Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday June 18

A very hot morning. Dave and I decided to walk along the road in the hope of some shelter from the heat, although this meant we were walking back at the hottest part of the day across the fields. Strategy is not our strongest suit.

We saw plenty of butterflies including our first Ringlets and Marbled Whites of the year. The sunshine and heat made them very reluctant to settle though. The flash field was hiding whatever birds were in it due to the long grass. We eventually discovered there were at least 40 Lapwings and not much else.

Dragonflies were also well represented, and were slightly more obliging than the butterflies. We saw at least three White-legged Damselflies.

Female White-legged Damselfly wafting its pheromones about
Also new for the year were several Black-tailed Skimmers, Emperor Damselflies, and Common and Ruddy Darters.

Immature Ruddy Darter
Common Emerald Damselfly
We were the only species to note the presence of so many dragonflies. I spotted a falcon circling a little way south of us and called it as either a Peregrine or a Hobby. While I struggled to get my scope up Dave stayed on the bird. It got closer and was firmed up as a Hobby, the first of the year.

We also kicked up several moths on the walk around, the most attractive being a couple of Blood-veins.

A quick look at the main pool resulted in the discovery that the Mute Swan pair has successfully hatched a single cygnet.

Mute Swan and cygnet
Finally, it is strange to relate that throughout the whole of the ten years we have been coming here we have never proved that Pheasants (or Red-legged Partridges for that matter) manage to breed successfully. I have always wondered if the population is totally reliant on autumn releases. Well this morning we came the closest yet to proving Pheasant breeding when we were confronted with a female Pheasant which stood its ground along the edge of the ridge field, making strange clucking noises.

The bold Pheasant
We felt sure it was signalling to chicks somewhere in the grass, although we couldn't see them.

The final unusual sighting of the day was a Painted Lady which flew past us at the Dragonfly Pools.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday June 11

A morning of sunny intervals with a rather brisk south-westerly breeze.

Although June can be a bit of a struggle, bird-wise, there is often something to lift the day. This morning that moment was heralded by Dave performing a strange set of hand gestures as he tried to indicate to me that a Kingfisher was not only present, but showing well for once.

Adult male Kingfisher
To give a little context. This was the second this year, the previous one being heard only during March. We normally see the odd Kingfisher here from July to about September, but they usually see us before we see them. This one was clearly unphased by our proximity and even caught what looked like a cranefly when it dipped into the pool and then landed even closer (but partially obscured by vegetation) before returning to its previous perch.

Until this incident I had been struggling to get clear shots of insects in the swaying grassland, and the bird sightings had been restricted to the usual species. However, it was occasionally possible to find a sheltered spot and a number of interesting insects were spotted.

Meadow Brown
Butterfly sightings included the first Meadow Browns of the year, and several Large Skippers, Small Heaths, and Speckled Woods. Moths included a Straw Dot and the first migrant Silver Y of the year.

Silver Y
Not many dragonflies were on the wing because of the annoying breeze, but I still managed to see male Common Blue Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle, my first female Common Emerald Damselfly of the year, and a particularly well marked Four-spotted Chaser which was also my first this year.

Four-spotted Chaser
Emerald Damselfly
As usual there were numerous other insects to admire. Here is a selection.

Roesel's Bush Cricket apparently egg-laying (or pooing)
A Longhorn Beetle called Rutpela maculata
Finally, a couple of birds. A calling Red-legged Partridge and a juvenile Coot which resurfaced in the dragonfly ponds from under a mat of algae making itself look rather ridiculous.

Other birds noted included singing Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, recently fledged Common Whitethroats, about 20 Swifts, and a Little Owl.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Sunday June 4

The sunny start was brief in duration and for most of the morning it was cloudy and cool, with a few light showers.

Dave and I trudged round with reduced expectations of seeing many birds, and the best we could manage were a Little Egret, and a Little Ringed Plover, while a singing Reed Warbler and a singing Cuckoo were also present. All of these birds have been around for at least a week.

Despite the temperature and gloom, insects were slightly more interesting. We saw the first two Large Skippers of the season, puzzled over what I thought was a bee, but was actually a soldier fly called Oxycera rara, and disturbed a number of moths.

The highlight was a spotted Roe Deer fawn which disappeared into the woodland before I could photograph it.

Here are some shots I did manage to take.

Banded Demoiselle
Large Skipper
Flecked General - Stratiomys singularior
Straw Dot
Silver-ground Carpet
Stop Press: The soldier fly in the middle photo which in my blundering novice investigation I had decided was Oxyura rara has been reviewed after I input the photograph into irecords as Flecked General Stratiomys singularior, which is normally a coastal species and only the second record for Warwickshire, the last being in 1986.

How very exciting.