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Sunday, 26 August 2012

More patch firsts and more !........ Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th

This weekend I decided to work my local patch, incorporating a bit of much needed walking along the way. Arriving on set around 8 am Saturday the first highlight of the weekend was picking up 4 Cormorants flying east. This was a patch lifer for me and a great start. The set aside field I was viewing at the time held a very large Goldfinch flock with many juvs, seems to have been a good year for this species. A Chiffchaff, of which I saw plenty this weekend , was knocking around with them.
I noted my first Mistle Thrushes for a while too amongst all the other usual suspects.
The second highlight of the morning came just as I was leaving. A portion of  the summer resident Swallow population was being hawked by a Hobby.  The bird was twisting and turning just a few yards in front of me affording amazing views for a few seconds, no bins were needed to see it's eye and mask..fantastic ! With other commitments that afternoon that was it for the patch Saturday...or so I thought...
Around 6pm I had a call from Terry H who had had a Whinchat earlier not far from where I had seen the Cormorants flyover. I had never seen a Whinchat on my local patch, and took up the offer for a quick meet up to see the bird. Fortunately it was still there, a stunningly smart young bird that showed well in the scope.As I would have spooked it approaching from that side, I didn't risk a picture.
Next morning I revisited the Whinchat site, approaching from the other direction, along a Public right of way. Sadly the bird had moved on.There were in its place a few Linnets.


Things were about to pick up though. Terry H was just a few hundred yards down the road, across the patch border in Woodrow. He informed me he had a Spotted Flycatcher ! Like a rat up a drainpipe I was with him within a couple of minutes and as we watched the bird perform, it became evident this was a family party..and soon we identified 3 individuals. The icing on the cake was being able to get a few record shots as one popped down onto a stump right in front of us. I couldn't help but wander if this was the same family party that had been on my patch a couple of weeks ago ?

Spotted Flycatcher

I returned across the border back into official patch territory and undertook a circuitous walk. With the sun threatening an appearance, I cast an eye to to the inverts. Firstly of note was a Holly Blue. There have been good numbers on my patch, but this one got my attention as it was occasionally opening its wings, affording a rare chance to see and photograph the lovely colour in the wing.

Female Holly Blue

A few yards to the right I spotted what I thought was a Common Blue. It's wings were closed. As it flitted about I refined this to a female, having the brown wings. Common Blues have been rarer than hens teeth this year, so I was pleased to get a sighting. However as I got a better look I began to think it could be a Brown Argus. Of course it now showing its underwing for me to record, but I got excellent views of the upper wing. On getting home I was delighted to confirm Brown Argus, a female , a patch lifer and in fact my first Brown Argus of the Year..result !

Brown Argus (female)
Also noted were Migrant hawker, Brown Hawker and Common Darter, the latter of the three the only one to pose for me.

Common Darter

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Redstart patch lifer ! and a few new moths

A solid weekend in Doorstepshire started with an early doors visit to Upton Warren Saturday. 7am and the Reed Warblers were showing well in the Hen Pool hide. Down at the main flashes hide the focus was on the large amount of passerine activity in the hedgerows ( yes there were Sandpipers, Common and Green ). I was pleased to pick up my first views this year of Water Rail, a species I had heard frequently this year but not seen, so finally I could tick that off.
There were plenty of Chiffy's, Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats,  and three Lesser Whitethroats. A Juv/ female Redstart showed briefly with distant views through a fellow birders scope as mine was in the hide.A Kingfisher was at the Moors. Not a bad session, fifty or so species when I tried to enter what I could remember later into Bird Journal.

 At 10.45 Sunday I was studying the paddocks on my patch that occupy a bit of a hill . Viewing is not straightforward, with a few pockets of dead ground and areas screened by vegetation. However, at a range of  c150 yards I noticed a bird perched up on a fence post. It looked good for Redstart by the jizz, but aside from distance the light was murky. I skirted round the perimeter to see if I could get better views. The post I had been watching was now occupied by a juv Green Woodpecker. Eventually it showed again,still looked good for Redstart. I went back for my scope and set up. When a Robin showed in the bush I had last seen the Redstart in with my Bins I began to doubt myself, but eventually it reappeared and perched well on a post for good views through the Scope. This was a patch lifer, a nice male ! I have spent a lot of time scanning my patch habitat hoping for a Redstart, they pop up in the regularly watched spots down the road, but this was the first to my knowledge that had been seen here for a couple of years at least.
record shot Redstart from around 150yrds
After securing a record shot I carried on my walk past a spot where in midweek I had found a colony of  white micro moths on the vegetation of a small pond. I had managed a record shot ( after dashing home for my forgotten memory card !) and identified them as Small China-mark moths. The larvae are semi acquatic, and the picture does not do justice to the very pretty blue pattern . This was a moth lifer, and a very pleasing find. They were still present today.

