Saturday, 30 July 2011

Getting Repetitive

Recently the days are starting to seem rather repetitive in the terms of the insect and bird life I am seeing. Apart from occasional highlights it feels like I'm just seeing the same stuff over and over again. Today I did a brief seawatch off Rossall with the only birds seen at all were 3 distant terns (probably sarnie) and an even more distant Cormorant, so I changed tact and instead went to Fleetwood Nature Reserve to look for butterflies and dragonflies. I was hoping for Wall Brown butterfly but despite looking at plenty of brown butterflies that were present they were all Meadow Brown instead, so my search for Wall goes on. There were also plenty of Common Blues around however due to the warm weather they were only very occasionally landing and so I failed to get a photo. There were plenty of Common Blue Damselflies and also a pair of what looked like Broad Bodied Chasers appropriately chasing each other. There were plenty of gulls coming to bathe on the pools including a couple of huge Great Black Back Gulls, but these were about the best birds around so I headed home slightly disappointed with the lack of interesting species, but hopefully it will pick up a bit before I go away on the 8th.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Whats that Noise

This morning the local male Sparrowhawk was hunting around my garden, narrowly missing a juvenile Starling before sitting on the fence for a few minutes giving great views. Both of the adult birds have been visiting my garden recently and the surrounding area but I have never been able to find the nest site.

Well today whilst walking into Poulton I heard a high pitched cry coming from an area of trees next to the path, so I went in to investigate what was making the noise. After a short search I spotted a juvenile Sparrowhawk in the tree above me, and nearby a second juvenile was also sitting out in the open. They were very active flying around between different perches and different patches of trees, and I managed to spot the nest near to where they were favouring, although it looked empty now. The adult female bird came back for a short period with a prey item so I assume that the birds have only recently fledged. I'm really happy to have found the nest as I can now go back and watch them more closely, and hopefully try get a few shots as well.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Black Redstarts - Preston

On Sunday a local birder spotted a male Black Redstart in Preston town centre in similar area to where a pair bred last year, and yesterday Zac Hinchcliffe and Nick Patel found both male and female carrying food. So this evening I took a trip down to the area they have been seen in and after a short search found the female bird, which was quickly joined by one and then two recently fledged juveniles which were very vocal so easy to locate. This is only my third sighting of this species in Britain and my first decent views after a brief flight view of a bird at Fleetwood Docks in 2008, and similarly brief views of a male bird at Flamborough Head in 2009. Rubbish record shots as they remained pretty distant and the light wasn't great.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Moth after Moth after Moth

A very warm day yesterday, at least thats what it felt like, meant a large emergance of moths last night and I ran out of pots to keep them in whilst catching them in my room last night. In total I got 18 moths of 14 species, the total list being:
Buff Ermine (nfm)
Clouded Border (nfm)
Red Twin Spot Carpet (nfm)
Commom Rustic agg (nfm)
Dark Barred Twin Spot Carpet
2 Large Yellow Underwing
Common Wainscot
The Magpie
Riband Wave
Scalloped Oak
2 Dotted Clay
Garden Pebble
2 Marbled Beauty
2 Twenty Plume Moth

Tonight looks like it is going to be even better so hopefully I will have another long list to report back with tomorrow, and also I may be going in search of some local Black Redstarts, watch this space.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Serene Evening

I spent a couple of hourse around Singleton this evening to see what birds were around, as it has been so long since I have done any proper birding I needed to get out. I wasn't expecting anything really interesting however I did see at least 2 Ravens, a couple of calling Tawny Owls, lots of Swallows, House Martins and a few Swifts, and a large flock of 200+ Lapwings.
Last night I had a small but nice catch of moths which included some of my favourite species, Scalloped Oak, Burnished Brass and Dot Moth. The weather this week looks warm and sunny hopefully so I might be catching plenty more moths.

Friday, 22 July 2011

When theres nothing else...

