Tuesday 30th July 2012 - Odds and ends

I'm still out of action due to ongoing car woes.  All being well the repairs will be complete by Wednesday evening.

With Bev being day off and having no wheels we had a walk down the town to mooch around the shops (I know great eh?).  But I am one to take opportunities when they arise and, whilst the good lady was looking at clothes in New Look, I stood on the footbridge over the River Stour and spent some time watching the fish.  The water was really quite clear and there was a shoal of 80+ Chub (of varying sizes) showing very well below where I was stood.

Unfortunately there was no sign of the Weaver's Wharf  Peregrine but still it was nice to get out for a while and we did have coffee and toast for brekkie whilst in the town...so not a bad couple of hours.

Patch News:
The ♂ Whinchat was again present at Stanklyn lane taking it's stay up to 11 days

Saturday 28th July 2012 - Monkwood

This morning I was all geared up to attend a course run by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust on grasshopper and cricket id when a bit of bad luck occurred.  I got in my car, started the engine and was about to put it into 1st gear when the gear stick detached from the gearbox...great :-(

I then managed to contact Harry Green who was running the course to let him know of my woes and contacted the garage to get it booked in (Tuesday am).  This wasn't the best start Ive had to a weekend!

I knew that fellow birder/wildlife blogger Mark P would be going out and about this morning so I phoned him up and cheekily asked if I could tag along.  He kindly said yes...which helped my sanity, at least I would get some fresh air and wildlife after all.

We headed over to Monkwood NR for a walk, with Purple Hairstreak being MP's main target and photographing ♂ Ruddy Darter mine.  We were not successful with the former on this visit but it was a good day all the same.

It was a pleasant walk and we soon started notching up the butterfly species with 1 (brief) Silver-washed Fritillary, 9 White Admirals, 1 Essex Skipper, 2 Commas and a single PeacockGatekeekepers, Meadow Browns and Ringlet were numerous.  Large White and Large Skipper were seen in smaller numbers.  A single Silver Y moth was also observed.

Odonata were seen in good numbers too with 3 Brown Hawkers and 2 Southern Hawkers observed along the rides.  Many Common Darters were also encountered.

At the ponds we noted a ♂ Emperor Dragonfly, another Brown Hawker, a ♀ Broad-bodied Chaser and a handful of Ruddy Darters (including 3♂).  As with other recent visits good numbers of Emerald Damselflies were on the middle pond and at least 2 pairs were seen copulating.

Also of great interest by the ponds were 3 Brown China-mark moths that were disturbed from the vegetation.  Although not an  uncommon species, these moths are unusual in that their larvae are entirely aquatic, feeding on water plants.

The days highlight though came in the form of an avian encounter.  Whilst walking along I picked up the calls of a Marsh Tit and informed MP.  We stopped as the calls got closer and we picked up 2 Marsh Tits, with the really great news being that one was a juvenile.  A welcome sight indeed as these are declining in the county!

All in all it was a very enjoyable walk and I would like to thank Mark again for helping me out on what would have been a very crap day indeed!

Southern Hawker (♀)

Ruddy Darter (♂)

Essex Skipper

Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata)

Friday 27th July 2012 - Shenstone

It was yet another fine sunny day on the patch. In fact it was so nice that I almost forget what a poor Summer it had been prior to the last week or so. 

On arriving at Stanklyn Lane I scanned the gallops field where the ♂ Whinchat was still present.  A walk across the gallops field footpath afforded me good views of this long staying stunner that again seemed totally unfazed by the nearby agricultural sale.  Also noted during this walk were a Southern Hawker dragonfly and a single Common Darter.  A single Small Copper and many Meadow Brown butterflies were also present.

In the Stanklyn Set-aside there was no sign of the Marbled White today.  But the following species were noted:  Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Large White and Small White.  Sliver Y,  Six-spot Burnett and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnett moths were also recorded.

A single Holly Blue was seen flitting along the hedgerows along Stanklyn Lane.

I then headed over to Butts Lane to undertake my second walk of the day.  Interestingly I recorded a single Marbled White butterfly here and can only assume it is the same individual that I had been seeing at Stanklyn Lane the past few days.  Also added to the days butterfly tally were 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Comma and Green-veined White.  Nearby, there were 2 Holly Blues present along Barrs Lane.

