Wednesday 29 December 2021

The Garden Predator.

 Well, there I was wasting time on the computer as it was such a foul day, when I looked out the window and saw a Sparrowhawk fly across the garden and settle on the fence. Fortunately, the camera was close at hand so I carefully opened the window enough to get the lens through it and managed to rattle off a few shots. The light was not at all good, and the wind was also buffeting the bird but a few half decent shots were achieved.

The bird was quite small so I suspect that it is a young male bird, probably a first winter.

A Young Sparrowhawk in the garden.

Sunday 26 December 2021

Pre Christmas Birding.

 A good 3 days birding on the run up to Christmas with firstly, a walk into Friston Forest with Clare resulting in a nice flock of Brambling at the Lullington Heath end, with probably around 20-30 birds. The following day my first self found Snow Bunting near Bo Peep just before dark.

The following day, Christmas Eve, David came over to see if we could re-locate the Bunting, but alas, we failed to find it again. To make it worthwhile him coming over we headed to the local Fulmars to see if we could get some flight shots. We hit lucky when I spotted a Fulmar perched on the cliff edge in a position where we could photograph it whilst still keeping well away from the edge!! Some nice flight shots were also achieved. We also spotted a 1st winter drake Eider in the bay which was nice to see.

Later the same day Matt and I went Short-eared Owl watching. Despite the rain now falling we had a few sightings of these fabulous birds, before he headed north for his Christmas.


Short-eared Owl.

Monday 20 December 2021

Short-eared Owl.

 With the weather continuing on a very dull theme it hasn't been ideal at all for photography. On what seems to have been the last bright day David and I went out looking for the beautiful Short-eared Owl, a species that some years appear in good numbers, although never as many as we used to get in years gone by. 

This particular evening though we did get a good display with at least 3 owls hunting, although none really came close enough for photography, and the best moment also came after the light had been lost. However, one quite pleasing shot remained.

The evening was still very pleasant though with some memorable views, as was 3 afternoons later when I went again, this time on my own. With the light and temperature being quite unpleasant no other birdwatchers were there at all. The owls also only appeared just before dark, but by hiding I did get some much closer fly pasts as two Short-eared Owls hunted the meadow in front of me. I had about 15 minutes of watching them before the light had totally gone. On walking back to the car I came across a Barn Owl hunting along a hedgerow to make it a 2 species owl evening.

Short-eared Owl hunting.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Butterflies from Fuerteventura.

 My final post from our Naturetrek trip to Fuerteventura is about the butterflies we found. With the trip being in November and very few flowers surviving the drought that appears to be happening over there we didn't see too many species. However, there were a few flying and some really nice ones too. Several were species we regularly see in the UK including Small White, Painted Lady , Red Admiral and Clouded Yellow. However, there is little to beat the view of a large Monarch flying slowly around you. We only saw a small number but there were at least 2 around the Hotel, one was very tatty on its left wing, but the other one was pretty good and that was the one that briefly posed for me on the foliage of a small bush.


On one of our outings we came across several Plain Tiger butterflies and one of our clients who was checking out a plant also found several larvae of the Plain Tiger. All the butterflies here were unfortunately showing signs of wear and tear but they were still mighty impressive.

Plain Tiger.

Plain Tiger larva.

We did have a bit of confusion with the blue butterfly that was in the Hotel grounds, but after arriving home and checking the books we discovered that the Lang's Short-tailed Blue had made it across to the Canary Islands in the years since my European book had been written. Quite a few were seen including some egg laying.

Lang's Short-tailed Blue.

Another butterfly we saw a few of that had a tail were the Geranium Bronze. This species occasionally appear in the UK when they are presumably imported as eggs on Geranium plants. 

Geranium Bronze.

Clouded Yellow.

In the grounds of the Hotel I spotted a small moth that I have just managed to identify. It is the Maize Moth (Spoladea recurvalis) that on checking has actually appeared in Sussex on a handful of times. A beautiful little moth, although in some parts of the World it is considered a pest species. I certainly wouldn't mind getting it in my moth trap sometime!! Up to 2015 there had been 9 Sussex records.

Maize Moth

Finally from the trip, and nothing to do with insects, we did see quite a few of the local Ground Squirrels. They would feel very put out if I didn't include a photo of one of these guys!!

Ground Squirrel.