Sunday, 31 July 2016

8 Spotted Flycatchers!! On Patch

Date: 31/07/2016
Location: Patch - Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue Skies, Bright Sunshine!
Other Species: 
Jay, Chaffinch,Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Buzzard, Kestrel, Blackcap, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, 
Mute Swan, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Raven, Rook, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit.
41 Species 

Comma, Small White, Large White, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Peacock, Speckled Wood. 
11 Species  

Out through Bath Mill with not a lot along Brook, up on to fields Whitethroat and Yellowhammer present although only singles. A few Butterflies on corner of Seven Acre. Holly Blues present around 3,  plus Comma and Small Tortoiseshell.

Quite a few Red Admirals around lately.
Was amazed at the underwing colour so beautiful!

2 Buzzards overhead and normal stuff at Village. Met Robert at Send a Cow as yesterday he reported 10 Spotted Flycatcher at Lakes!! I know 10!
Bottom Lake, Mute Swans with Cygnets still 7 doing really well this year, we then watched Cygnets waddle up steep bank towards Top Lake, all of the little ones stopped at Top collapsed for a rest before swimming off in to Top Lake. 
Then on corner we saw at least 5 Spotted Flycatcher! 
Juveniles amongst them WooHoo! 

Very busy with Flycatchers honing their skills and catching flies as they do!

Going through report from 1970's and previous breeding success was around 12 birds, so Robert seeing 10 birds not unusual although for the last few years I've only ever seen singles.

Today we saw a total count of 8 birds in different locations! 

This one seems to taking an interest in the Chiffchaff.

A really great bird to have on Patch and nice to watch buzzing above the trees.

Doing the cheeky over the shoulder shot!  
Only 1 Grey Heron and few House Martins buzzing over lake also.

After second Lake into old Nature Reserve part saw a 3 more Spotted Flycatchers here also a very shy Marsh Tit having a clean and Buzzard overhead mewing at something?

At football pitches this Roe Stag didn't spot us as we opened kissing gate but soon darted off. 
Pied Wagtail family still feeding here with 5 birds in total. 2 Raven overhead also a family of  Rooks, we parted ways here I carried on to Marksbury and Robert returned to Village. My only other spot was a pair of Kestrels. But a great walk with some nice company! 

I will return out to Lake to check up on Flycatchers when weather permits as rain forecast.

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Week 30 - Mostly Damp!

Date: 27 + 28th July
Location: Mendips & Dorset
27th - Overcast + Windy, 
28th - Very Overcast, Drizzle + Windy.
Other Species:
(Mendip Hills) - Chalkhill Blue, Grayling, Small Heath, Red Admiral, Whites, Small Skipper, Dark Green Fritillary.
(Fontmell - Alners Gorse) - Silver Washed Fritillary, Gatekeepers, Red Admiral + Marsh Tit - Of Note!
Normally do my walk on Wednesday but rain forecast so headed down to Priddy and Draycott Sleights for a few Butterflies as when walking up weather not as bad as predicted, well overcast with no sun and a bit windy but what the hell!
Very few Butterflies about a couple of Dragonflies buzzing around saw Emperors and this nice Common Darter. 

Plenty of Grasshoppers, this I think Meadow Grasshopper.

Green Veined Whites still collecting minerals in good numbers, with Gatekeepers being the most abundant closely followed by Meadow Browns and Small Skippers.

Saw 1 Dark Green Fritillary briefly and still a few Marbled Whites, wind making it hard to get a steady focus.

Next down to Draycott a stunning views from up here,Cheddar Reservoir, Crook Peak then Brean Down  and Steep Holme out into Bristol Channel, Wales beyond.

A fair few Chalkhill Blues around being the most abundant! I'd estimate numbers to be 30+.
This the female of the species again weather making it difficult to shot well.

Was returning back down hill and a Grayling caught my eye, just the one but nice all the same.

Was slightly sheltered here and manage a couple of half decent shots.

Above making a right racket a Buzzard and Crow battle, the Buzzard won!

28th July 
Weather forecast was worse today so decided it might be wrong and headed down to Fontmell Down for the Silver Spotted Skipper, Weather not wrong got out van it rained and very windy did the route anyway NOUT! Well Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns was about it. 
So carried on with plan and to Alners Gorse for Brown Hairstreak. It rained on way down but turned to drizzle so walked around, no one there surprise!
Did see this distant Marsh Tit, again Gatekeepers lots, few Whites and Red Admiral's but little else.

