Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Big Count....MSQ,Sunday 18.05.2014.

As the title suggests i was hoping for a big count of Odonata on my visit to the Sand Quarries today and didn't fair too badly with the most Hairy's recorded this year with 20 individuals being seen.It is hard to gauge how many are on the reserve on some occasions due to weather and the fact that they are using so many parts of the reserve now which are not accessible,but it is good news they are still sustaining their population at this inland site.Other numbers and species encountered today included the ever growing population of Azure's with a respectable count of 710 and 402 Common-blue Damselfly,225 Blue-tailed Damselfly,4 Red-eyed Damselfly,a single Large-red and last but not least 2 Four-spot Chaser.The latter were my 'First' records for the year of this common,but lovely dragonfly.Todays sightings also included several 'Syrph's' with a new species for myself in the form of Cheilosia illustrata and 'First' sightings of the year for 2 Volucella species,Bombylans and Pellucens and a single Myathropa florea.Other species seen of this large family of diptera included Parhelophilus fruitetorum/versicolor,Helophilus pendulus,Leucozona leucorum,Eristalis nemorum and Epistrophe elegans.Lepidoptera also put on a good showing with the highlights being two cracking moths,the lovely Pyrausta aurata and a Campion which was found roosting on a bench next to where we were photographing a male Common Lizard.Bird wise,nothing out of the unusual was seen apart from 2 Crossbill in the plantation.After visiting this reserve for the best part of 27 years,today i recorded my first deer species,with a single Muntjac being flushed from thick vegetation near the car park.I have seen this species in many different habitats from Coastal Buckthorn scrub to Mature Woodland,what a widespread and adaptable species it is.Another fine visit to this cracking little reserve.
Hoverfly sp. Cheilosia illustrata

Wasp Beetle.

Immature male Red-eyed Damselfly.


Micro Moth sp. Pyrausta aurata.

Male Common Lizard.

Larval case of Micro Moth sp. Psyche casta.

Male Brimstone.

Four-spot Chaser.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

North York's Lepidoptera etc.....Saturday 17th May 2014.

An organised meet today with Allan,Colin and Jackie,saw me heading bright and early to North York's in the hope of seeing two of this country's rarest butterfly species..Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary.I planned to visit Forge Valley first,so it was here i started proceedings.I parked at the 'Old Mans Mouth' car park,got the gear together and began my walk along the extensive board walk here to the sound of the rushing water of the River Derwent and close by a pair of Grey Wagtail feeding an expectant brood.The riverine woodland here was brimming with wild flowers and the smell of Ramsons filled the air and other species included the beautiful Early-purple Orchid,Herb Robert and Bennet,Greater Stichwort,Wood Sorrel and Butterbur.I know from previous visits to this area that it is usually good for the declining Spotted Flycatcher,with it being a stronghold for them and it wasn't long before i was enjoying stunning close views of a prospecting pair.The male came incredibly close and i gained the best views of the species i have ever had the privilege of enjoying,little beauties.Other bird sightings included a foraging Marsh Tit and Warblers which included Garden,Willow,Blackcap and Chiffchaff.As i walked the riverside a few fleeting glimpses of Brown Trout in the river added another spectacle to this fantastic start to the day.Time was getting on and i made the short journey into Ayton to meet up with Allan,Jackie and Col.Before long we were on the road again heading for site number 2 for the day.Thankfully the sun was out in full force now,ideal butterfly weather and as we walked along the moorland path our first Green Hairstreaks of the day were encountered.It wasn't long before we were watching and enjoying our first of 26 Duke of Burgundy as they flitted and chased about the bracken.This diminutive little member of the metalmark family is not an easy species to photograph and it was hard work to get a shot without vegetation in the way,but i eventually did with a little patience.Other species of Lepidoptera included Peacock,Red Admiral,Small Tort and Green-veined White.A few birds were also seen on the journey to and from this site and included a Tawny Owl sat on a hillside rock,before disappearing,2 singing male Tree Pipit and a superb encounter with a female Red Grouse and her brood of chicks.Back in the car again and off to site number 3 through the stunning countryside we went,I'm glad Allan knew were he was going.The target species at this third site was the beautiful Pearl-bordered Fritillary,a sadly declining species which seem to be doing well here and we managed some cracking views of this rare butterfly as they nectared and searched for a mate.These are my first ones since a visit to the Wyre Forest some years ago and refreshed my memory nicely as to what a beautiful insect they are.Other interesting sights here included more Early-purple Orchids,our second sightings of Dingy Skipper for the day and a lovely Common Buzzard mewed over head.The final site of the Day was Allans baby,Forden Bank or Fodden as i kept getting told to pronounce it.This is basically a chalk grassland site that has been managed by the North Yorkshire branch of butterfly conservation and was pretty impressive with its array of insects,wildflowers and bird species for a relatively small pocket of managed habitat.Insect highlights here included several Wall,Common-blue and Brown Argus from the butterfly world and the stunning metallic Leaf Beetle Cryptocephalus hypochaeridis.These little Leaf Beetles belong to the colour full Chrysomelidae family which includes the Potatoe pest,Colorado Beetle.Several lovely chalk grassland flowers here included my 'First' Green-winged Orchids,with a few of the Var.alba form,Nettle-leaved Bellflower,Dog Violet,Black Medick and Basil Thyme.So after a pretty hectic day visiting several sites,i made the journey home,back to Lincolnshire after enjoying another brilliant visit to this cracking part of the world.
Forge Valley SSSI.

