of note, four Common Terns and two recently fledged Little-ringed Plover the best on offer!

Juvenile Grey Wagtail 
On route across to the 'Tip' area a juvenile Grey Wagtail along Goose Tail posed kindly for a few photos. The 'Tip' had plenty to offer with at least four Six-spot Burnet moths, a trio of Mint Moths and my first Brandon Gatekeepers, baring in mind I haven't visited for a few weeks!

Six-spot Burnet moth
I bypassed River Meadow on this occasion (too breezy), instead continuing on around the farm area and top reedbeds. Still plenty of Marbled White butterflies, enjoying a bumper year it would seem but yet again not a single Common Blue, sadly the other end of the spectrum!!

One of a trio of Mint Moths

Sneaky peek at a young Dunnock

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Diary Update #33

☀️  Thursday 6th July 2017 ~ Each year around this time a family of Common Terns appear at the marina and usually hang around for a week or two. I can only image that the fishing is pretty good, with plenty around the marina compounds and at Napton Reservoir, just a brief flight across the canal. In recent years I've managed to establish that these birds, amazingly had been ringed at Brandon Marsh.

A Brandon Marsh Common Tern 
It was no surprise therefore that after mentioning the ring configuration on one of the birds to Jim Rushforth (Brandon Ringer) it appears that once again we have a Brandon visitor. Sadly one of the rings, which should appear on the left leg and would depict the year of birth had unfortunately been shed.

A ringless youngster!
As for the youngster, well this bird has no ring and so knowing Jim's enthusiasm for such things I can only conclude that the adults, for this year at least have nested elsewhere!

With things beginning to return to some normality after Mums funeral Dee and I decided to take our first cruise of the year, out to our favourite spot at Flecknoe! Talking of Mum, thank you so much to everyone who took time to text, whatsapp, tweet and even send cards to the marina, it's very much appreciated.

The cruise took around 90 minutes and with the temperature in the high 20's there was plenty of insects on the wing. These included no end of Banded Demoiselle and the odd Horse-fly!! A nice selection of  butterflies included Meadow Brown, Small, Large and Green-veined White. As I was coming under the road bridge at the A425 a Red Kite drifted north and I suspect the same bird was seen later in the day over our mooring.

Yellowhammer ~ A constant companion at the current mooring!
The usual farmland birds were encountered and included Linnet, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Red-legged Partridge and more Greenfinch than I recall.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Diary Update #32

⛅  Friday 30th June 2017  ~ I began at the East Marsh and Teal Pool Hides, where there is now water after the recent rain and ended up with a reasonable wader count. These included (3) Redshank and (3) Green Sandpipers on Teal Pool and an eventual count on East Marsh Pool of single Little Egret, Ringed Plover, (5) Little-ringed Plover and no less than (7) Oystercatcher, when a few invaders flew in causing mayhem among the resident birds! There was plenty of Kingfisher activity, with birds back and forth during my stay in the hides and of course plenty of young passerines too, with (7) Teal on the pool also notable. While in the Teal Pool hide Swift numbers were well into the 30's. Ted Jury Hide had the resident Kestrel family perched around the adopted Barn Owl box, (2) Buzzard and at least one active Hobby.

One of three Green Sandpiper on Teal Pool
A warmer day than of late meant that despite the lack of sunshine there were plenty of odonata, bugs and butterflies on the wing and so the rest of my visit was spent investigating.

Narrow-bordered Five Spot Burnet Moth
I enjoyed my packed lunch on the Horsetail Glade bench and while here Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Comma and a single Small Tortoiseshell, the later not too common at the moment. Talking of uncommon butterflies another complete blank on Common Blue and Peacock throughout the reserve during my stay!

White-letter Hairstreak ~ Usual spot along the meadow treeline!
The 'Old Tip' area and River Meadow next, the tip producing at least 3 Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet and several Cinnabar moths. River Meadow was bristling with Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies and in the usual tree (4 consecutive years now) my annual look at White-letter Hairstreak! A Lesser Whitethroat was singing most of the time along the river line while here!

