Sunday 29 December 2019

Summer 2019 Highlights.

Part 3 of my looking back at 2019 brings us to the Summer when plenty was going on.

The Thursley Cuckoo has to be included although the session wasn't as good as we were hoping with only 2 short visits by the bird, although having said that it was still an amazing experience seeing a Cuckoo at such close range.


A few days after this I took Clare down to Wiltshire for her to see her first Marsh Fritillaries where we also saw many Small Blue and an unexpected find of several Small Eggar larval webs. 

Marsh Fritillary on Salad Burnet.

Nigel and I then ventured back to Kent in search of a rare form of Fly Orchid that I had heard about. After a bit of a search we eventually spotted it in the deep undergrowth.

Fly Orchid Green Form (Var. ochroleuca).

With the re-introduced Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries emerging I had 2 trips to see them with both trips producing some good opportunities. Until this year I hadn't really managed a decent under-side shot so I was pleased to finally get some that I was pleased with.

Female Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

I had never seen a Chimney Sweeper moth in the UK before and last Winter I heard about a site in Sussex where they could be found.  A visit to the site in June produced several of these great little moths.

Chimney Sweeper.

Another Kent trip, this time with David looking for the Heath Fritillary. The weather was not good at all for butterflies but eventually I spotted a fresh female deep in the woodland. Not long after this the sun came out and a few more butterflies were also seen followed by some of the rarer Kent orchids.

Female Heath Fritillary.

My next challenge was to find a Silver-studded Blue for Clare,  I was really hoping to find one emerging with attendant Ants which I did manage although it was too deep in the grass to photograph. However, one roosting male posed well for us.

Male Silver-studded Blue.

It has been 10 years since I had seen a Large Blue, and as I had to drive Matt to Heathrow at some crazy time of the morning I decided to divert to Somerset to see them again.

Large Blue.

One of the sites where I discovered White-letter Hairstreaks a few years ago has not produced a sighting now for 2 or 3 years and I did wonder if I would find them again in this area due to the loss of Elm trees.  A search on the 30th June produced nothing until I was about to give up. A quick pan of a Bramble bush with the binoculars then produced a lovely female Hairstreak nectaring on the Bramble flowers.

Female White-letter Hairstreak.

An early morning session then gave me a superb male Chalkhill Blue waking up on the South Downs.

Male Chalkhill Blue.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Spring Highlights 2019.

In the early Spring I treated myself to a new pair of cameras.  Whenever I do something mad like this it does give an extra incentive to get out and try to find something to aim the cameras at!!

My first walk produced a mating pair of Brimstone, something I can't remember seeing before and even if I had seen this before I certainly hadn't photographed them in this situation before. Even though the lighting situation wasn't easy I was pleased to get this shot. I felt the new cameras were bringing me good fortune straight away!!

Mating Brimstone.

I managed to see good numbers of Emperor Moths on the local patch during the Spring, and this is one of the better shots of one of these absolute beauties.

Male Emperor Moth.

Once the insect season gets going I step back a little from bird watching, however, with a couple of Black-necked Grebes at Rye Harbour in breeding plumage it was tempting to have a go.  Matt and I had already seen these Grebes in the Winter but now that they looked much more elegant David, Malcolm and I had a go and with a long wait eventually one came into range.

Black-necked Grebe.

Back onto my local patch the insect season was really getting going and I was pleased to get some half decent shots of a female Adonis Blue very early one morning.

Female Adonis Blue.

Nearby I spotted a Dark-edged Bee-fly resting up in cool conditions.  I was more than happy to have spotted the insect and then to get a photo before it warmed up enough for it to take flight.

Dark-edged Bee-fly.

Also on the patch I found a Pyrausta ostrinalis, the rarer of the pyrausta micro moths, staying still at the top of a grass blade.

Pyrausta ostrinalis.

A superb Oak Eggar larva and a Grizzled Skipper were also seen on that same area of the patch.

Oak Eggar larva.

Grizzled Skipper on Cowslip.

My final image on this little look-back on 2019 comes from a trip with Nigel to see the Duke of Burgundy in Kent.  Being very early in the season and with the weather being a little cool we actually only saw 3 Dukes but Nigel found a fabulous female that perched on the top of hazel regrowth giving me my best shot of a female Duke of Burgundy.

Female Duke of Burgundy.

Sunday 22 December 2019

2019 Highlights. Winter.

Well, with another year coming to an end, and with very few highlights out there at the moment, it seems to be a good time to look back over the past year, one that has been a difficult year making it hard to get out at times, but there have at least been some really good moments.

My thanks must go out to David for dragging me out when the odd decent bird came along and Phil for giving me opportunities that I would never have had if I had been on my own by letting me share his expertise in his fabulous bird hide, particularly in this early part of the year.

Early in the year a male Black Redstart and a very confiding Snow Bunting were on the West Sussex coastline. 3 visits gave David and I some wonderful views and with a good deal of patience we both managed to get some pleasing shots.

Male Black Redstart.

Snow Bunting.

I then had what was quite possibly my best ever session in Phil's hide when we were treated to some wonderful views of a female Kingfisher as well as a stunning dog Fox.

Female Kingfisher on Hazel.

Male Red Fox.

David and I then went on an unusually long trip to Weymouth where there was the possibility of seeing 4 worthwhile birds, including what would be my first ever Penduline Tit.  At my age it isn't too often that a lifer comes along so it was very much a trip worth doing.
As it happened we saw all the 4 targets starting with a group of Bearded Tit and a Ring-necked Duck at Radipole Lake and then at nearby Lodmoor RSPB a Lesser Yellow-legs and the sought after Penduline Tit.

Male Bearded Tit.

Ring-necked Duck.

Lesser Yellow-legs.

Penduline Tit.

To end this first look back at 2019 David and I had 4 session at a couple of sites looking for Crossbill.  At the 2nd site we hit the jackpot when we had a female drop into a close pool for a wash. Many photos were taken including the following which wasn't posted at the time.

Female Crossbill.

Sunday 1 December 2019

The Purple Pier.

A short trip to the East Pier at Newhaven proved very worthwhile as the Purple Sandpipers put on a very decent display for myself, Clare and Pete.

With time running out for the Pier we realised this could well be our last opportunity before access is stopped for the forthcoming concrete factory.  What an asset to the town that will be as well as a very beautiful sight for the French people arriving via the ferry!! (NOT).

With 14 Purple Sandpipers seen and 9 Turnstone with them as well as a Kingfisher on the short walk from the car the birds certainly lifted our depression at seeing the destruction of this end of Tide Mills.

Most of the time the Sandpipers were resting up with their bills tucked away, and although they were very settled with us being there they kept a bit of an eye on us all the time.

Every now and then they would move around a little and a few times do a bit of preening and stretching.

Purple Sandpiper preening.


Keeping a beady eye open.

Purple Sandpiper having a stretch.

Purple Sandpiper chirping at a nearby Turnstone.