Sunday, 30 August 2015

Linacre Ringing - a new species

I was down at Linacre yesterday morning ringing with my trainer, 2 other members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group, and a visiting ringer from Glasgow. We spent  just over 4 hours on site (6 am - 10.30 am), and caught and processed 60 birds, including a new species for the site and for me- a Siskin.


Siskins are annual winter visitors to Linacre, and may breed in the coniferous trees on site, but this has never been proven. Yesterday's bird was an adult male bird (thanks David and Ray for the help ageing), which was still undergoing it's post breeding moult, hence the slightly "scruffy" appearance of this bird's head. As I said, this is the first we've ever caught here, and it was a new species for me to ring. As well as this, it was also my first August record at Linacre.

Along with the Siskin, we also caught the following birds (new/retrap): Dunnock 3/0, Blackcap 8/2, Chiffchaff 6/1, Robin 1/0, Goldfinch 9/0,  Wren 2/0, Willow Warbler 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 3/0, Blue Tit 9/1, Great Tit 6/0, Coal Tit 1/0, Blackbird 0/1, Chaffinch 1/0 and Nuthatch 1/3. The new Nuthatch was especially good for Paul, our visiting ringer, as this was the first one he'd ringed. One of the retrap Blackcaps was also good, as it was a young bird that we'd caught here at Linacre at the start of August. Always nice to retrap a bird and see that it's still going strong.

As the ringing was quite busy, we didn't have a lot of time to spot much else, but we did see 1 Red Admiral, a Cormorant and a Common Buzzard around the site.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

RSPB Frampton Marsh

I had a drive over to Lincolnshire today to see if I could see a Red-footed Falcon at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's Willow Tree Fen Reserve. Unfortunately, I "dipped", but I did spot at least half a dozen Yellow Wagtails feeding around the cows, a Green Sandpiper, a Kingfisher and 2 Marsh Harriers.

Afterwards, I drove over to RSPB Frampton Marsh, near Boston, to look for some of the many waders that had been reported recently on the Birdguides website. The first species I saw was Black-tailed Godwit, followed closely by Ruff , Snipe, Ringed Plover and Lapwing. Wood Sandpiper was the next species seen with 2 individuals seen. Little Stints (2 juveniles), and a single juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were also seen. I got  a few "record shots".

Little Stint showing white "braces"

Little Stint (face on)

Curlew Sandpiper (juvenile)

Wood Sandpiper 

Ruff (juvenile)

Along with the waders there were also hundreds of Mallards, Teals, Canada and Greylag Geese, as well as 6 Pintail, Black-headed and Herring Gulls and a single, unseasonable Pink-footed Goose!

Year List update:
160 – Yellow Wagtail
161 – Green Sandpiper
162 – Wood Sandpiper
163 – Little Stint
164 – Curlew Sandpiper
165 – Pink-footed Goose

166 - Pintail

Friday, 21 August 2015

Barlow Dragonflies

Barlow Fish Ponds are just a few miles away from home, and are a good place to see a few damsel and dragonflies. I spent a couple of hours there on Wednesday afternoon, and recorded Banded Demoiselle, Brown Hawker, Black-tailed Skimmer and Common and Blue-tailed Damselflies.

The Banded Demoiselles (4+), were all males, and were mainly seen around the first two ponds. As far as I know, they are relatively scarce in Derbyshire. This is my first record at this site, and only my second in Derbyshire.  

Banded Demoiselle 

Brown Hawkers, on the other hand, are a lot more common, and I saw at least 6 females ovipositing around the site, along with several males perched up.

Brown Hawker ovipositing

Black-tailed Skimmer is a species that prefers to spend most of its time resting on the ground, and the male that I saw was doing just that.

Black-tailed Skimmer

Common and Blue-tailed Damselflies were also seen during this visit, with many pairs "in tandem" and ovipositing.