Essex Skipper ~ River Meadow
A closer look at River Meadow produced (6) Small Skipper, (2) Large Skipper and a single Essex Skipper and a butterfly that is doing extremely well on the reserve is the Marbled White, with twelve recorded on the meadow and several more around other areas! Dragonfly's noted: Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer and Brown Hawker.

Excellent year for Marbled White across the reserve
Finally a walk around the Farm Meadow and top reedbeds produced a young Fox cub, presumed more around, a single Small Heath butterfly and flyby Hobby!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Diary Update #31

 Thursday 29th June 2017 ~ My annual visit to RSPB Otmoor in Oxfordshire today, mainly to catch up with the resident Turtle Doves.

Obliging Turtle Dove
An overcast and chilly day with occasional drizzle but immediately upon arrival in the car park the wonderful sound of a purring Turtle Dove! However, I never quite managed to make contact with this particular individual, too far off but I was confident I'd find one along the track near the bridge and feeding areas.

Turtle Dove ~ A closer view!
I took the visitor trail towards the feeders before heading west, finishing up at the 'Wetlands Watch Lookout'. Although a little chilly and dank at times it was an enjoyable walk with Little Egret, Greenshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and a trio of Red Kites, but the highlight had to be a drumming Common Snipe overhead. Plenty of young warblers as you'd expect, plus the odd flyby Common Tern but it wasn't until I made the return trip until I finally connected with my Turtle Dove! I watched a single bird fly in, which obligingly landed on top of a telegraph pole to pose for photos! Heading back to the car park a reeling Grasshopper Warbler to end an enjoyable visit!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Diary Update #30

⛅  Monday 26th June 2017  ~  With many trips back and forth to Liverpool more recently and so much to organise it was the first time I'd managed to venture out since Mum passed away on June 17th ~ RIP Mum a great innings at nearly 97!

Plenty of Red-eyed Damselfly on Goose Pool
The weather was perfect at Brandon Marsh today not overly hot, nice breeze and bright enough for many butterflies and odonata to be on the wing. I spend little time in the hides at this time of year, preferring to concentrate on the bugs and flora! That said what little time I did spend produced a couple of Hobby, PeregrineLittle Egret and a Lesser Whitethroat was singing across from the Ted Jury Hide!

It would seem that thus far this year it's been a great season for our nesting species, with lots of young birds throughout the reserve. Many butterflies to be found including a trio of Skipper with Large, Small and a single Essex recorded. Marbled Whites seemed abundant today with Comma and even Red Admiral in good numbers. Worryingly not a single Common Blue to be found anywhere on the reserve but I did manage my first Purple Hairstreak in the usual treeline along river meadow.

Pyramidal Orchid ~ Anacamptis pyramidalis
Last year saw the first Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis on the reserve and today in almost the same location stood another example. There are plenty of Common Spotted Orchid to be found too, along with the odd Bee Orchid!

Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp ~ Carlton path!
Along the path to the Carlton Hide a half dozen Ornate-tailed Digger Wasps were very active. Thanks to Dave Mount, who identified these last year and passed the information on.

Dragonflies should get a mention today with Black-tailed Skimmer, Migrant Hawker and Brown Hawker noted!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diary Update #29

☀️  Wednesday 14th June 2017  ~  Sadly my mum isnt too well at the moment and so in between numerous trips up to Liverpool I managed my first extended Brandon Marsh visit today in glorious sunshine.

Mating Speckled Wood
With the birds busy nesting I spent my time touring the woods and meadows and didn't bother visiting the hides. Despite the glorious conditions I have to say that the amount of butterflies on the wing was very disappointing. In fact I spent a little while on River Meadow with John Osborne, who was completing a butterfly transect and he confirmed that the numbers were of concern. We did manage various counts of Meadow Brown and Ringlet, plus around a dozen or so Chimney Sweeper moths, Banded Demoiselle were abundant and a single Emperor Dragonfly was on the the River Avon. Along the treeline a year first Brown Hawker!

