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Monday, 28 May 2012

Chartley Moss Away Day ..Saturday 26th May..White Faced Darter and More

On Saturday I drove up to Chartley Moss in Staffordshire for a guided walk at a site owned by Natural England. It's a unique habitat and not open to the general public. I was hoping to see some of the specialities of the reserve.Having found out about the walk a few weeks ago, I alerted fellow local nature nerd JK, who was keen to ride shotgun up to the event.
It was a very warm afternoon , with a bit of breeze providing some relief as we descended on to the site. A Brimstone Butterfly was seen, 20 or so feet away..but we had been warned not to stray,as under the Sphagnum Moss on which we were walking was 14 Meters of water !

Next up, JK spotted the first of several sightings of Green Hairstreak. This was a lifer for me, and eventually after several sightings I managed to got a record of one too.One of my favourite butterflies.

Green Hairstreak

It was not long before the first Odonata of the afternoon was seen, with plenty of Large Red Damselflies about. We were  able to observe the females ovipositing, whilst being guarded by the male.

Large Red Damselfly

The dragonfly for which the reserve is famous, was soon encountered as we approached the first decent sized pools. Most the examples were not at full maturity, but nonetheless it was great to see my first  White Faced Darter.

Male White Faced Darter

 Also noted was a single Four Spotted Chaser ( a lifer ) and a Single male Broad Bodied Chaser. On the plant side, the carnivorous plant Sundew, which  is able to live in the high acidity of the bog and  was fairly common underfoot.

All in it was great afternoon, getting to experience this site of international importance, and getting close to some fantastic previously unseen creatures too.

Immature male White Faced Darter

Friday, 25 May 2012

Evening Invertebrates..Moths, Mayflies and more !

I've been setting the trap regularly during this warm spell. We have always had  good  numbers of Cockchafers this time of year ( the missus see's nothing good about these monsters ! ) and they have been taking up residence in numbers in the trap most evenings.

Most significant has been the increase in Micro moths, which seem to have responded quickly to the upturn in the temperatures. On the Garden macro front, Green Carpet has been the most prevalent, followed by Brimstone.

Out in the field on my local patch Tuesday I was chuffed to see my first Silver Ground Carpet of the year, and record and get ID'd  the Micro Aethes cnicana ( thanks to Patrick C ).
Another beetle was recorded as well Tuesday, Malachius Bipustulatus.

Silver Ground Carpet moth

On Wednesday, I decided to force myself onto the other side of  Barnett Brook, to see if there was any activity on the patch Odonata wise. I had noted an irrigation channel a few weeks ago that looked good for possible Damselfly activity. I was not disappointed !

As soon as I reached to irrigation channel, a damselfly went up, and once settled I noted it was an immature Beautiful Demoiselle. Walking on to the Brook there was a dozen or so more, resting up on the bank side vegetation at varying stages of  post emergence maturity. I love it when a plan comes together !!

Immature Beautiful Demoiselle

I carried on my walk onto the 'heath' area..most notable birds being Chiffchaff, Jay, Swallow and House Martin. Also  at the far end of one field, a Fox enjoying the evening Sun.

Up until now , the butterflies had been Peacock, a few Orange tips and a Large White. Then my attention was attracted by a decent sized moth that passed me and settled a few yards ahead. I checked it out in my bins..I knew what it was, just couldn't remember the name, but fired off a couple of record shorts before it moved on,  Brown Silver line, a lifer !

Brown Silver-line

 Whilst trying to hurry back ( there was dinner to cook ! ) I noticed a white tailed damselfly-like insect bouncing in mid air, as if on a piece of elastic..a Mayfly !  There were in fact a couple around the irrigation channel, and one settled for a snap ...

Mayfly ( Ephemera danica )

 A nice couple of Spring Evening walks , and on Thursday the beautiful Demoiselle numbers were increasing still. I will post more pics on My Flickr in due course. Have a great weekend !!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Waderfest Weekend

The main news from mid week birding on my local patch was confirmation of Reed Warblers returning, a really nice bird to have right on the immediate doorstep.
The weekend was all about the birds again with some solid sightings. I started on Saturday spending a couple of hours at The Flashes, Upton Warren. Here I secured my first Ringed Plover of the year which showed reasonably close. Unfortunately the murky weather didn't push anything else new to the deck, so I moved on to explore a new site at Salwarpe, which promises much, and produced a nice low flyover Hobby during the visit.
It was then onto Grimley, just 15 mins further, where 3 Greenshank were showing nicely for another addition to the year list at Camp Lane pits. The North end was chuffing with Hirundines of all variety too, and the Sand Martins rested quite close.

