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11 Jul 18

Martin Adlam - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 15:29
Pennsylvania Castle Wood, St Andrew's Church, Rufus Castle and Mermaid Track

An anti-clockwise walk today and another very warm one again. Still plenty of butterflies about and a slight increase in Peacocks with 5 seen. Along the Mermaid Track dozens of Gatekeepers with a few mating.

Butterflies seen today were: Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Peacock, Comma, Adonis Blue and Chalk Hill Blue.

After seeing so many Silver Y moths over the past few days, it was big surprise that I didn't come across one today. The only moths on the wing were several Six-spot Burnets.

Lots of Red-tailed Cuckoo-bees and Common Carder Bees seen.

Also recorded: Common Red Soldier Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva), Swollen-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis), Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata) and Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus).
A few hoverflies on the wing with Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) and Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea) seen.
Also about 2 Common Buzzards, a Kestrel and several juvenile Blue Tits. Overhead great to hear a few Swifts screaming.

Here are a few images from today, in the order I took them. I find it very difficult to ID the Skippers, so I apologise if I have labelled any incorrectly.
A Speckled Wood in Penn's Wood.
The grounds of St Andrew's Church
One of many Six-spot Burnet moths. 
A very bedraggled Large Skipper
A Small Skipper
The grounds of St Andrew's Church looking back towards Pennsylvania Castle.
I'm hoping I have this one correct.......
.........a female Adonis Blue.
Another Six-spot Burnet moth. 
A Gatekeeper. A very numerous butterfly at the moment.
A Small Skipper
The same as above.
A Common Green Grasshopper
Another Small Skipper.
A Chalk Hill Blue along Mermaid track again.
A very confusing looking Speckled Wood with all those spots on the underwing. It was only when it opened its wings that I realised it was missing its left back wing.
This is how it should look when the wings intact.
The hoverfly Myathropa florea, also known as the Dead Head Fly.
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Abbotsbury Swannery Bird Sightings - April 2018

Swannery Steve - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:35

The best sighting of the month (though I missed it!) was the first Caspian Gull for The Swannery.  Scarce 'herons' were represented by singles of Western Cattle Egret, Great Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill, whilst the best 'waterfowl' were singles of Snow Goose, Scaup and Black-necked Grebe. The only waders that warranted a mention on the bird information services were the first Whimbrels of the year and the only raptor of note was an Osprey. An impressive fall of passerines  at the month's end though included a Wood Warbler, two European Pied Flycatchers, an early Spotted Flycatcher and unprecedented counts of Garden Warblers and Willow Warblers.  Several Whinchats were the only other passerines of note.

Above images Caspian Gull (2nd calendar year), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018© Joe Stockwell

The Month's Bird News In Full...More details of the above highlights and the rest of this month's sightings...

Canada Goose... Present throughout with 39 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Barnacle Goose... The lingering bird was present until the 13thand four flew south east on the 22nd...

Barnacle Goose (a rather worn individual), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018© Joe Stockwell

Snow Goose... One briefly on the 20th (a presumed escape) was the first since May 2000!

Snow Goose, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Charlie Wheeler
Greylag Goose... One on the 5th, three on the 12th/13thand one on the 29th.
Black Swan… Four were present for much of the month.
Mute Swan... Present throughout with 620 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Common Shelduck... Present throughout with 56 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Northern Shoveler...Present throughout with a peak of 31 on the 15th...

Northern Shoveler (drake), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
Gadwall... Seen regularly with a peak of eight on the 15th.
Eurasian Wigeon... Seen regularly with a peak of 11 on the 15th.
Mallard... Present throughout with 59 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Northern Pintail... Seen regularly with a peak of 10 on the 7th...

Northern Pintail (female), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell
Eurasian Teal... Present throughout with peak of 72 on the 15th.
Common Pochard... Present throughout with a peak of 90 on the 4th.
Tufted Duck... Present throughout with a peak of 90 on the 4th.
Greater Scaup... One, a second calendar year female, was present throughout.
Common Scoter... One, a female, was present from the 3rdto the 6th.
Red-breasted Merganser... Seen regularly with a peak of 10 on the 11th...

Red-breasted Mergansers (adult & 2nd calendar year drakes), 
Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
Common Pheasant... Present throughout.
Northern Fulmar... One flew over on the 2nd.
Little Grebe... One or two were seen regularly until the 17th.
Great Crested Grebe... Present throughout with 12 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Black-necked Grebe... One from the 2nd to the 15th.

Eurasian Spoonbill... One on the 1st.
Western Cattle Egret... One from the 13th to the 18th.

Western Cattle Egret, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell

Grey Heron... Singles were seen regularly.
Great Egret... One briefly on the 28th.
Little Egret... Present throughout with 7 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Northern Gannet... One on the 16th.
Great Cormorant... Present throughout with around 20 roosting nightly.
Western Osprey... One on the 5th.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk... Singles were seen regularly.
Western Marsh Harrier... Singles were seen regularly.
Red Kite... One on the 18th, five on the 19thand one on the 21st.
Common Buzzard... Present throughout.
Water Rail... Present throughout.
Common Moorhen... Present throughout.
Eurasian Coot... Present throughout with 19 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Eurasian Oystercatcher… Present throughout with 10 counted during the Wetland Bird Survey on the 15th.
Northern Lapwing... One from the 12th to the 30th.
Grey Plover... Two were seen on the 9th with at least one heard on the 13th.
Common Ringed Plover... Singles on the 14th and 29th.
Little Ringed Plover... Singles on the 2nd, 3rd and 14th.
Whimbrel... The first of the year was seen on the 14thand there were then regular sightings with a peak of over 20 on the 22nd.
Eurasian Curlew... At least one on the 11th, four on the 14thand one on the 16th.
Bar-tailed Godwit... Seen regularly with a peak of at least seven on the 21st...

