Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Big Moor Year Tick

Last Thursday I spent a few hours up on Big Moor. Whilst there I added Whinchat to the "year list", with one adult and at least 3 juveniles present.

Whinchat (juvenile)

Whilst up there, I also saw juvenile Stonechat, Meadow Pipits, Skylark and 5 Red Deer.

Red Deer

Insect wise, I saw Black Darter, Small Heath, Common Darter, Common Hawker (2) and Emerald Damselfly.

Black Darter

Common Darter (female/immature)

Small Heath on Harebell

Emerald Damselfly (male)

Year List update:
166 - Whinchat

Monday, 22 August 2016

Linacre WeBS - 21st August 2016

This Sunday was the set date for this month's WeBS count, so Luke and I went down for a couple of hours to see what was about. Numbers were average for this time of the year, and the highlight was the immature Shag that celebrated its 9 month anniversary today, being first recorded on 21st November 2015 (see details here). The Shag was on the bottom reservoir, fishing just by the wall. I managed to get a  quick photo, looking into the early morning sun, before it swam off.


Other waterbirds seen this month were: Mallard (60), Grey Heron (4; 1 on the bottom reservoir and 3 together in trees on the middle reservoir), Mandarin Duck (16), Coot (6; 4 adults and 2 well grown juveniles), Moorhen (3; 1 adult and 2 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (2), Great-crested Grebe (5; 1 adult and 1 juvenile on the middle reservoir and 1 adult and 2 juveniles on the top reservoir), Kingfisher (1 heard on the middle reservoir) and Tufted Duck (30; 28 adults and 2 "fluffy" ducklings).

Tufted Duck (duckling)

The woodland birds are pretty quiet at this time of the year, so we didn't hear too much else, although one bird, the Green Woodpecker, was a good record, being just the second record for 2016. Other birds seen or heard were Common Buzzard (1 heard), Nuthatch (heard), Wren (singing), Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Robin (juvenile), Great-spotted Woodpecker (heard) and Willow Warbler (1 singing).

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sunny Linacre

The weather this week has been super, with lots of sun and temperatures in the low 20s, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a few hours down at Linacre to see which insects were about. I've been down twice this week, and have managed to see 9 species of butterfly, 3 species of dragonfly, 2 species of damselfly, 4 species of bee and at least 9 species of hoverfly.

The butterflies seen were: Peacock (5; 3 on buddleia by the middle reservoir and 2 on buddleia in the ringing site), Red Admiral (2 on buddleia in the ringing site), Small Copper (2 battling males on Ragwort on the wall of the middle reservoir), Meadow Brown (5 all around the site), Gatekeeper (2 at the bottom of the top reservoir),  Comma (1), Large White (10 all around the site), Green-veined White (1 male) and Speckled Wood (7 around the site).

Red Admiral

Speckled Wood (underwing)

The 3 dragonfly species seen were Brown Hawker (at least 5 flying around the site, mainly on the top reservoir), Migrant Hawker (2, flying around the bottom of top reservoir dam wall) and Common Dater (1 male basking on the boardwalk by the top reservoir on the 18th- the first record of 2016).

Common Darter

The two damselfly species seen were Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselfly.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

The bees seen were: Tree, White-tailed, Red-tailed and Carder Bee (Common, I think).

Tree Bumblebee

Common Carder Bee

At the start of the post I mentioned I'd seen at least 9 species of hoverfly. I say at least, because I'm sure there were more there that I couldn't identify! Anyway, I'm going to write another post about hoverflies, so here's a picture of one of my favourite species, Volucella inanis to be going on with.

Volucella inanis

As well as the insects, I also saw the immature Shag again (now into it's 9th month!!), 1 juvenile Cormorant, 14 Mandarin Ducks, 43 Mallards, 7 Great Crested Grebes ( 3 adults and 4 juveniles), 1 Grey Heron, 4 Grey Wagtails, 18 Tufted Ducks, 5 Coots ( 3adults and 2 juveniles), 5 Moorhens ( 3 adults and 2 juveniles), 12 Swallows, a group of c.50 House Martins and a young Common Toad, my first adult toad at Linacre.

Common Toad

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Smashing Sunday

Four years ago, during the London Olympics, the British athletes celebrated what was called Super Saturday, when lots of medals were won. At the time, I "borrowed" the title for a blog post about a really good ringing session I took part in with Sorby Breck Ringing Group (see post here). Well, four years down the line, the Rio Olympics are taking place and the British athletes have had a "Super Sunday", with lots of medals won again, and guess what? I've "borrowed" the slightly amended title to describe a "smashing" ringing session I took part in with 2 other ringers on Sunday at Linacre Reservoirs.

