Tuesday, 31 July 2012

South Coast

With summer having temporarily arrived, I made a quick day trip down to the south coast last week with my first destination being the New Forest for a spot of dragonflying.

Crockford Stream was my first port of call, which proved to be a really excellent spot. Walking from the car park at Crockford Bridge down to the stream, the heath was found to be alive with Silver-studded Blues flitting across the heather in the rapidly rising heat.

Nearing the stream Small Red Damselflies started to be encountered, and then shortly after I found my first target of the day, a Southern Damselfly in the bog myrtle bordering the stream, with up to half-a-dozen more found around the small area which I concentrated on during the ensuing couple of hours or so, including a pair in cop.

Walking around more Small Red Dams were found, Keeled Skimmers made the odd fly-past and numerous Beautiful Demoiselles danced away over the stream and perched up in the vegetation.

Then a large dragonfly appeared along the stream. and after a game of cat and mouse trying to get a good look at it, it finally gave itself up to reveal that it was my second hoped-for species a Golden-ringed Dragonfly. Two or three were seen buzzing around the area with the occasional clash in flight between them, but thankfully they also regularly perched up allowing a few pics to be obtained.

I then moved on to the nearby Silver Stream/Ober Water area where yet more Small Red Damselflies were encountered.

A couple more Golden-ringed Dragonflies were seen, and Keeled Skimmers were numerous around the streams and pools and on the heath in general. A couple of Redstarts were seen along the forest edge along with a Spotted Flycatcher, and further along White-legged Damelflies were numerous along Ober Water.

It was then on to Durlston Country Park for a spot of Butterflying and after a bit of searching to find the most productive area I managed to locate my final target of the trip Lulworth Skipper. The females were fairly easy to pick out with their distinctive light crescent in the wing, but the males were pretty indistinct, although they were a noticably dingier colour compared to the brighter orange of our other skippers, and with some, such as the male picured below, also ghosting the wing pattern of the females.

 Numerous other butterflies were seen around the park including this fresh Small Blue.

Good numbers of Marbled Whites were also seen, although like most of the other butterflies seen, they rarely landed in the sunny and hot weather, so I just grabbed a quick record shot of one which paused briefly.

This Large White also paused briefly to feed before heading off along the clifftop.

Birdwise a juv Black Redstart was on the cliffs, Shags were on the sea, and Ravens and Peregrines were present too.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Purple Hairstreak

Highlight of a walk round Felbrigg Park yesterday was this stunning Purple Hairstreak which I discovered in the meadow to the south of the lake. After a wait of over an hour and a half during which time it just sat motionless in the grass, it eventually opened up its wings briefly to display its purple sheen.

Also around the park, my first Gatekeepers and Small Skippers of the year were also evident, as were a few freshly emerged Small Coppers.

What appeared to be a Migrant Hawker was flushed up from vegetation but quickly disappeared up into the trees, but this Common Darter and Broad-bodied Chaser were more co-operative.

Birdwise a Green Sandpiper was feeding along the lake edge, a Mandarin was in with the Mallards, and Mute Swan numbers had risen back up to seven. The Whooper Swan was as usual on the new water meadow, and a Little Owl was seen flying amongst the trees.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Brown Hawkers

A walk round Upton Fen yesterday in far from ideal weather actually proved very productive with the highlight undoubtedly being the several Brown Hawkers which had been grounded by the showers and were showing very well, allowing me to get the best ever photos I've got of the species.

Both Black-tailed Skimmers and Four-spotted Chasers also gave good views trying to dry out between the showers.

My first Common Darters of the year were also seen, and in a brief sunny interlude a Norfolk Hawker was watched patrolling one of the ditches and I managed to grab a digiscoped image whilst it briefly perched.

Damselflies seen included a few Variables along with my first Emeralds of the year, and a few butterflies were also noted, including this Comma which like the dragonflies was also trying to dry out between the showers.

Monday, 9 July 2012

White Admiral

A walk down to the lake in Felbrigg Park today produced the surprise of a White Admiral briefly feeding on brambles before towering up high into the trees. Good numbers of Meadows Browns were out, and also the first Ringlets seen there this year were also evident.

The usual dragonflies were in evidence, including a female Emperor ovipositing in the new water meadow, but birdwise it was pretty quiet apart from the resident Whooper Swan.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Robin Abel R.I.P

It was with deep sadness that I learned on Friday of the death of Robin Abel who passed away in his sleep this week aged only 59. I'd known Robin for many many years, and as recently as last weekend had spent an hour in his company at Beeston whilst we tried to relocate an Alpine Swift which was hopefully heading that way. The fact that he was out scouring the coast for it typified his dedication to his Norfolk year list which he pursued with a tireless enthusiasm year in year out which could only be admired.

Although its a phrase too often used, Robin really was one of the nice guys on the countys birding scene, and upon arriving at a twitch he would be one of the few trusted people I'd head for to find out the gen. He will be sorely missed by many and of course our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Robin (nearest the camera) at the Winterton Black Lark, April 2008

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Felbrigg & Red-veined Darter

With some decent sunny and warm weather this afternoon I headed down to Felbrigg Lake just in case any Red-veined Darters were present. Arriving at the lake I was amazed to find that there was a positive wader fest going on with 5 Common and 3 Green Sandpipers present, both site record numbers as far as I can recall.

There were good numbers of dragonflies present by the lake including Black-tailed Skimmers, Emperors and Broad-bodied Chasers, with the odd one conviniently perching up on vegetation in the surrounding meadows to enable me to get a pic. 

A few Four-spotted Chasers were also present, along with the usual damselflies including these Blue-tailed in a mating wheel.

Butterflywise a few Meadow Browns were present round the park, along with this Large Skipper.

Acting on information gratefully received, I then headed off to Beeston, where I quickly found the Red-veined Darter around the Dew Pond on the Top Common where it was showing excellently. It eventually moved off from the pool and became quite mobile, but I managed to refind it again quite quickly each time I lost sight of it, as it perched up on the mown areas on the Common. With it being so obliging and having it all to myself I was able to get the photos I had hoped to get but failed to last weekend, with a selection reproduced below.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Red-veined Darters

Took a trip along to Kelling Water Meadows this morning to look for the Red-veined Darters seen there yesterday. Sadly with the blustery conditions and only intermittent sunshine they were far from co-operative in their appearances and I had to resort to a bit of digiscoping to get a photo of them, although that said they still came out fairly well.

In addition to the ones by the pool, we also had one back up by the main road along a field edge near Muckleburgh Hill, which makes you wonder just how many are in the area and indeed elsewhere along the coast.