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31 August 2020

Birds on the Move

Went down to the South Hams today and spent some time between East Soar and Middle Soar.

Main reason to go was to find some Yellow Wagtails amongst other migrants and wasn't disappointed. Walking down besides the runway saw Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Goldfinch, Swallows, House Martins, Pied and Yellow Wagtails. The Wagtails in the end were spread over a wide area and there must have been 100+ birds, many Juveniles but also some very smart Adults that sadly were always a bit far for a decent photograph. Apart from being on the ground they were seen several times flying around with the House Martins which were also there in good numbers.

The several 100 House Martins and Swallows spent a lot of time around the white farm house and farm buildings which must have been attracting many insects.

Plenty of other insect eating birds in the copse area just down from the farm, must have been 5+ Spotted Flycatchers as well as Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Wren, Whitethroat, Robin and Blackbird.

In hedgerows close to the barn/pond area I found Yellowhammers, Cirl Buntings, Linnets and Stonechats.

Also saw Great spotted Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Raven, Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies, Herring Gulls, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Sparrowhawk.

Plenty of Butterflies about with Large and Small White, Small Copper, Common Blue, Brimstone, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral.

Saw loads of Humans and some in planes landing at East Soar, everybody very friendly and it was great to chat about what is about, also great to meet the ever smiling Mr Richard Moore, great company!



30 August 2020

Dartmoor

Although I thought it would be busy because of the Bank Holiday I decided to go up on Dartmoor.

I started off by parking up on one of the car parks on Trendlebere Down, surprisingly there was a bit of a cold chill in the air which quickly went once you got into Yarner Woods.

Very quiet all around both birds and humans, all the hides closed and no feeders out. Still managed to see Stonechat, Blackbird, Robin, Blue,Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Wren and Nuthatch. I also saw a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, its like London Busses, you dont see any for ages, then 3 come along t once! In fact the one I saw at Slapton end of last week was the first of the year and I see another 2 today!

I then went for a drive and ended around Soussons Woods and Challacombe. A few birds around with Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Herring Gull, Buzzard, Swallows, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Pheasant.

Plenty of humans about and all behaving themselves and Dartmoor just looked stunning!



29 August 2020

All over the place part 2

When the storm ended I went for a walk around several areas which I thought would hold a few interesting birds or other stuff blown or washed in, but to my amazement not a lot seen.

Visited Dawlish and Dawlish Warren Sea front and beaches, Slapton and Torcross line, Beesands, Start Point, Exminster Marshes and Stover.

I visited Stover twice, the first time I couldn't get in because it was packed with people and nowhere to park so got there early, even so quite busy but the lake was empty of Birds apart from the odd Duck.

Slapton Ley wasn't that busy for birds, probably because there was canoes on the water. But there was plenty of smaller birds by the bridge and the first part of the walk to Ireland Bay with lots of insect eaters with Spotted Flycatcher, Swallows, Chiffchaff, Reed, Sedge and Cettis Warblers.

Beesands Ley was empty except for a couple of Mute and single Black Swan. Start Point was quiet as was Dawlish sea front.

Dawlish Warren had a bit more but no goodies washed up on the beach. A Male Scoter was a nice find close to the beach as well as Sanderling and a smart looking Turnstone.

Several walks around Exminster, especially around the cattle looking for Cattle Egrets and Yellow Wagtails bore no Fruit and typically a trip to Bowling Green to see the Spoonbills was a waist as they flew off before I got there.

Met lots of nice people and great to meet up with the great Mr Perry Sanders at Slapton.



24 August 2020

All over the place

Spent the last three days going around several of the local reserves and the River Exe to see what is about.

Apart from several stops along the River Exe and the River Kenn I looked into Powderham Estate, Powderham Church, Exminster Marshes several times, Countess Weir, Aylesbeare, Seaton Marshes, Bowling Green Marsh, Goosemoor and the fields behind Starcross and Dawlish.

Plenty of waders about and some looking splendid in their summer plumage. A couple of Spoonbills at Bowling Green but too far away for any pictures.

I tried to catch up with some Cattle Egrets that had been seen around the Exeter Canal but was unable to connect, also looking out for Yellow Wagtails in and around the cattle on Exminster, its got to be that time of year?

Didn't meet many bird watchers about, all down the Warren I expect with the Melodious, it certainly put on a good show!



20 August 2020

Melodious Warbler

While I was away in the Scillys, got a call to say an Melodious Warbler was at the Warren, and with a name like that it needed to be seen.

So first day back I went to the Warren, lots of people about saying they hadn't seen it, so after a walk around I went home to carry on with sorting the pictures out of the Scilly trip when I got a shout that it was there all along and in the end had good views for a couple of hours.

