Friday, 22 May 2015

A walk in the woods

The morning was overcast, but mild and not windy. I headed up to North Cliffe woods, which looked beautiful with carpets of Bluebells and drifts of Greater Stitchwort. Bugle was in bloom too. A Garden Warbler sung well hidden in a tall oak and I only got fleeting views of this and another individual later in the morning. I noticed little holes on the path, and then surprised a mole on the path itself, which tried to run away from me as fast as its short legs took him, which was surprisingly fast. The dry, compacted ground on the path appeared to have prevented it from going underground, but it finally disappeared in the long grass at the side of the path. It was my second live mole ever!
 Near the heath area a male Whitethroat was in full song and I heard the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
A couple of brief sunny spells brought some butterflies out, including two Peacocks, a Speckled wood and a Large white and Green-veined white.
I walked inside the woods, where the most remarkable bird sightings were a Marsh Tit, a female
Blackcap with nest material and the laugh of a Green Woodpecker. A humming noise alerted me to the presence of an active honeybee hive inside a dead tree. A pair of robins were very agitated, but I couldn't spot the source of their distress. I was hoping for a mustelid, but failed to see any signs.
 I returned to the heath area. As I sat down on a bench for lunch a distant male cuckoo called three times, what a great sound. A Buzzard soared over the heath, while a Carrion Crow had me under surveillance the whole time I sat there. A lovely trip to the woods.

The mole, climbing the middle of the path.
A battered large white
Green-veined white
Click beetle
Click beetle about to fly off
Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Buzzard
  6. Carrion Crow
  7. Chaffinch
  8. Chiffchaff
  9. Coal Tit
  10. Cuckoo
  11. Dunnock
  12. Garden Warbler
  13. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  14. Great Tit
  15. Green Woodpecker
  16. Jackdaw
  17. Long-tailed Tit
  18. Mallard
  19. Marsh Tit
  20. Pheasant
  21. Robin
  22. Rook
  23. Skylark
  24. Swallow
  25. Whitethroat
  26. Willow Warbler
  27. Woodpigeon
  28. Wren
  29. Yellowhammer

Monday, 18 May 2015

A cold May morning at Kiplingcotes nature reserve

An early Sundaymorning trip to Kiplingotes with Robert and James mainly in search of invertebrates. As we arrived three hares fed in the field opposite the car park. Willow Warblers and Yellowhammers were singing and Linnets passed overhead several times.
There were a few sunny spells, but the wind was relentless and chilly, so not as many insects on the wing as we would expect for this time of year. We kept to the sheltered bottom of the reserve, where we inspected the scree and chalk stones, logs and nettle beds (one of my knees is still throbbing!). Two butterfly species were on the wing, a couple of Wall Browns and a Dingy Skipper (above), which was a first for me. Another nice first was the Ant Woodlouse, which we uncovered under a rotting log, and then found more under rocks near yellow ant nests. A photo selection follows.
Wall Brown
Deroceras reticulatum
Black and red leafhopper, Cercopis vulnerata
Candidula intersecta snail on a walkabout
Cinnabar moth
Millipede Polydesmus sp.
Silpha tristis, a snail eating beetle.
A black clock, Pterostichus madidus
A comparison of Pill Millipedes (two at the top) and Pill Woodlouse (bottom). Pill woodlouse seem to be quicker to unroll than the pill millipedes.
An ant woodlouse, my first! We saw many under a log.
An unrolled pill millipede.
A tiny Cecilioides acicula, shell
Arion intermedius, the Hedgehog slug.
View of the reserve
A flock of Linnets on the chalk.
And to finish, one of the hares, happily munching grass away.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Warm at East Park

