Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The week so far....

Saturday we spent a scorching hot afternoon watching the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, brilliant! Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Alyson Felix, Sally Pearson, Usain Bolt and many other home grown and international track and field stars. The highlight for me though was having a quick chat with Steve Cram while Bec got Paula Radcliffes autograph and then Steve Crams, I wanted to talk career highlights, who was the inspiration and all that stuff, but he wasn't interested in me!!? :-) I was brought up watching Brendan Foster, Nick Rose, Alberto Juantorena, Jarmila Kratochvilova and the like! then came Seb, Steve O and Steve Cram what a great time that was!!! Anyway enough of trips down memory lane, here are a couple of pics from Saturday.
Alyson Felix

3000m Steeplechase

Guess who?

Sunday morning I met Phil and Mandy from Phil and Mandy's blog and their friend Derek. Unfortunately it was a bit quiet but we gradually added a few species here and there. I did have a new bird for the year the latest I have ever added this to the year list at the Castle a WILLOW WARBLER (94). We also found one of the LESSER WHITETHROATS briefly a COMMON BUZZARD drifted over distant woods and 11 SWIFT flew south. There were a few Butterflies around the highlights for me were PURPLE HAIRSTREAK and PEACOCK which I saw with Bec early evening on Sunday.
The mornings have been very quiet so far yesterday morning I was joined by Pete and we managed to find 2 TURTLE DOVES and another migrant WILLOW WARBLER.
On the moth front Steve found a migrant DOTTED FOOTMAN, new for the Castle number 440 for the site.

Black Arches

Small Dotted Buff

Young Common Whitethroat


Dotted Footman by Steve Broyd number 440 for the Castle!!

Below a couple more photos from the South Downs.
Dark Green Fritillary

Six Spot Burnet

Sunday, 28 July 2013

South Downs and Sissinghurst

Last weekend we headed to Lullington Heath and Birling Gap, just really to enjoy the good weather and see  some different scenery. Birds were in short supply but butterflies and moths were everywhere! On the moth front it was only one type of moth SIX SPOT BURNET, there were loads at one point in an area no more than 30cm square there were 27 individuals, the story was the same at both locations, this is maybe something that happens each year here but I've never witnessed it before. A similar thing was evident with MARBLED WHITE butterflies and DARK GREEN FRITILLARIES, there were large numbers again at both sites, the frustrating thing was trying to capture any on the camera, it was almost impossible they were constantly on the move and settling for the briefest of moments. In all I recorded 16 species of butterfly during the 5 hours we strolled around the area. Species included WHITE ADMIRAL, CHALKHILL BLUE, SMALL HEATH and loads of GATEKEEPERS and MEADOW BROWNS. There were no Peacocks and just 1 RED ADMIRAL.
Back at the castle this week there has been a bit of autumnal flavour, after the 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS last week, there were 3 on Saturday 20th! Now a record count :-) There were also 20+ SWALLOWS and 15 HOUSE MARTINS.
During this week several family parties of LONG TAILED TITS and CHIFFCHAFFS have been around the hedgerows. A family of LESSER WHITETHROAT was a nice find yesterday, it was made more interesting when the first returning SEDGE WARBLER (93) appeared with them followed closely by a REED WARBLER! Other than that things are as normal plenty of YELLOWHAMMERS and SKYLARKS making themselves known, as well as the odd SPOTTED FLYCATCHER.
Spotted Flycatcher
Sedge Warbler

Lesser Whitethroat

Moth numbers continue to be good, with Steve reporting that one morning this week produced 106 species, I popped in on Thursday morning where we had a GREEN ARCHES (very late), SMALL DOTTED BUFF plus too many to mention as you can imagine. More photos to follow when i can get back on the computer!

Friday, 19 July 2013

New Pond Waders!!

Wednesday morning I managed to get to the patch, Stephen was there already so I rang to see how and where he was, as I was going to head in a different direction to cover more ground but I was quickly heading to join him to see our first migrant waders on the new pond 2 GREEN SANDPIPER (92). They were hidden from view when I arrived but one came in to view then started calling as it flew up closely followed by the other, fleeting but great 'What's next' I wonder must be more to come :-)
1 of 2 Green Sandpipers (record shot)