Bar-tailed Godwits, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
Black-tailed Godwit... Eight on the 13th, two on the 15thand at least 20 on the 17th. All were of the Icelandic form.
Seen regularly with a peak of five on the 28th...

Dunlin, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
Common Snipe... Singles on the 4th, 19th and 22nd.

Common Sandpiper… The first of the year was seen on the 20thand there were then regular sightings with a peak of six on the 28th.
Common Redshank... Seen regularly with a peak of eight on the 10th...

Common Redshank, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
Common Greenshank... The first of the year was seen on the 29th.
Black-headed Gull... Present throughout with a peak of over 30 on the 23rd.
Mediterranean Gull... Seen regularly with peaks of over five 10 on the 20thand 22nd.
Common Gull (Mew Gull)... Present daily in the first half of the month with 100-200 seen regularly. Still seen regularly in the latter half of the month with a peak of over 20 on the 23rd.
Great Black-backed Gull... Present throughout with a peak of at least 10 on the 17th.

European Herring Gull... Present throughout with a peak of 200 on the 17th.
Caspian Gull... The first confirmed record for The Swannery, a second calendar year, was seen briefly on the 1st...

Above images Caspian Gull (2nd calendar year), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018© Joe Stockwell
Lesser Black-backed Gull... Seen regularly with a peak of at least 5 0n the 17th.
Sandwich Tern... Seen regularly with a peak of over 20 on the 15th...

Above images Sandwich Tern, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell

Common Tern... The first of the year arrived on the 15thand there were then regular sightings to the end of the month, with a peak of over 40 on the 27th...

Above images Common Terns, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell
Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger)... Two on the 17th were the first since June 2015!
Rock Dove... Feral/domestic birds were seen regularly.
Common Wood Pigeon... Present throughout.
Eurasian Collared Dove... Present throughout.

Western Barn Owl... One on the 24th.
Common Swift... The first of the year was seen on the 21st, there were four on the 28th and over 20 on the 29th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker... 
Seen regularly.

European Green Woodpecker... 
Seen regularly.

Common Kestrel... One or two were seen regularly.

Merlin... One on the 1st.
Peregrine Falcon... Singles were regular but two were seen together on the 23rd.
Eurasian Magpie... Present throughout.
Western Jackdaw... Present throughout.
Rook... Present throughout.
Carrion Crow... Present throughout.
Northern Raven... Seen regularly.
Coal Tit... Seen regularly until the 17th.
Eurasian Blue Tit... Present throughout.
Great Tit... Present throughout.
Bearded Reedling... Two on the 19th were the first since November 2017.
Eurasian Skylark... Seen or at least heard regularly.
Sand Martin... The first of the year was seen on the 1stand there were then regular sightings throughout the month, with a peak of over 5o on the 27th...

Sand Martin, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell

Barn Swallow... Seen regularly, with peaks of over 100 on the 27th/28th...

Barn Swallow, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell
Common House Martin... The first of the year were seen on the 9th, with at least two present but the only other sighting was of at least 25 on the 29th.
Cetti's Warbler... Present throughout.
Long-tailed Tit... Present throughout.
Willow Warbler... Seen regularly with a peak of over 400 on the 29th!

Willow Warbler, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell
Common Chiffchaff... Seen regularly with peaks of over 100 on the 9thand 29th.
Wood Warbler... One on the 29th was the first since April 2015!
Sedge Warbler... At least one, the first of the year, was present on the 9th and there were then regular reports, with a peak of at least four on the 18th.
Eurasian Reed Warbler... At least two, the first of the year, were present on the 15th and there were then regular reports to the end of the month.
Eurasian Blackcap... The first of the year was present on the 3rdand there were then regular reports, with a peak of over 60 on the 29th!
Garden Warbler... At least one, the first of the year, was present on the 22nd and there was an unprecedented ‘fall’ of over 40 on the 29th!

Garden Warbler, Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Joe Stockwell
Lesser Whitethroat... The first of the year was present on the 21stand there were then regular reports with at least two on the 27th.
Common Whitethroat... The first of the year was present on the 22ndand there were then regular reports with at least 10 on the 29th.
Goldcrest... Present throughout.
Eurasian Wren... Present throughout.
Eurasian Treecreeper... Seen regularly.
Common Starling... Seen regularly with peaks of over 30 on the 15thand 17th.

Common Blackbird... Present throughout.
Redwing... Four on the 14th.
Song Thrush... Present throughout.
Mistle Thrush... Seen regularly.
Spotted Flycatcher... One on the 29th was the first of the year.
European Robin... Present throughout.
European Pied Flycatcher... Two on the 29th were the first since August 2016!

European Pied Flycatcher (male), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 
© Joe Stockwell
European Pied Flycatcher (female), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 
© Joe Stockwell
Whinchat... At least one present on the 21st was the first of the year and there were further sightings of two on the 29thand one on the 30th...