Male Spotted Flycatcher,Forge Valley.

Ramsons,Forge Valley.

Dingy Skipper.

Duke Of Burgundy.

Red Grouse chick.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Forden Bank.

Leaf Beetle sp. Chryptocephalus hypochaeridis,Forden Bank.

Green-winged Orchid of the var.alba form,Forden Bank.

Nettle-leaved Bellflower,Forden Bank.

Wall,Forden Bank.

Monday, May 12, 2014

MSQ Odonata etc....Sunday 11.05.2014.

With an unsettled days weather forecast again for today,i was undecided whether to go out,but as the sun broke through another rain shower i decided to head over to MSQ in the hope there had been an emergence of the hoped for Dragons and Damsels in numbers at last.It soon became apparent that a few species had emerged and after meeting up with Dave i began to count the species.It was a close run thing between Azure and Common-blue Damselflies for sheer numbers with 529 and 448 respectively counted and this was probably an under count as mass clouds were encountered in a few areas were there was shelter from the north westerly wind.Other species logged and their numbers included 8 immature Red-eyed Damselfly,6 Large-red Damselfly and 131 Blue-tailed Damselfly,with my first Hairy Dragonflies being seen also,with 7 individuals being counted.Several species of Syrphidae were also seen today and included the attractive Leucozona leucorum and Dasysyrphus albostriata,Eristalis pertinax and three 'First's' for the year in the form of Parhelophilus frutetorum/versicolor,Episyrphus balteatus and Epistrophe elegans.A few butterflies were on the wing in between the showers featuring 7 species,the best of which was a very active Wall,which would not settle for photos.The vast family of Coleoptera found on and around the reserve today included a few niceties with Cream-spot Ladybird being the best,found feeding on a Birch in the heath area,a cracking little species and other members of this family included several Seven-spot and a single 14 spot.Very few new birds were recorded today,but included 6 singing male Garden Warbler and 40 Swift.The former being my fave warbler,with it's lovely liquid rambling song,a real joy to see and sadly a declining species through habitat loss in many areas.So today was a very productive visit and we saw no rain and the temperature was fairly warm.Hopefully over the next week more emergences will mean some bigger numbers on the next visit.
Large White.

Common Footman Caterpillar.

Cream-spot Ladybird.