I didn't see a lot else, although LESSER WHITETHROAT was nice, Stephen did have a HOBBY with a small songbird in its talons, which may well have flown straight over my head!
Yesterday I was at the castle by 4.10am where there were lots of moths 94 species and probably 300 individuals. Highlights were SANDY CARPET, ORANGE MOTH, 6 MUSLIN MOTHS, BEAUTIFUL HOOK-TIP and SCARCE SILVER LINES.
I walked until around 6.50am recording a couple of juvenile GREY HERONS, COMMON BUZZARD, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, 11 GOLDFINCH and 6 GREYLAG GEESE. I was hoping for maybe a returning Sedge Warbler as I have on occasions recorded them by now, maybe soon. 
Beautiful Hook-tip

Orange Moth

Scarce Silver Lines

Unknown Micro - help!!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A couple of insects

With walks being few and far between recently, I enjoyed a walk with Bec on Sunday. On the bird front there was a family of MARSH TITS and several young GREEN WOODPECKER in the woods SKYLARK and YELLOWHAMMERS sang out in the fields and the odd SWIFT drifted over but generally it was quiet as to be expected here at this time of year.
So the focus was on the insects, finally butterflies were noticeable and not for their absence! They included SMALL and LARGE in both SKIPPERS and WHITES, several SPECKLED WOOD, RINGLETS, SMALL TORTOISESHELL, MEADOW BROWN, COMMA and 2 WHITE ADMIRALS. The pond in the wood had good numbers of damsels and dragons, including LARGE RED DAMSELFLY and BROAD BODIED CHASER. The first of the highlights came when a GOLDEN RINGED DRAGONFLY was found patrolling a ditch in Bull and Birches wood, the second highlight was found on a private part of the estate a SCARCE EMERALD a new species for me and another reminder of just how surprising this place can be.
Scarce Emerald

Scarce Emerald

Golden Ringed Dragonfly

On the moth front finally numbers are really picking up and there have been a couple of new additions to the site list Steve has been doing almost all the recording, he found the RDB species OLIVE CRESCENT recently and a Kent rarity GREAT OAK BEAUTY making the Sissinghurst list now 438 for macro moths. The number of species found in just one night has peaked so far at 101!! I've managed just one visit in the last week a couple of moths from that visit are below.
Pine Hawk-moth


Friday, 5 July 2013

Lakenheath to Titchwell

We tend to do an annual visit to look for Golden Orioles at Lakenheath in Suffolk then head on to the north Norfolk coast, so Saturday 28th three of us set off at around 5am to see what we could find.
The first half an hour at Lakenheath was very quiet and felt almost wintry, overcast windy and not much more than 10 or 12 degrees! Things did gradually warm up both with birds and the weather. The first of 3 BITTERN flew up from the reeds as we approached west wood, this was closely followed by hearing a GRASSHOPPER WARBLER which flew up onto a reed and in full view for a minute or two, a new bird for my two companions! The view point at Joist Fen produced many MARSH HARRIER, BEARDED TIT, COMMON TERN, CUCKOO and two more BITTERN sightings one very close while my camera was still   in it's bag!! A CRANE called from behind the river bank but remained unseen. No Golden Orioles sung and apparently they haven't been for a couple of weeks, maybe they have moved off-site, we'll try again next year no doubt.
Marsh Harrier - Lakenheath

 A quick drop into Weeting was rewarded with STONE CURLEWS with chicks plus TREE PIPIT and strangely I added some new moths which was unexpected as they emptied the traps at Weeting, SMALL ELEPHANT HAWK-MOTH, LUNAR YELLOW UNDERWING and CLOUDED BUFF were all new!
At a site for Montagu's Harrier we managed only RED KITE and GREY PARTRIDGE, which wasn't to be sniffed at it was the first Grey Partridge I'd seen this year. 
Finally to Titchwell and a very obliging WATER VOLE was initially too close to get a picture! A BARN OWL was extremely active in the now sunny and warm conditions. On the flood 2 summer plumaged RUFF stole the show for me but at least half a dozen LITTLE GULLS, 2 SPOTTED REDSHANK and good numbers of BLACK TAILED GODWIT and usual AVOCETS were keeping us entertained.
On the beach probably 1000 KNOT wheeled up and down, some in their red summer garb, 1 summer plumaged DUNLIN was with them and far out to sea a raft of maybe a couple of hundred COMMON SCOTER bobbed up and down. A total of 99 bird species were seen or heard and 7 Mammal species seen which is probably some sort of record for me in one day in the UK!
Water Vole

Barn Owl

Common Tern



The following day we visited friends who took us to College Lake in the Tring area and I saw my first BEE ORCHIDS!
Bee Orchid - College Lake