Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Short-toed Eagle...Sunday 22.06.2014.

After a very kind offer from fellow birder Tim Cowley we made the long journey from North Lincolnshire to Gills Lap in West Sussex.The journey south was broken only by a hunting Barn Owl and a couple of Fallow Deer and after a trouble free four hour drive we arrived at the site from which the bird had been seen.As it was still dark as we arrived we attempted to get some sleep,but this was quickly interrupted by the churring of at least 6 male Nightjar from the adjacent heathland.As the light began to break and dawn was on it's way,we went for a quick exploration of the area,familiarising ourselves with vantage points to look for STE.As we walked the Nightjar song ceased,but a couple of Fallow Deer and a very welcome Turtle Dove were seen near to the car park area.The next few hours were full of expectation as more and more birders arrived to look for the eagle and Tim and myself tried to distract ourselves away from the tension watching a couple of Garden Warbler and a pair of Stonechat collecting food for their brood.A few birders disappeared over to the opposite side of the valley and we watched them as they looked as if they were watching something,but no one was sure if it was the bird.To cause even more confusion briefly,a raptor appeared from the direction they were all looking from,but this bird was not the eagle,but a female Honey Buzzard.She passed by showing quite well,albeit into the sun,a nice bonus.Then all hell broke loose when a message came on the bird information services that the birders on the opposite side of the valley where in fact watching the Short-toed Eagle!!.Tim and myself soon went to look for the bird along with a hand full of other birders and within twenty minutes we were watching our 'First' Short-toed Eagle,for Tim his first in this country and for me a lifer.The bird was perched in the top of a small conifer and it was obviously looking for food always being alert and watching the ground showing the pale head and underparts and piercing yellow eyes and to me looked slightly owl like in its appearance.After a good hour of watching this truly beautiful bird it took to wing and gave some great views in flight showing the large size of this species.What a stunning bird and we were truly relieved we had eventually managed to see this third for Britain.This is also the first twitchable record available to the masses and a very welcome one for sure.We watched as the bird made it's way south east along the valley and was eventually lost to view.We continued to explore the area a lot more settled after seeing the mega and we logged a couple more pairs of Stonechat,including 1 pair feeding two fledglings and two Woodlark called and displayed nearby.So what a day watching this stonking bird in a cracking setting and we made the long journey back home.A big thankyou to Tim for the drive in difficult conditions and traffic.
2nd calendar year Short-toed Eagle,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

2nd calendar year Short-toed Eagle,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

2nd calendar year Short-toed Eagle,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

2nd Calendar year Short-toed Eagle,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

Sunrise At Gills Lap,West Sussex.

2nd calendar year Short-toed Eagle,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

Female Honey Buzzard,Gills Lap,West Sussex.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Bridlington And Flamborough...Saturday 21st June 2014.

A day out with Trace,Lee And Michelle gave me the chance to take a few images while out today,the following are a selection of some of the images taken through the day.
Adult Kittiwake From The Headland.

Cormorant Passing By The Headland.

Flamborough Lighthouse.

Groups Of Gannets Passed By After Their Fishing Sorties.

Puffin On The Headland.

Some Of The Hundreds Of Breeding Kittiwakes.

Selwick's Bay.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Odonata First's Etc.....Friday 20th June 2014.

A good forecast today saw me heading out locally to that gem of a reserve at Messingham and hoping to see a few things of note.Bird wise today the highlights were few and far between,but 2 female type Crossbill in the plantation and a second calendar year Hobby hunting dragons over the main lake were nice to see.But today it was insects that made up the bulk of sightings,as is expected at this time of year.A few 'First' records for the year regarding Odonata came in the form of a single male Southern Hawker near the small pond in the plantation,6 Brown Hawker dotted about the reserve and a single female Emerald Damselfly in the second meadow.Other notable Odes consisted of 10 Black-tailed Skimmer,a couple of Quads and still 2 Hairy's on the wing also.The world of Syrphidae provided me with two 'new' species in the form of a single Tropida scita and 3 Chrysotoxum festivum.Several other nice species were recorded including Dasysyrphus tricinctus,Cheilosia illustrata,Anasymia contracta and two Volucella species,Pellucens and Bombylans.Other Diptera included several Chloromyia formosa and the strange looking Conopid Sicus ferrugineus which was also seen around the small pond in the plantation.The vast families of Hymenoptera seen around the reserve and most unidentifiable to an inexperienced observer like myself included a few i managed to ID today,the Rose Sawfly and Tenthredo livida,both pretty distinct thankfully.Lepidoptera were also encountered today and included Large Skipper,Speckled Wood,Green-veined White,Large White,3 Red Admiral and several Brimstone larva from the world of butterflies and a couple of nice moths included Marbled-white Spot,Clouded Border and Brown-china Mark.Adding colour to the pathways around the reserve were several nice flowers and the most abundant were the Southern-marsh Orchids,which are starting to go over already and a few examples of the less than impressive Common Twayblade.Tormentil and Silverweed brightened the Heathy area along with the lovely Fox and Cubs.So another great visit was enjoyed today and it is always nice to come away with a few 'New' species.
Hoverfly sp. Tropida scita.