Female Hairy Dragonfly.

Larval case of Coleophora serratella

Male Pheasant.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Stridd Woods And Upper Wharfedale.....05.05.2014.

After Trace and myself had stayed in Leeds the previous evening and as the forecast was pretty good,we decided to drive the short journey over to the Bolton Abbey Estate and visit the superb Stridd Woods and River Wharfe.We paid our entrance fee for the day,got the gear together and just as we left the car we were greeted by a singing male Redstart and Garden Warbler,a nice welcome.We then began our walk around this beautiful part of the Dales National Park,crossing over the wooden bridge at Cavendish Pavillion and on to the woodland pathway.The first thing that impressed me was how many Bluebells were on show,the whole woodland on both banks of the river being carpeted with them,what a stunning sight.Another favourite,Ramsons filled the air with that subtle garlicky smell.Several nice plants can be found here and we recorded Dog's Mercury,Woodruff,Greater Celandine,Dog Violet,Greater Stichwort and the lovely lemon flavoured Wood Sorrel.As we continued on the walk,we began to see our first and hoped for Pied Flycatcher's,with one male being particularly showy as he sang close to his chosen nest box.These really are a beautiful bird and we managed an impressive 14 singing males and only 1 female.Also in good numbers were Redstart with 7 singing males another cracking woodland speciality here.As we left the woodland to walk towards Bardon Bridge i managed to find a roosting male Orange Tip,a little beauty.At the bridge itself a single female Goosander was watched fishing and an adult and juvvie Dipper gave great views as the female fed the youngster.The remainder of the walk saw us seeing 4 drake and 1 female Mandarin,including 2 males sat up in the canopy,a comical sight to see for a duck,but of course this is their natural habitat in the wild in Asia and a further 2 Dipper along the river near to the impressive Stridd.We eventually made it back to Cavendish Pavilion and enjoyed some very welcome lunch,by now the area being packed with day visitors,i'm glad we came early.And so we travelled back home to Linolnshire after enjoying another cracking visit to this beautiful part of the world.
Some Of The Lovely Bluebells.

Drake Mandarin In His Treetop Home.

Male Pied Flycatcher.

Singing Male Pied Flycatcher.

Roosting Male Orange Tip.

Wood Anemone.

Dippers,Bardon Bridge.

Bardon Bridge.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

GWE etc.....Saturday 03.05.2014.

After spending a long week at work and seeing the forecast the previous night,i got home from my night shift,had a quick sleep and then decided to go over to Barton to see if there was anything 'New In'.After arriving in the old visitor centre car park i made my way over to Ness Lake.Today there was very little present apart from a fishing Common Tern and a few blasts of Cettis song.I then decided to walk west taking in Chowder Ness and the old chalk quarries,having Ring Ouzel or something better in mind.I stopped to photograph a pair of obliging Swallows at Southcliff Farm,when i noticed a large,white heron about mid-way across the river...this had to be only one species Great-white Egret!.I attempted to try and get some record shots of the bird,but they arn't even that due to the distance,but on one you can make out the long pale bill,dark legs and long wings.This was a most welcome record and a 'NEW' species for me at Barton,putting my list at a respectable 227,pretty impressive for an inland site.After seeing the Egret i then carried on my walk seeing plenty of insects,but no further notable bird sightings apart from a single Whimbrel which flew east down the estuary.Insect highlights included 6 species of butterfly with the bulk being Green-veined White and at least 6 male Orange Tip were also logged,but the best sighting of the day insect wise went to 6 newly emerged Blue-tailed Damselfly,my first sightings of the year.They were all seen along a section of sheltered hedgerow near the old visitor centre a welcome sight to see and my second sighting of Odonata for the year.After enjoying my walk i wearily made my way home,slightly worse for wear after the lack of sleep,but it was a well worth visit again to this great local area.
Great-white Egret,distant record shot.

Hawthorn Blossum.

