Thursday, 27 June 2013

Fly Flatts

Since I have so much time now my exams are over I decided to go to Warley Moor/ Fly Flatts to see if I could see any green hairstreaks. The wind was so bad when I woke up I nearly diddnt go, but luckily I decided I would, though I did not think I would see any butterflies. 
However, crossing the fields behind my house I encountered a small heath, so obviously I have some chance, and further up there was another. That though was it until I made my way via Ogden back lane onto the moors. 
Even there there was not much, plenty of Meadow Pipits, but that was about all, which was disappointing. The only other wildlife on Ogden moor was a red legged partridge which I flushed accidentally before I had seen it.
I then headed over the moors towards Fly Flatts to see what I might get. The add to meadow pipits I had skylarks, of which a few were still singing. The real highlights of this section of the walk were the low flying swifts and the moors covered white by the cotton grass
-Cotton Grass
It wasn't until I reached the bridleway near the old Withens pub that there started to be quite a few birds. No sooner had I reached the bridleway then did I see this lovely male reed bunting, which was very flighty and dropped as soon as I came anywhere near.
-Reed Bunting
Across the Bridleway from where I had come there were a good number of meadow pipits and skylarks so I headed over to have a look. As with the trip to Burnsall, There was a constant cheeping in the foreground which took me while to notice and even longer to find its source. Then I got a real surprise as I spotted a lovely young snipe, i'm not sure which. It made me rather worried because of its constant racket when I was stood right next to it. Something nasty and it would have been a goner. It was lovely to see, and quite cute, but I did not hear it on the way back.
-Baby Snipe
I left the baby and headed to the road. As I walked up the road I looked in the neighboring fields to see what was about. In the first field there was a Lapwing which was just standing there. It was some way off at the far side of the field.  
Further up the road I was less than welcomed by a curlew which was obviously distressed about my being there. I tried to move on as quick as I could, so that it did not feel as threatened. I did however come very close in its display so in my retreat I got some pretty good views of the bird. 
I made my way to the entrance to the bridleway down to the reser, but the stile had been remove. That made my entry slightly more tricky, but after I had hopped the gate I was able to get some shelter from the wind behind the bank on the right hand side. In the field beside that bank there were a good number of Lapwings, seemingly surfing the wind. There was one bird among them which was not a lapwing, and when it flew overhead I immediately thought that it was a snipe, but the closer it got I realised that it was a golden plover, which made a lovely addition to the list of birds I was making for myself on this walk.
-Golden Plover
When I reached the waterside near the boathouse I was able to watch swifts hunting insects over the water. They were incredible to watch, so I perched myself down at the waterside to try and get some photos. Sadly they came too close for me to manage with my camera, but so close I could touch them if I tried. It was without doubt the best view I have ever had of swifts, even better than at school. 
As I perched myself down on the beach I flushed a common sandpiper, which flew off over to the small stream on the other side of the path. After the swifts I followed to get a good view and was able to track the bird on its return to the waterside. So here begins the account of my tracking the common sandpipers around the edge of the reser. They were very bold, so I was able to get some great views. 
-Common Sandpiper
At the bridge next to the overflow, the bird perched on one of the fence posts allowing me to get some great shots. I was able to get some smashing views of the bird, even better than at Burnsall. At the same time there were others around the waters edge feeding, so there is clearly a good population of these birds on this reservoir.
-Common Sandpiper 
As I made my way over the dam wall there continued to be plenty of swifts and they continued to be very close. I was also able to see on the water flocks of Canada and graylag geese
I made my way over to the marsh on the far side of the reser but there was not much there, only one common sandpiper on the waters edge, so I headed back over the dam wall. There I continued to get common sands, either on the path or the reservoir beach. As I made my way off the dam wall the birds became bolder so I was able to get some great views and photos of the birds.
-Common Sandpiper 
The lapwings were still there on the walk back up the bank, and the curlew became distressed again as I passed that spot. I had re-entered the bridleway back down to Ogden. looking for the baby snipe/ woodcock when I flushed an adult snipe. I think that this was a common snipe as it was not really big enough to be a woodcock, but it gave a start as it rocketed out of the reeds. That did mean though that I had no decent photos for a proper I.d. I would also say that this bird was probably the parent of the baby that I had seen 
-Common Snipe
The rest of the walk was a little barren on the bird front. There were plenty if Meadow pipits and skylarks and there was a curlew on the golf course, but there was nothing on Ogden as I walked over the promenade.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lakeland-A day out at Derwentwater

Since it was my parents 24 wedding anniversary we decided to go for a trip up to the lake district. The day started badly when I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30, only to realise half way through breakfast that it was 5.30. However, once we got to Derwentwater the day picked up considerably. First we went for a walk around the side of Derwentwater to get the day started. We did not go far, only as far as the first field. On the walk through the woods we encountered only a nuthatch, though a woodpecker was calling somewhere around us. 
At the field we stopped to have a rest and a look around. I explored the small marsh next to the reeds to see what there was about. There were a lot of common blue damselflies, including some in tandem. 
-Common Blue Damselfly
As I sat down after the exploration of the marsh the woodpecker was heard calling in the tree directly behind us. It then flew over us and into the wet woodland for about 5 minuets before flying back and landing again in the tree behind us. There we saw that it had a chick, which it called to, before flying back to the flooded woodland, where the chick followed it.
-Greater Spotted Woodpecker
It was lunchtime by the time we returned, so we set up in the park and then me, brother and dad went into town to pick up lunch. When I got back my mum pointed out a juvenile blackbird feeding on berries in the tree above our picnic site. 

