Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

A bright sunny day and a chance to do the weekly butterfly and dragonfly survey on my home patch. It has been a somewhat slow start to the year with sporadic butterflies and just two records so far of Large Red Damselfly (two weeks ago – which was an early date for this site) and nothing since. As I made my way down to the Tarn I found a female Brimstone and then by the pool a Holly Blue.

Holly Blue

 

Approx 6-8 Large Red Damselflies were on the pool and 2 pairs were busily laying eggs. A single Azure damselfly was also present.

Large Red Damselfly

Azure damselfly

 

 

 

 

 

This was to be the highlight as the remainder of the walk only yielded a single Green-veined White and a second Brimstone.

Green-veined White (1st brood Female)

The nesting season for birds is well underway and today there were young Coots, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mallard around the Tarn.

Coot and young

Greylag Geese and young

Canada Goose and young

Mallard and young

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

 

 

 

Weeting Heath

A day on the Suffolk / Norfolk border with one of my local RSPB groups saw a bright and early start at the Weeting Heath reserve just over the Norfolk border. The highlight of this reserve is breeding Stone Curlews, a rare bird in the UK limited to just 2 areas (here in Breckland and on Salisbury Plain).

Stone Curlew. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

Our arrival is greeted by some bad news. There are no nests in the area in front of the observation hides – in fact, there are very few nests on the reserve at all! A later talk with the warden revealed that this is true for many of the usual Breckland breeding sites and that some have no breeding birds at all. This is possibly due to a decrease in the number of adult birds who have made it to the UK this year (We are right on the northern edge of the breeding range), an increase in predators and a decrease in Rabbits (who keep the grass short, which the Stone Curlews like). The warden kindly offered to take us to a viewpoint where he can show us some birds and eventually we all got to see them through a telescope. They are very good at camouflage and can be very hard to see even when you know where they are.

Stone Curlews – can you see them?. Photo by Sergey Yelissev (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeliseev/)

With that successfully achieved, there is time to walk through the reserve’s woodland and Spotted Flycatcher and Coal Tit were good sightings.

Spotted Flycatcher. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Then it’s onto the nearby RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen.

The view from the Washland Viewpoint, RSPB Lakenheath

On arrival, most of us head off to the Washland viewpoint to see the Glossy Ibis, which has been here for a few weeks. This eastern European bird is being more frequently seen in the UK and birds seem content to stay once they arrived at a suitable habitat.

Glossy Ibis. Photo by Duncan McCaskill (https://www.flickr.com/photos/148286771@N02/)

This achieved I head off to New Fen to look for Butterflies and Dragonflies and their accompanying predator, the Eurasian Hobby.  In all, I recorded 6 species of Butterfly and 4 species of Dragonfly including my first even definite sighting of Variable Damselfly.

Fenland reedbeds

Variable Damselfly. Photo by AJC1 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/)

Eurasian Hobby. Photo by Nick Goodrum (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nrgoodrum/)

Two hobbies hunt over the reedbed and give great views and an excellent display of aerobatic flying. A male Western Marsh Harrier drifts lazily across the Fen and a male Bearded tit does a quick fly-past as it travels from one area of reeds to another. A male Yellowhammer is another good sighting.

An excellent day for wildlife although few good photographic opportunities – still you can’t have everything!

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Stone-curlew [sp] (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling [sp] (Panurus biarmicus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

View towards river from visitors centre

Sue and I decided to go to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Brooks in Sussex today. This reserve is situated on the side of the River Arun valley and has wonderful views. It is also a very good place for Nightingales and Cuckoos in summer and these were our target birds for today.

Dunnock

Arriving at the reserve we made our down towards the hides overlooking the river valley, we could hear a Nightingale singing and stopped for a while to listen. It was in cover and we did not get to see it. As we listened I heard a distant Cuckoo but alas these were to be our only encounter with either species today.

View from hide overlooking Brooks

We moved onto the river valley hides and looked out over the Brooks (the flood-plain of the river). Here were a selection of waterbirds and we got some clear sightings of Blackcap. Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff singing from their perches on trees or bushes. A Reed bunting and a Stonechat could be seen out on the Brooks in the vegetation. Sue spotted a single drake Mandarin duck, which was an unexpected find. At the last hide there was a family of Lapwings with 4 chicks and a Common Sandpiper. A common Redshank was heard calling but was not located.

Little Egret

Northern Lapwing

Common Chiffchaff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although our target species were found, it would have been nice to have seen them – maybe next time? Apart from the birds there was lots of other wildlife to see. Early Dragonflies included Large Red Damselfly and Hairy Dragonfly and Butterflies recorded were Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue and Red Admiral.

Rabbit

Sika Deer (I Think)

Man-made hole?

Highland Cattle that graze grassland area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)

Osprey nest

Some more photos from our excellent trip to Rutland water last weekend

Osprey

Osprey in flight (Keith)

Orange Tip

Rutland Water

Sedge Warbler

Treecreeper (Keith)

Rutland Water

Great Photos. Am off to West Wales in a few weeks and will be hoping to catch up with Pied Flycatcher

Radnor Bird Blog

Very shy and retiring…. quite a distance away… but three sighted down at the boxes.

