Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Green Sandpiper and Keeled Skimmer

Took a quick trip along the coast to Cley yesterday to see the Sacred Ibis which is currently gracing Popes Marsh, and whether its an escapee or a Cat C vagrant from the feral French population is was just a nice bird to enjoy as it devoured a host of invertebrates expertly extracted from the bottom of the wet meadow.

Heading back I called in at Beeston Common and soon found my hoped for target Keeled Skimmer, my 20th Dragonfly species for the patch, with one seen briefly but well in an area of sedges.

Butterflies seen on the Common included a few Common Blues, Small Copper and Large Skipper.

With some decentish weather this morning I headed down to Felbrigg Lake to check out what dragonflies were about, but on approaching the lake my attention was instead grabbed by the sound of a Green Sandpiper calling from somewhere nearby. After scanning the skies drew a blank, I was relieved when I eventually found it feeding on the newly created water meadow, and was naturally delighted with the unexpected year tick.

Getting back to my intended quarry, it was nice to see a good number of dragonflies feeding over the water meadow including Broad-bodied Chasers, Four-spotted Chasers and my first Emperor of the year.

A walk round the lake produced good numbers of Black-tailed Skimmers were also present with as usual many resting on the molehills in the grass along the eastern side. Another Emperor was seen over the lake where good numbers of Common Blue Damselflies were present too along with a few Red-eyed and Blue-tailed Damsels.

Not surprisingly the dragonflies had attracted the attention of a Hobby which gave excellent views as it hawked over the lake, before perching up in the lakeside trees, with other birds of note seen including a female Mandarin on the lake, along with the resident Whooper Swan.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Brilliant Day

With decent weather in short supply this summer, I took the opportunity to head south today given the reasonable looking forecast. First stop was Wrecclesham where an early walk round to suss out the site produced the surprise of this Beautiful Demoiselle.

Further searching of the site produced my first Large Skipper, Meadow Browns and Common Blue of the year, and then to my delight I eventually found my intended target a Glanville Fritillary. With their natural range in Britain now being predominantly confined to the Isle of Wight, this population here in Surrey was introduced some 10 years ago and seems to have taken hold now, and regardless of their origins, they were a welcome new species for me.

As the day warmed up, a few sunny spells brought more up from the grass and I saw up to a dozen more over the next hour or so, with the odd one pausing long enough for a photo before heading off again across the meadow.

I eventually tore myself away from the Glanvilles wanting to make the most of the day, and headed off to a section of the Basingstoke Canal between Fleet and Aldershot. Parking up by Farnborough Airfield, in more hope than expectation, I walked the canal bank westwards, but with the now predominantly overcast conditions I only saw a few damselflies plus a brief couple of dragonflies.

I then decided to check out what appeared to be a parking area back towards Aldershot which I had passed earlier, and my hope that this would give access to the canal aswell was confirmed as I pulled in, and better still the sun had just appeared again. I quickly made my way down to the canal and after crossing a metal bridge to the towpath along the far bank, I was immediately greeted with the sight of a Brilliant Emerald Dragonfly patrolling a section of the water, the second new species of the day! I watched it for about 15 minutes as it flew back and forth patrolling the canal and a small bay, often flying quite high up in the manner of a hawker before it eventually disappeared up into the trees as the sun went back in.

With time pressing, I decided to move on and headed off homewards but first made an intended detour into south Essex in the hope of getting far better views of Heath Fritillaries than I had got there last year, and also to hopefully get some decent pics too. Going on info gleaned from the web, this time I headed to Starvelarks Wood, by Daws Heath and on reaching the first clearing by the pylons I was immediately greeted by the sight of numerous Heath Fritillaries flying low over the top of the vegetation. There must have been easily 40+ individuals in this one small area all enjoying the now virtually unbroken sunshine, and although they were seemingly constantly on the move I did manage to grab a few pics when the odd one paused briefly, and which show well the differences from the similar looking Glanvilles, with Heath Fritillaries lacking the spots on the underwing and the bottom edge of the upper hindwing.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Black-winged Stilt at Cley

Notable sightings round the patch since the last update have included a Red Kite over Cromer on 30th May, just the 2nd one of the year,  a flock of c10 Crossbills were noted in Felbrigg Park and the first Common Tern of the year was finally noted offshore.

I very rarely leave the patch these days, but today saw me heading back to my old patch for a Cley tick in the elegant form of a Black-winged Stilt. Initially seen very distantly from the visitors centre, I moved round to the west bank where slightly closer views of it could be had as it fed on Cricket Marsh, and although it was always distant I still managed an acceptable record shot.

Having lived there for nearly 20 years, Cley is always close to my heart, and despite having moved away now I still maintain a patch list for the area, with this new site addition being the 336th species I've recorded within the 10km square.