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Knoll Gardens

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:55

A delightful garden where the emphasis is now on allowing nature to thrive but in a formalised environment

 

The information about this site has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Fact File Directions Aerial View Some Charts Some Photographs Species List Species Records Original Tweets Guidance Notes Location 50° 47' 57.3468" N, 1° 54' 58.6764" W See map: Google Maps
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Blue Pool

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:48

An abandoned ball clay pit which produces the lovely blue colouring of the water that makes this place famous

 

The information about this site has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Fact File Directions Aerial View Some Charts Some Photographs Species List Species Records Original Tweets Guidance Notes Location 50° 39' 5.4" N, 2° 5' 36.1824" W See map: Google Maps
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Bennetts Water Gardens

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:42

Once clay pits for the local brick works now beautifully transformed into a water garden which is home to the national water lily collection

 

The information about this site has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Fact File Directions Aerial View Some Charts Some Photographs Species List Species Records Original Tweets Guidance Notes Location 50° 36' 59.1264" N, 2° 29' 40.1352" W See map: Google Maps
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Athelhampton Gardens

Nature of Dorset Reference Database - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:32

The gardens surrounding Athelhampton House which have a stretch of the River Piddle running through the grounds

 

 

The information about this site has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail: Fact File Directions Aerial View Some Charts Some Photographs Species List Species Records Original Tweets Guidance Notes Location 50° 44' 50.046" N, 2° 19' 38.6436" W See map: Google Maps
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Reports of interest, Monday 27th August 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 21:14
Spoonbill - 1 Stanpit.
Osprey - 1 Greenlands Farm, 1 Ridge.
Whimbrel - 1 Christchurch Harbour.
Green Sandpiper - 1 Christchurch Harbour.
Curlew Sandpiper - 1 Lytchett RSPB.
Greenshank - 1 Lytchett RSPB.
Arctic Skua - 3 Mudeford Quay.
Black Tern - 1 Longham Lakes.
Yellow Wagtail - c.10 Eggardon Hill.
Redstart - 1 Greenlands Farm, 1 West Moors.
Whinchat - 1 Greenlands Farm, 1 Martinstown.
Spotted Flycatcher - 1 Greenlands Farm, 1 Stanpit.
Lesser Whitethroat - 2 Martinstown.
Melodious Warbler - 1 probable at Martinstown.

Note: The elevated number of Osprey in Poole Harbour at present is due to the Osprey translocation scheme which is being carried out by the Birds of Poole Harbour charity and The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.  For more information on this project follow the link below.
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey-translocation-project-schools-summer

Sandwich Tern at Hengistbury Head © Clinton Whale
Spoonbill on Stanpit Marsh © Clinton Whale
Redstart in West Moors © Roy Nicklin
Wryneck in Pimperne on Friday © Christine Corry 
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27th August

Portland Bird Observatory - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 21:11
A wholly unremarkable day. Highlights (although highlight may be considered a gross exaggeration) from the Obs area were all trapped within the garden and consisted of 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Robin and 1 Willow Warbler. A further 3 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Tree Pipits and 11 Wheatears made the days land-based totals. On the sea, 6 Balearic Shearwaters and 2 Common Scoter were our only offerings. A Pied Flycatcher away from the Obs area was, once again, the best passerine of the day.

Ferrybridge saw a slightly better result with 3 Wheatears, 2 Sandwich Terns, 1 Sanderling, 24 Turnstones, 59 Dunlin and 25 Ringed Plovers.

Despite the lack of avifauna to keep us amused, the Portland Flora never fails to entertain and the colony of Autumn Lady's-tresses on the East Cliffs is looking particularly spectacular for such a diminutive plant © Ian Andrews

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27 Aug 18

Martin Adlam - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:49
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Another walk along my favourite route this afternoon. Not too many butterflies about but I did come across a Small Heath along the Mermaid Track where there were a pair of Common Blues, 2 Large Whites and a Meadow Brown. In the grounds of St Andrew's Church there was a Comma and in Penns Wood a Speckled Wood.

