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20 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 22:22
Rufus Castle, Church Ope Cove, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

A slight extension to yesterday's walk taking in Church Ope Cove. What didn't change though was the weather which was exactly the same as yesterday, with high humidity, thick Fog and hot sunny breaks.

Main highlights today were a Marbled White butterfly seen above Rufus Castle and Brimstone moth flushed at Church Ope Cove, both firsts for the year. Also seen great views of a male Broad-bodied Chaser along my "Mermaid" track.

Just 2 Wall Lizards seen, with my first ever on the beach at Church Ope Cove running across the pebbles.

There didn't seem to be that many butterflies about today, but apart from the Marbled White, I did record Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, 2 Large Skippers and Large White.

On the moth front I had the Brimstone mentioned above, 4 Silver-Y, 1 Six-spot Burnet moth and dozens of micro moths Micropterix aruncella (White-barred Gold). When I say micro they were tiny and around 3mm in length!

Quite a few sawflies about which I will try and ID, along with two Ichneumon wasps sp. and the weirdest group of small black bugs I have ever seen, which are probably very young Shield Bugs.

What I did recognise though were a Drone Fly (Eristalis abusivus), Dark Bush-crickets, a Black-mining Bee (Andrena pilipes), lots of Swollen-thighed Beetles (Oedemera nobilis), 2 Sicus ferrugineus flies, 2 Hornet Mimic Hoverflies (Volucella zonaria), a Pellucid Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) and a solitary Lackey moth caterpillar.

Here are a few images from this afternoon:

A Sawfly sp.
And another.
The same as above. 
A male Broad-bodied Chaser along my "Mermaid" Track.
A Ringlet
An Ichneumon sp.
This is a Drone Fly, Eristalis abusivus
My first Wall Lizard actually on the pebbles on the beach at Church Ope Cove.
Still a lot of these Dark Bush-crickets about
What a truly stunning bee, a Black-mining Bee, Andrena pilipes
A male Swollen-thighed Beetle
This Hebe by the huts on the beach at Church Ope Cove was absolutely alive with bees, flies, moths.You name it, it was probably on there.

This has to be the smallest moth I have ever encountered....
.....and there were loads in and around the Hebe on the beach.
And it wasn't just the beach that I came across these White-barred Golds (Micropterix aruncella) there were many in the bushes along the steps up to St Andrew Church.

These Sicus ferrugineus are certainly unusual looking. I came across two today.
An Ichneumon sp.
This is a Large Skipper.
These are really bizarre and most likely baby Shield Bugs.
One of two Hornet Mimic Hoverflies seen today. My first this year
A Lackey moth caterpillar.
Another Wall Lizard on the wall up to St Andrew's Church
And another Large Skipper, this time in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
A Six-spot Burnet Moth in the church grounds again.
My first Pellucid Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) of the year.
Well that was quick. Someone came out today and moved the boulder off the steps on the way down to Church Ope Cove.
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19 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 19:04
Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

The same route as yesterday, though that couldn't be said for the weather which though was really humid was a mixture of thick Fog and hot sunny breaks. Really bizarre!

This particular route is certainly one of my best to date, with new "bug" species turning up daily. Today was no exception with a few more new species to add to my ever growing Port and Wey list. A Fabricius' Nomad Bee (Nomada fabriciana) was great to find in the grounds of St Andrew's Church. That is now Gooden's Nomad Bee (Nomada goodeniana), Marsham's Nomad Bee (Nomada marshamella), Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava) and now Fabricius' Nomad Bee (Nomada fabriciana) recorded on Portland. Another bee I recorded was my first ever Mason Wasp (Gymnomerus laevipes), though I did have other thoughts as to what it could have been. Thank you to Tim Struddock on the UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Facebook Group for the ID

On the butterfly front I had several Ringlets, Meadow Heaths, Common Blues, 3 Large Skippers, 2 Small Skippers, 2 Lulworth Skippers, 2 Commas, 4 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, 2 Green-veined Whites, a Dingy Skipper and my first Small Heath of the year.

A few moths about with a Six-spot Burnet moth, several Twin-barred Knot-horns (Homoeosoma sinuella) and one to ID.


The or a different Wasp Beetle was very close to one I saw yesterday in the grounds of St Andrew's Church, where I also found an unusual wasp which I reckon is probably a Potter Wasp or something similar.
I also came across a Dark Bush-cricket, Swollen-thighed Beetles, White-lipped Banded Snails (not found another Brown-lipped yet!), a caterpillar of what I'm now convinced is that of a Six-spot Burnet moth, a Black-horned Gems (Microchrysa polita) or is it in fact a Broad Centurian (Chloromyia formosa), one of the Cheilosia sp. flies, a Mullein moth caterpillar and my first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens) on Portland. I'm surprised I've not come across more.
Here are a few images:

Down the Mermaid Track a few White-lipped Banded Snails.
A Large Skipper
Dark Bush-cricket, Pholidoptera griseoaptera
A very dingy Dingy Skipper
My first Small Heath this year. Hopefully more to the follow and better photos as well.
A Ringlet. Many on the wing now, with several in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
A Small Skipper
I'm beginning to consider that this is actually the caterpillar of the Six-spot Burnet moth. Very similar to the Five-spot Burnet moth caterpillar, I have yet to see a Five-spot Burnet moth on Portland.

A moth sp.
....taking off.......
........and lift off.
A Speckled Wood
A Twin-barred Knot-horn, Homoeosoma sinuella
And another one.
Now what's happened here!!
Fetch Ted. It looks like human intervention has dislodged a boulder from under Rufus Castle.
Stone me how did that get there!!
I think this is a Black-horned Gems, Microchrysa polita. Not dissimilar to a Broad Centurian, Chloromyia formosa or maybe it is!!

And finally a Lulworth Skipper. Not bad 4 skippers in one outing.
This spot here has produced Lulworth Skippers on the 3 occasions I have been here.
Ah yes that boulder from the other side. Ted is not impressed.
A Cheilosia sp. There are quite a few very similar species.
A Meadow Brown. Lots of these on the wing.
A Large White which I thought was a Marbled White until I tracked it down.
Only the one Mullein moth caterpillar found today............
......and he's making short work of this leaf.
My first Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens) on Portland. I'm surprised I've not come across more.
The same/different Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis) in almost the same spot as yesterday in the grounds of St Andrew's Church.

A slightly different view across the grounds of St Andrew's Church.
I cannot believe I am struggling with this..........
.......initially I thought it was a Clearwing, which would have been a cracking find. I'm now thinking that it is a species of Potter Wasp or something similar. In fact it is a male Mason Wasp (Gymnomerus laevipes). When I was trying to ID this I dismissed this one as the stripes on "mine" were in pairs whereas all the images I came across of Gymnomerus laevipes the stripes were 4 or more and not paired. I guess there can be lots of of variations.

I'm well pleased with this one. I've had quite a few nomad bees and this is another a Fabricius' Nomad Bee (Nomada fabriciana).


