24 August, 2009

Dorset and a Rare Butterfly...

Yep. I've finally gone through all the photos from a recent 3 day holiday in Dorset. Luckily, the weather was brilliant and allowed lots of trips to this mostly untouched coastline.

Most of the first day was spend on the beach at Sandbanks. I have to admit, even though I am not a fan of busy beaches... the swimming there is magical; the temperature can only be a few degrees less than that of the Mediterranean. But it wasn't all sun and sand. There were birds too (both feathered and non-feathered). A few juvenile Common Terns were sitting it out in the midday heat...

Common Tern

Common Tern

The gulls were showing us the drabber side to their plumage...

Black headed Gull

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

On Day 2, we took a trip to the beautiful and untouched Dancing Ledge, a few miles from Lulworth. Due to its coastal hillside habitat, I was hoping to find Britain's rarest breeding butterfly... the Lulworth Skipper.

Dancing Ledge

Whilst I waited for the Skipper, there was plenty to watch. A Kestrel hovered high over the hilltops, and Common and Chalkhill Blues were fluttering about the grass.


Finally, the Skipper decided to show. After spending 20 minutes watching 15 Lulworths darting about the chalk hillside, we started the journey down to Dancing Ledge.

Lulworth Skipper

Lulworth Skipper

At the bottom were two Rock Pipits eagerly awaiting their pictures to be taken... not!
The 'arrggh a photographer, better hide' pose, or as I prefer 'arse end shot'...

Rock Pipit

The 'head down walking away' pose...

Rock Pipit

On the way back up the to the car park, a Magpie Moth played dead in a spiders web, only realising it was going to work on a Spider a little too late (I'm sure it really appreciated me rescuing it).

Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

On the final day, the plan was to spend a couple of hours at RSPB Arne looking for Dartford Warblers, and then to return to Sandbanks to for a hour, before rejoining the M3 bound for home.

It soon became apparent that RSPB Arne is a gem in the middle of nowhere. The views are spectacular and the site boasted a very large variety of wildlife. The reserve is also home to the Dartford Warbler, a species I have always wanted to see. However, through long, hard searching (about 5 minutes to be precise!), none turned up. Instead, Stonechat showed on the tops of heather, and every so often, would dip down and pick up a fly...



... and Little Egrets were along the estury, as where Avocets, Grey and Golden Plovers and Curlews.

Little Egret

But it wasn't just birds. Sika Deer were roaming the outskirts of the many fields and meadows. It would be very unwise to go closer to these deer for a 'better' shot as (even though imported into Britain) are totally wild and can pack a punch. I have to admit, when a young male ran across the field towards us, I was totally shiteing myself!

Sika Deer

Various insects that we encoutered around the reserve included Small Tortoishell.

Small Tortoishell

... lots of Common Darters...

Common Darter

... and some aboslutely massive Red Wood Ants. The same species used in that scene from the crappest and newest Indiana Jones movie!

Well, thats it from our trip to the Dorset coast. If you have been bothered to read this extremely long and boring post (which I don't blame you if you haven't) then you would agree with me when I say... Dorset is cool! Next up... we're in the New Forest!

So I leave you with this shot of Poole Harbour in all its beauty...

Poole Harbour

19 August, 2009

Garden Veneer

I've just come back from a holiday in the New Forest, full to the brim with hundreds of photos from that trip and also from a holiday in Dorset a few days before! I'm still going through many of my shots... including a few photos of a rarity, stay tuned to find out what it is!

In the mean time, here are some shots of a Garden Veneer Moth I took last week. One way to find these Micros is to flush them from the lawn by walking around the garden aimlessly like a complete idiot (certainly not what I do... :S).

Garden Grass-Veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

Garden-Grass Veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

I then found the dusty Finepix S5700 and went for some extreme close-ups. Even though I do not use this camera anymore, its macro capabilities are AMAZING, with a close focus of up to 1cm!!

Garden-Grass Veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

Garden-Grass Veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

Trip reports on Dorset and the New Forest to come!

11 August, 2009

Suffolk Holiday- Relaxing Birding

Woke up this morning (well actually a week ago now!) to the sorry sight of a dead Purple Hairstreak, which would have been a long awaited and rare lifer...

