Friday, 29 July 2011

isle of wight holiday Day 11-Evesham

Last day of the holiday, I woke up in Worcestershire, knowing that by the end of the day we would be in yorkshire. Having learned yesterday that stratford was a no go zone because of a large music festivel and therefore heavy traffic. Having all this into account we were at a loss as to what to do, the weather was overcast but warm, so we would be doing something outside. We decided that there might be some boats on the river at Evesham, so thats where we headed.
We parked, with the caravan in tow in a feild, that was labelled car park, but it was right next to the river. Whilst my mum and dad got their coats and jackets I headed down to the river. It was dotted every 10 meters with fishing platforms just above the water. I casually glanced around the surrounding vegetation to the platform I was on and was surprised to find a lone damselfly on a reed. I had spent all week looking for unusual damselflies and now, having left the island, was one. Because it was the first time I had seen one I was not as confident in my identification as I would like to have been.
In my eyes it was a white legged damselfly, only I couldnt see any hairs on the legs, however photo analysis proved that there were some hairs on the legs, so that it was a white-legged damselfly, my first.

-White legged damselfly
When my mum and dad and brother joined me I showed them and then left to go to a cafe furthur up. They decided to go for a walk into town, so I said that I would walk back down the river to go and have a look for dragonflies and damselflies.

When I got back to where i had seen the damselfly I noticed that it had moved onto a nettle rather than on a reed.

-White legged damselfly
I decided to walk furthur down the river, looking for potnetial dragonflies or more white-legged damselflies. At the first site I was at, looking at the damselfly, I noticed a couple of banded demoiselles. The fact is, as I walked furthur down the river there were ever increasing numbers of banded demoiselles, until just below the bridge there were absolutly loads.

-Banded demoiselles-in high numbers

past the bridge there continued to be loads of banded demoiselle, but about 800m away from the bridge I came to an off-shoot from the river which was labelled as a fish sanctuary, which had a lot more aquatic vegetation, although granted it was a lot smaller than the main river! The grass around the fish sanctuary was not mown as the rest of the grass was and in the grass I spotted this spider, which has stripy legs-that aside i know nothing about it!

-spider sp.
I walked around the fish sanctuary and flushed a small damselfly, but I couldnt re-track it down but then i was texted telling me to go back to the car for lunch. This gave me a chance to sort out my photos, as I only had about 10 left and so i needed to get rid of some rubbish photos.

After lunch I headed back to the fish sanctuary and was please to find more white-legged damselflies on the surrounding vegetation. The one pictured below i believe is a female white-legged damselfly, hence the paler colouration.

-Female white-legged damselfly

There were more too, including some stunning males. Once more there is no point writing about them, just admire the pictures of these stunning animals...

-White legged damselfly

As I was photographing the white-legged damselflies I spotted a dragonfly whizz past me. I managed to track it down this time and it turned out to be an immature common darter gender unknown. Due to the lack of photos I had available I decided to take only one photo of the dragonfly, and it diddnt turn out as well as i had hoped, but it still shows what it was.

-immature common darter

As I walked around again I found the most spectacular of the white-legged damselflies I had found so far, showing off its bright blue couloring and stripes.

-White legged damselfly

By the time I had finished there it was time to head back, so that we could begin to make our way back. As I headed back I spotted another variation of the white-legged damselfly, this one being brown/orange, I don't know what that means in terms of age or gender but it shows some degree of variation in the population here-which appears to be very healthy.

-White legged damsefly

And so ends the isle of wight holiday, although today was absolutly nothing to do with the isle of wight. it has been a good holiday, with lots of great things seen, it will be sad to finally leave!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Isle of wight Day 9-Return to Headon Warren and bus mahem

It was hot when we woke up, not a cloud in the sky, ironic that it should be our last day. My family said that they were going to the needles, so I said that I would go to Headon Warren, a site nearby that is famed for having dartford warblers, although the last time we came to the IOW we came here and didn't hear a trace of them. Only that supposed smudge that i didn't get a decent view of, but certainly had traits.
The site is very pleasant, and as I walked up to it there was a constant clicking in the background. At first i was unsure what it was, but it soon became clear that the it was actually the seed pods from the gorse busting in the heat. When you arrive here you notice that the gorse is covered in funnel shaped spiders webs, but the spiders are really hard to view, although the webs are pretty special.
And as you would expect, there are your usual asseblement of heathland birds, first one being a whitethroat that was feeding on the path in front of me, although they were rather flighty so i was unable to get any better shots that those below.

