Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Patch Birding and Small Pearl Fritillaries from the Mendips !

Date: 30th+ 31st May 2016
Location: Newton Park (Patch)
Fry's Hill - Cheddar Res & Chew Valley Lake
Weather: Blue Skies - Monday, Windy becoming Cloudy Tuesday.
Other Species: 
Patch - Bullfinch, GS Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Buzzard, Swift, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Kestrel, Buzzard, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Marsh Tit, Tufted Duck 46 species.
Tuesday Butterflies:(Fry's Hill)
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Speckled Wood, Small White 
A patch walk first having just got back from Portugal time to catch up! A great walk too with 46 species seen, all the normal stuff but nesting and fledglings everywhere .

Mute Swan on lake doing well with 8 Cygnets looking good !

To make it even better no students about half term and best time to visit lakes and patch and to make it even better 2 Tufted Duck on Top Lake! Not seen on lakes since 09/02/2011, takes our patch year tick list to...... 72 equal with 2014 and it's only June !! 

While watching Tufted Duck saw tiny Blue Tit squeezing out of nest hole! Also Treecreeper nest hole further round on patch and Green Woodpecker feeding young in another nest hole little un's everywhere !

Tuesday came and Butterflies on the menu, not literally! Still after small Pearl Fritillaries and Twitter mentioned Fry's Hill only 20 miles away so off I went. A big hill with stunning views over Cheddar Reservoir, found this chap a Drinker Moth Caterpillar 3" long massive!

Also a Puffball Fungus - Calvatia Gigantea I think ?

Lots of Orchids early purples and again great views but wind was fairly strong and not many butterflies on the wing.

Then a flash of orange and a Small Pearl appeared !! 
Whoohoo thanks to  for info much appreciated !

Wind was blowing so SPBF was low down in grass's but excellent ,while watching another appeared and settled a few meters away, stunning looking these Fritillaries !

Closer view, excellent and takes my butterfly count  to an all time best of 42 total.
 Wood White next! Walking back down hill saw Grizzled,Dingy, Brown Argus, Small Heath, Common Blues and Speckled Woods.

I'd parked at reservoir so a quick walk around these 2 Herring Gulls were paying close attention to Mallard chicks !

Also on the shore line this female Mandarin lovely, seemed to be paired up with the many manky Mallard on lake . Again thanks 

Plenty of Pied Wagtail about wagging their way around reservoir. Few Grey Wagtail but didn't see any White.

The Mallard Chicks keeping their heads down with an aerial attacks imminent !

On way home stopped at Chew Valley lake plenty of swift's about, Martins and Swallows but getting cloudy now so headed on home. A great day was had !

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Monday, 30 May 2016

Butterflies and the Glanville Fritillary

Date: 26th May - 29th May
Location: Cotley Hill Bentley Wood Sand Point
Weather: Blue Skies + Sunshine most of it.
Other Species:
 Cotley - Marsh Fritillaries, Small Blue, Large Skipper, Adonis, Brown Argus, Six Spotted Burnet, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Heath, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skippers, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper.
Cley Hill - Wall, Green-Veined White, Small Heath. 
Bentley - Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Brimstone, Small Whites.
Sand Point - Small Copper, Small Heath, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Large White, Small 

Butterfly season in full swing now with a good spell of dry sunny weather! On some advice from @Christrott1 headed to Cotley Hill, Wiltshire and was not disappointed on arrival finding a stack of Marsh Fritillaries in to 100's I'd say ! 

Posing and mating almost at every angle going, but front on I think they look cool !

Adonis Blue's also on the wing with this pristine one perching nicely showing black lines in all the right places.

Also Large Skipper freshly emerged, only 2 seen.

Not forgetting birds with a Stonechat family with 3 fledgling Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and beautiful Yellowhammers.

But Marsh Fritillary - Euphydryas aurinia head on! Cracking stuff.
On a roll now and weekend off Bentley wood next.

28th May Bentley Wood and Pearl Bordered Fritillary on the tick list never seen them before and on eventually finding it parked up. In car park a sighting book! Small Pearl and Pearl have been sighted today BONUS !
But telling them apart different matter, thought I'd got photos of both large and small but no just Pearl Bordered, think I've got differences now, if I see a Small Pearl this year I will see !

A massive woodland but Pearl seem to favour eastern clearing and also like it low down in grass or the day I went they did! 
Around 7/8 seen with Brimstone and a few other but that clear sunny weather I mentioned heavy rain and thunder night before! 
Ground was very wet.

After spending some time with them headed home and was passing Cotley Hill so worth the stop, still a few Marsh about but numbers right down still Small Blue, Whites about.

On getting home and Twitter mentioned a Glanville Fritillary at Sand Point 25 miles from home so Sunday headed to coast apparently a release by somebody but another I've never seen. On arriving lots of people about dogs, footballs, kids! But luckily I kept to lower paths and they kept to uppers.

Common Blues mostly, this lot having an orgy !

Common Blues they are called but not seen many this year, but a lovely butterfly all the same. With around 5/6 people looking for Glanville I had high hopes but after 2.5 hour walking backwards and forwards no sign :(

Small Whites, Large Whites, Wall Brown, Red Admiral were the highlights

And these little chaps Small Coppers bit faded now but still looking good .

