Monday, 25 July 2011

Birdforum July Meet

Yesterday 5 hardy Birdforum souls met at Spurn for a day with waders in their breeding plamge, and anything else which happened to be about. When I arrived at c7.45 James & Mark were already ensconsced on the crumbling Kilnsea cliff scoping the sea. Keith & Rob soon turned up having made the long trek from the badlands of West Yorkshire!

We walked to Spurn's Seawatching hide passing Yellow Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks in the Long-horned cattle fields. The seawatching hut was pretty full, but there was just room for our party in half of the hut. There was a strong swell and for the first hour or so scanning the sea was like watching paint dry, even Barry Spence gave up through sheer boredom. Eventually the light improved, the wind seemed to die down, and the crashing waves had less of an impact. There were many Gannets out at sea and occasional glimpses of distant Manx Shearwaters, but the undoubted highlight came when James spotted a Storm Petrel speedily flying north very close to the shore. It took me ages to find it, and when I did I couldn't see either the white rump or the white under the wings - it looked like a very small dark wader! We remained a little longer, and were just about to move when Steve Exley spotted 2 distant Velvet Scoters heading north - again the views weren't brilliant.

We moved off to Canal Scrape were we photographed Swallows & House Martins, before we realised it was nearly time for high tide, so we shared cars to Chalk Bank. There were plenty of waders to see in remnants of their summer colours, including Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Turnstone and Sanderlings, as well as a single Greenshank, some Redshank, Whimbrel and Curlews. James studies the roosting Herring & Lesser-Black backed Gulls & found an immature gull, which had several characteristics of a Yellow-legged Gull. As we were driving away it was given out over the radio as that species.

After lunch at the Blue Bell cafe we walked down Beacon Lane to the Lagoons and added Mute Swan, Little Egrets, Curlew Sandpipers and had good views of Little & Sandwich Terns. When we got back to the Bluebell it was nearly 4pm, and everyone headed off home after a satisfying day's birding when we saw over 70 species!

Swallow Bar-tailed Godwits

Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew & Whimbrel
House Martin

Wall Brown [male]

Solitary Sand Wasp Ammophila sabulosa?

Small Skipper

Friday, 22 July 2011

Final Brownfield Special

Thursday's final visit to the threatened Brownfield site didn't throw up anything new in the bird line apart from a Heron. Wednesday's 3 Bullfinches failed to show, but Barry Warrington's presence ensured the group were able to see a couple of female Speckled Bush Crickets, so many thanks to him again. The participants saw the first Small Copper we encountered on site, and the sunny intervals ensured there were more butterflies on the wing including: Red Admiral, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Large Whites, Small Whites, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet; whilst Barry Spotted Holly Blues, Mottled Grasshoppers & a Latticed Heath Moth.

Speckled Bush Cricket

Field Grasshopper [female]

Thanks to Barry Warrington for ID
6-Spot Burnet Moth
Haresfoot Clover

Robin's Pin-Cushion


Meadow Cranesbill

Hairy Tare

Common Centaury

St John's Wort

Goatsbeard [above]
Field Bindweed [below]


Ornamental Rose

Black Medick


Hop Trefoil

Canadian Goldenrod


Kidney Vetch


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Floral Bouquet

Yesterday was overcast, so there weren't as many butterflies on the wing, but we did spot a Common Blue, some Meadow Browns and a couple of Gatekeepers. Luckily, a botanist was on hand to identify some tricky plants. Some of those identified included: Haresfoot Clover, Hairy Tare, Yellow-wort, Common Centaury, Tall Melilot, Restharrow, Black Medick, Hop Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch, Broom, Common Fleabane, Canadian Fleabane, Red Bartsia, English Stonecrop, Wild Carrot, Upright Hedge Parsley, Eyebright, rosebay Willowherb, Mugwort, Common Toadflax, Common Mallow, Goatsbeard, Bladder Campion, Yellow Loosestrife, Foxglove, Common Knapweed, Wild Teasel, & Tansy.

Although no longer in flower the site also has: Bee Orchids (some years 100+), Common Spotted Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids, Hogweed, and I'm sure that a really thorough search would unearth manh more species.

Male Common Blue

Lacewing [above]

Cinnabar Caterpillar [below]

Soldier Beetles


English Stonecrop

Tall Melilot

Common Fleabane

Canadian Fleabane


Rosebay Willowherb

Red Bartisa [above]

Brian's Snail

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Special Insects

On Saturday this Lime Hawk-Moth diced with death, as it crawled along the run-up to our property narrowly escaping being squashed by a car. It wriggled and squirmed alarmingly & felt very strange to the touch as I picked it up & placed it in a nearby Lime Tree.

This morning was the 1st of our 3 consecutive visits to a threatened urban brownfield site. This was a new area to every participant & they were suitably impressed by the wide array of flora on display, in what seemed at first-glance such an unpromising-appearing site. There were also a wide variety of butterflies flitting between the plants including: Gatekeepers, Small Skippers, a Common Blue, a Comma, Red Admirals & at least 2 species of White Butterflies.

We were very lucky to encounter Barry Warrington on the site, who patiently & kindly pointed out several Speckled Bush Crickets, which were completely new to every visitor today. We walked the full length of the site & saw a family of 3 Reed Warblers. Other birds seen included: Linnets, Goldfinches, a probably juvenile Reed Bunting and several Whitethroats.

Lime Hawk-Moth Caterpillar Replaced in a Lime Tree

Speckled Bush Cricket - female (c) 2011 Barry Warrington

Note: almost fully-developed ovipositer
Speckled Bush Cricket


Lesser Marsh Grasshopper - another insect that should be further south!

Thanks to Barry Warrington for the ID

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar