12th & 13th May 2014 - Dorset (part 2)

Monday 12th May (am) - Corfe Castle
This morning me and the old ruins (sorry ladies) headed to visit another old ruin, Corfe Castle.  I wasn't expecting to see much in the way of wildlife but me being me I kept my eyes peeled and actually saw a few interesting bits and pieces between the showers.  The highlight being a Wall butterfly that was flitting around the remains of the keep.  Also of interest was a family of Ravens (including 2 juveniles) that were perched up on the highest point of the castle.

Juvenile Ravens at Corfe Castle

Monday 12th May (evening) - Hartland Moor
This evening I went solo and decided to pay a visit to the Stoborough side of the moor just before dusk.  I was hoping to hear a Nightjar churring as it went dark but alas no such joy.    That said earlier that evening I had some cracking views of a ♂ Dartford Warbler singing away from a gorse bush, flushed a Woodlark and had a close encounter with a  Sika Deer.  Then bit later on I saw a nice herd of Sika feeding on the short lawns on the NE edge of Stoborough Heath.  They looked resplendent in the evening sunshine whilst the sound of a nearby Cuckoo calling filled the air...magical.  I really do love lowland heaths!

Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)

Sika Deer Herd - Stoborough

Click on image to enlarge

Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata) ♂

Tuesday 13th May (am) - RSPB Radipole Lake
This morning we visited the RSPB's Radipole Lake Reserve.  This reserve really is a bit of a wildlife oasis situated in the heart of Weymouth.  The reserve was full of the sound of singing warblers with the Reed Warblers being particularly vocal.  Every so often we were also treated to the explosive call of one of the reserves many Cetti's Warblers.  A Sandwich Tern was out fishing over the open water.

The highlight for me though was getting cracking views of the ♂ Marsh Harrier hunting quite close over the reed bed.  The ♀ Harrier also put in an appearance.  From the hide I also found a cracking ♂ Whinchat flitting down to ground in typical chat fashion from a scrubby bush.

Whinchat ♂ (record shot)

By the visitors centre we were treated to good views of a party of Bearded Tits that came through (although none wanted to pose for the camera). On the island opposite a Common Sandpiper was working it's way along the shore line.

Bearded Tit..."No, I won't pose for a photo!"

Tuesday 13th May (pm) - RSPB Lodmoor
In the afternoon we undertook a walk around the RSPB's other Weymouth reserve, Lodmoor.  Lodmoor is situated on the edge of the town and boasts a mosaic of reed bed, open water, saltmarsh, wet grassland and scrub.  

We didn't add any new birds to the day's tally but with the sun shining it was a good walk for Inverts.  A highlight being some really fresh looking Wall butterflies.  The Wall (or Wall Brown as it is sometimes known) used to be a fairly common butterfly across the country but the population crashed during the last 20 years and now it is predominately a coastal butterfly.  It is very scarce now in my native Central England with just small populations dotted about at a handful of quarried sites.  It get's it's name from basking on walls, rocks and stony places.

Wall (Lasiommata megera) 

An immature Broad-bodied Chaser was showing well and a number of moth larvae were found including The Drinker, The Lackey & Scarlet Tiger were encountered during the walk.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

Scarlet Tiger (Callimorpha dominula) larva

The Lackey (Malacosoma neustria) larva

Sunday 11th May 2014 - Dorset (part 1)

Right, I am re-embarking on my quest to try and get this blog up to date (who knows I may get there before 2014 is over!)  Anyway, on with the posts...

This post is covers part of our recent break away down Dorset.  We stayed just out side of Wareham and Bev & I were joined by her sister Nat.  Which was a bonus as it now meant there were 3 sets of eyes on the look out for wildlife!

Tynham and Worbarrow
I don't normally deviate from the wildlife but Tynham deserves a special mention as it is such a fascinating place.  The village of Tynham is located on the MOD's Lulworth ranges and is only open when the firing ranges are not in use.  The land was obtained by the MOD by compulsory purchase order just after the second world war and all its inhabitants were forced to leave.  What is left is basically a ghost town of empty shells of buildings.  I really is an eerie place.

Tynham Village

From Tynham we walked down to the nearby (and rather stunning) Worbarrow Bay.  Along the path to the we encountered a few interesting moth larvae including a rather gorgeous Garden Tiger moth caterpillar.  At the bay itself we were greeted by good views of Rock Pipit (although none would stay still long enough to have their photo taken).

