Thursday, 30 June 2011

Making up for lost pictures

I am now back in Dorset following a very pleasant week in Wales. Sadly I couldn’t upload pictures from Wales (nothing to do with the country being behind the times...), I simply forgot my card reader! I haven’t actually got many pictures to post as the weather for most of my trip wasn’t conducive for photography but I did try.
One of the trips highlights was a couple of Common Terns fishing a local lake at Bryn Bach Park. Ok, anyone reading this from Dorset may wonder why this is a highlight. I have only ever seen Common Tern in Blaenau Gwent once before and that was a very brief bird passing through. I have seen more Black Tern than Commons in the borough!

Whilst I’ve been visiting Bryn Bach I’ve been catching a few Canada Geese which totalled 6 by the end of the trip. Also ringed a Mute Swan and a Mallard. Whilst I am on about ringing, I spent a few hours in my uncle’s garden ringing a few of these little beasts.

Next shot is of the Great Oak Beauty we trapped in the Forest of Dean at the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve.

We had wondered what caused the chunk to be taken out of its wing. My mate said a Wood Warbler whereas I was firmly of the opinion that it was the heel of a Treecreeper who must have trodden on it whilst foraging on the bark.  
Lepidoptera made a trip to some local moorland quite interesting. Small pearl bordered Fritillaries were flitting about on some thistles but it was pretty windy which as any photographer knows make macro shots very hard to get!

Whilst photographing the Frits I noticed this Tree Bumblebee. This is relatively common in Weymouth but I was very surprised to see it up there! I need to do some research but I reckon this could potentially be a first for Breconshire?? Haven’t found out who to ask yet but will keep you posted.

Last up is this recently fledges Wheatear. They were in good numbers around various sites I went too so perhaps we might be seeing decent numbers heading south come the autumn.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

A picture speaks a thousand words

But sadly I haven't got any pictures as I have left my card reader in Weymouth! So words will have to do though I'll try not to write a thousand. Been in welsh Wales since Tuesday and have enjoyed little or no decent weather. Birdings been limited to a few outings, though one night was pretty good by Gwent standards. Went out with the intention of hearing fledging Long-eared Owls. Sadly couldn't locate any but my nocturnal travels around the north of the county reveiled quite a few Grasshopper Warblers. One particular sight held at least 4 if not 5 singing gropper. Also managed a single chipping Snipe though probably a bit late in the year to hear drumming.

Managed a nights Mothing. Went out to the RSPB Nagshead in the forest of dean, though the weather was very cold. This mean't moths weren't very active though we did manage 34 species. Mothing in the dean usually get us something interesting and this time a Great Oak Beauty was the best of the bunch. Regardless of the poor mothing we had a superb time and dawn in the forest of dean is something else!

Ringings also been limited though my garden Sparrows have finally started to jump into the net. Am currently on 9 sparrows! It has taken me since Tuesday to catch that many...

A few visits to Parc Bryn Bach has bagged me three Canada Geese, 1 Mallard and Mute Swan. I was really quite suprised to come across a 'new' Swan up there as there aren't many the wander around Blaenau Gwent. Apparently the weather calming down and the suns going to make an appearance soon which should liven up my holiday!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Harrier Update

Before I head back to Wales tomorrow I wanted one last evening with the Radipole Marsh Harriers. Haven’t taken the camera down for a while so given that the sun was shining (albeit briefly!) off I went. They are still feeding chicks, which must be nearly three weeks old now, so should be getting to a decent size. The male is now a very infrequent visitor which means the female is doing most of the hunting. She has been pretty successful at catching a wide range of prey items including plenty of ducklings and coot chicks!
Managed this decent photo of her this evening, she caught me by surprise as I was photographing a Kingfisher which was scared off by the Harrier. She is clearly looking straight at me in the picture so probably I took her by surprise a little as well!

Here is a shot of the kingfisher. It was a bit distant but an Ok result.

Common terns are fishing around Radipole still which gives you something to watch whilst you wait for the Harriers to show.

On the way back from the hide, this Scarlet Tiger was sitting on the reeds. They are pretty common at Radipole and will peak in numbers over the next few weeks. Some evening there can be a couple of dozen on the wing all at the same time.

