Chris Downes' Focus on Birds: Blog http://chrisdownesbirds.com/blog en-us (C) Chris Downes' Focus on Birds chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:01:00 GMT Tue, 21 Nov 2017 10:01:00 GMT http://chrisdownesbirds.com/img/s/v-5/u960006524-o897997790-50.jpg Chris Downes' Focus on Birds: Blog http://chrisdownesbirds.com/blog 68 120 18th November 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/18th-november-2017 All's right with the world!

Saturday 18th November. Phil Stead hide, Salholme. Arrived 9.05. Amazing light. Waited 2 hours for water pipit - not photographed one properly before. In the meantime took a few photos of other birds.

Redshank

RedshankRedshank RedshankRedshank RedshankRedshank Black-tongued carrion crow

Carrion CrowCarrion Crow Carrion CrowCarrion Crow Carrion CrowCarrion Crow Carrion CrowCarrion Crow Common snipe kept us guessing by bobbing like a jack. Eventually came out into the open. SnipeSnipe SnipeSnipe SnipeSnipe Some greylags flew over.

Greylag GeeseGreylag Geese A green sandpiper treated us to ultra close-up views!

Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper Green SandpiperGreen Sandpiper

Eventually a water pipit appeared reasonably close to the hide. Success!

Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit Water PipitWater Pipit I walked out to the new viewing mound for the long-eared owl but it had dropped out of sight. A male stonechat let me get ridiculously close - I took a few shots, walked a bit closer and so forth until he was very near to me.

StonechatStonechat A bit closer StonechatStonechat The North Gare shore larks had unfortunately crossed to South Gare. A walk out to Seaton Snook was pleasant enough but the tide was very high and the twite had dispersed. The causeway out to the Snook had been breached by the tide. Seaton SnookSeaton Snook A bit of shopping at Hartlepool Tesco then I called at Newburn Bridge. Not many waders about - mainly sleepy ringed plover.

I called this post ''All's right with the world.'' It isn't really. When I see the persecution of birds of prey on supposedly protected land; the damage plastic is doing to our oceans; the way big business 'forgets' commitments it made when planning permission was granted and the way that in general mankind is happily trashing the planet I wonder just when we will learn or be forced to learn. 

In the meantime little old me can mourn when I can no longer find wood warblers or lesser spotted woodpeckers but, on Saturday, I called at Newburn Bridge in the hope a med gull might appear. No sign on the 2 previous visits.

Herring gulls on the lamp-posts; black-headed gulls out on the water. A great black-back flew around over the car park. Great black-backed GullGreat black-backed Gull Great black-backed GullGreat black-backed Gull Wait a minute! What's this coming in? Mediterranean GullMediterranean Gull Mediterranean GullMediterranean Gull Mediterranean GullMediterranean Gull And so, just for a moment, I did feel indeed that all was all right with my world.

A great day's birding!

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/18th-november-2017 Mon, 20 Nov 2017 14:23:09 GMT
11th-15th November 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/11th-15th-november-2017 When you wish upon a star...

Maybe something wonderful can still happen. In the improbable meantime I carry on birding. A trip to South Landing, Flamborough [November 11th] produced little more than a meadow pipit... Meadow PipitMeadow Pipit ...and tree sparrows at Bempton... Tree SparrowTree Sparrow ...or perhaps my heart wasn't quite in it. However a determined drive back to St. Aidan's did get me brief and distant views of a dartford warbler. Rather good Yorkshire tick!

Not getting out so much lately - only because there's not a great deal tempting me - but on the 15th I went to Alkborough Flats hoping for bearded tits. Unusually, none seen. Place was full of chattering wrens. Seems like it is the season of the wren at the moment.

WrenWren WrenWren

Spotted redshank outside the hide plus posing snipe. Spotted RedshankSpotted Redshank SnipeSnipe Distant marsh harrier in dead tree.

Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier

Carried on to Blacktoft to see a green-winged teal. Not a year tick [saw one January 11th at North Cave]  but hoped for some photos. Sadly it was on the far side of Marshland hide. Here's the best of the crop. Crop being the appropriate word! Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Green-winged TealGreen-winged Teal Shovelers

ShovelersShovelers Walked down to Singleton for the harriers. Really good scope views of a perched merlin.

Lots of waders including blackwits [I'm really good at pressing the shutter just as they all bury their heads in the water!] and about a dozen ruff.

Black-tailed GodwitsBlack-tailed Godwits RuffRuff Nothing flew close so I'll end with a couple of harriers waiting for the roost. Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier

Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier

270 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/11th-15th-november-2017 Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:43:43 GMT
7th November 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/7th-november-2017 Wrens!

Well, I think I got the title about right...

Two wrens and an interloper were involved in producing this little posting. All taken at Skinningrove when a pied wheatear failed to turn up. However I am really thrilled with this set of photos. WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren WrenWren DunnockDunnock WrenWren

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/7th-november-2017 Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:16:46 GMT
5th November 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/5th-november-2017 Blinded by the light!

Squeezed in a visit to Castle Howard Arboretum yesterday before going to a family Bonfire Party in the afternoon. Couldn't stay long but the hawfinches did appear much to the delight of the many birders present. From the state of the car park and adjoining roads the arboretum must have had a financial field day! [£7 per head]

Any attempt to photograph the hawfinches high up in the hornbeams was a battle against the light which was bright and harsh. Someone moaned: 'The sun's in the wrong place!' I replied [to a complete stranger]: 'No, it's in the right place. It's either the birds or us who are in the wrong place!' Some of the crowd laughed.

A pair of bullfinch were in a small tree and were nicely lit. When one took off I kept my finger on the shutter - I always shoot in al servo mode... BullfinchBullfinch I thought this photo might be improved by straightening the bird up a bit!  BullfinchBullfinch That's better, isn't it?

Ooops! It's gone! BullfinchBullfinch Some photos make me smile. I think it's a cannonball finch!

Pointing a 500mm lens [700 mm with extender] hand-held up into a fairly distant hornbeam into the light is tricky. Here's a few of my reasonable efforts. I have used photoshop in some cases to lighten the shadows without over-exposing the whole image. Others worked all right as they were. HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch

                                                                                  Call me Bill!!

HawfinchHawfinch

HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch HawfinchHawfinch

269 still UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/5th-november-2017 Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:56:23 GMT
12th October - 1st November http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/12th-october---1st-november An imperfect Autumn

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining but it wasn't a great autumn for rarities in my part of the UK although there were indubitably some quality birds elsewhere. The decent strength easterlies didn't come to pass along the north-east coast. At one point I hadn't had a year tick for three weeks - a personal worst! To dispel any despondency I decided to do something about it and booked a last minute week in Scotland. More of that later.

First of all a trip to Blacktoft on October 12th.  A curlew sandpiper at Marshland.

Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Konik PonyKonik Pony

Above: konik pony at Blacktoft.

I left for Scotland on October 21st calling at Budle Bay for a cackling goose. I found the 5,000 strong flock of barnacle geese at Ross, just north-west of the bay. Barnacle GeeseBarnacle Geese They were easily disturbed although I remained hidden behind a hedge. I spotted the cackling goose at the rear of the flock. Attempts to photograph it on the ground proved fruitless as it constantly disappeared among the foliage of the leaf beet. I took lots of flight shots too...

Barnacle GeeseBarnacle Geese You may spot the cackling goose a quarter of the way up, centre image. Next shot: another view. Barnacle GeeseBarnacle Geese I carried on northbound over the new Queensferry Crossing and on towards the Cairngorms.

October 22nd started near Loch Garten. Coal tits feeding from people's hands [including mine] and a couple of crested tits feeding on seed left on an electrical supply box. Coal TitCoal Tit Crested TitCrested Tit

Then up the Findhorn Valley in an area called Strathdearn - a magical place I hadn't visited before. Findhorn ValleyFindhorn Valley Findhorn ValleyFindhorn Valley

Red kite, buzzard, white-tailed eagle and golden eagle all seen - plus ravens. Red KiteRed Kite Golden EagleGolden Eagle Golden EagleGolden Eagle Golden EagleGolden Eagle Brown hare late afternoon near Nethy Bridge. Brown HareBrown Hare

October 23rd calling at Portsoy a long-tailed duck - a 'splodgy' female was in the harbour. Long-tailed DuckLong-tailed Duck Long-tailed DuckLong-tailed Duck Next stop Banff. Shags and a cormorant. Shags plus cormorantShags plus cormorant Eider everywhere...sometimes displays turned violent... EiderEider EiderEider

Lunch at Pennan [Local Hero film location]. Stonechat and rock pipits on the seaweed.

StonechatStonechat Rock PipitRock Pipit The wind was strengthening at Rosehearty - a juvenile gannet diving into the wild waves. GannetGannet Final stop at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB.

Loch of Strathbeg RSPBLoch of Strathbeg RSPB As we left we passed two fields each of which held several hundred whooper swans. Here's just a few. Whhopers near Loch of StrathbegWhhopers near Loch of Strathbeg October 24th a break at Cruden Bay where we found dippers. Here's one of the pair.

DipperDipper Near Peterhead by the mouth of the River Ugie we watched gulls, snipe and lapwings. River Ugie, PeterheadRiver Ugie, Peterhead We headed for the Ythan estuary and after a session at the Waulkmill Hide watching a variety of waders we headed for Newburgh where the river meets the sea. I don't think I've ever seen so many eiders gathered in one place. Eiders, Ythan estuaryEiders, Ythan estuary EiderEider October 25th we saw snow geese distantly with hundreds of pinkfeet at Loch of Skene. Loch of SkeneLoch of Skene The best stop that day was at Mar Lodge Estate where we saw few birds but the scenery was magnificent. It's where BBC Winterwatch is based. Mar Lodge Estate, BraemarMar Lodge Estate, Braemar Mar Lodge Estate, BraemarMar Lodge Estate, Braemar Mar Lodge Estate, BraemarMar Lodge Estate, Braemar I liked the dead pines. Here's one I deliberately over-processed. Dead Scots PineDead Scots Pine October 26th we toured the Black Isle north and east of Inverness. Apparently so-called [although a peninsula not an island] as it's warmed by the surrounding sea and low-lying so remains 'black' when all else is snow-covered. Lots of pinkfeet at RSPB Udale Bay. Memory card failure meant that two days worth of photos are currently still trapped in a crashed compact flash card!

The Kessock Bridge takes you across to the Black Isle from Inverness. [I used an old Nikon Coolpix 4500 on the trip for all my landscape shots] Kessock Bridge, InvernessKessock Bridge, Inverness

October 27th we set off to look for capercaillie again. Fortuitously we struck lucky almost immediately. In poor light and through glass I fired off some shots. Retrospectively I should have pushed the ISO up even higher than I did. Still pleased with this one anyway!

CapercailieCapercailie From there we went up the funicular and out on to the mountain top with a qualified guide [You can only do this if you have a licensed guide with you.]

The mist enveloped us but we did see ptarmigan reasonably close - a covey of 9 birds in total. Cairn Gorm summit pathCairn Gorm summit path PtarmiganPtarmigan PtarmiganPtarmigan PtarmiganPtarmigan In these conditions you could easily mistake the birds for lichen encrusted rocks.

Some reindeer were spotted on the lower slopes. ReindeerReindeer A walk at Allt Mor looking for crossbill produced coal tits and some nice but fleeting views of crested tits. Crossbills had been our target bird. Allt Mor WoodsAllt Mor Woods The river views were enchanting.

Allt Mor WoodsAllt Mor Woods Allt Mor WoodsAllt Mor Woods Another walk on the south side of Loch Morlich to try to track down some crossbills was more successful. Loch MorlichLoch Morlich CrossbillCrossbill CrossbillCrossbill CrossbillCrossbill CrossbillCrossbill CrossbillCrossbill We finished the day at Insh Marshes watching a ringtail hen harrier. Loch Insh. Loch InshLoch Insh

Insh Marshes plus a very distant hen harrier flying in front of the mound you can see on the right of the first picture below Insh MarshesInsh Marshes Hen harrier, Insh MarshesHen harrier, Insh Marshes

October 30th looking for some water pipits. Redshank from Phil Stead hide at Saltholme.
RedshankRedshank

RedshankRedshank Teal TealTeal The water pipits were seen briefly. Water PipitWater Pipit Bumped into Barry at Hartlepool Headland. He pointed out some purple sandpipers. Purple SandpipersPurple Sandpipers Purple SandpiperPurple Sandpiper Purple SandpiperPurple Sandpiper

November 1st. Barry and I failed to find any hawfinches at Rufford, Notts. So drove to Alkborough: allsorts seen there including bearded tits, avocets, marsh harrier to name just a few. Far Ings had a possible slavonian grebe. After a long walk we tracked it down hiding on Ness Pit in the reeds. Had to shoot when the breeze created a gap in the reeds! Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe A kingfished dropped in in front of our hide. KingfisherKingfisher KingfisherKingfisher KingfisherKingfisher KingfisherKingfisher There may be more to come! You never know!!

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/11/12th-october---1st-november Sat, 04 Nov 2017 16:13:03 GMT
6th October 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/10/6th-october-2017 I'll be brief!

Easington & Kilnsea:October 6th

Barry and I set off at 9 a.m. First stop Easington by Dimlington Bungalows for the rose-coloured starling. No Sign. We'd call back later.

Easington cemetery: red-backed shrike roaming the hedgerow.  Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike

It flew closer!

Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Finished up in the field corner very close to us. Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Back to the bungalows where we saw the starling hiding in a shrub by one of the bungalows. Never got really out in the open so here's a photo I haven't used before from my earlier visit 5 days before. Rose-coloured StarlingRose-coloured Starling Then Beacon Ponds for a slavonian grebe. Wildfowl and a little stint plus dunlin on Kilnsea Wetlands. Lots [5+] of little grebes on Beacon Ponds and this chap! Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe Initially very far away I decided to walk north and see if I could get closer. Others followed my example. Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe Slavonian GrebeSlavonian Grebe

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/10/6th-october-2017 Sat, 07 Oct 2017 16:21:17 GMT
30th September - 2nd October 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/10/30th-september---2nd-october-2017 And now for something completely different!

Sheila picked up a book on knitted birds at RSPB Saltholme. She has done a great job although the legs caused some minor crises! Here they are - I don't think I need explain exactly what birds have been visiting our garden recently! Green Woodpecker by SheilaGreen Woodpecker by Sheila Avocet by SheilaAvocet by Sheila Hoopoe by SheilaHoopoe by Sheila

Meanwhile I've been birding for real: 30th September to Kilnsea and then on the 1st of October Barry and I went up to Hartlepool. September 30th at Kilnsea first.

I'll begin near the Crown & Anchor with some footsteps in the sand. CurlewCurlew It was early [7.30ish] and it was bleak, breezy and not very warm. No birds or birders to be seen. I strolled down the Canal straight. Deer seemed shocked to see me. Roe DeerRoe Deer Roe DeerRoe Deer I spotted a lesser whitethroat in the canal bushes but it wouldn't come into view properly. I headed back to the pub garden, then walked east  back towards Tiggy. More deer were coming along the road towards me!

Roe DeerRoe Deer Roe DeerRoe Deer Roe DeerRoe Deer Eventually the day warmed, the birders appeared and so did some birds...

Red-breasted flycatcher at Kew near the caravan site entrance.

