Friday, 12 July 2019

Natures Jewels

Date: 30th June - 11th July
Weymouth, Bridgend, Newton St Loe, Sandpoint, Draycott, Savernake
Blue / Mid 20's but cloudy and muggy.
Species Highlights: 
Lulworth Skipper, Little Tern, Common Tern, High Brown, Purple/ White Letter Hairstreak, Yellowhammer, Hobby, Grayling, Essex Skipper, White Admiral, Emerald Damselfly.

Its that time of year when butterflies our my main target, so first trip was for the Lulworth Skipper and Portland Bill, Very easy, park, 5 steps and Lulworth Skippers!
The Lulworth Skipper once you get your eye in are fairly easy to spot, flying slightly differently and the C marking making them stand out from the Large and Small Skipper.

This shot showing the tiny Skipper extracting Pollen from the Field Scabious.

But as usual plenty of birds around the Bill with Linnet.

Skylark looking for easy pickings amongst the Lulworth feeding grounds

From here we stopped at Ferrybridge to look for Little Terns, it was not long before we spotted them flying over Chesil Beach looking for food.

This Greater Black Backed Gull was on the prowl.

With up to 50 adults pairs lots of youngsters could be seen, keeping the adults busy.

When leaving we spotted the Kestrel feeding on what looks like a chicken Chick??

Lodmoor our next stop and Common Terns/ Black Headed Gulls making a right racket.

A constant stream of adults with Sand Eels and other small fish.

Plenty of squabbling looking spectacular!

That was Monday on Sunday with Allan Chard we headed over to Bridgend and Old Castle Down for the High Brown and Dark Green Fritillary. A seemingly perfect day but for some reason Dark Greens & Hg's not showing well making it very hard to get views of either.

After some 5 hours and 7 miles of walking the ferns these were my best efforts.
Dark Green Fritillary.

Stonechat keeping a eye on us.

I saw a few High Browns but this only picture, a poor effort, but this Thistle will feature again.

Head on Dark Green Fritillary

So Tuesday was at a end, not happy. 
So Wednesday I went back only, didn't see a single sole there either which was a good job as I forgot my hat, but with a pink camera cloth on my head I managed my best ever views of this Yellowhammer who it seemed he couldn't see me, Camo??

Again walking and searching was thinking i'd never get views of the High Brown when I checked in on the thistle id seen a HG on yesterday.

A High Brown was on it, open wings so I waited for it to return, High Browns came back 4 times to this same thistle, all open wings was just about to give up after over a hour of waiting when I got the shot I wanted!

Thursday was patch walk day started off with Whitethroat and Blackcap in the lanes towards seven acre.

Was very pleased to see White Letter Hairstreak and Purple Hairstreak in their normal spot.

We had a response from the Duchy about the cutting down of almost all of Seven Acre. It was all done under Forestry commission licence.

 "Tree's will be restocked: Oak – 50% / Small leaved lime – 10% / Beech – 10% / Mixed native broad leaves – 15% / Field maple – 5% / Hazel – 10%. These species will ultimately provide a more varied habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, avian, mammals and any other wildlife that will benefit."

So I suppose long tern this will be good but still a shock to see our forest cut down.

Very quiet on the bird front on my walk to Lake but Butterflies everywhere. But once at Lake and sitting down spotted what I thought was a Sparrowhawk.... Nope a Hobby hunting over top lake!!

Giving me fantastic views but photography was into the sun, but stunning to watch for a hour catching many of the Dragonflies which were hawking over the lake.

A dragon in each talon and one in beak!

Emerald Damselflies, Brown Hawker, Emperor, Black Tailed Skimmer plus many Common Blues Damselflies. 

A good selection across lake.

Work for next few days but Sunday headed down to Sand Point NR. Weston Super Mare for a search for Grayling and Essex Skipper.

Once on the Point was astonished by the numbers of Marbled White and Meadow Browns they seem to be having a excellent year, I've even seen one in my garden this year!
But Grayling spotted whizzing across the landscape being chased by 2 more.

Essex Skippers too on the excellent rocks and Flowers.

No better place to be.

Saw at least 10 Grayling and 15 or so Essex Skippers.

ID tip looking at Essex Skipper from below, check for totally black tips to antenna, almost as though they've been dipped in Black paint, they also fly quicker than Small Skipper.

