Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Gropper Gets the Nod

On Tuesday we made our only visit of the year to Noddle Hill, a nature reserve on the edge of the largest council estate in Europe.  It was gloriously sunny, but at times there was quite a strong chilly northerly wind.  Despite the wind we enjoyed a good selection of wildlife.   
Grasshopper Warbler (c) 2016 Maggie Bruce
We were standing in the car park when Steve spotted a buck Roe Deer on the playing field behind us.  
 Roe Deer (buck)
We were following the path round when someone, perhaps it was  Gill, spotted some caterpillar cocoons.   On closer examination these proved to be Lackey caterpillars.  The caterpillars began to throw their heads back and forth violently, which may have been a defence mechanism 
Lackey Moth Caterpillars 
Other insects we saw included: a Brimstone, Orange-Tips, Green-Veined White, Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. 
Male Orange-Tip
As we reached the dyke there were more sightings of Linnets and Whitethroats.  One male Linnet  was particularly red on his breast.  
Male Linnet 
Another bird in evidence near the dyke was a Sedge Warbler, but a Reed Warbler remained hidden.   
Sedge Warbler
As we reached the highest point the faint reeling of a Grasshopper Warbler could be heard.  We climbed a flood bank and were lucky enough to catch sight of one in a bramble patch.  David noticed the long tail in flight, but was disappointed in the tail visible in Maggie's photo at the head of this post.  Is he any happier with the tail on the Grasshopper warbler shown below?
Grasshopper Warbler
We reached the massive Holderness drain at the back of the site.  The Kingfisher was noticeable by its absence, but we did see a Tree Sparrow, Blackcap and Whitethroat.  A strange dark insect was seen fluttering around a hawthorn bush on the opposite bank, and another was seen apparently happily swimming and eating near some lily pads! 
 Swimming Insect

Monday, 23 May 2016

Unsatisfactory Modern Relationships

This afternoon a male Orange-Tip attempted congress along a lane at Welton Waters with an unreceptive female.  I've learned today that a raised abdomen on the female indicates that she has already bred successfully, and she is rejecting him. Despite trying unsuccessfully to perform for maybe five minutes, he was finalły driven away by a gust of wind, and the relationship remained unconsummated! 
Pair of Orange-Tips

The female after she had just landed on a bramble leaf
 Signalling her receptiveness
 In other news we saw our first 4-Spotted Chaser of the year

Saturday, 21 May 2016

At Full Stretch & a Good Hair Day

Friday was the final emergency change when the original venue was closed due to health and safety reasons. Everyone was pre-warned about the number of speed cameras in the area before they set off.
I checked out the hide before the participants arrived. Unfortunately, the Common Terns were still absent, but rather surprisingly a Heron was perched on one of the rafts. I was hoping it would be there for my students, but a noisy dog walker shouting commands at his hound frightened it off. Shortly after the Heron flew off the beautiful song of a Curlew rang through the site.  
Getting Ready to Stretch
 A Full Stretch
The morning group tried the hide first. Yet again, the pair of Great Crested Grebes put on a fine display for us. There were plenty of unmentionables, and on the return journey a pair of Greylag Geese had flown in. A Moorhen was coping with its young family, but the long-hoped for return of the Water Vole had to remain unsatisfied. 
We want to dance but look at this interloper!
 Get out of the picture!
 At Last
 That's more like it
 Good Hair Day?
 And Rest
 Going separate ways
We detoured through a little woodland, but the Jays and Green Woodpeckers seemed to be absent yet again. We could see both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker holes, but they seemed rather ancient. Once again the ever-present Treecreepers were a fine compensation.
Treecreeper (c) 2016 Jane Robinson
 Female Blackcap taken through willow leaves
We continued round the lake without adding anything other than a Blackcap, but Reed Warblers could be heard beyond the hedge. Some of the group were quick enough with their optics to see the sun shining on the "ginger" head of a female Blackcap. 
What am I looking at?
 Back to Normal
We took the staircase down the northern bank where another Chiffchaff was heard, and a Willow Warbler serenaded us from just outside the hide, and a Reed Bunting could be heard making its few desultory notes on the far side of the water. The odd Bullfinch could be heard making its sorrowful call, but these were not to be seen today. Chris spotted a Heron perched on a tree opposite the pond, and everyone in the hide helped Hazel to see it too. 
Large Red Damselfly
 Speckled Wood
The return journey took us along the lower southern route of the embankment, but failed to add much in the way of new species. We even went along the edge of the buttercup meadow for a change. The only things of note were a Stock Dove, and a close look at an almost new Barn Owl box.

A male Goldcrest was singing in the car park again, but it remained out of sight. However, the afternoon group saw a showy one as they reached the woodland, and very obligingly he kept opening his crest and revealing his deepest colour.