Sunday, 27 June 2010

A mixed bag

Another excellent day in the sunshine, this time accompanied by Mr Hawkins. Apart from a dismal 90 minutes mid afternoon (the less said about the bunch of overpaid idiots responsible, the better!), our trip was a great success. I’ll post details of the sites (and the other sightings) later on, but for now, here’s the best of the pics…

dg_fritillary_under dg_fritillary_upperDark Green Fritillaries

pyramidal_orchidPyramidal Orchid

large_red_damsel Large Red Damselfly

marbled_white Marbled White (female)

silver_studded_blue Silver-studded Blue

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Heath Fritillaries, Belfairs Wood

Just a quick trip out this morning, enjoying some warm sunshine and smart butterflies. If anyone out there wants to see Heath Fritillary, you can’t fail (as long as the weather’s decent) at the moment in Belfairs – park on Poors Lane between Hadleigh and Daws Heath, and walk NE into the wood. Thanks to directions from Steve Arlow on the excellent UK Butterflies forum, I found the fritillaries in two areas:

  1. walk about 400m along the main bridleway until you see a sign for Dodds Grove on LHS. (I reckon the sign is approx at the red circle >here<). An open ride running north in this part of the reserve was quite productive
  2. alternatively, turn right opposite the Dodds Grove sign, and then turn left at a crossroads, onto another wide and sunny ride.

heath_fritillary heath_fritillary_underwing

I completed my excursion with a mobile phone upgrade – having finally decided that it was time to move over to a ‘smart-phone’, a deal on the brand new HTC Wildfire was just too good to pass up. All I need to do now is work out how to use it!

Sunday, 20 June 2010


A generally grey and drizzly Father’s Day in Norfolk was brightened up considerably by this superb Swallowtail butterfly in a brief sunny period at Strumpshaw RSPB. Surely the most attractive species in the UK?

swallowtail4swallowtail5swallowtail swallowtail2 

There were also a couple of orchids in the flower meadow… still need to ID these, though I’m sure they’re not rare.

orchid1 orchid2

And I also took a few snaps of some juvenile birds around the garden feeding station…

juv_blackbird juv_starling

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Black Hairstreaks at Brampton Wood

No time for any witty or entertaining words today (as usual, you might say)… just got back in from a butterfly ticking mission with Shaun and Dick, and now I’m off to a BBQ! Here’s some pics for now.

black_hairstreak black_hairstreak_crysalis black_hairstreak2 black_hairstreak3

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Red-backed Shrike and Adonis Blues

Sitting at home after a lazy morning, considering a few options for the afternoon, the pager flashes up “Red-backed Shrike, singing male, Richmond Park”. Not my side of town, but like most birders, I’ve got a soft spot for shrikes, and male Red-backed is a particularly handsome variety. After a relatively smooth journey (given the proportion of the North Circular involved), I arrived to get directions from Johnny Allan before he departed, and promptly found the shrike showing well within a couple of minutes.

red-backed shrike1

Again, heat haze and distance were photo-killers… but like a certain Sylvia yesterday, the bird was very obliging, regularly nabbing bumble-bees and bringing them back to the same bush. Franko was doing a sterling job making non-birders aware of the shrike’s location, so it wasn’t unnecessarily flushed too often, and I had a quick chat with Dom while his daughter took control of Dad’s camera!

red-backed shrike2

Just as forecast, the morning’s overcast conditions gradually gave way to longer sunnier periods, so I decided to go butterflying once again. Denbies Hillside is a picturesque spot on the North Downs just outside the M25, near Dorking – the steep grassy slopes support a considerable quantity of Horseshoe Vetch, and therefore a good colony of Adonis Blues.


These have been on the wing for a couple of weeks now, so many are getting a bit tatty, but I managed to find a few that were in decent nick and sat tight for photos. The iridiscent blue on the males really is stunning! The scenery was also pretty decent – nice to get some contour lines close together, unlike the norm in Essex!

adonis_blue_under denbies2adonis_blue2 denbies1

Saturday, 5 June 2010

If only twitching was always like this…

Cracking trip to Gwent today for the singing male Marmora’s Warbler, with Hawky, Monkey and Squeaky (oops, sorry…). Thanks to a very early morning message from RBA (cheers Stuart!) we were on the road before six with the knowledge that the bird was still present, and enjoyed a fuss-free drive down the M4 and into the land of the daffodils and dragons. McBreakfast was procured, and we were on site by about 8.45am… and the bird showed immediately, in full song on a dry stone wall. Tick!

marmoras_warblerNot a great photo, I know, but scope views were prolonged and superb as the bird circled around us, proclaiming its territory. You never can tell with single vagrants, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this one were to hang around for quite some time. Also noted here were three Whinchat, a couple of Tree Pipit and a Raven. Although rather hazy, the views down from this edge of the Brecon Beacons were pretty good as well – certainly a bit different to East London!

marmoras site

After taking our fill of the warbler, we headed back to the Forest of Dean to enjoy Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and Wood Warblers at Nagshead RSPB. Other twitchers from the south-east had the same idea – good to see Adrian, Matthew and Simon there for a quick chat.

However, none of us could definitively identify a couple of cool insects that I’d photographed – can you confirm my guesses?

green bugs Maybe Green Tiger Beetle?

weevil_sp and some sort of Weevil?

We finished off our time beyond the Severn with lunch in The Ostrich Inn, in Newland (thanks to the ever-reliable Good Pub Guide). The food and local beer was absolutely superb – I have never seen a Ploughmans quite like it!

In summary – a great bird showing well; great location and views; great company and a great pub. Does it get better?!