Monday, August 12, 2019

πŸ“– Summer Leys & Napton Hill

⛅️18C Monday 12th August 2019 ~With a small lens issue to resolve, I had to pop over to Skears Photographic in Northampton this morning. Thankfully, my problem was solved pretty quickly and this gave me an excellent opportunity to pay a short visit to the nearby Summer Leys Nature Reserve just a short drive away.

Great Egret showing exceptionally well from the Pioneer Hide
Although things were generally quiet around the pools and wader scrape a Great White Egret was showing exceptionally well from the Pioneer Hide. Only other birds of note during my brief visit were a Common TernRinged Plover and Little Egret.

An obliging Spotted Flycatcher at Napton
Back on the local patch in the afternoon, I had a stroll around Napton Hill to see if I could connect with a reported Common Redstart. The Hill is a good place to see Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers in the mid to late summer and it was good to catch up with probably the same four Flycatchers I'd photographed ten days ago.

One of four Spotted Flycatcher at Napton Hill today
These birds are remarkably obliging and were happy to just let me sit close by photographing them while they went about their business.

Common Redstart keeping her distance
However, the Common Redstart was a little less showy and only came close enough for me to take a number of records shots.

More Images of the Day...

Brown Hawker at Summer Leys NR
Antonov An~12BP Ukraine Air Alliance out of Birmingham gains height over Napton Hill

Database uploads...

Thursday, August 08, 2019

πŸ“– RSPB Otmoor ~ Brown Hairstreaks

☀️23C Thursday 8th August 2019 ~ With the weather set to deteriorate over the coming days a morning at RSPB Otmoor in Oxfordshire on Thursday to enjoy what's left of this weeks sunshine.

Brown Hairstreak from today's visit
This is an annual visit in search of the elusive Brown Hairstreak Butterfly. Out of all the Hairstreaks I chase down each year, this to me is always the one I have to work harder for to obtain any half-decent photos, I normally just end up with some good record shots. They spend most of their lives basking in the treetops feeding on aphid honeydew. The larval foodplant is Blackthorn but I tend to have the best results searching large Ash trees. These are known as the 'Master Tree' were the males will congregate to await the females.

At Otmoor the best place (see above) seems to be along the 'Roman Road' an area to the rear of the main car park. PDF Site Map HERE

A few more images of Brown Hairstreak from today's visit
Once again it was particularly hard work but patience paid off with perhaps 5/6 seen which included both sexes. From a birding perspective, there was no sign of any Turtle Doves today, a regular here but a nice Common Redstart by the bridleway gate near the MOD land was a bonus.

Nice image of today's Redstart by @fishburglar Andy who was faster on the trigger than me today!

Friday, August 02, 2019

πŸ“– Brandon & Napton Visits

⛅️ 23C Friday 2nd August 2019 ~ I began the day at Brandon Marsh, which considering the influx of waders making landfall and large movements over the previous week, in particular, Wood Sandpipers, Brandon has failed to produce anything of note on the pools once again. After an hour in the hides at East Marsh, where the best I could muster was a single Little-ringed Plover I found the woodlands and meadows much more productive, and a lot cooler.

A juvenile Blackcap taking a breather in Horsetail Glade, Brandon today
Lots of young birds foraging in Horsetail Glade with Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff also noted.

One of five Painted Lady resting on a Greater Burdock plant today
This is really turning out to be 'an emergence year' for the charismatic Painted Lady Butterfly, with not only Continental European arrivals but lots of home-grown ones too. They can currently be seen anywhere around the reserve and on the 'Tip' area I recorded at least twenty, five on one plant of Greater Burdock alone! Peacocks are also in good numbers now too, plus (5) Brown Argus, lots of worn Ringlets and Meadow Browns with a few second-generation Common Blues beginning to appear.

One of at least four Spotted Flycatchers at Napton
After a number of visits to Napton-on-the- Hill over the previous few weeks in search of Spotted Flycatchers, I was delighted today to finally see four newly fledged birds when I stopped on route home.

Spotted Flycatcher
I spent a good while watching the birds constantly flycatching and calling to each other before reluctantly dragging myself away, a real pleasure to watch!

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher ~ Always obliging for the camera and great fun to watch

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

πŸ“– RSPB Lincolnshire ~ Sandpipers!

☀️☁️ πŸŒ§πŸ’¨ 18C Wednesday 31st July 2019 ~ An early morning start at RSPB Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire with John Raven and Geoff Hood, primarily in search of two reported White-rumped Sandpipers.

A thriving population of Tree Sparrow at Freiston
The day began with heavy rain on the route from Brandon Marsh but this thankfully subsided to light rain showers and overcast laden skies on arrival at Freiston. After parking, we walked the short distance to the viewing screen at the reservoir. There's a good population of Tree Sparrows along this route and with plenty of activity around their nest boxes, it would seem they've had a good year. However, the eye was drawn immediately to the unprecedented Common Swift passage overhead, a trend which would continue throughout the day.

