Thursday, 30 July 2015

Norfolk Butterflies and Reptiles

Holt Country Park in North Norfolk is an excellent spot to find a couple of butterfly species, so I had a few hours here on Monday.

The first species is Silver-washed Fritillary. Several individuals were seen straight away in the car park feeding around the Buddlehia bushes.

Silver-washed Fritillary

 We walked down to the small pond, where there were several more fritillaries, including 2 females of the form valezina. As you can see, the markings on this individual are the same as the more usual form, but the colour is very different. Apparently, 10 - 15% of females can be of this form, and its more common in central and southern Britain. See the Butterfly Conservation website here for more details about this species.

Silver-washed Fritillary, valezina form 

The other key species at this site is the White Admiral (see here for details). We saw 2 individuals, but I didn't manage to get a photo on this visit- more reason for a return visit!

When we returned to the car park, we spotted a sign warning visitors about Adders that were present in the area. We were very lucky to spot this individual curled up about 1m away from the sign! I've seen one before, on Big Moor in Derbyshire, but this was the first one I've managed to get a photo of. See here for details about this species on the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Group website.


Whilst looking at the Adder, we noticed this Slow-worm! It too, was sunbathing just by the edge of the car park. This is my first ever record. See here for details.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Colour-ringed Herring Gull

I was in Whitby on Friday evening, and whilst walking along the harbour, I spotted this colour-ringed Herring Gull.

Herring Gull

As you can see from the picture, it was sitting on the bin with many other gulls. I checked on the colour-ringing website (see here) when I got back home and emailed the  ringer of the bird. I'll update with details as soon as I hear back.

As well as adult birds, there were lots of juveniles about, including this bird.

Herring Gull (juvenile)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Linacre WeBS - July 2015

The monthly WeBS count is due next weekend, but I'm not available, so I went down to do it this morning. I arrived at 7am, and walked around all 3 reservoirs for a couple of hours, recording good numbers of adult and young birds, including a ringed Mandarin Duck!

Mandarin Duck

The ringed bird was an adult female that was on the overflow on the middle reservoir with 5 young. Unfortunately, I couldn't read the ring number, but given we've only ever ringed Mandarins in the nest boxes at Linacre, I'm pretty sure it is one of "ours". Obviously, she could be from elsewhere, but, without the ring number, I can't be sure, so I'll have to either get a much better picture next time, or retrap her in the boxes next year!

Birds recorded this month were: Mallard (67; 64 adults and 3 ducklings), Mandarin Duck (17; 3 females with broods of 5, 5 and 4), Tufted Duck (23; 17 adults, including 1 female with a brood of 6 young), Moorhen (11; 5 adults and 6 juveniles), Coot (22; 11 adults and 11 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (8; 2 family parties of 2 adults and 2 juveniles) and Cormorant (1 flying over the top reservoir). Unfortunately, no grebes again. There were 2 pairs of Great-crested Grebe earlier in the season, but they both seem to have failed this year, and there's only been 2 records of Little Grebe this year!!

The woodlands were quite quiet today, but juvenile Blackbirds and Robins were seen, along with 3 singing Chiffchaffs, and a couple of singing Blackcaps. A male Whitethroat was seen with nesting materials in its mouth entering brambles in the ringing area, and a Tawny Owl flew out of a tree near the feeding station first thing. 4 Swallows and 1 House Martin were flying over the fields by the main entrance.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Female Siskin

My last post gave details of an adult male Siskin that had appeared in the garden at the weekend. Well, yesterday he was still present, but had now been joined by a female bird! Here's a couple of pictures. The first picture shows the 2 birds together, whilst the second picture shows the female bird on the feeder.


Another great record for the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Unseasonable Siskin

On Sunday evening, whilst having tea, I glanced out of the window and noticed this beauty feeding on the sunflower hearts- a male Siskin!


Normally, I see Siskins in the garden in March and April, so it was quite a surprise to see this one at the start of July. To make it even more interesting, it turned out to be a "year tick". The bird was present again this morning, and has been added to this week's count for the BTO's Garden Birdwatch Scheme. Hopefully it'll hang around.

Year List update:
145 - Siskin

Monday, 6 July 2015

Warblers, Warblers, Warblers!!!

Last weekend's ringing session at Linacre was quite quiet, with just 7 birds ringed, so yesterday, with the weather conditions perfect, we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group), were out at Poolsbrook Marsh, a large area of reed bed and scrub near Staveley, to see if we could improve on that total.... and we did!

Poolsbrook Marsh

We arrived on site at 4.30 am, and, after a little net lane management, we had the nets up ready to start catching birds. The first net round was accompanied by the sound of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler. The first bird out of the first net was also this species and turned out to be the first of 3 caught and ringed- a new species for both Stewart and me! One of the birds caught was a juvenile. which is also a great breeding record for the site. Here's a shot of that first bird.

Grasshopper Warbler

We stayed on site until 9.30 am, and during that time, we managed to catch adults and juveniles of another 6 species of warbler (Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler), along with a couple of Blackbirds, juvenile Robins, Reed Buntings and  Blue Tit), bringing the morning's total to 44 birds- nice! Two of the Reed Warblers were re traps, with very similar ring numbers, so were most likely ringed here, by our group in previous years. I'll update when I get the information back from our data manager.

One of the young Willow Warblers I ringed sat quietly on my hand for about 10 seconds before it flew off, so I was able to get this super photo. What a privilege!

Willow Warbler

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Return to Lindrick Dale

Last year I discovered a really great butterfly site that held 3 species that are very uncommon in this area, namely Dark Green Fritillary, Marbled White and Silver-studded Blue. I visited a couple of times and managed to catch up with all three species (click on the label Lindrick Dale below to see these posts). Last weekend (28th June) I had another visit and managed to see the first two species.

Last year I managed to get some really nice shots of the upperwing of the Dark Green Fritillary, so this year I was really keen to try and get some photos of the green underwing. Here are my efforts.

Dark Green Fritillary

The other species, Marbled White, was also present, but in quite small numbers, (fewer than 6 were seen). I got a nice photo of a pristine male.

Marbled White

As well as the key species, there were also a couple of Large Skippers, one Small Heath and dozens of Ringlets present. 


Finally, there were some nice flowers present too. Here are pictures of Pyramidal, Common Spotted and Bee Orchid.

Pyramidal Orchid

Common Spotted Orchid (I think)

Bee Orchid

Now I need to get back to try and find the Silver-studded Blues!