Thursday, 28 June 2012

Home safe and sound -lucky bugger

Arrived home just hours before an almighty rain storm had swept through the country causing wide spread flooding and the news that a train had derailed at Tulloch which I had passed through in the night. I had forgotten to turn my trap lights off and with the ideal conditions while I was away and contained 57 species from 304 moths including new for the year Varied Coronet, Miller, Beautiful Hook-tip, Snout and Ribband Wave. Rest of day spent cat-napping, washing and planning my return trip plus one to the Ribblehead viaduct soon.
Figure of Eighty

Beautiful Hook-tip


Lime Hawk-moth

14-Spot Ladybird

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fort William area

A day of occasional showers, some heavy so ended up well and truly soaked.
Hired a bike and took the Fort William to Camusnagaul ferry and explored the north shore of Loch Linnhe and the surrounding hills to Carron returning the same way instead of getting a ferry across to Bunree. This area was off the main tourist route so very pleasant and could stop when and wherever I wanted with out being bothered by the “what you doing brigade” and I wished I knew about this gem as it was worth spending more time here especially if the weather was better. There were Siskin, Redpoll, Wood Warbler Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper along with the occasional Snipe, Whinchat, Wheatear, Tree Pipit, Spotted and Pied Flycatcher along the shoreline or around the cottages. The loch held Red-breasted Merganser and a distant Osprey fishing while I added Argent and Sable to my moth list. Arrived back in Fort William in need of a change of clothes and though I had already booked out my hotel they allowed us at no extra charge to borrow a room to freshen up. Dinner again in the N4 then it was down to the station to catch the overnight Caledonian Sleeper service to London meaning a change of train for me at Crewe. First time I have used a sleeper service and though the cabins are tight on space the beds are comfortable and the stewards very helpful. I shared a few beers and coffee with some lads from Havant who had spent a week bagging munroes so chatted through the first 4 hours of the 11 hour journey home. Only down side to the whole trip was the 30p fee if you want to use a toilet on some stations. When my legs are crossed the last thing I want to do is look for change, I’m a need to go NOW person.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Jacobite Express

Early morning walk and it was mild with no wind and explored Cow Hill and Nevis Forest directly behind my hotel then the shoreline of Loch Linnhe east of Fort William. A couple of distant Red Grouse, Wheatear, Whinchat and Meadow Pipits on the high ground along with Golden Plover while the forest had fly over calling Crossbills, Tree Pipit and Siskin. The shoreline had Common Sandpiper, Rock Pipit, Siskin, Hooded Crow, Oystercatcher and a family party of Grey Wagtails. Back in time for breakfast then made my way to the station where the Jacobite was a popular tourist attraction being pulled by LMS Stanier Class 5 45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier' one of four steam engines based at Fort William. The others are 44871 which had been allocated to pull the afternoon service (seen passing Glenfinnan station on our way back), 62005 Lord of the Isles was seen on shed while 61994 The Great Marquess was away.
I had been allocated a seat in the second coach from the rear and could hear her working the gradient as she left Fort William with Ben Nevis towering over the town as we climbed steadily towards Glenfinnan station passing over the Glenfinnan viaduct and its stunning views towards Loch Shiel. Unfortunately others had beaten me to the few open windows available so had to make do with pictures showing a reflection. After a short stop at Glenfinnan where I managed to hear Wood Warbler and see Siskin, Willow Warbler and Hooded Crow we made our way west passing through more stunning scenery till we reached the coastal port of Mallaig. The two hours here limited the time I had to search for wildlife so after quick lunch over looking the harbour and the distant mountains of Skye I wandered over to the west side of the town and explored the coastal side of the A830 with views of the isles Eigg and Rum finding Northern Marsh and Small White Orchid amongst the roadside vegetation. Being a warm sunny afternoon I sat on the rocks and searched the Sound of Sleat managing single Guillemot Black-throated Diver and Seal plus 3 Gannet, 7 Shag and 5 Kittiwake before making my way back to the station where more Northern Marsh Orchids were growing and a Herring Gull chick entertained the crowds from our platform while the train was made ready. There is no turntable at Mallaig so the train has to run round the carriages and returns tender first. The rain finally arrived as we headed back but I was now sitting near the engine so I have been a sad bugger and recorded her puffing away for a couple of minutes on my phone so I can grip the boys back home off.
Extremely wet back in Fort William so an early dinner in the N4 restaurant (strongly recommended) before trying my luck searching for moths as it had become very muggy. Many moths were on the wing but with no net I struggled to identify them all but id Green Carpet, Bordered White, Yellow-ringed Carpet and Clouded Border. Woodcock flew over before the mozzies moved in.

45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier' at Fort William Station

going over Glenfinnan viaduct

45407 'The Lancashire Fusilier'  at Port Mallaig 

overlooking the Sound of Sleat, Mallaig

44871  passing Glenfinnan station    

view from Glenfinnan viaduct

Ben Nevis and Fort William

Monday, 25 June 2012

Scottish Break

I have wanted to experience The Jacobite steam service from Fort William to Mallaig for some time so decided on a short break in Scotland to achieve my ambition. Caught the early express train to Glasgow Central station then transferred to Queen Street Station for the all stops service to Fort William. Did not really see much from the very fast express service just good views of the Lake District but from the slower West Highland train the highlight of this part of my journey had to be the stunning views of forests, glens, lochs, rivers, mountains, moors and bogs and though I have driven in the area a few times it has no comparison when you are able to just sit there and absorb it all in - magic. I had more chance of seeing something when we slowed or stopped for signals or stations and managed Short-eared Owl hunting along the marshy edge of the Clyde Estuary east of Dumbarton Castle, Hooded Crows at Bridge of Orchy, Rannock, Corrour and Tulloch, female Redstart at Rannoch Station and many Red Deer along the more remote parts of the route. With the Highlands bathed in glorious sunshine I alighted at Spean Bridge hoping for a late Chequred Skipper though none were seen but managed a couple of roadside Small pearl-bordered fritillary, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Clouded Border moth, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Redpoll and Wood Warbler before finishing my journey to Fort William. In the evening I had arranged a boat trip on Loch Linnhe seeing the hoped for Otter, a female with 2 young, plus Goosander and Common Sandpiper then ended a very long day staking out a peanut butter loving Pine Martin. Best of the moths flying in the evening was my first Clouded Buff.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Draycote Water, Napton Reservoir and Brandon Marsh

Dave and I managed Yellow Wagtail, adult Yellow-legged Gull and 1000s of Swifts on our walk out to farborough spit this morning as the rain poured down before moving on to Napton Reservoir which had a female Tufted Duck with 6 very young ducklings. Sun finally came out after breakfast giving us a chance to dry out and Brandon Marsh had summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit on east marsh while other species seen included 100+ Chimney Sweeper, Meadow Brown, Light Emerald 6 Bee Orchids, Grass Snake and Toad. Last night garden trap had Barred Red, Elephant Hawk-moth and Straw Dot.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Draycote Water and Ryton Woods

Yellow Wagtail at Draycote Water and 5 Speckled Wood in Ryton Woods just about summed up how poor things have become recently but we needed the walk after a stunning meal at the Just So last night where Naomi put on a brilliant Tapas theme night. Luckily a visit back at the pond in the evening with my great nephew was a little more productive with a Whimbrel flying over at 18:20 and at least 50 Bee Orchid spikes counted although Ashton was more interested in food.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Moths and Pond

