Sunday, July 29, 2007

Short Walk South of Sawbridgeworth

D#2 was having his cricket session at the cricket club this morning so I took the opportunity to investigate the flooded field by the river.

At Sheering Mill Lane a Hobby went through. My first for the town itself.

On the flooded field, c50 Black-Headed Gulls, a resting Common Tern, a Lapwing, some Pied Wagtails and a good number of Swallows and House Martins over the pond.

Back up through the rough fields to Bonks Hill. A patch of willows and bushes had a Spotted Flycatcher, a male Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler .

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm back working again, this time in central London. Not much to report, except a Peregrine slipped past the Old Bailey, then past St Paul's and off towards Tate Modern which I'm, guessing is its home.

So a wrap up of Weymouth.

1. Returning from Portland to Weymouth along the Fleet road I found myself wondering why I was looking at two crows, and then realised its because they were Peregrine falcons!

2. Ferrybridge had a couple of Dunlins and a coupled of Sanderlings. Have the Sanderlings been here all summer?

3. Back at Lodmoor the following day. More of everything but still no Roseate Terns. The Blackwits were givng terrific views close up - of course I had no camera. A local was trying to sex them and was concluding that they were all males. the logic would be: Males mate and push off mid July. The females incubate and push off early August. The juveniles come through in September. Anyone know if this makes sense?

4. I went to Badbury Rings. Aidan Brown has reported from Badbury Rings on a number of occasions with terrific close-ups of orchids and butterflies. The rings are not particularly extensive in area, so surely even I could clean up here.

No need to fill in the details. It was wet underfoot, the wind blew, I saw two species of orchid. Yes, two. I saw a few Fritillary butterflies, but they whizzed off before I could get a photo. I did get a photo of a Marbled White, but that's because it was dead.

August should have a few more opportunities.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Portland 12th July

I sat on the end of Portland Bill for a while in the evening attempting to take flight shots. The wind was a W/SW strong enough to deliver a dose of spray on the camera lens and threaten the stability of the scope. There was a steady light stream of Gannets and Manx Shearwater, with various Auks, a Fulmar, and a Shag close in.

Any day when there are Gannets about is a good day, particularly so if it’s a dull windy day. The white of the adults seems to be so bright they glow. There are a number of great pictures of gannets on other blogs (eg here), but they are mainly of Gannets lah-di-dahing around on nice sunny days. To really appreciate their flying abilities I think you need to see them when there’s a gale blowing.

Pics taken on Canon 30D, 100-400mm IS, 1.4x converter, so manual focussing.

Finally, I wasn’t the only one taken with the cream teas at the Portland Bill CafĂ©.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Needs Must – Lodmoor 12th July

In an ideal world, as soon as a decent bird popped up in Weymouth area on Birdguides I would be down to see it. So far this month I’d have a good chance of Squacco Heron, Storm Petrel, and Roseate Tern. In reality chances to come down midweek for extended birdwatching are few and far between, and the visit this Thursday and Friday was arranged long in advance.

I turned up at Lodmoor from 10-12. I spent ages going through the Terns, didn’t get the Roseate but did find the Arctic Tern. It’s an embarrassingly long time since I’ve seen one, and I spent a bit of time making sure – but the give away for me was that if the legs had been any shorter it would have been sat down. Here’s a high-mag join-the-dots version.

Otherwise, autumn has kicked off. about 10 Black-Tailed Godwits in fantastic summer plumage, a Common Sandpiper, an adult and juvenile Little-Ringed Plover, a couple of Lapwings. Juvenile Shelducks, BH Gulls, Oyk, and post-dispersal congregation of Little Egrets and BH Gulls.

I visited Radipole, Portland and Ferrybridge later in the day. I’ll do those in a separate blog entry. Don’t hold your breath.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Stansted Airport Lagoons is our local oasis in the desert that is East Hertfordshire. It’s been coming into its own recently with a few passage waders, and Butterflies and Odonata beginning to appear in numbers. A locally scarce Moth was found yesterday, so I was quite sure when I arrived this morning of finding a few others around but it wasn’t to be, unless my inability to see wildlife right in front of me has now extended to people.

Here’s the list (accuracy and completeness not guaranteed). Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swift, Grey Wagtail, Linnet, Goldfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Cormorant 5, Grey Wagtail, Blue Tit, Wren (family party). Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Skipper, a smashing Comma. Three Odonates.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Broxbourne Wood

The guide book says early July, between 10 and 11 in the morning is the best time to see Purple Emperor, and Broxbourne wood is the best local place. Steve picked me and D#2 up, and by the allotted time we were at the place. We knew we were in the right place when everyone and their uncle turned up and stood in The Place and looked at The Tree.

Predictably we didn’t see the Purple Emperor, but we did see lots more. We saw White Admiral, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Comma, Small Skipper, Speckled Wood, various whites, and a Purple Hairstreak came down to pose for some photos. We also had a heavily pregnant Common Lizard and a normal one, and a Hornet. All in all quite a collection. The butterflies were generally a bit washed out and moth-eaten, but smashing to see all the same. We didn’t have time to be disappointed by the no-show..

We bumped into a couple of other Stortford birders, and Andrew Middleton and Liz Goodyear from the Butterfly Conservation Soc turned up with their magic bucket from which they dispensed the Butterfly version of crack cocaine over various logs (see Hornet photo). It was a pleasure to spend time with a couple of dedicated experts discussing the finer points of Butterfly behaviour, distribution and conservation.

Some pics: Canon 30D, 28-80 mm lens (I think) and a clumsy user still having problems getting all the settings right.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Yes there was an entry here on Weedon's World of Nature, but he's removed the entry to which I referred so I've removed my entry.

Meanwhile ...

I grew up in a village just north of Leeds. One day whilst in my teens my neighbour told me he'd seen Red-Kites over the house. This was clearly wrong as the nearest Red Kites were a couple of hundred miles away in a valley in Wales. He meant Swifts.

Thirty years later, I was sat in the conservatory of my Mum's house on the same road, and a Red Kite drifted slowly over the garden. There are a number of Red Kites that live locally, all from the Harewood Estate re-introduction scheme or descendants of. They are frequently seen, and its worth noting that this one was several hundred yards away from the nearest field.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...