Friday, 19 September 2014

Big Sixth Anniversary Special

Don't get excited.There's not actually anything that special. It's big though very big! ;-) Monday 15th September 2008 was the date of my first post on this blog so this Monday was the blog's sixth anniversary. I honestly wouldn't have thought back then that I'd still be writing it now, although I don't really write that much these days and seem to have had a lot more to say back then. I should have posted on Monday but I couldn't as I was in hospital (good excuse) having a bone biopsy on my upper jaw, which was nice! I've been stuck at home all week but have been a bit too woozy to concentrate on typing. I'm feeling much better today (although still look like I've been in a fight) and you'll be pleased to know that I have lots of photos to post. They are from a visit to Aylesbeare Common last Sunday morning, and a trip to Lower Bruckland Pondst he following day plus a visit to Seaton Marshes where I did my good deed for the week.

 
At Aylesbeare Common there were still one or two Graylings hanging on.

 
Grayling - Hipparchia semele



Devil's Bit ScabiousSuccisa pratensis

 

 With European Garden Spider - Araneus diadematus


And with Dronefly - Eristalis tenax


Common Frog - Rana temporaria



Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Cordulegaster boltonii


Lesser Skullcap - Scutellaria minor


There were quite a few gorse bushes covered in these webs, which belong to the Gorse Spider Mite.
Notice the pale 'bleached' areas on the bush where the mites have already been feeding. The warm dry weather seems to have caused a bit of a population explosion.


Gorse Spider Mite - Tetranychus lintearius 

The only migrant birds I saw were a few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, a couple of Wheatears and a single Whinchat. There were quite a few Stonechats but these were most likely local breeders.Some of them looking rather scruffy like so....



Stonechat
                                                
The following day I decided to visit Lower Bruckland Ponds. It's just a quick five minute drive in the car but I only had my bike, I got there though...Just! It was definitely worth it, with the willow trees around the top pond full of Chiffchaffs and Spotted Flycatchers. There were at least four possibly five Spotflys possibly a local family group.


Chiffchaff


Some Chiffchaffs were  moulting and very scruffy looking like this one







Spotted Flycatchers

I then cycled back to Seaton and popped in at Seaton Marshes on the way home. There were a couple of Wheatears on the path to the hide and a few Chiffchaffs around the Borrow Pit. Whilst watching a tandem pair of Common Darters ovipositing I was surprised when the male suddenly released the female in mid air and instead of flying off she plummeted down into the water. She struggled and looked to all intents and purposes doomed. I just couldn't watch her life end in that way so found a long stick and fished her out. 


Trying to get water off her eyes...
 

Clinging to a tiny floating stick.
Look at that little face pleading for help. How could I refuse?


Back on dry land


 A bit more eye cleaning.
As you can see she didn't have much going for her as she's also lost most of one wing.



More eye wiping and she 'lives to fight another day'. Well possibly.



Migrant Hawker - Aeshna mixta


 Northern Wheatear 
Last but not least as no autumn blog post would be complete without one..


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Saturday Morning at Black Hole Marsh

I was at work when the Little Crake was showing on Thursday so I didn't get chance to add to the gallery of blurry shots of it. I had the briefest of views of it first thing on Friday morning through Ian's scope, but by the time I'd moved my scope into position it had bee seen off by a Water Rail. It hasn't been seen since. Yesterday I went back hoping to get some photos of the Curlew Sandpiper and the Little Stint, the former had gone but the Little Stint eventually came just about close enough. Some other regulars were showing very well though especially the Blackwits, Greenshank and Kingfishers.


Little Stint with Ringed Plover and Dunlin




Little Stint


Ruff



Black-tailed Godwit




Greenshank


Several Kingfishers showing around the Island Hide all morning.
Also reglulaly seen just outside the Tower Hide, where they can perch quite close...


This one ruined my photo of a Black-headed Gull!



Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Just A Few Birds From Black Hole Marsh

I'm not finding much time to fit in any birding at the moment but I did managed to get down to Black Hole Marsh on my bike this morning. I saw some nice birds, nothing too exciting which is a good job because my phone's totally knackered! No car and now no phone...sad times :-( Rarest bird by Black Hole Marsh standards was a lone Turnstone, common as muck in many places but scarce on our patch.




All the usual waders were present, with the best this morning being four Greenshanks and a couple of lovely Ruff, male and female. 


A Green Sandpiper came close enough for a photo for a change.




Greenshank


This photo shows the marked size difference between the Ruff and the Reeve really well. Sometimes depending on perspective it's not quite as apparent.


Like here. Different sizes but doesn't look as obvious, well not to me anyway!


More so again here though.
The male didn't hang around near the hide for long but the female did and I got a few nice shots of her.


 
It was much quieter down at the tower hide but I took some photos of a few of the usual suspects there.


Splashdown!


Little Grebe


I can see you!
This female Kingfisher didn't fool me with her cryptic plumage ;-)