Thursday, 31 July 2014

One Black-wit

Tonight at Mons Pool, a single islandica Black-tailed Godwit - an adult (or possibly a first summer..?). Also 4 Green Sands from the viewing screens and a Grey Wag over, plus a Common Sand on Ferry Lane Lake. Having been reading about the identification of 2CY Baltic Gull I was looking forward to grilling the Lesser Black-backs, but needless to say, there were hardly any present tonight. 

islandica Black-wit

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Today and yesterday

Yesterday was my first patch visit for a week; highlights were 11+ Green Sands on Mons Pool from the viewing screens and 3 Common Sands around the site, as well as 2 LRPs. There were quite a few gulls around to, although all the big 'uns were Lesser Black-backs (including a few juvs).

Today, despite no rain, water levels were up slightly, so waders were down - 5 Green Sands, 2 Common Sands and no LRPs; however, a drake Common Scoter was on Ferry Lane Lake. This had been reported in the morning, and I was fully expecting that it would've departed, so a pleasing addition for the Patchwork Challenge yearlist. Other nice bits were Hobby and Little Owl.

High Brown Frits at Arnside Knott

On the way up to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games on Friday, we stopped at Arnside Knott, the aim being to see High Brown Fritillary (a species I failed to see in this area last year, although not at this site). Arnside is a great site (and Silverdale is a lovely area worthy of more exploration), and the HBF's were not too problematic, with one showing fairly quickly near the topograph, and another by the path on the way up to the trig point on a patch of betony.

The path up from the carpark
HBF habitat

The first HBF was actually a bit confusing, as its upperwing pattern (i.e. the third spot form the apex of the forewing) looked to my eye more like what you'd expect on a Dark-green Frit, but the underwing pattern removed any doubt. The second individual looked much more like what I expected on the upperwing.


As well as HBF, we saw several Graylings and a couple of Scotch Argus; no Northern Brown Argus though.

Frit twitchers
Looking north towards the Lake District


On the way to Sherwood Forest NNR last week, I noticed a dead mustelid by the side of the A616 just outside Little Carlton (near South Muskham). I span round, as it was a polecat-type, and parked up. It looked interesting, and I grabbed some photos which I subsequently sent to Michael Walker, the county mammal recorder. And today, he confirmed that he's happy to accept it as a Polecat.

Having stopped and photographed several dead mustelids by the side of roads in the past, which have all proved to be polecat-ferrets, it was good to find a 'real' one - although not so good for the animal concerned. Exciting that they are present in the local area though. 

For ID of this species, see here

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Turtle Dove madness

The mid-summer doldrums continue on the patch, with single Common and Green Sands and just 6 Lesser Black-backs (1 juv) present tonight. So I decided to go looking for Turtle Doves. One was in its usual spot at Mons Pool, so I headed round to the Works, where I'd had one earlier in the summer and assumed that the second bird I occasionally hear at Mons would be. 

So I was pleased to find one as soon as I got to the Works, sat up purring on one of the structures. I was then surprised when a second started purring nearby, and then completely amazed when a third started purring. Even if one was the Mons bird (which is more than possible), then that still means three singing birds on site tonight, which is one more than usual. I wonder if unpaired male(s) from the surrounding area (e.g Girton, which I've been meaning to go back and check) might be attracted to Collingham in the hope of some action..?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gulls and owls

At Collingham tonight: 3 Green and 3 Common Sands on Mons Pool; and on the Silt Lagoon, 2 Curlew, 37 Lesser Black-backs, 1 Great Black-back Gull, 1 Herring Gull (2CY), 2 Common Gulls (an adult and a 2CY) and 225 Black-headed Gulls (of which 80 were juvs). Owls also featured, with a Little yelping from the conveyor ashes, and a Tawny being mobbed by Blackbirds at the Parish Field, before flying over the Heron Island. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Fantastic frits

Monday allowed me to bag a Notts butterfly tick in the form of Silver-washed Fritillary; I was in the vicinity of Gamston Wood (near Retford) for work, and took an early lunch break for a quick wonder round in search of this species, which I found in the central north-south ride - and not just one, but at least 3 and probably 4. There's something special about fritillaries, and I enjoyed these little beauties enormously; unfortunately the only one I could get any half-decent shots of had damaged (or malformed) wings! Some Broad-leaved helleborines were an added bonus.

Up to today (Thursday) I've also had two quick trips to Collingham Pits. The first Wigeon of autumn are back (2 so far), with single Green and Common Sands present on Tuesday night.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

July WeBS

My WeBS count at Girton toady was pretty quiet. Best were a female Tuftie with a brood of 5 ducklings and a fully grown juvenile Great Crested Grebe, plus 4 Egyptian Geese and single Wigeon and Green Sand. The non-wildfowl highlight was a Turtle Dove on the track down to the Trent, which then perched up and preened. It didn't sing, so I should really go back one evening and confirm there is a territory here (rather than it being a visitor from Meering). 

