Friday, 19 July 2013

Newton Lake

Little ringed plover 4
Gadwall 4
Little Grebe 2

The habitat looks good, the timing is good, will it deliver?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Newton Lake

Little Ringed Plover 1
Gadwall 4

The mud flats at Newton Lake are looking very good for passage waders.

Dawn on the Lancs mosslands

Sedge Warbler.
A Swift tangled up in something. I didn't seem to effect its flight, but I'm struggling to imagine where it got into this mess, since Swifts aren't supposed to land except at the nest.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Roseys at Seaforth

Roseate Tern 2 adults
Common Terns
Bar-tailed Godwits
Little Ringed Plover 1
Common Sandpiper 1

One of the Roseate Terns was a stunner, both on the ground and in flight. The other spent most of its time asleep! There have been up to 3 seen at Seaforth over the past few days.

Year 209 (Roseate Tern)

A digi-scoped image of one of the Roseate Terns asleep. This bird had a white forehead, but while I was watching it, a pristine adult landed behind it. It's not a great picture of course, but you can clearly see how much paler it is than the nearby Common Terns.

The tern colony at Seaforth. I only realised when I viewed the photo on the computer screen, there are three birders looking through the fence at the back of the picture. This where non-permit holders have to view from, at Crosby Marina.

Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata.


Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea, closey related to Yellow-wort.

Evening Primrose (not sure exactly which species).

Eccleston Mere

Yellow Wagtail 1 flew over
Oystercatcher 2
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 2 adults

A fine example of Field-rose Rosa arvensis growing in the SW corner. Wild roses can often look a bit scruffy I think, but this is a cracker!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A record year for Common Sandpipers at the mere this year

It's been a good year for Common Sandpipers at the mere so far. I only realised how good when I did a bit of analysis on my database this evening. Over the past 21 years, only 1993 compares with this year, when both years have seen Common Sandpipers present on 14 days. There has also been a maximum of 33 different birds so far this year, with the next best being 25 birds in 2006. However, 2006 is skewed by the fact that there was an exceptional flock of 12 Common Sandpipers present on one day.

With July being a peak month for the species, I would be very surprised if we have seen the last of them this year. Below is a table showing a comparison of the past 21 years.

YearDays presentMax number

Eccleston Mere

Common Sandpiper 2
Willow Tit 1 heard
Bullfinch 1
Mute Swan 2 adults
Nuthatch 3
Kingfisher 1 heard
Tufted Duck 3

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Demoiselles in the East Midlands

I was surprised to see demoiselles flying around this small, very slow flowing beck in the middle of miles of arable desert in the East Midlands. When I first saw them I was quite convinced that they were Beautiful Demoiselles, because their wings looked completely blue. By the time I had scrambled down the bank to have a close look, they had suddenly turned into Banded Demoiselles! I took a few photos, and then noticed that there was in fact also a Beautiful Demoiselle landed on a leaf right in front of me. In the end I would estimate that there were about 10 of each.

Normally Banded usually prefers broader more open rivers (such as the Sankey Brook in St Helens), whilst Beautiful prefers slightly faster, narrower streams in hilly areas, and as such is largely a western or south western species in Britain. So this habitat seems odd for both species. I have heard that they can occasionally be seen together, but with Beautiful being quite scarce in the lowlands of the East Midlands, it was something of a surprise to find the two together here.

Banded Demoiselle.

Beautiful Damoiselle. Beautiful though these demoiselles are, the British race virgo is a little washed out looking. If you want to see what a truly beautiful Demoiselle looks like, click here and take a look at the Balkan race festiva, which I photographed in Albania in June.

Umbelifers provide us with lots of different commonly eaten veg, as diverse as Carrot and Parsley. This is Wild Parsnip, which interestingly is described in the book as poisonous!

