Friday, 30 July 2010

Sutton Bingham - Fri 30 Jul

A brief afternoon visit produced just a single Common Sandpiper on the shores of West Pool. A pair of Little Grebes were feeding a young bird, so successful breeding has been proved for this species. A couple of Grey Herons were jostling for position at the far the end of the pool.
On the main reservoir three juvenile Mandarins were a good find, proving that this species has again bred successfully at the reservoir.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Combe Hill - Thu 29 Jul

As the sun was shining we headed off to Combe Hill, a few miles south of Street. We parked up in the car park and walked west towards the Hood Monument through the trees and out in to the open grassland on the hill top.
Before long we had found what we were looking for as a couple of Chalkhill Blues were fluttering about:

There was also at least one Brown Argus and a few Marbled Whites. A couple of Meadow Browns were also on the wing and we saw a single Green-veined White and Ringlet. We then carried on for a while longer and out to a bigger meadow, where we saw a single Wall butterfly and a Gatekeeper. Several Small Heaths were also about:

There were also a few Common Blues and loads more Chalkhill Blues:

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 27 Jul

Our first trip out since our wedding on 25th and Ellie and I decided to get out of the house and take a walk at Sutton Bingham. We parked at the picnic area and walked along the shoreline to the hide. As we walked along we flushed a Common Sandpiper from the water's edge and could see a Little Egret further down the reservoir.
The adult Yellow-legged Gull was perched on a buoy opposite the picnic site car park.

There was not that much else about so we returned to the car, taking a quick look at West Pool before returning home. We spotted three more Little Egrets and a Ringed Plover.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Crook Peak - Sun 18 Jul

Somewhere new this afternoon for Ellie and I as we headed off after lunch to the western edge of the Mendips and a walk up to Crook Peak, some five miles of so west of Cheddar. We picked this location as the Somerset Butterfly Group were running a field trip here in a weeks time to look for Graylings and Walls, but as we would be unable to make it we thought we'd try it out ourselves.
Unfortunately, though it was still very warm the skies were overcast so there were not a huge amount of butterflies about, and on the exposed rocky slopes we saw none at all! However, we did see at least thirty Common Blues as they roosted on grass:
Also on the wing were a few Marbled Whites and several Ringlets and Meadow Browns. There were also a couple of Small Skippers:

Other than the butterflies we also saw a Jay as we left the car and entered the wooded slope leading up to Crook Peak, and a couple of young Bullfinches were seen. As we reached the top of the "peak" the ground opened up on to heathland and several Meadow Pipits were flitting about. A single male Stonechat was seen and a Raven slowing passed by overhead.
After two hours of walking over rocky terrain and steep slopes we found our way back to the car ready to head for home and Sunday dinner!

Sutton Bingham - Sun 18 Jul

After dropping Ellie off at church I popped up to Sutton Bingham for an hour to see if there was anything about. Opposite the hide the adult Yellow-legged Gull was again present and on top of the pylons were a couple of Kestrels.
At the northern end an eclipse plumaged drake Mandarin was present and a flock of twenty-two Canada Geese were on the water before flying in to a field to graze. A Collared Dove also flew through.
A Red Fox was seen foraging in a field opposite the hide.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Ham Wall RSPB - Sat 17 Jul

After a late lunch Ellie and I decided to get a bit of exercise so we drove up to Ham Wall RSPB for a decent walk. It was about 4.30pm by the time we actually pulled in to the car park at Ashcott Corner, but the weather was pretty good and despite a bit of a breeze it was very warm still.
As we got walked down the track through the reserve we noted a fair few butterflies flitting about, especially a good number of Small Whites and Red Admirals:
We also saw a Holly Blue, but unfortunately it did not settle in any one place long enough for us to get a photo. A Silver-washed Fritillary was an unexpected find and there were several Peacocks, one or two Speckled Woods, and a couple of Commas about:

As we continued down the path we came across a few people waiting for a glimpse of the Little Bitterns which have been reported at the site for the past few weeks. We gave it five minutes but with nothing in view continued our walk. However, just twenty or so metres further up the track I spotted something out of the corner of my eye and we were treated to flight views of a female Little Bittern...excellent stuff.
As we neared the Sharpham end of the reserve we saw a couple of Bullfinches and a female Marsh Harrier drifted over an area of reeds. We then returned to the car after a very profitable and enjoyable early evening out and about.