Large Skipper ~ Horsetail Glade
Lunch in Horsetail Glade around the bench area and here a Hairy Dragonfly, along with a couple of Large Skippers and single Grass Snake. Some juvenile Treecreepers were spending a lot of time around the fallen trees and it seems that a pair of Jays have also been nesting in the area, a distant Cuckoo was also heard!

One of three Small Heath on Farm Field
The dipping pond adjacent to the old tool store produced Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly, plus Large Red, Azure and Common Blue damselfly and I also completed a full circle around the top reed beds and farm area, recording of note Marbled White and three Small Heath, but once more numbers were disappointing!

Female Banded Demoiselle

[oedemera nobilis] a type of Flower Beetle

Black-tailed Skimmer in volunteers car park!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Diary Update #10 🇨🇦 2017

✈️   Tuesday 30th May 2017 🇬🇧  ~ I'm now sitting back aboard the boat just after midnight recovering from our nine hour flight back from Vancouver and reflecting on what's been another superb adventure to Alaska and Canada.

View over Stanley Park Vancouver

☀️  Friday 26th May 2017 🇨🇦   ~ The last few days of our holiday were spent enjoying the amazing weather, with temperatures well into the mid twenties and cloudless blue skies. The slogan 'Beautiful British Columbia' depicted on car number plates around here could not have been more appropriate!

Nesting Osprey on the pylons at Maplewood!
Black-tailed Deer at Maplewood Flats
We've spent more time with Derek and mixed our days between visiting more touristy areas and some of our favourite birding hotspots such as Maplewood Flats Conservation area, where both nesting Purple Martins and Ospreys can be found. Lynn Canyon, one of Dee's favourite parks in West Vancouver, with its stunning waterfalls and huge Cedar trees produced the usual American Dippers.

Turkey Vulture soars over Squamish
Rufous Hummingbird at Squamish ~ Photo by Dee..

☀️  Saturday 27th May 2017 🇨🇦   ~ Today we drove the fifty or so miles out to Squamish. With its estuary, fast flowing river, waterfall and superb marsh trails it's a great place to explore. Dee was of course delighted to see River Otters and the birding produced some good diversity with Rufous HummingbirdsCaspian Terns, Belted Kingfisher, Swainson's Thrush, Turkey Vulture, Purple Finch, Cedar Waxwings and Great Blue Heron, all part of a real variety of species.

Double-crested Cormorants ~ Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park

Red-eared Slider ~ The Lost Lagoon
☀️  Sunday 28th May 2017 🇨🇦   With our flight not until the late afternoon we spent the morning in Stanley Park, not the place to explore on a 'Blue Sky Sunday', with cyclists, joggers and walkers teeming all around but somewhere you really have to spend time during any visit to Vancouver. That said a walk around the Lost Lagoon and English Bay produced Red-eared Slider, Racoon, Common Merganser, both Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants and the park the usual Wood DucksBlack Squirrels and Anna's Hummingbird, recently voted the new City Bird of Vancouver!

Female Red-winged Blackbird ~ Iona Beach

Male Red-winged Blackbird ~ Iona Beach
Our final destination was Iona Beach, quite handily on the western end of the airport. We'd started our visit to Vancouver here and so would end our latest visit here. Both Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds gave some astonishing close views, a noisy Pied-billed Grebe, the torpedos of the lagoons here and the nesting Purple Martins always a treat and of course before we knew it, it was time for home!

More Trip Images...

Purple Martin at Iona Beach ~ Photo by Dee...

Yellow-headed Blackbird ~ Iona Beach ~ Photo by Dee...

Cedar Waxwing ~ Sporting new sun glasses!
Wood Duck ~ Lost Lagoon

Great Blue Heron ~ Lost Lagoon