Male Orange Tip.

Meadow Buttercup.

The Humber end of Leggot's Quarry.

Male Whitethroat.

Leggot's Quarry looking across the estuary.

Blue-tailed Damselfly.

New Pits,Old Visitor Centre and Humber Bridge.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tophill....Another Cracking Visit..Saturday 26.04.2014.

A full day out today despite the forecast of cool conditions and the chance of rain i decided to head over to the home county and meet up with fellow birding and bug enthusiasts Martin and Doug.Heading over the Humber it was slightly misty,but a big improvement from the previous evening.On arrival at the reserve i paid my day permit and in usual fashion walked my way down to Hempholme Lock and back through D'Woods to the car park to meet up with the lads.The best birds seen during this first walk of the day included a few 'First's' for the year in the form of 3 Whimbrel north,a singing male Cuckoo along the river near to North Marsh and a single Swift feeding over D'Res with the substantial Hirundine flock.A Stoat along the pathway near to Hempholme Lock was the only mammal highlight of the day.A quick look on D-Res before the boys arrived saw me seeing a cracking Hobby which headed straight for the hide and presumably went south,giving some superb views,another 'First' for the year.On the Res itself 19 Goldeneye and a single Scaup were still present from the wintering wildfowl,but little else was seen apart from a hand full of Yellow Wagtail along the Res wall.Eventually i met up with Doug and Martin and i was kindly shown the reserve moth traps,with a few species being seen in the form of Powdered Quaker,Red Chestnut,Hebrew Character,Common Quaker,Clouded Drab and the highlight for me a superb Herald.This latter species are a cracking moth and one i have not seen that many times,so was a welcome sighting.After the mothing we began to explore the other areas of the reserve,visiting South Marsh where the best bird of the day in rarity terms for the reserve was an adult Kittiwake picked out by Martin loafing on one of the newly created gravel islands.This bird did not look in the best of health as they often aren't when found inland,but a very welcome sighting all the same.Watton Borrow Pits revealed very little apart from a Little Egret and 2 Goosander passed overhead while we walked down the side of O'Res.By now it was getting towards lunch,so we decided to have it in D'Res hide before continuing around to D'Pond.The chaps had decided to visit this small woodland pond in the hope of finding some emerging Large-red Damselflies and to count exuviae and we managed to find a single adult and 6 exuviae,but Martin managed to find me a new species here,a Water Ladybird.An unusual elongate species compared to the other members of the family and incredibly small also,one i will certainly look for locally now i know the habitat to look for them in.We walked through D-Woods to an area where Doug and Martin had found another species of Ladybird,the Larch Ladybird and i was really chuffed to find one myself,another tiny species found at the end of a Larch branch which had flowers and new bud growth,this species being less obvious and fairly well camouflaged,so two new ladybirds in half an hour wasn't too bad!.We arrived at North pond where a couple of visitors had found another Large-red Dam and while hear another two 'First's' for the year from the avian world were logged,a single Arctic Tern which drifted north east over the river and a single Greenshank which 'TU tu tu'd' it's way south of over D'Res.As we wandered back towards the car park Martin pointed out a few interesting Fungi,with the highlight being the very smart Beech Candlesnuff Fungi.This species is found in Beech leaf litter and grows on year old Beechmast,a cracking species and one i had never seen.Today's collection of sightings just goes to show what you can see when you know where to look and open your eyes to the bigger picture of the natural world,even on a relatively small corner of the country.A big thanks to Martin and Doug for their company and allowing me to tag along,what a superb day out!.
Male Swallow,Hempholme Lock.

Hairy Snail,D'Woods.

Common Quaker.


Powdered Quaker.

Female Large-red Damselfly.

Adult Kittiwake,South Marsh.

Adult Kittiwake,South Marsh.

Water Ladybird,D'Pond.

Larch Ladybird,D'Woods.

Timothy Tortrix Larva.