Monday, 19 June 2017

Mute Swan 089 and Family

Back in February I blogged about a darvic ringed Mute Swan (ringed by Sorby Breck Ringing Group) that had taken up residence at Holmebrook Valley CP in Chesterfield (see post here). At the time I mentioned that he had set up a territory with a female bird. Well, as the title suggests, the pair have been successful, and last week I went down to see the birds with their 3 cygnets.


089's partner and cygnets

As well as the swans there was also a pair of Greylag Geese with 4 goslings.

Greylag Geese

Two species of damselfly were also seen, namely: Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselflies.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Year List Update - 4 new species

Over the last couple of weeks the "year listing" has slowed down some what, but despite this, I've managed to add 4 new species, taking the 2017 list to a very respectable 173.

The first new species was Grasshopper Warbler, with 1 male "reeling" at The Avenue Washlands in Chesterfield on 11th. I also added Long-eared Owl last weekend, at a site in Derbyshire, and the last 2 species; Woodcock and Nightjar were added during a visit to Clumber Park with Chesterfield RSPB Group.

Year List update:
170 – Grasshopper Warbler
171 – Long-eared Owl
172 – Woodcock
173 - Nightjar

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Linacre Ringing - 4 breeding records

This morning's ringing session at Linacre was a quiet one, with just 10 birds caught, but within that small number, we were very lucky to record juvenile birds, born this year, of 4 species (Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Blue Tit and Mistle Thrush). Of these 4 species, 3; Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Mistle Thrush, were the first records of young birds for 2017, and prove breeding on site. The Blue Tits included new  juvenile birds, unfortunately, not ones ringed in the boxes. The 4th species in the title was Common Buzzard. We didn't ring any chicks (unfortunately), but we did spot an adult bird carrying food into the woods, which, again, is positive proof of breeding. This last record, is particularly pleasing, as it's the first time I've recorded breeding of this species at Linacre.

Other birds caught this morning were: Bullfinch (a new male and a retrap female) and a retrap male Nuthatch.

In between the net rounds we recorded a couple of Swifts, a Grey Wagtail (thanks David), a House Martin, a Kestrel, a Brown Hare, a Sparrowhawk and a Chimney Sweeper (moth - see here for details).

We also took the ladders with us today, so we could check the owl boxes. The Mandarin Duck eggs we found in April (see here) had gone (hopefully hatched and fledged, and not predated), and the other boxes (including the Little Owl box), were all empty.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Four New Chicks

On 22nd May I blogged about the Starling nestbox on my house having a second clutch of 4 eggs. On Saturday afternoon I had a look in the box and spotted .... 4 newly hatched chicks!

4 chicks

A great record, and one to add to the BTO's Nestbox Challenge website.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Linacre Insects - 3rd June 2017

It was bright and sunny again today (20 degrees), so I had a couple of hours in and around the ringing site at Linacre, to see which insects were out and about. As it turned out, there were quite a few, including many "new for the year" species.

The first insect I saw was Common Blue Damselfly, which was very numerous (c.20/30 individuals), including many newly emerged individuals. A single Large Red Damselfly was also present , in exactly the same spot as last year's individual.

Common Blue Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

A single Meadow Brown butterfly (my first of 2017), was seen, as was a male Common Blue Butterfly, feeding on the Bird's Foot Trefoil, and a Large Skipper.

Common Blue Butterfly

Large Skipper

As well as these butterflies, there were also several day flying moths present, 3 of which I could identify: Nettle Tap Moth, Cinnabar Moth and Bloodvein.

Cinnabar Moth


Hoverflies were present in good numbers with numerous Eristalsis sp seen, a single Helophilus pendulus , 1 Volucella pellucens (Great Pied Hoverfly), 1 Volucella bombylans and a couple of "as yet unknown" species!!

Great Pied Hoverfly

Other species seen were: Scorpion Fly, a Mayfly sp (possibly Drake Mackerel) and a Hairy Shieldbug. All in all, an excellent couple of hours!!

Friday, 2 June 2017

RSPB Minsmere - A Final Visit

Today was our last day in Suffolk, so we had a final visit to RSPB Minsmere (thanks Jayne). It was 21 degrees, and the sun was shining when we arrived, and we went straight down to the pond by the Reception to check on the dragonflies. The most numerous by far was Four-spotted Chaser, with at least a dozen flying around and perching on the reeds.

Four-spotted Chaser

A male Broad-bodied Chaser was also present on the pond, along with one Southern Hawker, Large Red, Common Blue and Azure Damselflies.

Broad-bodied Chaser

Away from this pond, we also managed to spot another four species of odanata; namely Red-veined Darter, Variable Damselfly, Norfolk Hawker (my first record at this site) and Black-tailed Skimmer

The Red-veined Darter, a male, was my first ever confirmed record. Unfortunately, it was a brief view, and it flew away before I could get a photo. Here's a link for more information about this species. The Variable Damselfly, a female, and , again a "lifer", was seen by South Hide, and I managed to get this photo. Again, details about this species can be found here.

Variable Damselfly

The Norfolk Hawker, and the Black-tailed Skimmer, were also seen on the path by South Hide. 

As well as the dragon/damselflies, we also added 3 new species to the ornithological "year list". The first new species was Sandwich Tern, with several breeding pairs seen. Next up were two gull species; Caspian and Yellow-legged.

Caspian Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Year List update:
167 - Sandwich Tern
168 - Yellow-legged Gull
169 - Caspian Gull

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Red-footed Falcon!!

News of a 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon on Dunwich Heath on Tuesday evening had me up early (again!) this morning, to see if I could catch up with this species. I've seen a female Red-footed Falcon in Britain before, but this was my first male, so I was really keen to see it. Luckily, as the blog title suggests, I got lucky, and had super, 'scope views of the bird as it perched up in a dead tree in the reedbeds at the bottom of the National Trust's Dunwich Heath. It was also seen flying around briefly, catching dragonflies! An excellent addition to the "year list". No photos unfortunately, but here's a link to see photos of this species.

In addition to the falcon, I also added Little Gull to the "year list", with a first summer bird that flew overhead, along with several Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls. Other birds seen on the heath were: Linnet, Goldfinch, Dartford Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Stonechat and several Whitethroats, including 1 carrying food to a nest.


Whilst looking for the falcon, I also heard a booming Bittern, pinging Bearded Tits and a calling Cuckoo. A Little Owl was seen on the drive.

Year List update:
165 - Red-footed Falcon
166 - Little Gull