Red-breasted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Red-breasted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Red-breasted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Nice looking chiffchaff there too. ChiffchaffChiffchaff ChiffchaffChiffchaff Spent a long time in Easington hoping for the rose-coloured starling. Saw it briefly on a weather vane in the village centre by the church. It flew while I was retrieving the camera!

Red-backed shrike reported again near Easington cemetery. Nice bird and it came close!

Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Flew about a bit while chasing dragonflies.

Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Great views. Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Red-backed ShrikeRed-backed Shrike Setting off for home I tried again at Dimlington Bungalows for the rose-coloured starling. Suddenly it appeared from a hawthorn bush. I shouted to other birders who were scouring rooftops and wires. It dropped back out of sight before they came over.

Rose-coloured StarlingRose-coloured Starling

Rose-coloured StarlingRose-coloured Starling Rose-coloured StarlingRose-coloured Starling Next day Barry drove us up to Salthome and Hartlepool.

Sanderlings at Newburn Bridge. SanderlingSanderling Where have all the others gone?

SanderlingSanderling Barry spotted a darker bird flying in. SanderlingSanderling Sanderling still retaining some of its darker summer breeding plumage. SanderlingSanderling Bar-tailed godwit at Newburn Bridge. Bar-tailed GodwitBar-tailed Godwit Bar-tailed GodwitBar-tailed Godwit Bar-tailed GodwitBar-tailed Godwit

We walked out to the North Gare breakwater. All pretty quiet. A crow watched our approach.

Carrion CrowCarrion Crow At Saltholme I unwittingly upset my camera settings fairly drastically. The final few shots have been sort of rescued by my software! Stonechat, goldfinch and a reed bunting - plus a rather handsome highland bull!

StonechatStonechat StonechatStonechat GoldfinchGoldfinch Reed BuntingReed Bunting Highland BullHighland Bull

267 UK 2017 still

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/10/30th-september---2nd-october-2017 Mon, 02 Oct 2017 16:08:37 GMT
27th September ff 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/27th-september-ff-2017 Scops & Skua

Sounds a bit like the name of a firm of butchers!

I was on my way to Spurn and I stopped in South Cave just to check the pager. Scops owl at Ryhope just south of Sunderland! TomTom consulted, I set off again in a new direction in pursuit of a lifer! Scops OwlScops Owl Scops OwlScops Owl Scops OwlScops Owl

Well hidden in an elder but a great find by someone!

Next I considered whether I could make it to Goswick golf course [on the coast just north of Lindisfarne]. A long drive but I got there by late lunch time. I then walked all over the golf course - encouraged by friendly golfers who provided the latest information: 'It's on the seventh fairway' or 'Behind the green hut somewhere!' Eventually I met the beast. My first ever eye to eye view of a long-tailed skua. Juvenile, pale phase. Cracking bird. It can look very different in flight. Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua Long-tailed SkuaLong-tailed Skua

267 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/27th-september-ff-2017 Sat, 30 Sep 2017 19:54:30 GMT
15th - 22nd September 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/15th---22nd-september-2017 Having my cake...

15th-22nd September

September 15th

I'll begin with a fairly crazy day in North Wales. I was on site at Rhos Point near Colwyn Bay by 7am. Getting out of Tiggy I picked up the bins and wandered across the grass to have an initial look round. I immediately saw a fairly distant Leach's petrel wave hopping a fair way offshore. This was followed by two sabine's gulls fluttering past almost in front of my nose!! I went to get the camera. This was, of course, fatal. Later in the morning other birders saw the sabine's again and we spotted a couple of Leach's on the sea but they were very hard to photograph [unlike the experiences of birders at New Brighton over the previous two days].

Steadying myself against a lamp-post I saw this dot! Leach's Petrel!Leach's Petrel! Let's crop that one.

Leach's PetrelLeach's Petrel White rump showing. I suppose it looks a bit like a bird... Leach's PetrelLeach's Petrel Leach's PetrelLeach's Petrel When it felt it might be swamped by a larger wave it did this - proving the identification! Leach's PetrelLeach's Petrel This all took time. In between I snapped curlew and sandwich tern in the poor light. CurlewCurlew Sandwich TernsSandwich Terns Sandwich TernsSandwich Terns Sandwich TernsSandwich Terns Nearby Conwy RSPB had a grey phalarope so, naturally, I went to have a look. Grey PhalaropeGrey Phalarope Grey PhalaropeGrey Phalarope By text message Sheila asked if I'd be going for chough. The satnav suggested South Stack was about 45 minutes away. 

When I arrived I chatted to a RSPB volunteer and asked if chough were being seen that morning. 'Look out of the window,' he said. There was a chough on a bird table!! I got the camera and set off up the hill as he then suggested. The bird table bird had gone. I soon met up with a couple of red-legs. ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough [In all these chough, stonechat and wheatear photos the blue is the sea not the sky] ChoughChough ChoughChough Wryneck chough! ChoughChough ChoughChough ChoughChough A lady said there was a wheatear further up so I continued. I soon spotted this distant bird ahead. StonechatStonechat Looked more like a stonechat. Same image cropped much later at home. StonechatStonechat StonechatStonechat Yet as I grew closer a wheatear did appear and I never saw the stonechat again. WheatearWheatear WheatearWheatear WheatearWheatear