-Whitethroat (dunno where it actually is, but its there)
the whitethroats aside the first 10 mins had me walking around the site, without many birds happening, only the usual assortment of butterflies-gatekeeper, large white and meadow brown. I came to the edge of the reserve where it drops off into forest and then into the sea, And it was here I spotted a sparrowhawk circling towards me, get ever closer, without seeming to bother with me.


The next bird i saw was nothing of a heathland bird, I guess this jay came from the adjoining woods, probably flushed by the sparrowhawk.

-Jay (shot blurred by heat haze)

the next bird was a heathland bird, and one that I had seen a few times already this holiday, but they were more numerous here. there was a flock of about 5 that alighted on a small tree near to me, but once more my photos were badly affected by the heat haze.

-Linnet pair
The bird that followed them was alone male yellowhammer, another bird i had become familiar with over the 9 days here. This one was more wary than the singing male at brook and so kept its distance from me, it didn't sing at all, which was a bit disappointing.

I came round to the far side of the bronze age burial mound where there was less gorse and slightly more bracken, with still no sign of a dartford warbler. I then spotted a more interesting butterfly, although it was clear that i was actually too late for glanville fritillaries the sight of a brown butterfly clearly not a wall brown still made me a bit more excited, although once more it was a dark-green fritilary which is always nice.

-Dark Green Fritillary
I came round the reserve a few more times, before I finally had a break through, I heard a funny noise and saw a bird skulk away into a gorse bush, I had to wait a while but eventually it came out and began to move, proving that it was Dartford warbler. I was pretty pleased at finally seeing one, now the task of getting a photo-this was the tricky bit!! As it moved silently through the brambles I tried to follow its every move, but sadly it managed to evade me on all fronts as it skulked away. eventually it moved so far away i would have to try and get closer.

It was probably the cries of pain that scared it away as the brambles got the better of me, but once i made it to a reasonable view of where it had been I was not surprised to find that I had lost it. still a great record, but a rubbish view! now to explain the photos...

-Dartford Warbler tail ^ Between the white bramble flowers

-Dartford warbler ^ Primaires and Rump, above out of focus leaves

-Full view of dartford warbler ^on lower gorse white branch

-Dunno about this one-check the same as last time

Spent the rest of the morning watching a very hyperactive moth that refused to land at the far end of the reserve. My mum and dad said they would pick me up in 10mins so I headed towards the entrance.

At the entrance i spotted one of the spiders in the mouth of its funnel web, so i was able to get a few shots of its behind, although I have no idea what they are...

-Some Kind of funnel web spider

My family picked me up and we had lunch at yarmouth, where I would get a bus to newtown estuary, the only main nature reserve on the island, where apparently there were white letter hairstreaks and silver washed fritillaries.

I knew that getting there would be tight as i didn't really know where it was, and the walk to it could be of some distance. But it all went wrong. The bus stop I wanted was near a small village, so I was looking for a clump of houses, but actually the village was off the main road so I would know when I passed it. I realised when I got to carisbrook near the capital that I was seriously lost. and bus tickets were no longer free to add to my problems. I got off in carisbrook and had a look at the bus times heading in the opposite direction, Great I had just missed one, to kill time I decided to walk to the next stop, and surprise surprise the bus I had "just missed" drove past me half way between two stops, 7 minuets late.

After half an hour of waiting a bus turned up that was convenient for me and this time I knew where I was going because i had been bothered to get the map out. About an hour and a half later I turned up at newtown estuary, much later than I wanted. If there were any butterflies I'm sure they must have gone to bed.