Lankham Bottom - Sat 17 Jul

Ellie had to pop in to Sherborne to collect her Wedding Dress, so I kept out of the way and and popped down the road to Lankham Bottom in the hope that there might be some Chalkhill Blues on the wing. However, despite spending over an hour searching I saw no Blues.
There was a constant stream of Skylarks and Yellowhammers singing and a Lesser Whitethroat was seen flying between two clumbs of vegetation. A couple of Common Buzzards were about, including one which appeared to be a juvenile. The only other bird of note was a young Stonechat.
On the butterfly front I saw a few Marbled Whites and a couple of Meadow Browns. A single Painted Lady was present, at least one Peacock was and a few Red Admirals were about:

A fair number of Gatekeepers were present:

Finally, I also saw a couple of Small Skippers:
The orange on the antennae distinguishing them from the very similar Essex Skipper.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sutton Bingham - Mon 12 Jul

A brief early evening visit failed to produce much of note. Several Black-headed Gulls, including a few juveniles, were on the northern causeway, and a Little Grebe was again on West Pool.
At the southern end there were over one hundred Rooks feeding in one of the fields bordering the reservoir. A Reed Warbler was still in song as was a Chiffchaff.
A few Gatekeepers were on the wing at the southern causeway, whilst the meadow to the south of there hosted several Marbled Whites and a smaller number of Meadow Browns and Ringlets.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Lankham Bottom - Sun 11 Jul

As it was still a rather pleasant day we decided to take another trip out, so after lunch we drove just across the border in to Dorset for a return visit to the Butterfly Conservation Reserve at Lankham Bottom. As was the case during our morning walk we saw very few birds, in fact little of note at all other than a couple of singing Skylarks and a few Yellowhammers.
Unfortunately, it had couded over a bit so there were very few butterflies on the wing as we walked around the reserve, but we did see a few Marbled Whites, the ever-present Meadow Browns, and a couple of Ringlets:

We also saw a couple more Gatekeepers:

And a few Small Skippers were flying about:

At least one Red Admiral passed us by and two Painted Ladies were near the main entrance to the reserve. As we completed our afternoon stroll we noticed several Cinnabar Moth caterpillars:

And a hand full of Peacock caterpillars feeding on stinging nettles:

Collard Hill - Sun 11 Jul

Another lovely sunny day, and as the White-tailed Plover that had been at Slimbridge had flown to Kent we had no birds to chase so stayed local and took a drive up to Collard Hill for a walk before lunch. There was very little on the bird front, in fact we saw just a singe Common Swift and a couple of Common Buzzards.
However, on the butterfly front we did a little better. We were too late in the year for any Large Blues, but we expected that, but we were not too disappointed as we did add a new butterfly to our list, Gatekeeper:

As we did a circular walk along the hillside we also saw several Marbled Whites, a good number of Ringlets, a couple of Small Heaths and singles of Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, and Red Admiral. There were also lots of Meadow Browns still about:

Further round our walk we thought for a split second that we may have gotten lucky as we saw a blue butterly flit past us, but when we pinned it down it turned out to be a Common Blue:

We rounded off the trip with our tenth species of butterfly of the morning as Ellie found a rather splendid Brown Argus. After an enjoyable stroll we headed back home for a well deserved lunch and the British Grand Prix!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sutton Bingham - Tue 7 Jul

