Friday, 21 September 2018

Big Blog - Lots of Pictures

28/08/2018 - 20/09/2018
From all Over

Species Highlights: 
Hobby, Tree Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat, Cattle Egret, Bearded Tit, Osprey, Sparrowhawk, Whinchat, Spotted Redshank, Little Tern, Grey Phalarope

I can't believe it's been so long almost a month after the excitement from our Butterfly blog. It's back to normal, now well almost! With another round up.

Starting with a Migrant Hawker from Patch, it's all been a bit quiet around patch but every Thursday I've wandered around looking for anything good nothing as yet but still 3 months of the year left so anything could happen.

Next popped down to Chew Valley my favourite time of year to visit as the Hobbies the are about racing past the hides, a real challenge to get images, I took far to many pictures as normal but here's one I like. Also had a Greenshank and a Yellow Legged Gull.

Next off was Chipping Sodbury Common, Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Redstart, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat all present.

Lauren very pleased with her first ever Tree Pipit.

Perfect Light on the Common great birds too!

 The plan was to head up to Slimbridge after chipping and turned out to be a good idea with Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warblers from the Holden hides.

Next off and speeding through it was the Somerset Levels with Allan Chard, went to Westhay for a look for Bearded Reedlings but no sign, then headed to Catcott  and shortly after arriving we were rewarded with  a huge group of Cattle Egrets!

The Cattle Egret has had a excellent year with them turning up all over the county, getting common almost as common as the little and Great White Egret, Good News!

From Catcott it was Shapwick and Noah's hide the normally distant Osprey flew parallel in front hide, a real treat!

Everything else a bit distant so crossed the road to Ham Wall and had very close views of the Great White Egrets feeding on the now dwindling dragonfly population.

Checking around the hides we even bumped into 2 Bearded Reedling who darted across the path in front of us,  job done! To end these Frogs near the car park.

 On way home we popped in to Priddy ponds while looking for Dragonflies which we saw Migrant Hawkers and a few Black Darter. 
This Small Heath noticed my achievement this year and hopped on my lens to say hello!

Next with my girls heading to Paris for a birthday treat I dropped them at the airport and dropped into the very close Barrow Tanks to capture this Grey Wagtail.

The rest of the afternoon I spent at Chew Valley Lake.
I Found a Hornet nest with lots of these buzzing in and out their hole in tree.

Hobbies again and this Sparrowhawk.

Monday morning came around after work and decided to have another look at Chipping Sodbury.

Pleased I did with the Whinchat putting on a good show.

From here again up to Slimbridge. Spotted Redshank in front the hide.

A group of around 10/15 Yellow Wagtail in with cattle, such smart little birds.

Never forget the common birds, always happy to pose at Slimbridge.

Been getting in to a bit of macro photography lately and this Red Underwing moth was good practice.

What better than one Spotted Redshank.....

Still more come! great to see almost a flock at Slimbridge.

With the Girls still away more play time for me and Tuesday so went back to Chew.
Managed very close views of this Marsh Harrier, photo not quite up to scratch but great to see.

Marsh rubbish picture but the Hobbies made up for it!

 Up to 5 birds seen, these photos taken from Villice.

Another Patch walk and spotted I thought another patch tick, this bird with it's brownish colouring and neck mark thought it was a Sand Martin! 
Still not sure any comments welcome... At the moment i'm saying juv House Martin.

Still a few Barn Swallow about, I think next walk they'll be gone till next year.

Girls home and Saturday arrived and Work but Friday a Grey Phalarope arrived at Cheddar reservoir and a quick dash down to photograph it, a bit distant...more to come on the Phalarope.

Still going for the #MY200BIRDYEAR There was a Ortolan Bunting in Hampshire and after 4.5 hours sleep Lauren and me headed down. The Ortolan bunting had not been seen all morning so we went to Farlington Marshes to see Dunlin, Yellow Wagtail and a small group of Starling murmurating but little else.

On leaving Farlington the next day a Little Gull, Bluethroat, and Pectoral Sandpiper were all seen !! Typical eh!!

Monday went went to Cheddar for Lauren to see here first Grey Phalarope again distant but another life tick for Laur. 
Wednesday Another Grey Phalarope had turnned up in Huntspill so I arranged with Mr, Chard to go and parked at Cheddar Reservoir we popped in see anything was about, very pleased we did a Black Tern with about, feeding on Perch or Roach a real mouthful.

