Thursday, 25 July 2013

Oats Royd

Sunny but humid, headed down to Oats Royd to see how things had changed during my absence. Change no.1 there were a lot more Skippers, both large and small as there were none when I had come before the holiday.
-Small Skipper
Change no.2, there was actually a dragonfly, and a new species at this site for me: Common Darter
-Common Darter
There continued to be lots of damselflies: Common Blue, Blue Tailed and Large red
-Large Red Damselfly
Walking around the pools I found no less than 4 Brown Hawkers, including one ovipositing, not a species I am overly familiar with.
-Brown Hawker
Some things don't change though, such as the presence of nice moths, like the Antler Moth
-Antler Moth
I also found this wasp very loudly chewing up an old reed stem

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dorset Holiday-Number Crunching

Bird Species:
Target Number: 50; Revised to 75:
Common Buzzard, Swallow, Robin, Blackbird, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black-Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Stonechat, Dartford Warbler, Woodpigeon, Chiff Chaff, Mallard, Mute Swan, Reed Warbler, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Oystercatcher, Jackdaw, Song Thrush, Jay, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Swift, House Martin, Treecreeper, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Curlew, Shelduck, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Wren, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Skylark, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Raven, Whitethroat, Greenfinch, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Canada Geese, Graylag Geese, Bullfinch, Pied Wagtail, Rook, Tree Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Nightjar, Gadwall, Egyptian Geese, Mandarin, Sedge Warbler, Magpie, Blackcap, Red Kite, Willow Warbler
Actual Total: 74 Species 

Dragonfly and Damselfly Species:
Target Number: 20; Revised to 25:
Broad Bodied Chaser, Four Spot Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Black Tailed Skimmer, Downy Emerald*, Common Darter, Black Darter, Ruddy Darter, Hairy Dragonfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Golden-Ringed Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Common Hawker, Brown Hawker,
Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Southern Damselfly*, Blue Tailed Damselfly, Scarce Blue Tailed Damselfly*, Red Eyed Damselfly, Small Red Damselfly, Large Red Damselfly, Common Emerald Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle
Actual Total: 24 Species 

Butterfly Species:
Target Number: 30; Revised to 25
Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Common Blue, Silver Studded Blue, Little Blue*, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Marbled White, Large White, Small White, Green Veined White, Brimstone, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Silver Washed Fritilary*
Actual Total: 22 Species

Mammal Species
No Target (Humans are Excluded)
Sika Deer*, Roe Deer, Rabbit, Bat Sp., Grey Squirrel,
Actual Total: 5 Species

Reptile Species:
No Target:
Smooth Snake*, Grass Snake, Sand Lizard*, Common Lizard, Slow Worm
Actual Total: 5 Species 

Moth Species:
No Target (Only Obvious Moths Identified and Included):
Ghost Swift*, Buff Tip*, 6-Spot Burnet Moth, Cinnabar Moth, Large Emerald Moth, Pebble Hooktip*, Peppered Moth*, Common Footman, Buff Arches*, Scarlet Tiger*, Golden Y Moth,

Things That Have Bitten Me:
Target Number: Ideally None:
Mallard, Moorhen, Midge, Mosquito, Cleg Fly, Ladybird Larva
Actual Total: 6 Species

