I allowed myself something of a lie in this morning, getting out of bed at 7.00. It is perhaps because of this that there were fewer moths again, many having already moved on. However, a few nice specimens were still around. A Buff-Tip had reappeared, but was near the roof of the building, while photographable moths included a nice Dark Arches and a male Four Spot Footman.
-Four Spot Footman
My family were heading into Wareham for the morning, so I decided to hitch a lift and go to one of the heathlands over that way. I eventually decided to go for Morden Bog, site of the 2014 ST Eagle. The weather was reasonably nice and so I hoped I might get decent views of Woodlark.
As soon as I was there I could tell this was a quality site. Just in from the road and there was a largish pool adjacent to the path, so I headed over that way to have a look for some dragon and damselflies. It was not particularly sunny but was pleasantly warm, so there were a few of them about. The main species present were Common Emerald, Common Blue and Small Red. The latter species is one I do not encounter very often so I was pretty pleased to see more of them. On a scarcer note I was able to add a solitary Variable Damselfly to the list.
On the dragonfly front there was significantly fewer individuals present but still a good number of species, overall higher than the number of damselflies. Around the pond there was the main Emperor hunting, then a number of Common Darter and Black-Tailed Skimmer along the fringes. I also had a Black Darter but only the one. Then in the wood itself I had a very distant Common Hawker
The pond also had a number of other goodies. There were a few notable butterflies around, including my first Silver-Studded Blues of the holiday, and a Grayling on the path. The weather probably played a part in the overall lack of butterfly species but there were still a few around. On the path I had a smashing Green Tiger Beetle running around, and in the pond itself I was thrilled to spot a Grass Snakes head bobbing around. I spotted it the same moment it spotted me, and it then quickly dived. I had to wait about a minute before I spotted it again but I was able to grab a few photos.
-Silver Studded Blue
Birds were sparse around the pool but there were a few more as I moved around the heathland. I headed up towards the main pool where I was surprised to see a few birders around. I asked one about woodlark and he said that he had not seen any, and that at this time of year they were very hard to find. He did mention hobby though, which I failed to see (Probably due to the weather) and Dartford Warbler, which I did see.
I had stupidly left my binoculars at home, and so was pretty much birding blind. That being said, I got a very good haul for the day. I heard multiple Crossbill flocks before I actually spotted 2 individuals flying overhead. Sadly without bins I was unable to really appreciate them, but through what photos I have you can see the bill extension. I also had multiple Stonechats, some of which were very vocal, as well as a solitary Tree Pipit. Siskins and Yellowhammers were also in abundance and were often very vocal themselves.
My favourite record from the site was one that was completely unexpected for me and a real bonus species for the holiday. As I was heading along the track I could see a depression in the vegetation which indicated a pool, which could mean dragonflies. I meandered over to have a quick check and was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight that greeted me. There, at the back of the pool, right out in the open, was a Water Rail. I could not believe what I was seeing. It had not seen me yet but was definitely on the move, so I only had a little time for photos. It moved behind a clump of vegetation and as I moved round to see it again it spotted me and bolted. So sadly I only have a couple of very poor shots, but they say more than I ever could.
By one in the afternoon I decided to call it quits, largely helped by the fact that my parents were passing on their way back from Wareham, but the key factor was that I could not work around not having my bins. It was doing my head in and had put a real downer on the morning.
For the afternoon I decided to stay local. I headed to the local heath, but this time to the slightly further Winfrith Heath as opposed to my usual site of Tadnoll Heath. Winfrith was quite disappointing in all honesty, with only a handful of insects around, and most of those seemed to have a taste for my flesh. A few none savage insects included a Common Hawker hunting along the path, and a Green Tiger Beetle doing the same.
-Green Tiger Beetle
I decided to call in at Tadnoll on the way back just to have a quick check of the corrugated iron tins for reptiles. So far it had been a pretty poor deal for reptiles but that all changed when I had a look then. I lifted up the first tin and was thrilled to see both a superb Grass Snake and a female Smooth Snake. The Grass Snake scarpered all too quickly for my liking but the Smooth Snake just sat there settled, allowing me to take plenty of photos and have a fantastic view of it. I was buzzing, and it got even better when I flipped another tin to see a male Smooth Snake under there. Sadly it too cleared off pretty quick, but I did get a couple of shots of that.
-Female Smooth Snake
-Male Smooth Snake
Because of the success I had there, I decided to stick around and keep birding on the site. There were ample dragonflies within in the heather and plenty of butterflies on the brambles; Comma, Peacock and Red Admiral. There were also plenty of dragonflies and I was chuffed when I found a Golden-Ringed Dragonfly on the floor. I managed a few shots before it decided to move off…
-Golden Ringed Dragonfly
Walking along the central dirt track I was given another fantastic boost for the day when I happened to flush four birds from the track. I knew exactly what these were, but when I set eyes on them on the deck for the first time I was taken aback and began to doubt myself as I could not clearly make out the features that made them Woodlark. This was probably due to the distance away that they were but fortunately, all doubts were laid to rest when they flushed again, and for the first time I heard them call. Distinct Woodlark call! That was all the proof I needed. They loitered around the path for a bit but despite seeing where they landed I could not pick them up on the deck, and my views remained only flushed views.
Now knowing they were still present I decided to put down some seed to see if I could attract them in. In the evening my parents mentioned that they wanted to have a look at the site, so put down some seed along the side of the path. Along the evening walk we flushed the four Woodlark again, but they returned to the heather and not the path, so I could not really pursue them. Still, having seen them again, I do have hope that I might see them on the deck properly at some point.
We had a look at the tins again in the evening, and were rewarded with the Grass Snake again, but once again it cleared off pretty quick. However, we had a fantastic encounter with a Slow Worm along the path. It was very docile, probably as a result of the cooler evening, but it did allow me to grab plenty of photos of it. It was lovely and bronze, the best I have ever seen. It was a lovely end to the day.
Crossways Caravan Site: Treecreeper, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Woodpigeon, Nuthatch,
Morden Bog: Yellowhammer, Jay, Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Robin, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Mistle Thrush, Siskin, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Water Rail, Crossbill, Dartford Warbler, Tree Pipit, Bullfinch, Grass Snake, Common Toad, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Common Hawker, Emperor Dragonfly, Common Darter, Black Darter, Small Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Variable Damselfly, Common Emerald Damselfly, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Grayling, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White, Silver Studded Blue,
Tadnoll and Winfrith Heath: Willow Warbler, Long-Tailed Tit, Magpie, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Grey Heron, Linnet, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Common Buzzard, Song Thrush, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Woodlark, Stonechat, Mute Swan, Green Woodpecker, Grass Snake, Smooth Snake, Slow Worm, Four-Spot Chaser, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Common Hawker, Golden-Ringed Dragonfly, Common Darter, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Emerald Damselfly, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Grayling, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White, Silver Studded Blue, Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock, Small White, Large White,