Archive for the ‘Dragonflies’ Category

Ruddy Darter

Posted: August 23, 2019 in Dragonflies, Natural History

Yesterday I published some pictures of Common Darter and mentioned a similar species, the Ruddy Darter, so I thought today I would publish some pictures of that species for comparison.

Common Darter

Posted: August 22, 2019 in Dragonflies, Natural History
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The Common Darter is one of our commonest Dragonflies and can be easily seen as it has the habit on warm days of resting on fences and on pathways, where it can take up the heat.

It has a mixture of Red and Yellow on the abdomen and this distinguishes it from the similar Ruddy Darter which has a darker red body with no yellow. It is found across most of the UK and flies between June and September, although it has been recorded in all months except January to April.

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The reserve was relatively quiet bird-wise with the highlights being a small passage of House-martins and a juvenile Buzzard, which unusually was laying on the ground. I heard it had been around the reserve for a couple of days and had been harassed by the resident crow population, so perhaps it just wanted to keep out of sight.


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Lets settle this here and now!

Lets settle this here and now!

Migrant Dragonfly

Migrant Hawker

Marsh Frog

Marsh Frog

Wasp Spider

Wasp Spider

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Common Lizard

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

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Continuing the series of photos taken at the London Wetlands Centre whilst attending the wildlife photography workshop.

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Hall Place

Keith wanted to visit a couple of my local sites which he had not seen before and so we began the day at Hall Place Gardens in Bexley.

We started at the hide which overlooks a quiet section of the River Cray and can be a good spot for Kingfisher but no luck today. We then moved on to the main garden, where we found my first dragonflies of the year in the riverside vegetation, Banded Demoiselles and Common Blue Damselflies.

We also found a Grey Wagtail feeding under one of the bridges

A walk around the less busy parts of the garden added Jay and Mistle Thrush together with Greenfinch, Blackcap and Garden Warbler.

We returned to the hide for our lunch but still were unlucky with the Kingfisher. We did have an obliging young Robin, which perched for photos and saw a Red Admiral butterfly.

Robin (juvenile)

We then moved onto Danson Park in Welling, where we added a number of water birds including Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Tufted Duck to our day’s list as well as Blue-tailed Damselfly and Holly Blue butterfly.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

It may be cold outside but before long spring will be here, with all the delights it brings.

Comma
Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Orange-Tip
Speckled Wood
Blue-tailed Damselfly

Our first stop this morning was the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Holme Dunes. Leaving the centre I visited the Bird Observatory and spent some time looking for migrants in the beachside shrubs and trees, but apart from some common woodland birds, the only migrant seen was a Common Whitethroat.

Common Whitethroat in the beachside vegetation at Holme

My next area to visit was the Broadwater, but when I arrived at the hide, one of the wardens explained that the local cattle had broken down a fence during the night and that they had to repair it which was disturbing the birds and so the Broadwater was devoid of birds except for a single Mallard and a party of Pied Wagtails. After meeting up with Sue, our next stop was on the Saltmarsh, where there was a single Eurasian Curlew and a party of 40 Common Redshank plus a few Little Egrets.

Travelling on we had lunch at the RSPB reserve at Titchwell and then walked out to Fen hide where we found two Turtle Doves sitting in a tree. This is the rarest of UK’s breeding doves, which is a summer migrant from Africa and have suffered a very significant decline in numbers of recent years due to climate change in their wintering grounds and shooting around the Mediterranean area.

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Turtle Dove (taken in Norfolk Sept 2017)

Robin (top left), Migrant Hawker (top right), Small White Butterfly (centre right) and   Reed-bed at Titchwell (bottom)

One other treat of our visit was as we sat drinking a cup of tea and watching the bird-feeders we saw some Wood Mice scurrying around under the feeders, no doubt picking up the seed that had fallen down.

From here we walked onto Pat’s Pool, where there was a large flock of Gadwall and a single Red-Crested Pochard. A Great White Egret flew into the pool and a Marsh Harrier quartered the reed-bed at the rear of the pool.

Our last stop of the day was at Cholsey Barns, which is a farming area where I have seen Grey Partridge on previous visits. Today we were unlucky and didn’t find any, but did have wonderful views of a Male Marsh Harrier and the starlings on the telephone mast were an impressive sight.

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)                                                                                        Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

With similar weather conditions to yesterday, our day started out at Weybourne Beach for some sea watching. Before we arrived at Weybourne, we drove across Kelling Heath and narrowly avoided running over 3 Red Legged Partridge who were feeding in the road.