A very mild night with rain by early morning produced good numbers of moths and species in both mine and Dave’s trap with Buff Ermine, Willow Beauty and Light Arches new for the year for me while Dave added Figure of Eighty to his year list. Quite a few micros were potted up and await identification so Bob was a busy boy with the camera.
By the time we got to the pond it had turned murky with low cloud, poor visibility and a blustery east south east wind and all we could find were 3 adult Yellow Wagtail on farborough bank, the long staying female Goldeneye in toft bay and the unexpected sightings of Sand Martin and female Shoveler. Bob had 2 Teal and another 6 spikes of Bee Orchid yesterday making this the best year for the species here for sometime plus a Small Blue which is a very good record for the site. Long gone are the days when they were common on draycote bank. Rest of the day spent at home where the murk gave way to partial sunshine and occasional rain showers. A Hobby was hunting over garden at 4pm and a Shelduck south at 5pm was only my second garden record of this species in 36 years.
Photos by Bob Hazel
Cochylis batricapitana new for Dave
Broad-barred White
Phyllonorycter leucographella

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


A trip out to two of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust reserve’s in glorious sunshine with partial cloud and 18c by mid-morning turned out to be very frustrating as insects were very thin on the ground. The fossil filled cliffs at Dry Sandford Pit dates from a distant time when the sea covered Oxfordshire and the sandy beaches exposed by quarrying are well worth a look in their own right especially with the marshy fen on the quarry floor fed by springs home to the rare Southern Damselfly. Although they were on the wing we had no luck in finding them even with the help of a survey worker monitoring there whereabouts. All we had were 2 Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Dave's first Meadow Brown of the year and Green-veined White plus a few Common-spotted Orchids, many Solitary Bees, Reed Warbler, Nightingale and 3 Red Kite over. We moved on to the nearby Cothill Fen and the Parsonage Moor Nature reserve for another chance of Southern Damselfly. Again no SDs but did managed to see the nationally scarce Narrow Leaved Marsh Orchid. Unfortunately they were past there best and someway out in the bog so did not want to damage such a fragile eco system for the sake of a picture. More information on both reserves can be found on the useful pamphlets published by the BBOWT.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Round Up

Not a lot to report just a continuation of previous blogs with Yellow-legged Gull now becoming a regular at the pond while Yellow Wagtail have raised 2 young and can occasionally be seen early morning before it gets busy. Common Tern made an appearance today and Ian one of the rangers had 2 Oystercatcher this morning. Among the Canada Geese flock have been plastic Barnacle and 2 Snow Goose while the only other birds of note have been 6 Teal at Brandon Marsh last week and a Hobby perched in a dead tree between Napton on the Hill and Southam as Bob and I drove past today.
On the butterfly front it’s a question of being out when the sun decides to shine though apart from Small Blue (30+ today at Bishop Itchington) numbers are low for most species. Dragon and Damselflies have also suffered from the cold wet start to the season and though 17 species are on the wing in the county I have not yet reached double figures. The bridge nursery continues to hold plenty of damselflies.
Orchids are faring better with the pond now recording 35 spikes of Common-spotted and 20 spikes of Bee Orchid which would have been higher if they had not buried a couple of plants for the sake of a car park.
Surprisingly the water level have not risen as dramatically as we expected and remains just a couple of inches above farborough spit so in with a chance of some shoreline for the autumn passage if we don’t have too much rain and evaporation makes its normal impact over the summer months.
On the mothing front this warm spell has started to bring in a few summer species although very late compared to last year with numbers still remaining low. The best news has been the publication of the Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland by Sterling and Parsons illustrated by Richard Lewington. Excellent piece of work though I’m still trying to get my head around the layout. Draycote Water and Bishops Itchington had Yellow Shell, Burnet Companion was also at Bishops Itchington and 2 Ringed China-mark at Just So.
Nationally I went up Lancashire last Friday to look at Dune Helleborine, Fly and Lady Slipper Orchid though the LS was way past her best and also managed a Bittern and Spoonbill at Leighton Moss plus a couple of sightings of Red Squirrel and Red Deer.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Man Orchid and Damsleflies