Giving us great views. With no reports that morning of the GP we headed down anyway.

We walked around from the Apex car park and the wind was blowing fiercely on the 1.7 miles walk we saw nothing of note but arriving at the very small puddle noticed another birder Penny, Anne, @fegwitch. We couldn't see bird as it was so close to her!!!

My 400mm lens was to long as the bird came to me and at times we at the end of my lens!!

The very strong winds this week have brought lots of these birds in to the country from Scotland to Devon.

Giving me and Allan our best ever views of this bird.

It may look like we were unnecessarily close but the very small puddle and the bird coming to us despite moving back a number of times. Phone shots and wet sleeves, amazing!

Mr. Chard & the Grey Phalarope.

After a brilliant day headed back to Cheddar the Black Tern still there and it even flew over our heads!

Almost finished and back on patch y'day with a very low count of 33 species.
Linnet and Kestrel being the highlights.

Did see this a first for me a Grey Squirrel and kit being carried.

She ran towards me keeping her eye on me, them almost at my feet dropped the baby and ran off? The baby squirrel then looked at me then also ran off looking for Mum ?! weird.

Going back to that macro thing, I finally got a dedicated macro lens, Canon 100mm 2.8
Here's a few a the first results.

A bit more practice required but happy so far.

Well thats it, a massive blog but hope you enjoyed my travels, please leave a comment or drop me a email for any advice or help Thanks for now.

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Friday, 7 September 2018

All 58 Butterflies in 2018

58 Butterflies of 2018 

After a successful year last year and so much fun i'd decided to go for all the UK Butterflies again, although missing the Cryptic Wood White this year so just the 58. This year would be different as Lauren my daughter also wanted to see them all, so planning trips was much harder this year as trips had to be planned around her work. The images in the blog are all of this year, our favourite images of the particular species. My date green, Lauren's Red

My first Butterfly of the year was a Red Admiral, spotted while looking out the window on a cold drizzly Saturday. Lauren started her year some 2 month difference.
17/02/2018 - 14/04/2018

Brimstone seen on my local patch, so the first 2 staying close to home.
11/03/2018 - 14/04/2018

We both had a trip down to Somerset levels and apart from Cuckoo, Great White Egrets and Lesser Whitethroat also a few early Spring Butterflies
European Peacock
18/04/2018 - 18/04/2018

Small Tortoiseshell
18/04/2018 - 18/04/2018

Orange Tip
18/04/2018 - 18/04/2018

The fourth species of the day was a Small White seen flying at speed as we left the car park.
18/04/2018 - 18/04/2018

With Lauren working I headed up to Slimbridge and bumped into a Holly Blue, Although Lauren saw a Holly Blue on the 22/04 it took her till 26/07/2018 to get a picture, she was getting worried!
19/04/2018 - 22/04/2018

While at Slimbridge I Decided to pop up to Rodborough Common and saw a Green Hairstreak on the slopes, Lauren Got the Green hairstreak a few days later.
19/04/2018- 22/04/2018

On the 22nd we set off to one of my favorite sites Cotley Hill in Wiltshire managed a couple of new species Green Hairstreak for Lauren, then 
Green Veined White  

Plus Large White a species i struggled with last year it was my 48th species last year! 2018 my 10th

I took the lead again as Lauren working hard, Speckled Wood from our Local patch

Next butterfly on the same grey day was a beautiful Painted Lady saw 2 in a muddy ploughed field on patch a highlight for the day. Lauren's came from Isle of Wight.
24/04/2018 - 28/05/2018

Nearly 3 weeks till our next as a holiday to Rhodes Greece with some cracking birds seen and 9 new Grecian butterflies to add to my World list including the Scarce Swallowtail.


Then down to a local hill, Frys Hill above Axbridge, Somerset. Very steep but holds a few good species with some stunning views to boot. The Dingy Skipper

Love the Grizzled Skipper so tiny but perfect!

While we searched for photo opportunities I saw a Wall Brown Scamper across the hillside, we just  got a dodgy picture of this lovely butterfly. This taken later on in the year.

So a good Sunday was had, Monday morning came around and we headed up to Rodborough Common our closest spot for The Duke of Burgundy or so 
I thought more on this. First butterfly spot of the very sunny day was a Small Heath.