Friday, 19 July 2013

Dorset Holiday-Day 13: Stowe NT

The weather had been pretty incredible all week, but now we had to go home in it, which was less than ideal. We picked our destination prior to our departure this time so we would not end up just doing the job lot in one go. Our destination was Stowe NT, which we had been to before, no we hadn't, Yes we had kind of place. We had been before-Described on this website as 'A random national trust place in the middle of nowhere after the most boring journey in history'. 
Our journey to Stowe was pretty uneventful except that traffic was horrendous and progress was slow, but we made it there for lunch. On the road we saw Common Buzzard, to be expected and also Red Kite, a new bird for the holiday.
The weather was still incredible when we got to Stowe but that meant plenty of insects. My mum and dad got a lift down on the golf cart minibus service, but I said I would walk down to make space on the bus for others. The way down went through some woods, where I saw Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper, 3 very familiar species over the holiday. On the bird front I spotted a Whitethroat singing in the bushes next to the field.
I made my way into the site. Apparently I should have been seen by the gate wardens who check your tickets, but I had no ticket and could not get in without my parents, who had already gone in. But nobody stopped me so I guess that all went well
I first went to the pond directly in front of me. A long lawn led down to it, and I was eager to see what I could find. No sooner did I arrived than did I find Black Tailed Skimmers, Azure Damselflies but also Red Eyed Damselflies, which made up for me missing them yesterday. I immediately took photos of them even though they were not in the best position due to my lack of photos from my previous encounters with them.
-Red Eyed Damselfly
There was one Broad Bodied Chaser among the Black Tailed Skimmers and it kept giving the latter a hard time flushing them from the perches on the waters edge. It only stopped a few times and then it chose perches which were not ideal for my camera.
-Broad Bodied Chaser
My attention was drawn back to the Red Eyed Damselflies, mainly because their eyes made them more striking that most damselflies. They kept perching but not where I really wanted them. One did perch on one of the emergent branches but it was still a little too far away for me to really get to grips with it.
-Red Eyed Damselfly
I mentioned the Black Tailed Skimmers, but they tended to perch on rocks and then not stay there very long, mainly due to the attentions of others of their species and the Broad Bodied Chaser. I did however find one or two who perched with the intention to stay perched so I could get a few photos.
-Black Tailed Skimmer
I left this section of the main lake and headed towards the smaller secondary lake than this main lake flowed into. The secondary lake was more wooded and there was less aquatic vegetation, especially water lilies. Where there was a break in the waterside trees there were a few Azure, Common Blue and more Red Eyed Damselfly, including a few in tandem.
-Red Eyed Damselfly
-Red Eyed Damselfly
I continued my walk and at the far end of the lake I saw a Great Crested Grebe which was quite close and started fishing. But when I looked at the photos afterwards I saw that it had not caught a fish but a crayfish, and quite a big one at that. 
-Great Crested Grebe
At this end of the lake the woods dissapeared and there were more damselflies, including red eyed in a position where I really get photos with all aspects. I took loads of photos but the light has restricted the impact of the eyes in the photos below.
-Red Eyed Damselfly
I continued round the far side of the lake where there was more woodland and here there were a few more birds, like Robin, Blackbird and a female Blackcap which flew across the path and into the trees between the path and the lake. There was also a Brown Hawker hunting this section of the grounds.
-Female Blackbird
Back out on the lake and it appeared that the grebe had followed me. I watched it as it seemed to be striking a threat pose, with its head close to the water, but after that it just sat up and then dived, so I don't really know why it had struck such a position.
-Great Crested Grebe
I found my parents at the top corner of the first main lake and there we watched some more Red Eyed Damselflies, including a pair in tandem.
-Red Eyed Damselfly
We were just setting off to leave and me and my dad spotted at the same time a Grass Snake swimming across the lake. It was a fair old size too but it was the yellow marks behind the head that really gave it away. It was only the 2nd of this species I have ever seen, so I was very excited. It was also the fifth reptile species of the holiday, when really I would have considered myself lucky to get one.
It swum off onto an island in the middle of the lake, swimming between the lily pads which looked rather striking.
-Grass Snake
I then followed my family as they made their way up through some of the smaller pools. Here there were still good numbers of Azure, Common Blue and Red Eyed Damselfly. I also spotted a Banded Demoiselle but it did not choose to land and so it did not take long for me to loose.
On the Dragonfly front there were a couple of female Ruddy Darters, due to the extensive black on the underside and black legs.
-Female Ruddy Darter
I then decided to go and finish my circuit round the main lake. The section I had not been to had good vegetation along the banks but no trees. This made it difficult to get to the waterside, but meant that there were good numbers of dragon and damselflies.
On the dragonfly front there were Four Spot Chaser, and Emperor Dragonfly, one of which took a Large White Butterfly from the air. There was also another of the small hawkers that I was sure were very late hairy dragonflies, but I needed one to land to take a photo so that I could confirm or dis confirm this theory.
It did not land and as such I had to try and take some sort of photo in the air. Below is my best effort, rubbish I know but the dragonfly would dissapear for a good 5 mins at a time and then re-appear at some random spot. I would say though that even though the photo is rubbish it seems to support the idea that it was a Hairy Dragonfly, so I will go with it.
-Hairy Dragonfly
I continued my circuit over the bridge, where there was a Black Tailed Skimmer on one of the posts. It was on the dark side of the post though so no great photos. On the far bank I spotted a Green Woodpecker and some crabby Canada Geese.
I made my way back to where I had started and there found my family again and also thought I saw a grass snake dissapear under the bank, but I could not re-locate it. On the bank the broad bodied chaser seemed to have left so the Black Tailed Skimmers had been left in peace so I took some photos of them perched on their rocks.
-Black Tailed Skimmer
After that my dad and I went for a wander along the bank of the lake and my dad spotted a Pike in the water. We headed off towards where the Canada geese had been but the only thing we saw this time was a juvenile Green Woodpecker chasing the adult bird around, not that we saw much of the adult bird but the juvenile seemed keen to give quite good views of itself.
-Green Woodpecker
And so that was that, the last wildlife act of our holiday down south. Its been a good holiday, but on the way home nothing happened, so here ends my narrative about it...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Dorset Holiday-Day 12: Fort Nelson Royal Armouries, Arundel WWT