It has been wounded some how and its left eye is damaged, but still manages to feed.

Big thank you to Phil the Warden for giving me the shout



12 August 2020

Scillys

Spending a week in the Scilly Isles which has become a yearly event. I have 4 trips booked with Scilly Pelagics and plan to do 2 extra with Joe on the Tuesday and Thursday.

Came down last night (Tuesday) and stayed at Premier Inn, Hayle which was expensive for a bed, this morning came over on the Scillonian which due to social distancing had about half the passengers, sadly a few left their brains at the dock, the crew told everybody about the restrictions, one way systems, follow the arrows etc.

Typically being humans they make themselves look stupid and I will leave it there!

Arrived at St Marys and staying in a little cottage in the town. In previous years I have stayed in B&B, The Atlantic pub and another Self catering Flat away from the town, so this year stayed closer to the harbour so its easier to get to after a trip, staying in Self-catering while might be a bit more expensive, gives you the freedom to do what you like.

All the stuff you would expect such as queuing outside shops, masks etc but I wasn't expecting a table full of Covid information such as Risk Assessments, talk about covering your back, but slightly over the top!

The islands covered in mist this morning ( Thursday )so did a bit of walking around St Marys and as the day went on the cloud lifted although not completely, still very humid. Walked around higher and Lower Moors, Porth Hellick Pool, as in other places all the Bird Hides were locked due to Covid 19, then walked around the coast south of the Airport and back to the town. All the usual birds that you would expect to see but was surprised to see a lack of gulls on the coastline? Plenty of butterflies and other insects on the flowers, especially Purple Loosestrife. Whites, Meadow Browns, Common Blues, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

Went on my first boat trip of the week, went on Joes fishing trip which also doubles up to watch for birds. Joe Pender Skippers the "MV Sapphire" The trip started at 5pm from the quay at St Marys, as normal bread was thrown from the start but very few birds followed and at long distances no birds were seen. We did see though Sun Fish, Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin. Did see a few Shags on the rocks.

We stopped about 7 miles South of the island and started to drift so fishing could take place, a chum bag was put over the back and we waited. It started to slowly get busy with some great showing of a single Great Shearwater, an adult Sabines Gull and a distant Cory's Shearwater. later on a couple of Manx Shearwaters did a distant pass at the back of the boat. Storm Petrels started to show at the back of the back and side of the boat, mostly European but a couple of Wilsons also. Also saw a few Fumlars who came and sat at the back of the boat, quite comical at times, chatting and bickering between themselves. A few Gulls did eventually appear, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls, many Juveniles as well as both adult and Juvenile Gannet.

Several Blue Sharks were caught, Tagged and released, having these beautiful creatures on board is always exciting, but always pleased to see them go back into the Sea. Sea state was fairly calm and we arrived back in the dark due to the cloudy conditions.

Friday morning went for a walk around the Garrison area of St Marys, plenty of military History here with the gun emplacements from the French Wars to WW2. Good views over to other Islands but still a bit misty, more Gulls around today as well as Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Rock Pipit, Collard Dove, House Sparrows, Starling and a Female Wheatear stood on a wall. Reports of Pied Flycatcher here as well but missed by me.

2nd evening trip out on the boat, many more Gulls about with Black-headed, Herring, Great and Lesser-black Backed Gulls which followed the boat out to where we stopped and drifted with the chum working its magic both European and Wilsons Storm Petrels around the boat. We saw plenty of quality birds with several Bonxie and a single Pom Skua which came over the boat, real frustration on my part in that I couldn't get a sharp picture of this bird.

Some Shearwaters came close to the boat, quite a few Great Shearwaters, Couple of Corys, Manx and single Sooty Shearwater, so lots of great birds around.

Several Dolphin about as well as a group of Sunfish which looked a bit weired with them flapping their Fins in the air. A stunning journey back with the sun going down over the Western isles, just a beautiful place to be!

Saturday started at 9am for the boat trip out, the sea state was very calm, like glass! We went South for about 7-8 miles, where we drifted and Chummed. Not sure what they put in it but it stinks!!Apart from bread, Pop Corn and Meal Worms are also thrown over the back to attract Gulls which in turn attract other birds such as Skuas, also Fish Oil has been put over the back to add to the slick to attract the Storm Petrels and Shearwaters. After a while we went East and did a sort of a triangle, picking up Birds that were sitting on the water, it was easy to pick up birds on the very calm waters.