Whinchat (male), Abbotsbury Swannery, April 2018 © Steve Groves
European Stonechat... Singles on the 22nd and 25th.
Northern Wheatear... Seen regularly with a peak of six on the 29th.
House Sparrow... Present throughout.
Dunnock... Present throughout.
Western Yellow Wagtail... The first of the year was seen on the 14th and a further single was seen on the 21st.
Pied Wagtail (White Wagtail)... Individuals of the British form were present throughout but in addition one of the Icelandic/Continental form (White Wagtail) was seen on the 14th, the first of the year.
Meadow Pipit... Singles were seen regularly in the first half of the month.
Eurasian Rock Pipit... Singles on the 5th and 9th.
Common Chaffinch... Present throughout.
Eurasian Bullfinch... One was heard on the 8th.Seen or at least heard regularly.
European Greenfinch... One heard on the 9th was the only record of this once common breeding species.
Common Linnet... Present throughout.
Lesser Redpoll... One  over on the 25th was presumably of this taxon.
European Goldfinch... Present throughout.
Common Reed Bunting... Present throughout.

... And that's it for this month except to say thanks to my work colleagues for additional sightings and additional images, particularly Joe Stockwell and Charlie Wheeler but also Kev Butler, Phil Jenks and Jonny White. Also thanks to the WeBS counters ... Alan Barrett, Richard Philips and Nick Urch.
March's sightings to follow shortly.

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10th July

Portland Bird Observatory - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 23:00
Ferrybridge provided the bulk of the day's numbers amongst which the customary - and this year very rapid - mid-summer build up in Mediterranean Gulls topped 100 for the first time; 16 Dunlin, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and singles of Curlew, Redshank and Yellow-legged Gull also dropped in there at times. Another Little Ringed Plover passed over at the Bill where 6 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls were offshore and a lone Sand Martin also passed overhead.

A Splendid Brocade at the Grove was the pick of the night's immigrant moths; although there were also sample totals of, for example, 84 Diamond-back Moth and 74 Silver Y at the Obs most of the other interest concerned further presumed dispersal from the mainland, with the list at the Obs including 5 Marbled Piercer Cydia splendana, 4 Dotted Ermel Ethmia dodecea, 4 European Corn-borer, 3 Bird-cherry Ermine, 3 Fen Wainscot, 2 Four-spotted Footman, 2 Marbled White-spot, 2 Cream-bordered Green Pea and singles of Wax Moth Galleria mellonella, Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella, Bulrush Veneer Calamotropha paludella, Horse Chestnut, Maiden's Blush, Buff Footman, Double-lobed and Dark Spectacle.
There's still quite a backlog of mainly micros from the last few very busy nights to work through but among the more interesting records have been the island's first Common Heath (from Duncan Walbridge's garden at Weston) and second records of Dark Bordered Pearl Evergestis limbata (at the Grove) and Suspected (2 at PBO), along with the likes of Dark-streaked Button Acleris umbrana, Heath Knot-horn Apomelois bistriatella, Treble Brown-spot, Beautiful Snout and Lunar-spotted Pinion - all of which have been recorded only a handful of times before.

Little Ringed Plover and Yellow-legged Gull at Ferrybridge this morning © Pete Saunders:

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Sightings - Tuesday 10th July 2017.

Dorset Bird Club - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 22:20
Osprey - 1 flew over Swineham GP
Little Ringed Plover - 1 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Green Sandpiper - 1 Holton Lees
Greenshank - 1 Holton Lees
Spotted Redshank - 2 Lytchett Fields RSPB
Arctic Tern - 1 Abbotsbury Swannery

Whitethroat - Standpit © Clinton Whale
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10 Jul 18

Martin Adlam - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 19:27

Another hot day, though it did start of cloudy. By late afternoon though, the clouds had dispersed and the temperature rose to 27°C in the shade.

I was busy repairing my Kayak, so most of the day was spent in the back garden. Main highlight was a brief, and I mean brief visit of a Humming-bird Hawk-moth. If you blinked you would have missed it. It shot into the garden, up to a Valerian and within seconds was gone.

Another moth in the garden was Silver Y. I say garden it was actually inside the Kayak!

Other visitors to the garden were just 2 Large Whites, a single Small White and a Gatekeeper.
Quite a few hoverflies with Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), Common Dronefly (Eristalis tenax), Pied Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri) and a Syrphus sp.

Also a Small Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum), Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) and Red-tailed Cuckoo-bee (Bombus rupestris). The latter still in and out of their nest in the Courtyard.
Along with bees and hoverflies thee were two wasps buzzing about a Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) and if I've got this right an European Paper Wasp (Polistes Dominula) which landed on the Cherry tree.

On the bird front, the resident Herring Gulls, Bo and her mate are busy feeding junior, who has now found his wings and roof hopping in the neighbourhood. Also about a Buzzard which was a Buzzard, but an odd looking one!

Here are a few photos.
The local Wood Pigeon.......
......which was a bit boss-eyed! Either that or it was not impressed by me photographing it.
A Buzzard being mobbed by a local Herring Gull.
The lack of a "head" showing, gives the appearance that this bird has long wings with a narrow tail. Almost vulture-like!
The Silver Y, which was taking refuge in my Kayak.
Several Marmalade hoverflies in the garden.......
.....with many perched.
However I did attempt to capture a few in flight.
Rear end.
Side profile
And rear end again. Didn't have a single one head on and I couldn't move round as I would have been looking into the sun. Next time maybe.
And if I've got this right this is a European Paper Wasp, Polistes Dominula. More on this Wasp Here.
Syrphus sp
A Common Carder Bumblebee comes into land on the Blackberry flowers and newly developed berries.
A Garden Spider.
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15 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Seventeen: At Sea From Tristan Da Cunha To St Helena - Flying Squid