Not sure what this fly is, but it was busy "flapping" its wings.
And one I will never ID, but I just love the pose it gave as it perched itself on top of a brick wall.
I said it was humid and these two felt it today. Ted and Benji.
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11 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Fourteen: Arrival At Tristan Da Cunha

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:00
Today was another day of expectation as we were arriving at Tristan da Cunha. This was another island group I was really looking at visiting. Several years ago, I went to a talk given by Brad Robson, who is the brother of one of my local Birding mates. Brad & his family had the lucky opportunity to visit & stay on Tristan da Cunha for several months as part of his job with the RSPB working with the team responsible for the British Overseas Territories. The talk was a mixture of Birds, but also life on the small island. The population of Tristan da Cunha in Jan 17 was only 262 permanent residents. It was a fascinating talk. It helped to reinforce the plan in my mind that started in the 90s, that I would join one of the Atlantic Odyssey cruises from Ushuaia via South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena & Ascension. Finally, after all these years of considering the trip, I was two weeks into it & we were due to arrive at Tristan da Cunha. By late morning we could finally see Tristan da Cunha in the distance. Over the next hour the island became bigger.
The initial view of Tristan da Cunha: The island is approximately round with a diameter of 7 miles & a size of about 38 square miles
Tristan da Cunha: Panoramic shot showing how well the volcano dominates the island. The highest point of the volcano is 2062 metres
Tristan de Cunha: There was a reasonable coverage of bushes & trees on the steep slopes
The volcano dominates the island: Leaving only a narrow low elevation plain
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas: We arrived from the the South & sailed anti-clockwise around the island until we reached the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, on the NW corner of the island
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas: The harbour lies at the right hand end of the settlement
Unfortunately, there was a 4 metre swell & a 30 knot NW wind blowing into the harbour & the harbour master had declared the harbour was closed. To be honest, I wasn't surprised. Fishing is one of the main incomes for the islanders. One of the films of life on Tristan da Cunha that we were shown while we were at sea said the islanders were only able to go to sea for around 80 days a year. I think the harbour may have been improved since that film, as it wasn't recent. However, it does indicate the impact the weather & sea have on the harbour. There had been another tourist ship waiting to land for three days & which had left that morning, without having been able to put their passengers ashore.Yellow-nosed Albatross: There was a regular movement of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses flying to photograph when we weren't looking at the island
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed AlbatrossAs we were circumnavigating the island, it was steady enough on the top decks & a few telescopes appeared with people scanning the hillsides. A few Albatross nests were seen on the steep hillsides & then a surprise call came from one of the European Birders: I can see a Gough Moorhen. This is one of the endemics we were keen to see, having missed it on Gough Island. Gough Moorhens used to breed on Tristan da Cunha, but are believed to have died out following the arrival of people. However, another subspecies survived on Gough Island & some of these individuals were moved to Tristan da Cunha in 1956. As always with these scenarios some authorities believe that the now extinct Tristan Moorhens & Gough Moorhens were separate species, rather than subspecies. Either way the Gough Moorhen re-introduction was successful. So the next thing was trying to see the Gough Moorhen. The Plancius was probably 3/4 mile offshore & it was a few hundred metres up the hillside, so a good stable telescope was necessary. I had to wait until one of the telescopes became free, as my lightweight travelling scope would have struggled (especially without a tripod). I could see the area that the people were looking, but it had walked back into the trees, before I finally got to look through a telescope.
The Gough Moorhen site: Underneath the right hand side of the bushes & trees was a fenced enclosure (see next photo)The Gough Moorhen site: This individual was feeding around the top right hand corner of the enclosure every now & then, before walking back into the bushesAfter some discussion between the Plancius & the harbour master, we were given permission to cruise around the island & look for a place where we might be able to attempt a zodiac cruise in the afternoon. The first planned position was on the South East of the island, but that was too rough at the gangway to allow the zodiacs to be loaded. However, it did allow another area of hillside to be checked & a second Gough Moorhen was found, which I got to see. A handful of Birders did see Tristan Thrushes in flight from the Plancius. They are even smaller in size, but are the only Passerine on the island.
The second Gough Moorhen site: This individual was feeding on the open ground in this deep gully every now & then before going back into the bushes for periods. Fortunately, I got to see this one moving around though a decent telescope at even further range. Good job is there are no confusion species on the islandAs we were unable to get the zodiacs into the water, the Plancius continued to look for a sheltered position & we went past the first Gough Moorhen site again. The Gough Moorhen searching started again & this time I got to a telescope in time.Gough Moorhen: An extreme crop with it right in the centre. I'm amazed at how good the Canon 7D Mark II & 100-400 mm Mark II lens are as a camera setup to get this record shot at over 3/4 mile away. Through the scope, it had just been possible to see the bill colouration & overall shape to ensure we hadn't misidentified a ChickenFortunately, the Plancius found a more sheltered location, to the East of the original Gough Moorhen site & we were called to the zodiac deck. There was still a fair bit of swell on the zodiac deck & I decided not to risk the cameras, especially as it didn't look like there would be much to photograph. All we found was a lone moulting Tristan Penguin on the beach & a single Subantarctic Fur Seal. However, it was good to be able to get close to the beach on Tristan da Cunha as we didn't know if we would get the chance to land on the island. After the zodiac cruise, we returned to the Plancius & continued to slow cruise along the shoreline. As the light started to fall, good numbers of Great-winged Petrels were milling around offshore, wailing for the darkness so they could go ashore.Great-winged Petrel: Great-winged Petrels breed on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands, as well as, Marion, Crozet & Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean
Great-winged Petrel: They have a rounded tail
Great-winged Petrel: They are a large long winged Petrel, with a slightly paler face & a steep forehead, which gives the impression to my eyes that they have a droopy bill
Great-winged Petrel: Good numbers of Great-winged Petrels gathered offshore of Tristan da Cunha at dusk Eventually, we anchored up off the settlement. We were not encouraged to go onto the decks after dark when we were at sea, in case somebody accidentally fell overboard. However, given we were anchored in the shelter of the island, a few people went to the lower rear deck. It turned out to be a real spectacle. As well as the stunning clear night sky, there was a second light show in the water from the phosphorescence of hundreds of Squid as they drifted by on the current. Squid tend to descend during the day to avoid predators & come to the surface in the relative safety of darkness. The phosphorescence is caused by bioluminescent bacteria. It was a great natural light show, but one that my cameras failed to capture.
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18 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 20:04
Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

This particular walk via the old  Mermaid Pub is proving to be quite interesting, especially when the sun comes out like today. The short path Here from Wakeham takes you through to the coast path and is a haven for all sorts of insects.

Today there were Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum), Red-tailed Cuckoo-bee (Bombus rupestris) and Three-banded White-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus hortorum) feeding on the Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare), of which there are quite a few. I also came across my first Spined Mason Bee (Osmia spinulosa) in the copse half-way down the steps from Rufus Castle.

Several butterfly species were on the wing with my first Ringlet of the year, a tatty Red Admiral, a very worn Dingy Skipper, 2 Lulworth Skippers, a Common Blue and several Meadow Browns. I also came across a Six-spot Burnet Moth again in the grounds of St Andrews Church.

Also recorded were 2 Mimic Bee Hoverflies (Volucella bombylans), 2 Rose Chafers (Cetonia aurata) and some firsts for me on Portland a Wasp Beetle (Clytus arietis), along with a probable Sawfly (Tenthredopsis coquebertii), a Conopidae Fly (Sicus ferrugineus) and two of the Cheilosia hoverflies.

There was a nice surprise in the grounds of St Andrew's Church with a few Mullein Moth caterpillars on the same plant they were seen on two days ago, but were absent from yesterday. Where did they go!

Here are a few images from my walk:

This track behind the old Mermaid Pub is proving to be a little haven for butterflies, bees and bugs. Lots of protection from the wind and when the sun comes out it becomes a little hot spot.

At first I thought this was an Ichneumon Wasp but in fact it is a sawfly and most probably Tenthredopsis coquebertii which is found in hedgerows and well vegetated areas in the southern half of Britain. Thank you to David Notton on the UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Facebook Group for the ID

What I first thought was a fly...........
.........is in fact a hoverfly.
And is one of the Cheilosia species.
This one is a different Cheilosia species than the one above. Thank you to Paul Beuk on the UK Diptera Facebook Group for the ID.
A very worn Dingy Skipper, Erynnis tages
A Lulworth Skipper, and one of our smallest butterflies in the UK.
A Rose Chafer. I came across two of these today.
A Mimic Bee Hoverfly, Volucella bombylans. I've not seen a V. plumata for a few days now.
A lovely little bee and is a Spined Mason Bee, Osmia spinulosa. Thank you to Nick Franklin on the UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Facebook Group for the ID
Today's winner for the oddest looking "beastie" goes to this one.
A really odd looking fly........
.......and is a Sicus ferrugineus. More on this fly here.
Another Lulworth Skipper, Thymelicus acteon. More on this small butterfly Here.
The view across Church Ope Cove.
St Andrew's Church
The archway at St Andrew's Church just behind the velarian.
My first Ringlet of the year in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
Also here a tatty Red Admiral........
.......and a Six-spot Burnet Moth.
Talking about moths, I found a few Mullein moth caterpillars on the same plant that yesterday was completely void of them!