September 17th

Another early start for a seawatch at Flamborough Head. Hoping for sooty shearwater as many had gone north the previous few days. Never saw one although a few were reported. Glad to pick up manx shearwaters and arctic skuas as year ticks. I continued mid-morning towards Spurn calling at Hornsea Mere in case a few little gulls were resting on the pontoons. Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Little GullLittle Gull Parked up at Kilnsea I spotted a group of birders looking at something... I joined them. Spotted flycatcher. Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher Spotted FlycatcherSpotted Flycatcher I was especially pleased to also spot a lesser whitethroat there. Lesser WhitethroatLesser Whitethroat Lesser WhitethroatLesser Whitethroat Lesser WhitethroatLesser Whitethroat Lesser WhitethroatLesser Whitethroat Lesser WhitethroatLesser Whitethroat Word came of a red-breasted flycatcher at Kew Villa. Pied flycatcher was soon seen. Where was the red-breasted?
Pied FlycatcherPied Flycatcher Pied FlycatcherPied Flycatcher It eventually revealed itself. Red-breasted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Red-breasted FlycatcherRed-breasted Flycatcher Last bird of the day: hobby by Easington Cemetery. HobbyHobby HobbyHobby

End of Part One

Just scroll down for Part 2

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/15th---22nd-september-2017 Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:07:33 GMT
15th-22nd September Part 2 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/15th-22nd-september-part-2 Having my cake...

Part 2

September 19th

Mid-morning arrival at Fox Covert, Marske-on-Sea to lie in wait for an oft elusive barred warbler. Eyes constantly distracted by other birds such as goldfinch, reed buntings and tree sparrows. The target bird appeared after about 20 minutes. Say no more. Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Barred WarblerBarred Warbler Ok. Going well. Yellow-browed reported at the outer Bowling Green, Hartlepool Headland.

Fiendishly elusive and much harder to catch in the lens as it moved so fast. Here are my best efforts. Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-browed Warbler

September 22nd

As early as I could manage I headed for Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire. Hoping for a red-necked phalarope. The sun was shining, the skies were blue. I walked east along the north shore. Soon I saw ruff and up to 5 little stints. Little StintLittle Stint Dunlin, I think. Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint RuffRuff A small group of birders ahead made my hopes rise. Red-necked phalarope. Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Not sure I've seen one on land before. Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope More views.

Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Red-necked PhalaropeRed-necked Phalarope Nice views of a curlew sandpiper. Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper

The curlew sandpiper walked up the sloping reservoir wall and snoozed by a dead plant that had been growing in a crack in the concrete then probably got baked off in the hot weather. Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper I remain puzzled by this long-legged wader. One minute I think it's a dunlin then I begin to wonder if it's a second curlew sand. Something about its very upright posture. Dunlin?Dunlin? Dunlin?Dunlin? More little stints. Lovely to photograph that day. Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint Little StintLittle Stint

I headed north to call at Alkborough Flats. A marsh harrier drifted over the reedbeds. Marsh HarrierMarsh Harrier A pair of greenshank landed in front of the hide. GreenshanksGreenshanks GreenshanksGreenshanks GreenshanksGreenshanks Lots of black-tailed godwits occasionally filled the sky. Black-tailed GodwitBlack-tailed Godwit Black-tailed GodwitBlack-tailed Godwit Black-tailed GodwitBlack-tailed Godwit Some bearded tits were seen but not really close enough for really good quality images. Nonetheless quite nice in the good light conditions. Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit Bearded TitBearded Tit And so I come to the end of this mammoth posting. It has its own title...

...and eating it!

Little egret shots, that's all.

Little EgretLittle Egret

Little EgretLittle Egret Little EgretLittle Egret Little EgretLittle Egret

UK 265 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/15th-22nd-september-part-2 Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:02:43 GMT
11th September 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/11th-september-2017 Return to Ravenspurn

September 11th

Digression: Two English kings landed at Ravenspurn: Henry IV in 1399, on his way to dethrone Richard II, and Edward IV in 1471, on his way back from exile. The port of Ravenspurn was somewhere south-east of Kilnsea and the last remnants of Ravenspurn finally succumbed to the waves in the nineteenth century.

Workmen we were expecting failed to turn up for the third day running. To try to rescue a wasted day Sheila suggested we could still go to Spurn even if we didn't set off till late morning. So we went and it was 1.15 by the time we were putting on our coats in the windy car park at Kilnsea Wetlands. A long-billed dowitcher had waited for us, we hoped.

'It's gone,' we were told by a rather well-dressed and abrupt young man. Sheila suggested we walk on to the Beacon Ponds bank. Whilst we walked the pager confirmed it was indeed still present and to cut the story short we saw it distantly roosting on a spit out of view from the hide. Eventually it moved about a bit and showed its bill. A good year tick and it made our day seem worthwhile after the frustrations at home. The abrupt young man arrived after a few moments and stood silently by, a mouthful of humble pie stuck in his throat! Two birders I often meet [it's time I knew your name, please!] told me about the wryneck. We drove to the Blue Bell for a comfort break and then walked up Beacon Lane. Sheila spotted this common darter. Common DarterCommon Darter A group of birders were spotted at the northern tip of Sandy Beaches caravan park. We hurried over. The rest is below...

Only a few times each year do I have unforgettable birding encounters - this year I would include the white-billed diver in Lincolnshire on the River Witham, the ptarmigan at Applecross and I think this wryneck deserves its place in the same group. 

