Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A bit of a mix

The past week has brought a couple of new birds for the year with TURTLE DOVE (91) finally showing up on the 24th. The following day 2 REED WARBLERS (92) sung from different hedgerows as I ambled round. Other birds this week have included more sightings of KINGFISHER, a build up in numbers of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS now upto 5 or 6 birds and Steve had a HOBBY over at 5am yesterday (29th) morning. One of the features of this week has been finding another two Woodpecker nests I've now found 4 nests, 2 each of Green and Great Spotted no luck with a Lesser Spot yet.
This Wren fed it's young constantly as I recorded the moths early one morning

Sorry, can't get enough of Yellowhammers!

Insects have certainly come to the fore this week with hotter weather the number of moth species has started rise with around 50 species being found on mornings when we have been recording, highlights include LIME HAWK MOTH, MULLEIN, PUSS MOTH and SCALLOPED HOOK-TIP among many.
Pale Prominent (left) and  Scalloped Hook-tip

Poplar Kitten


I've also enjoyed seeing more Butterflies and Dragonflies, DOWNY EMERALD has been in good numbers around the edge of the main lakes a BROAD BODIED CHASER and HAIRY DRAGONFLY were in the wood while the small pond held good numbers of LARGE RED, BLUE TAILED and AZURE DAMSELFLIES battling for airspace.

Large Red Damselflies

 Butterflies and Flowers provided most excitement as a visit to east Kent gave me two new species of Butterfly and 3 new Orchids, I was sort thinking of going on Saturday but laid in! and then when I woke up Sunday the planned visit to the local patch was shelved, as the morning was so stunning! Arriving in east Kent LADY ORCHIDS were in full bloom as were what I think were MAN ORCHID (not Man Orchid, Common Twayblade, thanks Greenie) also just one lone GREATER BUTTERFLY ORCHID was in flower with others budding in the area.

Lady Orchid

Man Orchid, I think. actually Common Twayblade! thanks Greenie :-)

The first new species of Butterfly here was DINGY SKIPPER (re- Marianne), although in this post originally I said Grizzled Skipper as I had mis-ID'd it!!, the star though was DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARY about 6 were spread over two locations, lovely little flutters, much smaller than I imagined. A GREEN HAIRSTREAK was also a nice addition to the day.
Duke of Burgundy

Duke of Burgundy

Thanks to Marianne this is Dingy Skipper not Grizzled as I thought!!

Lastly a visit to Bedgebury with Martin, Chris and Gavin on Monday evening was really enjoyable with WOODCOCKS roding, NIGHTJAR churring a couple of TAWNY OWLS, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, MANDARIN  and an accompaniment of WILLOW WARBLERS. A memorable last few days indeed :-)
A view of Sissinghurst Castle

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Another week flies by

There are a few bits and pieces to report again this week. The last guided walk of the spring brought 50 species for the morning on Saturday 19th, the highlights being LITTLE OWL, a CUCKOO that was seen flying into an Oak in Park Field and finally the arrival of HOUSE MARTIN (90) to the castle. A nice non avian sighting was a SLOW WORM, the first I've seen in the area for many years, this was found by people watching where they were going, while I had my head pointed skywards checking for Buzzards and such like!! Later that day a walk with Bec added LITTLE EGRET to the list as it flew high south.
The biggest surprise was Sunday afternoon, we were walking up the bridleway from Digdog Lane when I thought I heard a familiar short song but not one I've ever heard in Sissinghurst before, I dismissed it but a second burst, this time sounding quite close confirmed I really did hear a GOLDEN ORIOLE!!!! I waited for half an hour or so and went back again later but it never sung again and wasn't seen, after spending many hours listening to them and looking for them on the Norfolk/Suffolk border I wasn't surprised, but just a little frustrated not to have seen it. I now face a slight quandary as to whether to put it on the Sissinghurst list, it was definitely one and I count birds heard on my daily walks but I wouldn't put a bird heard only on my life list??
'Excuse me but I can't get any milk if you sit like that!!'


Great Spotted Woodpecker

Grass Snake
Apart from that excitement a pair of unseasonal LAPWINGS flew over in the week and a KINGFISHER was seen. We had a few more moths recorded on Saturday morning with 21 species and my first GRASS SNAKE of the year slipped across a small pond as we watched Newts hanging motionless just below it's surface. Sorry about the change of text colour I forgot it did that!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A few new birds

After the Osprey on Bank Holiday Monday, I had a couple of days adding another raptor to the year list each day. A female MARSH HARRIER (86) was a surprise on Tuesday 8th, as it quartered fields near the road, a quick stop to relocate it produced another rare visitor here, a MUTE SWAN, which flew directly over head.
The next morning was pretty misty and I struggled for species but my mood lifted when a HOBBY (87) whizzed through at treetop height.

More Nightingale surveys have proved a little disappointing as none were found in three of the four squares I've done but the Sissinghurst square that includes the castle bucked the trend and did produce 5 singing birds on the 13th probably the most I've recorded in the area for some years.
The13th proved to be a really nice day and with it I added my first LESSER WHITETHROAT (88) of the year and during a guided walk that day we added a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (89). The guided walk also gave the paticipants a treat in the form of a LITTLE OWL sitting out in the open, happy to be watched by the small crowd.
I took this a day or two after the guided walk

Spotted Flycatcher


Common Whitethroat

Good numbers of GARDEN WARBLER have been a feature this last week with many singing and pairs following eachother up and down the hedgerows. Some sad news was the Greylags that successfully raised at least 5 young have lost them all probably to Foxes I would imagine.
We have attempted 2 nights of recording the moths but with 9 individuals on the night I looked and 10 on the night Steve recorded it didn't inspire to do more, I'm hoping tonight might prove more fruitful.
Thank you for your advice on creating space for photos, very helpful, this means now the camera has been out on a couple days in the last week or so I can now put on a few of my usual dodgy efforts :-)
A couple of the few moths we found, Muslin Moths

Monday, 7 May 2012

Catching up on another week

Another busy week, work, Nightingale surveys, the patch, Badger watching and dipping!!
So last Sunday (April 29th) I had my first 3 SWIFT (83) of the year a pleasing return for just a quick walk in damp blustery conditions. Out of three Nightingale surveys I have only found Nightingales in one tetrad and that's on my patch, despite the habitat in the other areas I've visited looking perfectly good for them. Maybe the second visits will produce some. The patch did offer up another new bird for the year list during the week as several GARDEN WARBLER (84) arrived from Tuesday 1st May, probably the latest first date I've had for this species. The Badger watch with friends on Wednesday night was great, 3 Foxes and 8 Badgers all pretty close, really enjoyable as I've only seen a handful of live Badgers before.
Yesterday I headed off to dip the Little Bunting at Sandwich Bay!! my intention wasn't really to dip but that's just how it turned out, the highlight was a fly-over YELLOW WAGTAIL.
The best bird of the last week or so saved itself for todays walk with Bec an OSPREY (85) flew high north west over the castle, only my second spring record here. Also today a flock of 15-20 SWALLOWS was the most so far this spring, a SPARROWHAWK flew low passsed us only a couple of feet away as it hugged the fence line and a KESTREL was seen off by a determined Crow.
Only 1 Cuckoo was heard this week, there are no House Martins over the village yet and Lesser Whitethroat is absent from the patch as yet, where at least 3 were singing this time last year, hopefully the next week will produce some more bits and pieces.
I have question, blogger tells me I have run out of space for photos, can anyone tell me how to delete photos to make more space?? I would be grateful for any advice as I've tried a couple things and ended up writing this post three times!! :-)
Apple Bloosom


Greater Stitchwort?? (really not sure about that ID)