Sunday, 29 May 2016

Broadwater and Ashdown Forest

Before my last blog I had been to Broadwater Warren. Not tons of birds but the Woodlarks are showing so well at the moment, whether perched and singing or feeding on the path fairly close. Stonechats look like they have established a nest, Spotted Flycatcher, Wren, Song Thrush and Blackbird also look like breeding there. Going to check later in the month to see if the Lesser spotted Woodpecker has gone back to the same tree or at least the same area. Blackcap, Willow and Garden Warbler all singing along with everything else it seems makes a beautiful sound that is much appreciated from the usual noise around my garden.
There were a lot of Azure blue damselflies and Large red as well as a pair of Broad-bodied Chasers, the make looking stunning. Couldn't see to get a good shot as they would settle in a awkward spot to see (however see later in this blog for some I did get).
Brimstone, Peacock and Green-veined White were the 3 butterflies I noted. I kept seeing what I thought was a moth in various places but never settling until finally I managed to get a half shot (your see what I mean) of a Speckled Yellow.
Black cock beetle was found scurrying across the path.

A good little visit, will have to come along soon in the evening to get Nightjar and Woodcock. Below are some of the photos I took.

Large red damselfly

One of the 3 Woodlarks on path.

Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia) now you see why it is a half shot.

Pterostichus madidus 

The next day I thought I would check out Ashdown Forest and look for specifically Redstart and any dragonflies in the pools there.
Nearly the first bird I saw was about 20 Crossbill, some gorgeous red males amoung them. Didn't quite get a shot of them (only the branch they WERE on). At least one pair of Redstarts along with Great spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat and 2 Spotted Flycatchers. Woodlark nearly stole the show though as 1 bird sat on a dead tree for about 5 minutes with no concerns about the 2 photographers getting no doubt great shots.

my shot of the mentioned Woodlark

Azure damselfly and Broad-bodied chaser were the main dragonflies seen. There will be more later in the year because this is a excellent site for them. There was another dragonfly there but it never landed and I have as yet no clue what it was. Yellow on head (dragonfly shape not damsel) and red on a bulging tail. Don't know how else to describe it but will be looking into it as the view of it is in my head now. I managed to take one of the best dragonfly shots I have taken so far.

Another Azure above
male Broad-bodied Chaser below

One moth was seen which I am looking up now.
Okay, think it is a Brown silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata)

A good couple of hours that I plan to repeat very soon.

Next up a quick visit to Hayesden Country Park, my third day in a row for going out. I have a feeling that next week as it is half term might not have so many visits, Am definitely keeping on eye on bird reports though as there have been a couple of birds in Kent that I would have gone for had I been available, watch this space who knows what might happen!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Bits and pieces

What with the warmer weather and it coming to the end of May, thought I would check out local park for insects and anything else of note. Park lottery funded projects nearly all finished. The only it not finished is the marsh area which I am looking forward to. The boardwalk looks like it is nearly completed but think there are things to be planted still. Not sure how productive it will be this year, it might all properly kick off next year, but here's hoping it does this year.

These are some of the images I took at the park

Haven't identified any yet but will make an attempt later.

Went to broadwater today and thankfully there are some dragonflies. 
Will post report on that later but if you want some great photos of Woodlark then now is a very good time to go there, today there were 3 just feeding on the path in front of me. 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Back to Broadwater Warren

Yesterday (20th May) did a visit to Broadwater warren again. Still no dragonflies to report but think they will appear over the next week. A few Brimstone were flying around and a good few orange/copper moth (i think it is a moth) flying around but never close or never settling. In water hole that has been dug out a Green tiger beetle (Cicindela campestris) was darting around at quite a pace. A massive slug was resting just about the waterline. Plenty of the usual wood ants and a few flies.

Not sure what species it is above (please let me know if you do)
Think below is a bluebottle

Now it is warmer the bird life is a lot more active, or maybe just the fact the warblers are in and singing. Great spot was on feeder when I arrived and a Wren was hanging around in this area as well. Blackbird, Crow, Goldfinch and a not so common Feral Pigeon showed. The star of the show was Woodlark today though, they were perching and calling away. Always very showy at this time of year. A gorgeous male Stonechat with very bold colours tried to steal the show but disappeared in the scrub way to quickly and followed what looked like a younger bird. Song Thrush, Robin, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were all competing for the airwaves. Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, 2 Mallard and Grey Wagtail were all on or around the pond. Garden Warbler was singing through the trees but only showed briefly before finding a hidden perch and singing again. A call alerted me to the presencee of the returning Spotted Flycatchers, they were both flycatching over the pond. About 5 minutes after that I noticed one then both birds on a tree popping into a hole. Setting up home or would they already have young, am sure I will soon find out as I know where to look now. Going back to the car park 2 siskins were on the feeder and quite happy for me to photograph them it seems. 