As soon as I entered the reserve I saw some birds, which overall has been something amiss this holiday-these were redshanks and oystercatchers. as well as a curlew. I walked into the small town of newtown and as i did so scouted the wild flower rich meadows for a rare butterfly or two. I spotted a marbled white resting and gathered that my hunch had been right and that the butterflies would probably be asleep.

-Marbled white
I made it all the way through the town and onto the saltmarsh part of the reserve. In doing so I passed more fields where there was activity from the usual butterflies that have been seen all across the holiday. On the saltmarsh there were reasonable numbers of distant little egret's fishing but sadly the hide was locked so I did most of my watching from the boardwalk to the boat house.

-Little Egret

On the far side of the boardwalk I spotted a small passerine which turned out to be a linnet

From this vantage point you can easily see the common and sandwhich tern colony, which is the most advertised fact about this place, through my bins i could see a lot of activity but sadly they were too far away for a real photo.

Nearer where a flock of canada geese on the estuary mud, and even closer too was a flock of black-headed gulls, but disappointingly there were no med gulls in tow with that flock. This site has the second highest med gull count anywhere on the island. only bembridge harbour has more, where we saw them last time, only there are rather a lot more-220 there and about 20 here, so my chances were slim.

A flyover curlew gave me an opportunity to record in photo this species at the site.

I returned to the meadow and began to look for butterflies in the hope of finding what I had been looking for, I did find a lone marbled white that was still out and about.

-Marbled White
Other butterflies were about including small heath, the first time i had seen one during the holiday.

-Small Heath

As I walked back, I passed a plant that appeared to have a robin's pin cushion on it, I think that's what it is anyway, but either way it is a pretty spectacular growth.

-Robins pin cushion
I reached the entrance where I was getting picked up from and there i waited. As I waited i scoured the tall grass for resting butterflies or dragonflies and was delighted to find a sleeping common blue and also a sleeping small heath.

-Common Blue

-Small Heath

the light was pretty poor when my mum and dad picked me up, but despite the set back on the buses i had seen plenty of birds, although there was alack of med gulls.

this was my last outing on the Isle of wight and it had been a good one, just like the holiday had been a good one, and I had seen lots of really nice things, its just a pity it had to end.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

isle of wight day 8-return to the chine

Today was a very pleasant day, but it started badly! My mum spent the whole night throwing up, so we were unable to really do anything. As a result my dad and brother and I decided to go to the Amazon World Zoo just down the road, because mum didn't want to go to that anyway, while she stayed at the caravan and rested.

We walked to the zoo and when we got there looked around, although it was smaller than I remember, it was still a good attraction although some of it was being re-furbished. despite that, there was still a good variety of birds and animals, including a few sunbitterns on the terrapin pond, which was a real surprise, although still nice.

we also got views of the giant anteater, something we didn't see last time because it was too busy sleeping, and they also had a few new additions including a southern turmandua, which is one of my favourite animals.

-Southern crowned pigeon


-Bali starling

-Turaco sp.

-Southern turmandua


-Giant anteater
even though Amazon World is one of my favourite zoo's the real wildlife was waiting outside. When we got back to the caravan my mum was feeling better, so my dad suggested that they would go to a garden on the far side of the island, not far from whale chine as a matter of fact. And i decided that while they would be looking at the gardens, I would return to whale chine and try to grab a photo of a male keeled skimmer.

When I got there the weather had clouded over slightly, but it was still pleasantly warm. I decided to take some photos of the site, just to remind me when I got back about how spectacular the site was. And so here, as promised yesterday are the photos from whale chine, showing just how spectacular it is.


-Various photos from whale chine, including photos of the "pools" (the bottom ones)
Having gone through yesterdays photos overnight I was disappointed with some of my beetle photos, so decided that I was going to have to take more, and better, ones until I was satisfied. There was still no shortage of them, with about 4 every square meter.

-cliff tiger beetle

The next stop was the spiders web, to try and take some more photos without the rush of having to go and catch a bus. And i also remembered to get a photo of the web, or at least what I could see, with most of it infringed by grass. What I really wanted to feature was the weird zig-zag patterns on the web, that it seems could only be there for decorative purposes.

