Monday 27 April 2015

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

With some sunshine forecast after a fairly cool night I thought it was a bit optimistic of me to go searching for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries in Rewell Wood. When I arrived there was nothing on the wing and I finally found my first butterfly, a Speckled Wood, at 1130. For the next two hours I searched in vain but felt heartened when I came across Peacock, Orange Tip, Green-veined White and Small White. Alas, still no PbF, so I decided to head back to the car. Sod's Law, there on the ride was a freshly emerged specimen determined to nectar for all its worth. Suddenly the sun disappeared and the butterfly went to roost, affording me some real close up views. There I was laying in the vegetation six inches away from it and holding a conversation! Thank god I didn't see another living soul all the time I was in the wood.




This fungus-covered log caught my eye, I suspect  there is an "art" shot in there somewhere, as ever, it eludes me.




Friday 17 April 2015

Ringed Avocets

Red A5

With what appeared to be a pause in the spring migration we thought that a visit to Medmerry might pay dividends. Sadly this was not so, the fall birds from earlier in the week had continued onward with their journeys. With the weather set fair it seemed that little would pause for breath on the peninsular, but we lived in hope. We had seen the Black-winged Stilt on Ferry Pool and hoped that a pair would turn up . On what is now called "Stilt Pool", for obvious reasons, just a dozen or so Avocets. Most have them appear to be in pairs and the nearest caught our eye as one of them was ringed.

Subsequent processing at home revealed  Avocets Red A5, well - "orangey red" as over the years the rings have faded slightly. Now as my readers know, I quite like recording ringed birds, normally Godwits, Gulls and Geese, so to have an Avocet was unusual. Searching the web revealed that it was likely that the bird was from the Dunkirk ringing project - Dunkirk in Cambridgeshire that is. Details gave Tony Martin as the contact and I sent off a report. Not only that, there was link to a Newsletter and lo and behold Red A5 even got a mention. By return of post, as it were, a reply from Tony confirming the bird as being ringed by the group. Further information arrived yesterday with a comprehensive report on the bird's sightings over the past 8 years Oddly enough reported and photographed last year by Bill Brooks,who I had seen only last week at Pulborough, see his superb photographs on Flickr.

Avocet  Red A5, female, was ringed at the Dunkirk colony, Cambridge in 2008 and also carries the metal ring number EL81854. She has certainly travelled, as in the following years she has been recorded at Snettisham, Martin Mere, Marshside, Topsham (Devon), Titchfield Haven and finally Medmerry. 

This has resulted in two actions on my part, more visits to Medmerry to see if there are any additions to the family and more reading on Avocets, as I had A5 as a male!

Now for a couple of record shots...

Just a few days later we found, on the back of Breech Pool, GB+LY, another report sent to the BTO and I received a rapid reply giving the following details:

Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: EY78246 Species of bird: Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
This bird was ringed by Graham S Giddens as a nestling, sex unknown on 21-Jul-2014 time unknown at Great Marsh (near Beaulieu River), Hampshire, UK
Colour Marks left above knee G,B
Colour Marks right above knee L,Y

... and finally a plea - reporting ringed birds is easy  - five minutes to record the data and five minutes to send a sighting report. After that you are involved in a really rewarding process.

Watch this space.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Grizzled Skippers on Levin Down

Levin Down has three great things going for it, of course this is just my opinion. It is relatively isolated and fairly steep, both of which deter the dog walkers and it has a decent sized colony of Grizzled Skippers. Couple such a venue with the finest and warmest day of the year so far and what more could you want.

 Butterflies were on the wing, Brimstone, Peacock even my first Orange Tip showed but  I wanted Grizzlies.  After about half an hour of wandering round the slopes I was beginning to despair, perhaps I was just a little early in the season? Finally I found two close together but they did what all skippers are good at - they disappeared. I tried to follow one but it went beyond a fence, I returned for the other but it had gone. Finally I found them in numbers. 10+ but probably high teens, they were active for an hour but by the time the sun had reached its noonday zenith they disappeared.

Egg laying?  - couldn't find one.

