Saturday, 8 October 2016

Yellow-browed warbler, Pennington Flash

Sometimes it pays off to move verrrrry slowly as I do when I'm looking for inverts and plants. This afternoon I was making my way clockwise around Pennington flash, I'd spent an hour or so photographing hoverflies on a newly discovered patch of ivy in Green Lane near the yacht club, and then on the opposite side of the flash I spent time trying to get to grips with a Polytrichum moss that's been causing me a few headaches recently.

Eventually, after I'd been out for a good couple of hours, I approached the area known as the Point, i.e. immediately opposite the front of Horrrock's hide on the other side of the water. I spotted a speckled wood butterfly land on a Michaelmas daisy and thought I'd photograph it to complete the collection since I'd already captured red admiral and comma. I moved towards the butterfly and heard a bird call "tsoweest". I ignored it and focused the camera on the butterfly. It called again "tsoweest" and the photograph was forgotten! It had suddenly dawned on me that it was a yellow-browed warbler calling.

I stood still and waited, and tried to mimick the birds call. Incredibly it responded and suddenly there it was right in front of me! A few seconds later though it was gone, high up into the canopy, and when it wasn't calling it was virtually impossible to follow. However it was doing a circuit and it returned on several occasions to the tree where I had fist seen it. There's been quite a few hundred on the east coast over the past couple of weeks, and a few have reached the west coast, but they tend to be coastal, and inland birds are still a decent find, in fact this is the first ever at Pennington Flash.

Over the next 10 minutes I had good though usually fleeting views of the bird and I put the news out on twitter / facebook/ Birdguides and the Manchester bird forum. Then I carried on my way, photographing inverts and plants. A couple of hours later I returned and immediately refound the bird again in the same tree. Fortunately about 20 other local birders also connected with the bird. Not a bad day! Yellow-browed warbler is not much bigger than a goldcrest, and breeds in Siberia and the northern Urals, and usually winters in southern China and Taiwan. No photographs of the bird I'm affraid, the camera had real diffficulty focusing on it through all of the branches and leaves, and it was constantly moving, never still for a moment. It was hard enough to see it at times, let alone photgraph it.

I know very little about bees, but this was an impressive individual, I assume a queen. Possibly Bombus terrestris, buff-tailed bumblebee??


An underwing shot of the comma, showing how it gets its name!

Mesembrina meridiana (Noon Fly).

Dasysyrphus albostraitus. This is a new species of hoverfly for me at the flash. Notice the two grey lines on the thorax.

This is an interesting moss, it's a type of Polytrichum, but which one? It's most likely P. formosum, especially in this habitat, but it has some characteristics which don't quite fit. The jury is out at the moment.

Red admiral. There were several of these on the wing today.

British Soldiers lichen, Cladonia cristatella, presumably so named at a time when camouflague was considered ungentlemanly!

Syrphus ribesii on Michaelmas daisy, a common hoverfly on one of the most attractive plants there is at this time of year. This is a female because it's eyes don't touch and it's S.ribesii because it's hind leg has a completely yellow femur.

Didea fasciata on wild angelica, one of my favourite hoverflies

Didea fasciata.

Sphaerophoria scripta.

This on of the plait mosses, so named because it looks like it's been plaited. This is Hypnum jutlandicum, heath plait-moss.

This is one of my favourite lichens, Cladonia portentosa. As a group the Cladonia lichens are sometimes known as reindeer-lichens becuase they form a primary source of food for reindeer

Cladonia portentosa.

Oak Artichoke Gall, caused by the Artichoke Gall Wasp (Andricus fecundator). which lays its eggs in the buds.

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