Also also along the track a Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) and an adult Long Winged Cone-head (Conocephalus fuscus). The latter was in the same area as the nymph was found on 7 Aug 18 Here.

Hoverflies were out in force with several Marmalade Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus), 3 Hornet Mimic Hoverflies (Volucella zonaria), a Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea), a Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) with another possible and one of those confusing Syrphus hoverflies.

Here are a few images from this afternoon in order that I photographed them.

Two Common Carder Bees on a teasel.
A male Common Blue.......
........with wings outstretched.
Not the best of shots but an adult Long Winged Cone-head (Conocephalus fuscus), in the same spot where I found a nymph on 7 Aug.
Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera
Shame about the leaf in the way.
A different camera position and a clear shot of a Small Heath.
A deceased Bloody-nosed Beetle on the coastal path.
An interesting view of a Meadow Brown.
It stayed on the flower long enough for me to do a 180 and photograph it from behind.
A juvenile Wall Lizard on the steps down to Church Ope Cove from Rufus Castle.
Along my side track in Penns Weare one of many Marmalade Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus) on the wing.
Also on Penns Weare another "blue" butterfly.
In the grounds of St Andrew's Church a Comma.
And not surprisingly another Wall Lizard. Also a juvenile.
Quite a few of these Hornet Mimic Hoverflies (Volucella zonaria) about today. 
This is the same as the one above.
Here's another though feeding on the Buddleia
One of the Syrphus hoverflies. Not sure which one though...........
.........here it is taking off.
A Speckled Wood on the Blackberries.
A Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea) in Penn's wood.
One of the Eristalini Drone Flies...........
.......quiet possibly a Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax). However to be 100% accurate you need to see the diagnostic yellow tarsi that Eristalis tenax (the Common Drone-fly) lacks.
I believe this is a Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris).
I'm not quite sure what it was doing, but seemed very interested in this Ivy leaf!  
The other day I came across the nymph of a Harlequin Ladybird at the top of Penns Wood. Well today in the same area I came across several adults as well as a few more nymphs.
And another individual closely resembling the one above.
Here's another one with a variation of pattern and colours.
And a fourth individual where the black spots behind the head are joined as opposed to the separated spots on the individual above.
The nymph of a Harlequin Ladybird.
And another. I wonder which colour and pattern variation this one and the one above will turn out to be!
Well I couldn't ID the previous Drone Fly, but looking at those yellow tarsi I would say that this is a Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)
And another Hornet Mimic Hoverflies (Volucella zonaria). This one was at the top of Penns Wood just as you come out onto Pennsylvania Road. 
I continuously keep finding new plants and flowers on the island......
......I think this one is Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus). More on Red Bartsia Here.
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Reports of interest, Sunday 26th August 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 23:11
Manx Shearwater - 20 Portland Bill.
Balearic Shearwater - 6 Portland Bill.
Sooty Shearwater - 4 Portland Bill.
Great Shearwater - 1 past Mudeford Quay is the first species record for Christchurch Harbour.
Purple Heron - 1 Studland.
Spoonbill - 4 Stanpit.
Osprey - 2 Lytchett RSPB.
Hobby - 1 Wick (Hengistbury).
Green Sandpiper - 10+ Lytchett RSPB.   
Common Sandpiper - 2+ Lytchett RSPB.
Greenshank - c. 10 Lytchett RSPB.
Spotted Redshank - 1 Lytchett RSPB.
Little Stint - 1 Stanpit.
Great Skua - 3 Portland Bill.
Pomarine Skua - 1 Portland Bill.
Yellow-Legged Gull - 2 Mudeford Quay.
Black Tern - 1 past Chesil.
Yellow Wagtail - 6 Lytchett RSPB, 15 Portland Bill.
Pied Flycatcher - 1 Portland (Old Hill).

Late news:  A Wryneck was reported on Friday; no further details are available.

