Thursday, 29 July 2010

More Butterflies at Felbrigg

Having not visited Felbrigg for a few days, I popped down this afternoon where I found only my second Painted Lady of the year feeding in the meadow on the west side of the lake. Other butterfly species seen included both Gatekeepers and Commas.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


An evening seawatch off Overstrand today produced the first Razorbill of the year which drifted past slowly east, also a drake Common Scoter was close inshore but little else of note was seen in the fairly calm conditions.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


News that a probable King Eider had been seen from the seawatching shelter at Sheringham and that it was drifting towards the patch was quickly followed by a phone call from my Dad to say he had relocated it off Beeston Church, so after a quick drive I was watching it as it slowly drifted towards West Runton, delighted with an unexpected but excellent new bird for the patch.
It was fairly distant but as it neared W.Runton it drifted slightly closer inshore and after lingering off the beach car park for a while it headed slowly back west. I relocated it off Sheringham prom where the record shots below were taken, and it stayed along the seafront there for the rest of the day albeit always fairly distant. This first-summer male had been in Yorkshire for the previous three weeks but had disappeared from there on the 25th.

Whilst watching off West Runton my first Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits for the patch this year were also noted flying west, and a juvenile Med Gull was also noted along the seafront at Sheringham, performing well as it flew up and down the beach occasionally landing to allow pictures to be taken.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Southern Migrant Hawkers and Willow Emeralds

Today I embarked on my first dragonfly twitch with a visit down to Hadleigh Castle Country Park in Essex where up to 10 Southern Migrant Hawkers have been seen.
Initially it was very overcast and fairly breezy and not surprisingly no sign of them, but as the weather warmed up and the sun came out now and again, hopes were raised and eventually at least a couple appeared feeding over a pool and then patrolling a ditch in front of the delighted crowd. With only c5 previous records in the UK this small population was a very notable occurrence and afforded many keen dragonflyers with their first chance to see this species.
After patient waiting, one perched on bankside vegetation allowing for a few shots to be taken, plus a record flight shot which was quite an achievement using just a point & shoot camera.

Apart from the SMH's, there was a good supporting cast of other wildlife present including a Marbled White butterfly, Scarce Emerald Damselflies, Emperor Dragonflies and a rather spectacular looking Wasp Spider.

Heading back north I called in at Alton Water where some Willow Emerald Damselflies had begun to emerge. These Damselflies invaded Suffolk last year from the continent and hopefully look set to become a colonist which hopefully will spread further around the country like the Small Red-eyed Damselfly has done over the last decade.

I wasn't quite sure of the best place to look but after some searching found about 6 roosting on Nettles and Rosebay Willowherb before flying up into the trees above.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

More from Felbrigg

Felbrigg today produced Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Comma and a couple of Grasshopper sp's.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Greenshank at Felbrigg

With Felbrigg Park seemingly the place to be on the patch, I again went down to the lake today and after a little searching the Red-veined Darter was again located up by the rabbit holes and it perched up on a dead branch nicely for me to get a photo.

A check of the lake revealed that there was a single Mandarin present, and also one of the Crested Ducks that I had seen earlier in the year was also on the lake. A while later when trying to relocate it for another birder, I chanced upon a Purple Hairstreak feeding on a thistle head where it remained totally unconcerned with our presence allowing us to take numerous photos of it.

A walk round to the west side of the lake produced the male Broad-bodied Chaser pictured below, plus 2+ Green Sandpipers flying round the lake and the adjacent water meadows.  

Numbers of the commoner butterflies continued to be good, including Ringlet and a Gatekeeper.
 Final surprise of the day came when a Greenshank was heard calling and by the sound of it had dropped down onto the lake. I quickly made my way round so I could view the shoreline, and indeed it was there and was a very welcome addition to the patch year list. It fed for a short while but then took off and circled round gaining height before disappearing off into the distance and was a very nice ending to the day.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Little Ringed Plover at Felbrigg

Today I made another visit to Felbrigg to try to get better photos of the Red-veined Darter, and whilst searching for it, a Little Ringed Plover flew up from the shoreline along the eastern edge of the lake calling and disappeared off high to the west. This was the first that I had ever seen on the patch so naturally I was delighted with the record.