We saw lots of birds, many singles such as Black Tern, Sabines Gull, Grey Phalarope and Bonxie. Flock of Dunlin and Sanderling, Common Tern, Great and Manx Shearwaters, Fulmar, Gannets, European and Wilsons Storm Petrels, Cormorant, Shag, Herring, Black-headed, Great and Lesser-black Backed Gulls.

Plenty of Marine life with Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoise, Grey Seal,Blue Sharks, Sun Fish, Blue-fin Tuna and a wonderful little " By the Wind Sailor". Back for 4pm, hot but happy!

8am start today ( Sunday )so that we could get back for some of the people on the boat to get the Scillonian home. The wind had unfortunately changed direction to northerly and it was a bit dull, so the prospects not that good. We left St Marys and went Westerly to South of the Western Rocks to an area called " Pol Bank Reef", we drifted here for a while and put plenty of Chum out, as expected it was very quiet.

To everybody surprise a Balearic Shearwater arrived at a back of the boat, did a bit of a fly around and then carried on Westerly. We also saw Great, Sooty and Manx Shearwaters. We then moved Easterly to a point 6 miles South of St Marys and drifted and Chummed for a while, it continued to be quiet with occasional bird such as Storm Petrel, Bonxie and Kittiwake. We also a good range of Gulls with Herring, Great and Lesser-black Backed Gulls, Also a Juvenile Yellow Legged Gull, Fulmars, Common and Sandwich Terns. Other Marine life was restricted to Common Dolphin, Sun Fish and Grey Seal.

This Morning ( Monday ) decided to chill out, go for a cooked breakfast in Hugh Town and be a tourist for the day. I had a Text from Luke who was one of the group on the boat to say he was on Peninnis Head, he knew from conversations on the boat about my interest in Butterflies and that I had not seen a Painted Lady yet, unlike last year they seem to be a bit scarce, he said he had seen 2, so off I went, it was a bit humid and there had been several showers. There is some stunning views here of Porthcressa Beach and St Agnes and the area around the Lighthouse has some stunning stones that have been sculptured in the wind and rain. Also plenty of flowers here to tempt the Butterflies, all the way along the path I met them with large White, Green veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Meadow brown, Common Blue, Red Admiral and Painted Lady which took a while to get a picture, eventually I did which makes 54 Species of Butterfly seen this year.

5pm back out on the Sapphire for an evening trip, South again traveling for about 6 miles where we drifted and chummed which was a bit more ripe than normal!

Started a bit quiet, sea state was choppy. Slowly birds started to appear, apart from the usual Gulls and Fulmars, Storm Petrels and a few Wilsons Storm petrels came to the back and side of the boat. A group of Comic Terns which at least one was a Artic Tern, several sightings of Bonxie, could of have been the same bird flying around harassing the Gulls, a single turnstone flew by the boat which was not expected as I wasn't sure were it came from, clearly going to the islands.

Shearwaters put in a good show with several Great Shearwaters, Manx Shearwaters and a distant Sooty, best of all was a couple of Cory`s that showed several times around the boat, at the start, at distance but then came into the back of the boat, only issue it was late and getting dark.

They pulled in a Blue Shark, tagged and released, also saw Common Dolphin and Blue finned Tuna.

Such a great journey back, the sun going down over the Western Isles and in the clear sky good views of Planets Jupiter and Saturn, some people using their bins got some views of their Moons.

This morning ( Tuesday ) was going to visit another Island before going on a trip with joe tonight, but when I saw the quay and full boats I did a 180 degree turn and went for a walk around the South of St Marys, such a stunning place and you spend another week here looking at the Flowers and Plants that are here on the Islands.

went on my final boat trip of the week, it doubles up as a Shark fishing trip. we travelled about 5-6 miles South of St Marys. The water was quite choppy and the wind was up, on the way there was several feeding frenzy's on view with good views of Tuna and Dolphins with Gannets diving in. Once we stopped for the Fishing we chummed and started to see both European and Wilsons Storm Petrels. But then the Shearwaters started to pile in, unfortunately for me few pics because the light wasn't good and the boat was rocking!

Large numbers of Great and Manx Shearwaters coming in at the back and side of the boat, also several Cory Shearwaters around the boat, but at a distance. A few fast flying Sooty Shearwaters past the the back of the boat mixed in with Manx Shearwaters. A single Balearic made it 5 species of Shearwaters around the boat at one time which was quite special.

Great Skua visited several times and 2 Pomarine Skua could be seen flying parallel to the boat at a distance. Arctic Terns and Kittiwake also joined the back of the boat as well as Herring, Great and Lesser -black Backed Gulls as well as the ever present Fulmar.

The wind and waves died down a bit and with a red sky over the Western Isles we had a lovely journey back to St Marys.

