Wednesday 30 May 2012

Bioblitz timetable

The Safari now has the itinerary for the Bioblitz on Sunday...pick your faves...see you there! Can't wait for the worm charmer!!!

Not a lot of news today. Two distant Grey Seals on Patch a bit scary if they were on Patch 1...a Herring Gull clumsily plunge diving successfully for Sand Eels and later a couple of Sandwich Terns showing how to do it with finesse and elegance.
Where to next? More Patch 2 shenanigans tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know if anyone's charming the socks off the worms in your outback.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Owt about?

The Safari wasn't able to go to either patch this morning, Frank has a flare up of arthritis in his elbow and  is really struggling poor thing so patch 1 was  a no-no, still haven't had a Swift for Patch 1 yet, over the garden yes but not actually when we've been 'on patch'.
Got to work a little too late to go out on Patch 2 which could have been a disaster as there seems to have been lots about
But this little beaut had landed on the desk while we've been off.

Now all we need is the time to read and inwardly digest it...bring em'll probably see it's first serious action about 05.00 on Sunday morning at the first event of the North Blackpool Pond Trail Bioblitz...emptying the moth trap...See you there! The timetable for the day should be available anytime now so you can pick which you fancy, we're looking forward to learning a shed load from the worm expert!
A very heat haze infested Patch 2 at lunchtime gave us nothing of note, even the gulls on the beach were shrouded in shimmer so we'd have stood no chance with anything on the horizon.
Where to next? Hopefully we might be able to get out onto Patch 2 tomorrow morning before the sun creates too much shimmer.
In the meantime let us know what the bedtime reading is in your outback.

Monday 28 May 2012

More from yesterday

The Safari hasn't been out with the camera today so here are the remainder from yesterday.
Pottering around in the garden we found a Dandelion clock

The Aquilegias are looking good.

Our Spanish (hybrid?) Bluebells are just about finished although a few plants, like this one, are a little tardy.
Many people regard Herb Robert as a weed but the insect just love it!
This is the same jumping spider as yesterday.
This Zebra Spider inhabits the side of next door's garage wall. He's a bit too quick in the sunshine to get a pic of him like we did off the other one.
Several Blue Tailed Damselflies have now coloured up and are flitting around the garden.

Who's watching who?
On uor safari shaded rocks were also turned and we found several of these 'Hissing' Beetles.

We knew we were close to our quarry when we found this sloughed Slow Worm skin.

And here's the best of the rest...

 And once gently wrangled they were returned to their hidey-holes none the worse for their experience.
Our Extreme Photographer has a bucket load more pics from the Safari which we'll no doubt be able to share with you in due course.
Where to next? Might be able to have a butcher's at Patch 2 tomorrow all being well with the builders who are demolishing the large parts of the garden here at Base Camp today.
In the meantime let us know if you find it hard to get out in to your outback on Mondays.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Slow sort of a day

The Safari didn't get out til mid-afternoon, forgoing the opportunity to twitch a couple of Temminck's Stints and a Little Stint not too far from the nature reserve (where there are 44 marsh orchid sp to have a blimp at asap).
Then our Extreme Photographer came round and we were off out on a proper job safari...into the garden again. Where we found a jumping spider.

and our first Ruby Tailed Wasp of the season
We hit the road and headed east. The heat was hot in the valley. The scent of May blossom hung heavy in the air. We endured Nettle stings, thistle spines and even a Horse Fly bite but it was well worth it. Tiger Beetles would chew you to tiny bits if they were big enough!

But quarry of the day was a little bigger.
We were successful!!!
Our first Lancashire Slow Worm. Just one of hundreds of pics we took.
Oh and don't drink any more water...
This reservoir is about 15 feet (5m) down on what we normally see when we visit this site.
We had another crack at the moon last night and again failed to get the earthshine, although it was alot less evident; we reckon this is a better pic than yesterday's.
Where too next? Back to work tomorrow :-(
In the meantime let us know if you had success in your outback today.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Still windy but that sunshine is v. nice indeedy

The Safari was out early this morning, as soon as the sun hit our neighbour's dry stone bank along the edge of her garden. Here there is a colony of Mining Bees, perhaps two or more species. However, it was the Gooden's Nomad Bees we were after. Little beauts they are.

