Monday, 11 September 2017

The last week, 5th - 11th September 2017

The last week has been a bit more entertaining to say the least. On Thursday, after spending a boring time in Sutton for most of the morning, I had an hour to do whatever I wanted to. I opted for a quick trip to see what Priest Hill Nature Reserve was like, with this small site often being visited by one of my favourite bloggers, Steve Gale, who has an excellent blog called North Downs and Beyond
When we arrived, for the 1st 100m, nothing was seen bar a single late Whitethroat which was beside the Glyn Playing Fields. Further on, having seen nothing else bar 30 odd Crows, a small bird flew out of a bush into the field, where it showed for 5 seconds, being a female Redstart. A half-decent bird to see here, and something of interest! It promptly flew off, over the playing fields.
After this, not a single bird was seen afterwards except a pair of Meadow Pipits which flew overhead. When heading back, an odd white-winged Crow landed on a tree a far way off. Other than that, it was fairly quiet. 

Yesterday I had a nice surprise. Whilst wicketkeeping at my home cricket ground Cheam Sports Club, I turned around and a small starling-sized bird landed on the pitch about 20m away. I turned back for the next ball, where I noticed it fly across the pitch, with the tell-tale white rump on the back showing clearly. Once the game ended, and the drizzle ceased briefly, I went outside (camera-less) to see my Wheatear; it was a male, which pleased me even more! I got a few poor pictures of it with my phone and a quick video proving what it the drizzle and wind picked up again.

Wheatear at Cheam Cricket Club - I declare the worst video on Blogging history!

Today, 2 Meadow Pipits flew over Wilson's School, towards Roundshaw Downs and a Buzzard flew high over. Not a bad week, considering I've not been birdwatching!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Morden Hall Park frustration 5th September 2017

Though more in hope of a miracle, and without a camera, I had 15 minutes in Morden Hall in between the showers. With nothing seen except a Robin and parakeets up till a stream, I was about to go back when I spotted a woodpecker-like bird fly from the ground under some trees up to an angled tree, which made me look twice. It then went round the tree, then flew off South. The most frustrating thing is that on first glance it looked like a Wryneck - something which I have never seen before, but was such a brief sight that I couldn't get a detailed look. 
A few metres on, a small warbler was leaping around in a bush. It looked like a Chiffchaff, but quite pale and an odd long bill. When I approached it, expecting to see it dart off, it stared at me for 10 seconds from 3 metres away.  Another problem - no camera, so the only picture I got was an awful phone picture. It then flew off into a hedge not to be seen again. My impression was almost of a Dusky Warbler, but that was just excitement and I know that it was a youngish Chiffchaff. 
On the way out, a Kingfisher flew by and a Little Egret was wading in the distance. 
Very frustrating. 
This morning I found this butterfly in the garden, but I can't tell what it is I have never seen an outerwing like this before. If you know please comment below.

butterfly sp.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The problem with being a nature-enthusiast

It really has been very boring after being back in Surrey. My poor life bird list only stands in the 170s, and since I can barely get out of the house, let alone the county, at the moment I can't see it budging for a good while! Liking nature does have its downfall - sometimes very little happens for what feels like a long time.
Last week, we went up to the Peak District and Knutsford for a couple of days - we saw the Manchester United-Leicester match then came back home overnight. During those few days, we had a night with cousins in Earl Sterndale, where a morning walk produced several Nuthatch and Chiffchaff, a Wheatear which my mum saw but I didn't, a ton of Buzzards and a probable Osprey which was heading SE. We also went for a walk in Tatton Park, Knutsford. Along with loads of deer, there was, of course, a Stonechat, Great Crested Grebes, a Whinchat and a Water Rail. I was without the camera or telescope, and just had my binoculars. I got very bored, and even tried a phone x bino scoping, which somehow, just about, pulled off.