I dropped into Draycott for a early Chalkhill but nothing going on, maybe this week ?

Monday was suppose to be Purple Emperor day but with butterflying you never know and dispute checking out Savernake, Everleigh Ashes and Black Dog Wood we came away with very little. 
We will try next week.

Tuesday I thought id stay local and headed to Lords Wood again the weather was very muggy and butterflies not really showing so turned my hand to Dragonflies/ Damselflies.

A Emerald Damselfly female


So colorful.
You don't normally see the colors and details as they're usually zipping about.

But a 100mm macro lens and patients.

Loving my macro lens, all shots are handheld.

The only butterfly which landed was the stunner a Comma.

Walked about yesterday, Thursday and looking at the smaller things again.

Loved this Shot the Thick-legged flower beetle- Oedemera nobilis covered in Pollen.

Was almost home a this Stunning Crab spider caught my eye, I've never seen one with this red flash, this one called a Flower crab spider.

Nature's perfect.

2019 Butterfly Ticks - 52

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Saturday, 29 June 2019

Endemics in Tenerife!

Date: 18th-25th June 2019
Location: Tenerife
Blue Sky, Some Cloud, Hot and Sunny

Tenerife Endemics We Ticked: 
Common Buzzard, Bolle's Pigeon, Plain Swift, Willow Sparrow, Canary Bird, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Tenerife Blue Chaffinch, Tenerife Goldcrest, Laurel Pigeon, African Blue Tit, Grey Wagtail, Berthelot's Pipit, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Tenerife Robin, Kestrel

Observation: We arrived late into Tenerife, after a quick 10 minute airport transfer we arrived at the hotel. We were staying at Sandos San Blas and decided to have a wander to the Beach. Within 5 minutes we heard the classic sound of the Cory's Shearwater (also known as the Waka Waka bird) such a great sound!

Day 1  
Woke up at 6am still dark, so led in bed till 7am and then went for a explore, the Hotel boasted a nature reserve so thought this was a good place to start. First bird and a bird that we saw almost everywhere, was the Bertholot's Pipit standing to attention on the wall outside the hotel.

From here, I entered the reserve to see more pipits but very little else, eventually saw Canary Chiffchaff and Kestrel but that was it from the "Reserve".

After breakfast, and waiting for a Doctor for Lauren, we headed off to a picnic area on Mount Teide called Las Lajas, approx 1 hour from the Hotel, during this journey you pass through the cloud line and about 1000 metres above, the views are Spectacular!

We arrived at Las Lajas Picnic Area, and headed towards the 'tap area' after waiting a few minutes we had some great views of Blue Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Raven, Canary and Lizards! 

Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major canariensis)

Island Canary

Blue Chaffinch

Part of the Journey on the Return

After driving back to the Hotel, we decided to head back to the Beach, close to Dusk, to try and photograph the Shearwater's. On arrival, we spotted a raft of approx 300 Cory Shearwater sat about 0.5 miles out. We watched and waited, and after about 30 minutes, they started flying low over the water, allowing us some ID'able shots.

A stunning Sunset to end the first evening.

Day 2 -

As another cloudy day was forecast, we headed off to explore the Island and try out some more birding spots. We stopped off at Mirador de La Grimona, a little layby overlooking the local Beaches and a good area for Falcons.

We spotted a Buzzard (Sub) that flew and landed up in the rocks.

Moving up around we stopped off in a Layby overlooking Barranco De Ruiz where we had great views of Plain Swift, African Blue Tit, Buzzard (Sub) and Sparrowhawk.

Sparrowhawk + Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo insularum)

African Blue Tit

Plain Swift

Island Canary

We also had some distant views of the White-Tailed Laurel Pigeon.

The next morning, we done the same walk as the first morning, and seen mainly the same species as before, but no Barbary Partridge.

Spanish Sparrow (Also known as the Willow Sparrow)

Pair of Young Kestrel

Southern Grey Shrike

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea canariensis)

Spectacled Warbler

Day 3 -
I went for a wander on my own today, heading back to Barranco de Riuz still looking for both Pigeons still very distant but a few butterflies around.

Long Tailed Blue

Canary Speckled Wood - Pararge xiphioides

Finally a dodgy shot of the Bolle's Pigeon, green sheen on the head, just about, very hard to get close.

Bath White abundant species on the Island.

My plan was to check out the parking/picnic spots on way up the mountain but this means going through the cloud line, this is from Chanajiga picnic site. 