Levin Down - looking up. 
Charlton - looking down.
 And finally... an interesting fungus - possibly Reticularia lycoperdon a slime fungus in the plasmodium stage. Of course if it isn't and you know what it is, then drop me a line



Tuesday 14 April 2015

Pied Flycatcher and Nightingales

Yesterday's birding started with good intentions, first up was a shot at the Black-winged Stilt reported on Ferry Pool at Pagham. Unfortunately a no show, we missed it by minutes. So, carrying on with the plan we made our way to Selsey Bill, after all the southerly winds were bound to be bringing something in.  There had been a mini "fall" in the garden, 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler and a Blackcap plus an added bonus of a Wheatear on the next door neighbours roof. Not a lot in birding terms but for my garden definitely remarkable.  How wrong can you be - visibility down to 50 yards and not much hope of it clearing. A visit to Church Norton gave the usual suspects in the cemetery and again any scoping of the harbour was curtailed by the impenetrable mist. We returned to RSPB Pagham on the off chance of gaining some uplifting news. Sure enough Owen Mitchell and Bernie Forbes came up trumps, news of  4 Pied Flycatchers in Paddock Lane, so we left poste haste to see if we could find them. The initial searches revealed nothing but with other birders on the scene we finally had tremendous views of a stunning male Redstart  and two Pied Flycatchers. Unfortunately the pictures don't do it justice, but it was a bird to be seen in the flesh as it were.

News of other birds, gleaned from fellow birders, had us visiting Long Pool for Whinchat and a Gropper, unfortunately we found neither but managed to get on to a Short-eared Owl. The number of Wilchiffs in the hedgerows was immense, they seemed to be everywhere. Nice to meet Dave Shepherd again and really glad to know that the PF was a "lifer".

Today was somewhat different, time for a visit to Pulborough Brooks for a year tick in the form of a Nightingale. The birds here, apart from being vociferous, are more disposed to perching in sight. Unfortunately, today, the birds present were outnumbered by the birders and photographers. Of course, when the birds stop singing they start foraging, normally around the base of the same bushes and it was here I got my better shots. Perhaps a return visit when the hullaballoo has died down. Nice to meet Paul and David again, also Russ whose information is always invaluable.

And finally a Jay in an unusual pose....

... and a Song Thrush belting out his song.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Ali's Garden - aka - Red Kite Central

Occasionally Liz organises a day out to visit her sister in darkest Hampshire, of course this really means that I have a few garden chores to perform. Today, with the weather set fair and the warmest temperatures predicted, I loaded the car with the necessary items, saw, secateurs and hedge trimmer and as a precaution a camera. Well, just now and again the garden is visited by some interesting raptors. Everything augured well as we approached the village, we were buzzed by a Red Kite, providing perfect views through the sun roof as it passed just ten feet over our heads.

Having parked on the drive and unloaded I left the camera in the car, wrong!! As I laid into a Buddleia of largish proportions we were overflown by a Kite, then a Sparrowhawk and finally a Buzzard. Back to the car and the camera was made ready, it wasn't long before another Red Kite flew over and I was snappin' away. At one stage we had three in view doing aerobatics and distant views of another that looked vaguely like a Black Kite - probably wishful thinking.



These birds are true scavengers, dropping into neighbouring gardens on the off chance of any snack. One such bird rose from a garden with "prey" in its talons. Subsequent processing of the frame at home revealed a half eaten bread roll!

One of the new nest boxes has been occupied, as has next door's chimney.


Lots of small birds about.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Little Gull

Today was a new venue for us, Testwood  Lakes, just north of Totton in Hampshire. Managed by the Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust it is based round three lakes and some wetland scrapes. When we arrived I have to say that I wasn't convinced that it would be a good birding venue. Far too many dog walkers, ramblers and duck feeders present. However, the sight of a  Little Gull flitting over the water soon dispelled any doubts and I tried to capture a fairly fast moving subject. When we had sufficient shots in the bag we decided to take the car down the lane to the other lakes. At this moment it dawned on us that we weren't actually on the reserve, when I saw the sign that said "Sorry no dogs" it was good to know that I wasn't going to be savaged by a Pit Bull whilst out birding.



The hides here are well organised and it wasn't long before we had views of our second target as it flew in. It remained a fair distance away and did what all Garganeys do, played hide and seek in the reeds.  With additional sighting of Little Ringed Plover, Sand Martin and Swallow we were on a roll, five ticks before lunch! 

Alas forays into the forest left us disappointed, Mark Ash Wood and Acres Down returned very little, certainly no sign of Goshawk or LSW. Finally, a visit to Blashford, just to the Tern Hide for the opportunity of Black-necked Grebe or Ruddy Shelduck, neither graced us with their presence so we made for home - a game of two halves as they say.