Sunday, 29 May 2016

Fingringhoe Wick

Spent most of Friday at Essex Wildlife Trust's brilliant Fingringhoe Wick nature reserve. The weather was kind to me with sunshine most of the time and only a light breeze. I heard a Nightingale singing as I drove in and there were at least ten singing males as I walked around the reserve. Turtle Doves were harder to find, but I did manage to hear two purring away with one showing distantly on the other side of Old Meadow. Other highlights included a Lesser Whitethroat gathering nesting material, a single Hobby and Buzzard and a pair of Long-tailed Tits busily feeding their young high up in a gorse.

Long-tailed Tit feeding young

Long-tailed Tit feeding young

Long-tailed Tit feeding young
Other species seen included lots of damselflies mainly Azure, Large Red and a few Blue-tailed. Four-spotted Chasers and Hairy Dragonflies were seen around the ponds. And a number of interesting bugs!

Gorse Shieldbug

Gorse Shieldbug

Large Red Damselflies

Hairy Dragonfly ovipositing

Hairy Dragonfly ovipositing

Arge melanochra Argid Sawfly

Soldier Beetle Cantharis rustica

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Swift action!

Captured by chance a pair of Swifts mating over my garden this morning! Extremely heavy crop though.

The image below gives an idea of how high up they were!

Monday, 23 May 2016

A few bugs from my garden.

Spent the day in the garden today (gardening) and grabbed an hour this afternoon with the camera!
pretty sure this is a Harlequin Ladybird, but not a clue as to what it is doing!

Nursery-web Spider quite a few of these around

There were a few of these running about, pretty sure I've not seen them before and probably Rhyparochromus vulgaris but not certain

Rhyparochromus vulgaris - Family: Lygaeidae
A large, elongate and long-legged ground bug which has a dark wing membrane. A recent arrival in Britain with several records from the London area in 2010/11.
Very similar to R. pini, but generally brighter in appearance with large white triangular markings on the pronotum. The front and mid tibiae are also pale in males.
The London records are from dry grasslands; this species seems much more of a generalist than R. pini, which is mainly found on heathland in the south-east.
Adults overwinter, mating in the spring. The new generation is complete from late July onwards.
The rosemary beetle (Chrysolina americana) originates from southern Europe and has been found in Britain since the mid-1990s. The larvae and adults feed on the foliage of rosemary and related plants. A few of these on my lavender plants.

Pyrausta aurata

7-spot Ladybird larvae

RSPB Minsmere

Saturday I joined Havering Local RSPB Group's trip to Minsmere in Suffolk. Overcast on arrival with a brisk south-westerly, it remained dry with spells of sunshine during the afternoon and a few drops of rain as we boarded the coach to leave at 5pm.

The woodland was looking good with bluebells carpeting the ground and bird song all around, Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Blackcaps and Chiffchaff were all singing, a burst of song close by from a Wren but alas he remained out of View, A walk along the Adder trail produced n sightings of these enigmatic reptiles, but a Garden Warbler singing was a bonus but only showed briefly. Good views from both the Bittern Hide & Island Mere Hide of Marsh Harriers with A Bittern booming, some were lucky enough to catch flight views of this reedbed specialist. Bearded Tits were 'pinging' away and occasionally showed well, but the stiff breeze was keeping them low in the reeds.

Between Island Mere and Scotts Hall we spotted Variable & Blue-tailed Damselflies along with a Hairy Dragonfly. Butterflies included Orange-tip, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell.
Hairy Dragonfly
Retracing my steps back to the 'Adder Trail' sun was breaking through but still no sign of any Adders! A Cinnabar Moth provided a distraction as did newly emerged Damselflies sunning themselves on the brambles. A Hobby appeared overhead and hung in the wind for a few seconds before disappearing from sight, my only Hobby sighting of the day!
Cinnabar Moth
I headed off to view the scrape area and spent some time in South Hide. A pair of Avocets showed nicely with many more around the scrape. A Ringed Plover was feeding right in front of the hide, a group of seven Kittiwakes were sat in a line and remained distant as did the Little Terns.

