Saturday 29 August 2009

A Much, Much Better Beer Head Experience.

After last Saturday's horrid dip, I was determined not to make the same mistake again today and so was up on Beer Head by 6.30. There were a few bits and bobs about including a good count of 26 Wheatears, a single flyover Tree Pipit, numerous Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Willowchiffs and seven lovely Yellow Wagtails. The MASSIVE highlight though was a Beer Head first, a Wryneck!! And luckily when Ian Waite found it I was only one field away. Interestingly Ian M and I had just spent fifteen minutes at the very same bushes and had seen virtually nothing, Gav had looked them over a short while earlier too, which just goes to show that it's always worth another look! It was only my second Wryneck ever, my first had been three years ago on the tramline at dusk.

Anyway the bird showed well, if only for very brief periods at first and after about 30 minutes or so appeared to have flown off. I hadn't got my scope with me (note to self: stop being so lazy-take your scope!!) so missed out on the opportunity to digiscope it, or indeed get a really good view. I did try to take a photo with my S3 but the results were shocking.

Now that's what I call a record shot!

Whilst at home having some brunch I heard from Steve that it was back in the same place. I dropped everything and rushed back with my scope (this time I forgot my bins! Duh!) I didn't need them as it happens and was soon enjoying fantastic scope views. Brilliant! It was feeding on the ground for quite long periods and even perching on top of a nearby bush. What a truly stunning bird, real 'value for money' I found it very hard to tear myself away. Another plus factor is that everyone who twitched it saw it. I really wish more birds would be as obliging.

I did get some nice digiscoped shots this time and here are a few of them, does five constitute a few? Yes, I think so. It could so easily be ten!! :-)

Hunched up.

Hiding - "I'm a branch, really"

Doing 'Wrynecking'
What?!! How's it do that?

Showing BOTH its best sides. What a bostin' bird! :-)

Here's a little video of it feeding in the grass.

Even though I was watching the fabulous Wryneck I just couldn't help myself from digiscoping this 'ere Wheatear. It just HAD to be done.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

It's Been a Week....

..So I thought I'd better put something on here just so my blog doesn't fall off the radar. I could blame it on not seeing much, which is true, but to be honest I just haven't felt like blogging. I'm probably still suffering after effects form Saturday morning's hideous dipping incident. Just one week shy of three years to the day that I (and many others) dipped the patch's first Ortolan Bunting, I managed to be one of a minority of local birders NOT on Beer Head and hence missed the patch's second Ortolan Bunting too. I managed to put on a brave face (I think) but I don't mind admitting I was quite miffed, especially as I heard over and over again how fantastically well it had been showing. I don't blame the lucky five for enthusing so, I'd have done the same. I'm genuinely very pleased for them, really. If you haven't read about it yet (I'm sure you have though) check it out here, complete with gripping photos. I did look at them, just the once mind. Not to worry though I'm NOT going to miss the August 2012 bird! To compound matters Phil and I left Black Hole Marsh last night just minutes before Steve had an Alpine Swift fly over. Pants!

I have seen a few nice common migrants on Beer Head over the last few days though and I wish I could say I've took some superb photos to prove it, but I can't. I have taken some photos though.

It's... A Yellow Wagblob

Whinchat in kale field.

And they were two of my better efforts this week!

We've had the moth trap up and running on several occasions and although the catches have been large 2-300 moths a night we've only managed four new species for the garden. Too boring to photograph were the Yellow-barred Brindle and the Marbled Beauty. We also had Shaded Broad Bar and Oak Hooktip. A couple of repeat highlights were our sixth and seventh Four-spotted Footmen and our second Peach Blossom.

Shaded Broad Bar

Oak Hooktip (well what's left of one)

Another moth based highlight was my first Humming Bird Hawkmoth of the year. It was in my garden first thing yesterday morning, trying to feed on the Honeysuckle in quite a gusty wind. It soon gave up. I tried to get a photo, which proved difficult. It's rubbish, but still, I'll foist it on you anyway.

Humming-blurred Hawkmoth!

And still on the moth theme. This evening I got my first( and probably only) Co-op deli moth tick with a Brimstone Moth. It popped out from underneath the counter while I was sweeping up. Perhaps it hitched a lift on some moth- trapper or other's clothing!?

I took a walk on Axe Cliff this morning and it was disappointingly birdless again. I had to amuse myself taking a few snaps of insects instead.

My first Migrant Hawker of the year.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly.
Warning: Don't look too closely or you'll see a Sand Wasp being eaten alive. Yuk!

My favourite Beetle...
The Bloody-nosed Beetle.

Finally, I did manage to take one nice bird photo this week, only because the subject was very big, very slow and 'after a piece of me!'

Be very afraid!
It'll break your arm don't you know! ;-)

Wednesday 19 August 2009

A Bit of Patch Birding

Early this morning (Wednesday) I actually got out to do a spot of patch birding. I went to Colyford Common and then Black Hole Marsh. At Colyford Common there were 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Common Sandpipers, and 2 Lapwings. On Black Hole Marsh there was just the one Wood Sandpiper, 7 Ringed Plovers, 13 Dunlin and a few more Common and Green Sandpipers.

The two Greenshank at Colyford Common were showing nicely on the small scrape, near enough for a few photos although the morning sun was pretty unforgiving. They were very active too with one constantly chasing the other away.

Usually... Running

Rarely... Standing Still.
( If you enlarge this not only will you be 'amazed by the quality' but you'll also see that that brown haze on the water is made up of millions of small flies)

These two photos 'clearly' show the reason for all the squabbling,
plenty of fish to be had, well, enough for one anyway.

A Lapwing passes up the several million small morsels all around it in favour of something a bit juicier.

There's almost always a lovely Stock Dove or two to be seen at Colyford Common.

I took both my Sony W300 and the Fuji F30 along this morning, however, there wasn't too much opportunity for a side by side comparison shot with the Greenshank being so active. Fortunately another bird, a very large and very slow bird, stood right in the middle of the scrape for an age allowing me to take two almost identical shots. I don't know about you but I can't see any appreciable differences really apart from the colour tone being a bit cooler in the Fuji image.

Sony W300

Fuji F30

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Erm... Some Moths

Only a bit of moth news today. My trap was set up at Bun's again last night and caught just 62 moths with no new species. But we also had a Robinson Trap set up, a trap which Bun has borrowed from Beer Heritage Centre. This trap caught 433 moths, which was nice! Out of this massive catch there were only 4 new ones for the garden though. Here they are:

Obviously not a Moth, we seem to get a couple of these in most catches,
I think it's a Forest Bug.

HERE they are:

Rosy Rustic ( I think)

Lesser Swallow Prominent (on the left)

Peach Blossom

Gold Spot

Monday 17 August 2009

Dorsetshire Delights

Yesterday Bun and I tootled over the border into the delightful county of Dorset, home to much chalk downland and hence many species of butterfly and orchid. Our destination was Fontmell Down, just to the south of Shaftsbury, where we were hoping to see a couple of new butterflies and also the last orchid of the season. These were Silver-spotted Skipper, Chalkhill Blue and Autumn Ladies Tresses.

The weather forecast looked ideal, with plenty of sun on the cards, and for once it was right. Our timing was impeccable because on the same morning the Devon and Dorset branches of Butterfly Conservation were having a joint field meeting here!!

The stunning view of Fontmell Down which greeted us, plus
a large 'flock' of butterfly enthusiasts, 32 of them apparently (Bun counted 'em) including one juvenile and a few in partial moult.

A small group 'home in for the kill'. The 'victim' could have been one of these..

Silver Spotted Skipper.
Unfortunately we only saw two of these and they didn't stay put for long. I couldn't get a photo showing the silver spotted underwing very well.

Chalkhill Blue
Again we only saw two of these but that was enough, because like Silver Spotted Skipper they were a 'lifer' for us both. These two photos are both of the same male, he has a neat hole in his left forewing,

The aptly named Adonis Blue
There were scores of these, they were one of the most numerous butterflies on the down, I counted at least forty of them and we only covered a tiny area. Photos never do them justice, they really are an indescribably vivid blue.

Clouded Yellow

The down had a superb selection of wildflowers including one of my all time favourites, the Harebell. Such a lovely colour, not quite lilac not quite blue, and so delicate, nodding on the thinnest of stems, exquisite!

Autumn Ladies Tresses.
A teeny weeny orchid. There were quite a lot of these around once you got your eye in. We'd walked right through loads of them on our way from the car, but I hadn't noticed them! That's the last orchid of the year in the bag. Still plenty more to see next year though :-)

A couple of customary gratuitous close ups.

The moth trap has been out on Sunday and Monday nights too. On Sunday, round at Bun's where it caught 233 moths of 38 species, with 3 new ones for the garden being Crescent Dart, Pebble Hooktip and Ruby Tiger. Last night it was out on my feeble excuse for a garden and caught a spectacular 12 moths of 7 species. New for the garden were, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Straw Dot, Single Spotted Wave, Small Square Spot, Lychnis, and Dusky Thorn.

Ruby Tiger

Pebble Hooktip (worn and battered and just a little bit dead)

Dark Swordgrass
Not new but a well marked example

The pretty dull, Crescent Dart

Dusky Thorn


Small Square Spot

This morning I spent a couple of hours on Axe Cliff but there weren't many birds around really, just a few of the usual suspects, such as Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and Linnet, as well as the even more common birds. A surprise was what I think was my first Axe Cliff Green Woodpecker ( I think it was my first that is, not I think it was a Green Woodpecker). The major highlight, only because it was the only bona fide migrant was a Sedge Warbler, which was skulking about in a field of blackened, shriveled dead broad beans. Sounds like a picturesque scene doesn't it? Well I've lovingly recorded it for you, in an abstract fashion, using the medium of photography.

There ye go!
I can't even say " Well, it's a good shot of the beans."

Saturday 15 August 2009

Something a Bit Different?

Nope, not a chance! Just a bit more moth trap news. The trap's been out for the last two nights with good catches on both. 119 moths of 37 species on Wednesday with 3 new species and 172 moths of 29 species also with 3 new for garden last night. The 6 new species were: Common Rustic, Small Square Spot, White-spotted Pug, Double-striped Pug, Copper Underwing and Angle Shades.

While walking Rex in Morganhayes Wood yesterday I was pleased to see 3 or 4 juvenile Spotted Flycatchers. As far as I can tell only the one pair have bred there this year.

A few more moth photos, mostly a bit on the grainy side I'm afraid. Like a twit I'd left the camera's ISO setting too high after having used it in the woods previously.

I don't take a lot of notice of most micros but this was a nice jazzy one. It's a Chequered Fruit Tree Tortrix

Orange Swift (again).
A better photo than the last though and a nice fresh specimen.

I've had a few of these but this is the nicest, freshest specimen.
It's an Uncertain. Am I certain? No not really.

A Copper Underwing.
A big moth which I almost passed over among the 99 Large Yellow Underwings this morning.


Angle Shades

I've been really looking forward to catching one of these.
Great shape, great colour, great moth :-)