Meadow Brown

Small Skipper

Green-veined White

Thursday 26th July 2012 - Shenstone

I only had time for a brief patch visit this morning so I focused my attention again on the Stanklyn Lane area.

On arrival I noticed that the Hall's Agricultural Sale was on at the rear of the gallops field.  This sale is kind of like agricultural car boot (or should that be tractor boot!) and the disturbance usually impacts on bird sightings from that area.  Amazingly, the ♂ Whinchat seemed totally oblivious to it and was still present perching on the Ragwort in the same field.  It is now an incredible 7th day that this stunning little chat has been present.

From the gallops I checked out the set-aside where again a single Marbled White was present and again it gave me the runaround as I tried and failed to capture a better record shot!  Also noticeable from my last visit was a further increase in the numbers of Gatekeeper on the wing.

My final stop was the beet field where I noted 3 Corn Buntings, 2 Yellowhammers, 1 Skylark and a juvenile Common Whitethroat. A ♀ Sparrowhawk also went through.


Tuesday 24th July 2012 - A patch first!!!!

I popped down to Shenstone at noon on this beautiful sunny day to undertake a butterfly walk along Stanklyn Lane.  On arrival I bumped into Derek Roberts (the guy who found the March 2010 Black Redstart at Stanklyn Lane paddocks).  We had a good natter and walked through the gallops field to see if we could pick up the Whinchat. We soon picked up the ♂ Whinchat perched on some Ragwort.  Incredibly this was the 5th consequtive day that this passage migrant has been present.   

After a while observing the bird derek and I parted ways and I headed over to the Stanklyn Lane set-aside.  Here there were good numbers of both Essex and Small Skipper present, as well as large numbers of Meadow Brown and Ringlet.  I also recorded my first 2 patch Gatekeepers of 2012...I wondered when they would start putting in an appearance!  Two Silver Y moths, 1 Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnett and many Six-spot Burnetts were also noted in the set-aside.

Whilst in this area a white and brown butterfly flew past.  I knew immediately what it was, a Marbled White!  Get in!  this is the first ever record for the site and I was absolutely elated.  I followed the butterfly as it flew over the flora hoping for it to land.  It did eventually and I just about managed a distant record shot of it perched on the Knapweed before it was chased by a Meadow Brown and flew quickly over the hedgerow and out of site.

Walking back through the Gallops I recorded 4 Small Coppers that were feeding on the Yarrow, a Gatekeeper and a Red Admiral.  A single ♀ Common Darter dragonfly was also present along the path.

I then wandered down the lane to 'the beet field' (that, for the first time in years doesn't contain sugar beet...just to confuse the issue).  I scanned the mature Oaks at the entrance and the Ash opposite and soon picked up what I was hoping for, a single Purple Hairstreak.  i discovered a small colony here last year so it was great to see that they were still present.

Also of note in this field were small numbers of Green-veined White, Small White and Large White flitting about amongst the pea crop.  A single Comma also flew through and a Holly Blue was flitting around the Ivy covered hedgerow.

What a great couple of hours...long may this good weather continue!

Marbled White - Stanklyn Lane, 24th July 2012

Click on image to enlarge

Small Copper

♂ Whinchat

Monday 23rd July 2012 - Monkwood and Grimley

Today was Bev's day off work and with the sun shining we decided to pay a re-visit to Monkwood Nature Reserve.

There were many butterflies on the wing although numbers of White Admiral had decreased.  This time we only saw 4.  Also of interest were 1 Silver-washed Fritillary and 4 Purple HairstreaksMeadow Browns and Ringlets were numerous, but only 2 Speckled Wood and 2 Gatekeepers were noted.  There were still a few Large Skippers present along with a handful of Small Skippers.   2 Red Admirals and 3 Comma were also noted.

Monkwood also held a good variety of Dragonflies and damselflies.  An immature ♂ Southern Hawker was present near the carpark and 4 Brown Hawkers were noted from a number of locations.  Common Darters were also present along a number of the rides.