Sand Martin

 After trying and failing to photograph a Reed Warbler for 30 minutes, I proceeded to the Wagon Wheel side, where 3 Dunlin where feeding and scampering about with 3 Sanderling . These were only my second Sanderling and it was a nice addition to the year list again.
The weather Sunday was not great early doors, but when I got a text telling me a Little Stint had turned up back at Grimley that morning, I hopped straight in the car to do the 14 miles back to the wader rich area in search of a lifer. Joining some fellow birders, the Stint was elusive, tending to snooze down in the long grass. A Yellow Wagtail was noted, and all the previous days waders at this site were still present. However eventually after moving round the path, we all enjoyed splendid views of the Little Stint ( Video Here) . A nice lifer to add to the waderfest, not bad for landlocked Worcestershire !
The Sun finally appeared Sunday afternoon and I spent a couple of hours back on my local patch with a little Macro attachment for my Bridge camera. I managed a few snaps of the invertebrates, such as ...

Cantharis Rustica soldier beetle

Moth-wise, I had a Flame Shoulder in the trap Monday morning, another new addition, as well as micro moth  Epinotia tedella in the garden Sunday afternoon, kindly ID'd by Patrick C .
Flame Shoulder

Monday, 14 May 2012

Cuckoo and good moths

Green Carpet Moth
Only real opportunity for a birding last week came on Thursday evening when I scooted less than a handful of miles down the road to catch up with a Spotted Flycatcher. I have had these on my own patch the last 2 years,  as passage birds I have happened upon. After staking out the location I had heard one was occupying, I  connected after about 45 minutes. That's Pied and Spotted in a the last few days for me, great !

The weather was warm , cloudy and breezy, so after drawing blanks for the last few weeks I was cautiously optimistic that setting the moth trap last night may finally yield something.  At 6.30 am Friday I hopped out of bed and attended the trap. there were 2 moths visible on the inner aspect of the perspex lid of them yellow, I gave a whoop that hopefully did not wake the neighbours.

Hurrying inside I started with the yellow fellow , which I recognised straight away as a Brimstone. Fantastic , fresh looking moth. He was pretty lively so I grabbed the best record shot I could manage and allowed him to escape. Amongst the egg boxes was a fresh looking Common Quaker, a species I had had a few weeks ago. Finally, another newbie Garden Carpet , a pretty Smart moth, my 9th from the trap.

Brinstone Moth( Sunday find)

I had planned Saturday to fulfil a desire to try and see Dotterel on the Long Mynd and then try and see some Skippers and Fritillaries around Button Oak. By 12.30 that day I had done a lot of driving and only managed to add Garden Warbler to my year list..things were not going well.

Resisting the temptation to head home and have a nice afternoon snooze, I headed to Upton where the sun was out and there was some activity on the wing. There was a good emergence of Beautiful Demoiselle,  many resting away from the water getting their strength up. I also picked up on a fresh female Banded Demoiselle, my first of the year.

Female Banded Demoiselle

My day was also made worthwhile by finding a lovely Cinnabar moth, I love these !

Cinnabar Moth

After covering 120 miles on Saturday, I was not going far on Sunday. I was desperate to see a Cuckoo, and the sun was shining early doors, so I headed back to Upton. Whilst walking to the hide I heard a Cuckoo calling in the distance, and within 10  minutes of settling in the hide, he was showing on the south side of the Moors pool..excellent ! It was worth a dodgy record shot, but I won't bother with it here.

The Little Gull was still performing well, and Sedge and Reed Warblers getting more showy, but otherwise it was a bit slow on the bird front, with the sun quite warm, I turned to the invertebrates. Walking the track a Holly Blue showed briefly, which was my second of the year. On the Damselfly front , an appearance of  male Banded Demoisells on the wing since yesterday. On the way back I stopped at Shenstone, planning to walk some set aside, but it was much more exposed to the cold wind, so I cut this short. However, not before finding 2 more new moths..a micro moth  incurvaria masculella  and a Small Yellow Underwing ( many thanks to Patrick C  for the ID )

incurvaria masculella moth and Small Yellow Underwing
More images/ species here

Monday, 7 May 2012

Damselflies,Birds, Moths and a Reptile .. A bumper bank holiday menagerie !

