Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Minsmere Post Lockdown

A trip to Minsmere to catch up with a friend. The reserve is 'open' but the hides are closed. Most notable however was the lack of the volunteers and other staff who normally guide you directly to the day's star features.

so ... Centre. Tens, possibly a hundred, Peacock butterflies and Red Admirals. Dragon pool - Emperor, Emerald, Common/Ruddy Darters - very common today. Bee Wolves , then Pantaloon Bee on the flowers further on. Wall Butterfly on the shingle, and the first look over the scrape from the East Hide. About 8 Spotted Redshank, similar Ruff, Blackwit, Avocet, a few Dunlin, a very distant Green Sandpiper shimmering in the heat haze. The viewing platform for the South Scrape was open, and we had Turnstone, Common Sandpiper (year tick!), two Little Gulls (adult and 1st winter) and Stonechat. Then round the reserve back for lunch.

Butterfly walk - White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary in good numbers down the main butterfly ride, a couple of Norfolk Hawkers, then Whin Hill and back. By that time we were almost done.

But not quite. Still time for a lifer for me. Yes, at the Stone Curlew watch point were two adult Stone Curlews and ... a juvenile! Practically full grown. It sat around looking a bit gormless whilst the parents ran around, no doubt in shock and confusion that they had actually got this far in the child-rearing process. By what mistake in the juvenile rearing process have local foxes managed to miss this one?

So that was it. It's still a good list, but many breeding birds had disappeared so, for example, no Mediterranean Gulls. There is meant to be a juvenile Cuckoo showing well at Whin Hill but with no volunteers around to guide and time pressing there wasn't time to look.

I missed the close-up views of the scrapes. Back at the centre there was a note of Curlew Sandpiper, which could have been anywhere. The far corners were pretty much a blur of heat haze so anything could have been wondering round there.

So there we have it. Still one of the best places, if not the best place, to see wildlife across all the various forms in the UK. A decent list and an enjoyable day in excellent company. Hurry back volunteers. You were missed.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Canvey Island Jewels

June/July crossover, wind and clouds. What a rubbish combination. Nevertheless Mike and I decided to have a go at that ditch at Canvey.

There was limited variety - no sign of any Southern Migrant Hawkers, but we had 100+ Ruddy Darters, and a few Emeralds to brighten up the day.

I took my trusty macro lens to help with the id, although Mike was on the case so we had no issues there. Just one small problem - my iMac has become almost completely useless since I casually and naively clicked on Yes to install the Catalina operating system. However I managed today by judicious Googling to find out how to load photos, so here goes.

First up is local speciality the Southern Emerald. Just look at those bicoloured pterostigma! And on further inspection, yellowish behind the eyes, smooth flank with no mark. Very pleased to have come across this one again.

There were plenty of Scarce Emeralds too - some really nice males. This one had me confused as it have white edges to the pterostimga but I think this is Scarce not Southern as the other features seem to be Scarce - no yellow behind eyes, slight tick mark on the side of the body.

We thought we'd finish off with a visit to Blue House Farm at North Fambridge, but the car park was closed and the alternative parking arrangements were lacking, so that was it. Short, but productive.

Rarity chasing in Cambridgeshire part 2.

Last post left you on the edge of your seats as your intrepid birders ticked off the first of three potential rarities and headed off in sea...