Friday, 31 May 2019

Butterflies & Birds along the way.

Date: 
13/05/2019 - 30/05/2019
Location: 
Somerset Levels, Cirencester Woods, Forest of Dean, Isle of Wright, Frys Hill, Priddy, Newton St Loe, Halse Combe, Haddon Hill, Cotley Hill.
Weather: 
Mixed Bag, Mostly Clear and Dry.
Species Highlights: 
Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Bittern, Hobby, Tree Pipit, Wood Warbler, Bullfinch, Firecrest.
Adder,
Small Pearl+Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Wood White, Glanville Fritillary, Green Hairstreak, Marsh Fritillary, Heath Fritillary.

Observation: 
On the 13th Monday me & Lauren headed to Ham Wall, the place was alive with the songs of Blackcap & Garden Warbler, never seen so many.



Of course we also saw Hobby, Bittern & Great White Egrets.


On the 15th, I went to Cirencester Woods with Allan Chard, I've been trying to check other places out for Butterflies, expanding my portfolio as it were. Finding a fair few Pearl Bordered Fritillaries although as the day got warmer the Frits started to flit not staying still for long, but managed some decent shots.


While searching I also found a Crab Spider looking amazing under my 100 mm Macro.



There were plenty of Wood Ants having epic battles, its not until you look closer you see the struggles of the tiny.


The Wood Ant measures 4.5–9 mm in length.


The rest of that day we had arranged to meet Ben Locke in the Forest of Dean for some Wood White action, Ben didn't disappointed and I was really pleased getting some great shots and saving a fair few miles as normally I'd go to Monks Wood or Haugh Wood.


We went back at dusk and found a few roosting giving us more opportunities.



Work, then on the 19th I went to Cotley Hill & Battlesbury but no new species on my butterfly list to add, but did get this Linnet with a Rape seed backdrop.



At home I spotted this stunning Ruby Tiger Moth.



Lauren took these with my Macro lens, brilliant eh!


After getting better shots than I was getting, I took it off her!!


Monday morning came the 20th. 
Lauren wanted to go to Forest of Dean so off we went, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart's then back to the Wood White spot with Wood Warblers singing and yet more Wood White butterflies.



From here we took the long way home and across to Prestbury Hill in Gloucestershire another new spot for me and the Duke of Burgundy showed nicely.


Along with Brown Argus and stunning views across into Cheltenham.


Small Blues were plentiful and also this great Common Heath Moth.


While I was photographing Small Blues at the bottom of the hill, Lauren phoned me to say she'd spotted some Tree Pipit displaying, I tried to run up the hill failing miserably ending in a crawl to where she was stood. Great to watch the Tree Pipit at close quarters and worth the climb.


On the 21st, I'd planned a trip to see the Glanville Fritillary and to off set the miles I do, me & Allan Chard rode our bikes from Lymington to Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wright a beautiful day and plenty of my favourite butterflies to see.


Along with Green Hairstreak, Small Heath & Small Blues it was stunning.


I found a little friend who let me gently place him where ever, Allan did try but it flew off only to come back to me! 



Even found the Larva of a Glanville.


If you've never been to see this butterfly at its real home I can recommend, it's a £8.50 ferry ride and only a smallish hill to ride up and with fish n chips to end, a perfect day.


On the 23rd I made the short trip to Fry's Hill, Cheddar for the Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary a small colony but with thanks to Ross & Jen for keeping me informed of its emergence. 



24th and work that night I stayed close to home and visited Box for the Marsh Fritillary great to see this small little field with 15+ Marsh Frit's thriving. After here I returned to my push bike and visited Tucking Mill only to find no butterflies. 
But at work that night I picked up a local lepidopterist who told me that 2 weeks earlier it was full of Marsh Fritillary, so I was too late. I've changed my dairy and I'll visit a week or so earlier next year.


After Lauren doing so well with my Macro thought I'd try for some Dragons in our garden, none were to be seen but did spot this tiny Zebra jumping spider.


At 5/6 mm it really is micro.


A return to patch on the Sunday the 26th with very little going on apart from constant drizzle, and this Whitethroat being the highlight.