Still not had much chance to get out birding recently so moths have been taking centre stage, so here are a few of my recent highlights, Grey Dagger, Lime-Speck Pug and Light Emerald. I have also acquired a load of small Dot Moth and Small Angle Shade caterpillars off Ash and found 3 Cinnabar caterpillars on the tracks so am now raising them all in my bedroom, so will post regular updates on here and also some pics.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Up on the Tracks

With the weather finally starting to brighten up and the winds abating yesterday I decided to head up onto the old train tracks behind my house to see what butterflies were present. The habitat is good for Wall Brown, a species I have yet to see and which has colonies around the Wyre at Stannah and Fleetwood less than a mile away so I was hopeful about finding some. Unfortunately the cloud decided that that it would be a good time to come out so the butterflies weren't flying around as much and therefore harder to see. I found at least 8 Gatekeepers between my house and Thornton, which is a new species for me on the tracks, and I also added Green Veined White to this list. There were several pristine Red Admirals flying around which ties in with a large influx I have been seeing at other sites this past week, and a single Speckled Wood in my garden was a surprise as it isn't a common species here. I also managed to add Migrant Hawker to my garden list as it flew around the brambles.

On the bird front a male Lesser Whitethroat in the hawthorn bushes was the first I have seen this year from my house and I assume is a migrant moving back south which is being noted in species such as Willow Warblers all over the county. I also found a family of 2 adult and 4 juvenile Common Whitethroats which confirmed what I had suspected that they have been breeding nearby.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Too Northerly

With the strong winds continuing to blow today I headed down to Rossall Point at 13:55 in the hope that I might be able to connect with a Storm Petrel. A few Manx Shearwaters were heading south in the distance, just visible as they arced above the waves before disappearing for a while before reappearing much further along on the horizon. The Isle of Man to Heysham ferry was coming into the bay just after I set up so I followed it on the way in to see if any species were feeding around the back of it or just using it's slipstream to get an easier ride into the bay. After a few minutes I picked up a small dark bird wheeling around the back of the boat however it quickly dropped below the level of the waves and out of sight. It did this 4 times in the next 5 minutes and I noted:
- small size, difficult to judge due to distance but wingspan slightly longer than a small wader such as a Ringed Plover
- all dark body and wings and on one of the sightings I saw a white area/band across the rump
- gliding flight but only seen above the waves on 4 occasions so that may explain this
Any ideas? Storm Petrel was the closest I could come however having only a brief sighting to go on a few years ago I haven't got much experience or what other species it could be.
Unfortunately the wind was too northerly so the birds tailed off further into the watch, so the full total between 13:55-15:45 were:
possible Storm petrel
21 Manx Shearwater south
3 Sandwich Tern north
1 2cy Gannet south close in giving great views
2 Common Scoters
8 Dunlin south
4 Oystercatchers east
1 Ringed Plover south

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Great British Weather...

Rain, Rain, Wind, Wind, Rain, Wind, u get the idea, this has been the weather pattern for the past three days with hardly any let up at all meaning I have been pretty much housebound (not helped by my parents being busy as well). This has lead me to do a bit more garden birding however the conditions have meant that it was difficult to see any of the small birds that were around. The male Sparrowhawk has been visiting every few hours or so and caught something this morning, Starling I think, in the garden before carrying it away being mobbed by the local Magpies. The female also put in a brief appearance yesterday. Along the same lines the local female Kestrel was hunting over the fields right behind my house today which is unusual as they generally hunt over the golf course and closer to the main road. The forecast for tomorrow looks slightly more promising with the rain meant to be clearing out by mid morning which will help with visibility. Also the strong north westerly winds have been bringing small numbers of Storm Petrels to the north and south of here so I am hoping to do a couple of hours at Rossall tomorrow in the hope of connecting with one.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Winds bring in the Terns

Some very strong winds and at times lashing rain today meant now birding could be done so I went on a much needed shopping trip for clothes with my parents in Preston, and luckily I got them to stop off at the docks on the way back to see how many terns there were and also if anything else had been blown in on the storms (a pair of Common Scoter were here on the back of the last strong winds). Getting out of the car I could here the Common Terns on the pontoons on the far side however when I looked through my binoculars I was amazed by the number of them sitting still against the wind. In a quick sweep I counted 62 birds which is a massive number for here as the resident brreding birds don't usually number more than 30 at most. I didn't go round the other side of the docks to look more closely at them so I don't know if there were any Arctics amongst them but it didn't look like it. I might go take another look tomorrow to get a proper count and maybe some photos.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Burnished Brass