Subtitled: "Don't go sticking your tongue out at me, mate!!"

At first sight it might be a piece of dried up vegetation... WryneckWryneck

WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck ​​​​​​ WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck WryneckWryneck

I think that's enough, don't you?

254 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/11th-september-2017 Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:18:12 GMT
3rd September 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/3rd-september-2017 ''sPECtacular'' birding or ''For better or for WRS!''

Title may make sense in the end!

September 3rd

Sheila wanted a walk at the seaside and suggested Hartlepool. She also suggested calling at Saltholme to see if the pecsands at Phil Stead's were any closer. They weren't really but with different settings and a gentler light I produced these...

The birds were never as confiding as this bird a couple of years ago at Swillington Ings! Pectoral SandpiperPectoral Sandpiper Pectoral SandpiperPectoral Sandpiper Greenshank at Saltholme

There was a seafront festival at the Headland and roads were closed. We stayed away and walked from Newburn Bridge. Here's a few shots from there.

Tuesday 5th September

Afternoon visit to Blacktoft Sands. The best waders had left during a heavy shower but some nice sightings of reed and sedge warblers, a few bearded tits at Marshland along with redshanks, lapwings and snipe. Single greensand at Townend where I ended my visit. Still trying for the marsh harrier photo I can clearly see in my mind! Here are today's efforts.

Thursday 7th September

I went first to Alkborough. A lot of people around and the bearded tits were nowhere to be seen. Apparently over noisy birders had scared the spoonbills off - no great loss! I made do with the bigger picture - quite a spectacle really. A pale headed ruff was quite close.

Something spooked the avocets. Just in case you're thinking there's a marsh harrier coming over the reedbed, right of centre image, it's a lapwing! I decided to head further east, back to Tetney Marshes RSPB or the yacht club pools at Humberston Fitties to be precise. I had heard that the white-rumped sandpiper was often much closer to the car park than it was when I went the first time a few days earlier. It wasn't really close but it was just about photographable...

Can you spot it? It's pretty distant [left of centre in first picture]

It flew a fair bit closer.

To end the day, I called at Blacktoft. Roe deer. Man in hide said they were red deer. I dared to contradict him so he left. I suppose sometimes people see what they want to see.

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/3rd-september-2017 Sun, 10 Sep 2017 14:49:25 GMT
29th August - 1st September http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/29th-august---1st-september I'll be brief...

August 29th: Staveley YWT in the afternoon

Hobby and merlin reported so I decided to give it a go. Public hide enabled me to watch a few dragonflies from quite close and without disturbing them. Here's a migrant hawker - in flight! Next came the merlin: distant view as it perched for some time in a willow. [Hobby not seen]

Terrifying noise as this came low over the reserve. I wondered if it was about to crash land but it seemed to make it! Common terns were feeding over the main lake.

I walked to the newer section of the reserve. Storm ahead: by now the light was very poor. Feeling Jurassic?

August 30th: Bempton

By the time I arrived the greenish warbler that had performed well was proving more elusive. I was pleased to get these less than perfect images given how hard it seemed to see the bird at all. The wing bar is diagnostic.

A good year tick!

August 31st Sheila and I ended up [after a family visit in Pontefract] at Humberston Fitties to see a white-rumped sandpiper. Duly seen in my scope but too far for a photo. Probably only my second or third ever, so another excellent year tick.

September 1st: Saltholme

Phil Stead hide for 3 pectoral sandpipers. Two in the first two photos. Breast band shows well here.

252 UK 2017 - Autumn is starting to happen!

 

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/9/29th-august---1st-september Sat, 02 Sep 2017 15:37:52 GMT
24th-27th August 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/24th-27th-august-2017 Newburn Bridge

24th August

Fairly high tide. Oystercatchers and sanderlings put on a show.

Some ringed plover dropped in.

I had been down on the black sand to take my photos. Coming back up the ramp to the promenade I noticed something twitch in a wild buddleia that was managing to survive growing in the rock armour. I waited. This willow warbler put on a stunning display at close range.

Seaton Common and Seaton Snook

26th August

Back to the north-east. I walked the common from the Zinc Works Road to the golf club clubhouse end and back. One whinchat, seven stonechats and two wheatear seen plus supporting cast of swallows, kestrel, gulls. This young skylark ran along in front of me sticking to the shady side of the track until eventually it ventured into better light. Click!

Wheatear I then went out onto the Snook. Lots of terns way out on their roost and I spent some time looking through them with the scope. Here's a few pictures.

Blacktoft Sands

28th August

I went to Blacktoft with the particular wish to get some good photos of green sandpiper. As it turned out they were never as close as I've had them in the past but overall I came away quite happy.

250 UK 2017

 

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/24th-27th-august-2017 Tue, 29 Aug 2017 11:45:24 GMT
19th-23rd August 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/19th-23rd-august-2017 The Colour Purple

Before we get to the purple bit I took Sheila on Saturday 19/8 to Helmsley to see some owls. We just took Sheila's Canon with a modest zoom lens and set on automatic. Here are some of the shots...

Steller's sea eagle

Yellow-billed kite [if my memory serves me well!]