27th and Lauren away I headed down to Priddy another spot for Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, weather not perfect being very windy I managed to find a couple plus a single Marsh Fritillary not been reported here for 10 years!
Found this Six Spot Burnet Moth Larva.


Here's a Small Pearl bordered Fritillary.


28th Weather was looking good and with Heath Fritillaries out, on yet another new spot for me, Halse Combe near Porlock, Somerset. With a good ideal where to look thanks to Roger. I made the 2 hour trip, I found the Butterflies within a few minutes of arriving.


Apart from Heath Fritillaries, I also found ticks one had attached itself to my stomach! I used my tick remover and a antiseptic wipe but continued to itch for the rest of the day.


With great views out to sea I decided to have a wander and came across a Adder a melanistic one, (development of dark-colored pigment in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism) all black and apparently quite rare. I was well chuffed.


Exmoor on a summers day.


I dropped into Haddon Hill on way back my normal spot for Heath Frit's but none on the wing here, Redpoll, Chiffchaff and this smart Tree Pipit kept me company.


30th a patch walk and blue skies to start a real bumper day with some great birds, Bullfinch, Stock Dove, Jay, Yellowhammer, Kestrel, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Skylark, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Whitethroat. 
And this Buzzard displaying.


Gliding then stooping in a territorial display.


But the real highlight apart from seeing my first Large Skipper of the year was this beautiful tiny Firecrest!! A patch first and Newton St Loe, 102nd tick.


I heard it calling and it reminded me of my time in Mallorca so when I spied it my finger pushed the shutter far to many times, but come on a Firecrest!!


I walked the rest of the way home smiling to myself, on Sunnybank 50 yds from home, I spotted these Common Blues in a lovers clinch. A bit worn and a slight aberration.


Once home and waiting for my son to get off computer so I could see what i'd captured this bullfinch landed on our tree, so from the bathroom window I managed so nice shots of I think one of UK's best looking birds. 



Wayne Year bird List: 174
Lauren Year Bird List: 170


Butterflies now 30 species



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Saturday, 18 May 2019

New York Spring Migration Trip - Part Three

Date: 2nd May - 7th May
Location: New York - United States

Part One Here
Weather: 
Sunshine and Dry.. Finally!

Species Lifers - Day 5 - Central Park + Governor's Island
Red Breasted Nuthatch, Orchard Oriole, Brown Creeper, Nashville Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Throated Vireo, Red Throated Diver, Killdeer, Yellow Crowned Night Heron, Bobolink

Species Lifers - Day 6 - Central Park
Swamp Sparrow, White Eyed Vireo, Summer Tanager, Pine Siskin, Canada Warbler, Least Flycatcher

Observation: 
With our last full day in New York, we stayed local and and spent the day in Central Park. We caught the tube to the Park (to save our steps for later in the day!). 
We arrived in North Woods and had a great start.

 Our first sighting was this showy Northern Parula.


In the same area, we had some great views of the Chestnut Sided Warbler


A new lifer for Lauren, a Brown Creeper, very similar to our Treecreepers.


We finally managed to get some good views of a American Redstart, that landed in the bush next to us, no more than 5 foot away! A very fast moving bird!


Leaving the North Woods area, this Yellowthroat popped up.


At this point, the moisture from yesterday had kicked in, Dad's camera had completely steamed up so whilst he stood pointing his lens at the sun to warm it up,after 20 mins it cleared. I stood photographing the Orchard Orioles.


A quick toilet break, we stopped off at Conservatory Garden, totally worth it, as we found a pair of Nashville Warbler


The sightings were quickly arriving from the Ramble area, so we started walking South.

This gorgeous Kinglet catching flies above our heads


We stopped in our favourite part of the Park. The Rambles feeders.

A common visitor were House Finch.


A stunning Brown Headed Cowbird in the sunshine


We pulled out a Muffin for a snack and within seconds, the Cardinal hopped into view.


We were no more than 100 foot away when a tweet come in for a Blue Grosbeak at the Feeders, so we rushed back and managed to see him.



It suddenly become very birdy in this little area, with Blue Headed Vireo


Then another lifer, Yellow Throated Vireo.


