Friday, 29 May 2009

Leicestershire Orchids: Greater Butterfly Orchid

Here is a few shots I took this morning of the Greater Butterfly Orchids at Elmsthorpe Plantation near Hinckley.
Due to the flash on the camera most the flowers were bleached out!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Leicestershire Orchids: Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchids at
Pickworth Great Wood.

Here is a couple of shots of Early Purple Orchid at Pickworth Great Wood in Rutland I took in early May.

Indiana Dave and the Monkey/Lady Orchid and a few Painted Ladies!!

The Drunkbirder and Mr Llama
photographing a Monkey!

Monkey Orchid

Monkey/Lady Orchid Hybrid

Another shot of a Monkey!

Hartlock- the place for a Monkey!

Over the weekend, myself, John Hague and Andy Mackay travelled down to Chilterns to look for a variety of wildlife which included Orchids, Dragonflies and Butterflies.
First stop of the day was the River Thames at Goring, Oxfordshire to look for Club-tailed Dragonfly. Over the next hour or so we checked the river side, but the Club-tailed eluded us except for a very brief view which Andy and John saw before I could get on it.
Walking back along the Thames footpath to Hartlock NR we finally connected with a couple of Club tails as there hunting over the surrounding area. Other sightings we saw along the river path included good numbers of Banded Demoiselles and a bit of a surprise was a couple of Painted Lady Butterflies (More of them later).
Walking up the steep hill from the river footpath to Hartlock reserve, we soon found a few Monkey Orchids next to the entrance of the reserve.
At this point we took a number of photos of the delightful Monkey Orchids!!
Walking further onto the reserve I noted good numbers of Common Twayblade on the lower slopes, then more Monkeys and then the Monkey/Lady Orchid Hybirds on the upper slopes of the reserve.
I was a little surprised of the size the Monkey/Lady hybirds as I imagined them to be smaller from the previous photos I had seen.
Another reason to visit Hartlock was to look for Adonis Blue which Andy and John were keen to photo, however possible due to the last few weeks of bad weather and the habitat not beening cropped short enough we could not find any Adonis Blues.
Other butterfly sightings we did see included a few Dingy Skippers, Common Blues and now good numbers of Painted Ladies migrating north.
Walking back to the car we made a slighty detour to check out the small wood next to the reserve.
Here we found good numbers of White Helleborines, with a couple right next to the footpath.

Move to follow shortly...................................

Friday, 15 May 2009

Birds falling out of the sky!?!......15th May 2009.

After finishing my final assignment for University mid morning, I noted on my pager that 3 Black Terns had been reported at Cropston Reservoir.
So before handing in my assignment I nipped over to Cropston to see the terns.
Arriving at the dam, I met up with Paul (one of the Groby crew) as he was scanning the reservoir.
Straight away I picked up a couple of Black Terns flying around the reservoir and then I noticed a couple of smaller terns as there flew past. I knew straight away that there Little Terns due to there size and build. I shouted to Paul to get on terns which he did, and then I scanned through the other terns feeding over the reservoir, and noted that there was 2 adult Little Terns, 3 Black Terns, up to six Arctic Terns and a single Common Tern just feeding off the dam.
As this was a good count of Terns I phoned the news out.
Watching the Terns for the next half an hour, the majority moved off when the weather improved, but the Black Terns did stick around until the early afternoon at least.
Another bird which had been dumped onto Cropston Reservoir due to the weather was a smart looking Sanderling which was slowly feed along the dam shoreline.
With time pressing I moved on to Swithland Reservoir and I soon picked up a group of nine Arctic Terns feeding over the reservoir.
At this point I got a text message from Jez Robson, that he had found a Wood Sandpiper, Sanderling and 3 Whimbrel down at Cossington Meadows.
On the way back home I quickly stopped off at Cossington Meadows and then ran down the footpath to the Tern Pool.
Here I met up with Jez and slowly got my breath back I checked out the pool but could not see any of the waders. So dreading a possible dip I checked out Hobley Lake for the Whimbrels and thankfully the birds were still at the back of the lake. Result!! A Soar Valley tick to boot!?!
Rejoining Jez the Wood Sandpiper suddenly showed itself as it flew over our heads calling and then landed on the nearby Hobley Lake.
We then finally picked up the Sanderling as it slowly feed around the pool shoreline.
At this point I had to say good bye to Jez and the arriving Allen Pocock and Andy Forryan as I had to be work within the next hour.
So on the whole it turned out to be a excellent few hours of birding with a couple of found ticks and an addition to my Soar Valley list.

Duke of Burgundy Butterfly Twitch.....9th May 2009.

Common Twayblade at
Tottenhoe Knolls.

Duke Of Burgundy Butterfly at
Bison Hill, Bedfordshire.

Another shot of the Duke Of Burgundys

Views of Ivinghoe Beacon.