Small China-mark moth
My final highlight of the morning was finding another new moth, on some ragwort. A decent sized micro, called Udea lutealis, one of the Latin names I can nearly pronounce.

Udea lutealis
Finally, before all this daytime joy kicked off, I had emptied my moth trap. The highlight was this not uncommon, but new to the group so welcome, Square-spot Rustic ( I think )

Square-spot Rustic

Have a good week folks

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Moths on the up, Birding coming back

Birding's coming back. With Spotted Fly passing through the patch this week, and the wires reporting a bit of movement, I'm getting a yearning to refocus on the birds.
But lets not foreget the Moths ! I seem to be making progress with the trap.Several new species trapped of late gets my  juices flowing again as it was getting a bit rubbish. The better weather and a bit of technique  modification seem to be reaping rewards.The most foxy and photogenic of the latest additions are Lesser broad-bordered yellow Underwing and Orange Swift.
Orange Swift..ohhhhhh nnnice !

Lesser broad-bordered yellow Underwing

 I chose the wrong half of the day, the bit before the rain, to visit Upton this morning, as it  got a decent wader in the afternoon. As I'm not really a year lister, and I'd seen one there before, I wasn't twitchng it.
 Instead I was checking my patch with an eye to the aforementioned rain bringing a good 'homer' down. I started at the paddocks where there were good numbers of Pied Wagtail  a dozen or so Linnets, Starlings and Corvids. The male Linnets were looking good from a distance with their pinky fronts.
A Greater Spotted Woodpecker went over, and a group of House Matins fed overhead noisily for a few moments, joining the summer resident  Swallows. A Grey Heron hugged the treeline, heading perhaps to the small fishing pool.The House Sparrow flock has plenty of young showing now.
 Round at the pumping station it was a bit quiet initially, before a Buzzard called his arrival. I have seen Blackcaps feeding young here, and today I watched the Whitethroats tend  a Juv, returning regularly with an invert snack. Nice to see some more successful breeding.
Whitethroat on patch tending a hidden juv

Friday, 10 August 2012

Migrant Hawker and Garden Moths

Having toyed for a couple of days with the idea of  taking a trip into Gloucestershire for Chalkhill Blues, I decided I couldn't be bothered with the driving and fuel expense, so true to the blog name( well the Doorstep bit ), decided to see what else I could winkle out in my immediate surroundings.
I've been running my moth trap a little this week while on holiday, and it's been steady rather than spectacular.
Most recently I've had Uncertain, Bramble Shoot, Early Thorn and Riband Wave in the trap, and Common Wave and Yellow Shell in the garden which I potted for ID as they flitted around the outside light.
This morning when I opened the trap, I was pleased to see 2 new species. The first was a Swift Moth, Orange Swift. The second was a bit special. A large Noctuidae called 'Old Lady'. These are not renown for coming to light so I was really pleased with this big fella.

Old Lady ( Mormo maura )
With 22 species of Dragonfly seen and photographed in VC37 I've had a pretty good run in my first full Odonata year. I had seen what was almost certainly Migrant Hawker at a couple of locations in the last few days, but non had settled, so there was allways that lingering doubt,. I resolved today to try and nab one. I headed to Upton Warren, where they seemed plentiful on Saturday, also hoping for some sign of Brown Argus. It seemed like there had been a newish emergence of Banded Demoiselles with plenty of fresh looking individuals lurking at every turn.  I had noted a single Ruddy Darter on Saturday too, not a nailed on species there, but today there were quite a few.

Ruddy Darter

Butterflywise things were not picking up much, except the Peacocks had increased a little.

Eventually I caught up with what looked like a Migrant Hawker doing his hawking business. After a while it settled and I gradually worked my way in for a closer look, a stunner !. Being happy this was the the boy( literally, as it was an immature male), I grabbed a couple of snaps..job was a good'en.

Migrant Hawker

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Purple Hairstreak..Patch mega ! 8th August

Funny how things come together sometimes. I had been watching a few Oak tree's on my patch on and off for a few days, especially one, liking it for a certain butterfly that had eluded me on missions to see it in other locations.
Having been out and about in the morning I'd lost my mojo a little, and even a text from JK advising me he was interloping could not stir me from my siesta to get back out.
However, after 30 winks, I decided to go and check his permit was up to date, and we met up on Local Patch Lane, Doorstepshire.
The sun had finally emerged and things were looking quite lively on the wing. My usual species for that spot were about, but it was nice to see a juvenile Blackcap being fed by the male.
Anyway, all of sudden, from near the prime suspect Oak, Jason called 'Purple Hairstreak !'...and there one was, nice and low, showing as well as one could hope really...I managed to clock it in my bins,and stay calm enough to fire off  a quick snap before it flitted away. What a great week on the patch ! This was a butterfly lifer for me, so seeing it on my local patch was extra special. Thanks again to JK for a memorable find.