Had planned going north for a couple of steamers but nodded off so missed me train so ended up at Ufton looking for Man Orchids with Bob finding at least four but they were already starting to go over. Greater Butterfly and Common-spotted Orchids have benefited from scrub clearance but surprisingly we couldn’t find any Bee Orchids, at least 2 Spotted Flycatcher and good numbers of Song Thrush seen. Only a few butterflies were on the wing but included our first Large Skipper of the year. After coffee and cake at the Just So we spent some time in the Bridge Nursery garden and meadow where there were many damselflies out. While photographing moths back at home Bob found a Lime Hawk-moth on the garden fence.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Yellow-legged and Small Blue

One third and 3 second summer Yellow-legged Gulls at the pond this morning along with 2 Yellow Wagtail while a further 9 Bee Orchids located. Most of the morning spent enjoying the sunshine at Bishops Itchington looking for butterflies finding 39 Common Blue, 25 Small Blue, Dingy Skipper, 4 Brown Argus, 3 Large White, 5 Small Heath, 2 Brimstone, Orange-tip and Speckled Wood. Day flying moths included 4 Yellow Shell, 8 Burnet Companion, 3 Cinnabar and Silver Y. Also a few Common-spotted and Bee Orchids noted. At Napton Reservoir we had Raven and Hobby while the place was covered in hundreds of Common Blue Damselflies with lesser numbers of Blue-tailed, Red-eyed and Azure Damselflies. Also noted were Four-spotted Chaser and Hairy Dragonfly.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Orchids and Whimbrels

Yesterday’s rain finally gave way to cool cloudy conditions for this morning visit to the pond with Bob with the only birds of note between visitor centre and toft shallows being adult and second summer Yellow-legged Gull, Grey Wagtail and 500 Swift. A search for Bee and Common-spotted Orchids produced at least 10 Bee and 22 Common-spotted plus Silver Y moth. Plenty of young Blackcaps and Whitethroats showing at least they have had a good season so far despite the rain while Mute Swans have increased to 20 and the female Goldeneye is still present though easily overlooked among the thick vegetation. While waiting at the visitor centre for Bob to finish his circuit 5 Whimbrel came in from the south east at 12:10pm and went straight through heading north west. This was my first multiple record in June at the pond. Epinotia bilunana was one of the more interesting micros Dave has trapped recently. All photos by Bob Hazell.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A quiet day

Hardly a breath of wind or birds either at the pond this morning as we managed Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard and 200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading north the best from a very poor 21 species in 90 minutes. After breakfast we found a Spotted Flycatcher, an extremely young Goldfinch, 3 Raven and 7 Buzzard before having 2 Buzzard over the Just So café and 5 species of damselfly in the adjacent Bridge Nursery. The Greater Butterfly Orchids at Stockton were looking a lot smarter than our last visit and the most common species here was White-legged Damselfly. Also noted were single Grizzled Skipper, 5 Dingy Skipper, 4 Common Blue, Small Blue, 3 Cinnabar, 2 Burnet Companions and 2 Four-spotted Chasers (photo by Terry).
The Space Shed is showing in the evenings if the weather allows a glimpse while last night was good for moths in my garden adding Small Dusty Wave and Mottled Beauty to my year list. There were 2 Fox cubs in Dave's garden tonight while we were having dinner.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Railfest 2012

Me and the driblets (Dave, Colin and Terry) put on our best anoraks for a day out at the Railfest 2012 being held at the National Railway Museum in York. A most enjoyable day being well organized, well attended (this was day 8 and thousands present) interesting exhibits and plenty food and drink when required. Only marred by the odd shower and one or two of the engines not exhibited with photographers in mind so apologies for the odd angles and unsightly furniture.
(1) SR 'V' 4-4-0 No 925 Cheltenham, (2) GWR 'City' 4-4-0 No City of Truro, (3&4) LNER 'A4' 4-6-2 No 4468 Mallard, (5) LNER 'A3' 4-6-2 No 4472 Flying Scotsman in war time livery, (6&7) GWR 'Hall' 4-6-0 No 5972 Olton Hall though in its makeover as Hogwarts Castle for the Harry Potter films, (8) LMS 'Princess Royal 4-6-2 No 6201 Princess Elizabeth up nice and close, (9) LMS'Princess Coronation'4-6-2 No 6229 Duchess of Hamilton, (10) shame they dont have a train called meat eater.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Brandon Marsh