Then a
Duke of Burgundy a few seen, around 10 individuals, plus a few other butterflyers all snapping away.


Then Lauren took this lovely picture of the Brown Argus, a cracker!

A few days later just across the road from me was this Common Blue with invading Thick-legged flower beetle


Another trip on the sunday to the Chalk downs nr Warminster and a hill i'd not visited before for butterflies anyway, Battlesbury Hill a row chalk hills with Battlesbury, Scratchbury and Cotley hill all good sites, picking up this beautiful Small copper which seemed to much more frequent this year.

The main reason on going to Battlesbury was a good number of the fabulous Marsh Fritillaries were present and they did not disappoint.

After a couple of hours seeing these and the normal species we headed the 27 miles our closest spot for the Pearl Bordered Fritillary to Bentley Woods. A very warm day made them very difficult to get a picture of, not as many as previous years but still number 22 for the year was ticked.


We then drove back along the A36 and stopped at Cotley Hill it was on route. Worth the stop as we picked up a few more including Adonis Blue, I think fresh out within a hour or so.

With Plenty of Small Whites, Common Blues, Brown Argus and Green Hairstreak on the Wing there was plenty to snap away at, just as we were leaving I spotted this again very fresh Small Blue. A good day with 5 new Species for the year.

Monday morning blue skies and good warm weather predicted so a few were places on the cards, first off Wyre Forest another new spot for me, tried this year to explore other sites building up a bigger portfolio of Butterfly sites. It was boasting a very good Colony of Pearl Bordered Fritillary when we eventually found them , they weren't wrong! The problem was weather and heat, The fast flying frit's were flying at 100 miles landing and taking off as quick, we did manage a few pictures, but a earlier morning would be better. The highlight was Lauren's first ever Wood Warbler, heard calling then posed nicely for a few pics.

Monkwood Next another new site and plenty of Wood Whites a site I shall definitely return we got some great shot of the delicate butterfly.

Here's our comparison of the Cryptic Wood White from Ireland 2017.

Next a another new local and it seemed forgotten site. Tucking Mill some 5 miles from my home, one of the biggest surprises of the year was finding Marsh Fritillary there 10/15 on the very small site with Dingy, Grizzled and the first Large Skipper for Somerset 2018 seen here. I tried another site not far away and saw more Marsh Fritillary, all so close to home.
23/05/2018- 10/06/2018

Work and other commitments and it was the 27th till the next trip and back to Fry's hill nr Cheddar and one of Somerset's only sites for the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, A good year for them on the hill with more seen than last year.

Monday was Lauren's normal day off and the tickets were booked and a boat trip was in order, to the Isle Of Wight. I normally ferry across and ride my bike but Lauren wanted to take the easier route of ferry and bus. It was a great day taking in Wheelers Bay first seeing 100's of one of the UK's prettiest butterflies the Glanville Fritillary, a short bus ride along coast to Compton Bay and in my opinion the best place to see them, with a stunning backdrop of Freshwater Bay a the blue seas. 
As we'd been sat on a bus for most of the day we.... I decided to walk the 6,7,8 miles or so to the Needles Lauren not to happy but a lovely walk and then open aired bus back to ferry terminal, it then rained but this didn't spoil the day.

Next trip was the biggy the Chequered Skipper and Scotland. 483 miles and 9 hours later we arrived a easy drive for a profession drive like myself, just my normal working shift. Our first Chequered Skipper was at 8:30pm and the famous scottish Midges were not nice, biting through the newly acquired nets and our insect repellent!
Lauren really enjoying the experience! Not.

The Next Morning the midges had eased a bit but still after a hour we'd had enough, but got my open winged shot which I missed out on last year.
We left Glasdrum heading for Oban and our first trip to Mull what a place White Tailed Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers a definite return trip to here. After spending the night we then drove a further 150 miles to Chanonry Point via Ben Nevis for some Dolphin action, we did see them just. The drive home was 11 hours, O fun! 

A few days rest and 3 days of work.... Driving! We headed down to Haddon Hill, Exmoor with Allan Chard for the Heath Fritillary of which this year showed very well, seeing good numbers.

