Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Messingham Sand Quarries....Insect Extravaganza!....Sunday 28th May 2017.

As mentioned in my dragonfly blog,today Stu and myself were going to visit this gem of a reserve to see what we could find and hopefully get some good photos.
 We started in the first meadow and after a short while i managed to find a lifer in the form of a cracking Eyed Ladybird which was resting under a Scots Pine of course,where else.We took plenty of images of this lovely species before moving further on.
 Syrphidae or Hoverflies as they are more commonly known,are a particular fave family of insects for me and today saw us seeing a nice selection which included Volucella pelluscens,Volucella bombylans,Leucozona leucorum(All 1st records for the year),Anasimyia contracta/transfuga,Tropidia scita,Parhelophilus fruititorum/versicolor and finally 2 new species for me in the form of Helophilus hybridus & Platycheirus rosarum.I'm still a relative newcomer to this fascinating family of insects and it is great fun studying them and attempting to capture images of them.
 Walking through the second meadow our first Cinnabar Moths of the year were logged and into the Heathy Meadow more day flying moths were seen and we added Straw Dot and the beautiful Silver-ground Carpet to the days sightings.
 Another species of insect we saw in relatively large numbers were Garden Chafers,with at least a hundred seen buzzing around in the grass,this is the most i have ever seen here with their metallic green thorax glinting in the sunshine,just great to encounter.
 Butterflies had been a feature of the days sightings as well,but only a hand full of species included Brimstone,Small Tort,Large White and Speckled Wood and my first Common-Blues of the year.
 With all this activity from the world of insects,birds sort of took a back seat,until later in the day when we were treated to an aerial masterclass as a 2nd calendar year Hobby was watched taking full advantage of the abundance of flying insects,particularly Four-spot Chasers.What a great privilege to see this beautiful falcon in action twisting and turning showing its aerial prowess to full advantage as it snatched the dragonflies in its feet,rising up to pluck it apart,superb to watch.
 Today was certainly a productive visit as it always is to this gem of a reserve and i certainly look forward to the next one at the weekend in anticipation of more great discoveries.
Eyed Ladybird,My First Sighting Of The Species.

Wasp Beetle.

Helophilus hybridus,A New Species For Myself.

Parhelophilus fruitetorum/versicolor

Platycheirus rosarum,A New Species For Myself.

Tropidia scita.

Volucella pelluscens.

Anasimyia contracta/transfuga.

Downlooker Snipe Fly.

Metallina Sp.,A Very Attractive Species.

Master Of The Air....A Stunning 2nd Calendar Year Hobby.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Seabird Spectacular And Stunning Stint,Sunday 21st May 2017.

A day out together today saw Trace and myself making our annual visit to the fantastic seabird colony at Bempton Cliffs and later visiting Flamborough for some sightseeing and lunch,this is how our day unfolded.
 After making our journey north through Beverley and villages we arrived at our first destination,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.To be fair it was only 9.30 and wasn't too busy yet and we found a parking spot pretty quickly.
 The weather wasn't too bad,but it wasn't as good as it had been forecast unfortunately with periods of cloud and a cool breeze,but every visit here is great,so off we went to visit the different viewing areas.
 In the back of my mind the thought of the Black-browed Albertross from earlier in the week did appeal,but i'm not that jammy!.
 It was really great to visit again,with the fantastic sight and sounds of this seabird city and the towering cliffs providing some superb scenery.
 My favourite birds showed brilliantly as always,the Gannets and i managed some half decent images of them today and even took a few videos of them as they bill fenced and collected nesting material from the cliff tops.
 It was also nice to see a proud Razorbill parent with it's egg,something i had never seen here,as we usually visit when the birds have chicks,just great to watch.
 After spending a good 3 hours watching the stunning seabirds we made our way around to Flamborough for some well earned lunch at the excellent Headlands Restaurant.
 After enjoying our meal we went to explore Selwick's Bay and took loads of pics  of this brilliant area before ascending back up those knackering steps.
The day was finished by a mini twitch to see the reported Temminck's Stint which had taken up temporary residence on Thornwick Pools.
 This is a cracking little reserve and has certainly added another dimension to the headlands diversity of habitat.
 After bumping into local birder Andy Malley,he showed me where the Temminck's was hanging out,with distant views to start,it then flew onto the main pool and eventually right infront of the hide,giving some cracking views and allowing me to get some decent pics of this superb little wader.
 This species visits our shores on its long migration from its wintering grounds in Africa,en route to the birds breeding grounds on the Scandinavian tundra,no mean feat for a tiny wader.
 What a great end to another fantastic day out in gods own county.
Seabird City At Bempton RSPB.

Razorbill Guarding The Next Generation,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Kittiwake Dispute,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Beautiful Gannets,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Courting Couple,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

A stunning Adult Gannet,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Fulmar,Bempton Cliffs RSPB.

Selwick's Bay,Flamborough.

Selwick's Bay,Flamborough.

Adult Temminck's Stint,Thornwick Pools,Flamborough.

Adult Temminck's Stint,Thornwick Pools,Flamborough.

Adult Temminck's Stint,Thornwick Pools,Flamborough.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Bolton Abbey & Stridd Woods.....What A Cracking Place!.......Saturday 13th May 2017.