Met up with Colin and Dave for lunch at Brandon Marsh then a quick look from east marsh hide produced plenty of Swift, House Martin and Sand Martin but only a couple of Swallows plus a female Red-crested Pochard between the tern rafts and main island.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Moth Records

A wet day spent updating my moth records after seeing the first summer male Red-footed Falcon feeding over the River Trent near Willington Gravel Pits, Derbyshire. A rather smart individual.

It’s been a frustrating year for moths so far with a record number of species recorded from my garden trap in March to the lowest count recorded in April when only 7 species were trapped. Normally I record over 40 species. May has managed to produce above average numbers though as a year I am at least 20 species down so I’m hoping the wet and cool conditions will eventually give way to some warmth. On a recording front one of the four common Light Brown Apple Moths recorded on the 5th June was my 60,000th moth to be trapped in my garden from over 18,000 records.
So far my garden count is 306 macro species and 223 species of micro
In comparison Dave has over 22700 records trapping 90,290 moths made up of 317 macro and 262 micro species so he is 50 species in front of me. Of interest our combined gardens have produced 650 moths.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Transit but not much else

The Venus transit early this morning was a disappointment despite the clear sky’s overhead due to cloud cover on the horizon and I only managed a very poor brief view through a veil of cloud. Down the Grandborough valley an hour later with Dave we had the unusual record of 19 Lapwing flying north but again no Quail heard – possible Corn Bunting, 6 Tree Sparrow and a single Great-spotted Woodpecker for our efforts. Draycote Water was even more dire with single Common Tern, 26 Graylag, 23 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Common Gull plus hundreds of Swifts. A Raven and Buzzard flew over the Long Itchington diner and only sighting of note at Brandon Marsh was a Cuckoo on the dead tree and 2 young Cettie’s Warblers feeding out in the open in front of Carlton Hide. Plenty of Beautiful Demoiselle out along with our first for the year Red-eyed Damselflies.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Bored - looking at a field of sheep overlooking the Harringworth Viaduct thanks to THE YORKSHIREMAN to Railfest London Victoria-York steam failing to show after BR Britannia Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70013 Oliver Cromwell broke down. At least 5 Red Kite in the area. Earlier we had Osprey, 2 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 4 Red-legged Partridge, 5 Shelduck and 8 Common Tern at Eyebrook Reservoir.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Princess and the Kite

A cold wet morning listening for Quail then on to the pond where we had 12 Ringed Plover flying around, Little Ringed Plover on what’s left of farborough spit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Gadwall and the unusual record of Meadow Pipit for June here.. Despite the awful conditions we hung around Wormleighton waiting for THE THAMES DIAMOND JUBILEE PAGEANT pulled by LMS Princess Class 4-6-2 no 46201 Princess Elizabeth as she steamed past before visiting Brandon Marsh where after a quiet visit we had a Red Kite go over the visitor center at 11:15am while warming up over a cup of coffee. A Little Owl was seen at Marton perched on a farm gate in the pouring rain. If you watched the Jubilee Pageant on the telly, Princess Elizabeth was placed on Battersea bridge to greet the Queens arrival.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Another Blue

Arrived home well after mid-night with my trap filling up so spent an hour potting micros and any macros I fancied photographing later then grabbed three hours sleep before walking to the station for my train to Coventry. I did not expect Coventry Station to have so many Deltic followers who certainly enjoyed her arrival and even more so as she throttled up and pulled away easily handling the twelve coaches behind her on her way to the Railfest 2012 being held in York. Rest of day spent in Somerset seeing the Great Reed Warbler at Western-super Mare, Sewage Treatment Works which performed well.