15th April 2014 - Shenstone

The sunny weather continued and I started today's visit to the patch at Stanklyn Lane.  Walking the outside edge of Stanklyn Wood I recorded 2♂ Brimstone butterflies, 3 Orange Tip (2♂, 1♀), 1 Peacock and 1 Small Tortoiseshell.  In the gallops field the flower heads of  Ribwort Plantain were starting to show. 

Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Along Butts Lane I heard my first patch Willow Warbler of the year singing from the scrub opposite the entrance to Eastfields Farm.  At the farm itself a pair of Swallows had returned and were zipping around the farm yard and disused barns

The days highlight though came from Witch Lane where an incredible 14 Common Buzzards were soaring high up on the thermals (and no I don't mean of the under garment variety!)

I finished the rounds on Heath Lane where a number Nursery Web Spiders were observed amongst the tall vegetation of the roadside verges.

Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)

Monday 14th April 2014 - Monkwood NR

As today was a beautiful sunny day  I decided to pay a visit to Monkwood NR.  The reserve is co-owned and managed by Butterfly Conservation and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.  It is a fantastic woodland reserve that hosts an array of wonderful invertebrates.

I arrived just before mid-day and began my circuit around.  Butterfly numbers were impressive with the following recorded:  16 Brimstone (12♂, 4♀), 1 Comma, 2 Green-veined White, 20+ Orange Tip, 20+ Peacock and  6 Small Tortoiseshell.  One of the highlights on the butterfly front was seeing a pair of Brimstones doing there courtship flight along the one ride, flitting and spiralling around each other in close proximity like some sought of ritual dance...magical!

Brimstone - 14th April 2014

Green-veined White - 14th April 2014

Orange Tip (♂) - 14th April 2014

Also of note along the rides were good numbers of Large Bee Flies, included a few copulating pairs.

Large Bee Flies (Bombylius major) - 14th April 2014

In the area surrounding the ponds I observed 3 teneral Large Red Damselflies.  These were the first Odonata recorded in Worcestershire for 2014.

Large Red Damselfly - 14th April 2014

The days highlight though didn't come in the form of an invert but rather that of a bird.  Along the edge of one of the rides, reeling from deep within the scrubby vegetation was a Grasshopper Warbler.  The bird did 4 bursts of its grasshopper like reeling call from what sounded like a few feet away, then it went quite but for a rustling/scurrying sound in the undergrowth.  Do you think I could see the skulking little beggar?  Not a chance!

Sunday 13th April 2014 - Shenstone

This afternoon I undertook a quick whistle-stop tour of 'the patch'.  It was a lovely sunny day and a number of butterflies were active including Green-veined Whites, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells.  The butterfly highlight though was a stunning ♂ Orange Tip, my first on patch this year.
The day's highlight came in the form of a bird when a Hobby came through over Heath Lane heading WNW.  Also of note birdwise were a pair of Swallows that were flying around the stables/paddocks at Stanklyn Lane.  Many Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were also now in and busy singing away. Two Corn Buntings were perched up on the wires at Heath Lane, one of which was in good voice.
Another species of interest today was a Queen Red-tailed Bumblebee that I noted just off Witch Lane.  Along Heath Lane there was a fair amount of Shining Cranesbill in bloom
Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries)

Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum)

New blog posts coming soon

My apologies top readers of this blog for the lack of blog posts of late, I am aiming to start clearing the back log (or should that be blog log) very soon!

I have actually done a fair amount of wildlife recording and observations over the past month and have much to write about.  But for now, just to whet your appetite I will leave you with a few photos as a teaser of what's to come.

Check back soon

Small Tortoiseshell - Shenstone

Sand Martin - Grimley

Orange Ladybird - Chaddesley Woods

Sandwich Tern - Dorset

Friday 11th April 2014 - Captains Pool & Hillditch

Today I paid a visit to my beverage establishment of choice Tony's CafĂ©.  After refreshments I wandered down to the edge of Captains pool where the Treecreeper's nest had sadly been abandoned. It appears that the loose bark containing the nest had come way from the tree and the nest had all but fallen out.  A real shame!

Treecreeper's Nest (abandoned)

Also of note at Captains Pool was a ♂ Brimstone that fluttered past, my first on the patch this year.

From Captains Pool Tony & I headed over to Hillditch Pool near Hartlebury.  There wasn't much change in the butterfly species present since my last visit although Speckled Wood and Small White were first for the year.