Turtle Dove

The non-avian highlight was a Purple Hairstreak on the north side of the A1133 Pit, in the same place where I first found this species two years ago. 

No Emperors

Saturday began at Collingham, where the drake Scaup was still present with the Tufties. Elsewhere around the site, there were 3 Curlew on the Silt Lagoon and 2 purring Turtle Doves. Butterflies included single Common Blue, Small Copper and Brown Argus along the footpath on the east side of the Silt Lagoon. 


The afternoon saw us head to Cotgrave Forest, in search of the Purple Emperors seen there recently. Unfortunately there was no sign, and the two other butterfly seekers we encountered hadn't seen them either; at least it saves me the quandary of deciding whether they're genuine or releases. No fritillaries either, other than a rather distant and rapid fly-by - presumably one of the Dark-greens. I did pick out a Purple Hairstreak though.

Cotgrave Forest

The worms that glow

Friday night was our annual trip out to look for glow-worms in Sherwood Forest. Despite having missed their peak (see Trevor Pendleton's Eakring Birds website), we saw 10, which is one of our highest counts. Add in at least 3 Nightjars, several Woodcocks and a few toads, and it was a fun night. 

A glow-worm
Midnight in Sherwood

Thursday, 10 July 2014

An unseasonal duck

Today was spent birding and pulling Himalayan balsam (my arms are still tingling from the nettle stings...). The birding was fairly slow, although Collingham held 2 Green Sandpipers (at Mons Pool) and a Hobby, and a Turtle Dove was purring on Northcroft Lane; another was at Meering. However, things picked up when I had a second visit to Collingham this evening, with a male (Greater) Scaup on Ferry Lane Lake; presumably this is the bird that's been at Holme Pierrepont recently? 

Scaup with a Tuftie
Turtle Dove

I also looked at the sightings book for the first time in ages. It transpired that I have now missed two Wood Sands this year - the bird on 2 June (which I knew about), and one on 3 July (which I didn't know about, and doesn't seem to have been reported, which I a bit disappointing).

Aside from birds, there were lots of butterflies around today; Small Torts especially seem to be having a very good year, and I counted 35 in one small thistle patch on the west side of Ferry Lane Lake. I also saw my first Essex Skippers of the year at Collingham, and 2 Purple Hairstreaks at Langford Lowfields next to the carpark. 

Purple Hairstreak
Purple Hairstreak
Essex Skipper

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Fish and chips and birding

I spent 4 and a half happy hours at Collingham and Meering tonight, split either side of fish and chips. At Collingham, best was an adult female Garganey and 6 Green Sands on Mons Pool - but no Turtle Doves in evidence there today. I then ate my fish and chips at Meering, watching at least 3 Turtle Doves - unfortunately I couldn't see whether any of these were young birds, but I'm guessing at least one must be. No Quail or Groppers though; however, a Barn Owl ghosted past as I headed home.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

More purring on the patch

It was a lovely evening on the patch tonight; lots of butterflies, including my first Gatekeeper of the year, plus some nice birds; the first Yellow-legged Gull of the year (an adult on the Silt Lagoon), plus single adult LBB and GBB Gulls; 3 Green Sands (all on Mons Pool); single Curlew, Redshank and Ringed Plover; and not one, but two Turtle Doves, purring in close proximity to each other on Northcroft Lane. Whilst one is undoubtedly the Heron Island bird, I'm not sure where the other has come from - maybe the Works Pond bird that I heard early in the season..?

Red Admiral
Yellow-legged Gull and LBB Gull

Earlier, I'd had a quick wander across Newstead Meadow (near, as its name would suggest, Newstead Village). This is a really nice little meadow, albeit in increasingly urgent need of some management, with Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids, and their hybrids (Dactylorhiza x grandis), many of which were displaying 'hybrid vigour'.

Some huge Dactylorhiza x grandis

Back to yesterday, work took me to the Teversal Trails. As usual, I looked for the Frog Orchids in their usual spot, but could only find three in flower (plus a fourth non-flowering individual). Despite knowing more-or-less exactly where they grow, they can be very diffiuclt to spot (small green plants growing amongst taller green vegetation). There is a chance I overlooked some, but even so, I found 10 last year so this is a big dip in numbers. 

Frog Orchid

Elsewhere, I heard two Willow Tits - one on the Skegby Track and one on the Brierley Branch, where there were good number of Ringlets on the wing (at least 70).