Exhausted from yesterday I lacked the motivation to get up early, so crawled out of bed at the rather late time of 8.00. I had a quick look round at the moths on the walls, but could see nothing. This was probably the result of my lie in. The only notable moth was a Herald on one of the blocks, but light was poor so I decided to move it to a more photogenic location. However, when it fell off the wall it appeared it was dead, or was doing a very good impression to that extent, so placed it in the wood and left it.
The weather looked like it would be Ok, and so eventually decided to go to Higher Hyde Heath nature reserve. I cycled there from the campsite and was on site by around half 10. It was warm but overcast, but fortunately as the morning wore on the sun did come out and it became rather pleasant.
Birds were not on the agenda at all, but the reptiles more than made up for it. The heath has many tins, and under a number of them were some super looking Slow Worms. In addition to them, as the morning wore on, there were a number of Common Lizards basking on dead branches along the path. There was also a Grass Snake basking, but it dropped as soon as I saw it and my view was only brief.
But they were not the best of it reptile wise. On my previous visit there had been a Sand Lizard basking next to the small hide, but it had moved before I had a chance to see it properly. With this in mind I kept checking the same area just in case, and unbelievably I picked up a super basking Sand Lizard not 2 feet away from where I had seen it before. It allowed me to get some proper photos of this very rare reptile. To say I was buzzing after seeing it, would be an understatement.
So the reptiles gave more than a good show, and they were not the only ones. Last time I was on site I life ticked Silver-Washed Fritillary, but my record shots were no more than that. Today they more than redeemed themselves, and though I failed to get a good profile shot I am more than happy with my efforts and the views I got of these stunning butterflies. They are fantastic to see in flight, so big and orange, and so striking when settled on the ground. Superb insects!
-Silver Washed Fritillary
On the dragonfly front I had hoped to get downy emerald, but they were not present. Common Darters and Keeled Skimmers were the main dragonflies present, but there was also a Southern Hawker and a few Ruddy Darters, the latter of which were very nice but not easy to photograph.
There were a number of other noticeable insects too, including the Longhorn Beetle Stranglia Manticulata, which I had seen before but was able to get a few more photos of this rather spectacular beetle. Perhaps the most surprising thing seen today was a Leaf-Cutter Bee. I saw a bee flying towards me with a large green mass underneath, but assumed this was a caterpillar being predated, but it soon became clear that it was a piece of leaf. I was able to follow the bee to its nest in a piece of dead wood. Sadly though I was not able to watch it cut any leaves.
I left the site early afternoon and cycled back. Upon arriving back I found a tick on my leg, which quickly became no less than 30 ticks and probably more. I had to pull them all off, and that was not a pleasant experience to say the least. However, I eventually got them all off.
By 3 in the afternoon I headed to Tadnoll heath for an afternoon to see how the seed had gone down and if there were any reptiles. We checked the tins and there was a smashing male Smooth Snake, but it was badly obscured by the grass so did not bother taking any photos.
The number of birds was horrifically low, and there were no Woodlarks. We could not find any Dartford warblers either but all the seed was gone, so something was obviously around. This was probably due to the time of day and the fact that most birds would be sheltering out of the afternoon sun.
And that was that. We spent the evening around the caravan continuing to remove ticks and enjoying the evening sunshine. Another good day out on the heathland!
Higher Hyde Heath: Siskin, Woodpigeon, Mistle Thrush, Common Buzzard, Wren, Carrion Crow, Bullfinch, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Mallard, Linnet, Moorhen, Chaffinch, Grass Snake, Slow Worm, Sand Lizard, Common Lizard, Common Toad, Four-Spot Chaser, Black-Tailed Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Southern Hawker, Common Darter, Ruddy Darter, Common Blue Damselfly, Common Blue-Tailed Damselfly, Common Emerald Damselfly, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock, Silver-Washed Fritillary, Large White,
Tadnoll Heath: Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Wren, Magpie, Linnet, Smooth Snake, Keeled Skimmer, Golden-Ringed Dragonfly, Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue Damselfly, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Grayling, Meadow Brown, Large White,