Yellow Wagtail

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ryton Wood, Warwickshire

Garden Warbler several singing and family party

White Admiral 4

Great views of the White Admirals as they glided around the woodland rides. They looked really purple, and for a while I convinced myself that they were Purple Emperor, which also occurs here, but in the end I got a decent view of one and they were clearly White Admirals.

Ringlet is a common butterfly just about everywhere apart from Merseyside!

Royton Wood. Notice the ladders and seat on the left of the photo, which I assume is for watching tree dwelling butterflies such as Purple Emperor. That's what I used it for, though I didn't see Purple Emperor! The Orchid is Pyramidal Orchid, which used to grow on the Mucky Mountains in Earlestown, but I've not seen it for years and it's favoured habitat looks too over grown now.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Pennington Flash

Red-crested Pochard 1 eclipse / young male.
Common Tern 2
Kingfisher 1

The Red-crested Pochard was at the western end of the flash and kept up ending to feed. It didn't appear to have any rings.

Year 208

New blog now online!

An exciting new resource for St Helens naturalists is now online! A multi-contributor blog covering all aspects of wildlife in the borough of St Helens has gone live today. Anybody can request to be set up as an author, and once accepted, you can then share your local wildlife sightings with the rest of the St Helens wildlife community, keeping everybody up to date and informed about what is happening in the borough.

The St Helens Birds and Wildlife blog also has a twitter feed and can be updated in the field, so that everybody knows what you have seen as soon as you see it!

Take a look at it now, if you want to become an author let us know, or if you have any suggestions about how we can improve the the blog let us know.


Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 2 (adult and juvenile)
Pochard 1 male
Tufted Duck 8

Autumn migration is now in full swing, Common Sandpiper yesterday and the first juvenile Common Tern today! The geese will be back soon........
Copulating Blue-tailed Damselflies.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Eccleston Mere

Common Sandpiper 1 flew from the SE corner to the island
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 1 adult
Coot 50

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A day of bright colours on the Great Orme

On a hot sunny day in July, there is no finer place to be than perched on the edge of a sea cliff on the Great Orme, with a picnic, a camera, binoculars and pleasant like minded company. The colours are staggering. To the north, the seemingly endless blue sea stretches away into the distance, the flat calm occasionally broken by porpoise or seal, and  dotted with gulls, guillemots and razorbills. To the west the red sands of the Conwy estuary sit in front of the mighty Snowdonian mountains and the Island of Anglesey. To the east, the beautiful Victorian seaside town, Llandudno, still with its donkey rides, Punch and Judy and Grand Hotel. Llandudno heaves with tourists, yet up here on the Great Orme we sat for two hours and hardly saw a single person.

The Great Orme is hardly renowned for it's sea bird colonies, yet there are still good numbers of auks, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Cormorants and Shags, and these are periodically scattered in all directions by the hunting pair of Peregrines in residence near the old lighthouse. I watched as the male caught prey and then handed it over in flight to the much larger female. Ravens croak overhead and if you are lucky you may also see a pair of Choughs.

Yet despite all of these wonderful views, birds and seaside attractions, I spent most of the day looking at the array of colours around my feet.  This is limestone country, and the flora and associated invertebrates are what really make this place special.

There are many spectacular seascapes on the Great Orme, whilst at your feet fly the iridescent gems which are Cistus Forrester moths. These are day time fliers which love the bright sunlight, and the Great Orme is a  good place for seeing them.

In different light conditions they appear to change colour.

The Great Orme is home to a wide variety of butterflies, including Large Skipper (photographed here on Bloody cranesbill), but also Dark Green Fritillary, Silver-studded Blue and Grayling. Like Bloody Cranesbill, Field Scabius is a fairly common plant on the cliff edges.

Common Rockrose is a common plant on limestone, but when seen alongside Hoary Rockrose Helianthemum oelandicum, it virtually guarantees that you are in North Wales, because outside of coastal Wales, and the north in particular it is a very rare plant.

There may be no Spring Gentians on the Orme, but these Harebells did their best to make up for that!