After spending the previous night in lovely York watching the superb Tom Chaplin in concert and demolishing a hearty brekkie this morning,Trace and myself made our way over to the stunning Bolton Abbey estate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
 The journey over saw a couple of lovely Red Kites on route,always great to see.
After paying for our entry to the estate,parking in usual fashion at Cavendish Pavilion,we got the walking boots on and we were off to explore this brilliant site.
 Before we had even reached the bridge over the Wharf,the first of at least 19 singing male Pied Flycatcher was heard and watched singing over the pavilion,what a little cracker!.
 Over the bridge and into this beautiful upland woodland with it's Sessile Oaks and pungent smell of Ramsons everywhere.
 It wasn't long before we were adding more lovely birds to the already observed Pied Fly's and this included several male Redstart and Grey Wagtail and a single male Mandarin.The latter was seen while resting in the lovely Harrison's Ford Seat,watching at close range some of the woodlands residents which included Nuthatch,Coal,Great and Blue Tits as well as Chaffinches and some brief views of the resident Wood Mice.They were all coming to take advantage of the seed put out by local residents,just brilliant to watch and great for Trace to enjoy the birds at such close range.
 Further on through this beautiful woodland we enjoyed a plethora of wildflowers which included Wood Anemone,Wood Sorrel,Bugle and of course the iconic Bluebells amongst others.There are some lovely tree species to enjoy also with Downy Birch,the afore mentioned Sessile Oaks,Wych Elm and some lovely examples of Holly that make up the canopy of this very important woodland for birds and insects alike.
 After crossing the impressive aqueduct a welcome sighting in the form of a Spotted Flycatcher became my first record of the species for the year and another singing male Redstart showed nicely in the same stand of trees.
 Further on into the woodland again and a quick stop to scan a lovely stretch of the river revealed a Common Sandpiper 'Teetering' along the shore,a Dipper feeding it's fledgling and another stunning male Redstart showed with a male Pied Flycatcher singing over head....what a brilliant place!!!.
 A prolonged spell of sunshine allowed me to look in hope for the distinctive Hoverfly Portevinia maculata in amongst the carpet of Ramsons and it wasn't long before i found 3 males sunning themselves on the leaves.This is my first sighting of the species and a great addition to the days sightings.
 Eventually we made it back to Cavendish Pavilion and enjoyed a very welcome cuppa and cake before making our way home after another brilliant visit to this gem of an area.

Carpets Of Blue Bells.

Male Mandarin In His Tree Top Home.

A Cracking Male Pied Flycatcher.

Female Mandarin Duck.

Male Mandarin Duck.

Juvenile Grey Wagtail.

Hoverfly Sp. Portevinia maculata.

Hoverfly Sp. Portevinia maculata.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Adult Male Pallid Harrier......The Holy Grail Of Birding!....Wednesday 10th May 2017.

It had only been a few weekends ago when news filtered through that serious local patch watcher Tim Isherwood had seen an adult male Pallid Harrier fly north through his East Yorkshire coast patch at Grimston.This stopped me in my tracks as it is a bird most of us mere mortals would love to see,let alone find.
 Fast forward a week or so and news breaks that a male Pallid Harrier is holding territory in the well known raptor breeding area of the Forest Of Bowland in Lancashire,it has to be the same bird.
 After a lovely trip away with Trace to Northumberland,i got home and just had to go and see this mythical beast for myself.
 I got up at 4.00 am,got all the kit together and headed west across country to my destination at Dunsop Bridge.
 The drive over was pretty good and it was apparent there had been quite a frost overnight.
 I eventually arrived at the lovely little village of Dunsop,paid for my parking and i was off on the 4K hike to where the bird had been holding territory in the Whitendale Valley.
 The walk up was great not only for the scenery,but i logged some great birds which included my 'First' Pied Flycatchers and Redstart of the year,a couple of female Stonechats and some displaying Common Sands,what a brilliant start i thought,but better was to come.
 After arriving at the area where the bird had been watched from along with two other birders,we set up and began to scan the area,then all of a sudden a ghostly shape flew down the hillside and disappeared into a small valley,it had to be him.
 A few tense moments later and there he was,i couldn't believe what i was watching at first,a bird i had dreamt of seeing and now i was actually watching one!.
 I just watched through the scope as he floated about above the bracken covered hillside,taking in all the features of this beautiful bird.
 As we watched he began to collect nesting material which he took into one of the nests he has built in anticipation of attracting a mate,now that would be something else.
 After his nest building activities,he passed across the valley,a hundred metres in front of us,giving stonking scope views and then began to gain height,thermalling higher and higher and then began to display.This has to be one of the most impressive sights i have seen in all my 30+ years birding.He just threw himself all over the sky looping about back and forth,uttering a distinct chattering call all the time,what a BIRD!!!!.
 After this he disappeared over a nearby hillside and we went back to normality after seeing this stunner.
 About half an hour lapsed and he then appeared again doing the same routine of covering his territory and again displaying,just fantastic to watch.
 The 4 hours i had just spent,literally flew by and after saying my goodbyes to the lads who i had been watching with,i made a steady walk back to the car.
 I was on a high as i travelled home back through the bustle of Bradford and down the M62 and back home.I havn't stopped talking about this stunning bird ever since,what an experience and one which will stay with me for the rest of my days.
Male Pied Flycatcher,Dunsop Bridge.

Singing Male Redstart,Dunsop Bridge.

Whitendale Valley.