Wednesday 28 April 2010

Sand Crocus

Popped over to Dawlish Warren today hoping to see the 'Warren Sand Combo'  Sand Lizard and Sand Crocus (Romulea columne). There was a lot of high level cloud when I left Seaton and I'd hoped that it would clear up during the morning but it didn't, not really. Any sunshine was hazy and watery at best and so there were no basking Sand Lizards to be seen. I had better luck with the Sand Crocus  though, despite it allegedly only opening in full sun ( that's what the books say) it was showing very well by midday. It's a teeny weeny little thing, barely a centimetre across and barely a centimetre off the ground either, but exquisite non the less! Dawlish Warren is one of only two places it grows in mainland Britain. All very nice I know, but surely it can't be as good as the Lundy Cabbage, a plant I'm hoping to see in a couple of weeks time. I can hardly contain my excitement I can tell you!! ;-)
Can you see it?
Small but beautiful.

I also tried a couple of mega close ups

Monday 26 April 2010

An Uneventful Weekend?

It isn't often that I don't post anything on my blog over the weekend. Does that I must have had a really uneventful one then? Not on your life!! It's been superb! Three lifers in three days no less!  Why no blogging then? Well, that's because I've been really under the weather with some horrible virus or something, I've been managing to get out and about but by the evenings I'm so exhausted that I can hardly lift finger to keyboard, let alone conjure up anything intelligible to write (that's if I ever do).

Three lifers were, Kentish Plover at Dawlish on Friday, Wood Warbler (yes don't laugh that's right) at Yarner Woods, Dartmoor on Saturday and best of all, Subalpine Warbler, at Hengistbury Head, Dorset yesterday. Want to see some stunning photos of them? Well you'll have to look somewhere else because my good fortune ended with seeing the birds, which is cool. I do have some contingency lame excuses for the lack of photos though.

The Kentish Plover was quite distant when we arrived after having been a lot closer, the heat haze didn't help either. There was every chance it would wander nearer in time as some of the wader flock had done, but I wasn't feeling all that well so it was a bit of a tick and run scenario really. Nice bird though.

The Wood Warblers were superb, I can't imagine why I hadn't made the effort to go and see them before now! Getting a photo though was going to take hours and hours as the birds were always very high in the canopy and never still for long enough to even get your scope on them. I simply can't imagine how Steve managed to get good shots of them low down in bushes! ;-)

The Subalpine Warbler was simply stunning, but very mobile in dense Blackthorn blossom, and views were therefore typically brief. We did eventually see it really well, singing too, but I didn't want to spend valuable time looking at it through an electronic viewfinder.

Today I went to Dartmoor again, this time hoping to get my first ever views of Pearl Bordered Fritillary, quite early but I'd had a tip off (thanks Dave). There were certainly plenty of them on the wing and nectaring on ground ivy and dandelions. Also a couple of mating pairs. I did get photos of these, like so:

The site.
It's always worth taking a photo on Dartmoor, such stunning scenery.

I was accompanied for most of the time by this funky looking female Pheasant.
Perhaps I've led a sheltered life but I've never seen one this dark colour before, especially the purple neck!

On the way home I stopped off at Aylesbeare Common, very glad I did too because I saw some great birds including two Hobbies hawking for insects (bumblebees I think) over the common, my first this year. Another year first was a singing Cuckoo and I also enjoyed superb views of a male Dartford Warbler, definitely one of my favourites! 
A male Linnet, making pink macho!
I wish the Subalpine Warbler had shown like this Dartie!

Last Thursday on the way to the local tip (recycling centre), I noticed that the roadside Early Purple Orchids were beginning to flower. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming Orchid season, plenty of new ones still to see!

Lastly, and what you've all been waiting for (go on you have) MOTHS! We've had a couple of new moths for the garden this weekend as well as our first migrant of the year, predictably the Silver Y. The new moths were:
Muslin Moth
Powdered Quaker

Not new as such but worth a photo is this first generation Purple Thorn.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Glossy Hat With Wings

What!!? You might well ask! That's what I thought when I read it. It's what someone searched for on Google before finding themselves on my blog. The majority of my visitors do in fact search for sensible things such as, March Moth, Wolferton Triangle, Cylops betina  or "gorgeous and talented female birder" but sometimes the mind boggles, I mean, glossy hat with wings!!? Actually that wasn't the most worrying one, take a look.
Picture of the insides of the lesser sandpiper!!! Urgh!! I can only hope that the lesser sandpiper is a kind of boat or plane or something?

I've been out and about on patch today but was a bit too late for most of the migrants, must start getting out earlier! Also missed another good bird whilst at work this evening, scrubbing the oven ( what joy), a Marsh Harrier this time. >=(  I did see three new species for the year today though Lesser Whitethroat, Swift and Orange Tip, so not all bad. I didn't get a photo of any of these though so I'll post this stunning effort of a horribly backlit Blackcap singing his head off :-)

Savi's Warbler and Other Stuff

I just haven't been able to find the time to post anything on here recently, so here's a quick round up of some of the highlights of the last few days. The main one, obviously, was seeing and hearing a Savi's Warbler at Marazion Marsh in Cornwall on Sunday evening a lifer for both me and Bun. More about that later though. First here's a few photos of some birds I've seen over the last few days, mostly at the ringing session with the AERG yesterday morning. A low point of the weekend was missing a male Ruff in summer plumage which was at Colyford Common whilst I was at work. It was still there early the next morning too but I managed to dip. Disappointing because I've never seen a summer plumaged Ruff :-(
Cetti's Warbler

Female Balckcap (a first in hand for me)
Sedge Warbler ( already wearing ring fitted in France) A yeartick too!
Another yeartick for me, also a first in hand bird for me and definitely one of the best!
A gorgeous male Whitethroat.
At Trinity Hill the Crossbills appeared to have gone,
and been replaced by Willow Warblers; they were everywhere!