After a further search I located the Red-veined Darter sitting on a molehill and was indeed able to get some better photos of it then I managed on the day I found it.

A walk round to the western side of the lake produced brief views of more Purple Hairstreaks and a Migrant Hawker hanging up in a small oak tree.

Final notable record of the day was the extrordinary sight of a Ringlet and a Gatekeeper in copulation! Quite why they had resorted to this when numbers of both species in the area were fairly abundant who knows, but it was good to get a photographic record of this very rare occurrence.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lots more wildlife at Felbrigg

Having not had the opportunity to revisit Felbrigg yesterday to look for the Red-veined Darter, but pleased with the news that others who had gone there to see it had connected, I went there today and upon arrival joined a small group of people who had already located it and I saw it briefly again on the ground before it dissappeared off over the lake.
With news that more Purple Hairstreaks had started to emerge and were giving good views, I made my way round to the west of the lake where I quickly located one down on a patch of brambles and following the disappointment of a couple of days ago, was very pleased to get some pictures.

After a quick check for the darter without further success, I continued round the lake to the walled end to check for the presence of Small Red-eyed Damselflies and quickly located a few in the vegetation clumps.
Then making my way back round the lake to have another search for the darter, a Small Copper posed nicely and a couple of Stoats were watched going in and out of the Rabbit holes.

Again no sign of the darter, so I made my way to the boardwalk where I found a male Ruddy Darter sunning itself on the boards, and then after flying up onto the handrail, it decided it would rather be on my hand and quite happily sat there whilst I took its photo before flying up onto the adjacent vegetation. Also along the boardwalk was a female Broad-bodied Chaser.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Red-veined Darter at Felbrigg

A walk down to the lake at Felbrigg this afternoon produced good numbers of Black-tailed Skimmers, with one allowing close enough approach to get some decent pictures.

A number of groups of Crossbills were flying around and a few Common Blue Damselflies were around the vegetation clumps along the wall.

My first local Purple Hairstreak was a surprise find in the grass also along the wall but unfortunately it flew off up into the trees before I could get a picture. Feeling quite disconsolate that I had missed a good photo opportunity I headed back towards the car checking for any more Black-tailed Skimmers on the way but my attention was grabbed when instead I flushed up a male darter sp. off one of the mole hills. It fortunately settled again a few feet in front of me, and as I looked at it through my bins, I was immediately struck by the amount of red in the wings and I quickly perked up with thoughts of Red-veined Darter filling my mind!
Having never seen one before, and wondering about the variation in Ruddy Darter, I knew that it was imperitive that I got a good photo to aid my id. Fortunately it allowed relatively close approach and allowed study through bins when I was able to confirm that it really did have red veins in the wings and also lacked the waisted abdomen of Ruddy Darter, and I managed to get a photo before it flew off again.

Back at home I checked my literature and photos on the net, and was pretty confident that it was indeed my first ever Red-veined Darter, and this was quickly confirmed after posting the photo on a website, so I was really pleased with my find.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Small Red Damselflies

Today I paid a visit to Scarning Fen, the only site in Norfolk that holds the Small Red Damselfly. I failed to see them here last year, although I was probably a bit late in their season, so I ensured that I visited earlier this year.
After searching for around 20 minutes or so, I eventually discovered a small concentration of them, including a few pairs in tandem, and was naturally pleased to have seen another new species of Odonata.
Photography wise it was incredibly frustrating, as due to their small size the autofocus on the camera just refused to lock in on them even when they were posing as close as a couple of inches, but eventually I did manage a few pics that were in focus.

