Sunday, 31 July 2011

A bit of vintage, a first, some waders and a major clanger

The Spitfire and it's accompanying (and annoyingly noisy) heliocopeters been around a lot this weekend, came close enough for these pics yesterday afternoon. Couldn't enjoy the sound of the Merlin engine because of the helicopters I already winged about (miserable old git)

After a clear and cool night I didn't expect much in my moth trap, but wanted to have something to show Phil and Mandy when they visited this morning. I imagine my suprise to find this lively character in the trap. I succeeded in getting it into a jar and in the fridge without it escaping, while not getting a good look. A quick phonecall to Tony Morris as I thought it was a Bedstraw Hawkmoth like his of Wednesday last. When he arrived after a short interval I had had another look and thought what Tony confirmed - a Striped Hawkmoth, an immigrant, and apparently a first record for this species for St Margaret's. As it was so lively I felt it best to release it as soon as possible, but it made it's own escape and out the window after only one photo - byeee
Beautiful, isn't it?

Thankfully Phil and Mandy got to see it before we went orf to Sandwich Bay, where a walk out to Backsand Scrape was rewarded by these waders
First, a fine Wood Sandpiper

A small group of Dunlin - winter flocks can number thousands

 This Common Sandpiper was one of several on the scrape

And now for a clanger, suddenly there was a brown thing flying across in front of the hide and into the edge of the reeds, where it lurked for several minutes, showing pale yellowy patches on its thighs and rear end, which led me to exclaim "Water Rail". Imagine my embarrassment when an aggressive Moorhen chased it out into the open, where it turned into a juvenile Moorhen. No wonder I have an undeserved reputation for "stringing", or misidentification

How can anyone make this into a Water Rail, I ask you 

Oh well, this Little Egret came close and made up for it - even I can't get this one wrong

The while this oystercatcher was unimpressed, maybe it had a hangover, it's certainly red-eyed!

If you haven't done so already, have a look at kearsneybirder blog, Phil been in Sweaty Sock land and got some superb photos. Thanks to Phil and Mandy for an extremely pleasant morning, and it was pleasant to show them the Little Owl at Chequers, mentioned  by Tony in has latest blog, well spotted Mandy

Friday, 29 July 2011

Swallows Moths and Butterflies - and a Quail

First up in this mixed bag are some pics of young Swallows outside Richards livingroom window, first, 2 of the young - must have recently fledged nearby

The Mum (I think) settled on the windowcill for a few moments, superb pic

Then there was a clean-up session on the wires for the young - all taken by Richard

Recent occupants of the moth trap in my garden, first this
Buff Arches, super little moth

A rathter splendidly well marked Dark Arches - on lichen or an old tree trunk you'd never see it

The first Dun Bar of the summer, unusually light in colour for my garden

and finally this lovely little Dusky Sallow

Did my butterfly count today for the wider countryside survey - see
for more info. The requirement is for one count in July and another in August with the option to do more. A fine sunny day is required, and to my dismay I put it off until after our holiday as the medium term forecast was good for when we got back - doh!! This last week especially been awful, and I have had some false starts but today there were a few glimmers of sun to get these and others on the wing


Red Admiral

Essex Skipper - note the black tips to its antenna

Super super pristine Brown Argus, my camera dont do it justice
Wall Brown
 While plodding round transect 8 in no sun, there came from the wheat an electrifying sound, a Quail calling, supposed to be "wet my lips" -twaddle - it's unlike anything except a Quail calling!! No suprise I couldn't get to see it. tho' a few years ago one flew out from in front of the Combine at Wanstone while I was having a ride in the cab - even so a brief view but at least I have seen one!
When I've done the paperwork and got a count will bung it on here

Saturday, 23 July 2011


The week before last we escaped for a rest after the Garden Safari - which raised over £8000 for the Pilgrim's Hopsice - "somewhere in France" - in Sue and Don's super gite near to Saumur. We were blessed with lovely weather too, although it was really desperately dry down there

So as not to bore everyone, here first of all is the mystery Fritillary species I need help identifying please

There follow various holdaiy - or even holiday - pics

Chinon first - Chateau and ever such old streets - and a superb lazy lunch in the square for just over 11 Euros each plus drink and coffee

This is the brand new lift up to the fortress from the square in Chinon, all stainless steel and glass, looks superb against all the old buildings, suprisingly, can't imagine English planners allowing that!

This is a bread oven in one of the towers in the fortress, of interest (to me anyway) is the collection of bat droppinsg on top, fallen from the flue above!

This is Amboise, another lovely old town, and another superb lunch

This is Saumur - lunch was a bit more as it was Bastille Day!!

Other highlights were:-

This shipwreck in Saumur, no idea what it's about but definitely aground, note the Pompiers in attendance on a Sunday  - lots of overtime!!

 Mistletoe and 6 Golden Orioles in here, just out back of the gite

A quaint corner od Parcay les Pins, the nearest village

A baby donkey found while out walking

A Reed Warblers nest right under the hide front at Rille Lake, where there was also a lone and distant Great Egret

The Rose Gardens at Doue la Fontaine, superb place, when at their best the roses would have been stunning, later, in the town square, another superb lunch

And this Turtle Dove coo-ing at the rose gardens

The gite surrounded by Sunflowers

And a Hare in the field next door recently harvested - Oats or Barley it seems

The bird list was 39, including Cirl Bunting and Yellowhammer, Honey Buzzards and lots more too, a good holday