Monday, 18 June 2018

Linacre Insects - June 2018

This is my first post of 2018 about the insect life that can be found at Linacre. I had a visit on 1st June when it was a lovely sunny day. I spent some time walking around the ringing site and then walked up to the top reservoir.

During the visit I recorded 3 species of damselfly: Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red. The first 2 species are common around all 3 reservoirs, whilst I only saw 2 Large Reds, 1 by the boardwalk around the top reservoir and 1 in the ringing area.

Large Red Damselfly

I also saw 2 species of Volucella hoverfly, Volucella pellucens and Volucella bombylans, along with 3 other species of hoverfly: Episyrphus balteatus a.k.a. Marmalade Hoverfly, Eristalis nemorum (a dronefly sp), Helophilus pendulus and Myathropa florea.

Volucella pellucens

Volucella bombylans 

Butterflies seen were Common Blue (3 males in the ringing area), and a single Peacock (1 in the ringing area). Moths seen here were Cinnabar Moth (1) and Silver Y (1).

I was down again on Saturday (16th). The weather wasn't so good, so the number of insects was smaller. New species included Red and Black Froghopper, Straw Dot (moth), Yellow Shell (moth) and Black Snipefly.

Black Snipefly

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Linacre WeBS - 16th June 2018

Luke and I were down at Linacre yesterday to carry out June's WeBS walk. We had 2 hours on site and recorded the following: Mallard (70; 43 adults and 27 ducklings, 4 broods of 5, 7, 2 and 13), Mandarin Duck (30; 19 adults and 11 ducklings, 2 broods of 8 and 3), Tufted Duck (14 adults), Great-crested Grebe (3 adults), Grey Wagtail (2 adults), Grey Heron (1), Moorhen (7; 4 adults and 3 young chicks) and Coot (4; 3 adults and 1 juvenile).

Mandarin ducklings

Other birds seen around the site included: Swallow (2), House Martin (2), Swift (c.15- 20), Chaffinch (1 juvenile bird), Treecreeper (1) and Skylark (1 singing).

We also saw 2  Brown Hares in the fields as we drove down the main entrance.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

RSPB Old Moor

Luke and I spent 4 hours at RSPB Old Moor on Thursday. It was warm with sunny spells and we walked all around the hides and ponds.

The first area we visited was the so called "Bittern bus stop", an area overlooking the large reedbed. As the name suggests, this is a great area to spot the Bitterns (3 breeding pairs this year apparently), and we got very lucky, seeing our first bird within 10 minutes of arriving. We also recorded Common Tern here. On the walk here we also got excellent views of both male and female Dingy Skipper.

Dingy Skipper (female top, male below)

We next walked down to Wath Ings hide where we were very surprised to find 2 Pink-footed Geese in amongst the Greylags and Canada Geese. 

Walking back to the Visitors' Centre we popped into Wader Scrape and Family Hide adding a very nice breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull to the list.

The best part of the day, however, was still to come, as we managed to record some super new insects, namely Mother Shipton (a day-flying moth), Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies, Orange Tip, Brimstone butterfly and 3 beautiful Four-spotted Chasers, including one very obliging individual.

Mother Shipton

Four-spotted Chaser

Year List update:
152 - Common Tern
153 - Bittern

Friday, 1 June 2018

North Wales' Insects

Following on from my last post about some of the insects Jayne and I saw at RSPB South Stack I thought I'd write another post to show some of the species we saw in the Happy Valley Park in Llandudno, and at the National Trust's Bodnant Garden.

First off, Llandudno. We found this small park on the base of the Great Orme and spent a couple of hours here over two days. The highlight for me was finding a new species, Brown Argus. This is  quite a tricky species to identify, but, eventually, I managed to identify both males and females.

Brown Argus (female)

Brown Argus (male)

We also had Common Blue Butterflies and a Silver Y moth here, along with another new species for me, Mullein Moth. We didn't see the moths, but we did manage to see the very colourful caterpillars.

Mullein Moth

On Tuesday, Jayne and I spent a couple of hours at Bodnant Garden, just outside Llandudno. The weather was great, very warm and sunny, and we managed to spot some damselflies including Common Blue, Azure, Large Red and Beautiful Demoiselles, all of which were breeding.

Beautiful Demoiselle (male)

Beautiful Demoiselle (female)

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

North Wales Weekend

The title of this post isn't quite correct, as I didn't spend the weekend in Wales, but I did have a couple of days over the Bank Holiday there with Jayne. We were based in Llandudno and had a visit to RSPB South Stack to try and catch up with a few "year ticks".

South Stack lighthouse

The "year ticks" in question were Puffin (2 seen on the water), Chough (2 seen flying around the cliffs) and Black Guillemot (1 seen in the Old Harbour in Holyhead). Other species seen included Raven, Guillemot, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Jackdaw and Linnet.

Along with the birds we were also lucky enough to see several insects, including a "lifer". The first insect we saw was Wall Brown (a minimum of 4 individuals) feeding along the cliff tops. We also spotted a Painted Lady, a Drinker moth caterpillar, a Green Tiger Beetle and, best of all, a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (a new species!!).

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Year List update:
149 - Puffin
150 - Chough
151 - Black Guillemot

Linacre Nestboxes - an update

Saturday morning (26th) saw the second of this year's nestbox ringing outings at Linacre with Sorby Breck Ringing Group. This time Sarah and I were able to ring the first tit chicks of the year, with a total of 12 broods of Blue Tit and 4 broods of Great Tits ringed.

The Pied Flycatcher and Nuthatch nests were still active (chicks recently hatched), as was the female Mandarin Duck, who was still incubating eggs. The Tawny Owl nestbox was empty, so hopefully the oldest chick has fledged successfully. All records will be forwarded to the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

Nuthatch chicks

Monday, 21 May 2018

Nestbox Update - 19th May 2018

I was busy at the weekend catching up with the nestboxes for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.

On Saturday I was down at Linacre first thing with Luke and Sarah from Sorby Breck Ringing Group. We went around the site and checked all the boxes, with first chicks of 2018 starting to appear.

Tit chicks

It was great to see the Blue and Great Tits, but even more exciting, was our first record of Nuthatch hatching chicks in a box. The Pied Flycatcher nest was also still active, with a female bird sitting tight on the eggs. We checked the Tawny Owl box, and found just one chick remaining, the other having presumably been eaten by its bigger sibling!!

Tawny Owl

After Linacre we all popped across to the church site in Chesterfield where we were lucky enough to ring a brood of Nuthatches and a brood of Great Tits. There was also another Great Tit with young too small to ring, and, unfortunately, 2 broods of dead chicks.

Nuthatch chicks