Saturday, 21 July 2018

Butterflies & Patch Walks

Date: 21/07/2018
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Still hot still blues Skies
Species Highlights: 
Butterflies, a few birds and some great patch walks
It's been a while in fact nearly a month but we've not been sat inside, we've been traveling the county racking up more miles and Butterfly species Fermyn Woods, for the Purple Emperor.

Lots more Hairstreaks from Seven Acre woods, on patch

My highlight this year so far was finding these beauties on patch even got a open wing shot of this female.

A Ruddy Darter from top ponds at Newton st Loe, it's well worth wandering up just past car parks to see these hidden ponds you never know what your gonna see.

We had Chalkhill Blues at Draycott, and even found some closer to home at Hazelbury Manor near Box.

Then down to Portland Bill a change of venue this year as i normally go to Lulworth cove for this little skipper but found some on the Bill.

While searching the grass for the skipper we were delighted to see Skylarks at close range, not like seven acre! 

With Linnet also sat in nearby bushes.

From here a short drive to Tout Quarry another new venue for me but will definitely be going back, Adonis, Chalkhill, Small Blue and Grayling all putting on a great show.

Even a few Hummingbird Hawk moths always a pleasure.

Another Patch walk with a new Damselfly spotted by me, a Emerald.

Birds a little quite but plenty to snap away at, Small Copper on patch and this took the Newton St Loe Butterfly count to 25 just missing a Clouded Yellow, fingers are crossed.

Had been searching for a Valesina the silver form of the Silver washed Fritillary and found to at a Frome Woodlands eventually. they like the cooler parts of the woodland and darker so had to use flash and stand in a muddy brook but worth it.

working in between but every spare chance i'm out looking. Priddy next and Tree Pipit and added to my 2018 bird tick list, looking for Dragonflies at the small pools there but weather had clouded over so dragon disappeared.

So that brings us almost up to date white Thursday just gone and my patch walk, Yellowhammer in much fewer numbers but still about.

Purple and White Letter Hairstreak seen at Seven Acre, while looking out over towards the Globe had a great view of a Sparrowhawk which flew straight in front of me, not giving me enough time to lift camera but brilliant to see.
Most other birds a bit on the quiet side but 25+ House Martins buzzing over village, Barn Swallow number are very low this year.

At lake a few Dragonflies around with this Red Eyed Damselfly, Broad Bodied, Scarce Chaser, Brown Hawker, Black Tailed Skimmer, Ruddy Darter and a few others keeping me entertained while sitting bank side of the top Lake.

 The Male Mute took exception to this this, i'd been sat for 30mins before he considered me a threat, he stopped just short of me a decided to have a clean!

The Grey Herons out of nests now and exploring the top lake.

4 of them spread out almost exactly 4 meters apart!

These Common Blue butterfly in Butterfly alley, where else.

After seeing the single Spotted Flycatcher back in May had heard but not seen since , although Tony and Robert had seen them so very pleased to get a few pictures of the 2 adults and single Juvenile.

While watching in Send a Cow woodland, juvenile Green woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and a Treecreeper, last spot of a Treecreeper was back in March.

A super walk with plenty to see, these last few shots from the Village.

Wasp took this fly from a spiders web while i was watching.

So with only 3 butterflies left to see this year, Silver Spotted Skipper, Brown Hairstreak and last trip should be Scotch Argus in the Lake District.  I'll be back on patch soon with more blogs updated weekly, but for now get out there and see you soon!

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Friday, 29 June 2018

Newton St Whoo-Hoo

Date: 28/06/2018
Location: Newton St Loe
Weather: Blue skies, Very warm 27c

Species Highlights:
Purple Hairstreak, White Letter Hairstreak, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Kestrel, Skylark, Swift, Barn Swallow, Reed Warbler.
Day off from butterflying so off on a long overdue patch walk, Skylark were singing so high up, couldn't even see them, but could hear a large group of Swifts screaming across the fields.

So fast, buzzing over Seven Acre wood.

It's never a day off from butterflies! Yesterday went up on the off chance of finding a few butterflies and was amazed to find first a White Letter Hairstreak then Purple Hairstreak!! These are brand new addition to our patch a normally I travel to get pictures of them, so very happy to find them myself. Went back up today and got some better pictures, Purple Hairstreak on Elm Tree on corner of Seven Acre.

Saw at least 3 individuals. But at 11am couldn't re-find the White Letter hairstreaks but had picture from day before, so here's another Purple.

Carrying on around wood and avoiding dog walkers! A single Yellowhammer could be heard. Just before Globe look out spotted this tiny fawn, I think also escaping the dogs, unsure where to go I waited for him/her to disappear into the hedgerow.

Didn't want him to run into Main road some 50yds further on.

On out through Village a small group of Barn Swallow sat on wires with only 5 House Martin seen possibly feeding?
Down through Send a Cow woodland Blackcap heard but little else seen until this very fresh and drying its wings Meadow Brown.

