Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bank Holiday at Cley

Decided to spend the Bank Holiday Monday at Cley. There had been a few good migrants over the weekend, and the low in the `north Sea promised a bit of sea watching. Unfortunately it looked like the Western Bonelli's had gone.
 Approaching Cley, the mega alert went off-Yelkouan Shearwater off Coastguards suggested that the sea was delivering, but as it turned out we missed the best of it. I had a chat with some birders-none had seen the Shearwater which sounded a bit odd, though I later read the report which sounded pretty good. The only decent bird I saw was a Roseate Tern close in and above the heat haze over the water. Plenty of Common and Sandwich Terns offshore with one or two Arctics and Littles thrown in. Gannets and a couple of Skuas were very distant, and I never did see any Shearwaters. Seeing that activity was declining we headed off to the East Bank.
 Arnold's Marsh seemed full of `godwits and Curlews with a few moulting Spotted Redshanks. There seemed to be a lot of Wigeon present. Had hoped to pick up Whimbrel and maybe a scarcer wader or perhaps a chat of some kind. Went back to the car and then headed up to Walsey Hills where the juvenile Red Backed Shrike had been for a few days. Gradually worked our way towards the hedge and got pretty good views at times. One potential problem was the bizarre sight of a  large number of female pirates (a hen party we think) appearing on the footpath was avoided when I was able to direct them away from the favoured corner. Despite this the bird did eventually disappear into the hedge shortly after we left and remained elusive for some time.

 We headed off to Bishops Hide overlooking Pats Pool. The 14 Spoonbills were not hard to miss, nor were the huge number of Curlew Sandpipers-something approaching 40 were reported. Only saw a few Little Stints and failed to see the Wood Sandpiper, but some of the birds were approaching the hide close enough for some pretty good images.

 With little in the way of reported migrants we called it a day early afternoon, and called in at Cley Spey for a while before heading home. Convinced Colin that the new Swaro 12x50's would be worth looking at and he seemed to like them.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Spme More Recent Images

Not been able to get out this weekend so far.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Getting Up to Date

Here are some recent images that I have only just got round to looking at.

 Today I went down to Amwell for a few hours. The usual Sunday crowd present so it was mainly talking with a bit of birding-its still very quiet.
The weather was rather warm with the humidity building and it got a bit uncomfortable at times. Seemed to help with the insects and this produced a lot of Hobby sightings-also had a lot of Sparrowhawk activity including a close encounter on the bridge as one was chased by a crow.
Duck numbers remain constant, but Shoveller and Teal seem to be more obvious now. Few waders-the summering birds have gone, but there were at least two Common Sandpiper on the islands and we also had a very brief visit by a Greenshank that dropped in for a minute before flying up the valley.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Rye Meads

Spent a few hours at Rye this morning. Started off very damp and drizzly but got better by noon.
The Elder bushes around the Water Vole watchpoint were full of warblers-Chiffchaff, Willow, Blackcap and many other birds such as tits and Wrens. The birds would often perch on the hand rails affording superb views, and also the fence, but most of the time they were foraging in the bushes.

 I was told that the Wood Sandpiper may still be around so spent some time in Draper Hide. However, the ringing group were running a demonstration and had nets up at the back of the reeds, which probably caused some disturbance. There was only one Green Sandpiper for instance, and the recent Garganey was nowhere to be seen. There were a couple of Teal though which seemed to be a bit early for a winter arrival, as well as some Shoveller.

 The Black Necked Grebe is still around, from the Tern hide and was as usual tucked away in a corner and did not show. Not much else to see though having the camera meant I could grab a shot of a flyby Canada Goose.

 The Kingfisher hide was full of cameras. One did show for a considerable period but was on one of the more distant posts and the lighting was not all that great.

 Because of the weather there were few butterflies on the wing apart from Green Veined Whites and Speckled Woods. Dragonflies were limited to Brown Hawkers and a few Common Darters.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Arrived at Amwell this morning to a largely full house, but few birds. Spent much of the morning chatting to everyone about plants and butterflies.
Saw a few birds. Duck numbers are low, and being in eclipse do not look all that great. Couple of Shoveller among the more usual summer ducks. One Hobby and several Buzzards were seen-I arrived too late for the Red Kite and Yellow Wagtail. Got good views of Hertfordshire's first locally bred juvenile Little Egrets but filed to find any migrant waders despite the lowered water levels.
The weather did not look good for dragonflies but I did see a few Red Eyed and Small Red Eyed Damselflies among the more usual species. Few butterflies, though Red Admirals and some Commas were on the Buddleas.

Orchids and Butterflies

Getting to the end of the season, but there are still a few insects and plants to see, and having not seen Colin for about a month we decided to do another Chiltern and area tour.
Heard that the Warburg Violet helleborines were flowering, so made that the first stop. Luckily the office was open so we could consult the map-and heard of a few bonuses too. Did not take long to get to the helleborine cages-walked past the now gone over Narrow Lipped, but there was no sign of any Broad Leaved at all-apparently all been eaten by Deer.
The Violets were a superb sight and we found several multi-stemmed plants to boot. Took most images using my flash gun to isolate the plants from the background.

The walk back took us through the southern meadow where we were told to look out for Chiltern Gentian. Not hard to miss being so  big. Spent quite a while trying to get sharp images of the hover flys that seemed to like them.

 The meadows were very colourful, with Musk Mallow, Thyme, Marjoram and the Gentians contrasting with yellow Wild Parsnip and Agrimony.
Birds weer rather scarce again, as most of the adults and juveniles tend to skulk at this time of year. We found many Marsh Tits as usual, along with the more usual woodland species and were delighted to hear a flock of Redpollss fly over.

 The weather was not ideal for our plans as drizzle was not exactly expected for the morning. By the time we got to Aston Rowant it had turned to light rain. This did not stop the butterflies though. Lots of Common Blues and Chalkhill Blues and volatile Silver Spotted Skippers-our main target. Luckily one settled down for a long time allowing a close approach.

 The Red Kite watchpoint was a dead loss in the rain, though one distant bird did fly over.

 We then headed north west to try various Brown Hairstreak sites east of Oxford.
Bernwood Meadows looked promising, particularly as the sun was now shining, but we failed, as did the party that had been there all day. Lots of browns of course, and Common Blues as well as a slightly worn Silver Washed Fritillary.
A couple of more local sites described to me last week were not successful-we found the right area but i think failed to locate the correct bushes.
The last resort of Whitecross Green was our final destination. Several sightings in the logbook for the day and a chat to a returning observer raised our hopes. A long stake out of the Ash trees around the pond did not reveal anything until I located a butterfly high in one of the trees. Turned out to be a Purple Hairstreak, however two others seen flying around looked good but were too distant.
Just as we were leaving a Brown Hairstreak flew past Colin at head hight and then went up into one of the Ashes. We stayed a few more minutes but i never came down.