Griffon vulture Snowy owl

Common buzzard Flight shots of a race of eagle owl Barn owl Harris hawk

These place certainly provide a good opportunity to practice flight shots with several flight sessions per day with a variety of birds. On our visit the eagle owl was relatively easy to photograph, the barn owl was faster in flight, the buzzard flew into a tree and refused to co-operate [!] and the lanner falcon was impossible without a big lens as it flew out a long way at incredible speed.

Back to the real thing - wild birds!

Next day we went up to Silverdale to try to photograph the purple heron at Leighton Moss. The Grizedale hide was packed but we waited and stared at a patch of thistles and I got really frustrated as people said they could see the bird's head and I couldn't see anything even though I knew I was looking in the precise place!! Some black-tailed godwits dropped in. After an hour or so we were promoted to the front row as people left either in exasperation or to get lunch. We stayed on. After about two and a half hours the heron walked into full view. 

So here it is.

Monday 21st August: a trip up to Saltholme area hoping for whinchat and maybe a roseate tern. Neither seen. Phil Stead hide was quiet and the reserve wasn't yet open. I drove slowly down the Zinc Works road. Plenty of young stonechats [about 15 stonechats seen!] but no whinchat.

The dell at the end of the road held a good range of butterflies: painted lady, whites, peacock and these...

Common blue; small copper; red admiral; wall

Out at Seaton Snook there were plenty of sandwich and common tern. The light was difficult. I approached the birds carefully but a couple with a dog scared everything off. I did snap this young kittiwake on the water's edge. A very nervous wheatear [my first autumn sighting this year] lingered along the fence line behind the dunes.

248 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/19th-23rd-august-2017 Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:12:58 GMT
6th-18th August http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/6th-18th-august August sleeps!

I am still here and pottering about in Yorkshire! Not much cooking, really. Anyway, here's my latest report.

August 6th: St. Aidan's

Little owls tempt us back to St. Aidan's.

August 9th: Blacktoft

Very quiet, just somewhere to go. One of the few occasions [the second ever, I think] that I didn't see a marsh harrier. Little egrets still impress even though we take them for granted now.

Sitting in Marshland, after about 20 minutes I spotted some...well, can you see them?

Yes, snipe.

August 13th: in the garden and St. Aidan's again!

What is this? Any suggestions welcome. It may be some sort of hawk moth but I can't find a caterpillar photo to match. Spotted by Sheila on the edge of a compost bin! It was actually rather small!

In the afternoon we went to St. Aidan's - my third attempt to see the clouded yellow butterfly that had been reported a few times. Previous visits were either windy or a bit cold. This time we struck lucky: lifer butterfly for me. We walked from Oddball to the Astley Lake causeway to spot it but, thanks to another visitor who encouraged us to keep going, we caught up with it as I suddenly saw it drop down quite near us. [He had a bike!!]

Hand-held 500mm lens - it works for me. I find quite a few insects don't let you near enough to use the macro lens.

The little owls [2 seen] performed well for us - much to Sheila's delight.

August 15th: Saltholme

Deadly quiet there too and the white-rumped sandpiper flew off about 40 minutes before I arrived. So instead here's more snipe and more egret!

August 18th: Nosterfield

A little stint was reported at Nosterfield a couple of days previously. Then, yesterday, great excitement as it was decided it was either a western sandpiper or a semipalmated. I got up early but not as early as Alan Whitehead who trekked it from Holmpton near Spurn to spot it. However by lunchtime it had been decided [from photos] it was a little stint after all. Not even a year tick. Sad face...but that's birding. If we saw what we hoped to see every time it would all be pretty pointless, wouldn't it?

Anyway, here it is. Distant record shot of the former semipalmated sandpiper then western sandpiper and, ultimately little stint! Still a pretty bird.

Stuck on 247 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/6th-18th-august Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:29:08 GMT
27th July 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/27th-july-2017 Spotshanks & Spoonbills!

-well-known birders' expression of utter amazement when finding a really rare bird...

This particular trip made little sense geographically as I drove over the Humber Bridge to Alkborough, then back east again to Far Ings, then back west to Blacktoft. The order of events being dictated by the birds not by sensible route planning.

So, I'll start at Alkborough Flats. No sign in the strong breeze of any bearded tits. Plenty of young reed buntings about.

A drake common scoter was distantly in front of the hide. Some spotted redshanks were quite close. Spoonbills too. With a bill like that you sometimes need a mate to help you preen the bits you can't reach!

A juvenile white-winged black tern was showing at Far Ings. On the Pursuit Pit. Persistently a long way away too. Still it was a challenge to get these images. Had enough? Yes - couldn't hold the camera steady any longer. Perhaps I should use a tripod...but don't really want to...

I headed west for Blacktoft Sands. I headed for Marshland hide for the waders. As I entered the hide I immediately spotted a group of roe deer off to the left. Quickly swinging into action I took some nice photos.

They soon galloped off and melted away into the reedbed. There were plenty of spotted redshanks here too. Alkborough and Blacktoft share the same species pretty much.

Spotshanks and spoonbills here too! I've even designed my own spoonbill wallpaper... I sometimes wish the marsh harriers came closer at Blacktoft but, to be fair, they are even more distant at Alkborough. Here's a few Blacktoft views. All the images are the right way up - one bird did some aerobatics as you can see! Twisting and turning. My favourite images from Blacktoft were, unusually, of ruff...  ...and in particular of this bird from Townend.

