Posts Tagged ‘Peacock Butterfly’

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A free Friday and so Keith and I are off to the RSPB reserve at Cliffe. This collection of old workings and pits is located on the north Kent coast by the side of the River Thames and never seems to disappoint for a days bird watching.

We started with our normal stop at West Court Farm, but it was very quiet. Still we enjoyed our stop at Tabitha’s canteen for brunch. After being refreshed we made our way to the RSPB reserve. We first went along to the radar pool as Keith had seen a Spoonbill from here the previous week. Here we encountered our first Nightingales and Cetti’s warblers singing from the undergrowth. Alas no Spoonbill today, but we were treated to the sight of a group of newly emerged Green-Veined White Butterflies which patrolled the paths edge vegetation.

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At the small pool we were serenaded by Marsh Frogs, whose ‘song’ would accompany us all the way till we reached the River Thames. Often heard but rarely seen we were fortunate to see two in the small pool.

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On the walk to the River we encountered some Peacock butterflies.

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Our attention was drawn to a bush by flying ‘butterflies’. We thought at first that they were Small Tortoisehsells, but on closer examination we found that they were moths. They were fast flying and reluctant to settle and of course impossible to photograph. I even tried using the video camera but with no success. Neither of us is very knowledgeable about Moths but enquiries since have suggested that they were male Emperor Moths and that somewhere in the bush was one of more females and this accounted for their frantic activity.

Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia)
Emperor Moth
photo by Dean Morley (https://www.flickr.com/photos/33465428@N02/)

Moving on we were treated to a fly past from a Merlin

Merlin
Merlin
photo by Nicole Beaulac (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicolebeaulac/)

A Hobby also perched on a fence just out of good photography range.

Hobby. The best photo we could get. Taken by Keith

Hobby. The best photo we could get. Taken by Keith

Reaching the River we walked along to the creek and then turned back inland. A male Stonechat was seen perching on a bush, a good record for a bird whioch seems to becoming rarer in the south-east of England. We could hear the characteristic call of Whimbrel and a small party flew overhead. A swallow flashed past and the islands turned up a selection of wading birds including 15 Whimbrel; Redshank; Ringed Plover; Black-Tailed Godwit; Dunlin; Grey Plover and the Avocets which now breed here in large numbers.

Whimbrel
Whimbrel
photo by S.Fitzgerald (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfitzgerald86/)

In the path side vegetation Nightingales and Cetti’s warblers continued to sing along with Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats and a single Chiffchaff. At least 3 of the rarer Lesser Whitethroats were also heard.

The rain had begun to fall and it was now time to make our way back to the village.

An excellent day’s birdwatching. Once again Cliffe had not disappointed us

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Merlin [sp] (Falco columbarius)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
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 Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
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)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)

Emperor Moth

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A morning walk on the London Wildlife Trust reserve at Braeburn Park in Crayford.

Braeburn Park has a chequered history. Much of the latter half of the last century it was a gravel extraction works, which was then used for Landfill. Part of the site was used by a gun club. The site was then purchased by a developer and a housing estate was built. As part of the building permission the land surrounding the extractions to the north, south and west had to be developed as a nature reserve.

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The London Wildlife trust took over the management last year and this was a chance to look around to see what had been accomplished in the last year and what the trust saw as the vision for the future.The part of the reserve that we explored was to the north of the housing estate. It consists of scrub, woodland and the remains of some extraction pits,

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There were good numbers of Chiffchaff calling and some good views were seen. Blackcaps were heard by some people but were elusive to view. Other common birds were also present in good numbers. Unfortunately the resident Bullfinches did not put in an appearance. Tony, our guide told us this was one of the few places in London where you could still find this species.

Chifchaff

Chifchaff

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

Robin

Robin

The real rarities found on the reserve are the invertebrate life. We stopped in an area of sand bank to see the solitary bees and wasps which use them to burrow the holes in which they lay their eggs. There are about 8-10 species present here and some of them are quite rare.

Sandbanks - an important habitat on the reserve

Sandbanks – an important habitat on the reserve

Holes in bank made by solitary bees and wasps to lay their eggs

Holes in bank made by solitary bees and wasps to lay their eggs

Large White, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies were seen along with Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

peacock Butterfly

peacock Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell (archive photo)

Small Tortoiseshell (archive photo)

It is still a project very much in progress but this visit demonstrated that it does have a potential to be developed into a quality nature reserve.

European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Went down into Kent today to spend a day nature-watching with Keith and Brian. My first stop on the way to our meeting place was the Mill Pond at Dartford which can be observed from Platform 4 at Dartford Station whilst I changed trains. I was pleased to see a Little Grebe on the pond along with the Mallard. Our destination once we had met up was the Isle of Grain on Kent’s north coast and which forms the southern shore of the Thames estuary. Our first stop was the RSPB reserve at Cliffe.

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At our first stop we saw two Black-winged Stilts, a bird usually associated with Southern Europe rather than North kent.

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Photo by Leo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/0ystercatcher/)

We were also fortunate to see the local Eurasian Spoonbill, a young bird, which has been present for a couple of months. Further on we located a juvenile Little Gull on a shingle bank. Apart from these rarities there were over 100 Avocets plus chicks present and over 200 Shelduck

Avocet

Avocet

One of the highlights was a Nightingale which gave us great views (for a bird that is most often heard but not seen) as it appeared to be sunning itself on a tree trunk.

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We also recorded 7 species of Butterfly and 3 of Dragonfly, although 2 Aeshna dragonflies were seen but could not be identified to species.

Peacock which refused to open its wings

Peacock which refused to open its wings

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Common Blue damselfly

Common Blue damselfly

Later we moved onto another RSPB reserve at Northwood Hill, where the highlight was a sighting of the now increasingly rare Eurasian turtle Dove. It sat in a tree as it called and we were able to watch it for a good period of time.

072053-IMG_2908 Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Turtle Dove
Photo by Tony Morris (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonymorris/)

A great days birdwatching with great views of good birds. Thanks to Keith and Brian for their company.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
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)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
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)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

Have been away at a meeting in Oxford all week so not much opportunity to spend time watching nature. Did manage to complete at least one butterfly count each day for Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly count, which runs to the end of this week. The lovely thing about these 15 minute counts is that you can do them wherever you are and you don’t need a lot of time to complete them, so they fit into a lunchtime or a coffee break. You just have to spend 15 minutes watching for and identifying the butterflies you see. Most of my counts last week were in the grounds of St Anne’s college where the meeting was being held and although I only saw Large and Small whites and Gatekeepers, all the data combines to paint a picture of the butterfly population across the country.

St Anne's College Oxford
St Annes College Oxford
photo by pmecologic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/marrowp/)

I also did a count at Oxford Station whilst waiting for the train to come back to London which turned up Large White and Peacock plus an overhead Red Kite – the first I have seen over central Oxford.

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Peacock Butterfly
photo by Kieth Laverack (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akandbdl/)

For more details of the Big Butterfly Count go to http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/