A word of warning don't come off the TF roads, I followed Google Maps it took me up dirt tracks and very narrow bumpy roads, if I was in my car I would have turned around but a hire car can go anywhere!

Chanajiga was right on the cloud line so pictures were very difficult. I could here Goldcrest and Chaffinch subs but couldn't see them through the mist.

I continued up Mount Teide to La Caldera, Zona Recreativa La Caldera which looking at Google maps now is almost the exact same height of Chanajiga, and no surprise covered in mist. I decided to eat my lunch here and had some success with the sub species of Chaffinch, Canarian Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs ssp. canariensis

Also Tenerife Robin - Erithacus rubecula ssp. superbus

Tenerife Goldcrest Regulus regulus ssp. teneriffae (The mist was getting worse so headed on up Teide to see what else I could find)

Apart from the stunning landscapes not much bird life to be found Bertholot's Pipit was about the only bird seen this one at a height of 2356m (Ben Nevis is 1345m).

After leaving this spot, I headed back down the mountain only to be stopped by a ground fire, had to wait around a hour for the fire crews to give the all clear. The next morning walked along the coastline towards San Miguel no birds seen but the Red Rock Crab was a great sight.

Lots of Tenerife Lizards - Gallotia galloti sunning themselves.

The next day, we managed to secure some tickets to visit Mount Teide via the Cable Cars.
A must do, if you get the chance.

After stepping off the Cable Car, a showy Berthelot's Pipit perched nicely.

Canary Blue's very common and a fleeting sight of Canary Red Admiral near the crater.

The return road. 
(On way up in morning there was a car rally going on so go diverted on way back down some 6 hours later the rally was still on so had to sit and wait for it to end)

Day Four
Went back to Barranco De Riuz for another try for those Pigeons, what with fires, Car Rally didn't think nothing else would disrupt me in this peaceful ravine, how wrong I could be, a endurance run had just started almost the same time I started to walk up the steep gorge. 160 runners sweating and asking me for water! I wasn't sparing any as my cameras and bag was heavy enough, but on a plus note the 9km run I didn't come last! Could hear a Buzzard calling and managed some decent shots of this Buteo buteo insularum.

Then getting back to the hire car the battery on key fob was flat and no where to stick key in to open. After some rubbing it eventually opened , the rest of the day I left it unlocked.
Went back to La Caldera, Zona Recreativa La Caldera and no mist but 100's of people!! Found a quite spot and saw some good views of the Tenerife Goldcrest Regulus regulus ssp. teneriffae.

A drier Robin, one thing you notice is Goldcrest and Robins are much shyer than ours this Robin was 50ft up a fir tree.

Heading to summit to go up and over Teide stopped at this much quieter Picnic spot.

Suddenly a few butterflies appeared this lovely Clouded Yellow.

Canary Islands Brimstone Gonepteryx cleobule

Plus this highlight the Canary Islands Red Admiral Vanessa vulcania.

After passing the Summit I dropped into Las Lajas the Blue chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and lots of Tenerife Lizards were present.

In all the picnic spots there are taps and barbecues where the locals visit this gives the birds somewhere to perch and drink from.

Day 5
Was a exciting morning, we booked onto a Dolphin and Whale Watching Trip, where it was advertised as a 99% chance of seeing one or the other. We set off from the Harbour and within 5 minutes we stopped some distant Dolphins, a further few minutes and our boat was surrounded by Bottlenose Dolphins.

About 30 minutes with the Dolphins, being very playful and showy, they headed further out to sea, so we continued out for some Whales. Once again within minutes of searching we were treated to some family groups of Pilot Whales.

Cory's Shearwater

Over the trip, we headed to the front for some Lunch. Coming around the corner we heard the unmistakable sounds of Parakeets. When photographing a local stopped and told us we were lucky to see them!

Nanday Parakeets

When I was putting my camera away, I heard Dad shouting, who had found a Monarch Butterfly! My first time seeing one. I'd seen in them in New York but a real beauty.

The last morning, our usual walk was a little more successful with Barbary Partridge and another Senegal Parrot.

Berthelot's Pipit

Barbary Partridge

A fairly successful trip although only 32 total species, 21 of these were Endemics.

Wayne Year World Bird List: 328
Lauren Year World Bird List: 318

Butterflies World List - 93 Species

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