In total, we caught 64 birds of 15 species, which, in itself is great, but what made it even more amazing was the number of warblers in the total. The most numerous warbler was Willow Warbler, with 12 juveniles ringed!! To put this total into some kind of context, since we started ringing at Linacre in 2012, we've only ever caught 13 adults, and have never caught any juveniles before, so Sunday's total was outstanding.

Willow Warbler (1 of 12 juveniles)

In addition, we also caught several other warblers, Chiffchaff (4 juveniles and a retrap adult), Blackcap (7 juveniles and 1 adult) and Whitethroat, (2 juveniles). I'm particularly pleased with the Whitethroat record, as I'd only heard and seen the male bird singing once this year, so proof of breeding was very welcome.

Whitethroat (1 of 2 ringed)

Along with the warblers, we also had a good morning with the Linacre "regulars" (new/re-traps): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/0, Wren 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Coal Tit 2/0, Dunnock 1/0, Blue Tit 12/0, Great Tit 8/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 4/0 and Goldcrest 3/0. Phew!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wall Lizard

This will be my last post about my recent holiday in the Isle of Wight (promise!), so I thought I'd finish with a post about a super little lizard that Jayne and I managed to see whilst down on the island.

As the title suggests, the reptile in question is the Wall Lizard, a reptile that is native in Jersey, but one that was released in the UK. Ventnor is a "hotspot" for this species and is found in good numbers in this part of the island, a particular hotspot being the Ventnor Botanical Gardens. More details about Wall Lizards can be found here.

Jayne and I saw our first lizard on our first day in Ventnor, with one sunning itself on a bench along the coastal path just below Ventnor Park.

Wall Lizard (Ventnor Park)

We then had a day in the botanical gardens and saw at least a dozen. The best area in the park for lizards, was the aptly named "arid area", which is in a very sunny spot. We did, however, see them in other areas. Here are a few photos.

Wall Lizard (Ventnor Botanical Gardens)

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Isle of Wight Birds - Part 2

Since my last post about the bird life of the Isle of Wight (see here), Jayne and I have managed to see a few more species, and get a few more nice views of species previously reported.

New species seen were; Dartford Warbler (1 on Tennyson Down), Gannet ( 1 adult that flew past Ventnor Beach), Kingfisher (1 from the hide at Newtown NNR), Curlew (2 flying over the saltmarsh at Newtown NNR), Wheatear (3 juveniles on Tennyson Down) and House and Sand Martin (both seen in Bembridge, the first over the pub, and the second species over the beach).

Along with these new species, we also enjoyed good views of some other species. Highlights were a fishing Little Egret  seen on two occasions in Bembridge Harbour. 2 Greenshanks were also seen here on Friday 12th, up from the single bird seen earlier in the holiday.

Little Egret

After the sight of 2 Ravens flying high over Afton Down on 31st July, we enjoyed excellent views of 2 (possibly a pair?)  at The Needles. Both birds were flying around the New Battery for most of our visit, and eventually came down to grab some picnic left overs from the floor, before landing on a metal mast. Great views!

Ravens (look at those beaks!)

Also seen on Tennyson Down were Stonechats, including at least 3 juveniles.

The last bird of note has to be the juvenile Mediterranean Gull that was kind enough to land on the beach at Bembridge just in front of me, and stayed long enough for a photo.

Mediterranean Gull

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Bembridge and St Helen's Duver

The first time we visited the Isle of Wight we stayed in Bembridge, and enjoyed many walks along the harbour and St Helen's Duver. During our stay this year, we visited several times, spending time on the beach and also walking across the causeway/wall that separates Bembridge Harbour and the Old Mill Ponds.

This causeway is particularly good for viewing the birds, and we managed to spot Sandwich Terns, Greenshank (2 on the Ponds on 12th), Oystercatcher (1 on 12th), Little Egret, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Great-spotted Woodpecker (heard), Green Woodpecker (heard), Linnet (heard), Goldfinch (heard), Herring, Black-headed, Great Black-Backed and Mediterranean Gull.

As most readers know, I particularly like "Med" Gulls (sorry Jayne!!), and this year I was very lucky to see not only several adult birds (3 or 4 at least), but also got very lucky with a  juvenile bird that landed briefly on the beach allowing me this photo. This is my first ever sighting of this species in this plumage- lovely!

Mediterranean Gull (juvenile plumage)

I also managed to get a few nice shots of a Little Egret that was fishing in the harbour.

Little Egret