-Wasp Spiders web, with spider
I continued my search for dragonflies, but only found one female. I went back to the beetles, as i could guarantee I would see some, and was not disappointed, looking down there was one near my foot. I got down and took a few photos from its level.

-Cliff tiger beetle
Also of note was the number of large crickets and grasshoppers. The gorge is kind of like its own miniature world, which giant crickets weird spiders and beetles and obviously the rare dragonflies.

-Massive cricket
I walked along the raised beach platform thing, until In reached the landslide area. I had gone no further that this yesterday, so maybe there would be more male dragonflies up ahead. I could see reedbeds in clumps across there so I decided to go for it. There was a larger pond up there and there were male dragonflies, but sadly they were very flighty, and so photo opportunities were limited. luckily though patience paid off and i got some photos of male keeled skimmers-though not of the quality i really wanted.

-Male keeled skimmers
They really were quite spectacular in their own way, and well worth having a second shot at for. There were quite few, although the second photo down is only an immature male, and so is not really of the stunning blue type that i was looking for, but is nice to see anyway, and adds another dimension to the life story of these animals. Most of these photos were not really what I wanted, but as i said they were just too flighty, anyway its not all about the photos, as I got some really good views, at a high price, as at one stop I accidentally put my sandal over a black meadow ants nest, and they were not happy!

But there were more encounters to have yet. I spotted this male attempting, but failing to get the attention of a female who was rested. I watched them for a while, until the female foolishly decided to try and move perches and was ruthlessly grabbed by the male who carried her off down the ledge and presumably onto the beach.

-Male and female, only the male on the bottom pic
There continued to be hundreds of beetles and they seemed to be screaming out for me to take a photo of them, so I took more photos of them, especially the one below as it seemed more keen to attack me rather than to run away from me, allowing me to get some photos of its vicious jaws and fearsome eyes.

-Cliff tiger beetles
I returned to the first pool as i had no idea when my parents were returning and there was no signal down there, neither in the canyon nor on the raised platform. There were more dragonflies, albeit mainly females but i did find one male who i followed around, hence why there is a photo of him on two different perches. One thing you notice is that the dragonflies like to rest on the floor, maybe to absorb warmth from the floor.

-Keeled skimmer female (1st) and male (2nd-4th)

I decided that it would be better to try and stay as close to the entrance as possible, so I decide to return to the wasp spider and try to improve on yesterdays shots, but not before taking some more beetle photos!

-Cliff tiger beetle

-Wasp spider photos
I was well pleased with the new spider photos. I then decided to go up to the top and explain the signal situation via text to my mum and dad. however on my way up i spotted another beetle climbing the cliff next to me, and I realised that it would soon be on eye level with me. I waited until it was and then was able to get some photos of a cliff tiger beetle, up a cliff and at eye level with me, so I didd'nt have to get down on the floor for the photo.

-Cliff tiger beetle
when i got to the top I was plesantly surprised to see a party of four ravens on the cliff edge, my guess is that they were a family party. They were hessitant to fly but were obviously startled by my sudden appearence, and so after a few seconds left. but luckioly not before I got a photo.


Back down on the platform I spotted another cliff tiger beetle at eye level with me, and so another oppertunity had presented itself for a photo, so i took it.

-Cliff tiger beetle
after about 10mins my dad appeared coming down the path, so I took him to see the keeled skimmer males furthur up the beach, and luckily there were still a few out and about.

-Keeled skimmer male
On our return to the car I showed my dad the wasp spider. It was while we were admiring it that a large grasshopper jumped into the web. the spider reacted with unpredicted speed, wrapping the grasshopper up with sheets of web, it being so quick even the camera could hardly cope, hence the poor image quality, but either it was pretty special and spectacular to see/watch!

-Wasp spider
so ends the list of special encounters at whale chine, a pity to leave

nothing else happened today, but after wahle chine we went to look around a small town and there found a small pill millipede, my first, just to complete the day!

-Pill millipede