Saturday, 30 July 2011


The Safari's sleep was seriously disturbed by a very ill Frank hacking, retching and honkin up all night. Add to that a phone call, in one of Frank's quiet moments, from Wifeys work's burglar alarm company and you'll guess sleep was barely an option last night. So after taking Frank on just about the shortest version of a Patch 1 safari possible (did see about 200 Starlings coming from the direction of the pier in a few loose flocks) we headed to Preston to do a bit of twitching. Arriving in the city centre we immediately spotted another birder lurking on the street corner camera in hand...not even 07.30 yet! He'd seen one of the target birds very briefly a few minutes earlier but nothing since. We hung around with him then mooched up and down a couple of streets and eventually got the briefest of views of one of the Black Redstarts (192) before it flew over the roof-tops.

There has been some concern on the interweb over the potential for birders/photographers to disturb these Schedule 1 breeding birds but by 08.00 the streets were filling up and by 10 o'clock we reckon there would be thousands of shoppers bustling up and down the narrow lanes...we reckon that unless someone was working on the roof areas disturbance would be almost impossible.

Perhaps needing the attention of someone up on the roof is this specimen of Lesser Reedmace growing in the rather unusual place in the gutter. It is vegetation like this that has managed to cling on in awkward places aloft that provide the insects that feed the Black Reds.

What was most enjoyable to learn was the area we saw it in twice more was behind an old office we used to work from in Cannon Street, where many years ago we created a courtyard wildlife garden...wonder if it still there and if it is has been used by these avian urbanites? Would like to think so!

The bird showed about half way down the narrow street on the left, just past the van, on the roof line of the lower older buildings; it was one of those buildings, the second to furthest one was the one we used to work in. Almost too conveniently located opposite the chippy!

Not much else about, a few Swallows hawking around and a lone Swift. A brief view of something followed quickly by a flurry of Feral Pigeon activity suggested the something could have been a Peregrine.

With only three very brief sightings of the Black Redstart and no chance of a pic in over an hour we called it a day and went back to Base Camp to look after Frank while Wifey went out to get the week's supplies in.

More gardening was undertaken but far less intensive today as the hands needed frequent rests and we weren't up to the heavy duty stuff we were doing yesterday, so we set about a bit of light weeding,

We kept an eye on the sky and the other on the inverts and found a couple of leaf-mines on our idea who made them but there is a man that might

15 Swifts went over, with odds 'n' sods more during the day - that's the most we have in one go all season!!! A few Swallows went past with one House Martin seen later in the afternoon.

Butterflies were only represented by two Speckled Woods, two Large Whites and a Small White, all successfully avoided the Buddlieas which are going well over now.

We continued to look for the fluttering of butterflies and listening for the tweets and twitterings of small stuff going over and any raucous clamour from the gulls which might indicate a raptor going over high above in the azure ether. However every passing dot was either another gull, a 747 or a Willowherb seed.

Over the pond two Blue Tailed Damselflies were seen, one of them today was a teneral.

Rarity sighting of the day was two Starlings flying over NOT going to or from the roost at the pier.

More Swifts, with some Black Headed Gulls, were jinking and stalling after a swarm of flying ants.
Below is about half of the Mare's-tails we pulled out today. Gardeners enemy numbero uno, along with Water Plant and Quaking Grass in this garden!

Where to next? Mothy will be going out on that table tonight.

In the meantime let us know what's jinking and stalling in your outback.

From those very clever iSpotters we have some some bad news for Cliff - It is a Eumenid wasp rather than the Crabronid wasp, Argogorytes mystaceus. Eumenids (in common with Vespids) always fold their wings in this diagnostic fashion. So we live and learn; BTW what on earth is a Eumenid wasp and what do they do?


cliff said...

Evening Dave

I hope Frank is soon feeling better.

Re. "From those very clever iSpotters we have some some bad news for Cliff - It is a Eumenid wasp rather than the Crabronid wasp, Argogorytes mystaceus. Eumenids"

Your one looks pretty much identical to what I've previously photod in our garden, I've seen them visiting this last week too - BUT - after reading what your Ispotters say & on closer inspection of your photo it would seem there's one major difference.

My one was ID'd by Matt Shardlow of Buglife, but something he pointed out in his email to me was " It is quite similar to some mason wasps but has very orange legs" & looking at your one it has yellow legs, so my bad - it gets all so confusing this bug ID'ing lark.

BTW, I was photoing Graylings, Brimstones & an Adder today - & getting very sunburnt!


Cliff :-)

Monika said...

Sounds like a good day of all-around wildlife watching even without enough sleep to back it up! You remain 5 species ahead on the year list with the redstarts. :)

Interesting photos of the leaf mines. I've seen something similar and had no idea what made it - asked a ranger at the national park I was in at the time and they were clueless.

Anonymous said...

Dave, the leafmines are Chromatomyia primulae. Every Cowslip in my garden has them, too.