Bottom Lake was a surprise to see this Black Headed Gull who normally depart lake March and reappear in August! 2 birds seen, a few Mallards with now older young and Jenny the Mute swan from upper lake still on Lower Lake.

Female Emperor Dragonfly Laying Eggs, if you look rear end you can see egg.

Top Lake still low, with 4 Grey Herons, 1 still in nest plus Mutes have lost a ygnet, apparently a few days ago the cygnet got caught in Pond lillies and struggled for 2 days!!! Someone from college phoned RSPCA who wouldn't come out to help, the Cygnet has since been removed from lake, very sad. Also a Grey Heron chick fell from nest and died this also has been removed, nesting and young a very hazardous time of year.

Walked up to top pond as this time of year always good for dragonflies, great to watch this Four Spotted Chaser chasing & squabbling with the much larger Emperors.

Again Emperor dragonflies egg laying the male defending his mate constantly buzzing anything that moved near her.

My plan today was to retrace my tracks and head towards the Boathouse via River Avon, so spotted this Mallard Mum on the old Swan Nest protecting young from the circling Lesser Blacked Gulls.

Also above lake this beautiful Buzzard.

Down through Manor farm and through Corston Village more Barn Swallows here than at Newton Farm shop, still a practicing farm so more food no doubt. 
Blackcap & Chiffchaff calling on river edge, the main reason for the longer walk is to check on Reed/ Sedge Warbler which we found last year. Unfortunately could only find Reed Warblers 2/3 bird heard and seen.

A few more Dragonflies seen this Scarce Chaser giving me the eye. 2 more Grey Heron river side too.

Not one of our swans, I don't think but near the Boathouse pub.

Time was ticking by and had work tonight so headed towards home but not before returning to Seven Acre, while checking brambles on edge of wood right in front of me was this stunning White Letter Hairstreak, excellent.

So that was my walk 9.5 miles and great to be back on patch the next few weeks more butterflies to see, just 9 more species, a trip to Lake District, Lulworth, Northamptonshire, Dorset and Oxford left.

 Butterfly list for today.
3 Purple Hairstreak ,1 White letter Hairstreak, 10 Green Veined, 40 Small White, 4 Large Skipper,  25 Meadow Brown, 7 Comma, 10 Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Red Admiral.

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Friday, 15 June 2018

Another Butterfly Catch Up + Racking up the Miles.

Date: 28th May - 11th June
Isle of Wight, Scotland, Mull, Exmoor, Somerset, Lake District, Northamptonshire, Norfolk

Species Highlights: 
Glanville Fritillary, Chequered Skipper, Large Blue, Heath Fritillary, Mountain Ringlet, Large Heath, Black Hairstreak, Silver Studded Blue, Swallowtail.

It’s been a busy few weeks last blog was up to the 25 count out of 58 so todays blog is up to 39 and one of the most challenging part of the challenge. Taking in Isle of Wight ,Scotland, Mull, and this week Exmoor, Somerset, Lake District, Northamptonshire and Norfolk quite a few miles clocked up but all had gone to plan. 

Isle of Wight and a beautiful day perfect for butterflying, a drive down to Lymington an a ferry across to Wighty, I normally use my push bike but we decided to bus around the island and first stop Wheeler's way, blue seas and a short walk and plenty of Glanville Fritillary on cliff side lots of photos.

Next back on bus and Compton Bay my favourite site for this my favourite butterfly within minutes of getting off bus 30/40 Glanville Fritillary we seen landing perfectly on pink sea thrift flowers.

Just perfect, we then walked much to Lauren's dismay, some 6 miles along the coast line to the Needles a great day was had and bussed it back to ferry for some fish n chips for tea and home.

First of the Scotland trip for the Chequered Skipper. After the 8.5 hour journey to Glasdrum just above Oban we got the Chequered Skipper at 8:30pm plus many midge bites! 

A few Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary also on this site. 

But the Chequered Skipper didn’t disappoint, this being a first for Lauren a new tick, more about ticks later.

Next day after leaving Glasdrum we had decided to go to Mull, we’d both never been, stopping for the ferry at Oban we walked along the harbour to see the Black Guillemot such little posers and there bright red mouths and feet were great to photograph.

At least 10 birds were on view.

Next a ferry to Mull the short journey took about 40 mins, leaving the ferry port behind we started our adventure around the island with high hopes, stopping in the first lay-by Hooded Crow, Seal on the rocks in Loch, blue skies a perfect place to stop then a White Tailed Sea Eagle flew past! WOW a monster of a bird new to both of us.

Many pictures were taken.

We drove on around the island stopping in the occasional lay-by to see what else we could see.

The 4th lay-by was pretty good. 

With Sandpiper and chicks, Siskin, Grey Wagtail and Curlew protecting its young from what we wondered... when we saw a female Hen Harrier dive bombing the chicks.

We continued on to our stop for the night which was Gruline on the shore of Loch Na Keal perfect view out over the loch and chunky chicken and veg to look forward to. 

