Monday, 28 July 2014

Aston Rowant and Otmoor RSPB - 27th July 2014

Day 3 of my 'day out' saw us head to Aston Rowant for the 2nd year in a row for the two main targets being Chalkhill Blue and Silver-spotted Skipper. Both were very much evident on the reserve and gave fantastic views. We met up with Sam Viles onsite and he was kind enough to lend me one of his macro extension tubes which allowed for much better photos than I would've otherwise been able to get.
 Chalkhill Blue male
Chalkhill Blue male
 Silver-spotted Skipper underwing
Silver-spotted Skipper upperwing
 Brown Argus upperwing
 Large White underwing
 Meadow Brown underwing
 Chalkhill Blue female underwing
 Chalkhill Blue female upperwing
Chalkhill Blue - showing how pale they look, especially in flight. Very noticeable in the field.
 Essex Skipper. Just about see the black underside to the antennae tips.
Final stop of the trip was Otmoor RSPB to look for Brown Hairstreaks. Here we met back up with Sam Viles and I met Paul Brewster for the first time. We managed to see at least 3 basking on Ash trees. Not quite as showy as you'd wish your first Brown Hairs, but the views through a scope of the hairstreak below walking around on leaves was just brilliant. It was also educational to see one fighting a Purple Hairstreak as the larger size of the brown was evident.
 Brown Hairstreak (Scope views of this wonderful butterfly were much much better!!)
After pleasing views of the hairstreaks, we went to look for the onsite Glossy Ibis which eventually was showing well from the screen.
2 Turtle Doves were seen after going to see the Glossy Ibis including this purring individual. The first time I've EVER heard the purr! So happy I got to see one as I was starting to worry I'd never see another one. My last sighting was 2009 at Spurn! A superb way to end an amazing weekend.

Thanks Steff for driving, Alex for the invite and both for the company!

A two lifer day - 26th July 2014

After an inpromptu night in Preston, Alex and I met up with Steff Leese and headed off due south east with the intention of ending up at the Ouse Washes to see the Pratincole, but en route, we were rudely alerted of the presence of an American Golden Plover in Warkwickshire. Both Alex and Steff needed this, so we popped in on the way down. A short distance away from the reserve, the news changed somewhat and it turned out it was actually a Pacific Golden Plover! I went from saying 'ok, I'm happy to go', to 'GO! GO! GO!'.
The bird showed wonderfully well as it fed and preened and look very settled. The ID was still not 100% confirmed on our arrival, but I was pretty happy from the word go it was a Pacific, but given the extensive black flanks, I could understand why it was put out as an American. The bird showed a hint of white in the flanks and undertail coverts, plus very short primary projection beyond the tertials, so the bird didn't have an elongated rear end like the one American I had previously seen. The legs were also crazy long and the eye was very large, almost like a Grey Plover, which gave it a very Pacific feel. A lovely bird and not one I was expecting to see!

Video of Pacific Golden Plover - Best viewed in HD
The main stop of the day was Ouse Washes RSPB to go and see a Black-winged Pratincole. After a crazy 4km walk from the car park, Steff picked up the bird flying high up with some starlings! This was my first pratincole ever and what a bird it was! I was amazed by how dark it was, and it almost came across like a Green Sandpiper at distance! Obviously with the exception of the Arctic Tern like flight.
Additional species onsite were Temminck's Stint plus self-found Wood Sandpiper and Garganey.

I also managed to pick up two dragonfly lifers in the form of Small Red-eyed Damselfly and Scarce Chaser. A flyby Clouded Yellow and a Painted Lady were also great additions to the weekend list!

Black-winged Pratincole!

After a long day, we decided the drive back up north was a bit too much, so we popped to the town of Sandy and stayed over for the night.

Arnside Knott - 25th July 2014

Alex still needed the Arnside Knott specialities and after a very very long week with fieldwork and my Masters, he invited me along for some respite.
On the way there, I thought Alex might never have seen White-letter Hairstreak, so just before it was too late, I quickly asked as we were about to pass Brockholes. He said no, so I got him to pull off at j31 and before too long, we were at the Bramble Bushes watching a very very very worn White-letter Hair. Great start.
Onto Arnside and as always, Scotch Argus was out in force and once again, I was blown away by their beauty and Alex also felt the same. High Browns have had a poor year, so we only managed to see one, but it was a lovely fresh individual. I was also impressed with a few Brimstones that were obviously freshly emerged as they just didn't want to fly away, allowing wonderful photographing opportunities. I however have already had a great underwing shot, so upperwing was my goal. I got an ok photo, but just a shame it didn't fit in the whole shot. The same story with a Grayling...upperwing photo that has room for improvement!
Scotch Argus
High Brown Fritlliary
Brimstone for improvement
Grayling for improvement!
We popped into my house in Preston on the way back and suddenly found ourselves in the pub and then staying over for the night...again, another nice break from my course! More to follow....