Garden Tiger (Arctia caja) Larva

Worbarrow Bay (photo by Bev Kernohan)

Hartland Moor NNR
Pre-armed with info from a friend (and known reptile botherer) Tracy F we headed to a new site, Hartland Moor.  I had never been to this huge area of lowland heath before but was well impressed and visited a number of times throughout the week.  My prime aim of visiting this site was to try and see a Sand Lizard and after a bit of searching around I did just that! I managed to find a rather stunning ♂ Sand Lizard basking in all its green-hued glory.  Result! this was a lifer for me....cheers for the hints and tips Trace! 

Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) male

Click on image to enlarge

The moor didn't stop giving as I recorded yet another lifer in the form of a Grass Eggar moth larva.  This is a fairly scarce moth of coastal sand dunes and acid grasslands that is not found in my native Midlands.  It's large hairy bright yellow caterpillar really is quite stunning.  Other inverts of interest on the moor were 3 really fresh looking Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies and a Green Hairstreak butterfly. 

Grass Eggar (Lasiocampa trifolii) Larva

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Things were pretty good birdwise too, with families of Stonechats everywhere and Tree Pipits singing from the tree tops.

♂ Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Heath Lane Travellers Site Planning Application

The proposal for a travelling show people site along Heath Lane went to planning committee this week and they agreed to refuse the application, as recommended by the WFDC planning officer. 

The committee meeting can be viewed at the following webcast:

The planning officer's report can be read by clicking on the following link:http://npa.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/Anite...s/00137549.pdf

Finally, I would like to thank all of you who raised their concerns and put in objections to this proposal. Every voice helped and at least for now Worcestershire's Corn Bunting stronghold is a little more secure.


Corn Bunting - Stone, Worcestershire

Tuesday 6th May 2014 - Wyre Forest

Today, I headed into the Shropshire side of the Wyre Forest with my old mate Tony S in tow.  Weather wise the day was the visit was a bit indifferent with the weather seemingly changing from sunny to cloudy every few minutes.
We began by walking down one of the perimeter rides of the rocket testing facility ( I kid you not...those bangs don't half make you jump!).  On the sandy areas of the ride small numbers of both Green Tiger Beetles and Andrena barbilabris mining bees were noted.

Andrena barbilabris (♂)

Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris)

Adjacent to the wood store a Tree Pipit was in good voice singing from the power lines.  Two more Tree Pipits were in the clear-felled area past the wood store, with one observed feeding down on the ground.

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

On the track between the wood store and the clear fell we observed our only Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the day.  It was a day that would transpire to be all but butterfly less.  The only other notable Lepidoptera were the half a dozen Speckled Yellow moths that we encountered on the wing.

Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia)

That said butterflies aside it was still an enjoyable walk made more enjoyable by seeing 3 Common Lizards scurrying away from us across the rides.  One of which was even obliging enough to stay still for a few seconds to have his photo taken. 

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Monday 5th May 2014 - Penny Hill Bank NR

Bank Holiday Monday's are a nightmare for traffic around Kidderminster (especially when it's sunny) as half the population of South Birmingham and the Black Country seem to head out to the Safari Park, Stourport on Severn and Bewdley next the Sea.  Needless to say this can cause some serious bottlenecks in the local area and it's because of this that I usually head out further south into Worcestershire away from the hordes.  Today was no exception and I headed to Penny Hill Bank Nature Reserve near Martley.

On arriving at the reserve I bumped into fellow blogger (and top local wildlife artist) Phil Mumby (http://www.philmumby.blogspot.co.uk/).  Accompanying Phil were his Dad & young daughter. I have to say it's great to see younger generations being encouraged to look at nature.  We stopped and nattered for a while (as you do) and Phil showed me where he had found a rather fetching ♀ Common Newt at rest.  Next to the newt was an equally stunning Glossy Glass Snail.   Also of interest was a Slow Worm that we found under one of the inspection sheets.

♀ Common Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) & Glossy Glass Snail (Oxychilus navarricus)

After a while we parted ways and I continued my mooch around the site.  On the reserve itself there were good numbers of Greater Butterfly Orchid starting to show, although they were still only in bud.  An Early Mining Bee and a small number of Adela reaumurella longhorn moths were also noted on the reserve. A Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana) was also observed

Early Mining Bee (Andrena haemorrhoa)

Adela reaumurella (♀)

I then decided to walk part of the footpath above the reserve that runs next to the former landfill site.  This was the most productive area in terms of the butterflies with good numbers of Dingy Skipper on the wing. Three Green Hairstreaks were also recorded although none of them wanted to play ball and have their photo taken...ah well!  

