29.3.15.

Had to do two more visits today, all in hope of seeing Oil Beetles. The weather was mainly a washout, but it did brighten up mid afternoon.

The Next three photos sum up my visit this morning! After seeing so many Bloody-nosed Beetles yesterday, I thought I would check how the rain affects their movement. I would say… it almost brings everything to a stop. But I did see four in the driving rain and gale force winds. But I would say it affected this human male and brolly way more. All for a sighting of an Oil Beetle. The Answer to the bottom photo, is a definite NO!

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Brighter afternoon session… More Bloody-nosed Beetles came out with the better conditions, and obviously would do anything to find a mate. Either that or it was Conga Time…

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Found a Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, she was digging. Found out this may not only be to dig out a nest site, but they also do this to get rid of parasites, a bit like a bird having a dust bath. Note to Self….Use 100mm macro for Bees. She did not like me this close, she turned round and I’m sure I saw her sting pulsating in my direction. Yet again I managed to get a Pollen Basket photo, and also this time could see the tail end coming to a point…

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28.3.15.

Mixed Weather today. Early morning although overcast was quite mild. By about 10:30am the rain started to fall. With me concentrating on finding Oil Beetles today it seemed pointless to stop and get soaked. While at home on the afternoon, I noticed it brighten up, so decided to head on over HC again and take another look. Both the morning and afternoon produced some wildlife magic… Morning:- As always started the day off searching under the Wardens Office lights. Luckily I found one of those rarer moths, which Ken had seen by the pool a few weeks ago. Its called a Early Flat-Body (Semiocopis avellanella). So the day started well with this Highlight… IMG_5814 IMG_5815 There was also a March Tubic, which is good for comparison… IMG_5812 After taking the moth photos, I decided to start looking for the Oil Beetles. I wasn’t going to take anything for granted, and I would look hard at every Beetle I found. I did do a count on the Bloody-nosed Beetles with at least 21, and I would say 4-5 breeding pairs. After seeing loads of Bloody-nosed Beetles my tactic of looking hard at every Beetle paid off, when I noticed the grooved back of this Male Minotaur Beetle. I must have took 200 photos, this guy was like a Bulldozer and just would not stop walking. I did manage two decent ones, and the rest I binned. Love what look like long eyelashes on the 2nd photo, or does he use Curling Mascara, like my daughter? IMG_5817 IMG_5818 It looks like a Duck may have lost a battle with a Buzzard or Fox.. IMG_5820 IMG_5822 Afternoon Session:- On the afternoon I spent about 3 hours still searching for Oil Beetles. I was quite hopeful in the middle hour, when the sun actually came out and it was nice and warm. Unfortunately the weather did not aid my search for Oil Beetles, but I did see what must have been the most Bloody-nosed Beetles I have ever seen. With I would guess well over hundred. Also yet again I would guess at let 20 pairs, like these two. I do love the creamy like suckers on their feet. Save falling off I’d guess… IMG_5824 Now for my third highlight from today:- This time a female Minotaur Beetle (note the lack of horns, which the male has). I watched this event ages, and could not believe my eyes. She was rolling a Rabbit Dropping across the heath, and then came to a steep cut of earth. I would guess it would be like me climbing out of a quarry. The strength and the never give up attitude was incredible. She dropped it on several occasions, but kept going back for more. Eventually she managed to get the Poop out and started rolling it on the level once more. I really felt like applauding her. These next 6 photos doesn’t quite show how steep it was for her to pull the dropping up and out. But I think I described it well enough… IMG_5825 IMG_5826 IMG_5832 IMG_5833 IMG_5834 IMG_5835 Must have seen a thousand Wood Pigeon fly by this afternoon… IMG_5845 The grey skies never help birds in flight photos. But I did manage a better Lapwing photo this afternoon. I heard this one before I saw it, doing it’s Peewit call… IMG_5846

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27.3.15.

With working the afternoon shift this last week, I seemed to miss most of the good weather! So really all week its been a bit frustrating!

Today, I did get to use my new Bumblebee skills. With what I’ve learnt so far.. I would say this is a male White-tailed Bumblebee. I Did get to photograph its Pollen Baskets on each hind leg. Which I now know that rules out a Cuckoo bee. Also with the squared off tail, that confirms its a male…

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Also got to see my first Sawfly this year. This one being Sawfly (symphyta)…

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Yet another mystery package. I would say its a bird dropping. But which one? Also in this one loads of weird looking creatures…

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Pheasant Feather…

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Wren…

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Buzzard…

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Oil Beetles were spotted on the Common today! I would guess in the warmer sunny afternoons. So like this Mallard, its driving me Quackers…

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26.3.15.

