Dawn Marsh Harrier

Dawn Marsh Harrier

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Quail Fail so Butterflies it is.

I've spent numerous hours standing just yards or even feet from singing Quails without ever managing to clap eyes on one. So with a ludicrously extrovert specimen wandering about in the open and posing for photos and videos in Cambridgeshire, just across the border from my native Herts, there was only one mission for Saturday morning. Myself and Sharpy arrived on site at 07.00. The omens weren't great when we were informed by a guy that had been there since 05.20 that there was no sign. There had been no mention, either positive or negative of the bird the day before but we had hoped this just meant no one had reported it. However by mid-morning and not a sniff it wasn't looking good. Maybe Thursday nights storm had pushed it to pastures new.

Skylarks were jibber-jabbering....

....and Corn Bunings were jingle-jangling.....


.....but nothing was requesting that it's lips be moisturised.

Defeat admitted once again with this teasing little species, we decided to cash in on the sunshine and take a stroll around Bricketswood Common near Watford to see if we could have more luck with butterflies. We did. Very impressive numbers of the gorgeous Silver Washed Fritillary and White Admiral with a nice supporting cast.

Large White


Marbled White

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Marbled White

Meadow Brown

Gate Keeper

Silver Washed Fritillary

Silver Washed Fritillary




Green Veined White

White Admiral

White Admiral

White Admiral
Small Skipper

A smart looking Cricket with crazy long antennae was a joy to behold, (any Mantid buffs out there?an id would be appreciated. Think maybe Short Winged Conehead Nymph.)

Cricket sp (Short Winged Conehead Nymph?)

and a small pond played host to a few Azure Damsels

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Weird & Wonderful Nightjars

Last night, myself, Sharpy and Brendan made our annual pilgrimage to Chobham Common in search of the weird and wonderful Nightjars that haunt the heath land of a nighttime. As usual we weren't disappointed. As day gave way to night, an eerie churring call from in front of us broke the silence. Then another from behind and then another away to our left. If you didn't know better you would never believe this noise was coming from a bird. A Nightjar appeared suddenly before us like some ghostly silhouette performing a ghostly ritual dance. It perched briefly in a small birch tree in front of us and we watched it's strange shadow shudder as it let out it's unearthly call. Then as suddenly as it appeared it spirited away over the tree line and out of sight. But it wasn't long before our next encounter. Out of nowhere a Nightjar manifested itself right in front of our faces. It danced and fluttered all around us like a giant satanic butterfly. There was no doubt it was checking us out. It was as fascinated by us as we were by it. For a couple of minutes it fluttered and hovered around us, often within 20ft of us. Just brilliant.

These birds really are beyond the pale. Bizarre in every way. They look bizarre, they sound bizarre and they behave bizarre. They are just totally bizarre and I for one luv'em for it.

See you next year ya spooky freaks!!!!!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Dips Damsels & Dragons

Saturday started with an early morning  jaunt to Southease in East Sussex to twitch the previous days showy Squacco Heron. Previous day's being the operative words. Not a sniff. Local birders had been on site since 4.30am in the hope of seeing it emerge from the trees it was seen to roost in the night before with Little Egrets. A Buzzard drifted low over the roost and promptly flushed a dozen egrets but our target wasn't amongst them.

Myself and Sharpy decided to cut our losses after an hour or so and pay a visit to Thursley Common with a view to brushing up on our amateurish odonata id skills. The good old camera/book strategy paid dividends I think, but mistake corrections are always most welcome.

Azure Damselfly

Black Darter

Black Tailed Skimmer

Common Blue Damselfly
Keeled Skimmer

Large Red Damselfly

Small Red Damselfly

The resident Dartford Warblers managed to elude us but of avian interest were Redstart and Hobby. Common Lizards were soaking up the rays along the boardwalk,

...... and some beautifully intricate Orchids (help please if you can, I don't have an Orchid book) were growing round the margin of one of the pools

Orchid sp ???

It might be mid-summer doldrums time where birds are concerned but there are still plenty of excuses to grab your bins and camera and head for the countryside.