Little Terns

Ringed Plover
Swallows, Sand and House Martins were feeding low over the reeds and giving great views, the pair of Swallows appeared to be using the sluice again as a nesting site. Walking north along the public dunes footpath I had for me the wildlife moment of the trip! An Adder was happily laying bang in the middle of the path, not a particularly big one and probably one of last year's young. He and I say he as the dark zig-zag markings were particularly black had probably not been laying there long as the path was busy with people enjoying the afternoon sunshine. As a few stopped to admire him, he decided to slither off to the safety of the longer vegetation. A wonderful wildlife encounter!

From the East Hide a Redshank was quite close, while a summer plumaged Turnstone remained distant as did twenty odd Black-tailed Godwits. Black-headed Gulls were easily the most numerous breeding species around the scrape, with smaller numbers of Common Tern, Lapwing and Redshank.
A scan from the Stone Curlew viewing area proved unsuccessful, they were out there, almost certainly distant and with a heat haze combined with their excellent camouflage they eluded me, I did see a Mistle Thrush though and loads of young rabbits
From North Hide were two distant adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gulls and an extremely close young Rabbit, I just had to pap it!
young Rabbit
The Sand Martin bank was fairly busy with birds coming and going, but no visit to this wonderful reserve is complete until you've had a slice of home-made cake and a cup of tea, lovely!

As we gathered outside the visitor centre a Goldfinch came down for a drink, a great end to another wonderful day out with my local RSPB group!

Important - Firstly thanks for reading this blog to the end, if you were on this trip I really do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you weren' could have been, there were spare seats on the coach and we really need to fill them with bums, to ensure days out like this continue to happen! Our next coach outing will be in September and you can find out more during the summer HERE

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Red-foot wows a small crowd this morning!

I arrived at RSPB Vange Marsh at 7.10 this morning and the Red-footed Falcon showed very well from 09.30. While I waited a couple of Marsh Harriers, a Little Ringed Plover and a cracking summer adult Mediterranean Gull provided a nice distraction!

The Red-foot appeared on it's favourite sapling in the reedbed just before 9.30, it made a couple of brief sorties before returning to the sapling. Then sometime after 10am it put on a great show for those gathered along the west bank of the marsh as it caught small invertebrates and devoured them on the wing. This went on for well over an hour non-stop and if you look closely at some of the images below you can see what she was catching and no wonder she had to hunt for so long, they were very small"

I've got you in my sights!


Monday, 16 May 2016

Black-winged Stilts

Yesterday I got home from work around 5pm and made a quick dash to RSPB Vange Marsh. I knew the Red-footed Falcon was still there, but hadn't realised it had not been since at least 3pm! But the Black-winged Stilts were back feeding in the north-east corner of the marsh. These elegant long-legged black & white waders were feeding close to the edge of the marsh. Even stood on top of the viewing mound they were often obscured by vegetation or disappeared from view completely!

Anyway, back to looking for the red-foot, I moved position and stood with a few other birders along the east bank. The reedbed behind us had continually singing Reed Warblers and the occasional glimpse of a Bearded Tit flitting across the tops of the reeds. Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier had all been seen, but still not the red-foot! Around 6.30pm a birder joined us and said that he had the Red-footed Falcon sat in a hawthorn just beyond the west bank. We followed his directions "get the green railing gate and go left three telegraph poles" and there she was sat in the open. She would move and fiddle about a bit and at one point a magpie landing near her almost put her to flight. The chap who put us on to her, had seen her at about the same time the previous evening in the same place and it is possible that she roosts in that area. After half an hour or so, I looked away from my scope to put a new arrived birder on to her and when I looked back she had gone. Scanning the skyline and all around, I couldn't see her and can only guess she had moved position but was now out of sight!