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 18:00
Throughout the day, I had been able to take photographs of some of the 500 plus Small Clearwing Flying Fish that I had seen. However, at one point, a group of what I assumed to be Flying Fish took off & glided away from the starboard side. I didn't try to look at them with the binoculars, but just lifted the camera to get some photos (there was never time to do both). I am really glad I did as they were actually Flying Squid. When they took off I could see with my naked eyes a long pale streamer that appeared to be several times their length. This had confused me as the other Flying Fish hadn't shown this streamer. I was even more confused when I saw the photos, as there was no pale streamer. But at least it was clear in my shots that I had photographed some Flying Squid. This was quickly explained by Marijke as Flying Squid propel themselves out of the water using a jet of water & the pale streamer that I had seen was the water jet. By the time, I had got the camera onto them, they had already run out of water. This did prove to be the best way to identify Flying Squid when I saw another party a couple of days later. There were a few other sightings on the Odyssey, but only a handful.
Flying Squid: They looked to be a bit over a foot long. They propel themselves with a jet water and fly tail first out of the sea. They went 15 - 20 metres before re-entering the water. They couldn't do multiple glides as the larger Flying Fish could, as they had already run out of water in the first glideFlying Squid: There is more than one species of Flying Squid so it is probably not possible to identify them to a species. However, they was another example of the fascinating & photogenic sealife we saw
Flying Squid: Four of the 25 individuals in this party
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Dung roaming

Peter Moores Blog - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 22:26
The Purple Emperor needs no introduction here, so much has been written about our largest British butterfly. Suffice to say that such is its celebrity that it has its own folklore and even fan-club, who worship at an online shrine to the beast, The Purple Empire blogsite.A male Purple Emperor's wing catches the light
Same individual, slightly different angleLast Sunday morning saw me with time on my hands so I made the journey to Bentley Wood in neighbouring Wiltshire, one of the most reliable sites for this species. Emperors occasionally make morning forays to ground level to probe for salts and moisture, and in view of the heat-wave I reasoned that an early start might be required to witness this spectacle. By 0700 I was already in the wood checking out the rides and treetops. The stunning underside of a Purple EmperorNote the long tongue which was constantly probing for saltsAlmost immediately a shimmer of purple caught my eye, but it was only the upper-wing of the Emperor's courtier, the Purple Hairstreak. I say 'only' but while it can not compete with the Emperor on size, this is still a pretty spectacular insect in its own right, especially when seen at eye level. The early start had not paid off, however, in terms of finding an Emperor on the deck. By about 0900 I had seen just the one blatting around the canopy of a clearing either side of the main ride.
When an admirer cast a shadow over the Emperor it flattened the light but required a high ISO rating to capture the purple sheen on both wingsI had not seen the orange rings and details on the hindwing this well beforeBentley Wood is a popular place with Emperor-seekers and speaking to a few of the later arrivals, it seemed that with the hard surfaces of the rides being baked in the heat, ground-level sightings had been hard to come by in the preceding days. Fortunately, animal droppings provide a convenient source of moisture and while by the standards of most beauty spots in southern England Bentley Wood was remarkably free of dog mess, there was plenty of fresh horse dung around.
An impressive beastDeeper into Bently Wood this Purple Emperor has forsaken dog mess for horse dung. Classy.A few familiar faces with big lenses arrived from Weymouth around this time and after a bit more patient but unrewarding waiting around, one of them, John Wall, returned to the car park for a bottle of water. Minutes later we could see him frantically beckoning us in his direction where, we could only assume, a Purple Emperor was at his feet.A watchful male Purple Emperor in mid-canopyA fresh Purple Hairstreak at eye levelIt transpired that a dog walker had alerted him to the presence of 'a large butterfly' on the path which has subsequently moved into a patch of vegetation where her canine charges appeared to have just parked their breakfasts. A small group of admirers was soon gathered around the insect, delighted to see the purple sheen of refracted light identifying it as a male. It was an assault to the senses: for the eyes, a splash of uncommonly beautiful colour; for the ears, a cacophony of whirring motor drives; and for the nose, well, let's just say the butterfly's chosen source of nourishment could not have been more foul.
Male Purple HairstreakA rare view of the open upperwingI suppressed the gag reflex and concentrated on finding the right exposure to capture the Emperor at its best - not easy as it was sitting in strongly dappled light with vegetation casting shadows over all or part of its body.  For such a large butterfly holding its wings at angles it was also necessary to experiment with wider apertures, thus reducing the shutter speed and pushing the auto-ISO rating higher. All in all a delicate balance of factors which I am not sure I managed to pull off as well as I might, but I was happy with the results, and delighted to have enjoyed such a close encounter.
Female Purple HairstreakAnother female - note the less extensive but more iridescent purple patch compared to the maleAmid widespread concern about the fate of our insect populations it was a comfort to be able to sit in the shade at Bentley Wood and watch the rides hum with good numbers of Whites, Skippers, Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Gatekeepers and Silver-Washed Fritillaries.
A fresh Ringlet basking in the early morning sunshineA mating pair of Ringlet - the one on the left being of the rare aberration areteA meander further along the rides produced a couple of further sightings of more discerning Purple Emperors feeding on horse manure. By noon they had retreated to the more familiar treetops and I had returned to my own familiar habitat in Dorset.
Male Silver-washed FritillaryFemale Silver-washed Fritillary underwingFemale Silver-washed FritillaryWhite Admiral in the east car park at Bentley Wood
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9th July

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 22:07
On yet another uncomfortably hot day most of the bird interest was on the sea, with 35 Common Scoter, 12 Mediterranean Gulls, 7 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Sandwich Terns, 3 Yellow-legged Gulls, a Whimbrel and a Common Gull through or lingering off the Bill; 5 passing Sand Martins were the only migrants of note on the land. The only other reports were from Ferrybridge, where there were 33 Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Dunlin and a Redshank.