At the pools there were at least 3♂ Ruddy Darters present, with 3 Broad-bodied Chasers (2♂ & 1♀) and a ♂ Emperor Dragonfly also of note.  On the middle pool there were 6+ ♂ Emerald Damselflies.  Also recorded were Azure, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies.

From Monkwood we headed over to the nearby Camp Lane pits at Grimley.  On arrival at the North end we were greeted by the sight of a Little Egret and 3 Common Terns.  Not long afterwards a Hobby came through hawking low over the lagoons for dragonflies.  The aerial acrobatics of this agile raptor were just superb...I really do never tire of seeing Hobby!

Dragonflies were very much in evidence here (as also noticed by the Hobby) with Black-tailed Skimmers and Common Darter being the most numerous.  A single ♀ Four-spotted Chaser and a ♂ Emperor Dragonfly were also noted.

From Camp Lane we headed over to Top Barn farm shop for some refreshments and sat enjoying the sun's rays as we tucked into our freshly prepared baguettes.  On day's like this you forget what a crap summer it had been up until recently!

Emerald Damselfly - Monkwood

Large Red Damselfly - Monkwood
Photo by Bev Kernohan

Common Darter (immature ♂) - Grimley
Photo by Bev Kernohan

Friday 20th July 2012 - Shenstone

I received a phone call this morning from Terry informing me that he had found another adult ♂ Whinchat in the gallops field at Stanklyn Lane.  There were a number of features that differed from the previous bird 2 days ago, with this one in a more advanced moult, leading TMH to conclude it was a different bird.

Due to other commitments I was unable to get down until after lunch but thankfully the very photogenic Whinchat was sill there and showing well...despite the Friday afternoon dog walkers! 

A Raven was calling from a nearby Pylon and a ♂ Green Woodpecker was feeding in the paddock.  No sign of any juvenile Green Woodpeckers yet which is quite worrying.

After enjoying the Whinchat for a fair while I decided to walk the footpaths towards Summerfield.  This proved very worthwhile as in one field I picked up 4 juvenile Corn Buntings with 2 adults present nearby, these are the first young Corn Buntings I have seen this year and a very welcome sight on the patch, especially with the way that the wet weather has effected many ground nesting species.

My final port of call was Butts Lane where the set-aside produced a good selection of butterflies including 8 Essex Skippers, 3 Small Skippers, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 1 Red Admiral, 4 Meadow Browns and 12 Ringlets.

A very pleasing patch visit and even though there was a cracking looking Whinchat on the patch the undoubted highlight for me was seeing the young Corn Buntings....superb!

♂ Whinchat

Click on box right of YouTube logo to enlarge

Essex Skipper

Thursday 19th July 2012 - Shenstone

I headed off down to Stanklyn Lane this morning to see if I could locate TMH's Whinchat from the previous day.  There was no sign, in fact there was very little to get excited about in this part of the patch full stop! The highlight being a single Large White butterfly, things were that poor!

So after spending a fruitless hour or so in the Stanklyn area I headed over to Butts Lane which was more productive thankfully.  On starting my walk here I was greeted by an adult ♀ Kestrel hawking nearby and 3 Common Buzzards up soaring.  On the scuffled field there were 7 Mistle Thrush present.  1 Yellowhammer, 8 Linnets and 13 Skylarks were also noted. 

Butterfly wise the walk produced 1 Essex Skipper, 3 Meadow Brown, 8 Ringlet, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and 1 Large White.  Other insects of interest were a ♀ Roesel's Bush Cricket and a Black-striped Longhorn Beetle.

Large White

Black-striped Longhorn Beetle (Stenurella melanura)

Wed 18th July 2012 - Captains Pool, Grimley & Shenstone

Today I decided to give Tony a bell and see if he fancied popping out for a couple of hours birding.  I hadn't seen the old chuffer for a few weeks and thought it would be good to catch up whilst there was a short lived break in the weather.

On arriving at Tony's there were still 7 Common Terns present at Captains Pool.  These birds are all adults and initially dropped in on Saturday.  They are obviously finding plenty of food as they seem in no rush to leave.  Also interesting was seeing them perch high up in a dead tree on the island, something I have never seen before with Common Terns.

