Friday, 20 May 2016

Up on the hill down by the river

The Safari is currently incapacitated after yet another hand op. This disease/condition is really starting to wear a bit thin now!
Last weekend we had a couple of days freedom before going in to hospital and was able to have a good mooch round the garden and a safari further afield. While we were away on holiday the Great Tits have been busy

Today we were thrilled to see that at least one youngster has fledged. Much better than last spring when all the chicks died due to the terrible weather.
We also saw the first Goldfinch juveniles feeding in the garden, over a month earlier than last year when we assume early nests failed.
The Cowslips are still flowering
and our Clematis montana is a joy to behold, trouble is it's even better on the neighbour's (south) side of the fence!
One of our favourite wild flowers, Herb Robert, is just coming in to flower. There's lots in the garden which is good cos the bees love it.
On Sunday we picked up BD and had a drive out east and up hill. We went to the popular country park with a particular target species in mind. Although the sun was out it wasn't as busy as we'd expected we had the trails mostly to our selves save for the odd family out for a dog walk and/or picnic. 
In the peaty wetter areas off-piste where the conifer trees have been felled Cotton Grass was coming into flower.
It took a while before we heard the Guinea-Pig-like last few notes of our quarry's song. Once we heard it we soon located the singer and a rival! Tree Pipits (159), they gave great views as the made their song flights around the tree tops.
After enjoying the Tree Pipits for a good while BD suggested we take the lower path along the edge of the trees back to the car park. It turned out to be decision of the day when we came across two dark moths spiraling around each other. Unsure of their ID we waited for them to settle. It was then we saw they weren't moths at all but Green Hairstreak butterflies, a species we've not seen at this site for about 30 years - obviously we've missed them as we don't visit anything like as often as we did in the old days.

Before returning to the car we had a look round the pond where Bog Bean was in flower.
What weird and intriguing petals it has - what is all that fluffy stuff for? Does it help trap/direct pollinating insects?
One pollinator had a lucky escape when spotted it struggling in the water. A leafy stick was found to bring it to safety where it could dry out in the sun.
The main reason for visiting the pond was to see if we could find any dragons or damsels. We briefly saw a damsel and luckily (or should that be skilfully) BD was able to keep his eye on it when it went in to the trees and refound it several minutes later on a dead twig half way up a bush.
Back at the car a 'probable' Garden Warbler kept us entertained and guessing for ages but refused to show itself unlike the several Blackcaps singing in the same patches of bushes.
Footling round the sunny and sheltered car park gave us the opportunity to have a close look at some butterflies too, like this female Orange Tip.
Our Garden Warbler quest was abandoned and we headed to a nearby woodland. By now it was mid afternoon and the birds had gone quiet. Apart from the noisy Robins we only saw a Blue Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker. The scent coming from the carpet of Bluebells was delicious and worth the visit alone!
Time was passing now but we were still able to visit the river a mile or two downstream. Two women and their dog set off along the path ahead of us and probably flushed the Kingfisher (160) that whizzed past us in a hurry. That was our target bird here and we had hoped for perched views not the 100mph flight view we just had. We turned back hoping it would have stooped at the weir by the bridge. It hadn't, or at least wasn't there by the time we got there. Crossing the road we walked upstream. Still no sign of the Kingfisher but Chaffinches, a Pied Wagtail and several unseen fish were making the most of a Mayfly hatch.
Along the riverbank a male Orange Tip teased us by settling for minutes at a time but never very near and when it was closer it didn't settle for more than a few seconds not allowing a decent shot at it.
We had enough time left before returning to Base Camp to call in briefly at another site to look for Little Ringed Plovers. None were found on the pool but the Common Terns fishing along the canal were a joy to watch.
And so endeth our last excursion for at least a couple of weeks or so.
Where to next? It can only be garden news from Base Camp for a while and it could be a few days or more until we can hold the camera again.
In the meantime let us know who's been fluttering by in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

We've had a single Goldfinch fledgling in the garden, along with quite a few House Sparrows, & today a few noisy & greedy fledged Starlings turned up.
Good to see your birdbox is occupied, despite a relocation mine remain empty :(

Some fine photos there, with the Herb Robert, Green Hairstreak & Bog Bean catching the eye.