With absolutely nothing to report birdwise today (as I have been very lazy and been watching the golf most of the day) here is a pic of a new moth I caught last night, a Burnished Brass. As you can see it is very aptly named moth with metallic gold colouring along it's back and despite some rain showers this afternoon I suspect I will catch a few more moths tonight. I also caught my first Early Thorn for a few months and a Swallowtail landed on the window but didn't manage to find the open section so I didn't get the chance to catch it.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Back to Insects

A hot day by recent standards and I couldn't resist going out to look for insects as there weren't many birds about. I met up with Ash and Aaron in Stanley Park where we looked through the mixed Coot and Tufted Duck flock, finding 2 each of Pochard and Shoveler with them. A Migrant Hawker dragonfly (my first ever) was flying around the bridge area and started a good run of insect species during the day. At the north end of the lake around the island a young Grey Heron was fishing close to the path giving great views although it failed to catch anything whilst we watched it.

We walked round through the Woodland Gardens and then round the golf course on the bridlepath where there were plenty of butterflies including Small Skipper, Red Admiral and plenty of Gatekeepers, although we didn't see any Small Copper which was out main target. Dragonflies were also present in good numbers and we saw at least 7 Brown Hawkers, another 2 Migrant Hawkers and 2 female Common Darters. There weren't many moths about today but I still managed to add a new species to my list, a Spindle Ermine.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

First of the Returning Migrants

The first Green Sandpiper of the autumn dropped in on the flood at Mythop a few evenings ago however despite twice looking I failed to see it and from what I heard from others it was proving elusive despite being on a relatively small flood. I headed down this evening for my third attempt and quickly located it feeding along the exposed mud on the left hand side. My seventh yeartick already this month despite not seeing any in June!

From here we headed to Skippool Creek to check the waders on the incoming tide. Paul Slade was already present but hadn't seen anything of note however the tide was rising and starting to push the waders feeding further down the river up towards us. I located a moulting adult Spotted Redshank feeding upriver from us that has been present in the area for a couple of weeks, and at least 5 Common Sandpipers were still present and calling a lot. Over 150 Redshanks gathered on the bank just upriver from us and after Paul left a small flock of about 30 Dunlins joined them and searching through them I found a different wader that I couldn't identify. It was much greyer than the Dunlins, was feeding and moving much more horizontally compared to the upright stance of Dunlin, had a short black bill and also had a slight mottled brown area around the top of the neck and top of the back. I might go down tomorrow to take another look as I'm not very good with waders and want an ID. A Little Egret that was feeding up near the Shard Bridge was the first I have seen for a while and must be a returning bird to the area.

Monday, 11 July 2011

One that got away...From the guns

Since DEFRA started culling the British Ruddy Duck population to protect the White Headed Ducks in Spain a few years ago, they have become very scarce with only a few hundred individuals left in the entire country. I haven't seen one since March 2009 so when one turned up at a local site this evening I jumped at the chance and went down to take a look. I met up with Ash and Aaron there and we quickly located a male bird diving on the lake so we moved to round to get closer but typically it started sleeping so I could only get a few record shots. This is a welcome yeartick and takes me up to 187 and 184 for Britain and Fylde.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Brilliant Butterflies and a Scaup

After the torrential showers yesterday it was a relief to have a dry day today albeit cloudy till later on in the afternoon. Ash asked if I wanted to join him and Aaron to go to Brockholes so I agreed since I had no transport for the day and we hoped to get some good butterflies in the area. I met them in Stanley Park where I had a juvenile Little Grebe (don't think they bred here so surprised to see it) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling out of site somewhere. At Ash's house he showed me a couple of moths he had caught the night before, including my first Spectacle moth. At Brockholes we headed for Boilton Woods to look for White Letter Hairstreaks at one end, and Purple Hairstreaks at the other end. Unfortunately when we were at the east end looking for the White Letters the sun wasn't shining and there was a crisp breeze blowing meaning that if the butterflies were there they weren't flying around. However we did have out first of at least 8 Comma's here.

