Saturday, August 31, 2019

πŸ“– August!

⛅️☀️☁️ 🌧 ⛈πŸ’¨18/33C August 2019 ~ August for me is my least favourite month for birding, I travel little, with the odd rare excursion and for the most part, I like to spend it out on the canal enjoying the weather. That is of course if we have the weather and with the exception of the last Bank Holiday weekend, it's been dreadful. Despite all else, I can't recall an August thats been so persistently windy!

This amazing Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar has to be for me the main highlight of my recent visits to Brandon Marsh.
With the weather in mind and mostly being confined to the marina, I've made several visits to Brandon Marsh over the period to prevent boredom from setting in. I did work with the Conservation Team on Thursday brush cutting the Islands and banks around East Marsh which was very enjoyable. However, my other visits were spent in the early part of the day dodging the kids and some of the ridiculous activities that the trust has the audacity to call educational. Anyway, I'll just concentrate on the nature aspect of my visits and not politics.

Green Sandpiper
I spend little time in the hides during my summer visits, preferring to explore the woods and meadows. That said an influx of Green Sandpipers has been one of the highlights recently, mainly on Teal pool where eight were reported on the 28th, I personally only managed five, which is likely my highest count here for a considerable time.

Young Blackcaps are already taking advantage of the Elderberries.
There's plenty of activity in the woods with lots of young birds frantically feeding up and the first autumn 'tit flocks' are forming up, mainly made up of Long-tailed Tits but carrying the odd Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Willow Warbler. Blackcaps are still the most abundant warbler and in some cases are still singing, not quite the full persona but more like mumbling to themselves as they feed, fascinating to listen too.

Juvenile Common Buzzard from the Ted Jury Hide
Talking of young birds I managed to photograph the above juvenile Buzzard during a brief visit to the Ted Jury Hide also on the 28th. The bird stayed for some time constantly mewing to what I assume was the parent circling high above.

Other Highlights from my Visits included...

Migrant Hawker ~ These late summer Dragonflies are now in good numbers

This Emerald Damselfly is a first for me at Brandon!
Silver Y Moth

Still, small numbers of Painted Lady to be found in this exceptional year for the species.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

πŸ“– RSPB Frampton Marsh

⛅️20C Wednesday 21st August 2019 ~ A day out at RSPB Frampton Marsh with a few of the Brandon Marsh regulars on Wednesday and for most the main objective was a year-tick Buff-breasted Sandpiper plus another chance to view the now long staying Long-billed Dowitcher. For me, although I do enjoy the occasional 'twitch' it was more about a day out at what I believe is one of the best-managed reserves in the country!

Flyover Whimbrel
From the car park distant views of a Great Egret and the pools along the walk from here up to the seawall held huge groups of Black-tailed Godwits in various plumage, plus smaller numbers of Ruff, Ringed Plover, Avocet, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Golden Plover and even a couple of Turnstones. Just before reaching the seawall, flyover Whimbrel and Greenshank and then the arrival of ten Spoonbills.

Incoming ~ The arrival of 10 of the 13 Spoonbills seen today
At the top of the seawall steps a year-first Clouded Yellow butterfly flashed by, plus a distant Whinchat along the far end of the fence. Further down the bank, a group was gathering to oversee the area where the Buff-breasted Sandpiper had been spotted earlier, which we eventually joined. After an hour searching for the Sandpiper, at this point without success I decided to go walkabout and leave the guys to it. Patience for me is not a virtue and I'd much rather spend my time exploring. I took a circular route anticlockwise, stopping occasionally to check out the saltmarsh.

Juvenile Yellow Wagtail ~ At least 30 below the seawall
Just below the bank at least thirty Yellow Wagtails, mostly juvenile were foraging among the grazing cows. A Marsh Harrier passed and a low flying Sparrowhawk caused havoc and after perching briefly on a fence post departed without prey. A surprise was a single Brent Goose on the saltmarsh, which if memory serves is an injured bird sadly unable to join its mates for breeding along the arctic coasts. Four Painted Lady butterflies, Common Buzzard and Common Sandpiper before I descended the steps at the north end of the seabank.

Lesser Whitethroat
At the bottom of the steps near the path which leads along towards the 'East Hide' several passerines were feeding and taking shelter from the now brisk breeze. In among them were Blackcap and some striking almost yellow Willow Warblers, plus Chiffchaff and a gorgeous looking Lesser Whitethroat.

Curlew Sandpiper ~ At least five observed today.
Ruff ~ Some close views from the '360' Hide.
Lunch in the '360 Hide' produced some close-up views of Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper before I made my way back to the 'sandpiper watchpoint' along the seawall, where the bird had shown well enough for the guys to be happy with the 'tick' but had naturally gone AWOL once again just prior to my return. The Long-billed Dowitcher did show well for a short while too, which I did see, along with a single Knot, at least seven Spotted Redshanks and a Garganey were also observed.

Wasp Spider
Back at the visitor centre before departure, a Weasel darted across in front of the main window and some great views of a Wasp Spider, a reserve first and apparently the most northern record in the UK since 1992.

Wader Species Day List...

Avocet, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Snipe, Ruff, & Long-billed Dowitcher

Site Information PDF file HERE

Database uploads...

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