Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Brockholes NR LWT - 31st July 2013

moulting adult Sanderling
above and below - Mink

very worn White-letter Hairstreak
a very soggy Pied Wagtail

Another day down on the patch today with forecast regular showers. The first shower of the day produced a cracking adult Sanderling on the island of No1. This was present from 09:55 to at least 11:10, but wasn't present by 12:00. In addition there were 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover and a Green Sandpiper that flew in during a shower.
In addition to these sightings, I found a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, plus a Mink that was very obliging indeed and several insects in the form of White-letter Hairstreak and several new species of hoverfly.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Scotch invasion! Arnside Knott - 30th July 2013

View from Arnside Knott over the the Kent Estuary
Never have I been to a place where there is such an incredible display of a single species. Scotch Argus are very very localised in England confined to Arnside Knott and a site near to Kirkby Stephen. Today, I was astounded to see Scotch Argus in the region of 500+ individuals. One of the most incredible wildlife spectacles I've ever witnessed!

High Brown Fritillary. Note the 3rd (very small) spot from the front edge of the wing towards the outer edge is out of line and raised meaning the row of spots isn't in line. That was possibly the worst description of all time, so I apologise, but this is the main feature of the upperwing to distinguish from Dark Green Fritillary! 
Above and below - High Brown Fritillary - Note the extra row of white spots surrounded by dark orange between the two larger rows of white spots towards the edge of the hind wing. Again this is a feature not present in Dark Green.
There were several Fritillaries on the wing with an estimated 4/5 High Browns and 40-50 Dark Greens. All the High Browns that were identified still looked very fresh and bright orange, whereas 80% of the Dark Greens were very tatty including some individuals that must have been defying the laws of physics being able to fly!
Wall Brown - I was very surprised to find 4 Wall Browns at Arnside as I thought they were only locally present at Warton Crag. I really like Walls, they're stunning little things!
Grayling - 20+ were present today. I am usually used to seeing them on patches of Limestone, so the above individual on bramble shocked me when my bins locked onto it.
Northern Brown Argus - I really wasn't expecting to see NBA as I was really expecting them to be finished by now, so was really happy when I came across the above individual. I was surprised that it looked relatively fresh too. Great little butterflies.
Painted Lady - My first since 2011 and this one really gave fantastic views as it happily fed away (probably very hungry after its journey!). Really stunning butterflies above and below.

A great day at one of my favourite spots and one I will remember for a while to come! 18 species in total today with common omissions such as Common Blue, Small Copper, Ringlet, among others.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Musings of a bored Lepidopterist!

 Above - Green-veined White
Above - Small White

I have taken these two photos in the last two days and noticed they are in a seemingly similar position.
In the past I have generally always separated the two species by looking at the very different underwings.
Apart from the difference in spots in this photo (two spots can be found on both species), you will notice that the black/dark tipping to the forewing is a single constant patch on Small White and is made up from broken parts on the Green-veined White. I noticed this feature today and subsequently discovered it is actually a really useful feature to split the two. You may already know it, but I previously didn't.

Brockholes NR LWT - 23-25th July 2013: Butterflies

Up to 3 White-letter Hairstreaks have been seen together by the famous Bramble patch by Boilton Wood. I have also seen another 2 different individuals at least including a very tatty female type with almost no orange to the under-hindwing whatsoever! These are my favourite UK (that I have seen...I think Marsh or Glanville Fritillary might edge it when I see them!) so to be able to spend most of the day surrounded by several individuals on my local patch was excellent!
 White-letter Hairstreak
 Small White
 Green-veined White

Brockholes NR LWT - 23-25th July 2013: Mammals

On the 24th, I had an amazing encounter with a buck Roe Deer which waded into No1 pit and then ran out right in front of me allowing superb views and photo opportunities.
Also, whilst at the Bramble Patch by Boilton, I had amazing views of a Stoat that ran right past me at a 'jogging' pace, so nice prolonged views.