As for birds Linnet, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit and a Cuckoo calling from deep in Copse couldn't locate for picture.

One thing I've never seen is the Bee Orchid, almost Jimmy Hill or Bruce Forsyth lookalike !

Bee Orchid - Ophrys apifera a stunning little plant quiet a few covering hillside.

On leaving Sand Point on way home popped into Draycott only Common Blues on Wing and bit windy so Priddy Mineries was last stop Small Heath about but little else will return to Priddy soon for Small Pearl and also return trip to Bentley Wood for Purple Emperor Stay Tuned !!

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Friday, 27 May 2016

Algarve - Portugal - Part Three

Date: 18th May - 24th May 2016
Location: Albufeira - Algarve (Portugal)
Weather: Blue Skies, Light Wind, 26-32 Degrees
Other Species: Crested Lark, Turtle Dove, Barn Swallow, Cattle Egret, Pallid Swift, Little Egret, Azure-Winged Magpie, Spotless Starling, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe, Zitting Cisticola, Serin, Corn Bunting, White Stork, Little Owl, Bee-Eater - Of Note

Observation: We visited what we thought was Vilamoura, it wasn't until we got back to the hotel that we were miles from the reserve, due to poor signage! Proves how lucky we are in the UK with signs and RSPB etc. We walked up a dirt track which ran in line with the beach, first tick of the day was this Turtle Dove, who was just out the car-park calling, it didn't let us get many shots before he flew to the woodland opposite and started calling again.

Walking around the "reserve" there was a abundance of Turtle Doves, we seen 5+ but there were more calling within the woodlands along the track.

There were also plenty of Crested Lark here, buzzing around the meadows and fences.

We had a quick break at the middle car-park where there were plenty of Hirundines catching the flies, we thought this was just a Swift, but when editing it looks more like a Pallid Swift, unless anyone says any different?

This Spotless Starling put on his wing dance for us whilst he sung for his supper!

On our return, 11 Cattle Egrets and a single Little Egret landed with the resident sheep and lambs, and gave us some close range shots of them in their habitat.

It seems a walk in the Algarve isn't complete without spotting a singing Serin high in the trees or a fly-past Azure-Winged Magpie.

This Azure-Winged Magpie stopped for some shots in the sun.

A "shopping" day trip to Portimao, we couldn't find the shops we were stopped by these, nesting White Storks. At first we only thought it was the one nest, but they had taken up residency on every chimney and crane around the town. Amazing sight!

We had a great time in Algarve, with some superb new species seen, including the target species of Turtle Dove and Bee-Eater's ! 10 new ticks under our belts.
Where to go next?

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Algarve - Portugal - Part Two

Date: 18th May - 24th May 2016
Location: Albufeira - Algarve (Portugal)
Weather: Blue Skies, Light Wind, 26-32 Degrees
Other Species: Cattle Egret, Kestrel, Little Bittern, Audouin's Gull, Kentish Plover, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Greater Flamingo, Black-Winged Stilt, Shoveler, Zitting Cisticola, Greater Yellowlegs, White Stork, Serin, Bee-Eater, Yellow-Legged Gull, Little Grebe, Red-Rumped Swallow, Swift, Azure-Winged Magpie, Avocet, Spotless Starling, Cetti's Warbler  - Of Note

Observation: A visit to the Algarve isn't complete without visiting Lagoa Dos Salgados, we visited on a Saturday, around 10am. On the bridge into the Reserve there were 3+ Mediterranean Pond Turtle eating bread that was being fed to the Coot's.

Within minutes of entering the reserve we spotted this Little Bittern doing a quick fly-past before landing in the reeds distantly, the first of our two target species for today was complete.

After standing on top of the hide for 15 minutes, the count included 2+ Audouin Gull's, Kentish Plover, Black-Winged Stilt, White Stork, Sardinian Warbler.

Walking along the boardwalk, this stunning Cattle Egret was eating it's lunch, the cricket gave a good fight....

Think he was asking us to help him in this one!

After he got away a few times, the Cattle Egret swallowed him in one, and walks off with his head held high!

There was once again a abundance of singing Sardinian Warbler, it gives a powerful but very scratchy song!

At the second hide, we spotted approx 20 Greater Flamingo feeding in the shallow mud.

In front the hide screen, this Black-Winged Stilt was feeding, everytime it caught something, it would go onto the dry mud to eat it and go back to the water, happily feeding until it spotted predators flying over its nest and off it would go, dive-bombing them with help from the Avocet's.

Crested Lark landed in front of us and started singing, the meadow behind gave a colourful background. Crested Lark were in large numbers on all the reserves we visited.

As the Crested Lark flew off, we heard a unfamiliar call... A Bee-Eater !!!

Using some field craft we used a tree for cover and stood and watched, it fed for around 15 minutes flying and catching bee's and flies before landing on the same perch as before calling each time. A second then came and landed, where they took it in turns to feed and returned to their favoured perch.

Even managed a flight shot on manual focus, 200+ shots later!

With both our target birds captured, we headed back for the bus but not before a quick ice-cream on the beach until this Kentish Plover runs within 5 foot of us back and forth, it then sits on the boardwalk, almost as if it was watching our ice-cream!

Part 3 - Vilamoura + Portimao
Coming Soon!

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