Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Moths Update

Last week has been brilliant for moths in both our gardens with Dave getting a trickle of new ones that is slowly bringing him up to the 600 species mark for his garden. Numbers not brilliant compared to some years but variety is spot on.
Barred Red

Buff Footman

Short-cloaked Moth

Scarce Silver-lines

Small Blood-vein 

Lozotaeniodes formosanus 

Blastodacna hellerella

Aston Rowant NNR

A terrapin species seen in a pool on the M40 service station at junction 8 was an odd start to our day as were the calls of Peacocks drifting over Watlington Hill, Oxfordshire when we first arrived.
By 9am it was touching 22c and butterflies were already out but thin on the ground (apart from Ringlets and Meadow Browns) managing only single Chalk-hill Blue, Silver-spotted Skipper and Dark-green Fritillary in 2 hours of searching.
Despite the hum of the M40 traffic we moved to the nearby Aston Rowant NNR and ended up in butterfly heaven with the flower rich meadows full of activity under a baking sun. Sixteen species seen with 40 Marbled White, 15 Silver-spotted Skipper, 25 Chalk-hill Blue darting among the more common species plus plenty of Six-spot Burnet and Cinnabar moths. Also seen were Fragrant and Pyramidal Orchids and Southern Hawker and not forgetting the scores of Red Kites where ever we looked.
Back home it was still very warm late afternoon with the cloud bubbling up allowing hawking Hobbies to be easily seen as they hunted over my garden and estate – 2 juveniles.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Napton Res and Just So

Might not be brilliant for birding but the high temperatures we have experienced over the last few days and nights has certainly given dragonflies, butterflies and moths a welcome boost keeping us busy with the cataloging and identification of some species.
Bob and I had a look at Napton Reservoir and the Bridge Nursery pool finding Black-tailed Skimmer, Emperor Dragonfly and Migrant Hawker new for the year along with Shaded Broad-bar. At least 9 species of butterfly noted with 4 Marbled White the best while the only birds of note were good numbers of Reed Warbler and a juvenile Raven overhead.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Black Tern

Eight Hare were down the Southam Rd romping about at the thought that summer is finally arriving while over the road the pond had adult Black Tern, Common Tern, 3 Oystercatcher, Sparrowhawk Buzzard, 27 Mute Swan and 12 Yellow-legged Gulls of various ages. An amble around areas of Ryton Woods that don’t get a lot of attention produced 12 Silver-washed Fritillary, 7 Purple Hairstreaks, 2 Common White Wave and Silver Y moths plus 6 Jay, 6 Nuthatch, Garden Warbler and juvenile Little Owl. Also seen were 4 Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker, Common Darter plus Large Red, Common and Blue-tailed Damselfly. Rest of the afternoon glued to the television watching the Cav, Froome and Wiggo show- awesome.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sunny at last

With the forecast for the weekend looking good and spending the last couple of days rooting for Wiggins, Cavendish and Froome I was in need of fresh air so down the pond by 3am lamping for moths. The previous days showers had brought the temperatures down below double figures for the first time in over a week which meant there was not a lot on the wing (had a poor catch at home) but did manage Pebble-Hook-tip, Ghost Moth, Riband Wave, Small Rivulet, and Heart and Dart. The main reason for wandering around the pond at this ungodly hour was the chance of seeing the summer’s night sky’s which have been rare as hen’s teeth recently and I was not disappointed.
Jupiter was passing north of the V-shaped Hydres open cluster while the asteroid 4 Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres were also on show. Unfortunately I dipped on the space shed as it passed over at 5:18am and could not locate Uranus.
A Whimbrel was heard calling in the night and moved in to toft shallows at 5:30 and promptly disappeared in to the thick vegetation. Not a lot else apart from scores of larger gulls leaving the roost leaving 3 x 3rd year Yellow-legged Gulls behind as the mist developed. As it started to cloud up I checked on the back gardens of Draycote village where a Spotted Flycatcher pair has raised 3 young while the lane had Nuthatch and Blackcap.
Called in on a couple of ponds on the way home looking for insects managing Banded Demoiselle Common Blue Damselfly and my first Southern Hawker of the year with butterflies on the wing included Speckled Wood, 2 Marbled White and 7 Meadow Brown while day flying moths included 2 Narrow bordered 5 spot Burnet, 2 Cinnabar and a Straw Dot.
By the time I was home at mid-day Buzzards were dominating the sky with at least six over my estate while in the garden a mouse was taking advantage of the new mothing location for my robinson trap as falling bird seed from the feeders was landing on the light sheet set up used so my neighbours don’t complain.
Had intended watching La Tour but an offer to revisit Oversley Wood and the River Avon was to good to miss in such fine weather and came away with better numbers than last week adding Purple Emperor to my year and my first Scarce Chaser dragonfly for the county. Hobby on the way home over the M40/A46 junction.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Early birds catch the Cuckoo