Blue-tailed Damselflies "in tandem"

Common Blue Damselflies "in tandem"

More information about all these species can be found on the British Dragonfly Society's website here.

Derbyshire Osprey

News on the Bird Guides website that there were a couple of Ospreys at Ogston Reservoir, made me decide to pop across there earlier in the week in order to "tick" it for the Year List. I arrived at the West Bank car park at about 9.30am, and within 5 minutes, saw an Osprey flying high over the reservoir. It continued to fly along the reservoir, and then stooped, dived into the water and caught a fish!!!

Year List update:
159: Osprey

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Linacre Insects

Whilst down at Linacre yesterday, I took the opportunity to take a few photos of the insect life there. Nothing new was noted, but what was there was cooperating, and I managed some nice shots.

Common Blue Damselflies were present again in good numbers, including several males and pairs "in tandem".

Common Blue Damselfly

Along with the Common Blue, I also recorded 3 Brown Hawkers and a single Migrant Hawker, but unfortunately, neither species would pose for a photo.

The sun came out while I was there, and so too did the butterflies. Gatekeepers were seen in good numbers (6+), as were Meadow Browns (5), while 1 Small Copper, 1 Comma, 4 Peacocks and 4 Green-veined Whites were also seen feeding around the site.



Green-veined White

As well as the butterflies, I also stumbled upon a couple of moth species; namely Large Yellow Underwing and a Copper Underwing species.

Large Yellow Underwing

Copper Underwing sp.

There are 2 species of Copper Underwing in Britain, but to confirm whether this is a Svennson's Copper Underwing, or just a "normal" Copper Underwing, you need to check the hindwing. Unfortunately, the moth flew off before I could check, so it'll have to go down as a Copper Underwing species.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Linacre WeBS - August 2015

I wasn't able to do this month's WeBS walk at Linacre last week, so I popped down today. It was quite quiet, as is normal at this time of year, but I was very pleased to see a female Tufted Duck with 5 small ducklings! This is the 3 brood that have been reported this year. Here are a few photos.

Female and 5 ducklings

1 of the 5 ducklings

Proud mum!

The female bird was very protective of the 5 ducklings (which you'd expect), and it was amazing to watch the young birds as they dived constantly for food. It's also very interesting to see the stiff tail feathers on the ducklings, which they use to help when diving, and the bills, which look a bit too big for the youngsters!

There were 3 young Mandarin Ducks around today, including 2 that sat up on the wall of the top reservoir.

Mandarin Duck

Totals for this month were: Mallard (37), Tufted Duck (21; 16 adults and 5 ducklings), Mandarin Duck (3 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (3), Kingfisher (1), Coot (5 adults), Moorhen (4; 2 adults and 2 juveniles), Grey Heron (1). Other birds seen today included Robin (1 juvenile), Swallow (6) and House Martin (5). 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Colour-ringed Gulls - an update

Earlier in the summer I blogged about 2 different color ringed gulls that I'd seen around the country, see here and here. Well, I've had details back from 1 of the 2 gulls, so I thought I'd pass on the information.

First the Great Black-backed Gull, that I saw in RSPB Titchwell. At the time I thought it was a Norwegian bird, so I was very pleased when I received an e-mail from Norway confirming this. The bird in question had been ringed as a pullus in July 2014, and had been recorded 3 times in the area in the next few days. My record was the first sighting since then, and the first one outside Norway.

In addition to these 2 gulls, I also spotted a couple of colour ringed  Herring Gulls in St Ives, Cornwall last week. Again, a quick search of the European Color ringing website ( see here), suggested that these 2 birds were local born birds, and an email from the West Cornwall Ringing Group confirmed this. Both gulls had been ringed in St Ives in June 2014 as part of  a study to investigate the movements, and feeding habits, of these gulls. Both birds have been recorded in St Ives, with one visiting the nearby RSPB Hayle Estuary Reserve.  Here's a couple of pictures of both birds.