Reed Warbler Lakeside, two males attempting to out do each other song wise  for the favour of a single  female…very intereseting to watch.

View original post

After seeing the Ospreys Keith and I headed back towards the reserve’s visitor centre. On the way, we saw two Red Legged Partridges on the path ahead of us.

Red-legged Partridge

Back near the centre we met up with Sue, who having completed her craft shopping had scouted out a Treecreeper nest in another part of the reserve, so we headed off in that direction. It took a lot of patience and attempts to some decent photographs of the Treecreepers as they brought food back to the nest – we presume they were feeding young already. They move so fast once they land on the tree – you see them, they are in the nest and then away again. But patience and many attempts paid dividends in the end.

Treecreeper

Treecreeper

Treecreeper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies were prevalent as soon as the sun came out and we recorded at least 5 species with Orange Tip being the most prevalent.

Orange Tip (m)

We also found a pair of Grat Crested Grebes who were displaying

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe displaying

Dunnock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made our way back to the car and went onto the reserve’s second visitor centre at Eggleton. We only added a couple of species here, most notably our only wading bird of the day – Northern Lapwing. But as we were walking back to the carpark from the centre we added Bullfinch, Song Thrush and Collared Dove to the days list in quick succession.

Bullfinch (m)

And so we started off on the journey home, but the day still wasn’t quite finished as near Norman Cross on the A1 we were treated to the sight of 8 Red Kites in the air together, circling over the road. The recovery of this species once limited to a few birds in West Wales is one of the great conservation successes of the past 20 years.

An excellent end to an excellent day’s birdwatching, with some fantastic photography opportunities.

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Treecreeper [sp] (Certhia familiaris)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Eurasian Bullfinch [sp] (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Unidentified small white spp (Small white / Green-viened white)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Red-tailed Bumblebee

White-tailed Bumblebee

A bright Saturday morning saw Sue, Keith and me on the 120-mile journey from home to Rutland Water nature reserve in the East Midlands. Rutland water was the first nesting site for Western Osprey in England and is still the most southerly of the few known sites.

Rutland Water

Sue dropped us at the reserve and went off to do a couple of visits to nearby craft shops, whilst Keith and I set out to see the target species for the day – Western Osprey and Tree Sparrow. The latter proved to be no problem as 3 Handsome male birds sat on the feeders outside the visitors centre.

Tree Sparrow

 

From here we made our way towards Manton Bay, where one pair of Ospreys were nesting. In front of one hide we had excellent views of Sedge Warbler as it displayed and sang hoping to attract a mate.

Sedge Warbler

The Osprey nest was clearly visible on its platform and the female bird, incubating 4 eggs, could just be made out. The male returned to the nest 3 times, although he didn’t bring any food and eventually decide to perch in a tree before he headed off again.

Osprey nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male Osprey perched in tree

No, we didn’t climb up to the nest for this one – taken from the CCTV camera feed observing the nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way back from Manton Bay we were fortunate to get another excellent view of a warbler – this time Willow warbler as it sang from its perch on a wire – they are not normally so obliging.

Willow Warbler

Eurasian Coot

Great Cormorant

Target species were seen but what would the rest of the visit bring – Part 2 of our trip to follow tomorrow.

 

Rainham Marshes

After a trip to IKEA at Lakeside, Sue and I dropped into the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes for a coffee and a quick walk around the woodland area of this large marshland reserve.

The woods were full of song, much of it from newly arrived migrants and Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were seen. Sedge and Reed warblers were calling from the nearby reed beds and we came across one very tolerant Reed Bunting which happily posed for pictures. There were also good numbers of butterflies with Orange Tip particularly numerous. A single Swallow was the first sighting of this summer migrant for me this year.

Orange-Tip

Orange-Tip

Reed Bunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later we stopped for lunch at Bough Beech and were rewarded with sightings of Garganey and Little Ringed Plover both recently arrived from their Winter homes, together with my first House Martin of the year.

Bough Beech

Little Ringed Plover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garganey (from archive)

 

 

Grey Heron

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Greenwich Ecology Park

 

During our visit to the Tall ships festival, Keith and I took the opportunity to drop into the Greenwich Ecology Park to see if any Common Terns had arrived after migration at this breeding site and also to check whether the first dragonflies had emerged. The reserve was relatively quiet with just a few resident birds present – there were no Terns to be seen and no dragonflies either.

Greenwich Ecology Park

On leaving the reserve we walked towards the O2 dome and we found two Common Terns sitting on a barge in the middle of the river, along with a selection of Gulls.

Common Tern

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Herring Gull

Canada Goose

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Garden in colour

Posted: April 11, 2017 in Landscape, London, Natural History, UK
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On this bright sunny morning, the gardens are looking wonderful with a riot of colour.