Monday 23 June 2014

Chasing Butterflies!!

It's that time of year again when there's not a lot happening on the birding front - apart from the occasional twitch, and of course ringing a few owls with Paul - so a couple of years ago, my mate Pete Asher got me into butterflies, and on Sunday, Pete and I arranged to go to Glapthorn Cow pastures near Oundle for a new butterfly for both of us - the Black Hairstreak. Arriving at the woodland, the warden was showing people where the butterflies had been 'nectaring' on some dewberries.... and we were in luck, as one Hairstreak was feeding away, oblivious to the people that were looking on. We had been lucky, as the warden told us that the next two or three days these little stunners would no longer be on the wing. There were also lots of Meadow Browns and Large Skippers  feeding on the dewberry and bramble

Black Hairstreak

Black Hairstreak feeding on dewberry

Large Skipper

We also tried for Silver-washed Fritillary at this site, but it came over cloudy, and the rides where the insects were became really shaded, where before, they had been in good sunshine - just the way they like it! .... however, we did see two hornets ( aka wasps on steroids!)  We left Glapthorn and headed for Ketton Quarry, a limestone quarry now with grassland,scrub and woodland. We didn't have long here as I had to be back to pick the Duchess up from work. It wasn't long before we had lots of Marble Whites and Meadow Browns,  I also had another new butterfly - a Small Heath, and Ringlet were also quite numerous. We were hoping for a Dark Green Fritillary, but not this time,  so we will go back again in July, when hopefully they will be on the wing!

Marbled White

Small Heath

Hope you have enjoyed your visit.


Sunday 15 June 2014

Ring-Ring........It's all worthwhile!!

My mate Paul Riddle and I have been checking lots of owl boxes over the last few weeks - both Little Owl and Barn Owl, and this year we have had to date our best year..... especially with the Barn Owls, after last year's disastrous demise of adult birds who were unable to find food due heavy and prolonged snow fall.
So, today, we met up with our BTO ringer, Mick Townsend, and were going to return to 4 boxes that  have all got young in, ready to be ringed. The 4 boxes produced 15 healthy chicks in total, which were all ringed today,and we even had time to visit a Little Owl Box where we also ringed 3 chicks. It was good to see the hen bird in the box, which we had ringed last year! When you see these birds in the hand, it makes all worth while! A few images below of today's exploits......
Enjoy your visit!
Me with a chick from the first box

Paul with a chick from the first box

Mick with the 4 babies from the last box

cute, hey??

Paul with the 3 Little Owl Chicks sporting their new rings

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Wales for a start

Last weekend, I, my mate Paul Riddle, and a our good  mate Adey went on our annual trip to Wales for the weekend to meet up with Paul's good friend Mike to photograph mainly Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts.
The area we go to is so remote and tranquil, and the habitat is perfect for these two species; there are lots more to see.... we had up to 4 Cuckoo's, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, and even a day flying Tawny Owl! plus lots of other common stuff, and there were not many times when you looked up to the sky there wasn't either Raven, Buzzard or Red Kite drifting through......though too distant for any images!
Female Pied Flycatcher
Male Pied Flycatcher

This is my second time here, and this place is just amazing! ..... it's a place where you could quite easily spend a week, never mind a weekend!!

Female Redstart

Male Redstart

Hopefully we will be back next year! I think we all had a great time, got lots of images, had a few beers and most importantly...... a great laugh with good company!
Wood Warbler
Red Kite
Hope you have enjoyed your visit.

Thursday 5 June 2014

What a Spectacle

On Monday a Spectacled Warbler was found at Burnham Overy, Staithe, in Norfolk. Though there was plenty of time to get there I had already made plans with my mate Paul Riddle to go and check out some Owl boxes, so I decided to wait for updated news of the bird on Tuesday morning. When news came through that the bird was still there, my wife, bless her, said she would come along for the ride and keep me company but then came a call from my mate Steve James, to say he could get some time off work and shall we go?..... so, at 8 am, Steve was at my door...... just one problem - the bird had disappeared over the sea wall and been lost from view, with no further sign! It was decision time.... to go, or call it a day! We called the trip off and Steve headed back to work - only to message me 1 hour later to say that the bird had returned! We decided to go for it, so, two and half hours later, we were walking down the track towards Gunhill, which is where the bird had re-emerged. On the way down, Little Tern, Marsh Harrier and a couple of Spoonbills were noted. There were plenty of birders there - all with there optics pointing towards some low bushes, but just has we arrived, the Spectacled Warbler flew to some thicker vegetation....however, it wasn't long before we had some really good views of the bird, and what a stunning bird it was!! Below is a record image of the Spectacled Warbler and it was a British tick for Steve and I.We enjoyed a good few hours birding before heading home for tea.
Spectacled Warbler carrying nest material