Brockholes NR LWT - 23-25th July 2013: The Birds

I've spend part of the last three days at Brockholes catching up on how my patch is getting on and hoping to pick out something a little interesting in the unseasonally (based on the last two summers!) hot weather and thunderstorms.
23rd July
A lovely flock of 12 Black-tailed Godwits were present on Meadow Lake all day including a colour-ringed bird. This bird was one of 900 birds colour-ringed as part of a French project based near Bordeaux. The 2nd sighting away from the ringing site since 2009. A good record.

24th July
I arrived at half seven with the hope of being caught in some showers that may drop something juicy in. It wasn't long before the clouds cleared and the sun was beaming down from above. I therefore concentrated mainly on butterflies, but whilst waiting the Hairstreaks to arrive at the bramble patch near to the eastern side of Boilton Wood, I heard the noise that I was really hoping for: 'Jip-Jip'. It was a Common Crossbill flying north. There's an obvious movement at the moment, so I was really happy to see my first Brockholes Crossbill.

25th July
A check of Meadow Lake revealed and adult and juvenile Dunlin followed by 4 adult Dunlin on No1. A good start and nice to note some obvious movement during the showery weather overnight. I checked No1 from the family hide viewpoint and soon came across the bright face of a Common Scoter. My 3rd self found at the site and my first this Decade I believe! The bird was present all morning at least.
The bird spend a long time bathing, preening and flapping wings. Possibly ready to move on soon?
I made sure I checked the back of the head just to rule out Black Scoter! Obviously not very likely, but one of these days, if you don't check, it'll be one!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Oxfordshire - 15th July 2013

Nick Patel, Jonny Scragg, Ash Baines and I decided to utilise the nice weather and make our way to the chalkhills to try and mop up on butterflies. We hired a car with Thrifty Cars and headed down to Oxfordshire, arriving for just after lunch.
We started at Aston Rowant reserve between Oxford and High Wycombe and is famed for it's butterflies including Chalkhill Blue and Silver-spotted Skipper.
 Marbled White - Aston Rowant
It would appear that we were a touch early to visit the site and neither of the previously mentioned species were seen during out visit. We did however see lots of Marbled White - a butterfly that I have only seen once before, so to see c200 flying was excellent. I also was able to see my first Essex Skippers at the site which really took a lot of effort to find as Skippers just do not settle and as the main difference between the two species is the underneath of the tip of the antenna is black (rather than orange on Small Skipper), a settled butterfly was really required. We think we had 3 in total at the site. It was also nice to see lots of Dark-green Fritillary at the site as well as I'm only used to seeing them on Limestone areas such as Arnside Knott in Lancs.
 Silver-washed Fritillary coming down to drink. Bernwood Forest.
Once we realised that we were probably a bit early, we moved onto Bernwood Forest with the main targets being Purple Emperor and White Admiral. As we stepped out the car in the car park, the first thing we saw was a White Admiral which was excellent! A really gorgeous butterfly and a new species for me as I've only seen Southern White Admiral abroad. Moving on, we soon came across a few Silver-washed Fritillaries, which have to go down as one of the prettiest species of insect in the UK.
 White Admiral coming down to drink
We discovered a small muddy pond which we got told was a good spot for Purple Hairstreak and Purple Emperor to drink from. As we arrived at the pond, we flushed a Purple Hairstreak which flew up to the top of an Oak and then never came back down again. We did get some great views of White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillaries drinking though, which was really nice.
 Purple Harstreak at the top of an Oak
Brand new 13 plate Ford Fiesta with only 600 miles on the clock when we set off!
In addition to the butterflies, we saw several Muntjack, Red Kite and yaffling Green Woodpecker, and a plethora of supercars on the drive down. A really enjoyable day, despite the only slight success of target species seen. Driving a new, white hire car with air con, getting out the car into 30oC heat and seeing White Admirals really made it feel like we were abroad. A great day!