Common Terns

From Captains Pool we headed out to Grimley where the afternoons shower dodging began.  We did manage to get down to the North End of Camp Lane pits whilst it was dry and were treated to cracking views of a juvenile Hobby hawking low over the lagoons for dragonflies (of which there were many).  Also of note here was a Little Egret and 2 Common Terns.  A ♂ Peregrine was perched on a fencepost on the west side.

What was worrying though was the fact that the land at Camp Lane Pits is being sold of for a possible country house with wetland for leisure activities. There is a public footpath that runs past the lagoons so access wouldn't be an issue but if it becomes yet another fishing pool (of which there are already many in this area) or a game shooting area the wildlife will soon disappear...only time will tell.

Worrying Signs

On the way back home we stopped off at Butts Lane, Shenstone where Tony managed to bag an Essex Skipper for his year list.  Quite lucky really as it was the only Skipper we saw there today.

On the evening a ♂ Whinchat was present at Stanklyn Lane in the Gallows Field (TMH)

Sunday 15th July 2012 - Shenstone

Having partially recovered from the previous few day's shenanigans down the smoke I decided to hit the patch just before mid-day. 

I started my visit at Stanklyn Lane where there was no sign of the previous day's female Redstart.  A Raven was showing well and kronking away as he flew over the paddocks towards the gallops field.  The only other bird of note at the paddocks was an adult Green Woodpecker.  No sign of any juveniles there yet but hopefully soon.

After a short while I was joined by sometime patch interloper Mark P for a natter.  He decided to join me in a walk to check out the butterflies on that side of the patch.  There was no sign as yet of the Purple Hairstreaks at the beet field and rather surprisingly the damn at Captains Pool was devoid of butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies...not a great start!  Although along the path from Captains we did flush 2 Yellow Shell moths.

Next stop was the Stanklyn Lane set-aside which was far more productive.  Here, in this Knapweed rich area we recorded 1 Essex Skipper (the first patch record for 2012), 6 Small Skippers, 5 Ringlets and 20+ Meadow Browns.  Also present were a handful of newly emerged Six-spot Burnett moths and 3 rather worn Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnetts, two of which were copulating.  A single Silver Y moth was also noted.

The gallops field produced another half a dozen Meadow Browns and a charm of 19 Goldfinches that were feeding on the seed heads.  Two Linnets were also present with the Goldfinch flock.  A young juvenile Blackbird was present at the entrance to this field

After the walk Mark and I then parted company and I headed over to Butts Lane to undertake another butterfly walk.  Here there were a different selection of species with 1 Comma, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Large White and a Small White noted.  12 Ringlets, 1 Meadow Brown and 2 Small Skippers were also observed.

Also of interested along Butts Lane were a family party of 6 Mistle Thrushes feeding on the recently scuffled ground. A family party of Common Whitethroats (2 adult and 2 juv) were also showing well on the adjacent hedgerow.  9 Skylarks and 4 Linnets were also noted in the Butts Lane area.

Along Barrs Lane there were good numbers of Marmalade Hoverflies present.  A Chiffchaff and a Yellowhammer could be heard singing.

All in all an enjoyable return to the patch and the rain stayed off the whole time I was there...amazing!!!


Essex Skipper

Small Skipper

Six-spot Burnett Moth

Six-spot Burnett Moth - larval case

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Shenstone Snippets

Below is a summary of some notable sightings from the patch, by other birders, whilst I have been away.

Saturday 14th July 2012
This morning 7 adult Common Terns dropped into Captains Pool (TS).  This incredible count is a new site record.

This afternoon a ♀ Common Redstart was present in a hedgerow along Stanklyn Lane (TMH)

Out of action for a few days...

Just to let you good folks know, there will be no blog posts until after the weekend as I'm off down 'The Smoke' for a few days.  

Primarily Bev and I are going down for a gig in Hyde Park.  The headliners are American alternative rock band Soundgarden who Bev really likes.  For me, I'm more interested in seeing the second from top act Iggy and the Stooges.  As well as Iggy, this line up consists of the original drummer, original Sax player and the second guitarist John Williamson who came in in 1972 and co-wrote the seminal proto-punk album Raw Power...which they are currently playing pretty much in its entirety.  Can't wait!  The other bands are pretty pants to be honest, although ragga-metal act Skindred are also on my radar.

