Monday, June 22, 2015

Brandon Summer Away-Day

Another full mini-bus and a summer away-day with the Brandon Marsh team, this time with visits to a couple of RSPB reserves: Blacktoft Sands in Yorkshire's East Riding and Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire.

Record shot of ♀Montague's Harrier at Blacktoft Sands - Thanks to John Osbourne for his image!
A pretty painless drive to Blacktoft, arriving shortly after 9am and after checking in at the reserve centre to gather some information, off to the hides. One of the star attractions here are a pair of Montague's Harriers and during our stay the female showed well on occasions, unfortunately mostly at distance, but what a stunning bird to behold. The icing on the cake would have been the male of the pair, but it turned out to be one of those days we're he remained elusive!

Tree Sparrows nesting in the Blacktoft Car park
Other highlights of the visit included Common Tern, Curlew, Little Egret, some cracking Marsh Harrier food passes, nesting Tree sparrows in the car park and three summer plumage Spotted Redshank. We departed after lunch around 1pm, dipping on the recent Ring-necked Duck and weren't surprised to see the bird reported later in day, along with a visiting Red-necked Phalarope!!

Painted Lady - Stunning example just outside the centre at Frampton
After lunch a drive over to Frampton Marsh for the remainder of the afternoon seemed to coincide with some hefty downpours. Before the rain one of only three butterflies seen today, with the above very pristine looking Painted Lady.

Distant record of Mediterranean Gull taken with phone to scope!
The birding, considering the time of year was very good and included some superb summer plumage species such as Spotted Redshank, Ruff and Mediterranean Gull. Other waders on the day included Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit. Also of note Common Tern, Little Egret and Pink-footed Goose, the latter possibly an injured bird from the winter.

Finally, as tradition has it a stop on route home for a fish & chip supper at Grantham was a great end to another brilliant day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Routine

It's been a while since I updated so I thought for continuity purposes I'd do more of a pictorial to keep the posts live. To be honest after the mayhem of the recent Grey Phalarope at Brandon Marsh things have settled into a normal summer schedule for me. Boat chores, butterflies, dragonfly's etc. That said most of the action has in fact taken place north of the county, where a Melodious Warbler is singing and showing well. Some excellent photos to be found on social media.

Turtle Dove - Wonderful to catch up with a couple of these gorgeous birds on my travels!
Four-spotted Chaser on one of the dipping ponds at Brandon!
I've stayed local, along with visits to Brandon Marsh and across county into Oxfordshire. The dragonfly list is ever growing, now that we're getting some decent sunny periods and includes: Four-spotted Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Brown Hawker and a stunning Emperor at Brandon Marsh today!

Painted Lady at Brandon Marsh - Turning out to be a decent year for these migrants.
Scorpion Fly - Another easily found photographic opportunity at Brandon
A busy Reed Bunting on the marina top field.
The marina is also a great place to be in the summer with nesting birds such as Reed Buntings, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Robin and for the third year in a row Lesser Whitethroat. Other regulars here include Mute Swans, which have produced five cygnets this time around and other species like Coot and Moorhen have both fledged young.

A juvenile Robin - Another successful breeder at the marina.
Lots of Bee-Orchids and Common Spotted Orchids currently around Brandon.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Fermyn Woods

A break from Brandon Marsh today as Alan Lunn, one of the Brandon volunteers invited Alan Boddington and myself to join him for a day out on a butterfly quest. Destination, Fermyn Woods Country Park, Northamptonshire.

Green Hairstreak - One of only 9 species seen today!
Situated in the heart of the Rockingham Forest 4 miles to the Southeast of Corby in East Northamptonshire, the park offers 15 hectares of meadows, thickets, marshes and ponds. Although the day started off overcast it brightened around midday to produce a glorious afternoon and although butterfly numbers seemed quite low, a very enjoyable day out.

Common Blue - By far the most abundant during today's visit.
Red Kites were a constant companion throughout our stay and a total of nine butterfly species were seen: Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Brimstone, Large White and Speckled Wood.

Large White
Several day flying moths were also on the wing and included: Common Heath, Burnet Companion and Cinnabar.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

A Real Twitch!

With the strong westerlies currently hammering the UK you always get the feeling from a birding perspective that something unusual might just drop in. When I arrived at Brandon Marsh this morning to take a guided walk of the reserve along with Keith Foster, who knew that our guests were in for such a treat.

Fulvous Whistling Duck (E) - Taken the previous week!
Having stopped off at the Teal Hide for views of the escaped Fulvous Whistling Duck we amazingly (I blame the other Keith) bypassed the East Marsh Hide and headed straight for the Ted Jury Hide!

Grey Phalarope - A real stunner to behold!!
Thankfully Adrian, Derek and Alan Boddington from the Brandon Team were close behind and did thankfully drop in, and in fact dropped onto a stunning summer plumage Grey Phalarope! Needless to say it wasn't long before I abandoned, sorry I accompanied the guests back to the East Marsh Hide, thanks to Adrian's phone call. Thanks must also go to Alan, who I'm sure Adrian and Derek will agree 'saw it first', well done those boys. From here on Alan and I set the social media world in motion and by the time I left the hide at 3:45 there was standing room only, Lee Evans and all!

Grey Phalarope - Another record shot and I'm certain better photo's will soon be available!
The rest as they say is history but you know the strangest thing is that our non birding guests spoke more about the duck and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about! Oh yes and Keith #2 is forgiven!!