We were lucky enough to watch a rusty brown juvenile Cuckoo perched on fence posts for over 15 minutes down the Southam Road first thing. Although a fields width away we had excellent scope views allowing views of the white nape patch.
The pond was duller than yesterday morning and the wind a lot stronger so we walked to rainbow corner for shelter getting our normal fare of Yellow-legged Gulls with at least 4 present, juvenile and 3 x 3rd years. Only other birds of note were 250 Swift, 20+ Sand Martin, Raven, Buzzard and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
It started raining while we were at Brandon Marsh so just a group of 8 Teal and a Little Ringed Plover seen.

Gripped Off

Young Alfie took JJ for a ride on THE SHAKESPEARE EXPRESS between Birmingham SH and Stratford-upon-Avon which runs on Sundays in the summer and posted me this picture. It was being hauled by 4-6-0 Hall Class 4965 Rood Ashton Hall. Not only is it one I have not seen but I have dipped on it twice and he was also allowed on the footplate., You have well and truly gripped me off young man.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Just So at last

After nearly raining most of yesterday today was dry with periods of sunshine in the morning eventually clouding over but still pleasantly warm. Draycote Water had 2 x 3rd year and a 2nd year Yellow-legged Gulls but nothing else in the blustery conditions so we searched the more sheltered areas of the country park finding 7 Marbled White, 80 Ringlet, 30 Meadow Brown, 6 Gatekeeper, 2 Comma, 12 Large Skipper, 4 Small Skipper butterflies while moths included Silver Y, Timothy Tortrix and Agapeta hamana. On the bird front only 2 Whitethroat and a juvenile Green Woodpecker noted.
Persuaded Bob that I had a medical need for coffee and cake at the Just So – iv not had a slab of cake for over 3 weeks and needed to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Afterwards we plodded around the soggy garden of the Bridge Nursery finding a few Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies and adding Large White to the day list but very little else apart from 2 Whitethroat and a Buzzard.
Rest of the day spent trying to get a grip’s with my garden managing a juvenile Raven and Sparrowhawk over with a family party of Greenfinch and Coal Tit on the feeders.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Being in the right place at the right time

Having woken early I sealed my moth trap from an over indulging Blackbird as dawn broke and noticed the sky’s were clearing from the west. Unfortunately not in time to see the conjunction between Jupiter and a waning crescent moon so don’t know if it was a full or a grazing occultation of the planet but it looked fantastic seeing them so close with a bright Venus shining below, a magical threesome.
With the hope that the weatherman was on the ball with some decent sunshine we visited Oversely Wood locating 10 species of butterfly with 21 Silver-washed Fritillary, 7 Purple Hairstreak and 3 White Admiral taking the plaudits but alas despite many others looking there were no Purple Emperors reported while we were present. A number of the usual woodland bird’s species seen plus Roe Deer, Muntjac Deer and a Silver Y moth. The crowning glory of the morning was meeting up with Mark who I had not seen for 17 years so tried catching up with each others news in 30 minutes, God – we go back to 1980 when we met on holiday in the Isle of Scilly with the late David Hunt.
Left Oversely for a walk along the near by swollen River Avon adding 3 more butterfly species to our day list but the cloud cover arrived and the wind freshened so did not do well on Dragonflies apart from scores of Banded Demoiselle among the river side vegetation, Kingfisher, Common Tern and Sedge Warbler noted.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Back to dire

Draycote Water was back to being poor this morning with just 2 Yellow-legged Gulls while butterflies were on the wing in good numbers in the country park when ever the sun came out with 3 Small Skipper, 10 Large Skipper, 8 Ringlet, 100 + Meadow Brown, 14 Marbled White plus 2 Silver Y, Straw Dot and  Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet .
Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet by Francoise

Monday, 9 July 2012

Recent Moths

Despite the wet conditions moths have come in thick and fast in the muggy conditions on some nights in the first week of July with Dave benefiting with another new species for his garden -Silky Wainscot.
Poplar, Elephant and Lime Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Common Emerald