One of my favourite photo Woodlark

Very obliging Siskins that did'nt fly off even when I walked past to the car.

A good couple of hours spent there, Breeding Tree Pipits next couple of weeks, then Dragonflies and finally Nightjar and Woodcock all over the next month or so. It going to be good and thats just a t Broadwater! 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Insects found in the cemetery

From the walk in my last blog I mentioned the insects. The main non-flying one was a Jet Ant (Lasius fuliginosus) these ants are slightly bigger than normal 'lawn' ants. Seem quite easy to id as they have a shiny jet black colour and a distinctive heart shaped head. They milk aphids for their honeydew and even protect them during the winter. One had been caught from the wall where they were living, couldn't get a decent shot of it but know where they are for next time.

Early Bumblebee was the first bee we saw. Then caught a Solitary mining bee (which I didn't get a pic off when in the hand). Don't think we were given the name for that one.

The next one we caught was I think quite a good one - Red-girdled Mining bee (andrena labiate)

I know we saw Red Mason Bee, which I thought the below photo was a phot of, but not sure now.

The last one we saw I think, if my notes are right. Lasioglossum leavigatum, it is a mining bee that was caught for all to see.

It was an enjoyable walk and think I might go there again to have another look around.
I have a few more walks and trips planned for the next few months so will update when I go on those.

A walk in the local cemetery

The friends of the Tunbridge Wells cemetery had invited a local expert along for a flower walk, but any insects found would be looked at.
Black Bryony was seen first, this though is poisonous and not related to the White Bryony at all. Three different buttercups were seen Meadow (acris), Bulbous (bulbosus) and Creeping (repens). Prickly and smooth sow-thistle. Bluebell and Spanish Bluebell. Hawk bit, Spotted laurel, Corn Salad, Garlic mustard and the star of the show Green-winged Orchid.

Our common Bluebells (above)
Spanish Bluebells (below)

Green-winged Orchid
Anacamptis morio


Wall-rue (above)
I think it is called maidenhair steam-wort (Below)

Smooth sow-thistle (above)
Creeping buttercup (below)

These are some of the flowers we saw. Can't seem to easily access my other photos from my ipad so will sort that out and then update what insects we saw, at least 1 ant and about 4 different bees.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Success. UK tick obtained.

Yesterday (3rd May) I decided to go for the dove. Spent a couple of hours there to no avail, but it seemed to have been seen more in afternoon and evening. Went home to cook dinner and then got back up to Otford for about 5. The bird had been seen about an hour ago, after being there about 5 minutes all the other birders quickly went round the corner and there was the Western Rufous Turtle Dove (form meena). wonder if it had been there early but not to worry now. Got great views through the scope, camera tried to get a shot.

Best I could get but quite pleased with them considering the size of the camera.

While waiting for the bird to appear a Orange Tip flew through a few times and a couple of Brimstones also appeared.

The Tawny Owl that I mentioned before was seen again the next night but wasn't last night. I wonder if he often sits there. Strangely enough when I got home I heard another Tawny near to the house.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Close encounter

At work a little while ago and a colleague came and asked me if I had seen the owl outside. Apparently it had flown past his head and settled nearby. I went out the back and there was a Tawny Owl just sitting in one of the trees nearby. It watched us and then hopped behind the tree. It came back 5 min later and I got the best picture I could, It was 1am and the battery was running out typically.

Will try to get rid of the bright eye but had to try.
Just before leaving work the bird appeared again, I think it is going to be a rat catcher tonight as I know there are some nearby. Will make sure camera is on hand tomorrow night to see if it comes back.
Was going to head out for the Rufous Turtle dove a couple of days ago but was told it hadn't been seen for a few hours, luckily I had only gone about 5 minutes in car. It has been seen again and has been around for a couple of weeks now. Might try to get this for my UK list on Tuesday specially as it is only a 20minute trip there. Will update if I go.
Also forget to mention that I saw what I think was a Harbour Porpoise on my last trip to Dungeness. It was leisurely going along close to shore and looking at descriptions this is what I think it was.