A second Grosbeak species at the same location, this time a Rose Breasted Grosbeak, a bird we'd seen plenty of around each location we had visited. A stunning bird!


As we had done so well this morning, we decided to carry on and head to Governor's Island. It took about an hour to get there and involved a 2 Tubes and a Ferry, but it was worth it!

This picture taken on the way out the Park. How stunning is this view!


We arrived onto Governor's Island, with tweets saying '2 Bobolink' on the Island. We spoke to a lovely birder who gave us some great information on some target birds, but he hadn't seen the Bobolink, we had a quick look but couldn't see any either.

We followed his directions 'Head for a area that has a large puddle and some horrible buildings' and just as we thought we had gone the wrong way, we spotted a large puddle, with plenty of Black Duck, Gulls and then in the distant a single Killdeer!!


We had seen a low number of Laughing Gull, compared to previous visits, but this pair were perched against the city backdrop.


Not far from them, we found this Loon, a Red Throated, our first species of this in the US and our second tick for the Island.


You get a great view of the Statue from here, and no tourists here!


The reason we visited the Island was to get some Yellow Crowned Night Heron, as they nest on the Island. We were advised by two separate birders head to the School and you will see them.... we thought they would be nesting in plain site but didn't expect this!!

Initially we spotted this Juvenile on the floor collecting some sticks, which we presume was for the nest, We stayed our distance as didn't know how close we could get, with that a local passed the Heron at no more than a few feet away.


He did later fly up into the tree, enabling us to get some close shots.


Look at that eye!!


This was one of the adults on the nest, in total we seen 3 adult birds and 1 juvenile, but only 1 nest, maybe the Juvenile was helping build the nest?



Extremely happy we started heading back to the Ferry port, going back via the Fort to try again for the Bobolink that had been sighting about 2 hours earlier.

After a good search we found 3 Male birds feeding in the grass!



We had exceeded our targets and with a Island just over a mile in size, it holds some amazing wildlife, well worth a visit if you get the chance.

We headed back in Manhattan for a celebratory meal, think it was well deserved!

7th May

Our last day in New York and we had 7 hours for birding left before heading to the Airport.

Like yesterday, we caught the Tube to the Park, this time planning to get off at 81st Street (4 Stops).... that's the last time I let Dad navigate, he told us we had arrived after what turned out to be ONE stop so we arrived at the beginning of the Park and it would have been quicker to walk than to do what we did!

We headed straight for the Feeders, as sightings were slow this early on.

This a Red Bellied Woodpecker about to be attacked by a Downy Woodpecker.



This a Rose Breasted Grosbeak - Female, which is just as pretty as the Male, we thought!


This the Male.


Alot of the birds were perching lovely in the morning light.

White Throated Sparrow


A displaying Red Winged Blackbird


Northern Waterthrush


We seen a couple of birders getting excited and looking up, so we headed over to see what they were on. A White Eyed Vireo, another lifer!

A lovely bird to photograph as it perched a lot longer than the Warblers did.



Just about finishing up and at Turtle Pond, we sat and had some lunch, when this Eastern Kingbird flew over and perched nice and close.


On the way out, we got some tweets and the Azalea Pond was looking good, so again we had a short break here. After about 10 minutes, a Summer Tanager perched above us, another lifer, a similar bird to the Scarlet Tanager.


In this area, we then spotted 3 more lifers in a matter of minutes. We heard a flock of what sounded like Goldfinch, and we seen about 4 American Goldfinch, and amongst them was 3 Pine Siskin!


Then feeding below them was a Swamp Sparrow, a bird that we had missed most days but had been sighted.


And then.. we know!! We seen a flock of Purple Finch feeding in the nearby trees, a couple came down and perched enabling us to get some pics.

Our last bird of the whole trip was yet another lifer a Least Flycatcher, we sat and watched it feed for around 10 minutes.


From there we headed back to the hotel and onto the airport :(

A round-up of what we seen. Over 6 days we seen:

126 Species
57 Life Ticks
1 New butterfly

An average of 58 species a day and almost a 50% life/sighting ratio.
With approx 9000 pictures taken between us.

We had the most amazing trip and hope you enjoyed reading our blogs and looking at our images.

If you need any information on locations, we are more than happy to help.



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