Myself and John took an early morning trip down to Dunstable in Bedfordshire to see if we could find Duke of Burgundy Butterfly.
Arriving early, possibly too early, we decided that maybe the local Mcdonalds was a better call, as it was quite cold at first port of call Bison Hill, near Whipsnade Zoo, and the butterfly active was non- existent.
So after an excellent McDonalds breakfast we retraced our steps and checked out another site not far from the nearby Bison Hill at Tottenhoe Knolls.
Over the next couple of hours or so we looked over this site and sightings included 2 Dingy Skipper, a Common Blue and good numbers of the commoner butterflies. Also I noted that there must have been in excess of 100 odd Common Twayblades in the surrounding hillsides.
Although it's not the most appealing orchid on the British list, the flower head's of the plant are quite impressive for this understated orchid.
As we had drawn a blank with the Duke of Burgundy's at this site, we decided to go back to Bison Hill.Parking up on the top of the hill, the sun finally came out and the butterfly active greatly increase. So within ten minutes of checking this site we finally found at least four Duke of Burgundy's in the nearby scrubby vegetation.
Other Butterflies in this area included Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak and an assortment of the commoner species.
With time pressing, as John had to be back in Leicester by mid afternoon, we looked over Sewell Cutting on the way home to see if any Small Blue were out?
Sadly our luck was out but we did note good numbers of Brimstones and various Whites along the cutting.
Although the day was a little frustrating the main target of the day was firmly in the bag Duke of Burgundy Butterfly OMFL!!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Another go for the Cattle Egret, also Green-winged Orchids and a Wood Warbler in the city.

Adder's Tongue Fern at
Merry's Meadow LRWT.

Green winged Orchids
at Merry's Meadow LRWT.

Cattle Egret on Lagoon 1 at
Rutland Water.

Although I had seen the Cattle Egret at Rutland Water briefly the previously day, I nipped over to Rutland again to see if I could get some digishots of the Cattle Egret and take some photos of the local Green winged Orchids at the nearby Merry's Meadow LRWT.
Arriving at the Egleton reserve I was soon taking some record shots of the Cattle Egret as it feed around the cattle opposite mallard hide.
Pleased with the record shots of the Egret I then drove over to Greetham to check out Merry's Meadow.
At this site I counted at least 500+ Green winged Orchids in the surrounding meadowland and small numbers of the cute looking Adder's Tongue Fern.
Whilst at this site I received a message from Andy Mackay of a possible Wood Warbler at Victoria park in the centre of Leicester, and could I possible check it out?
As I was driving home that way I didn't see it as a problem, and parking the car just around the corner from the park, I was soon standing by the pond on "Vicky" park.
Although it felt a bit strange standing there with joggers, coverting couples and office workers looking on, suddenly above my head I heard the distinctive trill of a singing Wood Warbler.
I thought well done that man who originally reported the bird to the LROS website, I was know watching a Wood Warbler in the centre of the city!!
As you can imagine I phoned out the news out pretty dam quick and within 20 minutes the first local birders had arrived (Colin Towe and Allen Pocock).
Getting Colin and Allen on to the bird, it wasn't too long before a small crowd had gathered by the pond to watch the warbler.
Pleased with relocating the warbler I soon said my farewells to the group and realised that birds can turn up anywhere, even in a local city park!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Indiana Dave and chase of the Lark, Spider and Lady!?!

Two shots of Lady Orchids and
four shots of Early Spider Orchid included
the rare form Var.flavescens.

Leaving Leicester at around 6.00am, myself, Ben Croxtall and Pete Jessop arrived at Dungeness just after 9.00am. The first target of the day was the long staying Crested Lark which had been at this site for the last few days.
Within ten minutes of leaving the car we saw the Lark fly over our heads as it landed in the area which the locals call "the desert". The bird was quite mobile for the next couple of hours as it flew around the desert being moved by the large crowd of twitchers.
Then after a short period of time Ben suddenly picked up the lark slowly walking over a piece of shingle. With more directions from Ben the group finally saw the Lark on the deck. Get in Crested Lark OMFL!!!
Pleased with finally seeing the bird on the deck we decided to have a look on the sea with hopefully seeing the odd Skua or Shearwater going by?
Watching the sea over the next half an hour turned out to be quite disappointed. The only highlights we saw included a small group of Common Scoters, a few Sandwich Terns and a Harbour Porpoise passing the point.
Happy with what we saw at Dungeness, we moved on Samphire Hoe, near Dover to add another Orchid to my British list.
The target here was Early Spider Orchid (ESO) and this site is probably the best site in the UK to see this rare species.
From the car park I noticed straight away a few ESO by the car park fence, then moving further along the footpath next to the Channel Tunnel rail link we saw loads more ESOs (1,000+) in the surrounding area.
Also at this site is the rare form of ESO var.flavescens, and with help from my fellow orchid hunter Sean Cole via the phone, I soon found three plants of this form in the nearby vegetation.
With another target under the belt we decided to move onto West Denge Woods, near Canterbury for another target species in the form Duke of Burgundy butterfly and possible Lady Orchid?
After getting lost in the minor roads of Kent it took us about an hour to find the site.
Parking at the southern entrance to the wood, we were soon walking down the path to Bonsai bank, the area were Duke of Burgundy Butterfly occurred.
Possible as we got to the wood a little bit late the butterfly active was very quiet, but we did find good numbers of emerging Lady Orchids, Common Twayblade, Early Purple Orchid and a single Common Spotted Orchid on the "Bonsai Bank".
As it was now getting on for six o'clock in the evening we decided to call it a day and took a leisurely drive back to Leicester, but pleased we had scored with most of the targets of the day.