Saturday, 27 July 2013


Have not been to Amwell for about a month-the combination of it being quiet at this time of year, the extreme heat and other commitments being the reasons. However I decide to pop down today before the rain arrived-still waiting at 6pm.
It turned out to be warm at first but by 1000 the sun was starting to come out and the heat rapidly built up. Little change in the birds from the watchpoint-the Little Ring Plovers, Redshanks and Oystercatchers have gone having raised some young, and we have been left with the usual assortment of moulting ducks, hoards of Canada Geese and Coot. At least five Little Egrets on view-some five pairs bred here this year and the Netherhall birds have also had a successful year and have been visiting. Seems like they have been starting to disperse in recent weeks as numbers were much higher. The injured Wigeon remains-looks like it will be the first time I have seen one in the county every month of the year.
Despite the sunshine, few hirundines and only a pair of Sparrowhawks and a single Red Kite seen. However butterflies were abundant, but dragonflies and damsels were rather limited.
White were common-Large, Small and Green Veined. Peacocks abundant with some Commas, Speckled Woods and a single Red Admiral. On Hollycross Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Gatekeepers and Small Skippers were seen plus one Small Copper. One Emperor, and small numbers of Blue Tail,  Azure and Common Blue Damsels with six Banded Demoiselles rounded out the odontae.

Decided with the sunshine to call in at Danemead-the car park was overflowing.  As per last week, the browns were abundant  in the meadow and a few Peacocks were starting to show. I met up with a regular and went into the woods. Found several Silver Washed Fritillaries, maybe four or five White Admirals and Purple Hairstreaks were everywhere. We located several Slow Worms but no Lizards or Grass Snakes despite searching suitable spots. 
The Helleborines are still in bud, in fact they look no different to my last visit.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


I only had Saturday free this weekend. There were a couple of potential good birds available-the best were too far away for a day trip, so we decided that with the good weather we would concentrate on insects and made plans for some local sites.
After popping in to se Sarah and Ed, we made our way the short distance to Danemead in the Broxbourne Woods complex. The weather was not looking all that good though-we were expecting the cloud to disperse and the temperatures to climb, but it remained cloudy all morning with a cool easterly breeze, not exactly ideal.
The meadow was full of Ringlets and Meadow Browns, with a few Skippers-Large and Small. I did not see any Essex. One Marbled White flew through and there were singles of Brown Hawker and Emperors patrolling. One of the Meadow Grasshoppers posed on my shirt for some time-good job I had the RX100 with me as I was able to get a few images one handed.

Entering the wood, we had a brief flyby Silver Washed Fritillary and a couple of Speckled Woods. A search revealed large numbers of Broad Leaved Helleborines, but only a few had  flower spikes. Last year I could not find any at all, presumably all had been eaten. Another one snapped with the RX100.
Back in the meadow we met up with one of the site managers who drew our attention to more Helleborines in the hedgerow, most being very hard to locate.
Broxbourne itself proved to be very disappointing due to the weather. More Ringlets and Meadow Browns. One singing Chiffchaff and singles of Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, along with miscellaneous cheeps and chirps from birds, both juveniles and moulting adults hiding away.
We decided that it was not worth continuing with the trip and called it a day before lunch.

Friday, 19 July 2013


Hd to go into Hertford this morning. On the way back to Stevenage white butterflies were abundant along the grassy verges and hedgerows. Among them were many more dusky individuals-Marbled Whites. None of the latter seen when I got into Stevenage.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Ringlet in Garden

Not exactly a rarity, but I noticed a Ringlet resting on iris leaves by the pond during an evening shower-I assume it was passing through . Commonly seen on my walks around Aston, this is the first for the garden. With  large areas of roadside verges left uncut in the Stevenage area it is likely that grassland browns could be seen more frequently in the future-Marbled White would be nice.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Small Red Damselfly

Having said yesterday that we did not see any Small red Damsels at Crockford Bridge, I went through the images in Lightroom to add all the tags that I had forgotten to do, and guess what I found-two images of a female Small Red.