Total species seen from the boat are, Great, Cory, Sooty, Manx, Balearic Shearwaters and Fulmars. European and Wilsons Storm Petrels, Artic, Sandwich, Common and Black Tern. Black-headed, Herring, Great-black Backed, Lesser-black Backed , Sabines and Kittiwake Gulls. Gannet, Great Skua, Pomerene Skua, Grey Phalarope, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Cormorant and Shag.

Marine life seen has been wide with Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Ocean Sunfish, Blue Finned Tuna, Grey Seal, Blue Shark and "By the wind sailor".

Birds seen around the Island of St Marys are, the every cheeky House Sparrow, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Dunnock, Great Tit, Sedge Warbler, Linnet, Wheatear, Wood Pigeon, Collard Dove, with Oystercatcher, Greenshank, Dunlin, Black-headed, Lesser and Greater-black Backed Gulls around the Beaches and Town.

Seen plenty of Butterflies, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large White, Green veined White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Small Torteshell, Speckled Wood and Painted Lady. Plenty of other insects and flowers that I could spend another at least another week looking at, let alone all the Geology and Scenery of the Islands.

Met many old faces which has been great, but also new ones such as Chris, Luke and John. Big thank you to Joe and Bob for putting us in the right place and setting the weekend up.

Horrendous journey home due to the weather, both on the Scillonian and the journey up the A30 but I live to fight another day!!



11 August 2020

Long-tailed Blue

There had been reports of Long-tailed Blues along the south coast especially around Brighton and on Everlasting Peas which were also on site at the harbour entrance at Seaton. There were LTBlues here last year so took a chance and paid a visit this morning.

I arrived at about 9.30 and it was already starting to get hot, plenty of Butterflies on the Peas but no LTB, I did notice Butterflies coming off the trees to Necture on the Peas such as Holly Blue.

Then about 20 ft from me a Brown Butterfly came down and landed on a Pea and Bingo a Female LTB!!

It flew around a bit and what I thought was a 2nd joined in but wouldn't settle.

They seemed to fly up the cliff again and I lost them, it would be great to find a Male sometime?

Also while you are here please be careful not to trample the pea plants as hopefully they will lay eggs on these as they were doing last year.

Apparently there is some LTblues at Berry Head but they kept that quiet??



09 August 2020

Silver-spotted Skipper

Went up to Dorset today to Fontmell Down, stunning place and plenty of Butterflies about.

Went to see the Silver Studded Skipper and was lucky enough to see 3 which makes 52 species seen this year so far with a possible 2 more to see, not including any rarities.

As normal lots of nice people about looking for Butterflies and Flowers.



08 August 2020

Birds Only

Decided to have a break from Butterflies today and look at what birds are about along the River Exe.

At Cockwood steps the tide was full in and just a few Mute Swans about, in the Harbour it was just Black-headed Gulls and Canada Geese, nothing exciting to write home about.

Stopped at The River Kenn out Flow and more Mute Swans with a few Herring Gulls on the water.

On the River Kenn plenty of Little Egrets on the Rivers edge as well as Canada Geese, Grey Heron, Mallard and more Black-headed Gulls.

Parked up at Powederham Church, plenty of Swallows and House Martins about, with a good number sat on the Electric Wires that crossed the fields, looking to fly to Africa no doubt.

Over the bridge and in the field was a large flock 100+ of mostly Black-headed Gulls with at least 6 Med Gulls, 1 Common Gull and in the middle a adult Kittiwake which was a surprise, it was the last thing i expected at in a field in August!!

Walked around Exminster Marshes and back to the car at Powderham it was very quiet, apart from a pair of Kestrel, Adult and Juvenile that was it!

Still I enjoyed the walk and met lots of great people so happy days!



07 August 2020

Brown Hairstreak

Went to Netherclay Community Woodland Local Nature Reserve which is on the outskirts of Taunton and is run by the SWT.

Its the first time I have been here and very impressed!

Saw plenty of Butterflies which included 3 Brown Hairstreaks that were flying around the tops of trees and this smart female that came down to say Hi.

Nice to meet some of the locals going on their daily walk and rightly proud of their bit of nature!



01 August 2020

Cumbria and Butterflies

Went to Cumbria for a few days, a month later than originally planned, but because of lock down and all that, couldn't get there until now.

Looking for Mountain Ringlet, Northern Brown Argus, Large Heath and Scotch Argus. Places visited were Smardale Gill, Irton Fell, Latter Barrow and Meathop Moss which were all fairly close to Ulverstone where I was staying.

In the end I got the Scotch Argos, picture as well, saw a Large Heath but no photo and a no go n the other two. But trip very worth while as got to look around these sights for next year.



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