Saturday, 19 May 2018

Fluttering by

Another Saturday with no coaching duties, and with the weather forecast for hot and sunny, I decided to try to pick up two of the closest missing species from my Butterfly list, the Wood white and Pear Bordered Fritillary, up at Haugh Woods near Hereford. As I was heading that way I decided to try my luck with the Nightingales at Higham Woods.

Arriving at Higham just after 6am (I know, I was a bit lazy as first light is around 4am), it didn't take long for the first Nightingale to be heard, but no chance of seeing it. A bit further round the path and a third bird (I passed a second singing male that was never going to be seen) that offered hope as it was singing from low, Hazel, not far off the path and no big bushes in between. It still took about 15 mins of patient scanning and moving a step to the side and scanning again before I noticed somthing that appeared to big to be a stem on the Hazel. Sure enough, soon as it starting singing again, I could see it move. The view was crap, a bit of mantle and nape, but the movement syncing with the singing confirmed it was the bird. It then turned its head, giving a great profile view.  Nice.. I counted 6-7 singing males in total, but only got the visual on one.

It was then over to Haugh Woods - a new site for me. A quick coffee and then off round the Northern Butterfly walk. 5 mins in and a White appeared - dam, a Green-viened. This was quickly followed by a second G-v. Carrying on, a Hornet buzzed past. Eventually another White appeared, G-v again, but hold on, what about the next, it looked smaller and the flight poorer. Yes. a Wood White. The net three butterflies were all Wood Whites, nice, before Large Whites, Orange-tips and Speckled Woods put in an appearance.

A walk round the Southern Butterfly Walk, proved even more fruitful. A trail leading of the main path, early on, saw me locate a Glow worm larva and lots of Lattice Heath on the wing. Suddenly a larger, orange butterfly flew past behind me, but i couldn't get on to it - a Comma or a Frit', based on the strong flight, but hope. There were a number of micro's flitting around some Gorse, which I managed to get snaps off. The smaller, more colourful turned out to be a tick in the form of Grapholita internana. The field guides states that G internata is usually found in the company of another Tortix Cydia ulicetana and sure enough the second species I photographed was C ulicetana.

Back on the main path, there was plenty of butterfly action, mainly Green-v, Large and Wood Whites. Eventually the path came to a more open area and the number of butterflies increased, as I added at least 3 Brimstone and a Holly Blue, before another orange butterfly flew past. This time I saw it coming and watched it pass in front of me. It was no Comma, not Small Tortoiseshell, but a Frit. Would it land? No, it just disappeared as I was watching it. Either the same individual flew past three times or three different butterflies flew past and each time as I watched them the just disappeared, like the fell out of the sky, but I couldn't locate them.. So the views were good enough to know they were Pearl Bordered Frit's but were highly unsatisfactory. A tick, but I'd like better views.

                                            Wood White

                                           Grapholita internana
                                            Cydia ulicetana

Thursday, 17 May 2018


5 night stay in the Orkneys at Stromness on Mainland last week with one night at Fort William either side of the stay to break the drive up. Absolutely beautiful place with spectacular vistas everywhere you go.

The trip did not get off to a good start when the 3 Orcas which had been hanging around for awhile decided to disappear the day we arrived. Hooded Crow was my first year tick in Fort William, followed by Common Tern on the ferry over to South Ronaldsay. Bonxie soon followed at Scapa Bay the following day whilst dipping the Orcas flying about 10 feet over my head. A superb Long Tailed Duck in summer plumage was a real bonus also at Scapa Bay.

Next up after a tip off from Mr Bell I found an adult Glaucous Gull at Marwick Head. Even better at the next bay over the Brough of Birsay I then found a juvenile Glaucous Gull.

The next two days produced 7 Hen Harriers (4 males and 3 ringtails), 3 Twite, Arctic Tern all year ticks. Short Eared Owl and Merlin were a surprising miss although I only heard of one sighting of each in the previous two weeks. Puffin was another causing me problems but finally got two on the ferry back leaving me with 8 year ticks and also seeing plenty of real Rock Doves.