Note: The elevated number of Osprey in Poole Harbour at present is due to the Osprey translocation scheme which is being carried out by the Birds of Poole Harbour charity and The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.  For more information on this project follow the link below. https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/osprey-translocation-project-schools-summer

Ringed Plover at Hengistbury Head © Clinton Whale
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26th August

Portland Bird Observatory - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 20:39
Dreich doesn't begin to cover this afternoon. A blustering gale and heavy downpours dominated most of the day. A couple of excursions early doors, before the full force of the weather was unleashed revealed a rather unremarkable days birding on land. The sea too was unexceptional until later in the day when the view cleared slightly. The totals for todays migrants amassed to: 15 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Tree Pipits, 6 Robins, 1 Willow Warbler and 1 Chiffchaff. The sea provided more entertainment with the highlights of: 1 Pomarine Skua, 4 Sooty Shearwaters and 6 Balearic Shearwaters. In addition, there were 6 Commic Terns, 5 Sandwich Terns, 8 Kittiwakes, 3 Bonxies, 20 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Black-headed Gull, 3 Ringed Plovers and 3 Razorbills.

Elsewhere on the island, a single Pied Flycatcher and 4 Blackcaps at Old Hill were the choice pick of the passerines and a Black Tern past Chesil was the first for the year.
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26 Aug 18

Martin Adlam - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 18:26
The Fleet

A quick check on the boats this afternoon as gale force winds hit the South coast today. It was pretty blustery and wet out there, but for a brief few minutes I managed to dodge the showers and record a few waders braving the elements.

I counted at least 10 Ringed Plovers, 5 Turnstones, 4 Dunlin and 2 Oystercatchers.

Here are a few record shots:

Oystercatcher
An adult Turnstone
And another.
This is a juvenile Turnstone
One of the Ringed Plovers taking refuge in amongst the rocks and seaweed.
A really windy day and the boats out on their moorings are taking a right bashing. Especially our Shetland in the centre. Hope the chain holds!!
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Creatures of the Cols part I

Peter Moores Blog - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 17:59
If the birding was hard work on our recent holiday in the French Alps, butterflying was a bit easier and more productive - we caught the end of the continental heatwave, enjoyed good weather even at altitude, and I saw several species for the first time. Colleagues are still helping me with some of the trickier identifications - oh for the simplicity of the British butterfly list and its 59 reasonably discrete species! So this post, the first of a couple focusing on the species I was reasonably confident about identifying myself, may be followed by others as my tentative identifications are either confirmed or corrected. Queen of Spain Fritillary, Col du Grand ColombiereThe closest I got to photographing the stunning pearls of the Queen of Spain's underwingQueen of Spain FritillaryOne of our first excursions to higher altitude from our base near Annecy took us west to the Col du Grand Colombiere, just shy of 1500m. This was a recommendation from Dr Martin Warren who kindly provided some site info before I left - and a good recommendation it was too. Within a few minutes I had seen Apollo, Scarce Copper, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Large Wall Brown as well as species familiar from home in the UK like Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue and Silver-spotted Skipper.
Scarce Copper - the first of several new species for meA view of the Scarce Copper underwingThe first Apollo of the trip was the smartest - but a bit distant for a good photoFrom there we dropped down into the lowlands and the beautiful Marais de Lavours, another recommendation from Martin. A boardwalk took us through a variety of wetland habitats but it was too hot for both us and the wildlife it seemed - a False Heath Fritillary and a fleeting view of a probable Southern White Admiral were the highlights.
Adonis Blue was one of a number of species familiar from homeDitto, Chalkhill Blue......and Silver-spotted Skipper - this species appeared quite widespread - more range restricted back at homeFrom there we again went in search of the cooler air of high altitude, driving up to the top of Mont du Chat, an attractive location who phonetic pronunciation caused much mirth with my increasingly puerile children. I really don't know where they get it from. As well as spectacular views, Mont du Chat offered a close encounter with a hilltopping Swallowtail of the gorganus sub-species which prevails in continental Europe.
The Silver-spotted Skippers (this a female) appeared darker to my eyes than those we see at home......the field guide suggests this is a feature of higher altitude specimens - this one a maleFalse Heath Fritillary at Marais de LavoursWith the heat of the day receding we descended to the lowlands to meet up with friends for a swim in Lac de Bourget. The lakeshore area was too developed to see much in the way of wildlife but for someone who is not much of a swimmer I must say even I enjoyed a dip in the refreshing mountain waters.This Swallowtail was in excellent conditionFound in very different habitats to the britannicus sub-species I saw in Norfolk earlier this yearSwallowtailReturning to base near Annecy was a reminder that we didn't need to climb into the high mountains to see good butterflies - there were Brown Hairstreaks nectaring in the garden and I even rescued a Glanville Fritillary from the swimming pool!
Brown Hairstreak - not bad for a garden butterflyThis Glanville Fritillary was water-logged in the poolI was able to see the attractive underwing pattern as it dried out
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Reports of interest, Saturday 25th August 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 12:21
Manx Shearwater - 47 Portland Bill.
Balearic Shearwater - 8 Portland Bill.
Spoonbill - 1 Christchurch Harbour.
Great Skua - 1 Portland Bill.
Whimbrel - 1+ Brands Bay, 1 Ferrybridge, 3 Hengistbury Head.
Common Sandpiper - 1 Stanpit.
Greenshank - 2 Holloway's Dock (Hengistbury).
Nightjar - 1 ringed Durlston Head NNR.
Yellow Wagtail - 25 Greenlands Farm, 2 Hengistbury Head, 44 Portland Bill.
Redstart - 4 Greenlands Farm.
Whinchat - 2 Hengistbury Head, 8 Portland Bill.
Spotted Flycatcher - 2 Greenlands Farm, 1 Hengistbury Head.
Grasshopper Warbler - 2 Portland Bill.
Lesser Whitethroat - 1 Hengistbury Head, 1 Portland Bill.

