Monday, 21 May 2018

First half of the 59 butterflies of the UK (almost)

Date: 20/05/2018
Fry’s Hill,Battlesbury Hill, Bentley Hill, Cotley Hill, Wyre Wood, Monk wood, Haugh Wood
Species Highlights: 
Pearl bordered Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Small Blue, Small Copper, Adonis Blue, Wood White.

Bit of a catch up on our butterflies travels so far this year, after me doing the 59 uk species in 2017 I seem to have inspired Lauren to do the same this year so we’re checking out the normal haunts starting off with a few of the common ones.

This from Our Patch a Painted Lady, this the butterfly that separates me and Lauren at the Moment, she still needs it. Seen on 24/04/2018

The underestimated Orange Tip, Male

Fry’s Hill in Axbridge nr Cheddar always a good Hill and this year no different with Dingy Skipper.

And then the Smaller Grizzled Skipper.

Closely followed by lots of Green Hairstreak. It even landed on our finger.

The following week off down to Battlesbury Hill Nr. Warminster and soon after arriving Lauren spotted a little beauty, a Small Copper and it perched up nicely.

Soon flying closely by were a few Marsh Fritillary 10+ seen, a stunner of butterfly.

Also another to the finger tick list.

Also Duke of Burgundy a new site for me as I normally go to Rodborough Common or Cerne Abbas so pleased to see them in a new spot, at least 3 seen.

Still being early we jumped into van and headed of to Bentley Woods a good site for Pearl Bordered Fritillary and within a few minutes of arriving we soon had added Pbf to our list, weather was quite warm so butterflies not really posing much although we did get a few shots.

After seeing 10 or so we headed back via A36 and stopping at Cotley Hill my favourite site with last year totting up 22 species from this site. 
After parking and walking on to the site we soon saw a few more Marsh Fritillary then a brief view of a Adonis Blue our 4th species of the day, a Adonis Blue then perched up nicely for a few shots.

Small Heath, another tiny beauty.

We walked along the hillside hoping for a Small Blue but on first pass nothing was spotted, we started to do the return route when I spotted the Smallest Small Blue i’d ever seen but before Lauren could get her camera on it it vanished, feeling a bit sad we started heading back to van when again I spotted another, this time she managed a few shots, excellent making the daily total 5 new year ticks for me and 2 new year ticks for Lauren.

Monday today 21/05/2018 we made the trip up to Wrye Wood nr Worcester for a bit more Pearl Bordered action 100 at least but again weather warm and butterflies not playing ball, when they did land they were normally hiding in grass but great to see so many.

Some 20 miles away was Monk wood a new site for us both but what a site for Wood Whites again a 100 or so seen and this time pearching up nicely for some pictures.

Hidden gems,

So our year total stand at me: 25 & Lauren at 24 species with Lauren missing the Painted Lady, still plenty of time,  25 down 34 to go!!

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

Rhodes, Greece

Date: 4th May - 11th May 2018
Location: Rhodes, Greece
Weather: Blue Skies, Hot and Sunny
Species Highlights: 

Observation: We have just returned from Rhodes, Greece on a family holiday, but always time to fit in some birding, can't be doing with sitting round the the Pool!
We arrived late so didn't get out until the next morning. Whilst the others were asleep, I got up at sunrise to explore the hotel grounds and local area.....

The first birds were House Sparrow, Collared Dove and this single Spanish Sparrow we searched the whole week for another as Lauren didn't see it but only spotted one other.

Walked about 4 miles that first morning Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark and Yellow Legged gull plus a few butterflies, Long Tailed Blue, Meadow Brown (Aegean-Maniola telmessia) all before breakfast! Hired a Pushbike after breakfast, a woman's basket and all but cycled off into the wilderness, started following a tarmac road it soon ended and turned into mountain off road track, very hard going in the heat. Turtle dove purring away I carried on eventually coming into Lardos and sat on telegraph wires was a colony of Bee Eaters, around 10 birds but difficult to get close, needed a mobile hide.

On the 6 mile ride back to hotel spotted a Long Legged Buzzard a first for me, I think Pale form, very distant but very pleased to see it.

The next morning, Lauren joined me and we did the same again. Sardinian Warblers were calling on small bit of rough ground in between beaches apart from Greenfinch not a lot else showing here.

I saw that Spanish Sparrow again but Lauren couldn't pick it up just a House Sparrow with it's breakfast..

But a highlight for sure although the pictures don't show the beauty of this bird a Red-Footed Falcon, both of us have never seen one so very exciting.

Closely followed by a Squacco Heron looking brilliant in the sunshine and it's only 7:30am

Hooded Crow very common here with also, Swift, Barn Swallow, Red Rumped and Crag Martins were screaming over the now dry riverbed.

