Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Forge Valley.....Monday 25th May 2015.

A planned day out today with Trace saw us heading over the bridge and North Yorkshire bound and after a very welcome refuel at Maccies we arrived at our destination for part of our day out.
 I have visited this lovely area many times in the past and it has to be one of my favourite areas in Yorkshire and i first visited as a young boy to see the bird feeding station and close encounters with Marsh Tit and Nuthatch taking food from the palm of my hand has stuck in my memory to this day.
 After getting our boots on the pungent smell of Ramsons filled the air,just lovely.Bird wise it was fairly quiet,apart from the locals,but a couple of singing male Spotted Flycatcher were the definite highlight and one showed really nicely,my first records of the year.Also seen were a couple of lovely Marsh Tit and a 'Chucking' Garden Warbler,scolding us as we neared its nest.
 But today belonged to the world of Insects and Wildflowers with several highlights being recorded.
 Insect wise,the best went to two new species of Hoverfly for myself and both Cheilosia species,the first Variabilis and the second Albitarsus.Both are relatively common,but the more i look at this cracking family of diptera and with occasional expert help,the more you learn and record new species.Other Syrph's included the bizarre,beaked Rhingia campestris with its huge tongue,perfectly designed for nectar feeding in its favoured flowers such as Blue Bells and Red Campion.
 Other insects recorded included a couple of male Orange Tip,Green-veined White and a couple of Red-headed Cardinal Beetles.
 Many species of flora were apparent here in this ancient woodland,with the afore mentioned Ramsons carpeting the ground and others included Early-purple Orchid,Wood Anemone,Wood Sorrel,Dog's Mercury,Butterbur and the very distinctive Pendulous Sedge.
 After visiting this stunning riverine woodland beside the Derwent,we had a quick look at Hilla Green again beside the Derwent were the highlights included 2 more Spotted Flycatcher,4 Mandarins on the small Ox-bow and three Common Buzzards overhead.
 Another superb visit to this stunning area.
Part of this lovely area.


Cheilosia albitarsus.

Cheilosia variabilis.

Rhingia campestris.

Red-headed Cardinal Beetle.

Spotted Flycatcher.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Superb Spurn.....A Cracking Day Out,Saturday 23.05.2015.

A pre-planned visit today with fellow birder Tim Cowley saw us doing the BIG walk down the peninsula and back...this is what we saw.
 An early morning start with plenty of layers as it was fairly cold first thing saw me arriving shortly before Tim and a quick scan around saw a hunting Barn Owl and a lovely Fox in the Triangle...a nice start to proceedings.
 When Tim arrived we were we neared the breach,i flushed a small bird on a number of occasions,but just couldn't get anything on it until it doubled back and flew past us towards the Warren...a Sedge Warbler,but it did have us going for a bit.
 Nearby the very sad sight of a moribund Long-eared Owl was found just before the breach and it was later donated to Rich Swales to do a post mortem on and to collect the skin.This was such a shame for this stunning bird to end it's life in this way.
 As we neared the narrows,the resident Brent flock was encountered and we thought to ourselves that the Black Brant reported the previous day must be still present with the flock.After a quick couple of scans there it was with 3 Pale-bellied and a good sized count of 363 Dark-bellied birds.It was a surprise to see so many birds still present which hadn't departed for the breeding grounds yet.
 No further notable birds were really seen apart from some stunning summer plumaged Grey Plover and Sanderling.
 Interest was then turned to insects as we approached the VTS tower as i found a roosting Lesser-treble Bar on one of the light porches on the tower,this is a nice looking moth and was a welcome bonus.
 The whole area was covered in the very abundant Brown Tail Moth larva and this year it looks like it is also going to be a bumper year for the stunning Garden Tiger,with 100's of caterpillars seen.
 As the sun came,out a few butterflies began to fly around and i managed to find a single,stunning Green Hairstreak and Brown Argus,both new species for Tim and first records for the year for myself.A couple of species of Hoverfly were seen also,Myathropa florea and Leucozona leucorum.
 After walking around all the decent habitat at the point and a quick refreshment stop at the Green Beacon we walked our way back down the peninsula to the car,seeing a single Wheatear at Chalk Bank,the only migrant of the day!.
 The Brent flock were still in the same spot at the narrows,but now dozing in the sun and we flushed several male Common-blue Butterflies as we walked through the grassier areas and also disturbed a couple of Roe Deer.It is surprising when you look properly how good an area it is for Flora with us recording some nice species which included Sea Holly,Common Restharrow,Birds-foot Trefoil,Common Storksbill and the attractive Scarlet Pimpernel.
 Eventually we arrived back at the car slightly worse for wear,12 miles in wellies is not for the faint hearted.
 After a quick footwear change and an aborted attempt at looking for Red-veined Darter on Clubley's Scrape,we enjoyed a very welcome Icecream at the Bluebell cafe..well we certainly earned it!,we then had a half hearted look along Beacon Lane for the Golden O,but to be fair we just couldn't be arsed and after chatting to Andy Gibson we went back to our cars and headed home after a superb visit to this brilliant area.Day totals saw us recording 9 species of Butterfly,1 Damselfly and 4 moth's not always about the birds.
Moribund Long-eared Owl found near to the breach.

