Saturday, 29 June 2013


Unable to do much last week-hospital trips again.
Went down to Amwell this morning. Not expecting much, with it being mid June. However Tony pointed out that the Little ring Plovers have at least one chick, which proved to be very elusive at times. The Little Egrets have produced some young, judging by the number of juveniles seen on and off through the morning.
The wildfowl are starting to moult now, and a this includes a very large number of Canada Geese that are now present. The injured Wigeon remains.
Went over to Hollycross with Tony, and despite the generally poor conditions had a good time. Found our first Banded Demoiselle, hoards of Common Blue, Azure and Blue Tail damsels and a few red Eyes too. Butterflies few and far between, two Speckled Woods and singles of Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Large Skipper.

 Female Blue Tailed damsel taken with my new pocket camera, a Sony RX100. After nearly a year of dithering I finally bought something to have with me all the time for those moments which really needed to be photographed.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pacific Swift

Back in  May 1993 we made a couple of visits to Cley and Blakeney, firstly for an Oriental Pratincole, and then for the nest building Desert Warbler. Resting in one of the hides after the latter scanning Pat's Pool for a reported Blue Headed Wagtail and Temminck's Stints we were struck by the huge number of hirundines and swifts feeding low over the water. At one point, I remember something catching my eye as it flew through the scope field, distracting enough to take my eye off the waders I was looking at for a moment. The next day I was having a pub lunch with my family and a few friends and Colin's pager which for some reason I had went off with a mega alert-Pacific Swift at Cley. No chance for me to get there after a few drinks of course, but the twitch is one of the most famous in birding history.
Afterwards I did consider the unlikely idea that the distraction might have been the Swift but with Cley being so well watched by some of Britain's best birders every day the thought was quickly dismissed as wishful thinking.
Since then there have been a few birds reported, mainly at Spurn with migrating Swifts-none twitchable and one or two have also been reported in Europe in recent years. One was at Spurn last week (surprise) and later in Lincolnshire so there was hope that it might still be around, and as we found out yesterday it turned up at Trimley near Felixstowe. Limited parking and a long walk (Colin measured it at 3.6 miles each way) was off putting and I did not feel up to the trip.
Got up this morning, feeling a bit better and it was back on the pager at 0730, so I called Colin and went for it. Luckily we got a space at the end of the road right outside the gate and started the long trudge. Met up with Ricky and the Tyttenhanger boys and eventually got down to the estuary banks around 1030. Joined one group who appeared to be following the bird. Unfortunately directions were a bit vague to say the least-in the white and grey clouds is not all that specific particularly when the swift flock is about half a mile away. When the supposed bird came down below the tree line I did get a 'swift' with what appeared to be white on it but it was not exactly tickable.
Along with Ricky we  decided to head further up river to the main crowd overlooking the lagoons. We found out we had missed it by a couple of minutes as Tony Hukin filled us in on the details as he left. We stuck it out for several hours, scanning the swifts continuously but failing to see any with a white rump. Birds were often very distant but now and again a few would come down over the lagoons affording good views-and some were feeding over the river behind us. Around 1230 there was a commotion from another group of birders a hundred yards further up river so we went up to join them to be told that it had been seen low over the brambles behind the main lagoons. Suddenly Ricky picked it up and although distant it was satisfying to see it, but just as quickly we lost it. A couple of minutes later I found it coming straight towards us-the white rump was visible to the naked eye and through bins I could even see hints of the scaley feather pattern. By the time the camera was up it was off again, flying along the brambles again to the easternmost part of the reserve. Even then the white rump really stood out despite the distance. It then flew up above the dock cranes with another swift, came towards us and then headed off across the river.
I got a couple of record shots-nothing exciting.