Had Breakfast and I cycled on that stupid bike the 8 miles in 26c heat into Lindos, a sewage plant which I had been told was worth the trip, it was, Blue Rock Thrush with young, Alpine Swift, Black Eared Wheatear, Crested Lark and a brief glimpse of a Lesser Kestrel.

A great bird but despite waiting over a hour in the sewage/rubbish dump it never came closer, but another new bird for me.

While sat waiting the Swifts and Martins started going wild in the skies and looking at something coming around the coast I realised it was a Honey Buzzard. 
Best bird of the holiday a real beauty.

Rode back very happy but a bit warm. The next morning I did a alternate walk opposite direction.

A Western Yellow Wagtail

Another Squacco, I think there were 2 birds roosting in dry Riverbed next to Hotel.

Again the Greenfinches giving it the beans.

After Breakfast we hired a car, fed up with bike and went to Lindos and the Acropolis was well worth it, with at least 4 Lesser Kestrel, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Crag Martins from Acropolis.

Constantly flying past feeding young but trying to get a sharp photo was extremely difficult with light always wrong angle, but happy with what we got.

Loving a good butterfly I was very excited to see this Scarce Swallowtail, I stood on edge on Acropolis to get this shot, no fences here!

Lindos was a stunning place to visit.

The next morning and With the hire car, it was easier to explore the Island a bit more. We visited 'Katafigio Agrias Zois Vagies', off the main road it was quite a bumpy off-road track with a few species seen along this track, Stone Curlew, Crested Lark and Bee-Eater, but we didn't explore outside the car.
We swiftly moved onto Raptor Road, and as soon as we pulled onto the road, we spotted a Juvenile Peregrine Falcon sat in the tree top, who allowed us to pull alongside it and take some pictures, before we moved on and left it.

Further along the road, and moving onto a dirt track, we seen a fairly big group of Bee-Eater, which were using the road to catch Hornets and Crickets, we pulled over and watched them feed happily for 15 minutes. Being in a hire car we continued along the dirt track heading towards Gadoura reservoir I say track, more of  rally course, great fun although Lauren we sat in back of car hanging on for dear life!!

A few birds along the track included this Turtle Dove.

At the Reservoir 4 Ferruginous Duck, Great Crested Grebe but little else could be seen, a lifer for us both.

Lauren managed a few Dragonflies with this Violet Dropwing being the best.

We headed back down to Lardos to see the Bee Eaters again this Yellow Wagtail was feeding along with the Bee Eaters.

From the car they performed much better.

I did quite a few miles in the car making trips to Mount Profitas Ilias, Mount Attaviros looking for whatever I could find. While photographing a Sardinian this Woodlark landed on wires above me.

Crested Lark singing everywhere across Island.

Another great butterfly for me a Eastern Bath White this from Rhodes town, couldn't find my Festoon but did also see a Large Tortoiseshell, didn't manage a photo but great to see.

One of the many Alpine Swift.

I think Pallid swift it seems hard to tell apart from Common, happy to be corrected.

On the second from last day and after giving the Nissan Micra back I caught the bus into Lindos it seemed that sewage plant was calling me back! Saw the Black Eared Wheatear again  plus the Crag Martin which i still haven't managed a photo of but didn't get one here, I walked through Lindos and across to Cleobulus Tomb, Crested Lark Song kept me company with more Yellow Wagtail and Lesser Kestrel and ravens calling, after reaching tomb with stunning views across to Acropolis I finally managed a shot of the Black Eared Wheatear.

The last morning and my second from last picture I took managed a shot of the extremely fast Crag Martin!

The full list of birds we seen, in order of when we seen them is as follows:

House Sparrow, Red-Rumped Swallow, Collared Dove, Hooded Crow, Purple Heron, Sardinian Warbler, Spanish Swallow, Greenfinch, Barn Swallow, Crag Martin, House Martin, Cattle Egret, Black-Capped Jay, Pied Wagtail, Crested Lark, Yellow-Legged Gull, Chaffinch, Turtle  Dove, Bee Eater, Long-Legged Buzzard, Raven, Crow, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Dove, Sand Martin, Western Yellow Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Kestrel, Blue Tit, Moorhen, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Reed Warbler, Black-Eared Wheatear, White Wagtail, Honey Buzzard, Red-Footed Falcon, Buzzard, Wren, Blackbird, Woodlark, Garganey, Mallard, Coot, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Stone Curlew, Peregrine Falcon, Woodchat Shrike, Great-Crested Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Night Heron, Linnet, Wood Warbler, Red-Backed Shrike, Wood Pigeon and Muscovy Duck

A pretty impressive list, aye!

If anyone wants any help, tips and locations, please feel free as always to contact us!

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