The sting could possibly be a tibial spur, couldn't see it on any other pics though...are they 'retractable', lying flat along the tibia at other times? Might have to get more pics tomorrow - there is one shot we haven't managed yet
Struggle a bit with Bumble Bees, this one is Red Tailed Bumble Bee, they never keep still and invariably have their face down in the flower. That combined with black eyes on a black face makes them a tricky subject...must try harder!

The bank has some lovely trailing patches of Wild Thyme which is well liked by the bees.

After a cuppa and a bit of breakfast we attended to the moth trap...but where were the moths? All we got was another Codling Moth and this unIDd midge thingy.
Last night we tried some snaps at the crescent moon. Not particularly happy with the result and we were hoping to catch some of the 'earth-shine that was visible later on. Sadly it drops behind the trees at the end of the garden at about this phenomenon occurs...don't particularly want to cut the trees down just for moon pics but we'll try again tonight to see if we can improve on this one.

Where to next? Perhaps another early safari tomorrow as it's a bit warm during the heat of the day for Frank to be out...he really enjoyed an evening swim in the sea today and we can conform the water was warmer than it was in Greece last week.
In the meantime let us know what's not performing for the lenses in your outback.
Just a quick weather note - yesterday was the hottest 25th May so far; today beat the previous 26th May's best  (2008) by a full 8C...both days sending the digital mercury to 26C...didn't feel like that in the 30mph (50kph) wind...what will tomorrow bring, a drop in the wind would help the invert photography.
Oh; and we had diddy Dunnocks in the garden this arvo - nice!

Friday 25 May 2012

Another scorcher - but very windy

The Safari set up the moth trap with high hopes last night.
Unfortunately the catch was very small. just a couple of Codling Moths and an escapee which could well have been a third.
Biggest was a Garden Carpet which was on the piece of wood the bulb is attached to rather than actually being in the trap itself.
This small nondescript Caddis Fly has been posted on iSpot but as yet there have been no IDs offered.
After a morning and half of the afternoon taken up by garden prep work we got out onto the North Blackpool Pond Trail for a shuffy, hoping for some Bee Orchids either in flower or at least buds in advance of the Bioblitz, which is now on its countdown.
Could only find these very small rosettes, the second one looks like it may have a starts of a bud forming.

Be(e) there or be square as they say!
Lots of Marsh Marigolds still in flower round the ponds and House Sparrows and Swallows everywhere.
The Swallows were attracted to the Horses or at least to the insects that are attracted to what comes out of the other end of the Horses.
Only a very few House Martins and no Swifts, although we did get one over the garden this morning (Garden #34). Anyone else noticed an apparent serious lack of these two so far this spring, or is it just us?
Also present were a couple of Whitethroats and a singing Sedge Warbler in the reedbed which was good. A pair of Mistle Thrushes gave a Magpie some serious gip.
Despite the very warm sunshine, although there was a stiff breeze, we only saw two butterflies both unIDd whites.
Once again the local gulls failed to put us onto any passing Honey Buzzards :-(
Where to next? Mothy will be on again tonight and tbh we don't expect to get much in this wind.
In the meantime let us know what's missing in your outback

Thursday 24 May 2012

Summer sun - for a change!

The Safari caught wind that we'd forgotten World Turtle Day yesterday. See here for some info from a couple of years ago. Fairly sure, or at least a definite maybe, we saw one close in off the wall towards the end of last summer, or was it the year before - time don't half fly when you're havin fun.
Today was spent mostly in the garden preping up for the builders next week -gonna be good - hope they finish before the long weekend and this glorious weather holds. Long weekend/glorious weather perhaps shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence in advance...kiss of death and all that!
After works were completed we did a bit of weeding and tying up the Wisteria, that's when we noticed there were a few teneral Blue Tailed Damselflies around the pond. We downed tools and grabbed the camera.

 Tried sneaking up on some

 And got pretty close despite the heat. This one had just landed on the garage wall after its maiden flight of about 5 yards.

Full size straight out of the camera just a crop to frame the face...a real beaut...really pleased with this pic!!!

Frank had us playing footy later on and we heard a Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and a couple of Blackcaps in the park; another Blackcap was in the Golden Triangle. Would have like a Spotted Flycatcher but they've probably all moved through quickly in this good weather.
An interesting looking isolated cloud formation developed on the way back down the hill.

Whilst out in the garden we kept an ear out for the gulls but they blatantly refused to find us a Honey Buzzard - the so-n-sos
Where to next? Moffy is on tonight...Lime Hawkmoths in the vicinity!
In the meantime let us know what's bubbling up in your outback.