Also in the grounds in the nettles I came across this Wasp Beetle, Clytus arietis.
Penn's wood was alive with Speckled Wood butterflies, hoverflies and this very small moth. Not sure if this is one I'm going to be able to ID.

At first I thought these were dead flower heads..........
........however they are the complete opposite and about to flower. I have no idea what they are, but watch this space.
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10 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Thirteen: Gough Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 18:00
There was an early morning wake up call for those who weren't already up to confirm we were sailing back in close to Gough Island to take another close look at the island.
The weather was also misty due to the impact of some overnight rainHowever, there was also disappointment for most of passengers as it also confirmed that although the wind had dropped a little, the swell was still too rough to allow us to safely get into the zodiacs. As as result, we were going to get another Plancius cruise around Gough Island: but no zodiac cruise.
Early morning gloom: This didn't just apply to the light, as we all upset to miss out on a zodiac cruise
Another waterfall: There were a number of active waterfalls indicating Gough Island must get a fair bit of rain
The weather took some time to start improving
There were a number of these isolated rock stacks Tristan Penguins were one of the species I was really keen to see. They only breed on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands in the Atlantic, as well as, St Pauls & Amsterdam Islands in the Indian Ocean. We had seen really distant scope dots on the previous afternoon of one of their colonies: which hadn't been very satisfactory. So it was good to see some Tristan Penguins in the water this morning.
Tristan Penguin: They are also known as Northern Rockhopper Penguin or Moseley's Rockhopper Penguin. This was my third Penguin Tick for the Odyssey. I've got just three left to see now: Galapagos Penguin, Adelie Penguin & the difficult Emperor PenguinTristan Penguin: A close up to show how extensive the yellow feathering is
Tristan Penguin colony: This is a fairly reasonable sized colony
Tristan Penguin colony: It looked more of a long hop up to this colonyThe Edinburgh: A Belize registered & based fishing boat was also taking shelter around Gough Island & showing how rough the seas were for this 12 metre boat
At some points the sea became really rough when the seas were exposed to the wind
The water was being lifted from the tops of the waves
Finally we found a more sheltered bay & the conditions had improved. To our surprise we were called to the observation lounge & told the Expedition staff & the crew, reckoned they had a sheltered enough position to put a couple of zodicas in the water. This worked out OK & we were going to get a zodiac cruise after all. It still looked quite choppy & I decided to skip taking the cameras. In hind sight, it would have been alright, but I had already managed to get a Tristan Penguin photo from the ship & I was happy. So there are none of the better photos of the Tristan Penguins that some of the other photographers took & none of the Subantarctic Fur Seals on the beaches that we saw. However, not focusing on the photography gave me chance to keep scanning the rocks & I was pleased to be the first to see a Gough Bunting. There are only a few hundred pairs of this olive coloured Finch that is restricted to Gough Island. It seems likely that it originated from one of the South American species, as they superficially resemble Yellow-bridled Finches of Tierra Del Fuego. The others in the zodiac weren't so happy, as it flew & dropped out of sight as I called it. However, we went on to find two or three others feeding on the rocks just above the beach & all who wanted got to see them. Not the behaviour I had been expecting. However, I guess there is more food here & like the South Georgia Pipit, Gough Buntings are happy to exploit any food source. They are found on the island up to 800 metres elevation.Another rock stack The weather & light were finally improvingBy late morning, we were back on the Plancius & the zodiacs were reloaded. It was time to complete the journey around the coast, before turning North West toward to Tristan da Cunha: a day's sailing away. Given it was now late morning, we wouldn't arrive at Tristan da Cunha till late morning the following day. But the zodiac cruise was a real bonus & a couple of my mates on our trip, Richard & Mike, had rebooked on this trip as they had been unable to do a zodiac trip on their trip in 2016. That wasn't their only reasons, but was a major factor for both of them. In Richard's case, his wife Bridget had been unable to do the full trip, so they had rebooked to do the cruise together. Opportunities to experience Gough Island aren't guaranteed, so we were all elated, especially after seeing the Gough Buntings. The weather & sea conditions are such a crucial factor & not having long in the schedule to wait for the weather to improve, it is just lucky if trips get the chance of a zodiac. The 2014 Odyssey missed Gough Island completely due to a medical emergency, as the Plancius had to visit the Falklands after South Georgia & they bypassed Gough Island completely. I think we were all feeling very lucky given all our landings & zodiacs in South Georgia & Gough Island had been successful. However, I was also aware that at some point this luck was likely to run out before we reached the calmer tropical waters. But as we were sailing away, there were still plenty of Birds to look at as we were leaving Gough Island, while I quietly contemplated when our luck would change.
Sooty Albatross: AdultSooty Albatross: Adult
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Subadult Tristan Wandering Albatross: Another photo of the same subadult individual
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Another photo of the same subadult individualSouthern Giant Petrel: Gough Island is the most northerly breed population of Southern Giant PetrelSouthern Giant PetrelGreat Shearwater: We saw several large rafts of Great Shearwaters on the water as we were leaving Gough Island
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: One of the white-bellied melanoleuca subspecies of Black-bellied Storm-petrel that breeds on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Another individual
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Another photo of the previous individual
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: We sailed past a feeding flock of at least 25 'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrels, along with a few South giant Petrels 
Southern Giant Petrel & 'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Note, the Southern Giant Petrel from the previous photo has a yellow ring on it, but the photo is not good enough to read the ring number
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Three of the flock
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Another two
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Five moreBrown Skua: This Tristan Brown Skua briefly circled the Plancius
Antarctic Tern: They breed on all the major Subantarctic Islands in the Southern Oceans. This is the tristanensis subspecies which occurs on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands, as well as, St Pauls & Amsterdam Islands in the Indian Ocean
Antarctic Tern: I had seen them in South Georgia, but they were never close to the PlanicusSince I've got back I found this really interesting RSPB website about their work on Gough Island. As it is a British Overseas Territory, the RSPB are an important conservation body working on the British Overseas Territories. There is a good blog on the website as well, although it doesn't get too many updates given they probably have a very slow satellite connection to the outside world. But it does allow the small RSPB team to write about life on Gough Island & the pressures on the Seabirds. You would think that life for a Seabird on a remote outer island of the remotest inhabited island group in the world (Tristan da Cunha) should be great. However, Gough Island, like many of these remote islands is suffering badly from introduced Mice, which have grown to three times the size of their European cousins. They are currently causing havoc & are a major threat to both the Tristan Wandering Albatross which are declining at three percent a year due to the impacts of the Mice predating chicks & the Gough Buntings which have declined to 400-500 pairs (compared to around 1500 pairs in 1991). Again the Mice are the main threat to this Critically Endangered single island endemic passerine. Additionally, Gough is the only breeding island for Atlantic Petrels & it is an important island for the newly discovered MacGillvray's Petrel: although time will tell if this is related to the MacGillvray's Petrels in the Indian Ocean or a separate species. Additionally, the island is home to the Gough Moorhen, although a population has now been successfully re-introduced on Tristan da Cunha, after the original Tristan population were wiped out following the arrival of humans there.
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Subadult. One of the species that would benefit from clearing Mice from Gough IslandTo help safeguard the Seabirds & Gough Bunting, there is a plan to eradicate the Mice in June - Aug 19 during the Southern Winter. There is an appeal to raise the final two million pounds to fund this eradication plan. This is something that specialist teams are getting well practiced at successfully clearing these large islands of introduced Rats & Mice. Earlier in the trip we saw the increase in South Georgia Pipits on the mainland following their successful Rat eradication project. So the plans are now being put in place for Gough Island. Anybody, who would like to contribute can find more information about the plans & how to contribute on the RSPB Gough Island website. I will be making a donation once I'm back in a contract again.
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Forum Post: RE: Burnet Moth ?