Kestrel at Stanpit © Brian Smith
Wheatear at Stanpit © Brian Smith
Greenshank at Hengistbury © Clinton Whale
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25th August

Portland Bird Observatory - Sat, 08/25/2018 - 23:14
A crisp, calm and clear morning gave an indication that the end of the summer is nigh. Although not necessarily helpful for the ringing totals, the clear skies and Westerly winds did not hamper a reasonable sightings list, the highlights being 2 Grasshopper Warblers (they have been a scarce commodity this year), 44 Yellow Wagtails and 3 Reed Warblers. In addition to this we had: 3 Sand Martins, 10 Tree Pipits, 6 Sedge Warblers, 37 Wheatears, 8 Whinchats, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Alba Wagtail, 15 Willow Warblers and a lone Chiffchaff. A marginally less productive sea watch than yesterday saw 47 Manx Shearwaters past, 8 Balearics, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Common Scoters and 1 Bonxie
Ferrybridge returned to its usual early autumnal standards with: 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Whimbrel, 19 Turnstone, 80 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 2 Sandwich Terns, 4 Wheatears, 1 Little Egret and 3 Sanderling
Yellow Wagtails are never straightforward birds to trap at Portland and despite a flock of 40 swirling above the Crown Estate Field at dawn we only succeeded in trapping one individual © Martin Cade:


Judging by their numbers picked up overhead during recent nocturnal recording sessions it's a fair bet that a good proportion of Tree Pipits have already left the country - our efforts with the nets this morning yielded just this single © Martin Cade:

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25 Aug 18

Martin Adlam - Sat, 08/25/2018 - 21:20
Portland Harbour

A morning spent moving tenders about from Portland Castle back to Ferrybridge in Tiki. On the moorings in the harbour an adult and 1st winter Sandwich Terns. Also about several Mediterranean Gulls and Herring Gulls.

Sandwich Terns. Left an adult winter and right a 1st winter 
As above
Same again
Ferrybridge centre, Billy Winters left and Ferrybridge Hotel right
A packed Billy Winters
Ferrybridge
Ferrybridge Hotel. Rumour has it, that it's going to be demolished to make way for a relief road. A rumour that has been going on for years!
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Nocturnal Report 19th-23rd August

Joe Stockwell - Sat, 08/25/2018 - 09:18
Opportunities for nocturnal recording thus far have been hard to come by in August, a little window of calmer weather was looming so batteries were charged, memory cards emptied and sleep was forgotten about.

19th-20th 21:00-7:00 Weymouth.