I did get over HC this morning, but with it raining I decided it wasn’t worth stopping long.

I did collect all the info on the Bumblebee survey I’m getting involved in. Already learnt a few great facts on what to look for. So I’m already feeling a bit more confident about the task ahead….

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The next project I think I’ve been watching way to much Silent Witness. But I love doing things like this. I was really pleased that the scale actually looked correct!  Oh Well! Somerset as got its Cheddar Man. Why can’t Staffordshire have its Highgate Common Vole?

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25.3.15.

At 6:30am this morning it was beautiful and sunny. By the time I arrived on HC the sun had totally vanished behind a thick fog/mist. It lasted at least 2 hours, and also dropped the temperature. So most of the wildlife decided to keep low. By the time the sun burnt the mist off, it was time to go home.

Had some great photos sent me yesterday by Gary Pascoe, one of the Highgate Common volunteers. The photos are of this very impressive Male Minotaur Beetle. Just like to thank Gary for firstly sending them to me, and also letting me post them here. The Minotaur Beetle is a beetle I have only ever seen once, but I will now be looking at every Bloody-nosed Beetle that much closer just in case….

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The next two photos will explain much of the reason I didn’t get to see much this morning. This is actually the Sun trying to break through. Also when it did clear slightly, I only managed  this photo of a Carrion Crow flying in the misty conditions….

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I did manage to find another mystery wildlife item on Goldie Heath….Answers on a Postcard…

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Cellar Snail and Pill Millipede. It was unusual to see this Pill Millipede stuck to the Snail…

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Second species of Bumblebee this year. This time a White-tailed Bumblebee…

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I did promise myself I would not take another Robin photo, but when one comes up and poses on the last of the logs to be taken off the Birch Coppice car park…how could I resist, especially on a misty morning…

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24.3.15.

Beautiful early morning sunlight. And a great morning all round! Has I drove up Highgate Road early this morning, I noticed these two Red-legged Partridge enjoying the early morning sunlight. But as soon as they spotted me, they legged it over to the golf course. With last weeks Red-legged Partridge and today’s Chiffchaff it now takes my Bird Year List to 54.IMG_5743 Highlight of the Day! As usual I checked the Wardens office walls, and in my opinion…spotted a real beauty. This moth is called a Shoulder Stripe. I would like to thank Chris Brooks off iSpot, who kindly identifies a lot of the new moths I see. I do have two excellent Moth Books, but I find it quicker putting them on iSpot…. IMG_5734 Another highlight was having Ken tell me that it was 12 months today, that the first Chiffchaff arrived on HC. Then not more than 10 minutes later we hear the Chiff-Chaff call of the first arrival this year. Anyone who has ever recorded birds, soon realises that this sought of thing happens quite a lot. I can remember having recorded Swifts arriving on the same day 3 years running. This Chiffchaff never really stayed still, and this was the best distant photo I got… IMG_5747 Female Mallard in cover… IMG_5746 Someone told me that there were animals out there that loved Heather Beetles for dinner. Turns out they were correct. Found this on the top of the wooden sign on Brants Hill. Trying to find out what could have made this pellet… IMG_5741 IMG_5742 Carrion Crow… IMG_5748 A couple a weeks ago, I heard someone moaning that they could not park due to the logs on the Birch Coppice car park! I very much doubt that was correct.

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23.3.15.

Overcast and Cool this morning!

Not much in the way of photo excitement today. But I did have two new things happen! Firstly saw my first Stoat on Highgate Common. Tried to get a photo, but with it only being 5 foot away, and the speed it was travelling, I had no chance. I do think it was successful in hunting a bird down. Because it vanished into nearby Bramble and Bracken. The birds that flew on top of the bramble/bracken was amazing. It was as if all the other birds were working together. If only I hadn’t been so concentrated on waiting for the Stoat to come out, to get a photo of it. Because I would have had great photos of Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Goldcrest and Marsh Tit. All of these were giving out alarm calls, and all inches away from each other.

Secondly:- I was only telling someone saturday, that I have never found a Bird of Prey pellet. But luckily for me, I did today, it was the tooth in the pellet that caught my eye. So I picked it up, and took it home. Did some research into..How to take it apart, and also species of bird and what the contents would be. With so much info on this topic, its quite easy to assume this is a Buzzard pellet, and the contents were 2 Voles…

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Like I said the photography side on The Common was very quiet. The only other photos I managed where a Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, and a very noisy Wren…

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This Oak I would imagine is one of the oldest on Highgate Common. I would guess..it would take three people holding hands to do the circumference…

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