Female Wheatear on Colyford Common
Male Wheatear at Marazion Marsh....Talking of which....

We (Bun and I) set off for Cornwall on Sunday afternoon having figured it was pointless arriving much before dusk as this was the time when the Savi's Warbler had been showing the previous day. We arrived at five thirty and still had to wait until seven o'clock before we saw it. It showed intermittently low in the reeds. Amazingly, while we were enjoying our best and most prolonged views we noticed that all the other birders/twitchers present weren't even looking, they didn't even notice us talking about what we could see!!! Go figure! Eventually the bird also started singing, very like a Grasshopper Warbler. Unless you have a good ear for pitch I reckon it'd be very difficult to tell them apart. There wasn't actually all that many people there, I'd say around twenty at most, some of them were very pleasant but others were miserable gits to say the least and their whingeing selfish attitude spoilt the atmosphere a bit.... a lot really!  

Some nice people and some miserable gits! 
Seen here enjoying good views of some reeds.
There was a very nice sunset though. It looked exactly like this.

Anyway you look at it, Savi's Warbler was definitely a great bird to see and hear. When we got home and I dropped Bun off at his house at around midnight he said " Thanks Karen, that was quite good" .... Summed it up really....

Thursday 15 April 2010

The First Male Redstart of the Year....Always Worth a Bit of Effort.

After Ian M texted news of a male Redstart on Beer Head this morning, I decided to brave the cold northerly wind and go for a look. I yomped around on Beer Head for a good while but it was nowhere to be seen. There was more than a small chance that it had already moved further inland, possibly to Beer Cemetery Fields, a favourite 'next stop' for incoming migrants after Beer Head. I wasn't surprised then when I got a text from Bun telling of one here too. I hurried from Beer Head to the Cemetery Fields, where Bun kindly pointed me in the right direction and  I eventually got some lovely views of the bird. It was very wary though ( as spring Redstarts always seem to be) and I couldn't get anywhere near close enough to get a photo with my super-zoom. It was definitely a digiscoping job! I hadn't got my scope with me though so just enjoyed watching it for a while. I went home happy with what I'd seen and put the kettle on. Whilst drinking my cuppa I looked at my scope sitting in the corner of the kitchen and thought " Oh, what the heck! I'm going back to try for a photo, after all I've nothing better to do". Well  that's if I don't count the weeks and weeks worth of neglected housework, which I don't! ;-) Fortunately it was still there but there was now a fair bit of heat haze in the midday sun. Happily though it did venture just close enough for a shot or two to come out okay. Steve joined me for a while, he'd also been chasing Redstarts all morning, without any luck. I'm pleased to say he saw this one though.  I told him that it wouldn't tolerate an approach with a super-zoom camera but he was having non of it and proceeded to give me a very impressive display of his stalking ability, whereupon it flew off!! It was back as soon as he'd retreated to an acceptable distance though.

Here he is, virtually invisible! 
I can't imagine how it saw him!

The first Redstart of the year is always special.
 You just have to see it! Don't you?!

I saw three Adders on Beer Head this morning.
 This is the first photo I've managed of one this year.
Shoulder Stripe:
 New for the garden yesterday, this one was a bit overdue as it appears to have been caught by most other 'blogging moth-ers' this year!

Monday 12 April 2010

Sometimes You Get What You Wish For....Even If It's Only A Moth!

I was really hoping that Bun would catch a Herald in the moth trap last night and he did! I  really wanted to catch a Pine Beauty too but thought that it wasn't going to be very likely in Seaton. Guess what? Yes, there was one of those too! :-) Also a third new moth, Brindled Beauty. I've seen two new birds for the year today too, those being House Martin, with three flying around at the ringing session at Seaton Marshes this morning and this afternoon at Black Hole Marsh, six Whimbrel.
The Herald (....of summer I hope)
Pine Beauty ... And isn't it just!?
Brindled Beauty.

At Black Hole Marsh the Whimbrel  weren't playing ball and hid on the far side of distant gravel island from where one would periodically appear for a couple of seconds. 
Shame because I really like them.
 Hopefully though they will be the first of many.
 They flew off high west at about five thirty.

This Little Ringed Plover is highly likely to be one of yesterday's trio,
 the one with the very prominent eye ring.
Rock Pipit, probably of race littoralis.
Rex found a looky-likey playmate on his walk today. 
I thought it was  far more handsome than him, but don't tell him that!!!

Sunday 11 April 2010

Three White, Brown and Black, Marshy, Swampy Birds.

There were three Little Ringed Plovers ( or white, brown and black, marshy, swampy birds as my son calls them as opposed to white brown and black perchy ones (Woodchat Shrike) I don't think he'll make a birder any day soon) gracing Black Hole Marsh with their presence this afternoon. I popped down there to see if I could get a photo with them all in it but they kept too well apart for most of the time. Three is the most I've ever seen together too, which was nice :-)

I had to keep well zoomed out to fit three in the shot.... 
I thought I had all three in the next one while looking at the camera screen ....
...But as you can see I didn't. One of these  three looks suspiciously un-plover like! I think the day is fast approaching when I'll need to take my reading glasses birding with me! :(

Another scintillating new moth species, Small Quaker.