On the return passing the Poldens the plan was drop into Green Down for the Large Blue, but first butterfly was the Meadow Brown of which year I saw everywhere, a very good year for this species.

Next the Large Blue came into sight, seeing a good number of this rare butterfly.

Almost leaving and exactly the same as last year a fresh Marbled White appeared,
making it a great day and getting closer with this the 33rd of the year.

That was Sunday, Monday morning we set off very early to drive to the Lake District arrived at Foulshaw at 10am and within a few minutes had clocked the Large Heath, Osprey,and Hobby! Although we saw them hear popped along the road to Meathop for these shots.

Just across the road is a little site called Latterbrow tucked away behind the Derby Arms and the same site i got Northern Brown Argus from last year so we did the same, this year it was much harder to find these tiny butterflies. We search for at least a hour before we found one, only saw 2 in the 2 hours we were there.

A ride through the western end of the lakes heading for The Old Post Office Campsite at Santon Bridge which would be our home for the night, but first the Small Mountain Ringlet was calling and a short walk up to Irton Fell (Lauren would disagree with short I think.) 
                              But a beautiful afternoon and soon we saw Small Mountain Ringlet, a fair few about but harder than last year to photograph as it was a bit windy, when we saw one it drifted across the fell only to disappear into grass, but tick number 36 was ticked. Back to Campsite and Fish n Chips and a rare pint it was.

All the Lake District ones done so now the drive towards Norfolk but stopping off at Glapthorn nr Peterborough for the Black Hairstreak which this year was having a great time with great numbers being reported. 
The journey was 255 miles, 5 hours. So quite long but once we arrived it was not hard to find this cracking little Hairstreak.

Now 2pm we left driving the 100 mile 2 hours to Buxton heath nr Norwich, the weather had changed to very overcast and cold, in fact coats were put on when we arrived at this little heath site, I was not feeling confident I must admit, but thought we could alway get the Silver Spotted Blue a bit closer to home if we missed it, but Lauren was confident! 
When we reached last years spot we found plenty all being very photogenic and posing nicely!

The cold temperature helped a lot, to the point of getting some warmth from my hands.

After 20 miles and 40 mins we arrived at our campsite, Potter Heigham. 

A day of 364 miles and 8 hours driving I rested a bit. Lauren even made the tea, Chunky Chicken and Veg with Chocolate Hobnobs for pudding.
Next Morning we headed for Hickling Broad, a very different day overcast and still cold 14c Last year at 7am it was 20c and blue skies! No Swallowtail dipite looking for a couple of hours, Back up plan was a drive to Strumpshaw fen and within half a hour of arriving the Doctors front garden paid off!
We saw a few more around this fantastic reserve along with Marsh Harriers, Norfolk Hawkers.

6 days later and I returned to Green Down, Somerset for another go at a opened wing shot of the Large Blue, didn't get that but did get Ringlet, this one from across the road from me not sure of which aberration this is? 
19/06/2018- 22/06/2018

Also a Comma of which the early part of our year seemed far fewer around, but had a good emergence in July.


June the best month with 20 species ticked, Small Skipper next, again across the road from me, only foot power required.

Next work for me but sunday we headed off to the Allun valley nr. Bridgend Wales, our closest spot for UK rarest butterfly the High Brown. A lovely day if a little warm for this very quick butterfly, first tick of the day was a Dark Green Fritillary of which is very similar in flight to our target species.

After much searching we finally caught up with a few High Browns settled on Brambles making them a bit easier to tell apart from the Dark Greens, those  spots on the underneath the best way to tell apart  also the missing or small black dot 3rd vein in from outside.

Monday morning we both headed down to Alners Gorse a great little reserve in Dorset and a place where i got Purple, White, and Brown Hairstreak all in one day 2016. First spot today was The Gatekeeper.

Next in the wooded area on the reserve was one of my favorite the White Admiral, Lauren spotted first, i failed to get a shot for 20 mins putting me in a strop but my persitance paid of!

Then Silver Washed Fritillary a cracking frit. 

I've included its silver form, Valesina only comes in the Female form but a great addition to the UK Butterflies

A one of the target species a White Hairstreak

Another Hairstreak the Purple from Clanger wood in Wiltshire, but that afternoon I went up to my very local wood on patch and stood pondering why we never get hairstreak, Elm, Oak and Bramble all present..... then to my amazement I spotted a White Letter Hairstreak high up in the Oak Tree.. WOW!!! but wait a bit more searching I also found a Purple Hairstreak, I couldn't believe it. 

