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.

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