Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Knowle St Giles.

Andy Grinter kindly sent over this great shot of a Nuthatch near Knowle St Giles on Friday and the large bracket fungi Polyporus squamosus, sometimes called 'Dryad's Saddle', growing on the side of a tree:

Nuthatch: Andy Grinter

Polyporus squamosus: Andy Grinter


Thanks to Dave Helliar for supplying these great shots of some local butterflies taken in the recent (all to brief) spell of sunny weather. Considering the pressure butterflies and their habitats are now under from the weather, farming methods and the trampling feet of ever growing numbers of people using our countryside; there are still a few about this year. Duke of Burgundy' seem to be really suffering though and are much scarcer than usual. Anyone visiting sites for any of the scarcer species, please make sure you are aware of the food plants and avoid stepping on them! They need all the help and protection we can give them.

Duke of Burgundy: Dave Helliar

Duke of Burgundy: Dave Helliar

Green Hairstreak: Dave Helliar

Grizzled Skipper: Dave Helliar

Green-veined White: Dave Helliar

Orange-tip: Dave Helliar

Peacock: Dave Helliar

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dipper breeding on the Isle...

Andy Grinter supplied the evidence in the form of this lovely shot, that dippers are breeding on the River Isle near Chard:

Andy watched this juvenile being fed by the parents for some time. Always great to see but even better to know they are breeding near the town.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Green-winged wonders...

These wonderful Green-winged orchids are a magnificent display at an SSSI near Ilminster, there must be thousands of them!

Gree-winged orchid, Orchis morio: R. Harris

Green-winged orchid, Orchis morio: R. Harris
The site wasn't bad for birds either with three singing cuckoo the highlight.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Hoopoe, Lyme Regis

Managed to make a family detour yesterday to see the hoopoe that's been gracing the pitch and putt course at Lyme Regis for the last week. It was finally found up in a tree and only remained in view for about 2 minutes before disappearing deeper into the trees along the edge of the course. Unfortunately didn't get time for any photos and only managed a bit of hand-held video - apologies for the quality, would have been much better if I'd had chance to get it on the tripod...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Bonaparte's gull, Topsham

I wasn't expecting to go too far today. The weather was miserable yet again, good for seawatching but little else. Never-the-less I ended up trying for the adult summer Bonaparte's gull with Dave Helliar, which has been frequenting the Topsham/Exminster area for quite some time and is strongly believed to be the same bird that was present at Dawlish Warren towards the end of 2012 (see older post). The conditions being what they were though (very windy with rain showers), we really weren't expecting to see it and there had been no reports of it been seen since early in the morning. However, we were both very happy to learn it was still there from another birder as we were trying to find a parking space. Not only that, the 1st summer little gull that has appeared recently too, was also showing on and off before finally disappearing. The Bonaparte's never came closer than about 50 metres but it was great to see it again in its full black hood:

Bonaparte's and black-headed gulls: D. Helliar

Bonaparte's gull: D. Helliar

Bonaparte's gull: D. Helliar

Bonaparte's gull, Topsham: R. Harris

Little gull: R. Harris

Little gull: R. Harris

Little gull with black-headed gull: R. Harris

Boy, was that wind blowing!

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Last night was relatively warm and after dropping my son off at the local scout group, I decided to spend my hour looking for nightingales at a nearby traditional breeding site. I tried a couple of weeks ago but hadn't been successful, possibly because it just wasn't warm enough for them to sing but tonight it was much more comfortable to be out 'n about, so hopefully the birds would think that too. After 20 minutes I nearly gave up again, apart from blackbirds, chiffchaffs and chaffinches, it seemed very quiet. Luckily I decided to give Andy a call and check exactly where he'd last heard them singing and sure enough, just 40 metres further and facing in the opposite direction (I can't believe I couldn't hear them from my previous position!), there it was. The unmistakable sound of a nightingale. Possibly one of the finest songbirds we have in this country. Not only that, he was sat in the open too about 30 metres away...sorry for the shaky video. Didn't expect to SEE one so didn't have a tripod with me...

And just before I left I'm sure I heard a second bird sing briefly in response to one near me. No wonder songs have been written about them - once heard, never forgotten.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

More Bank Holiday highlights...

Thanks to Dave Helliar for sending in some photos taken locally on the Blackdown Hills over the Bank Holiday weekend...

Dipper: Dave Helliar
Large Red Damselfly: Dave Helliar
Tree Pipit: Dave Helliar
Tree Pipit: Dave Helliar
Linnet: Dave Helliar
Linnet with nesting material: Dave Helliar

Yarner & Topsham

A late post from the weekend...Andy Grinter paid a visit to Yarner Wood in Devon and managed to get several pied flycatchers, three wood warblers, the resident mandarins as well as hearing a lesser spotted woodpecker:

Pied flycatcher: Andy Grinter
Pied flycatcher: Andy Grinter
Wood warbler: Andy Grinter
Mandarin: Andy Grinter

The hoped for Bonaparte's gull that's been hanging around the recreation ground in Topsham wasn't on show  and neither was the little gull that's bee seen of late but Andy got some great photos none-the-less:

Black-tailed godwit: Andy Grinter
Goldfinch: Andy Grinter

Monday, 6 May 2013

Tree Pipits...

With nothing around worth twitching this morning, I decided to enjoy the sunshine and try to film the returning tree pipits near Chard. Like everything else, they are late arriving on site this year but, like so many other species, they signify the arrival of Spring...and boy has it been a long time coming. This little chap was incredibly obliging, I just stood still on the edge of the clearing and he flew right over and started singing:

Tree Pipit: Roger Harris

Tree Pipit: Roger Harris

Tree Pipit: Roger Harris

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Patch Record

One of my neighbours kindly knocked the door this afternoon to draw my attention to a flock of buzzards circling overhead. I grabbed my bins and started counting - I reached 42! I've never seen such a large flock in this country. They disappeared to the north-east but were followed by smaller groups until I'd counted 68 in total by 6pm this evening.

Friday, 3 May 2013

'E's shuffled off 'is mortal coil. He is an ex-sparrow...

Wondered what all the commotion was this morning - didn't take long to find out what was causing it, a cracking male sparrowhawk - doing what they do best...the video is not for the squeamish, you have been warned:

Having a rippin' time! R. Harris
After been mobbed by a blackbird, he finally flew to the fence behind him for a bit of piece and quiet. He was so engrossed in his meal, he didn't even notice me when I practically walked up to him and started snapping away!
Male sparrowhawk: R. Harris
A walk up over my patch this morning produced 3 yellowhammers, 4 whitethroats and a couple of singing skylarks but was otherwise quiet.

Collard dove: R. Harris
Whitethroat: R. Harris
Whitethroat: R. Harris