Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Eccleston Mere

Marsh Harrier 1 probably juv. flew south over fields.
Scoter sp. 4 flew over north east, presumably Common.
Shoveler 1
Teal 1
Buzzard 1
Pochard 1 f

Frustratingly I couldn't say what the Scoter were for sure, but there was no doubt about the harrier, which although it was in view for just a minute or so before it disappeared over the trees, was without question Marsh!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Silver Howe and Blea Rigg, Grasmere, Cumbria

Despite the poor summer, it was yet another beautiful day to be in the Lake District, so it seemed a shame not to visit Grasmere once again. Some really spectacular views across Langdale, and in the opposite direction Helvelyn and Fairfield.

Star of the day, Golden-ringed Dragonfly. We saw two, a male a female flying along a small stream high up on Silver Howe. A beautiful location to find Britains largest dragonfly. My third new dragonfly species this year.

On other pools we saw several Black Darters and a few Common Hawkers, but no Keeled Skimmers this week.

Male Golden-ringed Dragonly (left) are quite a bit smaller than the females. Black Darter (right), a lot smaller than either male or female Golden-ringed, in fact probably about a third the size!

Golden-ringed Dragonfly habitat (left) on Silver Howe, and Common Hawker and Black Darter habitat (right). Now own up, it's a bit more scenic than either Bold Moss or the Sankey Valley! In the left hand photo you can see Fairfield in the background, in the right, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Harrison Stickle.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A dragon at Seaforth and 3 Wood Sands at Martin Mere

For the third week running we started off the day at Seaforth and ended it at Martin Mere. Seaforth was fairly quiet, but we did see this magnificent Common Hawker dragonfly.

The close up photo on the right shows not only its amazing eyes, but also most of the features which identify this as Common Hawker, as opposed to Migrant, Southern or even Southern Migrant! The eyes are blue above and brown below, the thorax (side of the body) is brown with two yellow stripes, the antehumeral stripes (the yellow stripes behind the eyes) are long and thin, there is a yellow leading edge to the wing. On the left hand photo, you can also see the "pinched" waist.

At Martin Mere, there were now three Wood Sandpipers showing nicely from the Ron Barker hide, with a Water Rail, two Marsh Harriers and a handful of Ruff.

Quail Rainford bypass

Just had the bizarre experience of biking it along the Rainford bypass, alongside a Quail which ran alongside the bike for about 3 yards, before flying off into cover. Between Dairy Farm Road and Siding Lane.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Helm Crag ridge and Far Easedale, Grasmere, Cumbria

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the Lake District. We climbed Helm Crag from Grasmere, then followed the ridge over Gibson Knott and past Calf Crag, before descending into Far Easedale and back to Grasmere.
In the hot sunshine there were quite a few dragonflies flying, with a single probable Golden-ringed Dragonfly, several Common Hawkers and a couple of Four-spotted Chasers on moorland pools on the ridge walk at a height of about 400m.
Star of the day though was this wonderful Keeled Skimmer in Far Easedale. This was the first time I have ever seen this species, and it's worth comparing the photograph below with the Black-tailed Skimmer photgraphed at Martin Mere yesterday. Keeled Skimmer is quite a scarce dragonfly nationally and this was my second new dragonfly of the year following Club-tail on the Dee in June. Golden-ringed would also be a new species for me if I can just convince myself 100% that it was indeed this species!
Best bird of the day was a wonderful Peregrine on Gibson Knott.

Keeled Skimmer

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Martin Mere

Two Wood Sandpipers from the Ron Barker hide and juvenile Marsh Harrier were the star birds.

It was another excellent afternoon for insects, especially along the reedbed walk, where we found at least 12 species of butterfly and five species of dragonfly / damselfly.

Red Admiral (left) and Wall (right).

Peacock (left) and Brimstone (right).

Black-tailed Skimmer.

Eccleston Mere

The Arctic Tern was still present this evening, and the light was a lot better so I thought I'd try capturing the bird in flight again. Still not particularly good, but the best I've managed so far.

Note the white triangle on the wing. This is a feature of juvenile Arctic Tern and seperates it from juvenile Common Tern.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Eccleston Mere

Juvenile Arctic Tern still present, for at least its fifth day, offering more good photo opportunies but only when landed. I found it very difficult to get any good flight shots.

About the best I could manage!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

Arctic Tern Eccleston Mere

There was a wonderfully confiding juvenile Arctic Tern at Eccleston Mere this evening, which apparently has been present for at least two days. A much more dainty bird than Common Tern, in flight it was very Black Tern like, swooping down to pick insects off the water.

Green-veined White on Purple Loosestrife.

Wood Sandpiper Pennington Flash

A few photos of the Wood Sandpiper which has been at Pennington Flash for the past two days.
Not bad photos, but could have been a lot better if the sun could have come out. It is supposed to be August!


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Whinchat, Old Coach Road

Male Whinchat this morning in the horse paddocks at Clares Moss, Old Coach Road. Best reached from Mossborough Hall Lane. Amazingly, away from Prescot Reservoirs, I have only ever seen five Whinchats previously in St Helens, and four of those have been on the same fence, in fact more or less the same position on the fence! The only difference with this bird is that all of the others have been in spring.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Martin Mere and Seaforth

Despite the less than perfect conditions for insect watching, there was a fine collection of insects on the wing at Martin Mere today, mostly from the new reed bed walk. We saw three species of dragonfly, Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmers and Common Darters. Butterflies were even more numerous, with 10 species seen.

Pride of place went to Brimstone (left), with upto six individuals, all of which looked newly emerged. Also on the wing, quiet a few Walls (right). This is a species which really seems to have declined in recent years.

Always a spectacular sight, there were many Peacocks (left) and a few Common Blues (right).

Birds at Martin Mere included a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and a Green Sandpiper.

We had started the day at Seaforth LWT at Liverpool, where there was an excellent selection of birds for the time of year. These included two juvenile Med. Gulls, at least 8 Sandwich Terns (4 adult & 4 juveniles), Little Gull, 200+ Common Terns, Whimbrel and a fair selection of waders such as 1500 Dunlin, two Turnstones and 150 Black-tailed Godwits.

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