Not much else was seen on the reserve-a drake Pintail being the most unusual and we got singing Bullfinch and Lesser Whitethroat on the way back.
There were a few dragonflies when the sun shon-one probable Broad Bodied, an Emperor and a male Hairy on the way back, plus a few blue damsels. Few butterflies apart from whites.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Should Be at Trimley

Feeling a bit rough at the moment-have had one of these lingering cough/colds that wont shift. A neighbour reckoned it lasts six weeks, so I am half way there.
Spent a couple of hours at Amwell this morning, on the grounds that there was some sun, with rain forecast this afternoon, so there was a good chance of dragonflies. Unfortunately it was rather windy, and as it turned out sunshine was in short supply.
One pair of Redshank have bred successfully, with three chicks in front of the watchpoint. Birds have been present in the summer ever since my first visit back in the mid 80's but I cannot recollect the last time they actually bred.
The Oystercatchers have given up, but one bird paid a brief visit while I was there. Apparently they have moved to a different site. The Wigeon is still around, and there are several Pied Wagtail chicks as well (not a common Amwell bird).
The only odontae seen were Azure Damselflies generally tucked into vegetation, though a few tenerals could be other species. Had a quick look at the orchids on Hollycross again. Reputedly hybrids of Southern and Early Marsh, some show the sheathed leaf/stem of Early and some unsheathed  Southern-and some are indeterminate.
Called in at Bennington Church on the way home as Spotted Flycatchers have been present-failed to find them but learnt that there is an Eagle Owl on the loose.

Got home to hear that a Pacific Swift has been at Trimley Marsh since late morning, and still present late afternoon. Not twitchable since the infamous Cley bird in 1993, but looks like a lot have got it now. The drive would not have been too bad, though the parking is likely to be a nightmare, the big problem for me would be the three mile each way walk. Dont think it would be possible the way I feel at the moment.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Lady Slippers

Last year on our return from Scotland we called in at Arneside Knot and Gait Barrows where we had a great time with butterflies and orchids. Unfortunately, we were rather too late for the Lady Slippers though apparently one or two flowers were still out as I found out later. We were intending to do the same this year had the Sottish trip gone ahead, though as it tuned out we may have been a bit early.
This weekend seemed to be the perfect time so we headed up, leaving at 5am and arriving at Gait Barrow shortly before 9am. The weather was just right too, warm and sunny but not the sweltering heat  and humidity of last year.The walk up to the limestone pavement was a bit disappointing, with little to show apart from fresh Common Blue Damselflies.
Up at the top, the taped off areas showed where the Lady Slippers were, not that you needed any hints as they were by far the most conspicuous flowering plants on the reserve. To say it was a stunning sight would be an understatement. Ok the tubes that many were growing in wasn't exactly natural but it was clear that they were seeding and colonising the area, so some were sort of wild.

The only other plant of note, pointed out to me was a small patch of Angular Solomon's Seal, and one or two patches of Wild Columbines.

Unlike last year we saw few butterflies-one Brimstone, a few Small Whites and Speckled Woods and several Dingy Skippers. Duke of Burgundys were supposed to be flying but numbers here recently have been rather low, and there were no signs of Small pearl Bordered or Dark Green Fritillaries. Apart from a few faded Early Purples there were no other orchids either-the marsh was dry so there were no Early or Northern Marsh and we could not see any Common Spotted or Twayblades either.
The only birds of note were Tawny Owls-one was seen perched in the open and another was seen flying through the woods being mobbed by Blackbirds.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Goldfinch Chicks are Back

Been a bit quiet over the last few days. Hayfever has hit, as has a cold-not a great combination, makes for a great time at work.
Locally Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps still singing behinds the doctors surgery at Poplars, and there is at least one Song Thrush there. Have heard a Song Thrush from the garden as well albeit rather distant. Not seen much else, though Jays seem to be more visible these days.
Getting regular visits from the Chaffinch pair, one or two House Sparrows are still around as is the Greenfinch and the Blackbirds Pigeons and Collared Doves are always present. Have not seen any Robins or Dunnocks in the garden recently, not sure if they are nesting locally, but a Wren is heard outside most mornings. Tonight the Goldfinches are down and at least one pair brought has three chicks, the first this year.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Some Wisley Images

Here are some of yesterdays images from my Wisley visit.