Finally, I have to mention our botanical MEGA. A number of years ago a ‘brown’ bee orchid was discovered at Radipole. Last year news got out and started a twitch! Several dozen people travelled down to see it. Since then a lot of discussion has gone on as what name to put on it. Current thinking is that is of the variety fulvofusca. It was originally called atrofuscus but it seems that name is now invalid for some reason. I am not going to into as I really don’t understand! Anyway, here’s three picture showing each of the three ‘brown’ bee orchids, each slightly different.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Portland Pulli

Spent this morning on the Portland Harbour breakwater which was an amazing experience. Aim of the day was ring gull pulli and anything else what we could get our hands on. The place hardly gets visitors and is very exposed; they are essentially man-made islands out to sea which makes them perfect places for the gulls to nest.

We were busier than we imagined and only got one of the three breakwaters done today plus there were quite a few gull chicks which weren’t large enough to ring. Luckily quite a few Great black backed Gulls were ok to ring plus a couple Herring Gull. The weather was due to get rough in the afternoon which also meant an early finish. You know when you’ve had a successful day when you trousers look like this after a ringing session!

Here’s a shot of one of the Great black backed Gulls. Cute ain’t it!

Here’s another of me with a gull, notice the lack of poo on my trousers so probably one of the first birds of the day.

As well as lots of gulls, probably 4 pairs of Oystercatchers present, several Rock pipits, a pair of Linnet went over plus we had a pair of Shelduck. As well as birds we also came across this weird structure. Something to do with defence during WW2 I’m led to believe.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Told you so!

Well I’d promised that something would happen this week and it did. My Wiltshire trip proved very successful and got me pretty much all my target species. Was most pleased to see Montagu’s Harrier which was really the long shot of the trip but managed a male and female somewhere on the Salisbury Plain.

Great pictures aren’t they!

Next up was the Stone Curlews which are doing really well in Wiltshire thanks to the RSPB’s Stone Curlew project that’s creating habitat all over the county. We managed to see 7 and heard at least two more!

Last up, just for fun really, was a nice male Great Bustard which is part of the release scheme on the plain. Very nice to see regardless of its origin and certainly an impressive beast.

As you can see from today’s pictures, everything’s pretty distant but regardless of that it was a superb day with some great company and some great birds!
Must also add a picture of a species that occurred regularly throughout today, the Corn bunting. Not a species that occurs much in Wales now but saw load so today, especially on one of the farms! They were everywhere! Didn’t really try to get any pictures of them except for this poor attempt.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Something will happen soon!

I fell obliged to write something as I am fully aware that nothing has been written in over a week. Ringing has been very limited due to the damn weather. I have only ringed a couple of Swans over the last two weeks. Did try to catch some Quail on a farm north of Dorchester where I had heard several the previous few days. Arrange to visit with some nets (under license of course!) and they had all either gone or had shut up. Will re-visit shortly.

 However, this week everything’s going to change. Have got a nice trip to the Salisbury Plain tomorrow to look for some Wiltshire specialities then on Thursday we have a trip to the breakwaters around Portland Harbour. Hardly anyone ever visits them so we will be armed with a variety of rings and anything catchable will have one attached to its leg by the end of the day! We could get anything ranging from a Herring Gull to a Great black backed Gull! If that’s not enough to get the ornithological taste buds tingling then I don't know what will!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Cuckoo with food!

My last blog post was entitled ‘Cuckoo food’. It was shear chance that I noticed a few days ago that a few decent pictures were being taken from the North Hide at RSPB Radipole Lake. So yesterday evening I set off with me camera hoping to get a shot for myself. I’ve tried many times over the past few weeks and have only ended up with what can only be described as rubbish. However, last night my luck had changed and look what I came back with!

On the RSPB Radipole forum page a reserve regular posted a picture of the bird with a large caterpillar in its beak. Incredible it decided it was hungry and pounced on this beauty!

Amazing experience being seeing all this happening, though it was easy to forget about the problems that face Cuckoos in the UK. I am sure most of you know about the decline and it’s a common for people to ask me when in work, where all the Cuckoos have gone. But for this year at least they seem to be doing OK though we haven’t seen a female at Radipole so fingers crossed this fella’s efforts aren’t in vane.
Here’s one last atmospheric shot of him flying around over the reeds at dusk.