Pale-bellied Brent with Dark-bellied birds at the Narrows.

Black Brant with Dark-bellied Brents at the Narrows.

Black Brant with Dark-bellied Brents at the Narrows.

Lesser-treble Bar at the VTS tower.

Garden Tiger Caterpillar at the Point.

Brown Tail Caterpillars at the Point.

Green Hairstreak at the Point.

Buck Roe Deer,Sheep Fields.

Male House Sparrow,Beacon Lane.

Male Reed Bunting,Beacon lane.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Messingham Sand Quarries....Another Dull Day,Sunday 17th May 2015.

Another dull days forecast saw me heading today to my second home at MSQ,this is what i saw.
 Bird wise it was pretty quiet,with the most notable and enjoyable sightings going to a flock of 50 plus Swift feeding low over Grebe Lake,giving some superb views as they screamed their way around the lake and a nice find in the form of a Willow Tit nest.The latter a really nice sight to see with the serious decline in this species.
 Today,as on my last visit,it was insects which are beginning to come to the fore,with several nice sightings through my visit.The best of which was a nice Rhagium mordax,or Black-spotted Longhorn Beetle as it is now known,which i found on the edge of the heathy meadow.This is a cracking member of the Cerambycidae family of beetles and is a very striking species with it's large eyes,it's larvae develop in rotting Oak stumps.
 Syrphidae featured heavily again with some nice species being logged which included Dasysyrphus venustus,Rhingia campestris,Leucozona leucorum,Cheilosia illustrata,Xylota sylavarum and the similar pairing of Parhelophilus fruititorum/versicolor,the latter are difficult to identify with certainty in the field.
 A couple of Shieldbug sp. were encountered today as well,the very common Green Shieldbug and the diminutive Birch Shieldbug,the latter are one of our smaller species.
 Very few species of Lepidoptera were recorded on the visit today but included a single Common-white Wave,Small White and Speckled Wood,a poor return,but not surprising in the conditions.
 So today wasn't too bad a visit,but we really do need some settled warm weather.

Female Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Small White.

Black-spotted Longhorn Beetle.

Rhingia campestris.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Magnificent Monty's......Monday 11th May 2015.

With continuing reports of this breeding pair relatively locally,i decided this morning to make the area a visit.
 On arrival a patient wait was needed and i busied myself watching and scanning through the decent numbers of Common Swifts feeding over the river and surrounding reedbeds.A smaller number of Swallows and Sand Martins were also seen feeding and hawking insects.
 All of a sudden a hive of activity saw the stunning male Monty's appear,flying in with food and the female rose up and a food pass was observed.This was a great piece of activity to witness and the female soon disappeared again.The male then went on to mob a passing male Marsh Harrier giving a great chance to compare both birds identification features,build and plumage etc.
 The male then also disappeared and that was that.
Lets hope that this incredibly rare raptor can be successful in raising some chicks to this space.
 A great few hours watching these cracking birds.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Seabird City....Sunday 10th May 2015.

