Thursday, 24 July 2014

Houghton Green Flash

Black necked grebe 1 summer plumage
Common sandpiper 1
Pochard 3

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A few dragonflies from Ynys-yir RSPB, Ceredigion

Small Red Damselflies mating in wheel formation.

Keeled Skimmer.

Black Darter.

Cardigan Bay

Aberaeron, Cardigan Bay.

Badger, Orielton

I sat up late writing my notes and just after midnight heard a noise outside the open window and was face to face with a badger! I watched it for about 20 minutes until it was joined by a second, larger animal.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Greater Horseshoe Bats, Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

Greater Horseshoe Bat 100+

Stackpole is one of the largest Greater Horseshoe bat roosts in the UK, with over 600 individuals. We were in position for about 9:15pm, and almost immediately saw the first bat emerge from what looked like a trap door in the roof of an archway. It looked huge in comparison to the Lesser Horseshoe bats which we have become accustomed to seeing at Orielton, but like the lesser, these bats came out, flew around for a few seconds, but then went back into the trap door. Soon we had three bats flying around above our heads, until at last one broke ranks and flew away under the nearby trees and was lost to sight.

By 9:45pm there were ay least 10 bats flying around under the arch, and many were now flying away, but were swiftly replaced by others emerging from the trap door. On at least two occasions we heard the slap of wings as they clashed. As the bats left the archway they would drop low and fly no more than about 0.5m above the ground for as far as we could see in the fading light. A memorable experience!

Bosherton Lakes, Pembrokeshire

We spent most of the day at Bosherton Lakes in sweltering heat. Loads of dragonflies to admire, mainly emperors, black-tailed skimmers and common darters. A chough flew over the dunes.

Common Darters copulating.

Reed Canary-grass

Silver washed fritillary, female.

A few moths from Orielton, Pembrokeshire

Another glorious day in Pembrokeshire. Last night I saw a badger in the grounds of the field centre and this morning we opened the moth traps and found lots of moths, including the following:

Four-spotted Footman, female.

Four-spotted female, male

Black Arches

Blomer's Rivulet

The Coronet

Rosy Footman

Monday, 21 July 2014

Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Marrim grass

Common couch

Great green bush cricket

Angle Bay

Brookweed. Apparently this plant is part of the primrose family.


An uncommon pink form of female Meadow grasshopper.

Here is another pink form of Meadow grasshopper. Male?.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

An evening with the horseshoe bats at Orielton, Pembrokeshire

Greater Horseshoe Bat 6
Lesser Horseshoe Bat 38

A remarkable evening watching the bats at Orielton. Probably less than 20m from my bedroom door, I counted at least 38 lesser horseshoe and 6 greater horseshoe bats emerge from their roost in a storage room at the side of the stables. At about 9pm, in still reasonable light, one by one they started to emerge through a doorway, and there was definitely a difference in the method of emergence used by the two species, to such an extent  that you could confidently identify them by how the left the room.
The lessers, broadcasting on a frequency of 110khz, flew around in the room for a minute or two before coming right up to the entrance, but then turning back at the last second and going back into the room. They would repeat this for a further minute or two, and each time they came to the door they would come out a little bit further, almost as if they were checking how dark it was. Sometimes they would fly 10m or more beyond the doorway, before returning to the room. At last though they would go, they would come out at the top of the doorway and would fly up and away over the roof.
On the other hand, the greaters, on 80khz, flew out like a rocket, low across the ground, and remaining no more than 0.5m above the ground until lost to sight in the fading light.

Amazingly, virtually all of the lessers went over the same bit of roof to the left of the door, whilst all of the greaters came out of the doorway and went right, all following the same route.
Very difficult to capture any of this on camera, and even if I could it wouldn’t tell the story. All I can do is put it into words and leave you with the consolation of a photo of lesser horseshoe bat poo.

A Hay Meadow in Pembrokeshire

Wyndrush Farm

Purple Moorgrass (Molinia caerulea) one of the commonest and most distinctive grasses of the moorlands.

This spectacular looking plant is Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne), one of the commonest grasses in the UK, which probably grows in your lawn. This is in full flower!

Five-spot Burnet (I think!). Or it could be Narrow-bordered five-spot Burnet.

Spider in its funnel.

Leaf hopper (Cicadella viridis?)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Orielton field study centre, Pembrokeshire

Lesser horseshoe
Common pipistrelle 

Blomers rivulet
Four spot footman
Rosy footman
Black arches a few
Buff footman lots

For the next few days I'm staying in the stables at Orielton, which is very nice and has the added advantage of being a SSSI on account of its Lesser Horseshoe Bats! We also have a group of moth trappers staying which accounts for the moth records.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A few photos from Northern Ireland

Little Grebe, Hillsborough Lake. I was made up with this because it completes the set of decent summer plumage grebe photos this year. I've managed to get photos of all five species in summer plumage now! Little grebe was actually by far the most difficult.

Drake ring necked duck (left) and female (right) at the Mullagh. See post from yesterday for more photos and a write up on these birds.

 Spotted flycatcher. There was a family party at Maghabbery.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Belfast Lough

Manx shearwater 2
Eider 500
Black guillemot 4
Red breasted merganser 1 female
Curlew 50
Black tailed godwit 50
Common tern 50
Common sandpiper 1
Redshank 30

Belfast Lough (Harbour Lagoon) RSPB

Common tern 150 at colony
Black tailed godwit 400
Common sandpiper 9
Curlew 50
Greenshank 1
Redshank 50
Dunlin 3

I saw several terns feeding the youngsters small crabs, something I've never observed before.

The Mullagh, Lough Beg, Northern Ireland

Ring necked duck 2 (male and female)
Whooper swan 2
Common sandpiper 1
Pochard 4
Tufted duck 50
Great crested grebe 30
Little grebe 30 inc pairs with chicks
Common tern 10
Buzzard 1

Year: 266 (ring necked duck)

Having missed the bird of the year in St. Helens (so far??) I was delighted to at last catch up with this pair of ring necked ducks, and what a great place to see them. Going into eclipse, but still great birds and very wary. Even better this was my first female ring necked duck.

Nothing wrong with the female ring necked duck (right), it's quite unlike any tufted duck I've seen, but I was a bit unsure about the male (left). However the bill is good, and further research has revealed that eclipse drakes often have this tuft like appearance.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Eccleston mere

Tufted duck 20
Coot 91
Kingfisher 1
Mute swan 2 adults with 6 cygnets
Sand martin 10
Swift 20
House martin 20
Swallow 20
Chiffchaff 1 singing
Grey wagtail

Record numbers of coot at the mere at the moment.

Appleton Reservoir

Shoveler 5 females
Kingfisher 1
Coot 50+ with at least 8 family parties
Mute swan 2 adults
Great crested grebe 20 with at least 4 family parties
Buzzard 4

Also: Dragonflies - Emperors, Black-tailed skimmers; Butterflies - Commas, Small tortoiseshell.

Black-tailed skimmer