Other than the gig I dare say we will be seeing a few sights, mooching round Camden Market and going for a few beers in the Worlds End pub....mmmm I can taste the beer already.

Anyway this is what I have to look forward too....

Sunday 8th July 2012 - Shenstone

Today was another one of those changeable weather days and with a spell of sunshine early afternoon I decided to pop to Shenstone to look for butterflies.

I started by undertaking my regular 'invert' walk around the Butts Lane area.  This proved very productive as I noted 14 Ringlet, 6 Meadow Brown, 2 Large Skipper, 1 Comma and 2 Small Tortoiseshell.  A Small/Essex Skipper was also observed but was too flighty to confirm id.

A Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnett and 2 Cinnabar Moths were also noted.  The Ragwort buds/flowers were were seemingly covered in the black & yellow caterpillars of the latter.

Other highlights included seeing my first patch Common Darter dragonfly of the year that was along the public footpath and recording an Ichneumon wasp that I hadn't seen before, Ichneumon sarcitorius.

On concluding the Butts Lane walk I headed over to Stanklyn Lane to check out the path at the edge of the 'beet field'.  I still call it that even though there is no beet present this year.  This is an area where I recorded Brown Argus last year but, as with Butts Lane, there was no sign.  The only butterflies recorded were a single Small Tortoiseshell and a Meadow Brown.

This area wasn't a complete loss as I recorded 4 Spotted Longhorn Beetles (Rutpela maculata) on the umbilifer flowers and a new one for the patch, a  Black-striped Longhorn Beetle (Stenurella melanura).

It was now time to head back home and watch Andy Murray give is all to be beaten by the brilliance of an inform Roger Federer.


Small Tortoiseshell

Cinnabar Moth

Cinnabar Moth Larvae

Ichneumon sarcitorius

Longhorn Beetles (Rutpela maculata) & (Stenurella melanura)

Saturday 7th July 2012 - Monkwood & Grimley

Today was Bev's day off and we had been contemplating going for a walk but the weather couldn't seem to make it's mind up as to what it was going to do.  In the end we thought "blow it!" and decided to go for a wander anyway.  I suggested to Bev either visiting one of the local butterfly reserves and in the end we decided on Monkwood.

During the walk we realised that, despite the dull conditions, many butterflies were still active.  During our circuit we observed no fewer than 15 White Admirals Ringlets and Meadow Browns were both numerous.  Large Skippers were now in fewer numbers than my previous visit 9 days ago. Strangely we only saw one Speckled Wood.  A single Comma was also noted. 

Day-flying moths were also well represented with 6 Silver Y and many Yellow Shell observed during our walk.

The recent wet weather had caused the path at the rear of the reserve to become a quagmire and in places the brook there had burst its banks and flooded.  Needless to say after persevering through the sludge for most of the path we took advantage off taking a rather overgrown ride that eventually joined on to the main ride.  unfortunately I lifted a large bramble branch out the way and it swung and hit Bev in the face leaving her with a scratched and rather swollen cheek...ooops! I thought I was going to be sleeping in the dog house tonight but she actually laughed about it and said "if we meet anyone else they will think you have been hitting me".  Ah well, at least I wouldn't bump into anyone I know or so I thought!  I bumped into not one but two separate people actually, first a butterfly enthusiast I know called Lloyd and then later Mark P...whats the chance....doh!

The reserve is also a good place to see Odonata and along one ride we ride we encountered a ♂ Emperor Dragonfly and a ♀ Common Darter.  At the ponds there were 3 Broad-bodied Chasers (2♂, 1♀) present.  Also of note were Beautiful Demoiselle, Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies.  Bev then called me over to see an interesting looking damselfly that was perched on some vegetation.  It was only an Emerald Damselfly, the first I've seen in the county.  I knew that they occur here but there was no sign last time.  In fact there was only this one today.  I texted Mark to let him know as I knew he was on a mission to see Emerald Damselfly at the mo.  Little did I know that he was already here to try the ponds for the said species.  I had to chuckle when I received a text back letting me know.