A fuller report on recent mothing to follow tomorrow - it's been so busy/time-consuming that we've lost track of all the island rarities we haven't reported yet!
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Sightings - Monday 09th July 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 20:17
Dunlin - 9 Holloways Dock, Hengistbury.

Sandwich Terns - Hengistbury © Clinton Whale

Dunlin - Hengistbury © Clinton Whale

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15 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Seventeen: At Sea From Tristan Da Cunha To St Helena - Not everything That Flies At Sea Is A Bird

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 18:00
While the Seabirds were certainly quiet today as we were roughly half way between Tristan da Cunha & St Helena, it was still a memorable day. Already I had seen my first Atlantic White Marlin. On the first full day at sea after leaving Tristan da Cunha, I had seen a few Flying Fish. However, we encountered a lot more today & there were plenty of opportunities to try to capture a few photos. We seemed to see two main species of Flying Fish. The larger ones were roughly a foot long & were feeding individually or in small groups. The smaller ones were roughly half that size & we could disturb them in groups of 20 - 50 individuals at a time. When disturbed, they would leap out of the water & extend their flippers & glide as far as they could. The small ones generally went no more than 20 - 30 metres, before diving back into the water. The larger ones were more interesting. Their initial glide was often not much further, but at the end of their glide, they would dip their tails into the water, flick the tail side to side & this was enough to propel them for a further glide. Often they would go for three to five glides, having changed direction a bit after each occasion the tail touched the water, before finally re-entering the sea.
Geoff Jones: Geoff has taken many stunning photos of Flying Fish on previous trips & spent hours at a time at the bows looking for them just before they took off to get even more quality photos. Geoff's photos will eventually be added to his impressive website. For anybody with an interest in Seabirds or Flying Fish it is well worth spending some time enjoying the photos. I've not seen any websites with as many high quality images as Geoff has amassed over the years Glenn Overington & Mike Deverell failing to distract Geoff from looking for the next group of Flying FishThe best place to try to get the best photos of Flying Fish was the bows. The sea was generally fairly calm, with little chance of a rogue wave soaking you & more importantly the camera in salt water. Additionally, there was the best chance of seeing the Flying Fish just as they were starting to leap out of the water & you were generally closer to them. However, the bows were too low to generally spot Cetaceans & coupled with the likelihood you would be focusing on the first 20 metres, then it was a poor spot for Cetaceans. I decided to stick with watching from one of the bridge wings, choosing the side with the better light & trying to get out of the wind. It was not always possible to achieve both for a morning & afternoon, but generally I stuck to my preferred side till lunchtime & potentially swapped sides over lunch. This was a good compromise for both Cetaceans, as well as, Flying Fish. Even if you didn't have much interest in the Flying Fish themselves, they certainly helped to sharpen people's photographic skills, as you had only a few seconds to grab some photos before they were either too far away or had submerged. I wasn't happy about my camera settings as many of the photos were out of focus (as they had been for the Petrels & Shearwaters earlier in the Odyssey). It was about this time Marijke suggested changing one of the camera settings to refocus for each photo. Up to that point, the focus wasn't being recalculated as long as I kept the finger on the button. This was fine for static subjects, but little use for Seabirds or Flying Fish in motion. This certainly helped to improve the hit rate of in focus photos. Another setting I didn't have correct was getting the exposure correct for just the central of the photo. This also helped to improved the quality of my photos. This was yet another example of learning on the Odyssey. There were so many knowledgable people on board who had a lot of experience of identification, Seabirds, Cetaceans, other sealife, photography etc that it was a good place to learn. Perhaps some of the others on the Odyssey will learn the importance of packing an insulated coffee mug for the next trip.
My first Flying Fish: I've never been much of an artist. From a ferry between Ambon & Seram, Indonesia (21 Nov 1991)I can remember seeing my first Flying Fish. It was Nov 1991 & I was on a round the world trip with Birding mate, Keith Turner. We were in Indonesia as part of a 3 month trip to the country in the second half of 1991 (spread over 3 different entries to get around the 2 month visa rule). We succeeded in visiting most of the islands that the Bird Tour companies now visit over several tours. Generally we flew between islands, but had to take an inter island ferry to get from Ambon to Seram. On this inter island ferry, we saw a number of Flying Fish. My notes say they went around 20 metres, before dipping their tails into the water, flicked the tail & then starting another glide. The total distance was sometimes as far as 80 metres in flight. I didn't note their size, but I seem to remember it was around a foot: so they were one of larger, multi-gliding species. However, we never had much time to get onto them, before we lost them. Little did I know then that I would be able to get relatively high qualify photographs that would allow me to enjoy & identify the Flying Fish I was seeing 27 years on. Due to weight of field guides for the trip, I had decided to only take my small point & press camera for that leg of the trip. Not that my main camera, a primitive Olympus OM1 film camera with a 500mm Tamron lens, manual focus & only being able to take only one photo at a time would have stood a chance at getting any photos. Modern cameras have revolutionised photography & identification.
Small Clearwing: They were typically around 6 inches long, dark bluish upper body with pale undersides & clear wings with obvious veinsSmall Clearwing: Typically, they only glided once up to 20 -30 metres before submerging againSmall Clearwing: This one had just taken off & it is possible to see where its tail had been flicking the water to gain liftSmall Clearwing: Another just taking off. Typically as many as 20 - 50 Small Clearwings could be disturbed at the same time. Therefore, they must feed in reasonable size shoalsSmall Clearwing: The Flying Fish were popular with some of the Birders on the Plancius & seemed to be Geoff main focus for the rest of the trip while we were at sea. But there Philistines on the Plancius that ignored them as they are not on the IOC World Bird Checklist
The next problem was identifying them. I didn't get to many of the daily lectures on the Plancius as I generally wanted to be on deck. However, Marijke did give a talk on Flying Fish on the following day & I decided that was one talk that I really needed to attend. The good thing was Marijke & Hans were sharing duties on deck & Hans was ready to interrupt the talk if there was a good Cetacean sighting. So I was safe in the knowledge that we would hear about anything really good seen during the talk & with careful seating I could be quick out of the door & onto the deck. The Flying Fish talk wasn't interrupted, but when Hans interrupted one of Marijke's subsequent talks on Turtle Id with an Orca sighting, I was second on deck. The Flying Fish talk was based upon an identification pdf guide that Steve Howell & colleagues had written on Flying Fish identification based upon a Western Pacific Odyssey trip in Apr - May 2008. This was a trip from New Zealand up to Japan: so similar to our Odyssey except for the ocean involved. They had photographed as many species as possible on that trip & then tried to give them names. Clearly the naming process had taken place late at night & involved a fair bit of alcohol. However, this identification guide is a good starting point. While it was based upon the Tropical Pacific, most of the Flying Fish species we saw seemed to be in it. However, it is still a subject that is probably in its infancy & even the quality of the cameras has improved significantly in the last decade. As more photos emerge then it would be good to think that this will help to extend the knowledge of Flying Fish identification. The Flying Fish pdf can be downloaded by searching in Google for "A working guide to flyingfish of the Western Pacific Odyssey". Clearly, there is an assumption that similar looking species in the Atlantic will be the same species as found in similar latitudes in the Pacific. What is missing in this pdf are any scientific names, so it has not been possible to date to map these photos back to known specimens. This is probably not surprising given the difficulty of trying to preserve Fish and keep their actual colourations. It would be great if this could be a goal for a future identification guide, as well as, extending the knowledge of Flying Fish from other oceans. Steve Howell has also written a general introduction to flying fish in his book "The Amazing World of Flyingfish". This is an inexpensive & pleasant read, but again is not an identification guide.Small Clearwing: Starting to take off
Small Clearwing: Coping with a wave
Small Clearwing: Finally airborne
Small Clearwing: They clearly have a lot of control by moving their pectoral fins & extending the dorsal fin
In the Flying Fish identification pdf Steve Howell describes Small Clearwing as small, two-winged with broad clear, triangular forewings and a pink body stripe. It occurs between 10 and 18 degrees South. At 08:00 we were 29 degrees 23 minutes South (24 hours later we were at 24 degrees 50 minutes South), so clearly we were seeing this species further South than Howell et al found in the Pacific. It is an assumption that this species also occurs in the Atlantic. But without scientific names in the identification pdf, it is not easy to look into this further. However, Small Clearwing seems to be the only fit for these small two-winged Flying Fish. Subsequent searches on line suggest the scientific name might be Exocoetus volitans.
Small Clearwing: Another individual in flight
Small Clearwing: Fins up & stalling
Small Clearwing: Re-entry
Small Clearwing: Party of six
Small Clearwing: The white spots are water on the back reflecting the light
Small Clearwing: Another two reflecting the light
Small Clearwing: I saw at least 500 Small Clearwings during the day. However, this was probably a large undercount of the totals present
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9 Jul 18

