Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Dragonfly and Butterfly News

Over the summer period I like to get out and about recording dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Recently I've added a few new species.

The first new insects were spotted last week on a walk around Cupola Ponds, Stanedge. Emerald Damselflies were very common here, along with several Common Blue Damselflies, several Common and Brown Hawkers and an Emperor dragonfly.

Emerald Damselfly (male)

Afterwards, I drove up to Big Moor, where, again, many Emerald Damselflies were flying about, including several pairs "in cop" i.e. mating. Also seen here were Common Darter (pairs in cop and newly emerged individuals), Common Hawker and a very nice Wall Brown butterfly.

Emerald Damselflies (mating pair)

The last new species were Ruddy Darter and Black Darter. The Ruddy Darter, a male, was seen on Monday at RSPB Old Moor, and the Black Darter, males, females and newly emerged, (tenerals) were seen at Little Barbrook Reservoir on Big Moor.

Ruddy Darter (male)

Black Darter (female, I think)

Black Darter (male)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Year List Update - 15th August 2017

I haven't updated the "year list" for the last 2 weeks, despite seeing a few new species.

The first one to add to the list is a great species that I don't see every year; Chough. Jayne and I had a walk along the clifftop at the National Trust's Kynance Cove on the last day of our holiday, where we managed to spot a family party of 4 birds. Views were brief , and I didn't manage to get a photo, so instead, here's one that my nephew, Luke, got on a recent trip the RSPB South Stack on Anglesey.


The next bird; Water Rail, was added when I heard one whilst ringing at Poolsbrook Marsh. The next 3 species; Wood and Green Sandpiper and Greenshank, were all seen yesterday at RSPB Old Moor. The final species; Whinchat, was a juvenile bird seen today on Big Moor.

Year List update:
179 – Chough
180 – Water Rail (heard)
181 – Wood Sandpiper
182 – Green Sandpiper
183 – Greenshank
184 – Whinchat

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Mute Swan Ringing

Last year I became aware that one of Sorby Breck Ringing Group's members was the founder of the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital. I also found out that he rings Mute Swan in and around Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Unfortunately I couldn't get out with him this year, so, when I saw the dates for swan ringing this year, I decided to meet up, and have a very different ringing experience.

I met up on Friday (11th) with 7 other members of the group and spent the whole day travelling around Yorkshire. We visited several sites where there were either pairs with cygnets, or, as in the case of Lakeside, Doncaster, where there was a large herd of mainly non-breeding birds. By the end of the day we'd ringed an amazing total of 58 Mute Swans, and re-sighted approximately 25 other birds that had been previously ringed by the group.

Birds were aged, sexed and a moult score was taken. A BTO metal ring, and a coloured darvic ring were also fitted by the licensed ringers, and the birds were then given a general health check by members of the Swan Rescue Group before being released back onto the water as a family group. Footage of the release of a family in Goole Docks can be seen here on the Group's Facebook page.  

BTO ring being fitted

Darvic ring being fitted

Should you re-sight any bird wearing  either a BTO ring or a coloured darvic ring please log your sighting with the BTO here.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Ringing Success

After a couple of months break, we (Sorby Breck Ringing Group) were back down at Linacre this morning for a ringing session. As the title suggests, we had a very successful morning, with 72 birds of 10 species caught and ringed. All the birds, bar two, were juvenile birds.

The most numerous species caught was Blue Tit, comprising 42 birds (38 new and 4 retraps). All birds were born this year, and the retraps were birds that had been ringed this year in the boxes throughout Linacre, which is always good to see. We also caught 4 juvenile Great Tits (3 new birds and 1 retrap that had also been ringed in a Linacre box this year), 2 Coal Tits (1 adult and 1 juvenile), 2 Long-tailed Tits (both juveniles), 1 Wren (juvenile), 1 Song Thrush (juvenile) and 1 Goldfinch (juvenile).

To supplement the resident birds, we also caught 3 species of summer migrant; Blackcap (3 juveniles), Chiffchaff (6 juveniles) and Willow Warbler (9 juveniles and 1 adult). All in all, an excellent morning's ringing.

Willow Warbler (juvenile)

Other bird species seen during the morning included 12 House Martins, 1 Swallow and 2 Kestrels, which could have been an adult and a juvenile. A Painted Lady butterfly was also seen, the first site record since 2013 (see here), along with 1 Peacock,  1 Red Admiral and dozens of Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Linacre Insects

I've had a couple of sessions down at Linacre this week looking at the insect life.

Butterflies were well represented with Red Admiral (6+ in the ringing area), Peacock (8 in the ringing area), Meadow Brown (2), Gatekeeper (2), Speckled Wood (1), Comma (2), Common Blue (1) and Large and Green-veined White.

Red Admiral

Hoverflies were also around with Volucella pellucens (a.k.a. Great Pied Hoverfly), Volucella inanis, Drone Flies (Eristalsis sp), Cheilosia illustrata , Leucozona glaucia, Marmalade Hoverfly and Myathropa florea (a.k.a. Batman Hoverfly due to the distinctive marking on the thorax).

