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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Back on the Bike 28-5-10

The intricate pattern of a breast feather from a Mallard,and its all down to DNA

Back out on the bike ,changeable again warm and sunny but then overcast and cool to cold so not much in the way of damselflies ,as most lying deep in the grass, called in at West Hartford again , House martins again coming to collect mud for nest building not sure where they where nesting but it must be some way off, a few Shellducks and loafing gulls with a pair of Garganey still around & 2 Ringed Plover, the water seems to drying up fast .
I thought this was a Leech but looking on the net seems to be a flat worm
Female Azure coupled with male
Male Azure coupled with female
Male Common Blue Damselfly

Cresswell & Druridge Bay 27-5-10

Thursday I had a run up the coast to Cresswell and Druridge ,but changeable weather ,the sand bar only had 12 common Gulls mostly 1st Summers , and a couple of Sandwich Terns dropped in ,I gave it about an hour but nothing much around so I moved onto Druridge , a shower of rain and it turned rather cool, again not much around a couple of Wall Brown on the path but only resting with wings closed , also a couple of damsels in the grass, there was a good number of swift over at least it was something to check through, several Tufted and a few Gadwall was all I had

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Well was that it.................26-5-10

Looks like the end of the mini heatwave
Although rain was forecast I thought perhaps it would be later in the day, so as there was sunny spells I headed out on the bike to check out some more ponds, but it did not last and it was soon overcast and getting cold , could only find one Large red waiting for the sun to warm things up , found my first Orchid of the year and thought it was Northern Marsh Orchid ?.
Another more sheltered pond had a few Damselflies amongst the tall grass all Azure that I could see but not easy to photograph deep in the grass, a teneral one that fell deeper in as I tried to get nearer,so after a couple of hours I gave up and got home just before the rain .

Large Red damselfly awaiting sunnier times ,but aren't we all !!!!
Azure damselfly

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


At the weekend it was good to see Swifts return to a nest site on the side of the house ,the drive is fairly narrow and the birds made frequent flight trying to line up so they could swoop up under the eaves and into the nest , I had for several years an active nest also under the eaves at the back of the house, access for the birds was straight forward as they could line up directly and just fly up, the nest itself could be accessed from the loft and one winter I installed a CCTV it gave me many hours watching their behaviour , how often the the adults would roost at the nest even when the young where nearly fully grown,gently preening each other in the blackness, with the occasional scream coming over very loud through the TV. Last year the young died very early and the nest was abandoned very quickly and sadly this year the birds have not returned , early last year the nest was taken over by House Sparrows which had young when the Swifts arrived these where found dead having been ejected from the nest presumably by the Swifts, I do not interfere in anyway but perhaps I should have removed the large nest made by the House Sparrows this could have had some effect on the lack of nesting success.
Today I found two broken House Sparrow eggs in late stage of development below the drive nest , in the years past Sparrows where unable to get into either of these sites , as I had watched them trying many times ,being unable to fly up and into the small hole.
Swift numbers are increasing over the house and gardens great entertainment as they wizz past screaming and chasing each other.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

First Speckled Woods & Damsels Fri 21-5-10

Last time I was out on the bike I thought I had seen Speckled Wood Butterflies and today I got two in the same spot I found one last year ,two spiralled around chasing each other through the trees and one landed back on its Bramble patch bathed in sun, I tried to get them as they flew put I can't focus quick enough, also had my first Damsels of the year thought it would be Large Red but the first I saw Common Blue, and imm Blue Tailed , I did see one Lge Red just as I left but only briefly, there should be lots around in the next few days .
I have started a Dragonfly Blog which should be online in the next week its just somewhere I can put my photos etc. its just to help me learn about them and I can group the photos by species, it will also include the few I have encountered abroad.
Called in to West Hartford I see someone has been driving across the pond and site in a 4x4, large group of House Martins coming down for mud, a pair of Shellduck, 4 Oystercatcher, it is still popular with dog walkers and fly tippers a complete bathroom suite having been dumped still I like to call in now and again you never know what you might find.