Red Deer
I finally got some good news, having been asked to a junior volunteering camp at Arne in October. This should be something different and sounds exciting, and I am sure to meet some new people and see and help some good wildlife. With holidays ending, and the chance of getting out to a (good) nature reserve out of the question, it's slightly frustrating.
Last week, a quick walk to Wandsworth Common had [no Night Heron,] a Hobby, 2 Sparrowhawk, a few GSWs and a few Chiffchaff. In the garden we found a Vapourer moth caterpillar - a rather sinister looking creature which is still moving around the same place.
Tomorrow I might sneak a little visit to Morden Hall, where I might be lucky to see something unusual. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ham Wall RSPB - 16th August 2017

To be honest, with school creeping up on me, I completely forgot about this. Two weeks ago, on our way back from Cornwall, we stopped off at this reserve.
On the way there, I spotted a few Buzzard, Hobby etc and another bird which I'm about 80% sure was a Honey-Buzzard, somewhere between Okehampton and Taunton. From a moving car I'm not saying anything confidently though. 
When we pulled into the car park at Ham Wall, I saw a new mammal for me. A Stoat darted across the car park, towards the longer grass. As we reached the first viewing platform, a single Reed Warbler darted around and a few twitchers said that a Great White Egret was skulking around, as was a Bittern. Though we saw neither at this point, a Kingfisher flew by and several Little Egret were fishing. As we walked on, I got an incredible 1 second view of the Glossy Ibis flying off into a channel about 200m away. There was also a pair of Marsh Harriers circling over that area, possibly the cause of the Ibis' departure. However, another Great White Egret flew in from the East. 

Great White Egret
Marsh Harriers

Great White Egret
Stonehenge with a Starling
The light was so poor I couldn't get any more decent pictures. We left soon after, after seeing a bittern fly into the reeds. On the way back to London, we drove past Stonehenge where a few common birds were seen. 

The day after, while filling a feeder up in the garden a few alarm calls alerted to me to a Sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk alerted me to another raptor much higher up, slowly drifting North East. With only a pair of binoculars, I could make out the orange cap and broad wings of a Marsh Harrier, a nice surprise. Since then, barely anything has been seen bar a few final Swifts and Swallows heading south. On the 27th, while playing a cricket match at Cheam cricket club, another first for me flew over calling - a single Yellow Wagtail. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Cornwall - Day 7, Rame Head Peninsula, 15th August 2017

The last day in Cornwall was spent in the village of Kingsand and the Rame peninsula. With a 5 hour journey back the day after, we settled for staying closer rather than going to St Ives. We reached Kingsand for about 11, where we hung around for a bit. I spotted a few Tern a fair distance off the coast, and also a small pack of Dolphins. 

juv House Martins
When we arrived at Rame, a Willow Warbler popped out and a few Linnets flew off. After talking to a few Coastguards, we walked on and saw 3 Raven, 9 Gannet, 2 Fulmar, 2 Shag, 3 Cormorant and 4 Swallow. A possible Dartford Warbler avoided being a first for me, and a pair of Goldfinches fed on thistle. A family fishing party of Gannet dived distantly. 

When we started to walk off, a Lesser Whitethroat flew along a hedge and obviously another Stonechat appeared. 

Meadow Brown

juv Stonechat
There were plenty of Linnet, and butterflies with 5 Wall Brown, common species and a single fritillary which flew by rapidly. As we reached a clearing, I heard a bird singing and spotted it from the top of a hedge. A nice surprise with a nice voice was a Cirl Bunting, also a life tick. I saw several in Spain last year (an incredible week in Aracena - north of Sevilla- was very rewarding with 99 species seen.) After a few seconds it flew over us, towards dense scrubland. 

Cirl Bunting
Fortunately, 3 Swift flew overhead - some of the last of the year. At one point this little beetle scampered across the path. 

Bloody nosed beetle?
As we crossed a field, another Whitethroat evaded the camera. On the church this caterpillar was climbing up the wall. 
White ermine moth caterpillar?

When we left, a Kestrel was hovering very nearby and dived and hate something - it was hardto tell what, but looks like a cricket?


Kestrel and ex-cricket?
A nice last day in Cornwall. With a 5 hour journey back, there was bound to still be something to see!