Thursday, 15 September 2016

Alkbrough Flats Spoonbills

I went to Alkborough Flats with Robert Jaques in the hope of ticking the Purple Swamphen that has been there for a couple of weeks. In the end, we weren't lucky with the swamphen, but the visit was quite worthwhile as there were so many birds at the site and we had some great views of many species. We walked to the low hide overlooking the lagoon. There was a large flock of Avocets mixed with Shoveler and Shelduck feeding, and just by the shore a Spoonbill preening with a few others feeding nearby. In all, at some point 13 Spoonbills were visible from the hide, and at least four individuals were colour-ringed. A few Pintail fed on the distance. Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Ruff, Avocet and various ducks sat on the mudflats. The pinging calls of a group of Bearded tits were heard and they appeared briefly.
One of the trip highlights was watching a couple of young Water Rails on a shallow ditch by the hide. We had heard their calls, and eventually they showed, relatively well, although quite nervously: a tiny noise from the hide was followed by a rail diving into the reeds.
 When leaving the hide a group of Chub were very visible on a ditch. Many common darters and some hawkers I couldn't identify were also about.
We moved onto the path by the hillside, where some birdwatchers awaited pointing with their telescopes into a distant pool where the Purple Swamphen had previously been seen. None had seen it today, so after a little while we moved onto a sweltering tower hide for lunch. A Marsh Harrier, the only one of the day, quartered over the reedbeds, followed by mobbing Lapwing. This took the day tally to 47 species.
A selection of Spoonbill photos:

Two colour ringed Spoonbills.
Feeding Spoonbills.
Spoonbill and Avocet
Many Ruff in the reserve, this is one of three that walked past the hide.
Reed Bunting.
A male Bearded Tit, part of a small group that fed on the reeds.
One of the young Water Rails.
Group of Chub, Squalius cephalus, in a dich by the hide, a new fish for me.
Male Common Darter
Devil's Coach Horse, Ocypus olens, displaying.
A small toad, found crossing the path.
View of the reserve from the path.
One of two Small Coppers settled after a long fight with another. Other than the Small Copper, we saw Speckled Wood, Comma, and Red Admiral around the reserve.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Spurn trip: Day 3. Kilnsea saltmarsh invertebrates

After the long walk yesterday, today we take it more leisurely and we head out of Westmere Farm B&B towards the sea across a couple of fields at the back of the farm. By the beach, where the clay cliff is very low, there is a thin strip of dunes (top shot). The sun is shining on blue skies, there is the lightest breeze and it's low tide. While the kids play on the beach, I watch insects on the dunes. Fleabane, sow thistle and ragwort are blooming in profusion. Butterflies are aplenty, including very fresh looking Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Peacock, Small White, Common Blue and a Small Heath.
 There are also many active bees, including a Sea Aster bee, Colletes halophilus, a first for me.
Small Tortoiseshell.
Many Small Whites
Peacock, here with Small Tortoiseshell on ragwort.
Red admiral on saw-thistle
Painted lady on ragwort
And a patrolling male common blue that briefly landed on a flower bud
Another Peacock on fleabane
Female Sea Aster bee, Colletes halophilus collecting pollen on Sea Aster. It's hot and the bee is very skittish, almost jumping between flowers. It's a female completely covered in aster pollen.
A close up of the Sea Aster Bee.
One of a few stands of Sea Aster where the bee was feeding.
One of many Dune Robberflies, Philonicus albiceps with fly prey.
Eristalis tenax, on saw-thistle
The spotty-eyed hoverfly, Eristalinus aeneus on fleabane. 
Helophilus pendulus
Many 11 spot ladybirds on reeds, these mating (you can see an aphid on the bottom left hand corner), also 7 spots.
There are also plenty of crickets and grasshoppers about, according to the kids, that are totally astounded I am unable to hear them sing. I was pleased to find a female Short-winged conehead resting on a fence.
A Lesser marsh grasshopper grooming its antennae
Short-winged conehead

Just before leaving Spurn, we stop for a drink at the Blue Bell Cafe and by the beach, we spot two more butterflies for the day.
Painted lady on mayweed.
Small Heath on mayweed

Monday, 29 August 2016

Spurn trip: Day 2. Walk to the point

The highlight of our trip to Spurn was the walk to the point and back. This 15 km round trip was greatly aided by the weather, sunny, warm and with a light breeze, which was much appreciated, as out of the breeze it was really hot. We started at the B&B, which made the walk a bit longer, but it was nice not to have to drive at all. 
We started the walk at 9:30, with a young robin sunbathing and yawning.
By the Crown and Anchor we watched a couple of Turnstones. 
Crickets and grasshoppers were singing. I still need to identify this one.
Just after the Warren, we saw a Brown Argus...
...and the Unimog taking people to the lighthouse.
This is the area occasionally breached at high tide, the narrows, looking north. Most of the way to the point was at the low tide, with expansive horizons of exposed sandy beach.
Roe Deer prints near the lighthouse.
fox prints?
After what it felt a long while, the lighthouse towered over us. 
A Common Seal resting by the surf.
We had a picnic at the point proper, and then walked around the point. 
A Grey Seal watching us.
Common Tern at the point.
A seal pup with a puncture would on its neck.
one of the kids found this porpoise skeleton.
Most of the way small parties of Sanderlings were chasing waves by the beach.
Here a mixed flock of Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers and a couple of Dunlin briefly rests by the dunes.
Meadow grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus.
On the way back we had a vantage point on the dunes that allowed us to appreciate how narrow the spit is. The estuary on the foreground, the open sea in the horizon. Red Admirals were hilltopping on the dunes.
A Wheatear, a common migrant at the point, near the Warren. A lone Swift flew overhead. Many Swallows were passing through.
Curlew resting at high tide.
We arrived back a bit short of 5 pm, tired but elated after the wonderful day at Spurn.
A Painted Lady flew at dusk by the poplar, settling on the leaves for the night.