Friday, 31 July 2015

Pennington Flash

Black tailed godwit from Ramsdales hide today, green sandpiper from the Teal hide and green sandpiper and common sandpiper from Horrock's. On the flash itself, 70 mute swans, 3 common terns and hundreds of coots.

The view from Ramsdales hide.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Appleton Reservoir, Warrington and Pennington Flash

At least five little grebes on the reservoir today, two adults with a juvenile on the western edge, another adult in the south west and a single juvenile in the north east. No sign of the pair with two juveniles in the southern bay, but it looks as though at least two pairs have bred, possibly three. Also today 15 tufted ducks.

At the flash today, three green sandpipers, two at Ramsdales and one at the teal hide.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Some more stuff from Essex

Abberton Reservoir

Black-necked grebe, Abberton reservoir.


Egyptian goose

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Bits and pieces from Essex

I've been working in Essex today and as always, plenty of bits and pieces to discuss here without saying exactly where I've been. This morning I was walking along a particularly unimpressive looking hedgerow bordering an arable field, when I noticed several tiny skippers flying around in the field margins. Clearly too small for large skipper I thought, in fact they looked to be about the smallest skippers I had ever seen, which immediately raised my suspicions. I managed to spot one land and the dark tips to the anntenae immediately identified them as Essex skippers. Small skippers have and orange tip, and large skippers, apart from being bigger, have a more marked underwing.

Essex skipper, a first for me.

In the late afternoon I moved to a more coastal area. I noticed a damselfly perched on vegetation in a ditch and moved towards it to photograph it. The insect flew off and I turned back to the path and froze in my tracks. Right in front of me, a foot away at most, was an impresssive looking adder! I must have walked right past it. How I didn't stand on it I'll never know!

This looks like a gravid (pregnant) female from the size of its middle. A good 2 feet long, it was probably the largest adder I've ever encountered.

Also today, lots of holly blues on the wing.

Ruddy darter.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Arnside Knott

The Silverdale / Arnside area is one of the most biodiverse regions in the UK, with Arnside Knott arguably the jewel in the crown. Many rare and unusual species occur on the Knott, for example a couple of years ago I was shown Teesdale violet which grows only here and on the sugar limestone at Teesdale. Today we spent our day bug, butterfly and plant hunting on the Knott and saw a decent selection of what the place has to offer.

Undoubtably the star of the show, a freshly emerged high brown fritillary. This is a rare butterfly in the UK with Arnside Knott and other limestone crags in the area such as Gait Barrows and Warton Crag amongst its few UK strongholds.

It's very difficult to seperate this species from dark-green fritillary, you really need a good look at the underwing, but fortunately you can just about see here the two diagnostic red "polo mints" near the base of the underwing.

Not far behind high brown fritillary comes Scotch argus, here at one of only two UK locations outside Scotland. The species is right at the start of its flight season, so this individual must be freshly emerged. Even so it's pretty tatty looking already!

Even rarer and more localised than high brown fritillary, this is dark-red helleborine. This orchid grows on limestone,mainly along the North Wales coast, in North West Scotland and here at Arnside, as well as a few place in the Pennines.

Dark-green fritillary. Many of these are starting to look faded and worn now.

Northern brown argus. Definately faded and worn!

Even without the butterflies and plants, Arnside Knott is a great place to visit and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I know.

We also called in briefly at the new Public Hide at Leighton Moss. Not a lot to report from here, except this poor coot with a grossly deformed bill. It seemed to be feeding ok though.


Thursday, 23 July 2015


We camped for five nights near Stonehenge and today we called in for a look at this most impressive place. Rather than pay £15 each or whatever it cost to get into the visitor centre, we paid a fiver on the car park and walked the mile and a half to the monument, which at least gave us the opportunity to take in the countryside on the way, and included some of the best butterfly watching we had experienced all holiday.


Large white.

Marbled white. Notice the hoverfly zooming in on the bottom right of the photo! If I'd wanted a photo of a flying hoverfly I bet I couldn't have got one so sharp and so good even if I'd taken a 1000 pictures!

Silver-washed fritillary 

More photos of silver-washed fritillary.

I don't care how touristy it may seem, Stonehenge is a really impressive sight and gives me goose bumps everytime I see it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Isle of Wight

A first ever visit to the Isle of Wight for me, the highlight was a visit to West High Down / Tennyson Down on the west coast, near the Needles. Here we saw lots of nice butterflies, including our only chalk-hill blues of the holiday, as well as some interesting flowers. Also here our only Dartford warblers after drawing a blank in the New Forest on Sunday, and several bush-crickets.

At Ventnor we found two Wall Lizards and at Ryde at least 10 Mediterranean gulls.

Year: 239 (Dartford warbler)

Chalk-hill blue.

Clustered bellflower.

Clustered bellflower.

Dark bush-cricket.

Not too sure about this. I thought at first it might be great green bush-cricket, but the shape of the  ovipositor and the overall size of the insect lead me to believe that it may be Meconema thalassinum or oak bush-cricket. Still doesn't seem quite right though, but I can't think what else it can be.

Here are a couple more photos of bush-crickets I found nearby (i.e. within 1m of the specimen above).

I don't know much about bush-crickets, but from the orange stripe down its back, I would have thought that this has to be great green bush cricket. I'm assuming it's mature given the length of its ovipositor but it's too small and has short wings. Maybe it's in a transitional stage between nymph and adult.

I'm assuming that this is a nymph because it has no wings.


Marbled white

A common sight on the south coast these days, an adult Mediterranean gull.

Black-headed gull and Med gull, a different bird to the above.

Common Wall Lizard. Ventnor is the only place on the Isle of Wight where this lizard is found and from what I've read it appears to be the oldest colony of the species in the UK. Wall lizards are native to Europe, and whilst it is possible that this may be a remnant native population, wall lizards are generally considered to be introduced into the UK either by accident or design.

The Needles.

West High Down from Tennyson Down 

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