Another scorching day and my family decided to take us to Arundel WWT, but only after we had been to Fort Nelson Royal Armouries. When we got there I found that there was a nature reserve across the road, though it was little more than a field so I went to have a look while my family spent the morning at the armouries.
The field had a lot of butterflies but the were all the same species, though they were in excess. These included things like Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large and Small White, But there were other species which were a bit more unusual, not least Marbled White and Small Skipper.
-Small Skipper
-Marbled White
Walking through the field I also found some none butterfly wildlife, though there was a lot less of this unless you counted the 6 Spot Burnet Moths which were once more very common.
-6 Spot Burnet Moth
While I was walking around there was a curious song coming from the grass and I eventually tracked it down to a very menacing cricket species, which Google informs me is a Roesel's Bush-Cricket, not that I regularly record cricket species, but it certainly struck me because of the striking yellow lines behind its head.
-Roesel's Bush-Cricket
On the bird front it was very quiet, with the exception of a couple of Magpies and on the way out I stumbled across a family of Willow Warblers. They were very flighty and I did not get exceptional views of them.
-Willow Warbler
I went to the museum cafe because my mum said that there we were going to have a coffee. While we were there my mum told me about all the butterflies that were on the wildflowers growing inside the museum. There was nothing that I hadn't seen, until during our coffee my dad spotted a Pill Millipede descending the wall of the museum, which is not a bug I can regularly see.
-Pill Millipede 
The journey to Arundel was none exciting except that there was a fire on the road which blocked everything up and restricted out speed at reaching the site. 
I have always wanted to go to Arundel, and when I arrived my first impressions were good, as on the first pond prior to entry there were Broad Bodied Chasers and Black Tailed Skimmers hunting it. The entry was good and we learnt that there were boat trips running, so we decided to go for one of those first before we had lunch and set off round the reserve.
The boat trip was very enjoyable and relaxing. I spotted some baby Tufted Ducks, as well as large families of Canada and Graylag Geese. On the mammal front we were delighted to see a Water Vole swim across the channel, though the delight would wear off as we walked round the reserve. On the Dragonfly front there were Black Tailed Skimmers, and there was another which I reckon was a hairy dragonfly but I did not get a good enough view. The only thing that would put me off that i.d. is that it is very late in their flight season, but apart from that, it ticked all the boxes. On the damselfly front there were Azure and Common Blue but also Red Eyed, but since we were on a boat I was unable to get any photos. For that reason my only photo of that species is from Norfolk 2 years ago.
We had lunch in the wildlife garden but did not really see anything.There was a school trip lunching next to us and that could be partly to blame. After lunch the trip headed off towards the lapwing hide, so we decided to  go to that hide later and instead go to the 'Sir Peter Scott centenary sand martin hide'. On the way, there were some Egyptian Geese on the path.
-Egyptian Geese
The hide was OK in terms of birdlife. There were Moorhens and Canada Geese feeding directly in front of the hide, as well as Mallards, Tufted Duck and Shelduck. There were also a pair of Common Terns on a raft in front of the hide, which were showing nesting behavior but no sign of chicks, despite what the sightings board said. They were quite close though, and they obviously were not too bothered by people who I imagine were often noisy which could have disturbed them from their nest.
-Common Tern