Moving through the woods we focused on moths and amongst plenty of Twin Spot Carpets we also caught Mother of Pearl and Beautiful China Mark (both nfm). We also saw a male Banded Demoiselle and several large Brown Hawker dragonflies, including one which caught a Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet out of the air and took it to a nearby tree to consume. We reached the area where the Purple Hairstreaks and quickly spotted a butterfly flying midway up a tall oak tree but unfortunately I didn't get any good views so couldn't confirm it as that species, even though Ash is pretty sure it was one. Further round Ash found our first Gatekeeper butterfly of the year which showed really well and I managed my first shots of this species.

Earlier on in the day I had got a text off Paul Slade saying that a drake Scaup was present on Glasson Docks and since we all needed it for our yearlists we went up and had a look to see if it was still present. We were worried that it might be in eclipse plumage like most of the Tufted Ducks we had seen during the day, however luckily when we arrived we easily picked it out as it was still in it's proper plumage. Scaup has been surprisingly scarce in the Fylde this year and this is the first twitchable bird so I suspect plenty of people will be trying to see it to add it to their yearlists.

On the way home we decided to call in at Bispham Marsh to see if we could find the Mandarins however they couldn't be seen and were probably hiding out of site on one of the islands. There were plenty of butterflies around here including several Large Skippers and Red Admirals that posed nicely for photos. The Scaup takes me up to 186 and 183 for the British and Fylde yearlists respectively.

Dodgy Ducks

Yesterday I took my first visit to the patch in a while to check out a few ducks that have recently arrived, although with extremely suspicious origins. I started off at the crem and immediately noticed two very pale ducks amongst the Mallards, that had arrived earlier in the week, a pair of leucistic White Cheeked Pintails. Although obviously escapees (native to the bahamas and common in captivity in this country) they were still nice to see and brightened up a dark and gloomy day with plenty of rain showers. There were 24 Mallards in total including these 8 youngish birds.

From here it was on to Bispham Marsh where the Great Crested Grebe family (2 adults and 4 large young) were still present and all looking very healthy. Along the back of the pool I spotted a small duck feeding along the edge and it turned out to be the female Mandarin that has been present for a few weeks. After a while a second bird appeared which is the moulting male, so pretty drab compared to its full slender in normal plumage.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The final Resident

Once again today the weather has been all over the place, raining heavily at times and then glorious sunshine a few minutes later. I decided not to go out till the evening when I hoped my dad would agree to take me out, and luckily he did. We started off at Rossall Point where the sea was very quiet in fact the only birds at all apart from the gulls were 2 Gannets distantly north and 2 Sandwich Terns and 9 Curlews south. So I thought it would be worth checking Skippool Creek to see if any waders had turned up, especially after the AGP a few days ago. As it was the finder of the AGP Paul Slade was already present and pointed out a few things such as a 2nd summer Yellow Legged Gull and 3 Greenshank amongst at least 100 Redshanks. Other nice waders in the area included at least 9 Common Sandpipers and a large flock of 65+ Black Tailed Godwits, many of which were in their gorgeous gull summer plumage. We got discussing yearlists as we are pretty close together in the Fylde Yearlist Competition, and I mentioned that I still need Tawny Owl, the only resident Fylde species that I haven't seen this year. He suggested that the woods around the church in Singleton are a good place to look, so we headed off there in the hope of finding one roosting before going out for the night.