First of the 4 sessions started well, listening live up to 11:30 produced a few calls but nothing to keep me up any longer. By dawn Totals were 12 Tree Pipit Calls, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Dunlin, 2 Robin and a Flycatcher/Robin too distant to assign.

20th-21st August 21:00-6:30 Weymouth

76 Tree Pipit, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Pied Fly, 9 Fly/Robin Sp, Singles of Water Rail, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, and a Ringed Plover.

21st-22nd August 21:00-7:00 Weymouth

By far the best night of the 4, birds began to move early on though the main passage kicked off after 11pm, Flycatchers and Tree Pipits were best represented with a massive movement of Tree Pipit just before dawn.

Tree Pipit 842 Calls Logged, including the massive pulse before dawn, 12 Flycatcher/robin, 5 Ringed Plover, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Oystercatcher and singles of Little Ringed Plover, Pied Flycatcher, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Redshank and Water Rail



22nd-23rd August 21:00-6:30 Weymouth

A quieter night than previous with just a few passerines logged 4 Tree Pipits, a Flock of Whimbrel and singles of Sanderling, Curlew, Grey Heron, Common Sandpiper, Robin and Fly/robin Sp.

Although I can ID some of the Flyctchers and Robins I do treat them with caution, at least for now until I can figure out how to view them better on Raven!
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24th August

Portland Bird Observatory - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 23:36
It's hard to believe that two days ago we were hailing the start of a glorious autumn, although the weather was more fitting for this time of year the birding certainly wasn't. Passage at sea provided a pleasant surprise with a good movement of 45 Balearic Shearwaters, 16 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Common Scoters, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, and a Commic Tern. A grand total of zero birds were trapped in the garden throughout the morning, however the species list was not as miserable as yesterday. An autumnal high of 59 Yellow Wagtails was perhaps the highlight migrant wise along with a single Swift, 7 Tree Pipits, 8 Sand Martins, 23 Wheatears, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers (the lowest total for quite some time), 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whinchat and (although not technically a migrant) a single Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Elsewhere on the island, an excursion to Suckthumb quarry produced 1 Blackcap, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Willow Warbler and 1 House Martin whilst Reap Lane produced 10 Yellow Wagtails and 3 Wheatears.

Once again we have Nick Hopper to thank for another session of nocturnal migration recording, the night of the 21st/22nd August produced a bumper 1,142 Tree Pipit calls - of these, there were just 31 before 2am but then the floodgates opened once thick cloud rolled in. This pattern was true for almost all the species recorded that night which included: 7 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 14 Robins, 5 Yellow Wagtails (and 4 small flocks), 3 Alba Wagtails (an unusual night caller), 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpipers (and a small flock with singing birds), 2 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits and reasonable numbers of Ringed Plover and Dunlin flocks. 
The nocturnal calls of the two common flycatchers and Robin can be tricky to separate and there were some nice comparisons to be had during the course of the night © Nick Hopper: 









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Sightings - Friday 24th August 2018.

Dorset Bird Club - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 21:36
Balearic Shearwater - 43 past Portland Bill.
Spoonbill - 11 Brownsea Lagoon, 1 Stanpit Marsh.
Common Sandpiper - 5 Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Green Sandpiper - 16 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 3 over Wick Water Meadows.
Greenshank - 12 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 7 Middlebere.
Black Tern - 1 juvenile Rodden Hive.
Tree Pipit - 4 over Lytchett Fields RSPB.
Yellow Wagtail - c200 Rodden Hive, c20 Lytchett Fields RSPB, 1 Hengistbury Head.
Dipper - 2 Lyme Regis.
Pied Flycatcher - 1 Langton Herring.
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24 Aug 18

Martin Adlam - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 19:39
Mermaid Track, Rufus Castle, St Andrews Church and Pennsylvania Castle Wood

Yesterday was fresh, today was chilly and for the first time this Summer a jacket was needed to keep the wind out. Not very sunny either and by late afternoon heavy rain was falling.

Not a lot about, though I'm sure if I hadn't missed out St Andrew's Church I would have recorded much more.