-Juvenile Blackbird
After a bit, when I had wandered off to get my drink from the car and returned, my dad pointed out a male blackbird sunbathing on the opposite side of the lawn. Since it was so open, I decided to commando crawl towards it to get quite close. I managed to get quite close before it was scared off by some people asking me about it. Either way, its the most spectacular sunbathe I have seen from a blackbird. 
Through lunch the juvenile blackbird we met earlier also started sunbathing at the bottom of the same tree it had been feeding in. It was much more flighty and difficult to approach, but its sunbathe was just as spectacular.
-Juvenile blackbird
The other birds during lunch were sparrows, chaffinches, a willow warbler, song thrush and a few baby blue tits. 
After lunch we decided to wander into Keswick (the local town) to see what was about. Through the park getting there I spotted a small bush crawling with bees, most of which appeared to be what I know as tree bumblebees, because I have kept an eye open for them since my dad mentioned that he would like to see one. Apparently, tree bees are the fastest spreading bee in the UK, and are one of the "Big 5" (one of the 5 species of bee not in decline), so it was nice for my dad to see one, since the only other time I have seen one was in our garden when he was at work.
-Tree Bumblebee 
Needless to say, town was pretty void of wildlife. I did however manage to find a book I was looking for in a charity shop, which was a bonus (the Silmarillion) 
After town we decided to get on the boat and go for a row around the lake, as we usually do. The first bird I saw was a Red breasted merganser female, which was nice. It also reminded me that I couldn't remember if they were mergansers or goosanders that lived on the lake, but if you read on you will see how I was reminded. 
Next we rowed to the reeds to see what was about. There was not much, only a family of graylag geese whit 3 chicks, as well as a couple of oystercatchers. On the jetty of one of the houses around the lake there was also a pied wagtail.
-Pied wagtail 
The island opposite the marsh is where we found ample barnacle geese last time, but this time we only found one pair and they were on an island further over, which is sadly more accessible than the one previously. One the island we found a pair of barnacle geese, with the female seemingly sitting, or one of the birds sitting under a tree seemingly on a nest. The other bird was watching from the beach. 
-Barnacle Geese
Just next to the geese was an oystercatcher. There was another oystercatcher round the far side going bezerk at a gull perched nearby. At first it was unclear why, but as we watched we noticed that the none calling bird had 2 well grown chicks, which we hadn't noticed before.
-Juvenile oystercatcher
We then decided to go the rocks in the middle of the reser to get a look at the gulls and cormorants settled there. On the way there another female merganser appeared in front of us.
-Red Breasted Merganser
The rocks were full with gulls, herring, lesser black backed and greater black backed, more than I can ever remember before. There were also 3 cormorants on the rocks.
We slowly made our way across the lake, made slower because I tried rowing. We made it to another of the rock piles in the lake. On the largest we thought we heard a common sandpiper, but it turned out to actually be a pair of red breasted mergansers, and there was a male here which reminded me what species they were. We were able to get quite close before they moved off, so I was able to get some reasonable photos
-Red Breasted Merganser
We then made our way to the marsh on the far side of the island to see what was going on there. From a distance we noticed that there was a flock of graylag geese and a grey heron there. We managed to get quite close to the heron before it moved off, did a loop-de-loop and came back. There was also another male merganser there too...
-Red Breasted Merganser and Grey Heron 
-Grey Heron 
We then finished our rowing trip and made our way back. After our rowing exploits we went for a coffee in the cafe opposite. While we were there I spotted that another of the same plants from the park were in the cafe, and that they were crawling with tree bees here too. So while my family settled down for a civilized cup of coffee, I sat down and photographed the bees. I have to say that I don't remember bee photography ever being as difficult as these bees seemed to want to make it. For that reason my photos were not very good.
-Tree Bumblebees
After our coffee we went for a short walk the other way around the lake. It was early evening so there was not much wildlife around, but the flowers were still out and there were lovely groups of ragged robin along the lake shore. On the bird front there was also a sand martin among the swallows in the sheep field.
-Ragged Robin
And so after that walk we started to head off home. It was a lovely day, and not just because of the splendid weather but all the lovely weather as well. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Oats Royd

Having been to soil hill in the morning I decided to head off towards to Oats Royd this afternoon to explore what is a very different habitat. Once more the first thing I saw was a scorpion fly, which are really nice insects to look at. I really wanted a photo of one showing its "scorpion" tail, but so far none have been willing to sit right.
-Scorpion fly
Once more the most numerous birds not wildfowl in the reserve were the willow warblers, which today I only saw a few. There was also the family of moorhens, Canada geese and mallard, plus a great tit.

-Willow warbler 
There were once more numerous damselflies of the common blue, blue tailed and large red, all once more looking rather splendid. There were though fewer exuvia, and still the monster that came out of the dragonfly exuvia I found has still not appeared. 

-Large red damselfly 
The most curious thing I spotted today was this remarkable spider. When I first saw it I had no idea what it was and thought it might be an elaborate seed, or a curious insect with its heat stuck in something. It is very colourful, but everything about it seems bizarre. I have never seen a spider like it. 

-Unusual Spider
I was walking along the track back home when passing a thistle I thought I saw a small clump of dead plant matter pinned to it, and something as I passed it compelled me to have another look at it. It is just as well as it was not a clump of dead material as described above, but a wonderful moth. I have had my dad's book out and believe that it is a Beautiful Golden Y moth, which would be a first for me, but I can not be 100%. Either way it was lovely to see and adds to the appeal that this site has.

-Moth (Beautiful Golden Y?)