Getting out of the car my dad heard a couple of ferociously alarm calling Blackbirds in the woods opposite the church, so we headed over to find out what was getting them all worked up. Walking along a path towards a large oak that they were flying around I noticed a brown shape sticking out the top of what appeared to be a hollow in the tree, and sure enough it was a Tawny Owl (yeartick). It was obviously getting very agitated by the Blackbird's aggressions so it flew out of it's hole and up onto a higher branch, typically facing away from us. Luckily it turned it's head from time to time allowing me to get the bellow shots.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Back to Moths

A few warm days this week has led to some decent catches of moths and several new species for me, in addition to those from monday. Last night I caught a gorgeous Buff Arches (pic 1) and a few nights ago I got a Scalloped Oak (pic 2) along with Small Rivulet and Crambus Pascuella which are both new for me. Unfortunately the weather forcast for the rest of this week is horrible so I suspect the moths will be keeping low as will the birds so I'm not expecting to see very much.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Full List from Yesterday

Here is a full list of the species me, Ash and Aaron saw yesterday, read the full account in the post below. Red species are new for me.
summer plumage American Golden Plover
singing Tree Pipit
2 Lesser Redpoll
female Siskin
Green Woodpecker
3 Raven (2 young)

2 Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary
10+ Dark Green Fritillary
1 High Brown Fritillary
30+ Grayling
50+ Large Heath
1 Painted Lady
2 Red Admiral
2 Common Blue
10+ Small Heath
4 Small Skipper
8+ Large Skipper
1 Comma
4 Green Veined White
6 Small White
2 Large White
5+ Small Tortoiseshell
5+ Meadow Brown

20+ Black Darter
10+ Emerald Damselfly
4 Emperor Dragonfly
1 Black Tailed Skimmer
15+ Four Spotted Chaser
2 Common Darter
5 Large Red Damselfly
4 Azure Damselfly
50+ Common Blue Damselfly
10+ Blue Tailed Damselfly

Large Emerald
Manchester Treble Bar
Clouded Buff
Common Heath
Catoptria Margaritella
Common Footman
Silver Y