Main highlight if you're a Sparrowhawk that is, was watching a small flock of 7 Long-tailed Tits by Rufus Castle and then crash bang there were 6. As I was taking shelter under the archway, from a short sharp shower, I was watching the Long-tailed Tits in the Sycamore when out of the blue a Sparrowhawk shot in, grabbed an unfortunate Long-tailed Tit and was gone.

Elsewhere a very vocal Willow Warbler in a Sycamore along the Mermaid Track, where there were several Marmalade Hoverflies. Overhead a few Swallows passed through and as I walked down to Rufus Castle a Raven was "chasing" a pair of Jackdaws. Or so it appeared. Wherever they flew it followed. Bizarre.

Just one Common Blue and a Meadow Brown seen. And trundling along the South-west coast path another Bloody-nosed Beetle.

Here are a few images from this morning.

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
A female Common Blue, told apart from the similar Brown Argus by the white spot in the top right hand corner of the forewing. A feature not found with a Brown Argus. More on this Here.

Ever wondered how a Bloody-nosed Beetle got its name.........
..........well its from the red secretion it exudes when threatened.
I'm not sure if I've come across this flower before. If I've got this right its a Mouse-ear Hawkweed. However there do seem to be to many petals, so one to check properly.
Very similar to Snapdragons, this lovely yellow flower is Common Toadflax" (Linaria vulgaris) and also goes by the names of "Yellow Toadflax" and "Butter-and-eggs".
Birds Recorded: Sparrowhawk, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Willow Warbler, Long-tailed Tit (7 then 6), Wren, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.

Also seen: Common Blue, Meadow Brown, White-tailed Bumblebee, Marmalade Hoverfly and Bloody-nosed Beetle
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Blog Post: August 2018 RSPB Radipole Lake Late Summer Update

RSPB Weymouth Wetlands - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 17:01
August is traditionally a quiet month for birds but we have been lucky enough to have one of our largest visitors, the Great White Egret, visiting our reserves this month.  A Great White Egret has been recorded daily over at Lodmoor since 30th July.  On 10th August two were seen and the very next day three were counted and were around for a few days.  On 15th August the Great White Egret was seen outside the Discovery Centre window at Radipole Lake and has been seen every day from the Discovery Centre since.  Three were seen at Radipole on 20th August.  This week both reserves have had at least one present every day. Photo Credit: RSPB Radipole Lake volunteer, Martin Jones-Gill, snapped this photo from the Discovery Centre window on Wednesday 22nd August. One of our resident Mute Swan families, often seen by the viewing platforms on the Buddleia Loop, were seen today all snuggled together having an afternoon snooze. This month the Purple Loosestrife is becoming abundant in the hedgerows and in the damper areas of the reserve.  From the large viewing platform near the Discovery Centre among the Purple Loosestrife is one of Radipole Lake's rarities, the Golden Dock. The plants are a yellow-green when flowering but turn golden when in fruit.  This species is only seen in three sites in Dorset - Radipole Lake, Lodmoor and Overcoombe which means it is also a Dorset Rarity. Finally, a juvenile Cormorant was seen from the Discovery Centre window performing a contortionist act preening his feathers and keeping our younger visitors entertained. Photo Credits: RSPB Radipole Lake Volunteer, Martin Jones-Gill For all the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available. Telephone : 01305 778313 Email :  Weymouth.reserves@rspb.org.uk Website :  www.rspb.org/radipolelake
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Vietnam part 2: Bao Loc to Phong Nha: 10th –

Gryllos Blog - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 16:18

This post is the second about my tour to Vietnam. As usual I travelled with Birdquest, my 74th trip with this company. The 25 day (27 with travel to and from included) covered much of the country.

The first post just covered Cat Tien NP, this post covers the central part of Vietnam from Bao Loc to Phong Nha Khe Bang and the final post will detail our travels in the north.

 

Map courtesy of the Birdquest website. See http://www.birdquest-tours.com/Vietnam-birding-tours/2019#topofpage for details of this tour and more photos.