Also of interest was a rather showy Chiffchaff , one of three singing there, that posed nicely for photos.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Thursday 10th April 2014 - Habberley Valley NR

Today I popped back to Habberley Valley to have another butchers at the Adders.  On today's visit there were less showing and I only recorded 3 Adders (2♂,1♀) in total.  One of the males was showing well but the other male was cuddled up next to the female and they both  disappeared into the undergrowth after seeing me.

Adder (Vipera berus) ♂

Adder (Vipera berus) ♀ ...honest guv

Whilst checking out the various areas of the valley I noticed an insect crawling over the leaf litter.  I immediately recognised it and was absolutely chuffed to bits...it was a Glow Worm larva.  On speaking to a friend of mine who works for the rangers service,  it turns out that Glow Worms had been historically recorded at the site but not for many many years.  Result!  I may have to pop back later in the year at dusk with me torch in a hope of recording the light emitting adult females.

Glow Worm (Lampyris noctiluca) larva

The number of Chiffchaffs singing in the valley had also increased with one of these vocal little leaf warblers being particularly showy.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Wednesday 9th April 2014 - Hillditch Pool & Shenstone

It was yet another glorious sunny day so I decided to pop back to Hillditch Pool for a spot of invert hunting and it certainly paid off.  Butterflies were a plenty with 4♂ Brimstone, 10+ Peacock, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Comma and a ♀ Orange Tip noted.

Other inverts of interest were a caterpillar of The Drinker moth and a Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum).  Many Alder Flies and White-lipped Snails (Cepaea hortensis) were also noted.

Alder Fly (Sialis lutaria)

The Drinker (Euthrix potatoria) larva

The highlight of the day though came in the form of a bird when a female Goshawk flew over and perched up in one of the large trees at the rear of the coppice.  The bird was out of sight and was calling on/off for a few minutes before taking flight again, coming back into view and heading off high in a SW direction...a really magical moment!

From Hillditch I decided to head over to 'the patch'.  Although it was starting to cloud over a little it was still mild and plenty of inverts were still on show.

I started my visit at Butts Lane/Barrs Lane where it was Shieldbug central with Dock Bugs and Pied Shieldbugs everywhere.  There had also been a bit of an emergence of Green Shieldbugs with a few pairs seen 'in cop'.  A Drinker moth larva was also noted here.

At the Stanklyn Wood the Bluebells were in full bloom and looking rather splendid.  A few clumps of Marsh Marigold were in flower in the damper areas and nearby a Coal Tit was busily singing away.

Along Stanklyn Lane 2 Swallows had returned and were busy hawking for insects over the paddocks and 3 Common Buzzards were up soaring over the gallops field. 

On the mown verge along the lane I found 6 fruiting bodies of the Yellow Fieldcap mushroom (Bolbitius titubans).

Heath lane was quiet but for a ♂ Kestrel perched on the wires next to the Islamic school.

Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor)

Tuesday 8th April 2014 - Wyre Forest (Shropshire)

It was a glorious sunny day today so Bev and I decided to undertake a walk in the Postensplain area of the Wyre Forest (Shropshire).  On arrival we bumped into fellow local birder Sean C who informed us that he had seen a Tree Pipit near the wood store.

Walking along the rides the warblers were in good voice with Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers all belting out their songs.  In the clearing/new plantation area past the wood store we picked up on Sean's Tree Pipit singing away and parachuting into the tree tops.  Also in this area were a flock of c.40 Common Crossbills, although there was no sign of the Two-barred Crossbills that had been present earlier in the year.

Common Crossbill (♀)

Also of interest during this walk was a Slow Worm basking amongst the dried bracken at the edge of a ride and an interesting little invert in the form of a Common Groundhopper (a close relative of the grasshoppers and a lifer for me).

All in all it was a very pleasant walk with the only downside being the lack of butterflies on the wing.

Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

Common Groundhopper (Tetrix undulata)

Monday 5th April 2014 - Shenstone

Spent a couple of hours this morning 'working the patch'...absolutely sweet Fanny Adams in terms of migrant birds and on the surface of it there seemed little in the way of inverts too, that is until I reached Barrs Lane/Butts Lane.  

At Barrs Lane I had a good mooch through the Nettles and other vegetation and found a couple of rather nice moth larvae, that of  Angle Shades and The Drinker.  Angle Shades, although not uncommon, was a new one for the patch...so what seemed at first a fruitless visit paid off in the end!

The Drinker (Euthrix potatoria)

Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulous)