12.7.16.

Tuesday…Mainly sunny…20ºC.

Ham Wall RSPB-Somerset trip.

Spent most of the day at Ham Wall RSPB today. I made my mind up to go today, because Birdguides were putting out reports yesterday of a Collared Pratincole (a bird I have dipped on several times), and also 3 Little Bitterns. Both these birds being lifers for me. Add to that 2 Glossy Ibis, and a few Great White Egrets…It’s a trip I just had to make, especially with 2 Lifers for my Bird List…

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On arrival at the car park, I was told the Little Bitterns were showing well, and the Collared Pratincole had not been seen. These early reports would turn out to be the total opposite to how I came across both birds. Walking up the very very long path, I was soon overtaken by 2 eager Birders. They told me that the Collared Pratincole had turned up on the 2nd Overlook. Not knowing where the 2nd Overlook was…I decided to keep up with these guys. On the way I was hoping for close views, but unfortunately it was very distant. I had great views through the scope. But even in flight it stayed distant. I was really happy to at last see this bird. But it was a little frustrating from a photographic perspective. So i’ll post these heavily cropped record photos…

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Being really happy to at last see the Collared Praticole, and the bird landing out of sight, I decided to go see the showing well Little Bitterns. This area was massive, and most of it covered in Phragmites Reed. I instantly heard the Little Bitterns bark like call.  There were at least 50 birders all spread along the path. I listened in to what the RSPB  warden was saying. They had apparently showed well 5 times early in the morning, and had not been seen for a couple of hours. But he did say there was no pattern to their flying times. He also told us that one of them loved to fly in the corner to the right behind a dead tree to fish. So I decided to set up opposite this dead tree. Another 3 hours passed, with the Little Bittern calling at regular intervals in that time. To left of where I stood there was a small bush that hindered my panoramic view of the reedbeds. But with the Wardens words ringing in my ears about it fishing often behind this dead tree, I stopped in my position. All of a sudden the shout went up, that the Little Bittern was in flight. I dodged the little bush to the left, and had great views through my bins. I then got behind my camera. looking through the bush, I could see it flying in the direction of the dead tree, I panned my camera left.It just came from behind the bush, and I just got focused, when it dived into the reeds. It fell short of the dead tree by 200 metres. I was gutted that I did not even press my shutter. Frustrated, and now with the bird calling only 50 metres from my position. I waited another 3 hours. But it never came out again while I was there. I was still happy that I had good views through the Bins, and I also get to add another bird to my life list. That takes my total to 308 birds for Britain. Only another 92 to make the magical 400.

While waiting for the Little Bittern a family of Long-tailed Tits were drying off from a dip in the water. This youngster staying in this position to dry off ages…

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Reed Warbler was catching flies nearby…

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One of the Great White Egrets, which were also distant…

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I also added a new Damselfly to my list. Not a great photo, mainly because it landed high up in this tree. It’s a Southern Damselfly. The Mercury abdominal mark on segment 2 is diagnostic to the species…

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I would like to thank David Butcher for lending me his 1.4x converter, and being such good company. It does your heart good, meeting such nice people.

Really enjoyed my visit to Ham Wall, and seeing 2 lifers in one day is always very exciting. Shame the birds didn’t show well enough. Forgot to say, I also saw the Glossy Ibis, as they walked out of sight behind the reeds…Story of the day really.

 

 

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11.7.16.

Monday…Overcast with Sunny spells…18ºC.

I found a new moth at the Wardens Office today. It’s called a Ypsolopha sequella…

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I’ve started to find more Green Hairstreak larvae the last couple of days, which makes me feel happier. This one, is my first close to Goldie Heath…

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The Bracken over on Goldie Heath was twitching like mad this morning. It must have been a family of Wrens, because this juvenile popped out from underneath to give me a cute photo…

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A couple of really small Solitary Bees. Still finding identification hard, even using my book…

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I’ve seen Vapourer moth larvae a number of times. But this is the 1st one I have seen without the 4 yellow tufts. This one has got 2 yellow and 2 brown. Looked this up, and it happens with earlier (instar) larvae….

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Small Copper…

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This was my highlight of today. I found a spider I had never seen before. It’s called a Mangora acalypha. I love it’s common name…Cricket Bat Spider. Well named for a spider with a cricket bat on it’s back. Looked this up on the Spider Recording Scheme, and there doesn’t seem many records in Staffordshire…I will check this out…

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When I was photographing this Large Skipper, I did not notice all those beetles on the Knapweed….

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Nice to see the Harebells flowering again….

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This is only my 2nd Red Admiral this year. There is a notable lack of some Butterfly species this summer…Common Blue…Brown Argus and Comma…

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Cinnabar larva…

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The Gatekeepers were in better numbers this morning….

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Anything the Stade de France can do…Highgate Common can do….Silver Y…

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Unidentified Mirid Bug….

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Red Bug (Deraeocoris ruber)….

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10.7.16.

Sunday….Just don’t know where to start with weather…Sun/Rain/Sun/Rain/Sun all day. We visited 3 sites today…Highgate Common-Catherton Common and The Bog Stiperstones. Everywhere we visited today got spoilt by rain, but me and Ken found our targets at the 2 Shropshire sites. At the first site (Catherton Common) we had given up, with the unforecast rain, and decided to head home. We was only about a mile away when the sun came out, so we headed back. That was the story of the day.

I will start with HC 1st, although it was the last place we visited. May I first say how nice it was meeting Ian and Sue, it was just a shame the heavens opened up, just as we were heading to look for White Admirals.

This is a sign of the times with Magpies…

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Male or Female? Mens or Ladies?

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Moorhen on the Dog Pool….

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Common Blue’s…

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Forest Shieldbug….

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This has to be the highlight of our visit to HC today…Introducing the Sicus Ferruginous Display Team. I do think the middle and bottom flies did mange to mate (bottom photo)…

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I did wonder why there was very little Dragonfly activity on HC this year. But this photo which Ken kindly sent me from last Wednesday explains a lot. The Deadly Dragon Slayer –Pied Wagtail…seeing off the Dragon-Brown Hawker…

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Now to our visit to Shropshire. The 1st place we visited was Catherton Common, to look for Golden-ringed Dragonflies. Like I said above this visit was nearly aborted due to rain. But luckily we just had long enough sun, to search the Common. We firstly tried to find a place Ken had seen several Golden-rings on a visit some years ago. But a lot of the possible areas we searched had overgrown. We had earlier seen a good stream, but with no sign of any Golden-rings. We had been searching the rest of the Common for about an hour without any luck. So we decided to head back and search the 1st place with the stream again. Luckily about 50 yards from the stream, and still on the Common itself, I spotted one. It turned out to be the only one we would see. It posed for us for ages, which was helpful with the strong winds. What a Beauty…

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With a Golden-ring in the bag, it was off to The Bog Stiperstones, to look for Graylings. This would prove easier than most of our time at Catherton Common. Within a few minutes we found 2, who both obliged and stayed still for a photo…

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On the way back and still on the Stiperstones, we spotted a Red Kite, it only gave us a brief chance for photos before it vanished over the hill. But it was a nice bonus. Record photos only….

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Moth Nights

Been busy doing my garden over the last week, so not many trips over HC. I have finally bought a Skinner Moth Trap. I ran it 2 nights, and was really pleased in both catches, especially the 2nd night with at least 120-150 moths. It also gave me 3 new moth species. Here are the moths I photographed from the 2 nights

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3.7.16.

Sunday….Sunny most of the morning….19ºC

I was really pleased to have nice weather to have a walk over HC today. Started morning off checking out The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Wardens Office out. This proved successful, as I got to see and photograph a new moth. This is called a Beautiful Carpet, and it was obviously easy to see on the Wardens door…

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Other moths seen at the Wardens were…Engrailed, Single-dotted Wave and a Foxglove Pug….

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Really good numbers of Small Skippers have emerged, with at least 20 seen. Here are a few I photographed…

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The Blue-tailed Damselflies on the Dog Pool, were in better numbers after the continuous rain lately….

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Best day this year for Ringlets…

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Unidentified Sawfly…

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This is my first Mottled Grasshopper (Myrmeloetettix maculates)…..

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After not being able to photograph the newly emerging White Admirals yesterday. It was pleasing to at least get one opportunity today. We actually saw 5, but they were mostly turbo charged, and flew right past us. But this one settled briefly….

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I think a Bat Box must have been struck by lightning. It was on the ground, and you could see scorch marks where it had once hung on the tree…

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Hopefully the good weather will stay with us, and I can do a better Butterfly Survey this week. Must remember to pin my new badge somewhere…

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2.7.16.

Saturday…Very changeable conditions again. With a cold feeling 13ºC.

Two highlights today…The 1st White Admirals were on the wing, with 2 seen. Also the 1st Small Skipper. Neither gave me a photo opportunity.

I did look up last nights Nightjar call…. The frog-like “krruit’ call is actually often heard. But just not the last times I have seen and heard Nightjars. Describing it as frog-like is very accurate, after hearing it.

Large Red Damselfly…

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Even in the light showers, the Ringlets were out in numbers…

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Common Carpet…

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With the lines being more straight across the wings, and the lighter shade of white, makes this a male Common-white Wave…

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I’m really trying hard to read and learn about Bees. This is the hardest subject in nature I have ever attempted. The new wild flower border on the Birch Coppice car park is giving me some individuals to photograph, and attempt to identify at home. Going by the size/colour, and hair length on the apical depressions. I would guess at Heather Mining Bee. But I stand to bee corrected….

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1.7.16.

Friday…Mixed bag today, with sun and showers…heavy at times! 16ºC

Ken,Gary, Dave and myself went over Cannock Chase tonight, to hopefully see Nightjars. We arrived around 9pm. Firstly we searched an area I had Nightjars in the past. But the Heathland there had become overgrown with Pine Trees. So then we checked another area of the Chase, where I had been told Nightjars had been seen this year. When we got to the new area, we looked behind us, and a really bad looking storm was heading our way. My face dropped when I noticed the other guys all wearing their coats. My coat was back in the car. As the first few drops started to fall we decided to take cover under one of only a few trees on the Chase. With strong winds and the rain we stood little chance of seeing the Nightjars. Luckily the rain only lasted about 10 minutes, and it brightened up, probably too much for Nightjars. So after about another 10-15 minutes the wind totally dropped which gave us a better chance of hearing the churring of the Nightjar. With conditions just about right, it wasn’t long before we heard our first Nightjar churring. It took us a while to locate the bird, but with Ken and his white handkerchief waving, we had some real close up views. At one stage it flew right over us, and looked down right at us. It also made a call that I had never heard before. I will try to research this call. Although we only saw the one Nightjar, there was definitely two calling. So it was mission accomplished. Also seen was…a Green Woodpecker, Woodcock and a Peregrine Falcon. Also heard a Barn Owl. With it obviously being so dark, I couldn’t take any photos of the bird. But I did take the Storm heading our way on my phone…

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Earlier in the evening, and travelling to Cannock, Dave showed us a place where a guy named Steve Edwards does some amazing Street Art. Unfortunately my Smartphone photos does not do them justice. You can see them better on his website…Graffoflarge.com….

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At work this morning there was a Common Emerald and an Iron Prominent…

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One whole post using just photos taken with my smartphone. Must be slipping!

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