Purple Hairstreak

But enough about dead butters, today is the last in our 3 day holiday in Suffolk, and todays plan was to go to Lackford Lakes just 2 miles down the road. The 'Latest Sightings' in the visitor centre boasted 2 Turtle Doves and a Hobby, none of which I saw... deja vu, I think so?
As I scanned the Slough, I managed to pick out a Common Sandpiper and 4... yes, 4 Green Sandpipers!

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper

Reed Warblers were showy but I can't say the same for the resident pair of Kingfisher... hows about a game of spot the Reed Warbler??

Well camouflaged Reed Warbler

There was nothing much to note of any insects apart from a Common Darter (if the picture doesn't show... I can't help you!).

Common Darter

... and a rather stunning Common Blue Damselfly...

Common Blue Damselfly

So thats it, the end of our Suffolk holiday... tommorow I'm off to Poole in Dorset for seabirds. Until next time,

Happy Birding!

09 August, 2009

Suffolk Holiday- What a tit!

Its day 2 of our 3 day holiday with family in the wilds of Suffolk and an early start to decide what to do. Finally, it was decided that a trip to Lakenheath Fen RSPB would be at-hand, and the weather couldn't have been any better.

The journey was absolutely rubbish. As the reserve was not sign-posted until finally approaching the turning on which to enter the reserve, we managed to visit just about every fen in Suffolk apart from Lakenheath! Upon finally arriving, we sat down to have lunch, when a Skipper flew passed. I chased it (yep, thats how gay I am!) until it finally landed on a dandilion and revealed itself to be an Essex Skipper.

Essex Skipper
I swapped the 300mm lens for an 18mm to get a landscape shot of the area at the viewpoint...

Lakenheath Fen RSPB
We were looking out for the resident pair of Golden Oriole, but they decided not to show. Nor did the pair of Cranes that we apparently missed by minutes! However, this was certainly made up for when I spotted a young male Marsh Harrier in the distance as he quartered over the reeds...

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
As if that wasn't enough, another birder spotted a Hobby flying high in the sky... my second this year.

Onto the next viewpoint and another Marsh Harrier was showing in the distance. A Sedge Warbler was singing in the reeds, and showing brilliantly... not!

Sedge Warbler
But, hang on, there is something else flitting about in the reeds... it can't be... oh, it can be! It's a tit! But not just any old tit, its a Bearded Tit (giggles) and its a female (giggles a bit more)...

Bearded tit
Bearded Tit
On the way back, a Meadow Brown and Common Blue butterfly found their way into the viewfinder of my camera...

Common Blue
Meadow Brown
And to spread the icing on the cake, I managed a rubbish shot of a brilliant blue lightning bolt a.k.a Kingfisher... get in!

A Bolt of Blue Lightning

Stuff those stupid Golden Orioles and Cranes (I never liked them anyway), I got myself Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Bearded Tit and Kingfisher! "What next, Bill?" I hear you asking... well, in the last of this thrilling 3-past posting, I do a spot of relaxing birding at Lackford Lakes, adding Green Sandpipers to my list.

08 August, 2009

Suffolk Holiday- Moootthhhss!

I was kindly invited to stay with family up in the wilds of Suffolk for a couple of nights earlier this week. I had a brilliant time, and the best bit was I managed to fit in a large amount of wildlife watching in one of the best counties for birds and butterflies!
In fact, I've got so many images on the camera, the full account will have to be split into 3 posts.

But first... after a relatively okay journey up the notorious M25, we arrived at our relatives house late afternoon. After a brilliant dinner, I went out into their large garden and adjoining space of wood. By now it was pitch black and all around moths were flitting past. I managed to get the camera onto a few of them...

A Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)...

Mother of Pearl

A Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) on a window...

Riband Wave

This Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) decided to lay eggs on the front door

Dingy Footman

A Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata)...

Garden Carpet

And lastly, 2 Long-eared Bats were on the wing. I was about to take a photo of a Silver Y Moth when one of the bats snatched it out of mid-air! Didn't get a shot of it so your have to make do with this record shot...

Long-eared Bat

Next up on this 3-part series, I go to Lakenheath Fen RSPB where I get face to face with Bearded Tits (don't laugh!), so keep watching this space.