After we had finished in that hide we went back to the two hides we had meant to go to, Ramsar hide first, where there was nothing much except a female Mandarin. The second hide was the Lapwing hide, and it lived up to its name since the only bird in there besides Mallards was indeed a Lapwing.
After those two disappointments we headed to Scrape hide which was the best hide on the reserve, but that really did not say much. There was a good number of species, including Mallard, Shelduck, Tufted duck but also a few Gadwall sheltering from the heat under a tall tree. At the far end of the pond there was a Grey Heron hunting but it was some way away. There were also quite a few dragonflies around, but the only ones close enough to identify were Four Spot Chasers and Black Tailed Skimmer.
-Grey Heron
We were watching the far dragonflies to see what they were, when a small mass began swimming across the lake. My initial thought was grass snake, and why not. But no, it turned out when I looked at it through my camera that it was another Water Vole, though to be honest I would rather that it was a grass snake.
-Water Vole
After we had finished at Scrape hide we moved on to Reedbed hide. Here there was very little, but there was a very cute family of four well grown Moorhen chicks. The adult bird then mounted a small platform in front of the hide, being very bold and then started looking in, even though we were only about 2 feet away.
It was the best view of a moorhen I had ever had. After we had finished in Reedbed hide we moved on to the reedbed walk. About half way through the reedbed walk we sat down and were soon surrounded by a small gathering of Moorhens and Mallards, so my dad fished out the crumbs from lunch and started to feed them from our hands. The moorhen though decided that it would rather have my flesh than bread crumbs. 
After that we moved on and were just watching some more moorhens when I noticed that the reeds next to us were moving of their own accord. So I had a peek in and spotted another Water Vole there happily chomping away even though we were only about a meter away. Now the appeal of water voles at this site was beginning to diminish. On the boat, our pilot had told us that the reserve was in a big fence so that no water vole predators could get in with the exception of birds, but it also restricted the voles moving out. So effectively, it was like a big water vole zoo, but you don't really think of it until we start to see them as tame as this.
-Water Vole
We finished the reedbed walk and headed to the waterfalls enclosure. Here there was the only Blue Duck outside of New Zealand and that was quite exciting. After a few mins of watching it though you began to feel sorry for it, alone with only a farm duck for company. It was exciting to see because it is such a rare duck but for the above reason it seemed a bit bitter sweet.
-Blue Duck
We finished by walking back through the pet wildfowl zone and we got to see some large groups of rare wildfowl of the world, as you would expect from a WWT place. Once more though as we were walking over the white faced whistling duck boardwalk, a Water Vole appeared and started swimming across the pond, even though we were almost directly above it.
-Water Vole
I thought the reserve was a big disappointment really, I had expected a bit more. My dad summed it up quite well-Its a great place if you want to see Moorhens, but otherwise. We headed back to the caravan site, but the wildlife did not stop there, oh no.
That evening once more we set off to look for nightjars to see how many we would get. We had to wait a little longer than the night before and for a few minuets we were wondering if they would even turn up tonight when we were suddenly surrounded by churring and we saw one flying right towards us. We soon had 3 Nightjars flying all around us, and once more quite close. This time I had brought the tripod to try and get some photos of when the birds were landed. However, it did not really work as the camera still vibrated while on the tripod. Still I got more amazing views of these bizarre birds.
So ends our last full day on holiday, alas that there 13 days have flown by so quick. Hopefully, on the way home we will go out on a high.