I had a very pleasant morning today at East Park, with wonderful conditions for photography, warm and sunny. Butterflies and other invertebrates were about, swarms of flies including St Marks flies, flew over the lake, attracting the attention of starlings, who sallied out hawking them in the air near the bridge. There was a drake Shoveler on the lake, who attracted the attention of a coot,  and was chased several times probably seeing it didn't belong there. The Shoveler appeared reluctant to go, though, as it flew and returned a couple of times.
 I was glad to spot the great crested grebe chick. One of the adults was on the nest and I wonder if the chick had been resting there, as I didn't see it on my first walk around the lake.
 A nice surprise was the family of Canada Geese, which appeared very vigilant around their small goslings, and constantly called and signalled to them. A crow flew over to the shore to drink and the goslings, responding to the adult calls hid under their mother. There were several irresponsible dog owners that let them loose near the greylag creche, causing chaos amongst them.
 A few House Martins, Swallows and Swifts were about.
A Sparrowhawk on the hunt.
Many Holly Blues on the holly avenue. This female showed interest in the holly buds, where they lay eggs.
Upside down male Great spotted Woodpecker.
Drake Shoveler.
Canada family
The only female Tufted duck in the lake was closely followed by her mate.
One of the Pinkfeet, a male...
...and the other one, a female. I didn't see the third one today.
A swift chase high up.
This crow was displaying to a magpie on the ground. Note how the head feathers are all erect, making it look bigger.
One of the rook nests had a grown chick, which almost came out of the nest when one of its parents came back with food. You can see its head over the rim of the nest.
Coot and chicks.
One of the Great Crested Grebes and grown chick near the nest. This side of the large island looks like a mangrove swamp.
A pair of courting Specked Woods.
Male Holly Blue.
Large white
A female St Marks fly, Bibio marci, >1 cm in size, going into leaf litter likely to lay eggs.

Bird list
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blackcap
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Canada Goose
  5. Carrion Crow
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Collared Dove
  8. Coot
  9. Dunnock
  10. Feral Pigeon
  11. Goldfinch
  12. Great Crested Grebe
  13. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  14. Great Tit
  15. Greenfinch
  16. Greylag Goose
  17. Herring Gull
  18. House Martin
  19. House Sparrow
  20. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Magpie
  23. Mallard
  24. Mistle Thrush
  25. Moorhen
  26. Mute Swan
  27. Pink-footed Goose
  28. Ring-necked Parakeet
  29. Robin
  30. Rook
  31. Shoveler
  32. Song Thrush
  33. Sparrowhawk
  34. Starling
  35. Stock Dove
  36. Swallow
  37. Swift
  38. Tufted Duck
  39. Woodpigeon
  40. Wren

Monday, 4 May 2015

Noddle Hill Dawn Chorus

We were greeted at Noddle Hill by a very lively dawn chorus, with 14 species singing by 5:00 am. The moon was out, and the sky mostly clear and it was surprisingly mild. As usual this time of year, warblers were aplenty, with Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge, Reed, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler all singing. A Song thrush provide amusement by imitating some watch alarm, which confused us for a while, a house alarm and raptor calls, a Sedge Warbler wasn't much behind, with a spot on impersonation of a Goldfinch and a wagtail. We soon surprised a Roe Deer in the scrub. He seemed curious and reluctant to move away. We counted five roe deer in total, including a female, and two males that appear to chase each other playfully in a game of tig. Dark clouds appeared, followed by a cooler breeze and a glowing, giant rainbow. At the same time a Little Egret passed by. Robert spotted a Barn Owl, which we saw quartering the reserve most of the time we were there. The breezy, rainy day yesterday might have forced it to feed in the day time. After a very short drizzle, the sun came out again. A Skylark sung its song, and a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed. After three hours walking around the many paths of the reserve and a total of 40 species it was time to go home for breakfast.

Roe deer.

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Whitethroat with stormy clouds behind.
Whitethroat and Linnet
A short fight between the whitethroat and a sedge warbler
Record shot of Little Egret. 
Water Crow-foot
Barn Owl

Barn Owl
Reed Bunting
Bird List
  1. Barn Owl
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blackcap
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Bullfinch
  6. Carrion Crow
  7. Chaffinch
  8. Chiffchaff
  9. Collared Dove
  10. Coot
  11. Dunnock
  12. Goldfinch
  13. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  14. Great Tit
  15. Greenfinch
  16. Grey Heron
  17. Greylag Goose
  18. Kestrel
  19. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  20. Lesser Whitethroat
  21. Linnet
  22. Little Egret
  23. Long-tailed Tit
  24. Magpie
  25. Mallard
  26. Moorhen
  27. Pheasant
  28. Reed Bunting
  29. Reed Warbler
  30. Robin
  31. Rook
  32. Sedge Warbler
  33. Skylark
  34. Song Thrush
  35. Starling
  36. Swallow
  37. Whitethroat
  38. Willow Warbler
  39. Woodpigeon
  40. Wren