Martin Adlam - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 16:19

This afternoon and despite the blistering heat, the back garden was doing well with several butterflies with 2 Large Whites, 1 Small White, 2 Ringlet, 1 Meadow Brown, 1 Gatekeeper, 1 Marbled White, 1 Painted Lady and a Comma all putting in an appearance.

In the Courtyard a Harvester was climbing the wall, whilst the Red-tailed Cuckoo-bees were busy travelling back an forth to their nest in the stone wall.

Here are few images from this afternoon:

A Red-tailed Cuckoo-bee coming into its nest at the base of the Portland Stone wall.
One coming out
Another coming in.
And coming in and going out.
A Harvester on the wall. A few of these around.
Today's Maximum 26°C
When I checked yesterdays temperature it had reached a blistering 29.3°C
Mermaid Track and Rufus Castle

A fairly short walk in the searing heat this morning, which took me along the Mermaid Track and then back up past Rufus Castle and then home.

Still plenty of butterflies about with Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Peacock, Small Blue and my first Chalkhill Blue of the Summer.

There appears to be an influx of Silver Y's today, this migratory moth has arrived on Portland in their 1000's (See Here). Also a lot of Six-spot Burnet Moths with several mating.
Here are a few images:
My first Chalkhill Blue of the year.
Same above.
And another shot showing the underwings.
A pair of mating Six-spot Burnet moths, plus a Yellow-lipped Banded Snail being used as a perch.
More Six-spot Burnets.
Along the Mermaid Track there were a good half a dozen of these Silver Y's in flight, especially when I brushed past the brambles.
A Garden Bumblebee, Bombus hortorum
Flat calm sea at Church Ope Cove.
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Sightings - Sunday 8th July 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 10:23
Spoonbill - 2 Brownsea Island
Marsh Harrier - 1 south over Portland Bill
Whimbrel - 2 Stanpit, 1 Holloway's Dock, Hengistbury Head
Common Sandpiper - 4 Stanpit

Spotted Flycatcher at Witchampton © Brian Smith
Stonchats on Hengistbury Head © Clinton Whale
Whimbrel on Hengistbury Head © Clinton Whale
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8th July

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 09:40
A Marsh Harrier leaving south from the Bill was a surprise for the time of year. The day's only other movers were 6 Cormorants and 5 Grey Herons over the Bill and 12 Common Scoter through on the sea there; 6 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Black-headed Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull were also lingering offshore at the Bill.

