Posts Tagged ‘Painted Lady’

Day one of our trip to Cornwall and Devon saw us making an afternoon stop at the RSPB reserve at Winterbourne Downs. This reserve is on disused farmland and is being allowed to revert to Flower Meadow with additional planting to support seed-eating birds, which have seen a decline due to modern farming techniques. It also supports a population of Stone Curlew, a rare breading bird which is only found in East Anglia and in this area of central England.

Arriving at the reserve we made our way along the old railway bank to the screen overlooking the area where the Stone Curlews are found. We were encouraged by the news that 6 had been counted this morning, but always aware that Stone Curlew are one of the best-camouflaged bird species and once they are lying on the ground it is almost impossible to see them. We spent an hour looking over the fallow field but could not locate any Stone Curlews. Whilst we were there a Corn Bunting called and flew into a  tree behind us. The Corn Bunting is a species which was once common on farmland but which has been very much impacted by the changes in farming.

Corn Bunting.
Photo by Steve Riall ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/sriall/ )

On our way back to the car park, we spotted a Painted Lady on the vegetation and this was the highlight amongst the numerous butterflies that we saw on this sunny afternoon.

Also got some good pictures of Brimstone Butterfly

 

RSPB Cliffe Pools

A bright sunny morning found Keith and me at the RSPB Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent. August can be a quiet time for birds and so it seemed it would be on the way down to the reserve from West Court farm. Still, it is also a time when plenty of other things can be seen. Our first stop was the radar pools but apart from a large group of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen, bird-wise. However the vegetation around the pools was alive with butterflies, mostly small whites and green veined whites, together with a single Painted Lady, a few Red Admirals and Holly Blues and a number of Migrant Hawker dragonflies; Common Blue damselfly and Common Darters.

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Holly Blue

 

Migrant Hawker (f)

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter

 

Perhaps our best find was at the small pond under the radar tower, where we found three emerald damselflies. There are four species of emerald damselflies found in North Kent and I didn’t immediately recognise this one. Later research, confirmed them to be the Willow Emerald. A recent colonist to south-east England, this damselfly was first recorded in East Anglia in 2007, it has now spread to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north coast of Kent. This is my first record of this species.

Willow Emerald damselfly. Photo by Keith

Moving on there were no signs of Black-winged Stilts on the pools near the Black Barn. Black-winged Stilt is a rare visitor to the UK, but two pairs bred at Cliffe this year raising at least seven young. It seems that one family has apparently moved off across the Thames to Essex, but the other has remained at Cliffe. But they were not visible during our visit. Walking down to the sea wall, a flash of colour alerted us to a rather well camouflaged moth resting against the stone wall. This Red Underwing, mottled grey on top, was magnificently camouflaged until it flew revealing its brightly coloured underwing.

Red Underwing. Photo by Andy Rogers (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/)

Spot the Moth. Red Underwing blending into stone wall

As we left the estuary and turned back inland we were alerted to the calls of Greenshank and searching for these lead us to find a Eurasian Spoonbill and a number of other wading birds including Common Redshank and Whimbrel. We had just decided to move on from this pool when the clouds darkened and there was thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. We sought shelter under the vegetation for 10 minutes but it did not seem like this was a passing shower and so we decided to make our way smartly back to the waiting car and a quick retreat.

A good day with my first record of willow emerald damselfly being the highlight.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Red Underwing Moth (Catocala Nupta)

Western Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

The morning started well with a Banded Demoiselle and a gatekeeper butterfly in the garden of our cottage.

Banded Demoiselle (m)

Banded Demoiselle (m)

Today our destination was the reserve at Hickling Broad. The broads are shallow bodies of water which were the result of flooding of roman sand extractions and medieval extracion of clay and peat. These shallow lakes were joined toether by a number of man-made canals to create a sysytem of waterways.

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In the morning we walk around the reserve and had some good sightings of butterflies including Painted Lady.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

The speciality of the reserve is the Swallowtail butterfly and one is distantly seen in flight.