Monday, 8 July 2013

New Forest

With it being warm and sunny we figured on heading down to the New Forest to do dragonflies. With Murray in the Wimbledon final we figured the roads would be a bit quieter than usual. This proved to be the case until we got beyond Winchester, and the M27/A31 was pretty bad all day. We had planned on doing the northern part of the forest first, but decided to get off the road and headed south.
Hatchet Pond is always a problem for us as it is supposed to be a good site for Scarce Blue Tailed Damsel and we never find them here (or for that matter elsewhere in the forest). This year looked promising, warm, and only a slight breeze so we headed off to the feeder stream. Lots of Blue Tails, Southern Damsels and Keeled Skimmers of course with one or two Common Blue Damsels and Emperors. Also Four Spotted Chasers and a single Black Tailed Skimmer. We saw one Dark Green Fritillary and Silver Studded Blues were all over. Despite a long search of the stream and ditches we failed yet again to locate the Scarce Blue Tails.
On to Crockford Bridge and the temperature was climbing. Beautiful Demoiselles, Broad Bodied Chasers and two Golden Ring Dragonflies added to the list. No sign of Small Red Damsels this year. We were told that there was a Lesser Butterfly Orchid on the heath, but despite a sustained search we did not locate it-apparently it was looking good last week but maybe it had gone over. Most of the Heath Spotted had, though one still looked fine.

We later visited the very busy sites of Mill Lawn Brook and Latchmore Brook, both recommended Scarce Blue Tail sites. The former was still ok for the regular odontae but the latter turned out to be rather dry and a complete disappointment.
Not a bad day, despite failing in our annual search but the sun and heat proved a bit much and I ended up being badly burnt, something that rarely happens to me. Colin also had a problem in finding a very soft bit of bog and going in to his knee. No damage done luckily.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Only Brown Butterflies

Warm and sunny this weekend so I thought I'd try for a few.butterflies in the local area.
Started off on the Barton Hills. Turned out to be a bit breezy and all I saw on the way up to Ickneild Way were my first Meadow Browns of the year and a few Ringlets. Expected to see some Blues.
Went into the Hoo Bit reserve which is looking quite good. More Browns and Ringlets plus a few Speckled Woods. Lots of Common Spotted Orchids, but I could only locate two Flys looking well past their sell by date.
Birds rather quiet, the local Kestrel pair seen on the way up, with a few tits and Whitethroats in the hedges. Two Willow Warblers in Hoo Bit-they seem to be a bit hard to find locally this year.

After this I thought I'd go over to Deadmans Hill. There have been no Quail reports as of yet, and I did not hear one today. Couple of Buzzards and Kites as expected, plus a flyover Yellow Wagtail.
More Meadow Browns, a couple of Ringlets and two Small Heaths.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Weird One

Driving home from work today along Six Hills Way and aI noticed a crow on the cycle path. Got closer and it looked extremely odd. As I drove past I realised it was a Buzzard sitting in the middle of the path.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Dragonflies at Last

Yesterday we went up to Huntingdonshire as the weather looked pretty good for insects. Colin had been following reports of Black Hairstreak so we were making them our main target.
Toss up between various woods but we ended up at Brampton Wood which we have only visited once many years ago. it was warm, getting quite hot as the morning progressed and rather humid.
Got a few butterflies on the main ride north, a few Large Skippers, single Green Veined White
and lots of Speckled Woods.Lots of Common Blue and Azure Damsels. A diversion to the two small ponds did not produce any dragonflies but the Common Spotted orchids were looking good.
We made our way along the western ride and found a couple of promising stands of Blackthorn. The second turned out to be the best, though the Speckled Woods were a problem. I located a Black Hairstreak near the top of the bush where it rested for a spell before flying into a nearby oak and remained on view for around five minutes. A second more elusive u=individual was seen from time to time but neither came close enough to the cameras.
We continued on to the western edge of the wood where we located the very nice ancient Wild Pear. More stands of Blackthorn were found as expected but no more butterflies were seen apart from our first very fresh Ringlet.
On reaching the car park, we rested and chatted to a couple. We had planned on going to Houghton Mill for dragonflies but they suggested that Woodwalton Fen would be worthwhile so we went there instead. By the time we arrived, around 1230 it had got rather hot and while having a bit of lunch we noticed a number of large dragonflies along the main drain-this section turned out to be very productive with a large number of Scarce Chasers, Four Spotted Chasers and Red Eyed Damsels. A single patrolling Emperor was also seen.
The main part of the reserve was hard work as the wind was picking up and it proved frustarting. Hoards of Azure and Common Blue Damsels-I tried but failed to find any Variables, along the tracks, with Large Red Damsels and Four Spotted whenever  we found stretches of water. Several Hairy Dragonflies were also seen.
Birds were rather elusive as expected at this time of year but several Chiffchaffs and Willow warblers were e still singing, as were one or two Blackcaps Garden Warblers and Reed warblers.