Hoverfly sp. Anasymia contracta.

Hoverfly sp. Chrysotoxum festivum.

Macro Moth sp. Marbled-white Spot.

Micro Moth sp. Brown-china Mark.

Brimstone Butterfly larva.

Black-tailed Skimmers.

Female Blue-tailed Damselfly of the form 'Infuscens'.

Female Emerald Damselfly.

Female Brown Hawker.

Female Brown Hawker.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Beautiful Northumberland And The Farne Islands....June 17th -18th 2014.

With a couple of days away on the stunning Northumberland coast,Trace and myself had booked ourselves on an all day visit to the Seabird mecca that is the Farne Islands on Tuesday and then visiting Bamburgh and Lindisfarne on Wednesday before travelling the 220 miles home.The following are a selection of the photos i managed to take while we were away.
Part of the beautiful coastline looking towards Bamburgh and Inner Farne.

Eiders,Seahouses Harbour.

Female Grey Seal.

'Bridled' Guillemot.

Puffin with Sandeels.

Adult Shag.

Arctic Tern.

Kittiwake panting,due to the hot conditions.

Arctic Tern.

Kittiwake passing by.

Razorbill close encounter.

Close up Puffin.

Lovely detail on this beautiful Shag chick.

Sandwich Tern,passing the landing stage.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Bempton RSPB And Flamborough Head.....Sunday 08.06.2014.

With nothing really planned for today,it was a nice surprise when Trace asked me if i would take her to Bempton to hopefully see some Puffins and then later visit the stunning headland at Flamborough.After enduring some slow sunday traffic and eventually finding a parking place at a VERY busy Bempton we meandered our way to several of the view points seeing at least 40 plus Puffins,but none very close and most of the birds in flight only.But all was not lost as Trace enjoyed some nice close views of the stunning nesting Gannets as many soared past at close range and we watched a flock of birds collecting nest material from the top of the cliff....excellent!.Other species which also showed at relatively close range included the usual suspects in the form of Guillemots,Razorbills,Kittiwake and Fulmars,not forgetting the most confiding Tree Sparrows you are ever likely to see around the visitor centre.After enjoying a welcome cuppa we made our way over to Flamborough parking in the lighthouse car park.First job on the agenda was to get some lunch and it was quickly eaten before we explored the surrounding area.After taking some landscape shots of the headland and the iconic lighthouse we managed to find some more Puffins which showed at much closer range near to the fog station,even seeing some displaying amongst the birds and 1 bird arriving at it's burrow to feed it's young with a bill full of Sandeels.The latter i had never seen at Flamborough before,so was a nice bonus to see.After enjoying the lovely 'Sea Parrots' we explored the nearby Selwicks Bay taking lots more landscape shots,which is so easy at this stunning location.So a very enjoyable trip out with her indoors today and as we headed home back into the sunday traffic we reflected on what a great visit we had enjoyed.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Messingham Sand Quarries....01.06.2014.

As Trace would be sleeping this morning after her night shift,i decided to have a few hours at my second summer home at the Sand Quarries.The weather was fairly nice today,with some good spells of warm sun,albeit a tad breezy.Some very welcome bird sightings were logged today and included 2 of our lovely summer visitors,Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher,which sadly are both declining in numbers and becoming a scarcer summer sight and sound.There was 2 singing male Spotted Flycatchers seen today,both singing males,1 in the usual location of the pine plantation,the other in the small wood next to the heathy area and both gave great views as they searched for arboreal food and sang their rather non descript songs,lets hope they can attract some females and successfully nest.The Cuckoo sightings on the other hand were a little more promising with a male and female observed together,the male incessantly chasing her all over the reserve,a nice sight to see and hopefully they again will be successful in their breeding attempts.Insect sightings were widespread around the reserve and the highlights went to two species of odonata,Black-tailed Skimmer and Hairy Dragonfly.The former was a single immature male observed adjacent to the pine plantation and gave some nice photo opportunities and the latter included at least 7 individuals scattered in several locations about the reserve.The only other notable insect sighting went to my 'First' local Red Admiral of the year.A few interesting wildflowers are starting to make an appearance around the many pathways and these included Tormentil,Silver Weed,Southern-marsh Orchid and the rather non descript Common Twayblade,the Orchids being later than last years showing.Too soon it was time to travel home after another great visit to this lovely little gem of a reserve.

Reed Warbler.

Willow Warbler.

Immature male Black-tailed Skimmer.

Male Hairy Dragonfly.