Birds were all around us when Lauren called me and said she had a tick! Only tiny but nasty, I started to try to remove it from her stomach when she noticed another Sea Eagle, we immediately stopped and viewed the Eagle which landed on the shingle beach on the estuary, I finally got rid of the tick and we watched the sun descend behind the mountains.
Next morning the weather was very different cloud misty and rain but it is Scotland after all, while waiting for her to clean her teeth I saw another Eagle flying out across estuary, a great way to start day.

The drive around towards Tobermory was lovely but not much wildlife was seen maybe weather? A few seals and Grey Herons on almost ever Loch or Estuary. We decided to check out same lay-by on way back to ferry and we were tipped off about a Golden Eagle nest, we searched the nearby mountain for the nest and found it, very distant but we saw Golden Eagle on nest and then it took to the sky and flew off in search of food.

Terns, Ringed Plover and more Hooded Crow from the last lay-by and another Golden Eagle nest this on on a golf course, Mull's got it all!

After another short ferry off the island we drove up to Fort William past the huge Ben Nevis which I’ve been up a few time but in the golden sun lite it looked magnificent, got to our campsite for the night, shower and relaxed.

The next morning we had decided to drive up to Chanonry Point in search of Dolphins we arrived early 9:30 am the car park we empty low tide was at 11 so we settled down on the beach, we had to drive home today so couldn’t leave it to late as drive was 9.5 hours.
After waiting some 2 hours we saw some distant Dolphins jumping and surfacing. But nothing close. 2pm arrived and we were told to wait a bit longer, then all of a sudden 2/3 Dolphins appeared about 5ft from the shore, the 50 or so people which had gathered on the beach all rushed to the shoreline, making it very difficult to get some pictures. 

We saw them again but really had to go as we had to work in morning, we will return. 

The drive took a bit longer than expected 11:5 hours.

Exmoor next for the Heath Fritillary and Allan Chard came with us to Haddon Hill almost perfect weather a bit cold but with the sun shining hopes it would warm up, found two groups 20 in each group a lovely butterfly a some sat showing there best sides

Even a bit of mating going on.

After talking a few pictures we headed but towards Home dropping in at Green Down on the Poldens a good site for Large Blue minutes in to our walk on site Large Blue Spotted along with Meadow Brown.

But another tick for Lauren, this time on her arm!

Marbled White.

Plus Large Skipper, Lauren now equal with me 33 species each.

The next day Monday another trip was planned the Lake District and Large Heath, Northern Brown Argus and Mountain Ringlet where the targets all new species for Lauren. Our first stop was Foulshaw just of the A590 in the Lakes, famed for its Ospreys, we parked and within 10 mins Large Heath was seen but getting a picture very much more difficult as they didn’t sit much, a quick look at Ospreys on nest just through the heat haze we move. Few miles along A590 to Meathop a much quieter reserve in fact it was just us and lots of Large Heath some of which were perching up nicely.

Next off just across the road behind the Derby Arms pub a small reserve called Latterbrow, Northern Brown Argus our target here 2017, I saw lots, this year it took some searching we only saw 3 and they didn’t wanna be photographed! 

Managed a few shots but none showing the white spot on wing but I had seen in flight so we moved on.

Our campsite was at Stanton Bridge and near Irton Fell we decided to walk up that afternoon for the Mountain Ringlet after a hot walk and some 3 miles walking l found one not very good but a MR and all Lake District targets got, brilliant. 

Lauren not being happy with her pictures we carried on further up towards Whin Rigg  seeing around 10 Mountain Ringlets in total a few more pictures and we returned back down and to campsite.

Tuesday we planned the drive across to Peterborough and the next target was Black Hairstreak at Glapthorn a brilliant site and very easy to get some good pictures.  

And more pictures.

From here another 4 hours towards Norfolk and Buxton Heath for the Silver Studded Blue, the weather was not looking good cloudy and temperature was 16 not looking good but Lauren was sure we would see them, I was doubtful. 

But in the normal spot, 25 Sliver Spotted Blue.

Plenty of pictures and high fives.

Next continue to Potter Heigham and rest. 

Next morning we were woken by a Wood Pigeon on the roof of the van at 5:45am, coffee and a sandwich we headed to Hickling Broad, a great spot for the Swallowtail last year but this year temperatures much lower and a overcast sky we walked along weavers way with nothing 4 miles later we decided to go to Strumpshaw.

 Weather much better and blue skies had returned we walked to doctors garden along Tinkers Lane and Swallowtail on flowers, woo hoo all targets got on this trip.

Plenty of pictures

Then into reserve and more Swallowtail on reeds, plus always nice to point and tell people what your looking at, a crowd had gathered to what we we looking at, we left smiling to ourselves. 

Carried on around reserve Bittern, Marsh Harriers, Hobby a great place to wander and a few more swallowtails. 

Even managed a Norfolk Hawker dragonfly.

A short drive home compared with previous week only 5 hours . 
Now we are both on 39 species and going well . Just 28 more to go.

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