Swallowtail and Friend

Swallowtail

Photo by Rodney Campbell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/acrylicartist/)

The other highlight were the dragonflies with a number of species seen including the local speciality Norfolk Hawker.

Blue Tailed Damselfly (f) -red form

Blue Tailed Damselfly (f) -red form

Black-tailed Skimmer

Black-tailed Skimmer

 

In the afternoon we see the reserve fom a boat as we travel through the reeds to two hides which can only be reached by boat.

There is a good selection of wading birds and ducks at the first including Greenshank; BlackTailed Godwit; Avocet and Lapwing. 3 species of geese were also present: Greylag, Canada and Eygptian.

Pied Avocet

Pied Avocet

At the second hide there were many fewer birds. but we did find a single Wood Sandpipers.

Whilst we were traveling through the reed beds we had two close sightings of 2 Swallowtail butterflies and a Kingfisher.

 

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Norfolk Hawker (Anaciaeschan isosceles)
Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

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A bright sunny morning and a rare chance to visit Beddington Farmlands in the Wandle Valley near Merton.

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Beddington is a private site and only open to a few individuals for the recording of wildlife. Sewage disposal began on the site in 1860 as a form of fertilisation of the farmlands and the site consisted of a patchwork of fields and marshland. After the second world war it became a well known birding hot spot in London. But from the mid-1960s, the increase in sewage disposal on the land, the building of a sewage treatment works and the replacement of cattle grazing by horses all altered the environment to the detriment of wildlife. By the late 1970’s over half the site was occupied by sludge beds for sewage disposal. In an attempt to restore some wild habitat to the site 2 lakes were created in the 1990s. In 1998 a license was granted for use of the land for gravel extraction and land-fill and most of it was enclosed (on grounds of safety). The owners have continued to allow the monitoring of wildlife and habitat management but the site is not open to the public.

So a rare occasion for me to spy out this famous site. A group of 8 of us met our guide at the local train station and proceeded to the entrance to the site. Our first target was the lakes and here we had distant views of Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plovers.

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Also present were families of Shelduck and Canada Geese.

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From the observation point we made our way around the mound, which occupies the centre of the accessible area (the result of land-fill operations in the past). We saw Little Grebes and one Great Crested Grebe on the second lake along with a family of Mute Swans.

DSCN7316a

It was great to see Common Swifts whirling around the sky as these seem to be becoming rarer in London. Suddenly another bird appeared, similar in shape but bigger and we watched for 5 minutes or so as a Eurasian Hobby chased the swifts around the sky. Both expert flyers and very maneuverable it had all the appearance of an arial dog-fight between fighter planes as they jinked one way and then the over. Eventually the Hobby swooped low and was lost to sight. Had it caught its prey and gone off to enjoy the fruit of its actions?

Avion común - Common Swift - Apus apus
Common Swift
Photo by Ferran Pestana (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferranp/)

Eurasian Hobby/Falco subbuteo
Eurasian Hobby
Photo by Tong Mu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mu_tong/)

Derek, our guide, called our attention to a butterfly which turned out to be a Painted Lady. This is a fascinating species which hatches in Africa and then migrates north to Europe. They can then breed in this country although it is unclear whether these migrate south again or are killed by the approach of winter.

DSCN7321a

One of the great things about this site was that it was famous for it’s population of Tree Sparrow, which is found almost nowhere else in the London area. It was partly in hope of seeing this rare bird that I had come. Sadly Derek told us that from over 250 nests and almost a thousand hatched young in 2006 the population has crashed to 1 brood last year with 10 or so young and 3 nests this year none of which have produced young. It may be this is the end for this iconic species on this site since it is likely that all birds left are from last years broods and thus closely related and there are no nearby populations from which the population can be replenished. No-one is really sure why this has happened in such a short period of time. We didnt see any during our visit. It shows that even when healthy populations of a species are present, we cannot be complacent about conserving them and their habitat.

An interesting morning’s walk and thanks to London Natural History Society for organising and to Derek for showing us around.

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Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
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)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)