I didn't need to be at work until 9.00am this morning, so instead of sleeping for an extra half an hour or so I got up and headed off to Sutton Bingham for a quick visit. The water levels are starting to drop at the reservoir, and if they continue to do so we might end up with a few waders passing through on migration in a few weeks time. However, today there were a total of five Common Sandpipers, three at the northern end and two opposite the hide. I presume these are birds that have failed to breed and are starting their return trip south. Half a dozen Black-headed Gulls were also viewable from the northern causeway, and a Little Grebe was on West Pool.
From the hide a pair of Little Grebes were with a young bird, a sign of successful breeding. A Mandarin was present in the furthest corner to the south, though whether it was a male in eclipse, a female, or a juvenile was hard to determine at distance. The highlight of the morning though was an adult Yellow-legged Gull which was also at the southern end of the reservoir. This could well be the same bird that has been seen in previous late summers and early autumns at the reservoir. I watched the bird for some time and at one stage it managed to catch a large crayfish and carry it to the southern causeway to eat, pretty impressive stuff.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Bracketts Copse NR - Mon 5 Jul

Having finished work at 4.00pm I decided to get a bit of fresh air and headed off to a new site near Halstock. This was a small nature reserve owned by DWT and despite it only being seven miles from home, a site I didn't know existed before a few days ago.
As I got out of the car at the small parking area I saw a Small White and a Small Tortoiseshell feeding on the bramble flowers. I then walked in to the reserve proper and through the woodland where I saw a couple of Treecreepers feeding. I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling and a Marsh Tit was also present.
I passed through the wood and out in to a meadow. The early evening sun meant that there were a few butterflies about, mainly Ringlets and a few Meadow Browns. A surprise find was a Silver-washed Fritillary which was present for a while before disappearing in to the trees. A Marbled White was also on the wing and I managed to get a few shots of a Comma:

As I reached the end of the reserve I saw a Nuthatch and some newly fledged Great Tits and Coal Tits. I could not find a circular walk so I retraced my steps back through the meadows and woodland to the car having anjoyed a good hour and a half at Bracketts Copse.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Stoke Camp and Black Rock - Sat 3 Jul

Term has ended so no more working Saturdays for two months, and Ellie and I took advantage of this and spent a day in the Mendips. We drove straight to the Butterfly Conservation Reserve of Stoke Camp, some five or so miles east of Cheddar, arriving mid-morning.
As we got out of the car, the first thing we saw was a juvenile Bullfinch feeding in the meadow. As we walked up over the hill to the reserve proper we could hear singing Skylarks and a Meadow Pipit. We entered the reserve area and spent an hour or so walking around and taking in the variety of butterflies that were flitting around, a pair of Linnets flew over as we were looking around.
Butterflies were pretty much everywhere once we got our eyes in and whilst at the reserve we saw a large number of Meadow Browns and several Ringlets:
And a fair number of Small Heaths:

At least one Small Skipper was seen and couple of well worn Large Skippers were still on the wing:

A new butterfly for Ellie was the Marbled White, and luckily we saw several of these too:

However, the higlight was a splendid Silver-washed Fritillary, a pretty special butterfly:

We also found a Scarlett Tiger moth:

After a picnic lunch we took a walk along Black Rock at the head of Cheddar Gorge where a male Brambling had been singing for the past couple of weeks. Whilst I have seen plenty of Bramblings, I could not recall seeing one in full breeding plumage, and I had certainly never heard one in song, so we thought we'd give it a go. We found the site in Long Wood where the bird had been seen, but other than a family party of Nuthatches and a couple of young Mistle Thrushes there was nothing on the bird front.
However, we did manage to see a couple of Commas and several Small Tortoiseshells. Also on the wing were a few Speckled Woods:

In a woodland clearing we picked up our second fritillary of the day, this time a Dark Green Fritillary, but it did not settle long enough to be photographed. Several "whites" were about but didn't settle long enough for us to properly identify. Finally, we saw two Brimstones:

It was now getting on a bit so we headed back to the car and drove on towards home. A brief stop at Ham Wall RSPB failed to produce the Little Bittern, and a stop at Collard Hill did not produce any Large Blues, but we did end the day with a Painted Lady!