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands - Mon, 06/18/2018 - 14:41
Yes, it's a six spot burnet moth. butterfly-conservation.org/.../six-spot-burnet.html
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9 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twelve: Arrival At Gough Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 18:00
After four days at sea, we awoke knowing we only had the final hundred nautical miles to reach Gough Island: which was going to be another Seabird spectacle. Gough Island is uninhabited with the exception of a handful of staff at the small meteorological base including a small RSPB research team. Ignoring the occasional visits from supply ships, there must be very few other ships that visit Gough Island during the year. It is probably the most isolated island we visited. There will certainly be a lot more visitors to the Falklands & South Georgia than Gough Island ever gets. The island is around 8 miles long by 4 miles wide with a total size of 35 square miles.
The small meteorological base was on the far side of Gough Island: (10 Apr 18)
Looks like one of the meteorological team or RSPB researchers is photographing us: (10 Apr 18)
There was definitely an air of excitement on the ship today as Gough Island is home to several million pairs of breeding Seabirds & that was clearly evident as we got closer to the island. By mid afternoon, everywhere we looked we could see Seabirds.
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross breed on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands
Yellow-nosed Albatross: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. The other subspecies using Clements taxonomy is Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross which breeds on various Subantarctic Islands in the Indian OceanSooty Albatross: Adult
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Adult male. Clements regards this as a subspecies of Wandering Albatross. The plumage phases overlap with those of Snowy Albatross, albeit they tend to breed when they have less extensive white on the wings. This is a typical adult male
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Adult Female. Despite looking quick scruffy, this is typical for breeding age females
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Subadult. Given the overlap in plumages, the best way to separate Tristan Wandering Albatross from other subspecies is by location, so this is clearly a Tristan Wandering Albatross
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Subadult. Another view of the same individual
Tristan Wandering Albatross: Presumed subadult of another final individual. I'm guess this is a subadult, however, some adult females can show a smudgy breast & I've not got upperwing shots of this individual. Ageing is tricky on Wandering Albatrosses, but Flood & Fisher's North Atlantic Seabirds: Albatrosses & Fulmarine Petrels is the best I've seen on this subject of Tristan Wandering AlbatrossesSoft-plumaged Petrel: Part of the daily Pterodroma fixSoft-plumaged PetrelSoft-plumaged Petrel Atlantic Petrel: The other daily Pterodroma in this part of the cruiseBroad-billed Prion: This individual is quite easy to identify with a bill this broadBroad-billed Prion: Close crop to show the bill shapeBroad-billed Prion: Another photo of the same individual
Broad-billed Pion: Another individual
Broad-billed Prion: Another individual
Broad-billed Prion: Underwing of another individual
Broad-billed Prion: A final individual. I can't find any photos of any of the Prions photographed today that look to be MacGillvray's Prions
Broad-billed Prion: Another view of the final individualGreat Shearwater'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: I will come back to the identification of 'White bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel from White-bellied Storm-petrel in a future Post
'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Another photo of the same individual
Brown Skua: Tristan Brown Skua.Clements regards Tristan Brown Skuas as a distinctive subspecies of Brown Skua. They are noticeably different in appearance from the dark Falklands Brown Skua subspecies
Brown Skua: Tristan Brown Skua. They only breed on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands
Brown Skua: Tristan Brown SkuaBy late afternoon, we were making our final approach to Gough Island & over the next hour the island got steadily larger. Not that it was easy to watch it getting larger as there were so many Prions around the Plancius, with a smaller number of other species. It was impossible to figure out overall numbers, but Prion numbers alone must have run into 6 figures. It's certainly the most impressive day I've every seen for numbers of Seabirds. The following morning most of the Prions had dispersed back out to sea: so presumably most left in the dark.Seabirds of Gough Island: There is a Tristan Wandering Albatross, 7 Great Shearwaters, 2 Soft-plumaged Petrels & 4 Prions sp. in this photo: feeding & waiting for the relative safety of dusk to return to their burrowsSeabirds off Gough Island: There is an Atlantic Petrel, 2 Soft-plumaged Petrel & 38 Prion sp. in this photo
Seabirds of Gough Island: There is an Atlantic Petrel & 49 Prion sp. in this photoFirst impressions of Gough Island: There were strong winds blowing around the island, similar to some of the strong katabatic winds that we experienced around South GeorgiaGough Island: It was been a mixture of sunny & overcast during the day, but the light had been reasonable. However, we were now surrounded by low, menacing clouds which added to the atmospheric conditionsGough Island: A panoramic view of the island showing how localised the cloud wasGough Island: An impressive sea stackGough IslandGough Island sea stackGiven we were going to spend the night off Gough Island, then the plan was for a slow cruise around part of the island to allow us to enjoy the Seabirds & views. Gough Island: Close up of the right hand end of our view of the islandGough Island: With all this weather, it's perhaps not surprising there was also a rainbowA close up of the right hand corner of the islandThe strength of the wind coming over the island is evident from the flag: The flag is starting to get tatty after all the weather it has experienced
Gough Island: What was clear was the there was a strong swell & the wind was whipping up the seaGough Island: It wasn't looking promising that we would be able to get a zodiac cruise in the morningGathering in the observation lounge for the Wildwings log in the evening: It was going to be a long log trying to figure out the numbers of Seabirds seen
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17 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Sun, 06/17/2018 - 17:19
Pennsylvania Castle Wood, St Andrews Church and Rufus Castle

The reverse walk of yesterdays. Still very windy and today it was wall to wall cloud and the occasional spot of drizzle. Not ideal for bug hunting, but I did find a few.

Heading down through Penn's wood I came across 4 juvenile Chaffinches and 2 juvenile Wrens. Though I wouldn't be surprised if there were many more juveniles Wrens lurking in the bushes and undergrowth. They are very adept at losing themselves when they want to.

Also here a few Swollen-thighed Beetles and what I believe is a Hoverfly, Syrphus vitripennis as opposed to Syrphus ribesii. The difference being A. vitripennis has a black femur (top segment of leg), which the photo below just shows. In the case of S. ribesii it is all yellow.

In the grounds of St Andrews Church I was amazed to discover that all the Mullein caterpillars had disappeared. I searched all the neighbouring plants, but they had definitely gone. Were they really ready to pupate or did someone help themselves!

On the steps halfway between Rufus Castle and Church Ope Cove I came across a really bizarre looking spider with warts. well that's what they look like. One to ID

On my shortcut through to Wakeham, I came across several Common Carder Bees and what I believe is a Bombus hortorum (Three-banded White-tailed Bumblebee). However bees as you've probably seen already are not my best forte.

Also along here I came across the nymph of a Speckled Bush Cricket, another Marmalade Hoverfly and one of my favourite flies the Semaphore Fly, Poecilobothrus nobilitatus

Images as seen en-route.

One of the 4 juvenile Chaffinches sat in a Horse Chestnut Tree.
A short video of one of the juvenile Chaffinches.
A Swollen-thighed Beetle on a Dog Rose.
A different flower head and what I'm pretty sure is a Syrphus vitripennis hoverfly.
The distinguishing feature apparently is that S. ribesii has all yellow legs whereas here S. vitripennis has black on the top section of the leg.

Yesterday afternoon this plant was full of Mullein caterpillars. Today they have all disappeared! I looked around at neighbouring plants, but they have vanished. I can't believe they have all decided to pupate and I do feel that human intervention has played a part in their disappearance.