Ghost Moth

Small Dotted Buff

Eyed Hawk-moth by Francoise

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel

Last weekend’s birds were a little more interesting of late with the pond producing Spotted Flycatcher and juvenile Barn Owl hunting in daylight on Saturday morning and Yellow-legged Gulls were the main feature on Sunday with 2 adult, 3 x 3rd summer, 3 x 2nd summer and 2 x 1st summers still present at 7am among the LBB Gull flock.
A Peregrine hunting over farborough bank and sitting on the bank for 15 minutes was originally reported as a juvenile female Peregrine based on size but I now believe it to be a hybrid thou what it was crossed with remains unsolved due to joggers flushing it before I could get a decent record shot.
Yellow Wagtail, Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper also noted.
Brandon Marsh had Grass Snake and Comma butterfly when the sun finally showed as we were leaving after a brief visit.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Brandon Marsh

Back to normal - heavy rain most of the day. Not a lot showing with adult Little Grebe, 2 Oystercatcher and 6 Common Tern the best from a poor 18 species seen from east marsh hide. Water level rising quickly.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


Glorious sunshine finally brought out good numbers of butterflies in the top field of the Country Park at Draycote Water. Species included Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Common Blue, Large Skipper with Small Skipper and Gatekeeper new for the year. Also seen were Brown Hawker, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselfly, Snout and a longhorn moth species. A fresh Bee Orchid at a location previously thought buried under the newly surfaced car park was most welcome especially as majority are past there best. Great-spotted Woodpecker and 3rd year Yellow-legged Gull the only birds worth reporting.
Marbled White

Small Skipper

Large Skipper

Meadow Brown

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Fauna, Flora and Choo Choo's

Dave and I gave the pond brief look at 7am with 3 Yellow-legged Gull and a Common Sandpiper on farborough bank before heading south. Even though it was muggy and overcast we had 2 Marbled White’s and a Ringlet flutter by as we slowed down to a crawl on the A34 near Oxford due to an accident on our way to Dry Sandford Pit nature reserve.
Our target was Marsh Helleborine and soon found over 200 plants just flowering and while trying to get photos with out falling in to the bog we found 5 Southern Damselflies amongst the vegetation and flushed a Scarlet Tiger moth which unfortunately did not hang around. Even without the sun which occasionally broke through we wandered around part of the reserve and found Broad-bodied Chaser, 12 Ringlet, 7 Meadow Brown, 4 Large Skipper, 28 Marbled White, 10 Small Heath and Common Blue plus Freyer’s Pug, Cinnabar Moth and Mullien Moth caterpillar. Birds included Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Reed Warbler.
By early afternoon we had a need for refreshments so went over to the Didcot Railway Centre which is a substantial working heritage rail museum and wandered around the sheds. Being mid-week they were only operating one loco in steam with the rest shedded up which made it restrictive for photos but still plenty to see. Better viewing at weekends when they have them in the sidings and more steamed up. Of the 7 Red Kite today seen 3 were over Didcot Railway station
Marsh Helleborine
Marsh Helleborine
Southern Damselfly

Mullien moth caterpillar

6023 King Edward ll 

7808 Cookham Manor 

3650 Didcot July 2012

No1 Bonnie Prince Charles 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Not to be

We were clearing down Dave’s trap and chatting to his good lady when Keith disturbed our 9am coffee with a heads up that a Whiskered Tern had been at Brandon Marsh earlier at 7:45 but had flown south so informed JJ in case it had gone down the road to Draycote Water. Well worth reading Keith’s blog Birding Afloat for the story behind his excellent find. Bob and I speeded up the mothing process with Burnished Brass, Gothic, Common White Wave and an unidentified micro of interest and headed for the pond arriving at the same time as Tim. Unfortunately we soon realised it had not come our way – just a Common Tern and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls out in the center then walked to the inlet finding male and female Shoveler off hensborough bank, Common Sandpiper near the inlet, 3 Raven in the distance off farborough bank, Stock Dove and Blackcap. Stayed an hour just in case the Quail that had been heard by a fishing birder on Saturday evening behind saddle bank might have decide to call but not the right time of day and with rain threatening again we left. A Great-spotted Woodpecker turned up in my garden mid-afternoon but pre-occupied with all the crashes on La Tour. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Olympic Torch Dunchurch

Bob and I did our bit to support the torch bearers
First the crowds arrived

Then the sponsors

The torch bearer

Here we go
Escorted by the folks in Grey (Blue)

45 minute wait and over in seconds

finally the bus with the next torch bearers all waiting to do there bit

La Tour

Its that time of the year the big thighs and tight bums are on the road in France and we are not talking volleyball. Going to have to fit my hobbies around coverage the best the grapevine allows.