Monday, 17 August 2015

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Now that I'm back in Derbyshire, I thought I'd have a day exploring the moorlands, looking, in particular, for a very attractive dragonfly species - the Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

The Golden-ringed Dragonfly, or Cordulegaster boltonii, is the only member of this family of dragonfly to live in Britain and it prefers to live on areas of high land in acidic rivers and streams. As a result, the larvae can take up to 5 years to develop into this stunning adult.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly (male)

The individual I saw today was a male, and it was patrolling a small section of the Bar Brook on Big Moor. I saw a female "ovipositing" in this area back in 2011. See here for details. See details on the British Dragonfly Society's website here for details of this species. 

Other dragon and damselflies seen in the area were: Large Red Damselfly, Emerald Damselfly, Common Hawker (2 males) and Common Darter.

Whilst looking for the dragonfly, I spotted several other insects, including Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small SkipperGreen-veined and Large White butterflies. 

Male and female Gatekeepers

Birds were thin on the ground, but 2 Common Buzzards were seen, along with a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Yellowhammer

I also came across a Water Vole, and its latrine.

Water Vole

Water Vole's latrine

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Linacre Ringing- 8th August 2015

As I was driving down to Cornwall last weekend, 4 members of the Sorby Breck Ringing Group were ringing at Linacre. They had an amazing few hours ringing a total of 71 birds (64 new birds and 7 retraps) of  17 species!

Birds ringed were: (new/retrap) Bullfinch 3/0, Chaffinch 3/0, Goldfinch 2/0, Goldcrest 4/0, Blue Tit 12/2, Great Tit 7/2, Coal Tit 1/0, Long-tailed Tit 2/0, Wren 1/0, Robin 6/0, Dunnock 0/1, Song Thrush 1/0, Nuthatch 0/1,  Blackcap 8/0, Chiffchaff 8/1, Willow Warbler 5/0, Whitethroat 1/0.

As well as this super total, it was also very pleasing to note that of the 71 birds ringed, 55 were juvenile birds, born this year. Of particular note was the juvenile Whitethroat, and the 4 juvenile Willow Warblers, which are the first confirmed breeding for these two species at Linacre!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Cornish Butterflies and Moths

Whilst here in Cornwall I've been looking at the butterflies as well as the bird life. In total I've recorded a total of 12 species of butterfly and 3 species of moth.

The most common species, and those recorded in the garden of our cottage in Sandplace, near Looe (see here), were Peacock, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Large White and Green-veined White. A couple of Silver-washed Fritillaries were also seen on a couple of occasions feeding on the buddlehia in the garden.

Silver-washed Fritillary 

Away from the garden, we visited Whitsand Bay, near Torpoint, where we also spotted Common BlueHolly Blue, Small Copper, Painted Lady, and  a fly-by Clouded Yellow!!

Common Blue Butterfly

Holly Blue (male, with damaged wing)

Small Copper

The three moth species seen were Silver Y, feeding on the buddlehia in the garden, a Drinker moth and a Buff Footman. The last 2 species got into the cottage one night, and are both  new species for me.

Drinker Moth

Buff Footman

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Ring-billed Gull

Last year I was lucky enough to be in Hampshire, where I spotted a beautiful adult Ring-billed Gull (see post here). Well, a first summer bird had been reported on the Hayle Estuary in Cornwall, on the Birdguides website, so whilst down here, I thought I'd pop along and have a look at it.

Reports on the website, said that the bird had been seen just north of the road that runs parallel to estuary, just next to the RSPB Reserve, so I started my search there. The first bird I saw wasn't the one I was looking for, but it was a beautiful second summer Mediterranean Gull (year tick)! There were also dozens of Black-headed and Herring Gulls, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a few Great Black-backed Gulls present. After about 15 minutes of searching, the Ring-billed Gull flew in from behind me and settled on the mud about 50m away, where I got some photos.