Now there are spiders and there are spiders. However this one looks like its mimicking a Toad with all those warts on its abdomen. What species is it, I have absolutely no idea and I can't find a match anywhere.

A Marmalade Hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus
I'm not brilliant at identifying bees, but I'll have a go with Bombus hortorum. Please feel free to correct me!

A Speckled Bush Cricket nymph, Leptophyes punctatissima
One of my favourite flies, the Semaphore Fly, Poecilobothrus nobilitatus 
And another Marmalade Hoverfly.
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16 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 21:24
Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

I've not done this walk for quite awhile, so despite the windy conditions it was off on my travels to see what was about. There's a short cut I take to the cliff top just pass the old Dolphin Public Castle and I'm glad I opted for this route, as the first beetle I came across was a Spotted Longhorn or Black & Yellow Longhorn as its often called (Rutpela maculata).

A bit further along the track I came across the empty shell casing of a Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) and was the only specimen of this species, albeit dead, that I found. My last walk here produced quite a few.

On the way down the steps from from Rufus Castle to Church Ope Cove an ichneumon wasp flew past me and into the bushes. I have seen this ichneumon wasp before but it's one that I've still not identified beyond one of the Heteropelma species.

Also here were a family party of Long-tailed Tits, all busy feeding in amongst the Sycamores in the copse half-way down the steps. In total there 7 juveniles and the 2 adult birds.

A slight diversion onto the cliff top overlooking Church Ope Cove and I came across a Mimic Bee Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans). Its funny that I'm finding more V. bombylans than the "white-tailed" V. plumata. A similar thing happens with both Common Drone Flies and Tapered Drone Flies, the latter (Eristalis pertinax) always come out later in the year than (Eristalis tenax).

In the grounds of St Andrew's Church I acme across 2 Six-spot Burnet Moths (Zygaena filipendulae) settled in the grass, whilst on a large leafy plant (well what was left of it I came across a dozen or so caterpillars of this nationally scarce moth The Mullein moth (Cucullia verbasci). More on this moth Here.

Still in the church grounds I came across the aptly named Rose Chafer on the flower of a Dog Rose.

Here are a few images from my walk:

This is a Spotted Longhorn (Rutpela maculata), also know as the Black and Yellow Longhorn. This species can often be seen feeding on nectar on the flower heads such as hogweed or cow parsley. The larvae feed on rotting tree stumps, especially birch and pine.
An ichneumon wasp I have come across before, but not beyond one of the Heteropelma species.
One of the 7 juvenile Long-tailed Tits in the copse half-way down the steps to Church Ope Cove from Rufus Castle.

Lovely to see a family party of 7 juvenile Long-tailed Tits and the adults in the copse, half-way the steps from Rufus Castle to Church Ope Cove.

This is Rock Stonecrop (Sedum forsterianum), with Pennsylvania Castle in the background. This flower is yet to open, so I will be back when it does. More on this flower Here
Having seen quite a few Mimic Bee Hoverflies (Volucella plumata) it is now seems to be the turn of Volucella bombylans to put in an appearance. This one was above the north cliff of Church Ope Cove.
The very lush green grounds of St Andrew's Church
In the church grounds I came across 2 Six-spot Burnet Moths...........
.........and these very colourful caterpillars.......
........and they belong to........
......The Mullein Moth (Shargacucullia verbasci). These are in their final stages of development as caterpillars and will be pupating soon.
Appropriately named this Rose Chafer (Cetonia auata) is on the flower of a Dog Rose, in the grounds of St Andrew's Church
A White-lipped Banded Snail (Cepaea hortensis) the nettles in Penn's wood
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8 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Eleven: At Sea From South Georgia To Gough Island - Strap-toothed Beaked Whale

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:00
We saw a good selection of Seabirds species on the penultimate day at sea on the crossing from South Georgia to Gough Island (as detailed in the previous Post). However, the Seabirds are not the main reason why I will remember the day. The main reason is I saw my first Strap-toothed Beaked Whales which helped to start getting me more hooked on Cetaceans. I've had a lot of enthusiasm to see Cetaceans for over 20 years since the annual trips I was going on in the late 90s to the Spanish port of Biscay from Portsmouth. However, by the time I left the Plancius I was really hooked on Cetacean watching from boats. This is going to be an expensive new passion.
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: The initial view on the surface before it quickly disappeared
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Fortunately, it came up again fairly close to the ship. Another typical Beaked Whale view, which gives a rough idea of the size, shape & that it is a Beaked Whale. But not enough to identify it on these viewsFew things got me more excited when I was on deck than a shout for a Beaked Whale. I tried to get onto the Beaked Whale quickly, as generally you don't get long views & then to grab as many photos as possible to assist with the subsequent identification. There are 22 species of Beaked Whales & the group includes many of the least known Cetaceans. Beaked Whales tend to live in deep water, are generally unobtrusive as despite being a medium-sized Cetacean (between 4-13 metres in length), they don't seem to have strong blows like the big Whales, generally don't jump out of the water like Dolphins, generally don't seem to associate with boats like Dolphins or hang around on the surface like some of Blackfish group of Cetaceans. What they are good at is generally not spending a lot of time on the surface, quietly & quickly disappearing back under the water, occur on their own or in small groups & are generally tricky to identify. Given how tricky they can be to identify & the brevity of views, then getting good photos is crucial. It will also be very useful in then allowing the records to be documented & submitted (Marijke & Hans from the Expedition staff were diligently recording lat/long positions of the Cetaceans, Turtles & good Seabirds, Sharks etc on the Odyssey). In some cases, Marijke said she would have to forward the photos of some of our Beaked Whale sightings to Beaked Whale experts to hope they would be able to identify then.
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: One of the most important parts to photograph on a Beaked Whale is the beak. However, this involves knowing when & where it will surface, so that you can be photographing the beak as it breaks the surface. This is very hard to get right. Most people's photos of Beaked Whales will start with the back & fin, as by the time you see it appear & react the beak has already disappeared back below the surface
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: I seem to remember Hans dashing into the bridge & asking them to stop the Plancius as the Beaked Whales were close to the ship. Fortunately, they did & we had an incredible performance
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Very quickly this individual just quietly slipped below the water again
Having just started watching from the bridge wings, I found out the good way what a great viewpoint this was for seeing Cetaceans. It was a good high viewpoint & overall it allowed much better views of Cetaceans. Often they would be lost in the waves from the lower decks. Plus either Marijke or Hans, both excellent experienced Cetacean watchers, were almost always on the bridge wings when we were at sea. Having worked out it was the best viewpoint on the ship for me, I rarely spent time elsewhere on the other decks for the rest of the trip. The other bonuses of the bridge wings for me were Marijke & Hans were spending more of their time looking for Cetaceans. As the trip progressed, I was also focusing more on Cetaceans, once any potential new Birds had been seen. Finally, both Marijke & Hans were very keen to share their extensive knowledge on identification & behaviour of the Cetaceans we were seeing. My Cetacean knowledge grew significantly during the Odyssey & subsequent West African Pelagic.Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: This individual popped up unexpectedly close to the Plancius & I didn't manage to get it all in. It is just possible to see some pale colouration on the rear of the fin
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: This pale colouration on the rear of the fin is one of the features of Strap-toothed Beaked Whale
The next photos are of a second individual: there is a lot of pale colouration on the body in front of the fin & the fin has a different shape.
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Note the paleness on the sides of the body in front of the fin. This is another feature of Strap-toothed Beaked Whale
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Another photo of the sides of the body
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: A close up of the fin of the second individual showing the distinctive kink in the back of the fin. Note, the paleness on the body doesn't continue behind the fin & the fin is dark
This individual appeared at right angles to the Plancius.
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: The blow hole is just visible
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Finally the fin appears
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Another surfacing individual
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: The fin breaks free of the water & looks like this is the individual with the pale rear fin
Finally, this individual surfaced & allowed another important id feature to be photographed.
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Another feature of Strap-toothed Beaked Whale are the diastoms on the body
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: A close up of the diatoms
Strap-toothed Beaked Whale: Another photo of the diatoms. These diatoms are caused by patches of microscopic algaeIt was great to see a new Beaked Whale & to get these great prolonged views. It is believed that Strap-toothed Beaked Whales have a continuous distribution in the Southern Oceans from 35 to 60 degrees South. They largely eat squid, but are thought to also eat fish & crustaceans.