White-rumped Sandpipers ~ Brilliant views of these scarce UK visitors!
Once at the viewing screen we couldn't believe our luck with the two White-rumped Sandpipers showing directly in front. On top of this, we managed to count no less than (10) Wood Sandpipers, (2) Curlew Sandpipers, (2) Common Sandpipers, (5) Green Sandpipers, (2) Greenshank, plus single Snipe, Little-ringed Plover and Redshank. While here Curlew and (4) Common Terns were also noted in flight.

White-rumped Sandpiper ~ A species which breeds in the tundra of Alaska & Canada
After spending an hour enjoying the spectacle at the reservoir we walked back to the main lagoon, pausing at the hide briefly. The lagoon was particularly quiet with just Little Grebe, (2) Common Sandpipers and (3) Common Terns of note. From here we headed on to the seawall, where we spent time under the shelter of the wooden shack which overlooks the saltmarsh.

Wood Sandpiper ~ One of 10 at Freiston today!
There was plenty of activity out to sea and along the shoreline but like nearby Frampton Marsh, the water only reaches the bank during extremely hide tides. That said Geoff scoped a number of Common Scoters, which were preening along the tideline, one of which, showing its distinct white wing bars was a Velvet Scoter. Other species of note included (3) Grey Plover, Marsh Harrier and a small number of Little Egrets, Curlews, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. As the rain began to fall we headed back to the car park.

Curlew Sandpipers at Freiston
By the time we reached a very quiet RSPB Frampton Marsh, there was plenty of brightness around but unfortunately, the wind had increased considerably. Nevertheless, we took a circular tour taking in the seawall and all three hides but the conditions were challenging. Once again huge numbers of Common Swifts, along with many Sand Martins but much fewer Swallows and I didn't personally manage a single House Martin!  Further additions to the day-list during our stay included (5) SpoonbillBlack-necked Grebe, Ruff and Yellow Wagtail. Despite recent sightings of Long-billed Dowitcher, we were not surprised to 'dip' on this particular species in the conditions.

More Images of the Day...

Common Snipe

White-rumped Sandpiper

Site Details... PDF file can be found 'HERE'

Database uploads...

Plants: Meadow Vetchling, Common Sunflower, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Chicory
Fungus: Pale Brittlestem

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

πŸ“– Aston Rowant NR

☀️32C Tuesday 23rd May 2019 ~A drop off at Heathrow airport this morning gave me the perfect opportunity for a quick visit to Aston Rowant Nature Reserve on route home.

Silver-spotted Skipper ~ From last years visit to Aston Rowant NR
Perched high on the Chilterns escarpment, the reserve contains flower-rich chalk grassland, woodland and juniper scrub. There are fantastic views over the Oxford plain (which unfortunately includes the busy M40 motorway) and it's a great place to watch Red Kites soaring overhead. However, it's also an excellent place to see Silver-spotted Skipper Butterfly and during last years visit on July 25th they were plentiful with 32 recorded.

One of a good number of Chalk-hill Blue
Similar to last years visit it was a sweltering and cloudless day with the temperature around 32C. The hill looked stunning with an array of wildflowers including great clumps of Oregano, plus Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids. I spent a good 90-minutes enjoying the many Chalk Hill Blues but unlike last year I only managed two Silver-spotted Skippers, both in my binoculars and flying off as I approached before I managed to secure a photo. There were a dozen Common Blues and although I didn't complete more individual counts I'll list all species noted at the end of the journal.

Originally ID'd as Chalk-hill Blue could this be Anonis Blue?
When I tweeted my sightings on the day I'd noted that there were no Adonis Blue's but on reflection one photograph in particular maybe a female Adonis? I'll check this out with my goto guys (they know who they are πŸ˜‰) However, with no images of the upper hind wing this may prove difficult, plus males are usually out first and there was no sign today!

Butterfly Species Noted:

Large White, Small White, Brimstone, Chalk-hill Blue, Common Blue, Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Silver-spotted Skipper (2)

Other Images Of The Day...

Lots of beautiful Oregano at the lower end of the escarpment

I think this is Small Scabious ~ Scabiosa columbaria

Clustered Bellflower ~ Campanula glomerata


Thursday, July 18, 2019

πŸ“– 10-year Butterfly Review πŸ¦‹

As my blog is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary I thought it would be a good time to completely review and reminisce on my many trips across Europe & North America. While doing so and looking over numerous unpublished images I found that one area, in particular, required closer inspection.

My trips to Northern and Southern Spain, France and other European destinations over this period have primarily concentrated on birding and this was the area that took priority. Notwithstanding I've photographed and observed many Butterflies over this period and frankly I've been found wanting when it comes to logging and identifying these amazing insects.

After a complete review, I have now produced a personal database of my European Butterfly listings and can publish some of the images that never quite made it onto the original blog posts. As I post I'm still in the process of identifying many of my images but below is the database thus far as of July 18th 2019.

Naturally, if I'm lucky enough to identify new species already in my files, or indeed additions to my 'life-list' these too will be added onto the database, so look out for updates in the database listings above!

ADDITIONS TO DATABASE Since Original Post (Thursday July 18th 2019)