Monday, 30 May 2016

Foulshaw to Leighton Moss

A seemingly near perfect day for watching butterflies at Gait Barrows near Silverdale today did nothing to allay my fears for the health of the UKs butterfly populations. Hot and sunny all day with not a breath of wind, we spent two hours at the reserve and saw just a handful of species in very small numbers. Three or four pearl-borded fritillaries, two brimstones, a couple of whites, a couple of blues and a speckled wood were just about the lot. Not a single Duke of Burgandy, no green hairstreaks and no dingy skippers. There were reports of a single Duke being seen earlier in the morning, but seriously has it come to this, one butterfly seen on a perfect day in the peak flight period? More worryingly there were periods of 15 minutes or more when I didn't see a single butterfly of any species, not even a white.

It was a similar story at Trowbarrow Nature Reserve near Leighton Moss, even less butterflies here though we did at least add a couple of dingy skippers to the list. Also here, no fly orchids. Earlier we went to Foulshaw Moss in Cumbria where there were loads of large-red damselflies and a few four-spot chasers, but not a single white-faced darter.


There were two ospreys on the nest at Foulshaw and a couple of tree pipits, three spoonbills asleep on the Eric Morecombe Pools where we also saw three lesser whitethroats together and a Cetti's warbler just outside the hide.


At Gait Barrows, the plastic Lady's Slipper Orchids are currently in full flower, and are about as wild as a pelican in Cornwall.


Year: 229 (Osprey, tree pipit, nightingale (Whisby Nature Park), bearded tit (Blacktoft))


Recently emerged four-spot chaser with it exuvia.


Foulshaw Moss.


Leighton Moss.


Garden warbler.


Herb Paris at Gait Barrows.


Lesser whitethroat.



Lilly of the Valley at Gait Barrows.


Malle marsh harrier.



Monday, 23 May 2016

The Laurisilva and Teixeira

We started off this morning at Ribeiro Frio in the heart of the ancient Laurisilva forest of Madeira. It's classed as rainforest and true to form, just like the tropical rainforest of Queensland Australia, it was more or less completely green and at times seemingly birdless.

What it did have was a lot of ferns  and bryophytes and a particular abundance of liverworts, and this was enough to keep me entertained. I'll be doing a separate blog post on the ferns and bryophytes I saw in Madeira in due course.

I probably only saw about five species of birds, and the most abundant was the beautiful Madeiran Firecrest.  We completely failed to see the endemic Trocaz pigeon, though to be fair I was looking at the bryophytes most of the time and whole flocks of the pigeon could have passed by and I wouldn't have noticed.










Eventually we moved on to Santana and then up into the mountains, above the annoying clouds and mist, and up into the sunshine. We were close to the summit of Pico Ruivo and only a few miles walk to Pic do Arieiro.  It was beautiful up here, lots of butterflies flitting around as well as plain swifts and Berthelot's pipits. Oh and a Trocaz pigeon flew across the road in front of the car on the way up. A great end to the day.







Erica arborea endemic to Madeira.

Small copper subsp. phlaeoides.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

A day out to Porto Santos.

It was a beautiful day on the island of Porto Santos, just to the north of Madeira and conveniently a 2.5 hour boat journey each way over seas which hold some of the rarest seabirds in the World. Highlights of the journey included at least 30 Bulwers petrels and 400 Cory's shearwaters.

The island itself is very arid and this is reflected in the fact that several of the plant species we saw at Porto Laurenco yesterday are here also, including ice plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, but also Berthelot's pipit.  The main town on the island, Vila Baleira, has a good population of Spanish sparrow.


Berthelot's pipit.





Bulwers petrel.


Cory's shearwaters.


Bulwers petrel.


Spanish sparrow.











Ice plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum.






Saturday, 21 May 2016

Not watching endemic seabirds

Today we went on the Whale and dolphin watching trip run by Madeira sea birds. It was almost bird less, but the spotted dolphins were fun and we did see a handful of Cory's shearwater. 








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