The day after I drafted this Post, I had an email from Marijke who had followed on these Strap-toothed Beaked Whales by sending photos of them, including some of my photos, to a couple of Beaked Whale experts. Here was the response:-
Many thanks for your contribution of photographs regarding our beautiful Beaked Whale encounter on 8 April 2018 when we were in transit to Gough Island. Their identification has been confirmed. They are Strap-toothed beaked whale (Mesoplodon layardii). It was a group of sub-adults/females. Based on an encounter earlier this year, Beaked Whale expert Robert Pitman learnt more about the colour development of these Whales off Australia and now our encounter has taught him even more. I also have discussed this encounter with Todd Pusser - who has studied stranded Beaked Whales. They both are now quite convinced they were Strap-toothed Beaked Whale. The white of the beak, the white-tipped dorsal and the strong black-and-white patterns develops with age. This explains why some Whales did not have a white tipped dorsal yet and why it was visible on only one Whale although only faint. Marijke
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Forum Post: Burnet Moth ?

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands - Sat, 06/16/2018 - 11:47
Hi - Took this not very good picture of what appears to be some kind of Burnet Moth (after googling it) on the path up to the new viewing screens at Radipole last Monday. I thought it was a New Forest Burnet, only they apparently only occur in Scotland. Anybody know what kind of Burnet this is ?
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15 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 19:15
Wakeham

Another day working in the back garden, so not a lot to talk about. The main highlight again was a small party of Swifts overhead. Are these just birds looking for food or they late arrivals!

Also found, by my Marrow patch, was what I think was a Swan-feather Dwarf moth (Elachista argentella), but it does look a bit small for one.

I'm going for a Swan-feather Dwarf, but there again.


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8 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Eleven: At Sea From South Georgia To Gough Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:00
Today was another day at sea on the crossing from South Georgia to Gough Island. There were a lot more Seabirds around today as we were due to reach Gough Island in the late afternoon of the following day. After the rough weather earlier in the journey from South Georgia, all the Birders were keen to be on deck for a good part of each day.
A lot of Birders liked to spend time at the bows: Whereas I had realised that there was a better overall view from the bridge wings
Richard & Bridget Lowe: Confirming it was still cold outsideMy Ozzy mate Geoff 'Bush Tuckerman' Jones: In my opinion, Geoff was clearly the best photographer on the Plancius. Geoff certainly put the effort in on the bows. It was good to catch up with Geoff again who I first met on the Pitcairn trip. He could always be relied on to liven up the evenings with some of his stories & jokes. This is Geoff's 'Winter plumage'. The full Bush Tuckerman gear didn't appear until it became warmerChris Mills Phil Hansbro, Chris Gladwin & Chris Mills gassing while waiting for some more Birds to appearUS Birder Ron HoffGuess we should have a look at some Birds rather than Birders.
Black-browed Albatross: The Amy Winehouse of AlbatrossesBlack-browed AlbatrossBlack-browed Albatross
One of the tricky identification species is the Wandering Albatross group. Clements treats all Wandering Albatrosses as one species with several very distinct subspecies. However, other authorities split these distinct populations. The safest identification of these Wandering Albatrosses is seeing them around their breeding locations. In the South Atlantic there are two likely subspecies. Snowy Wandering Albatrosses & Tristan Wandering Albatrosses. Snowy Wandering Albatrosses breed on South Georgia, as well as, various Indian Ocean Islands (Prince Edward, Marion, Crozet & Kerguelen) & Macquarie Island (South of New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands). Tristan Wandering Albatrosses breed on Gough Island and the Tristan da Cunha Islands. The other subspecies are Gibson's Wandering Albatrosses & Antipodean Wandering Albatrosses which breed in the New Zealand Subantractic Islands & Amsterdam Wandering Albatross which breed on Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean.Tristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 1 old adult male. Only the oldest adult male Tristan Wandering Albatrosses show this extent of white in the wingTristan Wandering Albatrosses apparently have a smaller, slighter & more compact build compared to Snowy Wandering Albatrosses. However, that is something I'm struggling to see comparing these photos with photos taken of Snowy Wandering Albatrosses taken around South Georgia. Plumage-wise Tristan Wandering Albatrosses can exhibit most of the same plumages that Snowy Wandering Albatrosses show, although the whiter individuals are more likely to be Snowy Wandering Albatrosses. Therefore, with only 200-300 nautical miles sailing to Gough Island, it is likely that the Wandering Albatrosses seen today will be Tristan Wandering Albatrosses. All these individuals have been identified on range.Tristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 2 adult male. A more typical adult male Tristan Wandering AlbatrossTristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 3 old adult male Tristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 4 old adult maleTristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 5Tristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 5Tristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 6 adult femaleTristan Wandering Albatross: Individual 6 adult femaleNow for some easier to identify Seabirds.Northern Giant PetrelNorthern Giant Petrel
Soft-plumaged Petrel: Going for the vertical Pterodroma look White-headed Petrel: I only saw two White-headed Petrels on the Odyssey & neither stayed around for more than a brief flypast past the Plancius. Perhaps not surprising as the nearest breeding colonies are the Crozet & Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean & the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands
White-headed Petrel: I like the way it keeps its head vertical despite the rest of the body being verticalAtlantic Petrel: They only breed on Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands & range across the Southern AtlanticAtlantic Petrel: The medium size, sharply contracting white belly with the dark throat, upper breast, underwings & vent makes Atlantic Petrels a fair easy species to identify
Grey Petrel: Grey Petrels breed throughout the Southern Oceans from Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands to the Indian Ocean Marion, Crozet & Kerguelen Islands & some of the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands
Grey Petrel
Grey Petrel
Grey Petrel: These large Petrels are great when you see then close up
Spectacled Petrel: They only breed on Inaccessible Island in the Tristan da Cunha group
Spectacled Petrel: They are a real treat to see
Great Shearwater: It is no surprise that we were starting to see more Great Shearwaters as Gough & the Tristan da Cunha Islands are their main breeding grounds, with smaller numbers breeding on Kidney Island in the Falklands
Great Shearwater: It was great to have prolonged views of this cracking Shearwater close to the Plancius, especially given their rarity in Dorset (only 12-15 records), although they are more regular in the South West of the UK
Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Little Shearwater: The Subantarctic races of Little Shearwater used to be lumped with the North Atlantic Little Shearwaters
Little Shearwater: They are more grey & white, whereas, the North Atlantic Little Shearwaters are black & white
Little Shearwater: They have the same flight action & stiff winged flight as the North Atlantic Little ShearwatersHowever, there is a final tricky identification problem to look at: Prions. In the last few years, there has been a new species of Prion found breeding on Gough Island. Originally, it was thought that only Broad-billed Prions breed on Gough Island. However, there is a second breeding Prion as detailed in a paper by Dr Peter Ryan et al in 2014. This paper documents that the second breeding Prion is only 1-2% smaller in the bill, head & wing lengths, but they have a 15% smaller bill width & bluish colouration on the upper mandible. The new Prion resembles the Indian Ocean breeding MacGillvray's Prion. The new Prion breeds about 3 months later than the Broad-billed Prions & there is some separation of breeding locations on Gough Island. Clements treats MacGillivray's Prions as a subspecies of Salvin's Prion. Salvin's Prion is split into the Salvin's subspecies (which breeds on Prince Edward & Crozet Islands) & MacGillivray's Prion (which breeds on St Pauls & Amsterdam Islands). Thus, the previous known range made the Salvin's Prion an Indian Ocean breeder. Assuming the new Gough population are part of the MacGillivray's population, then this would be a major range extension into the Atlantic. Ultimately, it is perhaps more likely that the new Gough Island population could end up being split once all the research has been completed. So it was a case of trying to photograph as many Prions as possible as we approached Gough Island.
Broad-billed Prion: Individual 1. Given that there doesn't seem to be anything on the overall plumage to help separate the two species, then I started by trying to find Prions with very wide bills: this individual appears to have a broad based billBroad-billed Prion: Individual 1Broad-billed Prion: Individual 1Broad-billed Prion: Individual 2. This has a very dark grey/black & uniform billBroad-billed Prion: Individual 2. The base of the bill is very broad making it a Broad-billed PrionBroad-billed Prion: Individual 2Broad-billed Prion: Individual 3. Again this seems to have an all dark grey bill which looks pretty heavy so again I'm assuming this is a Broad-billed Prion. However, I don't have any front on views of the bill on this individualSo having tried to find some examples of Broad-billed Prions, I'm looking for examples of Prions that look different to these Broad-billed Prions. Part of the problem is the only reference photos I can find of MacGillvray's Prions at sea are from the Indian Ocean population.
Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 1. This individual appears to have a paler upper mandible (in all photos) & a slimmer bill. Whilst the abstract of Dr Ryan's paper doesn't state if there any differences in bill depth, photos of MacGillvray's Prions from the Indian Ocean populations look less heavy. This is perhaps of limited use given these are at the very least different populations (if not species in the fullness of time). However, given there has been comparison to the MacGillvray's Prion in the abstract, then maybe it's significantPresumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 1Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 1. Again the bill shape & colouration looks consistentPresumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 1Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 2. This individual again appears to have a more uniform paler & slimmer bill that is consistent in all photosPresumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 2Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 2Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 2Presumed MacGillvray's Prion: Individual 2At the moment, I've assumed these two individuals are MacGillvray's Prions. I'm sure I will come back to re-examine these photos in coming years as hopefully more at sea photos of the Gough Island MacGillvray's Prions emerge. However, given how difficult it is to reach Gough Island & with this being the last planned Odyssey trip, then there might be few opportunities for others to visit & get photographs. As always, any comments on these Prion photos would be welcome.
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A pinch of saltmarsh