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 1 female
Cormorant 3 over east
Tufted Duck 2 (male and female)
Buzzard 1

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Eccleston Mere

Hobby 1 hunting distantly towards Prescot Reservoirs.
Common Tern 1 adult
Oystercatcher 1
Kingfisher 1
Nuthatch 1

Friday, 5 July 2013

Rainford Mosslands

Curlew pair with 4 chicks
Oystercatcher pair with chick
Little Owl 1 Old Coach Road
Buzzard 2 Berringtons Lane, 2 Dairy Farm Road
Tree Sparrow 4 Kings Moss
Linnet 4 Catchdale Moss
Yellowhammer 2 singing Berringtons Lane

I was amazed and delighted to find the Curlews with chick, the first time I've known them to breed in St Helens.

Little Owl and Curlew chick.

Red eyes at Leg O'Mutton an Paddock Dam

About 8 Red-eyed Damselflies at Leg O'Mutton Dam, and about another 5 at Paddock Dam today. Also Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly. These 2 dams are next to Taylor Park and are probably the only reliable sites in St Helens for Red-eyed Damselflies, though they have also been recorded in the Sankey Valley.

Red-eyed Damselflies are a lily pad loving species. They are annoyingly difficult to photograph because they will insist on sitting out on a lily pad in the middle of a lake. They never seem to choose the plants nearest the shore! Apart from having red eyes, they also seem to have more bulbous eyes than other damselflies, which are quite obvious even in flight.

Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 1 adult
Willow Tit 1 heard
Nuthatch 2 (adult and juvenile)
Bullfinch 2 (male and juvenile)
Buzzard 1
Kingfisher 1
Mute Swan 2 adults

Thursday, 4 July 2013

More bat analysis from Eccleston Mere

On Wednesday evening I visited the mere with Anthony Nickson from Merseyside Bat Group. As usual there was a lot of bat activity, but it was subtly different to previous nights, with many more Noctules than usual, and a lot less Daubenton's. We had three different types of bat detector with us, a heterodyne, an EM3 and an Anabat.

Using the results from a GPS attached to the Anabat, Anthony was able to create a Google Earth KML file which maps the positions of the bats we recorded around the mere. Because there were so many bats, there is a lot of overlapping and therefore not every record appears on the map at this resolution. We did pick up 6 calls from bats which Kaleidoscope identified as Serotine, and two of these are marked on the maps as "Big bat". However due to the large numbers of bats in a relatively confined area, it seems most likely that these calls were actually Noctules in a clustered environment.

Pipistrelle records. P55 = Soprano Pipistrelle, P45 = Common Pipistrelle

Noctule and "Big bat" records.

Duabentons's and myotis sp records.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 1
Gadwall 1 female
Mute Swan 2 adults
Swift 200
Kingfisher 1
Chiffchaff 1 family party

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Eccleston Mere

Common Tern 1 adult
Mute Swan 2 adults
Grey Wagtail 1
Swift 200
House Martin 50
Swallow 30
Coot 44 + at least 4 chicks

No sign of last nights Hobby, but it's probably still in the area.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Eccleston Mere

Hobby 1
Gadwall 1 male
Mute Swan 2 adults
Tufted Duck 4 males
Swift 200
House Martin 50

The Hobby flew into the southern (flooded) woods just as I was walking past, landed on top of a dead tree and turned to look at me. It sat there for about 30 seconds, giving me my best ever view of a perched Hobby. A really stunning sight.

Eccleston Mere  (2013) 101

Bee Orchid

Paddock Dam

I took these photos of a Great crested Grebe with a chick on its back at Paddock Dam this evening. A pity the light wasn't a bit better.

Lancashire moors

Two species of Cottongrass (which is actually a sedge), Common Cottongrass and Hares tail Cottongrass. Both are common in moorland areas. Notice that Hares tail terminates in a single piece of cotton, whereas Common terminates in more than one.

I found this Drinker moth caterpillar on the moors.

Popular Posts