Myathropa florea (male)

Dragon and Damselflies seen were: Common Blue Damselfly (dozens, including many pairs copulating), Blue-tailed Damselfly (2 males), Southern Hawker (1) and Brown Hawker (2).

Bees included: White-tailed, Red-tailed, Common Carder, Honey and Tree.

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were seen as were 3 Yellow Shell moths.

Yellow Shell

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Linacre Birds - 7th August 2017

It's been just over a month since I last blogged about Linacre Reservoirs here, so, after a 3 hour visit on Monday, I thought I'd better post something!

The trip started off in grey, windy, overcast conditions. This time of year can be quiet, but I was able to record the following waterbirds: Mallard (48 birds, all moulting), Tufted Duck (25; 19 adults and a brood of 6 ducklings, the second brood of the year), Mandarin Duck (22 birds, again all moulting), Coot (7 birds; 5 adults and 2 well grown young), Moorhen (14 birds; 7 adults and 7 juveniles), Great-crested Grebe (6 birds; 4 adults and 2 juveniles), Cormorant (1), Grey Wagtail (4 juveniles), Kingfisher (1 heard on the middle reservoir), a Teal (1 female/juvenile bird on the top reservoir, which is my first ever August record for this species) and, perhaps the best bird of the day, a juvenile Common Sandpiper, which was feeding on the overflow on the middle reservoir. Click here to see a short video of it feeding.

Common Sandpiper

Other birds seen around the site included: Swift (1), Swallow (3), House Martin (10), Kestrel (1), Buzzard (1),  Chiffchaff (2 singing, and several feeding in and around the willows by the top reservoir), Blackcap (2; 1 male and 1 "browncap" in the ringing area), Robin (juvenile) and Treecreeper (1).

There was also another report of Common Scoter on Birdguides when I got home, but, unfortunately, I didn't see it!!!

Monday, 7 August 2017

French-ringed Reed Warbler

Yesterday I was out for my first ringing session in a while at Poolsbrook Marsh, with 5 other members of Sorby Breck Ringing Group.

We arrived on site at 5.00am, got the nets out and started to catch some birds. By the end of the morning's session we had caught 73 birds of 15 species. Totals were (new/retrap): Wren 2/0, Dunnock 2/0, Robin 1/0, Blackbird 1/0, Sedge Warbler 1/0, Reed Warbler 33/2, Lesser Whitethroat 2/0, Whitethroat 3/0, Blackcap 6/0, Chiffchaff 2/0, Willow Warbler 5/1, Willow Tit 4/0, Blue Tit 0/1, Bullfinch 4/0 and Reed Bunting 3/0.

As you can see, we had a good range of resident and migrant species, including 7 species of warbler. The vast majority of birds were new (and juveniles), but we did have a few previously ringed birds, including a very special Reed Warbler bearing a "Museum Paris" ring!! As the name implies, this bird, which we aged as an adult, had been ringed in France. It'd be great to think that it is a bird that was born at Poolsbrook, and was then ringed on migration through France, before returning the breed here in Derbyshire. I'll update the blog when we get the details back from the BTO.

Other birds seen today included Kingfisher, Common Buzzard and Water Rail (heard only).

Friday, 4 August 2017

RSPB Ryan's Field and Hayle Estuary

Every time we're down in Cornwall Jayne and I like to pay a visit to  the RSPB reserve at Hayle Estuary and nearby Ryan's Field. We popped down on Monday for about an hour to see what was about.

First stop was the enormous, open-fronted hide on Ryan's Field.
Ryan's Field

The first bird we spotted was a juvenile Moorhen, followed closely by 3 Common Sandpipers that were feeding on the mud. Scanning over the site we soon picked up a few Mediterranean Gulls, including a juvenile bird, a Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, Herring Gulls and 2 Curlews. Just before we left, everything panicked and disappeared, as a female Sparrowhawk flew through and landed about 20m away.


From there, we walked the 300m or so to the Hayle Estuary. On the way we spotted this day-flying moth, most likely a Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet Moth. It could be the less common 5-spot Burnet Moth, but I can't be sure, so I'll stick with the commoner species..

Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet Moth

When we got to the estuary we scanned the mud flats and picked up dozens of Herring Gulls, a few more distant Mediterranean Gulls, a single Whimbrel (thanks Jayne) and 5 Black Swans.

Black Swan

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

RSPB Marazion Marsh

Jayne and I spent a couple of hours at Marazion Beach and RSPB Marazion Marsh near Penzance on Sunday morning.

We started off by walking along the beach, where we spotted 5 Ringed Plover and a group of approximately 40 Sanderling. The Sanderling, all of which were still in remnants of breeding plumage, were feeding furiously along the tide line. A solitary breeding plumaged Dunlin was also in amongst them.


Also along the strand line was a dead Harbour Porpoise.

Afterwards we headed across the road to the RSPB Marazion Marsh reserve where we found a female Mallard with 3 ducklings, a single Grey Heron and got brief views of Reed Warbler and Whitethroat. We also saw a stunning male Beautiful Demoiselle, several Gatekeeper, 1 Red Admiral and a Southern Hawker that caught and ate a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Beautiful Demoiselle

Southern Hawker with Speckled Wood meal