Purple Hairstreak (female)

Monday, 6 August 2012

Spotted Flycatchers on the Doorstep ! ...6th August

Today I decided to leave the car on the drive and immerse myself in my local patch . Starting at the crack of dawn, well 9am, it was all fairly birdless as I left the house. Eventually a few of the usual suspects began to show as the greener spaces appeared. The north side of my patch is my least favourite, and I check it out less often. This is largely because the farming on this side is much less wildlife friendly and large bits of it can be quite sterile at times compared to the south side. Of note early doors, despite the acres of boring pasture, a Yellowhammer called.
My attention was drawn to a large muck heap. It's amazing how many good birds they can turn up. Straight away a Chiffchaff flitted down from the adjacent trees onto the ground next to the pile, picked a snack and flitted back up.I then clocked another bird that came onto the muck pile..Spotted Flycatcher ! then another Spotted Fly ! This was fantastic, the first seen on my local patch this year, and  2 birds to boot! It was a bugger to get a record shot, as I was restricted as to where I could view them from, and the light was against.Still, there is no better feeling than finding quality birds on your own patch.

Spotted Flycatcher

The rest of the walk was enjoyable but unremarkable by comparison. After lunch I popped back to see if I could get a better image of the Spotted Fly..I couldn't as they were not showing, perhaps they knew it was about to tip it down. Jason K swung by to try and connect too, and as we undertook a short walk, a Hobby swooped over chasing House Martins. This was a local patch lifer for me, what a  memorable patch day  !

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Redstarts and Big Butterfly Count 5th August

On Sunday I decided to see if there was anything interesting over at Tanwood. As I was jumping in the car I had a text informing me one of the local Birders had just had 2 Redstarts there ! When I arrived both birds were showing well. The adjacent field was chuffing with Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns. I also saw a single Small Copper and a Small Tortoiseshell. The latter was lovely and fresh and posed for a snap.

Small Tortoiseshell Tanwood

The other part of  my morning was dedicated to doing the Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count on a section of my local patch.
As soon as I stepped out of the car, I was greeted with my second Shaded Broadbar moth of the weekend, and lifer yesterday became  a patch lifer today !
Butterfly counting commenced and I gathered meadow Brown, Gatekeeper and a very worn Ringlet in quick succession. Next, Large and Green-veined White, and then a Comma. The Skippers needed closer examination but I was happy both Small and Essex were showing, as they had done a few days earlier. Small White and a cheeky Red Admiral were next. The best two were saved for last. A single and flighty Common Blue and then a patch lifer, Holly Blue. I'd never got that close to a Holly Blue, and the wing colour blows easily when photographing them, but I was delighted to get a stab at a few images. 12 species, but a few too many singles sadly.

Just a single Common Blue again, but they allcount
Holly Blue

Of note bird wise as I counted, I saw Green Woodpecker, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and a female Blackcap. A nice variety of species for a Sunday morning !

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Great White Egret and a bit of Lepidoptera

As the Grimley Great White Egret obligingly hung around til I had finished work for the week, it was my first port of call the weekend. The bird showed very well, but myself and the fellow birders observed from a respectful distance so as not to disturb it. It was my second GWE sighting, the last being a brief view at Upton Warren last November. There is a short Video here of the Grimley bird

Great White Egret chatting to Grey Heron

Also of note was a Hobby that arrived and perched for a while, and 8 Common Terns. From Grimley I scooted to Upton Warren in search of Brown Argus Butterfly. I drew a blank on that front but during my stakeout I saw a variety of Lepidoptera. The pick of the bunch was a Shaded Broadbar moth, a lifer for me.

Shaded Broadbar
Equally pleasing though was seeing a Common Blue. These butterflies are so stunning, but this year they have been hammered by the wet weather. It was the first one I had seen since mid June, and only my 4th sighting of the year.

(not so) Common Blue

 Gatekeepers were abundant, and there were a good few Green-veined White's. I saw 1 Red Admiral, 1 Peacock, 1 Small Skipper 1 Speckled Wood and a handful of Comma's. Such poor numbers. There were a few Six Spot Burnets and a rather smart Common Carpet representing the other Macro moths. I also noted what I was fairly certain was my first Migrant Hawker of the year, but they wouldn't settle to confirm the ID 100%. What I did confirm was a single male Ruddy Darter, an Upton first for me.

Common Carpet
Six-spot Burnet moth