Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Collared Pratincole!

Dave Helliar got some nice shots of the Collared Pratincole currently residing on the golf course at Northam Burrows in North Devon. Haven't been able to get up there myself unfortunately but what a cracking bird it is:

Collared Pratincole: Dave Helliar
Collared Pratincole: Dave Helliar
Collared Pratincole: Dave Helliar
Collarde Pratincole: Dave Helliar
Collared Pratincole: Dave Helliar
Collared Pratincole: Dave Helliar
What a stunning bird and still hanging around too. If it stays beyond the Bank Holiday I might even be tempted...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Little surprise at Chard Res...

Got a text from Dave Helliar on Saturday to say there was a common tern at Chard Res followed shortly by another to say a Little Gull had dropped in!! This is a very rare bird at the res, that last being back in 2007 so I wasted no time in heading out to take a look. The first winter little gull was flying up and down the res while the Common Tern stayed in much the same corner trying to avoid the strong winds.

Little Gull: Dave Helliar
Little Gull: Dave Helliar
Common tern: Dave Helliar

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Green-winged Orchids...

Green-winged Orchids Orchis morio, are always an eagerly anticipated Spring gem. This year the numbers and size of the local spikes seems to be spectacular - nice to know all the wet weather earlier in the year has been good for some things! Green-winged's look similar at first glance to Early Purple Orchid and the easiest and most obvious way to tell them apart is the lack of spots on the Green-winged's leaves. The sepals are also veined with green (hence the name), although this isn't always as obvious on some plants. Here are a selection of shots, including a couple of the lovely pink variety.

Green-winged Orchid, R. Harris
Green-winged Orchid (showing the green-veined sepals)
R. Harris
Single flower from the front: R. Harris
And from the side: R. Harris
Green sepals very easy to see on this
pink variety: R. Harris
This one had much more white on the lower lip.
Green-winged Orchid: R. Harris
Another pink one!
As above
Orchids everywhere! Stunning display
Cowslips looking magnificent

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

First tern of the year at the res.

Dave Helliar found the first common tern of the year at Chard res yesterday, a good sign if ever there was one. Terns at the res in the spring are pretty uncommon at the best of times so let's hope this is an indicator of how good things are going to be this year - ever optimistic!

Common tern, Chard res: D. Helliar
Common sand, Chard res: D. Helliar
Large red damselfly seen locally: D. Helliar

Pembrokeshire Puffins...

Andy Grinter made the most of the recent Bank Holiday weekend and headed to Pembrokeshire for a break. Skomer made a great side trip and the views of puffins there are second to none. Here are some of Andy's pics - stunning birds:

Puffin: Andy Grinter
Puffin: Andy Grinter
Puffin: Andy Grinter
Puffin: Andy Grinter
Looks good for Greenland Wheatear: Andy Grinter

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Things are happening on patch!

At last things just seem to be moving. Yesterday I got a text from Dave Helliar to say there were 4 cranes on patch! Needless to say I set off pretty darn quick to go take a look for myself. En route I got a call from Dave to say 'don't rush, they're colour ringed' - re-introduced birds from the Great Crane Project. So, although not wild birds it was still a treat to see cranes so close to home and who knows, next time we could get a wild bird.

Cranes: Dave Helliar
Cranes: Dave Helliar
Quelle surprise - after been present about half an hour they were flushed by a dog walker who came up and asked what the large birds were that she had just flushed and we were looking at! CWAD!

Things were coming and going all the time though - a splash of other less regular birds were also present including a flock of 7 dunlin that flew in, at least 5 common sands a greenshank and the first sedge warbler of the year:

Greenshank: Dave Helliar
Dunlin flock: Dave Helliar
Reed Bunting: Dave Helliar
Sedge Warbler: Dave Helliar

Noticeable movement on patch today (Tuesday) as well with 18 wheatear in one part of a ploughed field close to my house. Couldn't even see the whole field so highly likely the total would have been higher still. Also saw and heard my first whitethroats on patch in Chard today.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Dorset Delights...

Good morning out with Dave H. in Dorset today. Didn't get all of our target species but we had a few crackers made all the more enjoyable by the fabulous weather! Top of the list was this beautiful male Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis, which was happy to bask in the early morning sun - what a stunner! Notice how he's flattened his body out to absorb maximum heat from the sun.

Sand Lizard, male: Dave Helliar
Sand Lizard, male: R. Harris
Sand Lizard, male: R. Harris
This slow worm was freezing cold and needed to warm up before starting its day.
Slow Worm: R. Harris
Slow Worm: R. Harris
Early Spider Orchids are a bit of south coast speciality and the short turf Dorset coast is pretty good for them. They should be blooming in their hundreds about now but we only found about a dozen or so spikes today and they clearly haven't peaked yet.

Early Spider Orchid: Dave Helliar
Early Spider Orchid: R. Harris
Early Spider Orchid: R. Harris
Early Spider Orchid: R. Harris
Early Spider Orchid: R. Harris
Chalk Milkwort - stunning little plant: R. Harris
Cowslip and Bee Fly: R. Harris
Early Purple Orchid: R. Harris
To round things off we had our first Odonata of the year too, a large red damsel and this Libellula quadrimaculata:

Libellula quadrimaculata: Dave Helliar

Nice to see a few migrants today too, including lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, redstart and wheatear. Let's hope the good weather continues. On a more distressing note we were completely stunned to see so many dogs off leads disturbing the sand lizards, adders and potentially smooth snakes! ! We encountered approximately a dozen people,  all completely ignorant to the disturbance they were causing and simply not in control of their animals. Quite frankly I'm amazed dogs are even allowed off leads in such a sensitive area. Sad to see and baffling too - where is the protection for our rarest of herps?

The good weather also brought out more butterflies this week including this holly blue and a few wood whites in Devon. Thanks to Dave Helliar for the update and lovely photos:

Holly blue: Dave Helliar
Wood White: Dave Helliar
Wood White: Have Helliar