Other highlights were Red Throated and Great Northern Divers in summer plumage. Curlews and Oystercatchers in every field breeding especially enjoyed the Curlews displaying, I never realised they hovered so much.

Biggest bonus of the trip was I managed two ferry crossings without chumming. Not a huge list but plenty of birds everywhere and really nice to see some common birds on their breeding grounds.

Better Late Than Never

Two shots from earlier this spring.


Green Heron

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Wood Warbler

Two Wood Warblers seen after my second visit to Cwmbach's  Merthyr tunnel, I had almost gave up when one started calling.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


Some crap washed out distant cropped images from c09:00 hours this morning. The bird looked a lot smarter through the scope with orange face, alas looks like a summer plumage little stint, I guess the split supercilium is the clincher. Bird difficult to get anywhere near, so left alone, what do you reckon.

Quiet morning walk

After just coming back from holiday in Gran Canaria and getting to bed at 2 am I thought would have a day off from birdwatching and if by magic I was awake by 7 and I thought do I unpack  or go for a walk. Well because I had still not seen a Cuckoo I decided to go Cwm Cadlan and have another go. First up was a stop by the top cattle grid but it was pretty quiet and all I had was a couple of Stonechat and meadow pipits. I stopped in the pull in half way long where people normally fly tip and went straight up on to the Limestone pavement, there were good numbers of Wheatear and Skylarks. I had a good search for any late Dotterel but sadly no joy. As I came back down I flushed a Green Hairstreak out of the billberry, it's always great to see them and it's been a couple years since the last one. Once back the car I did my good deed and picked up a bag of rubbish. I thought it looked a lot cleaner until I crossed the road and looked down the bank and saw a pile of rubbish. I thought why travel all this way to tip, it would be quicker to take it to the recycling place. Next stop was Cwm Cadlan reserve and look for this cuckoo and no sooner did I get out of the car a cuckoo was calling across road the in the wood above  the Gropper site, I stood there for 10 minutes before it showed. On the reserve there was a couple of Redstart singing and showing really well and also at least two displaying male Tree Pipits. There were loads of butterflies on the wing but mostly Green Veined White and Orange Tips and about half a dozen Peacocks. At this point I was making my way back out when I scanned up towards the limestone and saw a group of people heading up there and I thought they must be Edinburgh awards or ramblers and I got off there just in time. I also had a quick walk to the Marsh Frit site but when I got there I decided not to go in just case I stepped on any basking caterpillars. Also on the reserve I got my first Large Red Damselflies of the year and all too soon it was time for me to go home and do my unpacking. As I walked back I spotted  someone with a scope near my car and for a second I thought I maybe should have checked the net before I left just case there was a good bird up there. As I got back to the gate there were people everywhere and I thought what's been found and then the penny dropped it was the Glamorgan Bird Club trip and for a second I thought there about twenty people here and I don't know any of them. It was great to see so many new up and coming birders but maybe not on my patch at the same time and then I saw two faces I knew Alan Rosney and John Wilson and fair play to these two guys they do a brilliant job and to do it week in and week out. I remember going on club trips with them many years ago and it was nice to meet some new members and all jokes aside great to see them out in the field.

 Dingy skipper was at Robertstown later in the day .

Monday, 7 May 2018

Rhaslas March 2018; Glaucous Gull update.

Received notification from Glamorgan Records Committee earlier today that the above has been accepted as a 2nd cal year Glaucous Gull re: "structure especially head and bill". Field observation; "c.Herring Gull size" attributed to the bird being a female.  

The above was taken from Birdwatch March 2018 and is of a 2nd cal year female, again taken in March, at Zealand, Denmark. The bird is described as small and neat with a rounded head, centrally placed eyes and a slender bill - not dissimilar to the Rhaslas bird, do you reckon, size isn't everything, whose round is it?