Sunday, 8 August 2010

Quiet couple of weeks.

Have not posted for a bit.
Unable to go out last weekend due to other commitments.
Not much happening this weekend-autumn migration is under way, but as yet there is nothing worth spending a fortune in petrol. There have been one or two odd reports of Southern Emeralds and a Yellow Winged Darter at Winterton, but no follow up as I write. News on late flowering orchids is also limited, though the dry summer has had a big impact in some areas.
Had Friday off to get some tyres and work on the garden. While waiting in Stevenage Old Town, a few Swifts were feeding. The first few days of August sees the local birds heading south, so any later sightings are a bonus. Afterwards, I went up to the Sandon area. At Dead Mans Hill, there were a lot of big raptors, though most were a bit distant in the heat haze. Two Red Kite, one Marsh harrier and four Buzzards were identified. I had a drive around and went down the Kelshall road where the Kites were seen again-one came down in the road onto a dead pigeon. I got within 20 feet-no camera of course.  Four juvenile Marsh Harriers were seen from Coombe lane in one of the fields and I came across a family of Kestrels.
Working on the garden in the afternoon (having visited the local Pioneer Nursery-50% off everything and fatal for my wallet) I heard a number of Swifts go over the garden, and among them were several House Martins. Believe it or not the first House MartinsI have seen from my garden for two years. Used to be a common sight in summer too.
Saturday involved more work. This time it was a couple of parties of Swallows in the morning and a large northward movement of Black Headed Gulls late afternoon. One bonus was the two Holly Blues among the resident Gatekeeper and Small Whites.
Today I went down to Amwell in the morning. Pretty quiet still. Two Common Sandpipers were the only passage birds though I got the feeling that some of the Swallows were heading south. Two Sparrowhawks were the only raptors for some time until a pair of Kestrels went up, along with single Buzzard and Hobby.
Decided to go for a wander with  resident photographer Brian Hewitt and look for dragonflies. The usual stuff was seen, but numbers seemed a bit low. The only abundant species was Common Blue, and Common Darter was  a long way back in second place. Single Emperor and Banded Demoiselle, Brown and Migrant Hawker plus a few Blue tails and Red Eyes and only one Small Red Eye.
Lots of Buddlea  in flower but few butterflies feeding on them, in fact apart from Speckled Wood and Small Whites we only saw singles of Small Heath, Comma and Red Admiral. Got back to the watchpoint and the lack of excitement was obvious. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

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