Couple of Marbled Whites on far side trying to hide in grass.

Decided to call it a day and managed this shot of a Red Admiral on way back to van. Hope next week better. My butterfly total this still stands at 44.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

July full patch walk

Date: 26/07/2016
Location: Patch Walk- Newton St Loe
Weather: Cloudy and grey
Other Species: 
Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Buzzard, Black Headed Gull, Yellowhammer, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Raven, Nuthatch.36 sp.
Gatekeeper,Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Ringlet, Small White, Large White, Peacock, 
Red Admiral, Holly Blue,Comma.11 sp.

Started out through Bath Mill with very little along brook a few butterflies on dog track mainly Gatekeepers and Ringlets but number low.

Walking up on to fields a few Yellowhammers about, but no skylarks or Whitethroats heard.

Swifts buzzing overhead, farmer was harvesting far fields lots of Wood Pigeons and 2 Buzzards also.

Just before Seven Acre saw a couple of Skippers Essex and Small.

While standing watching Red Admirals around 5 on edge of Seven Acre saw at least 3 Holly Blues on Bramble, 2nd brood.

Red Admirals looked fresh saw around 7/8 on the full walk. Sun was trying to come out but not long enough so most butterflies didn't stop for long.

Out through village Martins and Barn swallows zooming in skies, 
just after church saw 2 Green Woodpeckers feeding in grass.

At lake nout new Mute Swans still with 7 Cygnets, plenty of mallards and this inquisitive Grey Wagtail juvenile. 
But also no Grey Herons ! But the return of 2 Black Headed Gulls not seen on lakes since 07/03/2016 breeding i suppose ?

Out past second lake saw this feather ? anyone ID ?

On Ponds by Football pitches 2 Emperor Dragons and 2 Common Darters, Little else but this pale Buzzard calling for mum or Dad.

As you can see very pale against the equally pale and grey skies !
That ended walk with the walk up over hill to Park Farm and along 12 O'clock lane with nothing to add. 
Ended on 36 bird Species and 11 Butterflies.

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Butterflies On The Mendip Hills

Date: 21/07/2016
Location: Mendips - 3 Sites
Weather: Started Warm, Broken Cloud, Ended Drizzle + Cloudy
Other Species: 
Marbled White, Small Skipper, Larger Skipper, Essex Skipper, Red Admiral, Small Heath, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Green Veined White, Dark Green Fritillaries, Small Copper, Gatekeeper, European Peacock, Chalkhill Blue, Grayling, Common Blue, Small White, Comma - 18 Species 
With a hot tip on some Dark Green Fritillaries headed down on to the Mendips and within 10 mins spotted a couple plus many Marbled Whites and an assortment of Skippers Large, Small and Essex. Main target today were Dark Green Fritillaries, Chalkhill Blues and Grayling so 10 mins in was doing well! 

A great looking Small Copper, seen 2 at Priddy.

But Dark Green Fritillaries take the best butterfly award today ! 
Stunning things as are most Fritillaries..

Wouldn't really stay still as cloud was incoming and sun was disappearing.
But end total was 5.

Turned around and a stunning Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) was perched up! 
Saw a few Dragonflies today Common Darters mostly. But the Emperor being one of UK's largest at 78mm or 3" is a monster!

On the damp ground there were many Green Veined Whites grouped together taking minerals from soil.

Always a bit of grass in the way but Marbled Whites mating. The Marbled Whites were the most abundant here.

Right next year tick, was the Chalkhill Blue so headed the 4 Miles to Draycott Sleights, very cloudy now! But on arriving seem to be only person there, soon spotted a few Chalkhill Blues around 10 or so mostly hiding in grass.

A few other things about, the Silver Y Moth, wonder why it's called that?

A few Stunning a very colourful Peacocks, the fly amazed and probably wished he was a bit more colorful!

Wandered up and down slopes hoping for a clear shot, did bump into some more people also looking but eventually managed a perched Chalkhill! 
Nice next tick was Crook Peak about 7 miles away, it's now raining mmmm not promising!