A free day for Trace and myself saw us heading to the home county again today and the superb RSPB reserve that is Bempton Cliffs.
 After our pretty trouble free journey and a very welcome brekkie stop for Trace at Maccy's in Brid,we eventually arrived at the now huge new car park and monster new visitor centre.
 After getting the kit together and some warm clothing as it was a tad nippy to start,we made our way to the viewpoints.
 It is always a joy to visit this brilliant reserve,along with the sights,sounds and definitely smells of this seabird city.
 I spent ages just watching my fave birds here,the beautiful Gannets and they put on the usual superb show,with a few groups being particularly close on the cliff top allowing some great chances for some pics.
 On a downside we didn't see many Puffins at all,with only a handful of birds observed and a look later at nearby Flamborough it was the same story,hopefully this is only a temporary fluctuation in the population.
 Non seabirds seen here included the usual excellent numbers of Tree Sparrows and a nice singing male Corn Bunting along with Whitethroats,Blackcap and Willow Warbler.Full marks must go to the excellent management of the surrounding land here by the RSPB as the numbers of Tree Sparrows shows perfectly.
 After our visit to this brilliant reserve we made the short drive over to Flamborough and after a welcome lunch at the superb Headlands restaurant and pub we explored the area.
 A cracking male Greenland Wheatear in the lighthouse compound didn't let me get close enough for any photos sadly.
 Our final destination for the day,North Landing provided more superb seabirds and included some close encounters with the breeding Kittiwakes here,just lovely!and along with the cracking scenery made a great final place to visit.
 Another great visit to this superb area.
Adult Gannet,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Adult Gannet watching a passing aeroplane,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Displaying Gannets,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Displaying male Pheasant,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Razorbill,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

The iconic lighthouse at Flamborough.

Old boats at North Landing,Flamborough.

Adult Kittiwake,North Landing,Flamborough.

Adult Kittiwake,North Landing,Flamborough.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Stunning Snowdonia And The Gwynedd Coast,Wednesday 29th April - Saturday 2nd May 2015.

Trace and myself had booked a few days away on the Gwynedd coast staying at a lovely B&B at Llandecwyn near to Harlech close to the stunning Snowdonia National Park.This is a short post on what wildlife we encountered and some of the beautiful places we visited.
 Day one....after arriving in Gwynedd we decided to visit lovely Barmouth or Abermaw as it is locally named.While taking a few shots of the beautiful scenery the first goodies were seen,2 Raven as the flew along the coastal cliffs,a good start.
 As Pont Croesor wasn't too far away,we travelled the short journey over to the Glaslyn Osprey Project to see the local Ospreys.On arrival at the cracking new visitor centre,we were treated to some fantastic live pictures of the female as she ate a large flatfish.The nest was a mile from the visitor centre and the bird was just a mere silhouette through a telescope,but thanks to the live pictures it was a real treat to see her so close up.The trials and tribulations of this female can be followed on the superb Glaslyn Wildlife Web Page which is updated daily.
 Day Two....After visiting the highly overrated Port merion and lovely Betys y Coed were we saw 2 Dipper,we travelled over to Anglesey and the fantastic rocky headland and coast at South Stack RSPB reserve.We had come to hopefully see Choughs and along the approach road we saw one straight away feeding and collecting food in a sheep field.I had last seen these beautiful members of the Corvid family in February 1991 when visiting to see a White-billed Diver in Holyhead Harbour...a distant memory now,so it was great to refresh my memory today.
 More superb views were had of these enigmatic members of the crow family as they wheeled about over the cliffs along with several Stonechats and a single Raven also being added to the sightings for the day.
 Travelling to and from the B&B was a real pleasure today seeing some amazing scenery particularly around Llyn Ogwen,just beautiful.
 Day Three....Today was going to be spent travelling up to the summit of Snowden on the Snowden Mountain Railway and then walking down the Llanberis Path back to the car in Llanberis.This has to rate as one of the greatest experiences i have had in this country with regards to scenery,it is just out of this world and the snow at the summit made things even more special.
 On the walk down the mountain a few notable birds were seen and included 3 Raven and at least 15 Wheatear along with several Meadow Pipits,but to be fair i was just gob smacked by the outstanding scenery.
 After enjoying a very welcome cuppa at the superb Penceunant Isaf Tea Rooms with our new friends Al and Cheryl and the superbly friendly and kind Stefan we made our way back to the car.On the way back to the B&B we visited the lovely Beddgelert and added another beautiful place to our list of superb scenery enjoyed while on this fantastic holiday.
 After a good sleep and waking up to torrential rain we reluctantly made our way home back to Lincolnshire a tad sore,but sad to be leaving this stunning part of the world.
Abermaw And The Mawddach Estuary.

Carneddau Mountain Range Scenery.

Chough,South Stack,Anglesey.

Meadow Pipit,South Stack,Anglesey.

Raven,South Stack,Anglesey.

Llyn Ogwen.


Yr Wyddfa,Eryri.

Crib Goch,Glaslyn And Llyn Llydaw,Eryri.

Llyn Glaslyn.

Mountain Scenery near to Llyn Gwynant.