Friday, 9 July 2010

White-letter Hairstreaks

Upon checking out a site at East Runton on Wednesday, where I knew one had been seen last year, I was delighted to see my first ever White-letter Hairstreak, albeit high up in the top of its chosen elms.
Another visit yesterday showed that there were a few present but none really gave themselves up for a decent photo, again staying up high in the elms.
However today I had better luck when checking out another local site as they were periodically coming down onto the brambles below to feed, enabling me to get a few pictures.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Purple Emperors

Today I took a trip over to Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire to look for the Purple Emperors that the site is renowned for.
I wasn't quite sure of the best area of the wood to see them so basically decided to keep walking round until I met someone who did as there were plenty of other cars parked when I arrived. (For anyone visiting, park in the entrance opposite the glider club along the minor road along the edge of the wood rather than in the country park car park itself and then just follow the one main ride through the wood).
With some information gleaned from other blogs, and after chatting to one observer I made my way over towards a couple of other woods which lie beyond the main wood across some fields. Here I met someone who had seen one earlier and then we walked along to Souther Wood where he knew others had headed, and which was apparently the best place to see them.
On joining the others we discovered they had been watching one on the ground for about 20 minutes, but it took an anxious wait of about an hour, during which time a couple were seen briefly high up over the trees, before another one eventually came down onto the path where it gave excellent views. Incredibly pleased with seeing my first ever ones coupled with the one showing as well as it did on the path, I walked further along the track into the wood and found another three on the path, and then returned to the original spot where again one showed very well on the ground and eventually held its wings open. By adjusting your position relative to the sun, it was possible to get the purple sheen to show, although getting it totally across both wings didn't quite happen, but the amount of purple seen was stunning none the less.
They would visit the made up tracks to get the salt up from the surface and would also visit piles of dung on the track, including horse and fox.

 Also seen in the wood were a single Purple Hairstreak, plus plenty of White Admirals.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Downy Emerald

Today I visited Norfolks only site for the Downy Emerald Dragonfly with not much expectation as access to most of the site is restricted, and I wasn't sure if they'd still be flying or even viewable if they were.

I spent half an hour or so distantly scanning the pool through bins and saw a number of Emperors and Four-spotted Chasers, plus a single Darter sp. Then just as I was about to give up thinking the task of actually seeing one from my very limited vantagepoint was going to be impossible, I noiced a smallish dark dragonfly buzz an Emperor before zipping off. This obviously aroused my interest further and after about another 10 minutes of scanning I picked it up again along the edge of the pool and as it flew towards me, its green eyes were very obvious.

I quickly dashed back to the car and grabbed my scope, and after a few more minutes I locked onto it again hovering over the pool, and to my delight confirmed that it was indeed an Emerald with its metallic dark green body shining in the sunlight, and as noted earlier, its green eyes were very conspicuous.

Over the next hour I watched it patrolling back and forth over the same stretch of water, frequently hovering and clashing with other dragonflies, including possibly another Downy Emerald. I didn't see it land but it occasionally disappeared out of site into a bay for a while and may well have been going up onto the pool side trees.

Although it was always fairly distant, good scope views were possible, and once you'd got your eye in, you could pick it out with bins amongst the other dragons on the lake, so I was very pleased to have added a new species especially as I had initially little hope of seeing one.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Silver-studded Blues

A visit to Kelling Heath today produced the hoped for Silver-studded Blues with a number found just over the railway near to the level crossing.
The blustery wind made photographing such a small butterfly fairly difficult with them being frequently buffeted around, but I did manage the couple of shots showing well the silvery-blue studs on the underside of the hindwind of the female which gives them their name.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

White Admirals and Dark Green Fritillaries

A walk along the track to the west of the bottom of Lady Annes Drive at Holkham today produced the surprise sightings of around a dozen White Admirals. Most were just seen zipping along the path and disappearing up into the trees, but a few landed on the brambles and other trackside vegetation to feed, and with careful stalking I was able to get a few pics.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was also seen feeding along the path, and then a check of the dunes on the seaward side of the pines near to Washington Hide produced a few Dark Green Fritillaries.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Camberwell Beauty

With news that the Camberwell Beauty that had been discovered at Titchwell on Monday was still present today, I headed back to Norfolk to hopefully see it, and fortunately it was still there when I arrived mid afternoon.
It mostly kept relatively high up in the trees, when I managed to get a picture, but also had a couple of fly-rounds around the picnic area at head height right in front of us.

After watching it on and off for about an hour, it did another fly-round and disappeared over the trees towards the Meadow Trail, and as events later transpired, that was the final time it was ever seen.