The Marsh Harrier passed high south down the island and powered on out to sea - just the sort of sighting you'd have expected in September but certainly not in early July © Martin Cade:

Common Heath is an at times quite abundant moth in appropriate habitat across inland Dorset so it's a bit of a surprise that it hadn't been recorded at Portland before last night © Martin Cade:
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15 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Seventeen: At Sea From Tristan Da Cunha To St Helena

Birding in Poole Harbour and Beyond - Sun, 07/08/2018 - 18:00
One day further North & the sea temperature at first light had risen by 3 degrees to 25 degrees. The air temperature was only just lower. However, there was still a 20 knot NW wind to keep the temperature on deck a bit more bearable, providing you could keep out of the full force of the wind. It was not a day when I was going to get too excited by the Seabirds as I only saw five in the whole day: two Spectacled Petrels & singles of Great-winged Petrel, Sooty Shearwater & the first Red-billed Tropicbird of the trip. I managed to go through the whole day not taking any Seabird photographs as the Red-billed Tropicbird was not close to the Plancius.
The Plancius's Flag: It only needs to last for another couple of weeksThis was going to be a typical day in the middle of the deep Tropical oceans. The Birders & photographers on the ship could now be separated into different categories: those who had wider wildlife interests were still just as active on deck. Many hung around on the top deck reading books, dozing & chatting, but being present should any of us active watchers find them something to walk over to the railings to look at. However, the purely hardcore Birders rarely ventured on deck for more than a few minutes & seem to find other things to do e.g. the two county recorders on the ship disappeared to write sections of their respective Bird Reports. Personally, I think the pure Birders were missing out on the bigger wildlife experience. But at least it meant the decks weren't clogged up with them moaning about the lack of Birds: but it didn't stop that happening when I went into the observation lounge (for a caffeine refill). I had switched into Cetacean & Flying Fish watching as we were starting to get into the Flying Fish zone. This kept me looking hard which would eventually pay off with bonus Birds & Cetaceans. However, this was the second day in a row when I had spent the majority of the day on deck, but I hadn't seen any Cetaceans. Around this time in the trip, I generally didn't appear on deck for long before the 08:00 breakfast call. After a few days I realised this was a mistake as often there was an early morning Cetacean sighting or two before breakfast. Today, it was a group of distant Humpback Whales that I had missed by having a lazy start. Within a few days, I had learnt my lesson & was getting out for an extra hour & a half before the breakfast call.
Rainbow: The affects of passing through a few light showers during the dayHowever, once on deck I was spending most of the rest of the daylight hours looking & had also started skipping lunch as that seemed to be a statistically higher time for Cetacean sightings. Missing lunch helped to keep the calorie intake more under control, apart from the number of biscuits eating in lieu of lunch. By keeping looking for Cetaceans & Flying Fish, I was well placed on the starboard bridge wing to pick up an Atlantic White Marlin that came down the starboard side about 20 metres off the side of the ship. It seemed to be around 5 - 6 foot long. Looking at the photos later I could see the elongated bill which I hadn't noticed when I was watching & photographing it. So perhaps it was another foot or more longer. The camera is remarkably good to allow me to look through it & watch my subject. With the internal magnification of the Canon 7D body, it is about 13x magnification. While it is a higher magnification that the 10x binoculars, it is obviously not as good an image. However, once I start taking pictures using the motor-wind, while the image is good enough to follow the subject, it is not possible to see any detail as the image is constantly flashing. So it is not surprising I didn't see the bill when I was watching it through the camera.
Atlantic White Marlin: When I found it I thought it was a Blue Shark given the extent of the turquoise blue colouration from the front fins
Atlantic White Marlin: When the tail fin dropped below the surface it became an eerie turquoise blue shape in the water
Atlantic White Marlin: As the waves moved above its body, it was sometimes possible to see more of the body
Atlantic White Marlin: This photo shows it clearly had a long thin bill. This long bill confirms it is one of the Billfish (i.e. Atlantic Sailfish, Atlantic White Marlin or Atlantic Blue Marlin), rather than a Blue Shark which had a typical broad Shark's head. It also shows the length of the front pectoral fin. The lack of obvious vertical pale stripes on the body makes this an Atlantic White Marlin. It was too large to be the similar looking Roundscale Spearfish, but that occurs around the Canaries & Madeira Islands, the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean & we were far too far South for that species. Illustrations usually show the dorsal fin of the Billfish which runs along most of the body as up, however, I gather they often swim with the dorsal fin downAtlantic White Marlin: This was my first & the best views of Atlantic White Marlin. I saw them on a couple of other occasions off Ascension Island & at sea off Portugal on the follow on West African Pelagic
Only a handful of us got onto this Atlantic White Marlin & it was easily the best views of this species seen on the Odyssey or subsequent West African Pelagic. Another exciting part of the overall wildlife experience that was keeping me going on these quieter days at sea.Fishing buoy
It was depressing that we were over 600 nautical miles from the nearest land on Tristan da Cunha & St Helena and yet we saw a number of items of marine rubbish in the sea.Remains of a fishing net: This might provide some shade & cover for small fish & potentially somewhere for sealife to lay eggs on. However, it might also ensnare a Turtle. Marijke told us to check & photograph larger floating objects as she had seen a number of Turtles feeding around them
Floating crate
Red-billed Tropicbottle: Photos of Red-billed Tropicbird to come soon
The sky became quite atmospheric during the late afternoonDespite the threat, there wasn't a lot of rain There clearly wasn't any chance of seeing the green flash this evening
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8 Jul 18

Martin Adlam - Sun, 07/08/2018 - 14:00
Portland Bird Observatory and Local Fields

A bit of a flying visit this morning to the Obs and local fields, just to see what was about. In the Obs Pond a female Emperor Dragonfly was depositing eggs, as were a couple of female Broad-bodied Chasers.