It was my intention over the long weekend to plunge headfirst into the wildlife of  Doorstepshire and generally immerse myself in my favourite creatures.I was on a mission, and thankfully I haven't been disappointed ! On the Birding front I managed to add 7 species to my year list.Starting on my own patch, Common Whitethroats suddenly seem to be back in numbers. At Upton a superb Black Tern showed well , as well as a Little Gull and  Whimbrel . It was all good Saturday.
I had started the morning in The Wyre and while birding I decided to check out one of the small pools. Despite the cold weather, I was desperate to see some Odonata, I was fed up of waiting ! Whilst mooching around I flushed a singe Large Red Damselfly ..Result ( a lifer ! ) It obliged by posing for a pic.

Large Red Damselfly

I completed the mooch with a  cheeky Slow Worm at last, they never seem to be around when I visit but Saturday I happened upon a snoozy pair. Also, a  pair of the Micro moths like I had seen on my patch earlier in the week also showed well, Adela reamurella.

Adela reamurella (male and female)

The Damselfly luck continued on Sunday when I saw 2 fresh male Beautiful Damoiselles at Upton. I was delighted with this find, I don't think there had been many seen at all yet.

Male Beautiful Demoiselle

Whilst wandering the wooded area the same morning I also spotted what at first I thought was a Small White butterfly, but then realised it was a moth. That got me excited, and fortunately I was able to get a photographic record to help me ID it as A Common White Wave ( a lifer !) After hearing several I also finally got a good look at a Lesser Whitethroat, but Garden Warbler escaped me for now.

Common White Wave Moth
 By Monday lunchtime I had to come up for air, and after a largely uninspiring morning out and about in miserable weather, I was returning home when I spotted a Male and Female Wheatear in the cattle field on my patch. They were quite close to the road, but I managed to get the camera out without disturbing them, concentrating on the female.

A nice find to end the long weekend in the field

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Micro moth and more on the after work doorstep

Well after the washout that was Sunday, I was feeling somewhat short changed about my time in the field at the weekend.. On Monday evening the weather held off enough for an hour on a somewhat soggy and tree littered local patch walk. It was all pretty fruitless and dull, til just near the end of my wooded section I spotted my first Green Veined White Butterfly of the year. It was obviously freshly emerged and wandering what the hell was happening as it was meant to be the end of April.

Green Veined White

Tuesday was another yukky day but news of a Male Whinchat 10 minutes up the road from home ensured an after work 'twitch' to a nearby Sheep field. The Whinchat was a great looking bird, I had only seen females previously so I was well chuffed. The poor light ,rain and distance meant I could only get a crappy record shot, but it looked great in the scope.

Duff record shot male Whinchat (needs a click ! )

It scooted around with a nice male Wheatear, and 2 Curlew of vastly different size occupied the same field, but the idea of a cheeky  Whimbrel was ruled out. Also during the observations, a Peregrine flew by and settled on a nearby pylon.

On Wednesday I only had about 30 mins spare but was determined to get out and see SOMETHING. I decided to walk some set aside on my local patch , as the temperature had upped quite a bit and I was thinking about butterfly possibilities.  There was a lot of invertebrate activity, a discernible increase to that on Monday. I happened upon my first 14 Spot Ladybird of the year, and got a handful of stings trying to photograph it. Also on the nettles were a few Weevils, including a couple having a bonk.  An emergence of St Marks Flies had occurred too.However what caught my eye was a tiny moth like creature that flitted by and settled on a blade of grass. It's little wings seemed to glisten a bronze colour, and it's antennae seemed ridiculously long. By coincidence I had succumbed that morning and pre ordered the new book on British Micro Moths, it's impossible to resist their charm, daunting as they seem at this point. I managed to get a few shots for an attempt at ID later.This was further helped by a local moth expert Patrick C the next day ( thanks go to him)

Adela reamurella
I will add the Weevil and Ladybird pics to my Flickr soon