Ring-billed Gull

I took this more distant shot of the gulls, and when I looked at it on the computer, I noticed that there are, in fact, 5 out of the 6 gull species present in the one photo!

Mixed gulls

 Also present on the estuary and reserve were a Spoonbill, Curlew and another year tick, a Whimbrel!

Year List update:
156- Mediterranean Gull
157- Ring-billed Gull
158 - Whimbrel

Cornwall News

I'm down in Cornwall for a week, so I thought I'd share a few of my sightings so far.

I'm staying near Looe on the south coast. The most obvious birds are, of course, the Herring Gulls, with good numbers of adults and juvenile birds around the town.

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls are also present on the river that runs through the town. Waders are a  bit thin on the ground, but we've had a few Oystercatchers flying up the river. Little Egrets are very obvious on the river as well, with at least 6 seen daily, along with this Grey Heron.

Grey Heron

A family party of Buzzards has also been seen daily from our cottage, as have Sparrowhawk, Swallow, House Martin and Raven.

As well as the birds, we've also seen a few butterflies: Red Admiral, Large White, Gatekeepers, Peacock and a Silver-washed Fritillary at The Monkey Sanctuary. There are several species of hoverfly in the garden, including this beauty, Scaeva pyrasti.

Scaeva pyrasti

The final thing of note, so far, is this beautiful Compass Jellyfish that we spotted swimming along the river in Looe- what a beauty! More information about this species here.

Compass Jellyfish

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Common Hawker and Friends

Every summer I like to visit Wragg's Quarry on Beeley Moor to look for the Dragon and Damselflies that live and breed there (see here for details of my last visit) There is a small pond in the bottom of the quarry, which is home to several species.

Pond in Wragg's Quarry

I popped up on Wednesday, and recorded 4 species: Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly and Common Hawker.

The Large Red Damselflies were all males, and were seen basking on the stones around the pond.

Large Red Damselfly

The Common Blue Damselflies were also flying around the pond, but several were also "in tandem" and ovipositing (egg laying) into the water. I didn't manage to get a photo of this, but I got one of the males sitting on a stone by the water,

Common Blue Damselfly

The Emerald and Azure Damselflies were also busy mating and egg laying. There were quite distant, but I managed to get photos of each species.

Azure Damselflies ovipositing

Emerald Damselfly "in tandem"

The final dragonfly seen was the Common Hawker. This dragonfly is a lot less common than the other species, being more restricted in the type of habitats it likes to inhabit. It prefers acidic waters, so the pool on the moors is perfect. There were 2 females present during my visit, both of which were "ovipositing" for the whole time I was there (nearly 2 hours). A male made a brief appearance, but unfortunately he didn't land, so no photo this time. Here are a few photos of one of the females.

Common Hawker (female)

The British Dragonfly Society has lots more  information about all these species. Here's a link.

Friday, 7 August 2015


When news of an adult, inland Sabine's Gull at Pennington Flash in Greater Manchester appeared on Birdguides earlier this week (see here), I'm afraid to say, my "twitching ears" pricked up, and I decided to drive across and see it. Not only is this species of gull a very attractive one, but it is also a "lifer" for me and one that is not easy to catch up with in the UK, unless you're willing to take a "pelagic" trip, i.e. go out on the sea for many hours, or sit on a high cliff in the South West for many hours staring at the sea!

So it was then, that I drove the 2 hours to Pennington Flash, and stood watching this superb bird, down to just 5m at times, as it fed and mooched  about on the lake in front of me. I took about 800 photos, but here are just five to give you some idea of how great a bird this is. The last photo, showing the amazing wing pattern, is my favourite, but I've also included one with a juvenile Black-headed Gull, to give some idea of scale, and a couple of standard "side on" shots. Enjoy!

Follow this link to find out more about this species.

Other birds seen on site included several Common Terns, the aforementioned Black-headed Gulls and at least 50 Common Swifts!!

Year List update:
155 - Sabine's Gull