Common Lizard

Lifers across the Board

Be warned that this will be quite a long post with lots of photos and lots of different types of wildlife described (Insects, Birds, Reptiles in different colours). The day started with picking up Ash and Aaron at 9am before going to Skippool Creek to try and see an American Golden Plover which had turned up the previous evening, and which I had failed to see in the falling light when it did. Luckily it was still being reported in the morning so we parked in the car park and walked north towards Ramper Pot expecting there to already be people present as not many had connected the previous evening. However we didn't spot anyone else in the area we we set up in a gap between the jetties that allowed goods views over the mud around the bend in the river where it had been seen. Me and Ash had the scopes and quickly located 4 Golden Plovers in winter plumage around a small pool, and then a little further to the left a full summer plumage and darker bird, the American Golden Plover (British 263). It had noticeably darker plumage especially on it's back, a larger white flash on the neck, and when it moved closer to the other plovers it was obviously smaller and slenderer in structure. Distant pic below sort of shows these features however much better shots can be seen on the Fylde Bird Club website.
From here we headed to Arnside Knott in north Lancashire to search for butterflies, especially the gorgeous Fritillary species. Our main target species were Small Pearl Bordered, Dark Green and High Brown Fritillaries and Northern Brown Argus, all scarce species in Lancashire but with good populations in this area. In the car park we met a man coming off the hill who informed us that there were several fittilaries around but they weren't landing much due to the heat making identification difficult, and that he hadn't seen any argus's, however he did tell us that there were lots of Graylings around which would be a new species for all of us. So we set off up the hill which was steeper than we were expecting, and around 50 metres above the car park we came to an area of brambles and small bushes where we saw our first Graylings (pic 5) and also Small Heath butterflies which was new for Aaron. We soon located several Frittilaries flying around but as we had been told they were not landing at all for the first 10 minutes we were there. Eventually 1 stopped on a bramble flower and we crept closer managing good views and when it lifted it's wings we could see the green tinge that let us identify it as a Dark Green Fritillary (pic 2/3). There were in fact several of these in the area and also a couple of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries which didn't land but allowed decent views through the bins as they flew slowly around the bushes. After a while we spotted another Fritillary flying around a bush so I rattled off a few pics as like the others it didn't land, and on looking at them on the camera I could see the missing third spot on the bottom wing that identified it as a male High Brown Fritillary (pic 4). Happy with these we headed back down the hill hearing Green Woodpecker (yeartick) and Nuthatch in the woods around the car park, and also our first Painted Lady butterfly of the year at the year in the car park itself. From here we then crossed the river into Cumbria and onto Foulshaw Moss where the main focus was dragonflies and we quickly found a pool that had dragon and damselflies all around it, of many different sizes and colours. There were several small dragonflies around the wooden viewing area that we were stood on, some black and some yellow, so I photographed these and we identified them as Black Darters (pic 6 is male, pic 7 is female), one of our targets and new for us. There were plenty of Four Spotted Chasers, several large Emperors and at least 2 Black Tailed Skimmers were also present. Also close to the platform was an area of cut reeds and grass where damselflies were mating and egg laying. There were lots of beautiful Emerald Damselflies that were new for us (pic 8/9) giving brilliant views along with small numbers of Azure, Large Red (pic 11) and Common Blue Damselflies (pic 10). Further round the boardwalk Ash found a metal sheet which we carefully lifted up revealing a Common Lizard which scuttled off, a new species for me in Britain, and further round still Ash again flushed a day roosting Large Emerald moth (pic 12) that landed nearby allowing us great views of this beautiful moth and another new species for all of us! We headed back to the pool where we met a man (the only other person we saw on the reserve!) who asked if we would like to see an Adder, to which there could only be one answer as I have always wanted to see one. He led us along the main path and then off it onto a smaller track towards another larger metal sheet which wasn't visible from where we had already walked, hence why we missed it. I got my camera ready and when he lifted the sheet up I was greeted with a stunning Adder that took a quick look around before slithering off into the undergrowth nearby. This was certainly one of the highlights of the day and might even knock the plover off the top spot. However I know this is a birding blog and there were some birds around, a couple of Lesser Redpolls were flying around calling loudly, a male Stonechat around the car park area was a yeartick for the others and only my third of the year, and a female Siskin that landed in a tree next to the path as we were walking back. Our final site of the day was Methop Meadows, just down the road from Foulshaw and similar habitat, a large heathland bordered by woodland. This is a good site for Large Heath (pic 15/16) butterfly and we saw them all over the place whilst we were there, although like the Fritillaries earlier they didn't land very often. Talking of Fritillaries there were several Dark Green Fritillaries flying around and also plenty of day flying moths that we mainly focused on. We found Common Heath, Silver Y and then I flushed a orange moth that flew off so I started to follow it across the heath. It went down about 20 metres ahead of me so I made my way over but suddenly found my right leg falling down a concealed hole up to my knee and when I pulled it out it was covered in mud! The inside of my shoe was soaked but relatively clean, but my sock was completely brown as were the bottom of my trousers and up my leg. I turned round and walked towards the others who couldn't contain their laughter, and to make matters worse they had just caught one of the moths I was chasing (a Clouded Buff). I managed to clean most of the mud off but I was still soaked and had to take the sock off and carry it with me, not the best end to the day to say the least! There was a Tree Pipit singing in the area which made me a bit happier as we headed back to the car started home, which took longer than expected due to an overturned van on the road just west of Milnthorpe. So all in all an amazing day, 15 new species for me (1 bird, 5 butterfly, 5 moth, 1 dragonfly, 1 damselfly and 2 reptiles) and visited some amazing sites on a gloriusley warm and sunny day. I will do a post soon with a full list of the days species.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Massive Post Tomorrow

Sorry for not posting today however be prepared for a long read tomorrow as I have had an absolutely amazing day today so will be writing it all up in due course. A little insight into what it will include - an American on Independence day, all manner of flying insects, creatures hiding under metal sheets, and a bog on a heathland. Confused? Tune in tomorrow when all will be revealed...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Even Better

The good run I have had recently continues into today as an early morning start saw me back at St Michael's with my mum to look for the Kingfisher from yesterday. Yesterday I stood in the same spot for an hour or so and failed to see it, however just 10 minutes into the vigil today I spotted the familiar shape and flight of the Kingfisher (yeartick) flying upriver and then turning up the Brock before landing out of view in some riverside reeds. I moved round to get a better at which point it flew back towards us and over the bank we were stood on, being lost from sight as it dived down to river level on the other side. We walked back towards St Michael's and were treated with a gorgeous display as it flew past us twice more showing off it's vivid blue upper parts and the rich orange breast feathers. Happy with this I headed home thinking it would be hard to beat as the highlight of the day.