This was My 2018 Highlight!! 
It also was the first sighting for Somerset 2018, get in!
27/06/2018- 30/06/2018

July soon came around and only 9 left. A trip to the coast and our closest bit is Sandbay nr. Weston Super Mare our target was the Grayling but a surprise was finding a few Essex Skipper feeding along the path edge. Picked Lauren's picture for this one as it really shows the Black antenna tips beautifully.

Next my third first for Somerset the Grayling 10+ spotted or not being a master of disguise, although this picture from Portland bill with the Blue being the Dorset coastline.

Next off a drive to Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire a great site for his Majesty The Purple Emperor, previous years we've seen a load here but this year fewer seen this one was seen almost in the car park. Went to a few other sites a bit closer to home this year but only saw 1 at Savernake.

The following week a quick afternoon trip down to the nearby Mendips and the Lovely Chalkhill Blue, the Snow earlier in the year and constant sunshine had made the grass grow fiercely this year making it seem a very different site to previous years i've visited. This one a slight Aberration.

It was Lulworth Skipper time and a scorching hot day we headed down to Dorset and Portland Bill a new site for me as last year i went to Bindon Hill, Lulworth, I need not have worried as we saw  a load of this scruffy little skipper. 
Plus went to Tout Quarry on Portland Bill a great site with some beautiful Grayling, Hummingbird Hawk Moths, Chalkhill, Small Blues. Earlier in week a Large Tortoiseshell was seen on Portland we looked but no luck.

The following week we planned a trip to the Royal International Airshow at Fairford, a day of Loud Jets and much more aggressive fliers, was not expecting a fly past Clouded Yellow! 
This Laurens picture a dodgy but Identifiable open wing shot. (just)

A few days later I went to nearby Winsley and saw 2 more.

With just 3 left we went to Oxford first for the Brown Hairstreak a new spot for me, we only saw it high up in Sallows but saw 5/6 and a very hot morning at RSPB Otmoor. Picture from another new spot Shipton Bellinger, Wiltshire.

After the success at Otmoor we drove across Oxford to Aston Rowant and The Silver Spotted Skipper, the wind on the hillside overlooking the very busy M40 and noise from the road made it a challenge, but managed a few shots, 100's of Chalkhill Blues on site here with some great close views of Red Kites.

I couldn't believe it was almost over one last butterfly to tick the Scotch Argus, We drove up to the Lake District on the Sunday afternoon and on arriving at Arnside Knott, getting lost, thanks Laur! We soon had our Last Butterfly our the 2018 season. 

After a few drinks at the local pub that evening we went the next morning to Smardale Gill across other side of the M6 and what a great site, a old railway track with Scotch argus everywhere nr the Viaduct 100's in fact the most abundant species of the year! 

Lauren very happy at the UK full set of 58.
(plus 2017 we saw the Cryptic Wood from Ireland)

Me, also very happy and the 2nd year in row the full UK set 

I'm now planning next year!

I'd like to thank Lauren for putting up with my constant moaning and panicking plus
everyone for your help for finding places and advice couldn't have done it without you all! 

Plus all the favorites and retweets on Twitter and all the kind words of support.

Twitter page @nslbutterflies

Plus Instagram for your kind words 

Closest travelled: Meadow Brown (Across road from home)
Furthest travelled: Chequered skipper (1000 mile round trip, which turnned into a 1800 mile trip with Mull and Chanonry Point)

Easiest to photograph: Scotch Argus as so many seen.
Hardest to photograph: Northern Brown Argus as hardly any seen.

Most expensive : Would have been Lake district 3+ Black Hairstreak, then Norfolk trip

Favourite: Swallowtail,Glanville Fritillary 

Now the Miles who everyone has been asking about 2895.2 which is a lot ! 
But add on at least 1800 more miles for returning journeys making a grand scary total of 4695 
Cost of fuel  £600.00
Some pushbike a lot of walking and 3000 pictures.

Photography we use a 7dmk2 with 100-400L series lens

If anyone needs any advice or info on sites I'd be pleased to help.


Thanks For Looking! 
  Thanks For All Your Support!

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