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages)

Tuesday 29th April 2014 - Chaddesley Woods NNR

This afternoon Bev and I decided to take advantage of the continuing nice weather and undertake a walk at Chaddesley Woods.  Chaddesley Woods are a National Nature Reserve managed by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and in Spring it boast one of the best displays of Bluebells in the county.

As expected the Bluebells were absolutely resplendent and, along some of the rides their sea of blue was broken up by the lovely pure white of the Greater Stitchwort.

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) & Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)

Good numbers of ladybirds were seen during the walk with a highlight being the rather aptly named Orange Ladybird, a species that I hadn't seen before.  Also of interest were a couple of 14-spot Ladybirds, the first ones I had seen this year.

Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata)

14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata)

Monday 28th April 2014 - Grimley

Today I had a long overdue catch up with my old mate (and cantankerous old so & so of legend) Tony S.  The weather wasn't great for inverts so we decided to do a bit of birding at Grimley gravel pits. 

On arrival at Camp Lane we soon picked up the Whimbrel that had arrived the previous day feeding in the field along the shore line on the East side.  These large Curlew-like  waders are passage migrants through Worcestershire and generally only tend to stick around for a day or two to feed up.

Whimbrel (distant record shot)

Also of note at Camp Lane pits were a Common Sandpiper, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Redshank, and 2 Wigeon.  A number of Sand Martins were present as were 2 Swifts.

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

Another highlight of the visit was when a cracking ♂ White Wagtail came and perched on the wire fence near where we were stood on the causeway.  The White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is the mainland European equivalent of the Pied Wagtail. Our native British Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) is actually a subspecies.  In Worcestershire small numbers are encountered each year during the migration periods.  A number of Pied Wagtails were also present at Camp Lane.

♂ White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Wagon Wheel Lane pits were quiet but for 4 Oystercatchers.  Holt Sling Pool was similarly as quiet with only a further 2 Oystercatchers of note.  Still it had been an enjoyable few hours birding and even the company wasn't too painful!

21st -26th April 2014 - Shenstone & the surrounding areas

Monday 21st April 2014:
It was yet another mild sunny day so I decided to undertake a walk around the Heath Lane stretch of the patch to record the inverts.  It proved to be a productive move as I recorded 5 Common Footman moth larvae and 1 Scarce Footman larva on the fence posts along the lane.  The caterpillars of both of these species feed on lichens, of which there are plenty on the fence posts and dead wood along Heath Lane.

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) larva

Scarce Footman (Eilema complana) larva

Also of great interest was discovering a Forest Bug nymph (a species of shield bug that I hadn't previously recorded on patch).   Another invert goody came in the form of a 24-spot Ladybird.  This tiny little ladybird actually has fine hairs on it's wing cases. Other species of Ladybird recorded along the lane today were 2-spot, 7-spot and Harlequin.
24-spot Ladybird (Subcoccinella 24-punctata)

Wednesday 23rd April 2014:
This morning I undertook a quick whistle-stop of Shenstone before heading off to do my voluntary work at the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre.  This turned out to be a good call a I recorded a fall of 12 Northern Wheatears, all on the south side of the patch. 

On the plough at Witch Lane there were 6♂ and 2♀ Wheatears present on the fresh plough and at Curslow Lane there were a further 3♂ & 1♀ Wheatears, also on the plough.  This was to be the biggest fall of Wheatear on the patch this year in what had been otherwise a very poor Spring migration.

Also of note at Curslow Lane on the upper ploughed field were 2♂ Yellow Wagtails, 1♂ White Wagtail and 3 Pied Wagtails.

Common Whitethroats were now arriving back on patch with singing males noted at Stanklyn Lane, Heath Lane and Butts Lane.

Thursday 24th April 2014:
6 Northern Wheatears were still present on the freshly ploughed field at Witch Lane this morning.

Saturday 26th April 2014:
I only had time for a quick scoot around today but was really pleased to see 7 Corn Buntings at the Podmore end of Curslow Lane.  A ♂ Corn Bunting was up singing on the wires and 6 others were perched nearby on the hedgerow below.  Two Yellowhammers were also noted here.

Just down the road, in the potato field along Ryelands Lane, there were  2 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Pied Wagtails present.

At Hartlebury there were now 2 Little Grebes present at the small pools.

Back on patch there was little of note but for a Little Owl that was observed sat partially hidden in one of the trees.

Little Owl (Athene noctua)