A Bittern has been seen twice this morning as it flew between the reed beds on the Slurry Lagoon. Also on the Slurry Lagoon were 41 Shoveler, a Little Egret and a Cetti’s Warbler. Later a Clouded Yellow was seen flying along the pathway. RW.
Otmoor and Bernwood 2010
After picking up Brian, Norman and Steve we set off on the first of our two Wildlife Seeker trips. As there was nothing exceptional around, I set off down the motorway to Oxfordshire and to the first of two new sites for the NWG trips.
The first site was RSPB Otmoor. We arrived with the sun shinning and within minutes Steve heard a Turtle Dove. As we walked up the track towards the feeding station we noticed that the path verges were full of butterflies – Common Blue, Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper. The bird list was growing slowly with the commoner birds.
There were dragonflies all round but unfortunately we were unable to identify them except for Ruddy Darter. We continue along the nature trail calling into the new hide then up to the viewing screens. Along the way two Kestrel were seen sitting on the fence posts. After about five minutes at the viewing screen we added Green and Wood Sandpiper to the growing bird list. Two eclipsed Garganey were also seen.
Between the two viewing screens we were amazed at the numbers of Common Blue butterflies on the Thistles. There were in excess of 1500 – every flower head had a butterfly on it. I had never seen anything like it. It was a photographer’s dream – if they would sit still.
On the way back towards the car park Brian commented that I had promised him Hobby. At the screen one and possibly two were seen but very distantly. A little later Turtle Dove was heard again and we all had good views thanks to Steve who found it sitting in a dead tree. We also had one on the path in front of us on the way back to the car. Red Kite was numerous with eight seen on the site but the best but most unexpected bird of the day was yet to come. As we approached the feeding station a small flock of birds rose into the air calling. Steve and Norman identified them immediately as Common Crossbill – 27 of them. There had been an irruption of them nationally in the past week with sightings from Northern Scotland to Kent but nobody had expected to see them in Oxfordshire.
As we had lunch in the car park we had a Hobby fly over the cars to every ones delight.
With the daily bird tally standing at 53 and the butterflies at 9, we set off to the second site of the day – Bernwood Forest and Meadow – another new site for us.
Having told the others that this was a good butterfly site, I was a little apprehensive as the sun had gone in although it was still quite warm. It was then that Marsh Tit was heard, being the only bird at this site that was added to the daily list.
As the sun broke through and the others were watching a Silver-washed Fritillary I saw a Weasel run across the path. We turning out of the wood and into the meadow and were greeted to three of four Marbled White butterflies. A little further on we saw a small group of Small Skippers but try as we did we couldn’t turn them into Essex Skippers!
We left the meadow returning to the wood. The sun was shinning through onto a path of bramble were we did manage to see one Essex Skipper – the black tips of the antennae showing very clearly. We meet a couple who told us were we could see Purple Emperor and White Admiral so we set of in search of them. Stopping at a crossroads, Brian spotted two Fallow Deer on the path in front of us about 200 yards away. Crossing the path was an army of Wood Ants making their way from their huge mound of a nest to their feeding areas. Brian pointed out how lucky we were as, if this had been Africa or South America we would have to have waited for them to pass as you would not have dared to have tried to pass them. As we continued we were seeing Silver-washed Fritillary, Specked Wood and the common butterflies but not the ones we wanted. We were almost at the point of giving up when a Red Admiral was spotted, the only one of the day. Soon after a White Admiral was seen but there was no sign of Purple Emperor. Ringlets were seen taking the daily butterfly tally to 17 of which 13 were new to the yearly list.
As we sat in the car park having a cuppa, a Silver-washed Fritillary gave Brian a good opportunity to get a photo.
The daily bird tally was 54.
The yearly trip totals are (with 2009 in brackets): Birds – 166 (141): Butterflies – 22 (14):
Mammals – 11 (5): Dragonflies – 6 (1): Others – 7 (0).
Padley Gorge – May 2010
On what was to be the hottest day of the year so far, Deryck, Jackie and I left Nottingham at about 0730 to meet Brian, Norman and Steve in Baslow, Derbyshire. While we waited a Garden Warbler was singing near the stream. We looked for Dipper, as this was a spot I used to see them regularly but not today.