The wood was fairly quite in terms of bird activity but we were treated to the calls of a Tawny Owl.  A Marsh Tit was also heard calling during the walk.

From the reserve we walked just down the road to the common land known as Monkwood Green.  Here there were good numbers of Marbled White butterflies present.  We also noted 2♂ Common Blues chasing.  As always the green was chuffing with both Six-spot and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths.

On the way back home we decided to pop a couple of miles up the road to Camp Lane pits, Grimley.  On arrival we were saw an immature Hobby hawking over the north end.  This was no surprise considering the sheer numbers of Common Darters that were now present.  Black-tailed Skimmers were observed but in much smaller numbers than my last visit.  The highlight was again seeing a Red-veined Darter.  This time it was posing at rest on the branch of a sapling, I knew this was a good photo opportunity and edged closer.  I focused my camera and was just about to get the shot when it flew up to chase off a Common Darter and I couldn't relocate it....another time!

White Admiral

Large Skipper
(photo by Bev K)

Emperor Dragonfly (♂)

Emerald Damselfly
(poor record shot taken through binoculars)

Marbled Whites

I was just sat down with Bev this morning looking through some of her excellent macro shots from our recent visit to Monkwood, when I discovered that she had only photographed a ♀ Emerald Damselfly!  The photo is too good not to share...I only wish I had seen the damselfly in question!

Emerald Damselfy (♀)
(photo by Bev K)

Thursday 5th July 2012 - Captains Pool, Dunclent & Hartlebury

There was a rare occurrence today, it actually felt like summer.  Buoyed by the sunshine and blue skies I decided to have a few hours out looking for inverts. 

Captains Pool
My first port of call was 'on patch' and I paid a visit to Captains Pool to see what dragonflies and damselflies were present.  On arrival I quickly forgot about the Odonata (for a while at least) as I was greeted by the sight of 2 adult Common Terns performing well over the pool.  I watched them for about 10 minutes or so before they flew off heading North.  10 minutes later they returned and proceeded fishing for a similar amount of time before heading North again.  I am informed by Tony that this is a pretty much daily occurrence which leads me to believe that they are nesting at a nearby site.  More investigation required!

Also of note bird wise were 3 young Great Crested Grebe chicks that were travelling around on the parent's backs.  The chicks were first noted by TS on the 3rd of July and is welcome news as they were unsuccessful with their first brood.  A Cormorant, 8 Swifts, 2 House Martins and a immature Swallow were also noted at the pool.

In terms of Odonata there was a profusion of Azure Damselflies with many of them seen 'in cop'.  Blue-tailed Damselflies were also in good numbers but the only dragonfly noted was a single ♂ Broad-bodied Chaser.

The following butterflies and moths were also observed along the causeway:  2 Commas, 2 Ringlets, 1 Silver Y and 2 Cinnabar Moths.   Small numbers of early instar Cinnabar caterpillars were present on the Ragwort.

A Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle and a 2-spot Ladybird of the melanic form (f. quadrimaculata) were also noted along the causeway.

Common Tern (record shot)

Click on image to enlarge


2-spot Ladybird (form quadrimaculata)

From Captains I headed over to the nearby Pools at Dunclent to see if the Captains Pool Common Terns were nesting there.  The pools are actually due east of Captains but worth a check as they are the next closest  bodies of water with islands on.  It soon became apparent that the islands at the pools were over vegetated and the terns were definitely not nesting there.  Looking at the OS map they seem to be flying north over part of the town towards Podmore pool so perhaps that should be a place to check another day.

This walk wast a loss though as I did see a cracking Blood-vein moth along a tree-lined section of path.  A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, a Ringlet and 3 Cinnabar moths were also noted.

What was also nice about this walk was seeing all the stunning blue Cornflowers that were in bloom amongst the cereal field behind Heathy Mill Farm.  A sight that you don't see often enough these days!

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)


The final site that I visited was the grounds of Hartlebury museum to check if there was any sign yet of the Scarlet Tiger Moths.  Today I was in luck and counted 5 Scarlet Tigers.  This was welcome news as I wasn't sure how they had fared with this odd summer we are having.  A great way to round off a good day.  Pity it's going to rain again tomorrow!

Scarlet Tiger Moth