Peter Moores Blog - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:53
My sons are both 'Kentish Men', born in the Garden of England west of the Medway, but since we left the county in 2007, visits back there have been a bit few and far between. The recent birthday of a former neighbour provided one such opportunity, and Sunday morning offered a chance to reacquaint myself with an old favourite, the Elmley Marshes Natural Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey.
A breeding plumage Yellow Wagtail always brightens the day Yellow Wagtails are very leggy enabling them to stalk through the long grass of the grazing marshThis unusually bold bird was strutting up the entrance track calling constantlyA wider angle view perched on thistleAlthough it was a brief encounter, after my last few visits when breeding birds seemed a bit thin on the ground, it felt a bit like the 'old days' at the turn of the century when I first started going there: breeding waders like Lapwing and Redshank appeared to be doing well, as were the ground-nesting passerines - Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Skylark.
Wonderful close-up views of Redshank from the car windowJuvenile RedshankMarsh Harriers were very much in evidence......much to the chagrin of the breeding LapwingsAll the photographs in this post were taken using the car as a hide on the 2 mile entrance track to the reserve centre. Since the reserve management reverted from the RSPB to the private owner a few years ago, the area around the farm complex has undergone some reconfiguration, with more provision for paying guests and conversion of farm buildings. But if that's helping to pay for the conservation work, I'm certainly not complaining.
This adult male Lapwing was sporting a spectacular crestIncreased Lapwing chick productivity is one of the key management aims on the reserve: here's one they prepared earlierStunning iridescence on this roosting birdMy car's reflection can be seen in the eye of this Lapwing photographed at close rangeI rediscovered an interest in the natural world relatively late in life, and it was a visit to Elmley back in the late 1990s which re-ignited a childhood fascination with birds which had been dormant while I was studying and working in London in my 20s. One of my earliest memories of the reserve was a Corn Bunting singing from a trackside bush - so I was touched to see another singing from the same bush on Sunday. The children haven't yet learned to share my pleasure at being on the grazing marshes and saltmarshes of Sheppey. Thankfully, for as long as good conservation management continues, there is still time.
Meadow PipitA flock of Stock Dove was nice to seeSkylarkCorn Bunting
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14 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:38
Broadcroft Quarry Butterfly Reserve

Despite the stiff breeze there were plenty of butterflies about. Mainly Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods. There were a few Common Blues and Large Skippers, which proved difficult to photograph, plus 2 Dingy Skippers.

I came across a couple of Burnet Companions Moths, my first Six-spot Burnet Moths of the year and a Silver-Y.

A few hoverflies about, though not many were settling, just the one Mimic Bee Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans), normally I come across Volucella plumata.

There were a few Swollen-thighed Beetles and what looks like a Noon Fly but isn't. There was also another fly to ID and I'm sure I came across a Black-horned Gems (Microchrysa polita), but there again could have been a Green Gem (Microchrysa flavicornis). Two to check.

Here are a few images:

Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
Large Skipper
A Six-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae), with quite a few on the wing...................
...............perhaps the caterpillars I saw last week were those of the Six-spot Burnet moth and not Five-spot.
Silver-Y
Burnet Companion
Dingy Skipper
The jungle
Mimic Bee Hoverfly (Volucella bombylans)
A Black-horned Gems (Microchrysa polita), but it could be a Green Gem (Microchrysa flavicornis), but they have yellow antennae.
Fly sp.
Swollen-thighed Beetle, Oedemera nobilis
I was thinking this was a Noon Fly. But the size is all wrong.
Another view of my mystery fly.
The view looking south over Bumpers lane.
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7 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Ten: At Sea From South Georgia To Gough Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:00
The previous day I had been mainly Birding from a cosy chair by the window in the observation lounge, as rough seas had stopped us from going out on deck. This allowed me to see my first Great-winged Petrels & Atlantic Petrels, with a few Spectacled Petrels from the deck when we were allowed out again in the late afternoon when the seas moderated. The observation lounge was fairly reasonable for looking at the sea & had the benefits of being warm & dry with easy access to the drinks machine. However, it wasn't any good for Bird photography. So it was good to wake up to find the seas had moderated & we had free access to the decks again & I could get the camera out again.
Sooty Albatross: Adult. It was good to get the opportunity for some better photos
Sooty Albatross: Adult
Sooty Albatross: Adult. Sooty Albatrosses are very elegant in flight
Sooty Albatross: Subadult. The pale collar & scruffy mantle indicates this is a subadult. Both species can have a pale collar, however, subadult Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses would also have the pale colouration extending onto the belly & Sooty Albatrosses will have a predominately dark mantle. Therefore, this is a subadult Sooty Albatross
Sooty Albatross: Subadult. Another view of the same individualWandering Albatross: The plumages of Tristan Wandering Albatrosses & Snowy Wandering Albatrosses overlap & therefore it is not possible to be sure which subspecies this isWandering Albatross: Apparently, Tristan Wandering Albatrosses are smaller & slighter than Snowy Albatross, but I'm struggling to see this in my photos. The location is the best way to separate the two subspecies, but given the Plancius was roughly halfway between the two populations, I don't think this individual can be assigned to a particular subspecies Kerguelen PetrelSpectacled Petrel: Spectacled Petrels only breed on inaccessible Island in the Tristan da Cunha group
Great ShearwaterGreat ShearwaterBrown Skua: Falklands Brown Skua. The dark colouration confirms this is a Falklands Brown Skua, rather than the first Tristan Brown Skua of the trip
When we were at sea, there were generally a couple of lectures a day from members of the Expedition staff. However, we also had a superb guest lecture from Bob Flood who was one of the passengers, on the identification of Black-bellied Storm-petrel & White-bellied Storm-petrel in the Atlantic. This isn't as simple as checking the belly colour as some populations of Black-bellied Storm-petrels have white-bellies. Simplistically, the Southern population of Black-bellied Storm-petrels are most likely to have black-bellies, whereas the populations that breed further North in the South Atlantic are more likely to have white-bellies. Bob said there are other populations in the Pacific with streaky bellies, but they were not covered within the lecture. I will come back to this subject in a later Post.'Black-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: This individual clearly has a black central belly stripe'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: This individual clearly has a white-belly, but is a Black-bellied Storm-petrel'White-bellied' Black-bellied Storm-petrel: Another photo of the same individualBlack-bellied Storm-petrel: Not all Black-bellied Storm-petrels can be identified to a subspeciesThere had been up to three Cattle Egrets around the Plancius since the previous day. They generally were hanging around on the relatively quiet zodiac deck, but every now & then, somebody managed to disturb them & force them to fly around again. I suspect some of the photographers were keener to get photos, than necessary thinking about the best interests of the Cattle Egrets. My photos were all taken when they appeared in front of me as I didn't think it was right to go looking for them on the back deck & risk disturbing them.
Cattle Egret: This individual has been disturbed again
Cattle Egret: Trying to look camouflaged on the front deck
Eventually, they were seen flying off the following day when we were still a couple of days from Gough Island. At least, one was seen dropping into the ocean before it got out of sight. I guess it hadn't eaten for several days & was probably exhausted. It sounds harsh, but perhaps that was the better option than for these Cattle Egrets to reach Gough Island. Once there they might become another predator on the Seabirds on Gough Island. Cattle Egrets have a world wide range & have rapidly colonised South America in recent decades. It is not clear if these individuals had originated in South America or Africa or were perhaps from South Georgia, as we had seen one or two there. They are a relatively recent arrival to South Georgia. There have generally been a few Cattle Egrets seen on each of the recent Odyssey voyages, therefore their range expansion still seems to be continuing.
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13 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:53
Wakeham

