Saturday, 19 August 2017

Off to Scotland!

Starting tomorrow (Sunday), I will be off on holiday to Scotland for just over a week. I will be staying near Fort William and will be exploring the area for wildlife as well as doing other things. I am hoping to find all kinds of great Scottish wildlife, hopefully, including eagles. I will try my best and post what I see on this blog while I am there, however, there might be a chance that the Wi-Fi at where I am staying is pretty poor. If I do not post anything because of this, don't worry, I will post everything when I get back on Aug 29th. Sorry for any inconvenience if this does happen. For now, I can't wait to go on a Scottish adventure and share with you what I saw. Farewell for now!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Aug 17th Mousehold Heath

Butterfly survey at Mousehold Heath
This afternoon, I helped out with a butterfly survey at Mousehold Heath. It was raining earlier this morning, but thankfully the afternoon was bright and sunny enough to do the survey in. We managed to record 32 individual butterflies and 10 species. This included 4 common blues and 4 small coppers, a couple of red admirals, peacocks, a comma, 2 gatekeepers and several meadow browns and large and small whites. Not bad despite it being a little breezy and the rain from this morning.

Common Blue
Small Copper
Meadow Brown
Hornet Hoverfly

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Aug 16th Strumpshaw Fen

Spider web
No rain this week at Strumpshaw. In fact, it has turned out to be a lovely, warm, sunny day, though with a slight autumnal feel to it. When I arrived this morning, the sun was still burning of the dew from the long vegetation. The light on the dew also revealed thousands of spider webs all over the place. The meadow trail was completely full of them glinting in the sunshine.

Orb-web Spider Araneus marmoreus

Cobber the Black Swan
At Fen Hide, the light was perfect over the water, causing the surface to become like a giant mirror. The reflections of the birds wading and swimming on it were so crystal clear that it was a photographer's dream come true. From the hide I saw Cobber the black swan, 2 mute swans (which Cobber had a disagreement with at one point), shovelers, mallards, gadwalls, a skein of greylag geese, 3 snipe that briefly flew past, a heron, a cormorant and a little egret. There was even a quick appearance of a water rail, which quickly walked along the shoreline of the pool. I only managed to get one rubbish shot of it, heavily obscured by reeds.

Mute Swan
Cobber chasing a Mute Swan
Little Egret

Grey Heron

Little Egret

Little Egret with Grey Heron
Greylag Geese
(A rubbish shot of a) Water Rail
I started my shift at Reception Hide as normal, seeing swallows, house martins, pochards and marsh harriers. But then, my Aunt Barbara appeared for a surprise visit. So I decided to go for a walk with her for the rest of the morning. You could say I was giving her a guided walk as part of my Strumpshaw duties. I wanted to look for willow emerald damselflies anyway, so we walked along the river to look for them, stopping at Fen and Tower hides along the way. While I wanted to see the willow emeralds, Barbara wanted to see a kingfisher. I already spotted one at Reception Hide while she was sitting with me, but she only managed to catch a glimpse of it making a quick plunge into the water. She demanded a better view than that!
Lesser Burdock
Speckled Wood
Migrant Hawker
Black-tailed Skimmer
Water Scorpion
As we set off on our walk, we came across a family pond dipping at one of the ponds. I was curious on what they caught, so I asked. They showed me something that they caught in a pot. And that something was one of my invertebrate targets; a water scorpion! I would have liked to have caught one myself as the reason I had put water scorpion on my list was because I had a family catch me one last year as part of the Strumpshaw 40 challenge. I was accused of cheating on that one and was told I should only count it if I was the one catching it. But last year, I was having a lot of difficulty finding one for some reason and was desperate enough to ask for help amongst the visiting public. I will tick this one as part of my current list for now, but I may have an attempt of finding my own water scorpion next time.

Willow Emerald Damselfly
After a short stop at Fen Hide (where I managed to spot another kingfisher, which Barbara again failed to see it properly) and then at Tower Hide, seeing very little of interest, we were about to attempt the long walk down the Lackford Run, when I finally found my main target for today. A willow emerald damselfly gave us great views of it as it posed on a leaf adjacent to the sluice gate before the turning the corner for the Lackford Run. These damselflies are now spreading across to other parts of the reserve, mainly along the river path. Its just amazing to think that these metallic green insects were only discovered at Strumpshaw in 2010 and were confined to only one ditch for a few years. Now, not only have they moved to other parts of this reserve, they have also started colonising eastwards across the country. They are quite the success story that is secretly going unnoticed by a majority of the general public.

Common Lizard
We also saw a second willow emerald on the walk back to Reception Hide as well as seeing several common lizards and dark bush-crickets. And back at Reception Hide, Barbara finally had that decent view of a kingfisher that she wanted, though I had to find it in the hide's scope for her. No photos sadly as it was too far away at the islands, obscured by reeds. Before leaving, I also quickly showed Barbara the small red-eyed damselflies in the pond adjacent to the hide.

Dark Bush-crickets