Rain sort of stopped on arriving, so headed up towards top of Crook's Peak scanning hillside for Grayling but now a bit windy also. Got 3/4 way up just as it flattened out and a Grayling!

One shot and flew! 
So hard to see their camo is amazing against the rock, although this shot he does stand out a bit, luckily!

20 mins of searching about to give up and spotted another with passenger! Trombidium breei the small parasite does not impair flight although a greater number of them can kill the Butterfly. Have seen them before mainly on Marbled Whites.
So 3 year ticks mission accomplished!! My year total now stands at 44 with 4 more to get this year being Clouded Yellow, Brown Hairstreak and Silver Spotted Skipper year ticks and Wood White (second brood) being a new tick.
 I hope to end year on 48. With 2017 being my 50th year my target is the big 59! :)

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Purple Emperors @ Fermyn Woods then Turtle Doves @ Otmoor.

Date: 18/07/2016
Location: Fermyn - Otmoor - Farmoor Res
Weather: Blue Skies 16 Degrees at 7am Rising to 31 Degrees!
Other Species: 

Fermyn Woods ( Northants)
Silver Washed Fritillary, Ringlets, White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak, Meadow Brown, Small White, Large White, Red Admiral, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Purple Emperor, Comma - 13 Species
Otmoor : 
Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Turtle Dove, Red Kite - Of Note. 
Farmoor Reservoir: 
House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Starling, Common Tern, Cormorant - Of Note. 

On my Butterfly Quest the Purple Emperor was still on my hit list for 2016 and after a failed attempt at Bentley Woods I could hear Fermyn calling! I know its 2hr 50mins away from Bath but seemed the best option. Fermyn Woods in Northants seemed to be all over Twitter with some cracking shots showing up, so after a bit of persuading Lauren (daughter) decided to come with as long as a few birds were also included in the day so plan was Fermyn then Otmoor near Oxford for a look for Turtle Doves.

On arriving at Fermyn, parking roadside near the Gliding Club was plentiful (NN14 3JD). Once out the Van the temperature was heating up and a few other people were looking for the Purple Emperor.. Wonders! Plenty of Silver Washed Fritillaries about saw around 10 plus White Admirals x3. All the other woodland and common species also but apart from a fleeting fly by no Purple Emperors on the ground, continued along the glide heading for Souther Wood, people were saying for sure here. So upon taking the right fork once in wood I missed the first almost standing on it!

First one Lauren's as she saw it first!

Once we saw one they seem to dropping down from the tree tops all along the path.

Plenty of closed wing shots, but no open wing shots try as we may.

We used no baits and no secrets chants! Maybe that's why no open wing shots? Temperature was very warm now around 28 Degrees - 29 Degrees. Lots of people around some groups of people all standing around his majesty but we were lucky as got a few all to ourselves. Finally seeing about 7.

Here's A Short Video of Purple Emperor: Video Links YOUTUBE

After many high fives! We headed down to Otmoor for the Turtle Dove as the RSPB have been doing some good work to help this endangered bird.
1 1/2 hours later we arrived temperature on way down was now 31 Degrees at one point! We entered the small car park and headed on to reserve, on walking up main path almost immediately could here the Turtle Doves making their distinctive purring sound but couldn't see them. Saw a distant Marsh Harrier quartering over reeds then saw Turtle Dove fly past and towards car park! We decided to carry on for hide, a long path and very warm but not much from hides. So headed back to look again for Doves.

Lauren managed a flight shot, this is Turtle Dove flying back towards car park!

But our patience paid off as one of Turtle Doves came back to Oak Tree, into sun but pretty decent shots.

Heard 2 Turtle Doves while there one alongside reserve path and other was on MOD land other side of car-park.

Time now about 4:30pm so instead of getting stuck in traffic decided to stop at Farmoor Reservoir. Great move as these little fellas were buzzing about all over lakes!

The House Martins were collecting Lichen from lake side they must have 'lichened' it!!

Even a couple a little one's, this one looks a bit sad!

Also on lakes were these Common Terns screaming overhead, adults collecting fish and youngsters chasing after!

Looked so cool!

To end, Lauren's shot, all in all a great day a Purple Emperor ticked! Turtle Doves ticked (although we've seen in Portugal a UK tick always good) 
Also blue skies and summer finally here! 

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