I had been at home for about an hour when I got a text off Ash, informing me that Dave had just text him saying he had found a White Letter Hairstreak in Devonshire Road Rock Garden, the first of the season. Luckily I managed to get my mum to take me so I was on site within 25 minutes where I met Dave who showed me the area where he had seen it. The problem with this particular species is that they tend to feed high up in the tree canopy, and on this particular day they were only flying for short periods before settling down for 10 minutes at a time. We looked around one side of a line of sycamores and other trees where he had seen 1 and possibly 2 earlier, and then he went round the other side to see if he could locate anymore. After a while he shouted me over and pointed out a beautiful White Letter Hairstreak quite low down, just above head height but a few metres away, seemingly laying eggs on some of the lower leaves. We watched it in this area for 10 minutes or so as it kept landing on a leaf then moving down to its base and obviously laying an egg before returning to the top of the leaf and starting again. I managed a few half decent shots of this new butterfly for me before heading back extremely happy with the day. Tomorrow I will be going to Arnside Knott and Foulshaw Moss in North Lancs/South Lakes to look for butterflies and dragonflies with Ash and Aaron, so will report back hopefully with lots of photos.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Good to be Back

Gorgeous sunny weather today with not a cloud in the sky meant good hot birding conditions and I made the most of it. I decided to go to St Michael's on Wyre to try and see a Kingfisher that has been seen on the river recently, a species which is now very scarce in the Fylde after two back to back very cold winters. I walked along the river to where the Brock joins with the Wyre and noticed several insects flying over the water with a very distinctive flight pattern, Banded Demoiselles! These are one of my favourite species having seen my first at Brockholes a few weeks back, and luckily there were several flying about today. There was a sort of path down to the bottom of the bank opposite the confluence so I carefully made my way down and found a good spot to watch the demoiselles right next to the water. They were flying very close giving wonderfuly views and I counted at least 4 males and 3 females, including 2 pairs in tandem and egg laying. After a while one of the females landed on a leaf not 3 feet from me so making my heart jump into my mouth as I saw just how dazzling green it was, and luckily I managed to move round without disturbing it into a good position to get the below shots. Although there was no sign of the Kingfisher a local dog walker said that he sees them regularly so I will be going back tomorrow morning. There was still plenty of birds around to keep my occupied including a pair of Kestrels giving good views as they kept going back to a tree where we could here hungry chicks crying for food. At least 2 singing Corn Buntings were along the hedgerows and there were family parties of Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat in the area, as was a Jay, my third in three days after taking six months to see one! From here we went to Myerscough Quarry where there were 3 Little Ringed Plovers (including 1 juvenile) and a family party of Shelducks. On the way home I saw a Raven over Inskip and another Jay (argh!) over Mythop.

Friday, 1 July 2011

6 Months to see a Jay!

Up until yesterday I had failed to see a Jay in 2011, despite going to plenty of good sites for them. So yesterday evening I went out to Pilling Lane Ends where a pair have bred this year in the hope of seeing them, and after a quick search around the car park area me and my dad both spotted a bird flying through the woods. I managed to see where it landed and getting my binoculars up I was greeted with a flash of blue on the wing of a Jay (yeartick)! It was definitely a massive relief to finally connect with one this year and brings my Fylde Yearlist up to 179 species, equalling my all time record which was set in 2009. We walked round the pools where 2 Tufted Duck families were present, one female with 5 young and one female with 2 young. I noticed a few damselflies flying around the rushes at the north end so I walked round there and found a spot where several landed close by allowing for identification. Several Blue Tailed and Common Damselflies were flying around with at least one pair of each in tandem, however a male that landed close to me allowed good views and I managed to identify it as an Azure Damselfly, a new species for me (my 11th odonata for Britain). Walking back towards the car park there were several Six Spot Burnet moths in an area of grassland some of which allowed for a few good photos. Later on we went to Winnmarleigh Moss where I saw another Jay, over 300 Swifts in a huge flock, Brown Hare and an Emperor Dragonfly.