We moved off to our first stop at Padley Gorge. We parked up, dosed up with sun cream and donned our sun hats then set off down the Gorge. Our target birds being Spotted and Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart. It wasn’t long before Redstart was heard but not seen. Continuing down the path we soon had views of 2 pair of Redstart at two nest boxes, close to each other. A few yards on down the path we were soon enjoying views of Pied Flycatchers, again at a nest box. A few of the group went a little further down the Gorge to see if they could connect with Wood Warbler but to no avail. Cuckoo could be heard calling all round but not seen. We had good views of a Nuthatch, a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. With the weather so warm there were Wood Ants all along the woodland path. Also seen were Small & Green-veined White Butterflies along with Orange Tip and Peacock. We returned to the cars, the day trip list now standing at 22 birds, 2 mammals and 4 butterfly.
We moved on about a mile to Surprise View Car Park were after a coffee break we moved onto the open moor for the first time. Here we added Tree Pipit and Carrion Crow to the day list along with a fleeting glimpse of a Green Hairstreak butterfly.
We moved on again, this time to Stanage Edge, taking a slow walk up to the edge over the open moorland. On the way we could hear a Reed Bunting calling from a gully and Curlew were heard across the moor. As we approached the Edge brilliant views of Green Hairstreak were obtained and photographed. Then the next target bird was spotted sat on a rock – a male Ring Ouzel. 3 males and a female were seen before we left the Edge. A Buzzard was seen being mobbed by Curlew.
Wearily and hot we returned to the cars to move on the Cutthroat Bridge, near the Ladybower Dams were we stopped for lunch.
After a refreshing break, another load of sun cream applied we set out on what I believed to be a steady walk around the moors. I had done a similar walk about 10 years ago and had found it very pleasant. Oh how the memory fades! The path we took was not the path I had taking all those years earlier. We were however rewarded with fine views of a Whinchat. A little further on we entered the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve – Ladybower Wood. The track here was very rugged but again we were rewarded with the first sighting, on our trips, of a Grizzled Skipper. These are tiny butterflies, about 22 – 26 cms
(about 1 inch or less)that can easily be over-looked. (See article – Dingy and Grizzled Skipper) Three more were found a little further on along with a Small Copper. While in the wood a peregrine glided over the treetops.
We continued on the path past the rear of The Ladybower Inn were Jackie had a visit from a strange little creature on her camera case that Brian and Norman did their best to photograph. Jackie and I later identified it as a House Longhorn. Also in this area were a few Rose Chaffers.
While going through a conifer plantation we had views of Siskin and Goldcrest.
The path seemed to go on and on, out of the trees and on to the open moor, getting steeper all the time. We were all shattered on getting to the top but here we were rewarded with fine views of Red Grouse and two chicks. After a well-earned rest we continued down hill on a well-worn path towards the cars. On the way down Stonechat were heard but we could not locate them.
Although it had been a very hot and tiring day, all agreed that it had been worth the effort with good views of the surrounding countryside and some wonderful wildlife.
I would like to thank Neil Matthew for providing us with such a good itinerary.
The yearly trip lists now stand at: – Birds – 145 (117) : Butterflies – 8 (10)
Mammals – 6 (5) : Dragonflies – 0 (0) : Others – 3 (0)
2009 in brackets.
A very warm and sunny day slightly spoilt by a strong south westerly breeze which kept the butterflies from flying. A group of seven of us set off along the Ouse Dyke where we encountered the usual selection of large, small and green-veined whites, speckled wood butterflies along with common darter, brown hawker and southern hawker dragonflies. We were even greeted by the call of the resident kingfisher as it speed off up the path.
On entering the site we soon found the first of our target species of common blue, which it became apparent are very abundant all around the site as there is plenty of birds-foot trefoil on the bank tops and sides. The next of our target species for the day was the small copper, only one of these was located at the top of a bank I know from previous visits to be one of the best places to find them. Unfortunately we weren’t so lucky with the small heath which failed to show at all, probably due to the wind whipping across the site.
Dropping down to the river bank to get some shelter from the wind we encountered our next target, brown argus. Or at least the back markers did, by the time the rest of us had backtracked it had disappeared into the long grass. However, we did all get to see this small butterfly later as altogether we encountered six in various parts of the lagoons.
The walk continued in the shelter of the hedge bordering the back of the gravel pits where plenty of common blue damselflies along with other butterflies and dragonflies were taking advantage of the windbreak offered by the hedge. Our return to the site found more brown argus on the central bund between the deep pit and the slurry lagoon, and also along the bottom pathe following the railway line.
By the end of the walk we had encountered ten butterfly species, including those mentioned above along with small tortoiseshell, brimstone, meadow brown and painted lady. Other highlights included two hobby, wheatear, whinchat and various warblers.