Another busy day at home, only highlight today was a large congregation of Swifts moving slowly northwards. Probably a good 30 birds on passage!

Also noted was a Chiffchaff singing again from the neighbours garden, where there was also a few baby Wrens being fed. Only butterfly seen was a Painted Lady, which passed over the back garden.
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5 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Eight: At Sea From South Georgia To Gough Island

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 18:00
After three very hectic days around South Georgia, we were back out at sea & would not see the next land, Gough Island, until the late afternoon of the fifth day. Therefore, as the sea was relatively rough, then it was a good day to relax a bit & catch up on some of the lost sleep from the previous few days. As a result of the more relaxed day, I didn't do a lot of photography, but did I manage to photograph the only Tick I saw that day.
Sooty Albatross: An atmospheric shot to indicate that some days the weather wasn't great in the South AtlanticThere were a few more Birds around on following day including my first Spectacled Petrels & a Cattle Egret on the Plancius. However, I was still taking it easy & still trying to get rid of the ship's cold that had been circulating around the Plancius for the last few days. Therefore, the cameras stayed in the cabin.
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12 Jun 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 22:18
Wakeham

Our quiet day spent gardening, main highlight was watching 3 Common Buzzards drifting northwards over the island. Summer migrants from the continent. Possibly!!

The new pond in the back garden has been a success story with Semaphore flies (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus) displaying all day long. Well pleased with the pond. I wonder what future years hold.

A pair of Herring Gulls nesting between the chimney pots on a neighbours roof have successfully hatched a chick and after two weeks it is doing very well. This time last year one of the parent birds was a ringed adult nicknamed Bo. This was her on 9 Jun 17 Here.

Having said that I have a real suspicion Bo has gone and another pair are using the old nest site. I will keep checking.

A Chiffchaff was singing from the neighbours garden for the 3rd day running and a few Swifts passed overhead heading north. The "local" birds have fallen silent!!

Here are a few images from today.

The new pond has certainly been a success story and the first real residents have been Semaphore flies (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus).
I photographed the Semaphore Fly in the bottom right hand corner and as I was editing the image I realised there were a further two in the top left-hand corner.
This one is on a Nasturtium leaf.
Another on a pebble.
And another on a rock.
One of the adult Herring Gulls nesting on the neighbours roof.
This year just a single chick. Last year there were 2 and sadly they both perished. All I've got to do know is see if Bo is still the mother or whether another female has taken her place.
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5 June 18 - Northern Triathlon: Part Three

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 18:00
This Post covers the third part of my Northern Triathlon. The first part of the Triathlon was seeing my first Mountain Ringlets at Irton Fell & the second part of the Triathlon was seeing my first White-faced Darters at Foulshaw Moss. The final part of the Triathlon was to try & see my first Lady's Slipper Orchids. A few days earlier, I had seen a Post from fellow blogger & mate Ewan Urquhart who had recently seen Lady Slipper Orchids at Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve, on a stop over on the way back from twitching a Walrus in Scotland. As usual, Ewan's Post was full of enthusiasm & nice photos. Looking at the location, I confirmed it was in Southern Cumbria, so there was a chance of being able to combine it with a trip to look for Mountain Ringlet. The only problem was would they be over. Ewan had seen them in late May & the Mountain Ringlets are early June at their first site at Irton Fell. Once I decided on the date to head off for the Mountain Ringlets, I double-checked the Lady's Slipper Orchid directions & confirmed I was likely to go right past the site. So all I needed to do was to find the time in a fairly busy day & hope they were still in good condition. This was more complicated as I was now planning to visit Foulshaw Moss to look for their White-faced Darters.
Gait Barrows National Nature ReserveGait Barrows NNR looks to be an interesting reserve & one that the flying visit that I was planning was far too short. However, I am fortunate that many of the other Spring Butterflies, that the reserve is home to, also occur in Dorset. It took a bit of driving up & down country lanes to find the reserve as I hadn't prepared a complete set of directions. But after a bit of searching I spotted the subtly marked entrance to one of the car parks. My timing was perfect as there were a couple of locals who had been taking visiting friends to see the Lady's Slipper Orchids, so I could double-check my directions. Fortunately, this confirmed my onsite directions were accurate & they said there were still two plants that were in good condition. It was less than a 15 minute gentle walk to the exact site.
Gait Barrows: There are a number of areas of open limestone clearings within the woodThey were easy to find once I reached the clearing: the roped off area helped to pick out the plants.
Lady's Slipper Orchid: The roped off area meant I didn't have to spend too much time lookingLady's Slipper Orchid: Although roped off to avoid accidental disturbance, the rope is high enough so not to cause a big problem for photographersLady's Slipper Orchid: Unfortunately, most of the plants had already gone over, but two were still in good conditionLady's Slipper Orchid: They are great looking OrchidsLady's Slipper Orchid: The flowers are stunningLady's Slipper Orchids occur in temperate locations from Europe all the way across to Asia, although they are becoming scarcer in Europe. Their status in the UK has been even more precarious. Victorian collectors wiped it out in the UK & it was declared extinct in 1917. Then in 1930, a single plant was discovered at a private site in Yorkshire. There were also two known plants in captivity that had been taken from the wild before the plant had been declared extinct. After a lot of work with the surviving plants by Kew Gardens, Kew succeeded in cultivating seedlings. In 1989, Kew were able to start reintroducing seedlings back into the wild. The seedlings had been re-established at a number of suitable sites in the UK. However, only Gait Burrows has been publicly disclosed to allow ongoing protection to the remaining locations. Sadly, there are a number of maverick individuals who still think it's better for them to dig up plants for their own private collections.
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