Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Meandering back to Preston - 14th July 2015

 Popped into Orwell in Cambridgeshire on the way back from Norfolk and after less than two minutes on site, a Quail started calling. Shortly after, a second called and I picked it up in flight as it moved a bit closer to the second. It landed at the edge of the barley and started singing again and then wandered out into the open! It walked back in and started singing again, so I moved round to the left of the field and got in a position where I could see it and also get a reasonable record shot. A rare opportunity to see one of Britain's most elusive birds.
 The Red-footed Falcon has been showing wonderfully over the weekend, but I was more interested in the Black Redstart that was onsite which was a yeartick for me, so I popped in to see that and also to pay homage to the falcon again. I was not disappointed! The light was hideous, but the views were stunning and I am still really happy with the photos I got.

Birthday Birding! - 13th July 2015

It's not every day you get to take your girlfriend birding on HER birthday! Well that's what I did!
Danni had a meeting in the uni first thing, so I wandered around the campus being gripped by the amazing habitats on offer and what a lovely campus it was. I started by yearticking Essex Skipper which was great along with seeing Cetti's Warblers and a nice Cheilosia illustrata. Nice views of Common Terns on the broad too.

We started the 'birding' day at Holt Country Park again and looked for the butterflies again. Also got nice views of three Adder in the car park which is great to see. As I write, it's the 4th anniversary of my bite! Sadly, we weren't able to find any Silver-washed Fritiallaries, but got nice views of a White Admiral, as well as several flying around the woodland.

We moved onto Danni's favourite place in the world after this - Cley. Having a wander between rain showers, we got nice fly over views of Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Knot, Turnstone and Sandwich Tern. I was able to test the capabilities of my new camera here and I must say, I'm so impressed! Danni was also understandably captivated by some Lapwing chicks

Heading back home we came across a stunning male Montague's Harrier which quartered distantly. Looking at my photos, we realised it was one of the very recently satellite tagged males, so I am very keen to watch the progress of this magnificent birds. A lovely way to end a really nice day.

Happy Birthday Danni! x

Sunday on the broads - 12th July 2015

 I went to Norfolk for the weekend to celebrate Danni's birthday as she was in Norwich for the week. This was great to spent time with her in the area she's got to know over the last few years, but also to be in a wonderful part of the world with a few invert lifers that were available for me!
My main target was a Willow Emerald, which bafflingly is available (along with Norfolk Hawker) in good numbers on the UEA campus! We started off on Sunday morning at a site near to Norwich looking the first Lizard Orchid in Norfolk in 60 years. It took a while to find, but we eventually found the lone plant which had slightly past its best, but it was extremely impressive in size and very intricate. Great to see!
Next was a small pond nearby looking for Red-veined Darter. The weather was hardly perfect as it was raining, but we managed to find my only lifer of the trip! Willow Emeralds were present here with about 5 seen. We then found out this was actual a site first which was nice!
 On the way up to the coast, we came across a pair of Grey Partridge right next to the road. They allowed amazing views, but due to their reluctance to budge, we assumed there must've been chicks somewhere nearby, so we decided to leave them to it. Beautiful birds.

Next we dipped Spotted Crake at Titchwell, but saw 6 black Spotted Redshanks and a couple of Bearded Tits which was nice. Next onto Holt to look for lepidoptera as Danni still needed White Admiral and Siver-washed Fritillary. I also need Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth, but failed to find any in the car park. With occasional heavy rain showers, we were getting a tad worried, but I eventually spotted an orange flash of a feeding Silver-washed Frit and later a White Admiral. We got great views of both (but I left my camera in the car due to the rain and got hideously crippling views of perfectly lit fritillaries!

We ended the day at Strumpshaw with the main targets being Swallowtail and Norfolk Hawker as I'd only ever had terrible views of both. The swallowtails were as near as makes no difference to finished but there had been a couple seen in recent days. We were amazed when we were informed of a caterpillar right next to the path which we were shown and then a second one was discovered. Not exactly what I expected my first Swallowtail photograph to be, but I'll take it! Next target was Norfolk Hawker which I had nice views of a quartering dragon for about 4 minutes. Nice bins views, but a right bugger to photograph! I loved Strumpshaw. I could've easily spent a whole day there with the Hobby, Common Terns, Marsh Harriers and more Willow Emeralds, it was great.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Red-footed Falcon - Staffs - 10th July 2015

On the way back from the East Midlands looking at butterflies, we pulled into north Staffs to try and see the 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon that appeared yesterday evening. We were not disappointed! We joined an assembled group of 30 people and looked through a guy's scope to see the blue and red falcon sat on a concrete post! After a while, it got up and flew around between the floor and the telegraph wires catching mainly worms. It even flew up and hovered for a short while acting extremely like a Kestrel! What a class bird and one I've been trying to see for years! Incredible end to an incredible day!

Butterfly heaven - 10th July 2015

Spent what can only be described as an incredible day in the Midlands with John, Mark and Jim looking for butterflies. 
We started at Fermyn with the main target of the day being Purple Emperor. We were not disappointed with seeing up to 15 on site, as well as 5-10 White Admiral, 5 Silver-washed Fritiallary, 2 Purple Hairstreak and a White-letter Hairstreak. My first visit to the site and boy did it leave an impression! I'll leave the photos to do the talking.
 Purple Emperor underwing - May well be the best underwing in British lepidoptera!
 Teasing us with that sheen

 White-letter Hairstreak came down to feed/drink which was unexpected
 This one didn't quite work which is a shame as I love the depth of field

 Could've been the perfect underwing shot on foliage, but someone tried to selfie :P
 Green-veined White looking wonderful
 Couldn't help myself....
 Silver-washed Fritillary were really difficult to photograph as they'd almost never land. This is my best attempt
 I spent ages with this female Meadow Brown. Stunning butterfly and one I am always disappointed that more people don't appreciate it.
 They're just SO good!
 After missing two perched, I was over the moon to get three White Admirals on the path when we were leaving the site.
 The money shot! Never got a chance to get an upperwing shot last time I saw them

Next we moved onto Glapthorn Cow Pastures to look in vain for Black Hairstreak - arguably the most difficult butterfly to see in the UK and at a time where they've almost all gone over. Mark and I followed the verbal directions from John and we went completely the wrong way and found completely the wrong area. Anyway, we didn't know this at the time, so we stood next to some brambles and started looking. After two minutes a Hairstreak flew in and landed on a nettle. We fired off some shots straight away as it was a Black/White-letter type hairstreak. Looking at photos, it was quite dull and not exactly striking as I've seen in photos so much, so was wondering if maybe it was a White-letter. We had a quick google as we were both quite rusty on the main differences. There were black spots on the orange streak on the hind wing and quite a lot of orange on the forewing. It was a Black Hairstreak! Fantastic stuff! What a rush to find such an elusive butterfly when we arrived with almost no hope!

 After we'd got our fill, we heading off to a Meadow and saw potentially up to 150 Marbled Whites...stunning butterflies and a species us northerners just don't get to see!

A really amazing day with every single target being seen almost instantly, which I find just remarkable!