Thursday, 18 August 2016

Moths and Butterflies

Tuesday August 16

Natural Surroundings Moth day. Always enjoyable when we can add to the occasion. We got up extra early to process our own overnight trap, potting four to take in with us. A Pale Prominent because we're catching at least one regularly and they don't appear at either Cley or here. 
A Magpie has turned up but this was our first for the year, far too flighty to risk anything other than an 'in the pot' shot.

 One of the others caused much debate, Greg's original prognosis later changed to a Lesser-spotted Pinion by Andrew, Richard and Greg - after much book comparison. Great, new for our garden and a lifer for us and several others.

The others were: a Maiden's Blush, which looked very unlike the Lewington drawing (the dark rear wing splodges ) 

and a Mottled Beauty, small enough to be a Micro but it's a Macro.

Greg brought in a lovely Bordered Pug.

 After the usual drink and chat, Pam and I drove to Warham Camp. A muggy and rather windy day which needed patience to see anything perched or flying. The sheltered, hedge-lined track on the way in had Small Copper and Meadow Brown. I photographed a female of the latter species.

The end gate was padlocked, I had to heave myself over a stile, my knees do not like the high steps required.
When we reached what I call the inner moat, I sat to survey the scene whilst Pam climbed down into the moat. Someone waved at me... it was Judy D and four others doing their annual butterfly survey of the site for the Butterfly Association. They'd only found 200 Chalkhill Blues compared with 2,000 in 2015 and 7,000 in 2014. A big crash. It is an introduced and isolated species at its most northerly range with no prospect of fresh genes.

I joined Pam in the moat, walking a narrow path through a beautiful array of wild flowers.

We probably saw eight males and a female Chalkhill Blue, which led me a merry dance, as I was armed with my bridge camera only. A long lens where one can spy from a distance is better. It's a very small butterfly and all the species we saw were heavily worn and damaged this late in the season.

One Common Blue, even smaller and much brighter, allowed me one shot before it did its butterfly dance, an apparently aimless, wafting and rapid direction- changing wind assisted swoop and glide across the moat's walls before finding the 'right' flower. A tremendous waste of energy but mesmerising to witness.

A most enjoyable day.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

UK Tick No. ?

Wednesday August 3

My birthday. Coffee morning at Joan's first, then, the first outing for my new butterfly net at East Ruston Common. Very windy indeed, gusts of up to 40mph, not conducive for flying butterflies. We glimpsed Small Skipper, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown - I netted two Grasshoppers !

Thursday August 4

Jem turned up at Cley for this morning's session with a Wormwood in a pot, new moth for us. Excellent. 
After a pretty awful, chaotic and disorganised moth session with few moths of any note - it was an open morning - we drove to Minsmere. There has been a potential 'first for Britain' bird here since last Sunday and this was our first opportunity. The bird was on South Girder Pool behind South Hide. The path was chokka with 40 + birders when we got there. We 'excuse me'd ' very firmly, as advised by Ann D  and got through to a clear area from which we both saw the WESTERN PURPLE SWAMPHEN before it disappeared into the reeds. As suggested by Sue B, we then entered the hide, and climbed to the upper floor. Ten minutes later, the occupants of the seat facing the pool left and we took their place. Great, an uninterrupted view of the pool. It did get rather cold with a fierce wind blowing straight into our faces. I closed the glass hatch at one point for a brief respite and the amusement of the two sitting behind us when Pam used her bins to look through the gap between the glass and the hide. We counted 14 Little Egrets on the pool at one time.
A couple of older male birders amused and irritated by pontificating about this bird's origin, totally confusing it with the grey-headed Asian species often found in captivity and seen as escapes in the UK. This bird is from the southern France population originating in Spain, which has dispersed northwards this year. There's another in Brittany at the moment.
An hour after it had disappeared the Swamphen appeared. It preened extensively, walked about a bit, flew a short way, preened again and melted into the reeds. Very distant with poor light, some rain at times, for photographs - apart from record shots.

More butterflies around the Buddleias near the Centre than we've seen all year, I wish we'd spent time studying them.
We left, happy and tired. 

Saturday August 5 
No sign of the Swamphen to-day. What a shame for the weekend crowds - and Minsmere's coffers. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

REALLY The First of the Month

Monday August 1

A pleasure to be setting off at 6.15 a.m. on such a beautiful morning. Cloudless sky and warm sun - it never got too hot to-day.  Shame about the birds, still hadn't hit double figures of species by the time we got to Valley Farm Lane. This visit was notable for seeing 30+ Tree Sparrows in the hedge and lane, they must have had a good breeding season. 
We met our gamekeeper friend near the barns, accompanied by his new dog which is a supposed Jack Russell with overtones of Dachsund ! He told us of finding many dead 'King Harry' - what he calls Goldfinches. Do they suffer from the same virus as Greenfinches?
Abbey Farm Hide added a moth to the list. Pam had her camera but is not happy with the result, the moth group think it's some form of Rustic........
Pam found a Sparrowhawk on its prey, roadside, immediately before Flitcham Village. She took a few shots through the windscreen. It was obscured for me, she was good enough to inch across the road so that I could manage a few before it took off. 

Snettisham looked glorious. A real edge to the wind under clear skies. We trawled the footpath dividing the RSPB pits from the chalet pit, looking for insects. We found one Small/Essex Skipper

a few bees and nothing else. Such a lovely selection of wild flowers in wide swathes too, what's happened to everything. No inter-connecting habitat could be the reason.

View north over the Chalet Pit from the footpath
West to the Wash from the footpath
Some of the vegetation

Despite the low tide-line, there was an excellent selection of both number and species of the 'usual' birds, on view. 
Curlew, Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Great Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, 1 Turnstone, hundreds of Dunlin, Common and Sandwich Terns, Shelduck, Avocets, Knot,  Oystercatcher, Redshank and Lesser Black-backed Gull. All was good in our world.
Nothing flying at Holme either, apart from a single Red Darter patrolling  the boardwalk to The NOA Broadwater Hide . In total, we saw, 1 Small Skipper, 1 Comma, 1 Red Admiral and a few Large and Small Whites.
Two Tufted Duck, a few Avocets and some Mallard on and from the Broadwater. Why do I disregard the dozens of Greylag we have seen to-day?
Usually only open at weekends, we saw that the Hunstanton Ice-cream kiosk at Drove Orchards was open holidays. One Lemon Meringue cone later, I saw these well grown young Swallows above the shop entrance, looking longingly at every passing adult.


 I forgot to add 5 young Red-crested Pochard to our Titchwell day - previous entry