Amazing to see the difference in egg laying techniques. The Emperor Dragonfly was laying her eggs by using her ovipositor to search out a good spot in the submerged weed as she sat on a reed. A complete contrast by the technique used by the female Broad-bodied Chaser where egg laying was carried out on the wing. She would continual fly over the water and dip her ovipositor, presumably laying single eggs randomly all over the pond.
Also in the pond a few Azure Damselflies and a Common Darter.
From the Obs garden I made my way into the fields by the Obs Quarry, where there were dozens of Gatekeepers in the brambles. In amongst them a few Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Marbled Whites and Small Blues.
In the long grass there were dozens of Small Heaths, Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites, Large Skippers, Small Skippers and what I believe were Adonis Blues.
A few moths about predominately Six-spot Burnets, though I did find a very small Five-spot Burnet moth. According to UK Moths the wing length ranges from 28mm - 33mm. The one I found today could easily been 23mm - 25mm. It was that small.

Not too many birds about, with just Skylarks, Linnets, Swifts and Swallows noted.
Here are a few images and a video:
A female Emperor Dragonfly......... 
.........laying eggs in the Obs pond
A short video of the female Emperor Dragonfly depositing eggs (apologies for the background noise of the video camera tracking)
A Six-spot Burnet moth. More on Six-spot Burnet Moths Here.
And a very very small Five-spot Burnet Moth.
The wing length can range from between 28mm - 33mm. This one is considerably less. More on Five-spot Burnet Moths Here.

A Small Blue
I'm pretty sure this is an Adonis Blue with its wings partially open. Unusual in that the underwing spots are showing through. When it did open its wings fully, they disappeared and the beautiful dark blue came through.

As above showing the underwing. No "silver" in those orange spots, so eliminates Silver-studded Blue.
Certainly a very colourful butterfly even without seeing those blue upper-wings.
A Small Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum)
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Broad Centurian  (Chloromyia formosa)
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7th July

Portland Bird Observatory - Sun, 07/08/2018 - 00:01
The weather was again a significant disincentive for spending long out birding - it was really was just too hot and sultry until a bit of a breeze sprung up during the afternoon for there to any pleasure in flogging about on the land. Other than an unseasonably Grey Wagtail that appeared at the Bill the only worthwhile reports were of 20 Common Scoter, 19 Manx Shearwaters, 7 Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls either through or lingering off the Bill.

Diamond-back Moth numbers continued to increase, with 474 trapped overnight at the Obs; a wide variety of dispersers making into the traps included singles of Heath Knot-horn Apomyelois bistriatella and Lunar-spotted Pinion at the Obs.
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Sightings - Saturday 7th July 2018

Dorset Bird Club - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 22:04
Few reports today eyes on the World Cup perhaps.

Spoonbill - 1 adult Brownsea Is.
Whimbrel - 2 Fisherman's Bank Christchurch.
Sanderling - 2 Fisherman's Bank Christchurch
Common Sandpiper - 4 Fisherman's Bank Christchurch

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7 Jul 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 18:12
Bottom Combe Quarry

Another visit to the old railway line for the Large Tortoiseshell. I had heard that several people had searched in vain this morning, so I thought I'd have a look this afternoon. The verdict, its gone.

When I saw it yesterday it was very interested in the Blackberry flowers, which are blossoming everywhere on the island. So I suppose it's spoilt for choice and moving from one patch to another. I'm sure it will turn up again.

In the meantime it was another crop of other butterflies seen with Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Peacock and Small Blues all recorded.

On the moth front a few Six-spot Burnet moths, a Rosy-striped Knot-horn (Oncocera semirubella) and a Silver Y.

Other bugs and things included Swollen-thighed Beetles, Common Red Soldier Beetles, sweat bees sp. and my first Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) on Portland.
Here are a few images from this afternoon:

Large Skipper, female I think.
Meadow Brown
Marbled White
And another.
Six-spot Burnet Moth
Rosy-striped Knot-horn
A different view
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Swollen-thighed Beetles
Common Red Soldier Beetles
One of the sweat bees (above). Not sure what the other insect is.
As above.
Broad Centurian (Chloromyia formosa)
As above
A wasp sp. with a Semaphore fly
Semaphore Fly.
The male here is trying to attract the attention of the female above.
A Stock Dove.
And in my back garden this morning a Silver Y moth.
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The nature of Dorset in tweets, charts, photos and maps ... 06-07-18

Nature of Dorset Records Timeline - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 08:33
Click/tap the logo to proceed to the page.

The nature of Dorset yesterday in tweets, charts, photographs and maps along with other sources of news of nature conservation and general wildlife interest:

  • Yesterday.s recorded sightings of mammals, birds, insects, plants and more
  • The current recording "hot-list" - the best recorded 30 species in the last 30 days
  • A map of sites where yesterdays records came from - what was seen near you?
  • Yesterday's records in graphical form to show the highlights
  • The pick of the photographs that came with the tweets
  • Interesting news items, notices of events and links to blogs
  • Links to the Nature of Dorset Daily newspaper and to various other blogs from Dorset conservation organisations

Everything you wanted to know and more ... and it's free of charge and free of adverts!


Published Date: Monday, 25 December, 2017 - 09:30 newsdesk logo.jpg
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