 

Like at Cat Tien a fair bit of our time was spent in makeshift hides. This one at Do Lui San was set up to see Blue Pitta. Unfortunately it was heard but not seen. Here local leader Quang is replenishing the mealworm bait.

 

Our primatologist friend Lucy and Birdquest leader Craig Robson seemed capable of remaining motionless for ages but after about 10 minutes my knees would be killing me and I’d have to move around a bit.

 

No luck with the Blue Pitta, but stunning views of another Orange-headed Ground Thrush, this time a male.

 

Nearby we had great views of a Collared Owlet.

 

Later that day we visited an area of native pine forest on the Da Lat plateau. Our targets were the endemic Vietnamese Greenfinch …

 

… and ‘Vietnamese’ Crossbill. Although an endemic race, this distinctive form, which seems to have a bigger bill than even Parrot Crossbill, is still lumped in Common (or Red) Crossbill. Massively disjunct from other crossbill forms and with a distinctive morphology, it surely more deserving of specific status than our Scottish Crossbill or even the recently split Cassia Crossbill of Idaho.

 

We spent three nights at the town of Da Lat which has some impressive modern architecture in its centre.

 

Again we spent time in hides in the forest of the Da Lat plateau. Here the group reconvene on the pathway after a long session of sitting still.

 

However the rewards for all that discomfort were really great. A White-tailed Robin …

 

… Large Niltava …

 

… Snowy-browed Flycatcher …

 

… and the tiny Pygmy Cupwing. Until recently called Pygmy Wren-babbler, this and three other congeners have been shown to be unrelated to other wren-babblers and so have gained this rather cute moniker.

 

But our main target was the beautiful Collared Laughingthrush.

 

Just one of 17 species of laughingthrush we saw on the tour, Collared Laughingthrush is endemic to the South Annam area of Vietnam.

 

We also visited a rather unusual ornamental park at Ta Nung Valley Resort. Here Craig uses this unusual platform to search for bird flocks.

 

Our main target was the South Annam endemic Grey-crowned Crocias.

 

Also seen in the area was Vietnamese Cutia, a split from the more widespread Himalayan Cutia …

 

… and Kloss’ Leaf Warbler. This species was formerly lumped in White-tailed Leaf Warbler but has, like so many other members of the genus Phylloscopus, been recent split. In fact the leaf warbler genus has increased from something like 50 members to 77 as a result of taxonomic investigations, making it one of the largest genus in the avian world and the family Phylloscopidae the only large family to be composed of a single genus.

 

There are many confusing species of bulbul in South-east Asia, and this, Ochraceous Bulbul is one of them.

 

Away from the forest we visited this large lake …

 

… more open country birds like White-throated Kingfisher …

 

… Flavescent Bulbul …

 

… and Grey Bushchat in the process.

 

We also saw Necklaced Barbet (formerly lumped in Golden-throated Barbet) found only in SE Laos and south Vietnam.

 

Our final location in the Da Lat area was on a hillside above the local cemetery.

 

Here in rank grassland after a bit of scrambling and bush bashing we caught up with the elusive and seldom seen Da Lat Bush Warbler. Now in the genus Locustella, I suppose it should be renamed Da Lat Grasshopper Warbler.

 

On our way north we paid a brief visit to the picturesque Lek Lake.

 

We saw a few typical asian waterbirds like Chinese Pond Heron …

 

… but when I casually mentioned to Craig that I’d seen a male Pintail (somewhere near the far shore of this photo) he didn’t believe until he’d had a look down the scope himself, as this duck, a familiar winter visitor in the UK, had not been recorded in Central Annam before!.

 

We arrived at our hotel at Mang Den rather later in the day after over ten hours of driving.

 

We visited a number of sites in the Mang Den area but by far the most memorable was near Ngoc Linh.

 

Only Lucy, Adrian, Leonardo and I joined Craig on the hike which was on narrow, steep and muddy trails.

 

It took several hours to get there but we were eventually rewarded with views of the Critically Endangered Golden-winged Laughingthrush. Only described in 1999 it is only known from this tiny area and so is in immediate danger of extinction. It has been seen by just a handful of birders and indeed was a lifer for Craig, an acknowledged expert on Vietnamese birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, this one is by Nguyen Minh Tuan: see http://birdwatchingvietnam.net/group/golden-winged-laughingthrush-871

 

Another restricted range babbler, although easier to see was Spectacled Barwing which was quite common along the road.

 

Our long journey north continued. I was impressed with the ornamental borders, arches and general tidiness of the Vietnamese towns.

 

Most of our accommodation was good, a few were below par but the Lang Co Beach Resort was superb. Unfortunately the sunny weather that had accompanied us since the start had gone and we found ourselves in thick fog.

 

The hotel grounds had been touted as the place to see Siberian migrants on their way north and the adjacent beach as the place to see interesting waders but it was not to be and after a couple of hours of birding we gave it up as a bad job.

 

We headed up the mountain to BAch Ma NP where our accommodation was far less salubrious but the weather was better.

 

It was nice to see this female Blue Rock Thrush perching on the crumbling accommodation building. The last time I saw this species was also on a building, in a housing estate in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds in December 2016. Buildings seem a perfectly practical substitute for the rocky ledges where they usually feed and I see no reason why some birders dissed the Cotswolds’ record (other than the fact that they had already seen the species in the UK on Scilly and hated being gripped back).

 

There have been claims that the eastern Blue Rock Thrush races (including both red-bellied and blue bellied forms) should be treated as a separate species but this has not been followed, at least not by the IOC.

 

Other good birds in the area included the pretty Silver-eared Mesia (another babbler) …

 

… the charming Chestnut-headed Bee-eater…

 

… and male migrant Narcissus Flycatcher on route to its breeding grounds in Japan, Sakhalin or Ussuriland.

 

Barbets, non-passerines distantly related to woodpeckers, are prominent members of the South-east Asian avifauna but are more often heard than seen. Here are three species: Moustached Barbet which can be found over much of Indochina …

 

… Green-eared Barbet which like the former species is widespread, although less conspicuous …

 

… and the near endemic Necklaced Barbet which we also encountered earlier in this post.

 

The weather had been good during our stay at Bach Ma …

 

… but the next day low cloud we had seen on the coast caught up with us and it started to rain. In fact much of the next week would be plagued by low cloud and fog. It didn’t affect the birding much but certainly spoilt the views. We cut our losses at Bach Ma and headed to Phong Na Khe-Bang NP.

 

There is always plenty to see on Vietnam’s roads from motorbikes with loads three times as wide as they are to women working in paddyfields wearing traditional ‘coolie’ hats.

 

Phong Na Khe-Bang’s beautifully sculptured limestone hills are on the itinerary of most tourists to Vietnam.

 

Although it remained dry the low cloud certainly spoilt the view.

 

One of the key birds at Phong Na Khe-Bang was Sooty Babbler. No photographs were obtained so here is one by James Eaton of Birdtour Asia  https://www.birdtourasia.com/

 

Another speciality of this karst habitat of northern Indochina is Limestone Leaf Warbler, another Phylloscopus. This photo was taken by Nguyen Hao Quang http://birdwatchingvietnam.net

 

Easier to photograph was this charming Asian Emerald Cuckoo.

 

We spent a lot of time in the park walking along the road. Parts of the area had previously been deforested and the remaining vegetation was covered with an invasive creeper. However we saw some good birds ranging from a pair of distant Brown Hornbills to groups of Cook’s Swifts overhead.

 

However only the widespread Crested Serpent Eagle was photographed.

 

To many when Vietnam is mentioned their thoughts turn not to the green verdant land of today but to the civil war fought in the sixties and early seventies which resulted in major involvement of the USA and others. As we approached the former North Vietnam there were more reminders of that war. Circular ponds in the rice fields were the result of carpet bombing by the Americans …

 

… and here a shrine to a group of youth workers who took shelter in a cave during an American bombing raid and were entombed and died by the resultant rockfall.

 

I’ll conclude this post with another of SE Asia’s avian gems -a Silver-breasted Broadbill photographed at Phong Na Khe-Bang.

 

 

 

 

The final locations of Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao and Sa Pa/Fansipar will be shown in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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