I'll finish with a few other birds: black-tailed godwit. Heron.

Something rather nice, I thought: little little grebes! Since then I've had a quick morning trip to Saltholme for egyptian geese. Four seen but scope only views.

247 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/8/27th-july-2017 Wed, 02 Aug 2017 07:16:20 GMT
22nd-23rd July 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/22nd-23rd-july-2017 1: Garden Bits 'n Pieces

A few photos from the garden. First off, Sheila looks after the garden hedgehogs and sometimes we get good views. They do well thanks to her care and are now so big they are becoming a problem for Network Rail! I spent part of an afternoon messing with the macro. Here's a few of the results. Hoverflies and other flies and bees.

Small white butterfly

2: A day in East Yorkshire

Barry and I headed for Spurn hoping for a white-rumped sandpiper which didn't turn up until late afternoon - well after we'd left for North Cave. We did see a little stint with a dunlin and a common snipe.

Two wood sandpipers were present.

House sparrow and reed bunting were feeding in the wheat field adjacent to the path to Beacon Ponds.

Three species of tern and a good selection of waders were seen at the ponds. We headed to North Cave after scanning the Humber estuary a while. North Cave was quiet and rain wasn't far away. Something spooked the lapwings [plus a couple of starlings, I think]. I enjoyed photographing these bully birds - lesser black-backed gulls. They are very smart birds.

246 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/22nd-23rd-july-2017 Wed, 26 Jul 2017 10:56:18 GMT
18th-19th July 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/18th-19th-july-2017 Local gems

18th July - Fairburn Ings, New Flash. I saw the cattle egret on the 17th after a rush from home without camera. It was [relatively speaking] quite close on Spoonbill Flash. Following day I saw it distantly with Sheila on New Flash. Photographed from the road, I gave it, as it were, my best shot!

19th July - Swillington Ings, Alkborough Flats and North Cave. Barry and I headed first for Oulton part of St. Aidan's [or Swillington Ings as I'm used to calling it] to see a caspian tern. Big bird but not quite close enough to photograph. We headed east to Alkborough Flats...

Lots to see from the hide. Waders including curlew, black-tailed godwits, avocets.

Any opinion anyone of the identity of the bird in the centre of this next photo? A little egret flew over, a dunlin wandered the shoreline too.
At first the light was quite poor - dull, overcast sky. For a moment I thought I saw a spotshank and told Barry but in the poor light I changed my mind. This photo has been brightened up in Photoshop. Spotted redshank.

Crowd scenes - and introducing the dozen or more spoonbills we saw.

Nothing like an alarm flight. Spoonbill dossier! More wader shots including avocets, godwits and greenshank.

The little birds in the reedbed were difficult to capture in the steady breeze. Here's a few shots of reed warbler and juvenile bearded tits.

We headed over the Humber Bridge to North Cave. I hoped to photograph some dragonflies. A combine was at work in North Field. Empress dragonflies were ovipositing.

Joke photo amused me...

Black-tailed skimmer Four-spot chaser

Common darter

This man means business. Approach with care!!

245 UK 2017

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/18th-19th-july-2017 Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:43:52 GMT
12th July 2017 http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/12th-july-2017 Take it away skipper!

1: North Cave

Nothing much about bird-wise within reasonable distance, Barry and I decided to go to North Cave. I immediately thought butterflies and dragons! 

Here's some of what we saw.

A gatekeeper was my first photo of the day: those white spots are diagnostic even though it refused to spread its wings for me. Here's another one that was a bit more showy. The dark patches on the forewing are the male sex brand. For reasons unknown I'm always fascinated by skippers. Perhaps it's the fun of trying to differentiate the Small from the Essex, if you know what I mean. Three Smalls below.

This is large skipper as far as I can tell. Meadow brown females are more colourful than the males. Damselflies are another id puzzle sometimes. This is common blue damselfly.

Four spot chaser dragonfly. Finally from North Cave, here's an empress [emperor dragonfly] ovipositing. She's laying eggs too!!

We spent a long time at North Cave so decided to finish the day at Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit YWT - a great place for butterflies.

2: Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit

As we left the car park to walk the 350 yards to the reserve we saw a marbled white straightaway.

Nice little game to play with these photos. Apart from the obvious main character, in most pictures you can find other insects. Can you spot them all? For example there are little black beetles in the knapweed along with the butterfly.

More marbled whites [and friends].

Commas. Punctuation mark showing well!

Rather worn common blue. Meadow brown and six-spot burnet moths.

The hover-fly is episyrphus balteatus but has no common name.

More six-spots.

Pyramidal orchid with another tiny beetle.

Close-up. Time for the skippers. They are all small or large skippers - so no Essex skippers found today. This is a large skipper- note the wing patterning.

Back to small skippers. The diagonal black line on the lower butterfly is its sex brand - showing it to be a male.

Finally a ringlet and a gatekeeper feeding on origanum.

 

]]>
chrisdownes15@hotmail.com (Chris Downes' Focus on Birds) http://CHRISDOWNESBIRDS.COM/blog/2017/7/12th-july-2017 Sat, 15 Jul 2017 09:57:26 GMT