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Red-legged Partridge. Photo by rawdonfox (https://www.flickr.com/photos/34739556@N04/)

 

In a 90 minute watch from Weybourne beach, a Great Skua, a Fulmar, 12 Northern Gannets and 20 Common Scoter were the highlights. Another Skua was also seen distantly and it was not a Great Skua, but in those conditions and at that distance, it was impossible for me to be sure of its identity – possibly an Arctic Skua but the juveniles of the other 3 species can look very similar at distance.

 

Our next stop was at Thursford Woods, a remnant of Ancient Woodland, containing some of the oldest trees in Norfolk. It is a good site for Grey Partridge but none were to be seen in the fields.

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Walking down through the forest the tracks were full of Speckled Wood butterflies.

Speckled wood (left), Red Admiral (top right) and Robin (bottom right)

At the bottom of the track, we arrived at the pool. It looked rather devoid of water, as witnessed by a Grey Wagtail and a Robin walking on the surface (on the mud). We spent some time sitting on a bench just listening and waiting. There were a good number of Ruddy Darters present and one brave male even came and sat on the bench with us. Then we retraced our steps back to the car park. Sue spotted a Common Frog in the path side vegetation.

Woodland Pool (left) and Ruddy Darter (right)

Arriving back at the car park, I had one last scan for Grey Partridge on the fields before leaving to return to our cottage.

Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)

Before we left this morning we were treated to the sight of a Barn Owl hunting in the field at the end of the garden. Eventually, it perched in a tree.

Our first stop this morning was Kelling Heath in search of Dartford Warbler. This specialised habitat is never prolific for birds but has a specialised population that cannot be seen elsewhere. We located a suitable area and waited for the birds to show themselves, but without luck. A conversation with local told us that they had bred here but seem to have moved on in the last couple of weeks.

Our next stop was for refreshment at the Old Reading room in Kelling. This rather unique combination of a second-hand bookshop, art gallery and tea shop made a pleasant break.


Driving West along the coast we came to the small reserve and bird observatory at Walsey Hills. There was little bird life in the scrub, but we did find 4 Little Grebes and a Green Sandpiper on the small lake.


Continuing west we arrived at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust at Cley Marshes.

A Peregrine Falcon flushed the ducks and wading birds as we approached the marsh. From the hides, we saw Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper along with more common waders.

Green Sandpiper

Little Ringed Plover

Lapwing (left), Pied Avocet (Top Right) and Ruff (Bottom Right)

Back at our cottage, we found a Hummingbird Hawkmoth resting on the cottage wall.

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Humming-bird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)

A morning trip to the RSPB reserve on the coast at Titchwell, prompted by the reports of a couple of good birds the night before. As we walked down the track to the freshwater marsh a Great White Egret flew across the reeds giving excellent views. Scanning the marsh from Island hide Sue picked out some small waders, Dunlin, but on checking one had a down-curved bill and a reddish tinge to its body, a Curlew Sandpiper. Back on the path, and with the help of others we had soon located the first of our targets, a Red-necked Phalarope. It was distant and only its behaviour of feeding at a frantic pace made it stand out at that distance. There was no sign of our second target, a Glossy Ibis, which had arrived the evening before and had last been seen flying into the reed-bed. Also present was a flock of 18 Eurasian Spoonbills, over 200 Black-tailed Godwits and 20 Ruffe.

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Red-necked Phalarope. Photo by Tom Wilberding (https://www.flickr.com/photos/twilberding/)

As we walked back to the centre scanning the salt marsh, a bird flew across my view and immediately disappeared into the marsh vegetation. It was slender winged, grey with black wing tips and it had a white rump. Although it did not reappear to confirm its identity I am pretty sure that it was a male Hen Harrier, the rarer of our two Harrier species.

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Male Hen Harrier. Photo by Radovan Vaclav (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rado_vaclav/)

An excellent mornings birdwatching

Taking a break from nature watching Sue and I went shopping at the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival held in the walled garden at Holkham Hall.

There were around 60 stands from local producers and on display were everything from meat to cheese; from vegetables to fruit; from cordial to gin and whisky. The great delight about these festivals is going from stall to stall testing and tasting the goods on offer. We brought some provisions for the holiday before stopping at a farm shop in Walsingham to complete our shopping. It is always good to savour the local produce.

 

Red Admiral and Comma

Back at our cottage in the afternoon, the garden contained a host of butterflies – Red Admiral, Large and Small White; Comma and Small Tortoishell along with a Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Later in the evening, we saw a Barn Owl flying across the field and around 10.30pm we heard a Tawny Owl calling and then at least two Barn Owls calling, well more like screaming, as they objected to its presence in their territory. Amazing sound – I have never heard then call before.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)