Sunday, 23 July 2017

Weekend wildlife wander

The Safari has had an enjoyable mooch about across several different sites this weekend. And thankfully the weather has been quiet kind and conducive to wildlife spotting. 
Recently we've been fretting about the loss of the Sneezewort at Monty's favourite walkies site. We were worried that all the tree planting that had been done on the site had shaded it out. Luckily it turns out it's still there and we'd been looking in totally the wrong place, those trees had changed our point of reference. Not only was it still there but there seemed to be more of it than we've seen in the past.
Sneezewort - phone pic
Well that was a relief! It was also a bit of a relief when we were allowed to go out to the nature reserve for a couple of hours with CR and without Monty.
We had three 'B's on our hit list. First was a Blackcap - yes we're still missing this on our Year Bird Challenge. No sight or sound of them on the walk in at all. Our first stop was at the Viewing Platform where we hoped a/the Bittern might be stood out in plain sight - it wasn't but four Herons were. Scanning round the water three Wigeon were a bit of a mid-summer surprise.
At the nest hide Reed Warblers flitted around teasing us as always.  Never giving us a clear view unless they hopped up to the top of the reed stem but when they did that they flitted off the instant the camera was raised towards them.

Still no Blackcaps were seen or heard in the scrub as we walked further down the trail...neither were any Bullfinches although to be fair this would be a corking bird to get a pic of at the reserve. We managed it once - just!  Annoyingly we had a cracking male in our sights once too but it was flushed by a dog on the 'wrong' side of fence a billi-second before we pressed the shutter button - grr grr and double grrr.
CR's sharp eyes picked out a couple of intriguing insects along the track. Some dark shiny black flies revealed bright yellow abdomens with a dark stripe.
Identified later in the day by GB by simply just using Google - now why didn't we do that? Sciara hemerobioides, a Fungus Gnat. Not knowingly recorded in our local area before.
CR also picked out a small micro-moth resting on a Black Knapweed head. This one took a little more persistence to get ID'd...eventually those clever local lepidopterists on Facebook provided an answer - Eucosma sp they weren't able to get it down to species level.
Whilst CR was loking for Common Blue butterflies we spotted a Whitethroat checking out a ripening Blackberry.
I found it - it's mine - now get lost!!!
No butterflies for CR unfortunately, it was a bit overcast and cool to be honest - the forecast was for all day sun.
Back at Base Camp the sun did come out and with Wifey out for the day we were in for the duration looking after Monty so we spent the time in the garden trying to get some pics of the insects that were buzzing around the Oregano plants.
Ersitalis tenax - a fluke the real subject had done a bunk from the flower
Myathropa florea - the 'Batman' hoverfly
Marmalade Hoverfly
Scaeva pyrastri
Great Pied Hoverfly - Volucalla pellucens
Look at those feathery antennae - almost moth-like
This morning we were out earlish with Monty, there was a mist lying over the low ground between us and the high ground of Bowland. Ah Bowland - where in a months time thousands of Red Grouse will be used as target practice and to provide the ridiculously large numbers of surplus Red Grouse the habitat is 'altered' dramatically to suit them and them alone and anything and everything that might prey on them is 'removed' legally or illegally as in the case of the Hen Harrier and other birds of prey. It's time for for things to change in our uplands...please get yourselves along to one of the Hen Harrier Days coming up soon and find out what really happens in our 'lovely' uplands.
Yesterday on Patch 1 we missed a Blackcap by seconds in the gloom under the trees, this morning there was lovely sunshine but no sign of any Blackcaps. Bizarrely there was a Moorhen poking around on the lawn by the pond, they are usually on the smaller but much more densely vegetated top pond.
A wander round the fields with the dog walking crew in the sunshine gave us a glimpse of the male Whitethroat and a soaring male Sparrowhawk and not a lot else.
Later in the morning we set off with Wifey and Monty for a wander in the dunes to the south. Mostly throwing a ball for Monty and supervising his meeting n greeting but we did have the camera with us on the off chance of something interesting. There's always something interesting in the world of wildlife!
Sea Bindweed
Common Centaury
We were hoping for the uncommon Grayling butterfly to put in an appearance. It didn't but yesterday's missing Common Blues were on the wing today.
As were several Gatekeepers.
Butterflies we would expect and we saw a few Burnet moths flying around but perhaps the most unusual find of the trip was this Smoky Wainscot moth - what was that doing out during the day - other than nectaring on Yarrow of course.
And so ended a pretty good wildlife filled weekend.
Where to next? Next weekend is National Whale and Dolphin Watch and we have a full programme of watches lined up for you to join.
In the meantime let us know who's put past their bedtime in your outback.


Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Charmed by the whitethroat pecking the blackberry but the hoverfly pictures are overwhelming in their detail and beauty. That probably sounds strangely over the top - but it's only in the last few years I've realised how many kinds of hoverfly there are.

I'm also letting people know that now I've moved to Halifax Loose and Leafy has moved to Halifax too - with a new blog site and new URL -

Conehead54 said...

Great selection of photos + particularly love some of the hoverfly shots.

cliff said...

So I was a day too early for the Common Blues :(

Enjoyed the walk & natter though, or should that be Gnatter?

You've got a fine selection of hovers in your garden there Dave, not had one of those Great Pied hovers in ours for a number of years. Cracking shots!

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