Not in focus i know but just to give the idea of the chase

This the second one chose to rest right on top of a discarded wrapper
Imm Blue-tailed
Common Blue
Slodier Beetle if memory serves

Friday, 21 May 2010

A day away from the coast for a change 19-5-10

Wednesday I moved inland it was warm and sunny when I left home but soon became overcast but still warm, had a Redstart singing but took some time to pick it out and only got a poor shot as it moved from branch to branch, Spotted Flycatcher also singing picked the first one up just over my head and followed it as it also moved through the tree it inspected a hole and was chased off by the Redstart, picked it up again on top of a dead tree where it was joined by a second , Treecreeper, Blackcap, lots WW & Chiffs, also Nuthatch, Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers , and oddly a pair of Tawny Owls calling , as where two Cuckoos one I picked up as it crossed the field , nearby a Tree pipit but to far to get any photos 2 Buzzards over pleasant Garden warbler

Spotted Flycatcher just overhead
Singing from a dead tree
and joined by its mate inspecting sites for a nest.
The only shot I got of a Redstart

Holywell ...........St mary's 18-5-10

Tuesday it was back on the bike for a run to Holywell & St Mary's its a good circular ride but alas very quiet only a couple of Shellduck on the flash in the north field and another pair on the flash to the east with four Lapwing chicks still, young Canada geese on the main pond but little else, common Terns reported back according to the log, and the GCGrebes seem to have left , a small pond I looked at the other day had nothing but today loads of small fish and this newt.
St Marys very quiet more people than birds ,only a few Mallard on the pool, cam across a very young fox cub it dropped into its hole but had a sneaky look at me again.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Harthope Valley 16-5-2010

Sunday was a planned visit to Harthope valley the drive up in the rain did not bode well, it was overcast as we pulled up at Carey bridge ,but Cuckoo calling was the first bird heard another Garden Warbler singing but not showing, several Oystercatchers around a couple of pied wags on the stream, and a Buzzard low over the field ,lots of evidence of some very high levels of water with trees uprooted and areas swept away.
A walk along Harthope Burn to the small waterfall ,some serious erosion along here ,another two Cuckoos, and two Spotted Flycatchers at Langleeford , no sign of any Tree pipit for me counted 7 Whinchats singing , but all distant, Wheatears and Stonechats , WW, Chiffs, Meadow Pipits, Song and Mistle Thrush common & several Red Grouse on the hillsides Common Sandpiper on the stream ,it stayed overcast for most of the time but the sun came out late afternoon , but still no Adders yet. I went off on my own to look for Ring Ouzel leaving the camera behind as I seem to carry it everywhere and not use it, well I was just about to turn back after only seeing , Wheatear , Stonechat, and Willow Warbler, when a stunning Male Ring Ouzel landed about 30 feet away , facing away from me tail cocked showing every detail, it turned as if to look at me and say, "you should have brought your camera " which was just what was going through my mind ( lugged it for two weeks in Turkey over many ,many miles ) it took off and landed near a Female that was either carrying nesting material or food , both showed very well , got back to the car but as it was warm set off to look for an Adder....................but did not add it to the list. This area is a fantastic place to visit and if petrol was cheaper I would be there often !!!!!!!!!!!!!
First time ,Iv'e had Cuckoo call, seen and photographed in one day, always a cracking year tick, they always look out of proportion with those long wings and tail

again the long wings

Whinchats in numbers today but still keeping distant

Hartburn 15-5-2010

Saturday we called into Hartburn for a walk through the woods to look at the Bluebells on the hillside alas they where not out yet although the woods had lots in flower, Garden Warbler, & Dipper new for the year, two Buzzards over , GSW, Goldcrest,lots of Chaffinch and Great Tit possible Hawfinch flew over the village calling but I like to be sure, the weather was changeable we had another couple of wealks along some footpaths but they did not lead to anything exciting.Large areas of this presumed from a previous crop , or is it just a flower that needs disturbed ground.
Every year I have to re learn flowers as I have forgot the names this will come to me !!!!
Archangel this had the variegated leaves which I think is the garden variety
Dipper on the stream which has a solid rock bed so not sure if there is much feeding on this stretch

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Back on the Bike................12-5-2010

Back to some local birding after a couple of weeks in Turkey, will post a report here when I get the photos sorted.
Can't get over how cold it is for nearly mid May, cycled to Holywell early afternoon checked a couple of ponds in the hope of some early Damselflies ,guess its still too cold ,thought I had two Speckled Wood but by the time I stopped they had gone, first House Martins of the year but still not seen a Swift , Blackcaps,Willow Warblers, etc singing everywhere, first Orange Tips , Lapwing with young, and a family of Long Tailed Tit in the Dene the young all lined up waiting to be fed. Bluebells looking spectacular , as well as lots of other flowers what a difference a couple of weeks makes.

Tree Sparrow at a location not noted before