Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Roudsea Wood and Moss NNR, Cumbria

Large Heath!!! Surely at least a month early! There were at least five of these rare butterflies on the wing today.

Large Yellow Sedge - Even rarer than Large Heath, this is one of only a handful of sites for the species in the UK.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Damselflies Delamere Forest

Large Red and Common Blue Damselflies

This is a dragonfly exuvia, i.e. the remains of the larval exoskeleton which it lived in whilst in the pond. When it's ready to emerge as an adult, the larva crawls out of the water and clings to waterside vegetation. After a while the exoskeleton splits at the back and the adult emerges, and when it's dried out, flies off leaving the exoskeleton behind. Notice how perfect it's legs and eyes are, and how it even has tiny wings. I've not had chance to positively identify this yet, but my guess is, it's a Four-spot Chaser.

Also today I had a fabulous flight view of a Downy Emerald at Shemmy Moss, but unfortunately it was very brief, and didn't land, so no photograph.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Gait Barrows, Silverdale

Four-spot Chaser

Herb Paris and Lady's Slipper

Maidenhair Spleenwort and Wall Rue

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Warblers in the Sankey Valley

Warblers singing in the Sankey Valley this morning, 7:10-7:50am, Carr Mill Dam to Mucky mountains, Earlestown: Blackcap 15; Whitethroat 11 (only 2 at Penkford); Reed Warbler 10 (5 Havannah Flashes); Willow Warbler 8; Chiffchaff 7; Sedge Warbler 1 (Nine Arches).

Also seen or heard 2 Grey Wagtail, Great spotted Woodpecker, several singing Reed Buntings, Yellowhammers and Song Thrushes.

Common Terns, Queens Park

Two Common Terns over my house at Queens Park, near the town centre this morning. I regularly see these birds flying over during the summer. My house is on a direct line from Carr Mill Dam to Eccleston Mere and Prescot Reservoirs, and as a result I see lots of birds flying over which commute between them. In past years I have seen Osprey, Common Terns, Swans, Cormorants, Buzzards and a variety of waders.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Rainford Mosslands

One female Wheatear at Inglenook Farm, also one singing Corn Bunting here. A Dunlin in summer plumage flew low over the Old Coach Road, near the junction with Mossborough Hall Lane.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

River Dee, Holt

I called in for a quick look for Club-tail Dragonflies and unsurprisingly was disappointed given the appalling weather, though there were a few Banded Demoiselles on the wing. However, I was compensated by the sight of an Osprey flying along the river and a great view of a singing male Lesser Whitethroat.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Torver Common, Conniston

We had a great walk today, around Torver common, and along the shore of Conniston water to the town of Conniston. Lots of great woodland birds seen exeptionally well. Highlight for me was a wonderful Wood Warbler, my first for ages, I watched it as it sang from branches quite low down in the woodland, and as it parachuted its way around a circuit close to where I was standing. A fabulous bird. On the edge of the same wood, a singing male Pied Flycatcher, whilst on the common itself there were at least 3 Cuckoos, Lesser Redpolls, Tree Pipits and singing male Redstarts and Garden Warblers. On the lake, several Red-breasted Mergansers.

Pennington Flash

Lesser Whitethroat 1, Common Tern 6, Common Sandpiper 2, White Wagtail 1.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Eccleston Mere

2 Common Sandpipers, 40 Swifts, 6 singing Whitethroats, 3 Mute Swans, 2 Gadwall, 1 Kingfisher.

Warblers in the Sankey Valley

Warblers singing in the Sankey Valley this morning (Carr Mill to Mucky Mountains, 7:00am-7:45am): Whitethroat 15 (10 Penkford / Nine Arches), Reed Warbler 11 (6 Havannah Flashes, 5 opposite side of road to Ship Inn), Blackcap 10, Chiffchaff 12, Willow Warbler 11, Grasshopper Warbler 1 (Penkford Bridge), Sedge Warbler 2.

Also seen this morning, 2 Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher and Sand Martin.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Fun on the Ythan

Just got back from a very brief visit to Aberdeenshire. We stayed in the village of Newburgh, on the Ythan estuary, a mere 370 miles from St Helens! I only really had one day birding, though we did spend some time at Balmoral on the way up on Saturday, and saw a few bits and pieces there, such as several Common Sandpipers on the River Dee. Really nice birds, but it was the following day which I was really excited about, because the Ythan estuary is famous for it's flocks of Eider.

And it didn't let me down..... by 8am on Sunday, I'd found an adult drake King Eider at the mouth of the Ythan with very little trouble, and following the advice of a local birder, I'd even managed to pick out a potential Northern Eider (borealis) with its sails clear to see as it displayed to a female Eider. There were hundreds of Eiders at this magical place, as well as at least 200 Sandwich Terns, lots of Little Terns and a few each of Common and Arctic, and also about 50 Seals, a mixture of Common and Grey. Then it was back to the hotel for breakfast!

Out again at 9am, and by 10am I'd seen 1st summer Bonaparte's Gull higher up the river and five Dotterel at Collieston! I couldn't quite sustain the pace after that, and dipped on the White-billed Diver, one of five which has been at Portsoy, but I did at least get summer plumage Great Northern Diver and four Long-tailed Ducks there

We finished the day at Forvie Sands NNR and saw a few decent sea birds, including small colonies of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Cormorant. Also on the reserve, a few Meadow Saxifrage, Cowslips, False Oxslips and masses of Crowberry.

The following day, we called in at the very disappointing Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire and had two painfully poor views of two Ospreys....

Photos include record shot of sleeping King Eider, lots of Common Eider (gold star to anybody who picks out a borealis from that lot), angry Cormorants, Meadow Saxifrage, False Oxslips and scenery shots from Forvie.

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