Mark Hows - 2020 Wildlife Blog

Me
Welcome to my wildlife blog - I will chronicle my exploits looking for wildlife in the UK and post links to trip reports from further afield. I have plenty of target species this year from Plants and fungi to Ladybirds and plenty of things in between and tracking these down will keep me busy. I will be doing plenty of mammal watching and there will be some twitching in the mix as well which should keep me out of trouble - hopefully! and all this will be fuelled by lots of Chips and Ice Cream.
 

September

Wednesday 22nd - Local Ladybirds

Forestier's Ladybirds

I had a quick look round my garden for ladybirds and came up with 5 species in 15 mins. 7,22 spot, harlequin, red headed and Forestier's Ladybirds.

Sunday 20th - Snettisham Spectacular

Waders Brown Shrike

I had a very early start arriving at Snettisham in the dark, the walk to the beach was uneventful but as dawn broke the spectacle started. I have been to the waders roost many times but still really enjoy it and this morning was no exception, a couple of brown hares in the surronding fields as I headed off. I popped into Titchwell for a quick wander before the crowds, a nice ruff, several greenshanks and a small flock of bearded tits of note. I went to Warham Greens to see the Brown shrike which was showing quite nicely and had a nice water vole in one of the ditches. Late afternoon I popped to see Stuart Read who had found a Bronze shieldbug.

Chips - Mother Hubbard, Swaffham - Battered Sausage and Chips 8/10

Saturday 19th - Quick Dock

Marsh Dock

I was busy with other things but managed to pop into Oxford as I was passing to see marsh and curled docks.

Friday 18th - Work Worry

House Cricket

At work I am the wildlife person so everyone contacts me for help, so today panic as someone had found a cockroach, but when I went to see it was a house cricket which I have seen occasionally at work which possibly come in on international deliveries.

Thursday 17th - Breckland Bugging

Pine Hawkmoth

I headed into the Brecks for the afternoon looking for ladybirds at some new sites, the first site I had loads of pine ladybirds along with cream streaked, 7, 16, 22 and 24 spot, but the find was a pine hawkmoth caterpillar along with a mating pair of spiked shieldbugs. Next stop had 7, 16, 22, 24 and round keeled ladybirds.

Wednesday 16th - Bournemouth Blank

Brown Galingale

I headed to the New Forest on a cracking day, a quick detour to Southampton for Nettle leaved goosefoot. In the Forest I made a stop for wood cricket which I missed on the last trip. But today I had loads mostly nymphs but several adults. Next stop where I finally connected with chaffweed a tiny and difficult plant which has eluded me all summer. A couple of stops for brown galingale and copse bindweed before stopping for chips. Then to Bournemouth for shieldbugs where I bumped into Dave Shute on the same mission, but all we could find were the common specues brassica, hairy and southern green.

Chips - Ferndown Fish and Chips, Ferndown - Battered Saveloy, pea fritter and chips 8/10

Sunday 13th - Super Shrike

Red Backed Shrike

The moth trap had a rather meagre catch but a few nice moths Autumnal Rustic and frosted orange the pick. I was heading to Tamworth for non wildlife related stuff but made a stop at Sutton park for the cracking and confiding red backed shrike. My journey home I stopped at several sites for elm micro species including Plots, Large toothed, Midland, Jersey, Luffenham, Laxton Elms.

Saturday 12th - Welsh Wonders

Smaller Tree Mallow lobed maidenhair spleenwort

A very early start and I arrived in Tenby on a beautiful morning, here the small tree mallow was flowering profusely on the beach front along with some wall germander. I left before it got busy and headed to Bosherton, the cliffs here are home to rock and small sea lavender both were in their final with only a couple of flowers. Next stop was Oxwich, a packed beach was avoided and instead I explored the sand dunes alone. Here amongst the plentiful ?? eyebright, knotted pearlwort, common rock rose and seaside centaury I was searching for dune gentian. There was lots of autumn gentian to search through but I stumbled upon a few marked plants which made it easier to get my eye in and I found another couple myself. I was a glorious day so I headed to Porthcawl for chips on the seafront, feeding a large flock of starlings with the left overs. I headed to Chepstow where I found the lobed maidenhair spleenwort growing on the walls of the castle. Last stop was in the Forest of Dean where I set up my moth traps for the night.

Chips - The Boat House, Porthcawl - Battered Sausage and Chips 8/10

Friday 11th - Marvellous Martin's Meadow

Meadow Saffron

I was heading to Martin's meadow for meadow Saffron but had a quick detour to Landguard for some prickly saltwort before the amazing spectacle of Meadow saffron at Martin's Meadow. I took a look for ladybirds and bugs 7 and 10 spot, harlequin ladybirds along with Common Green and red legged Shieldbugs all I could muster. I stopped off for prominent toothed elm before heading to work.

Sunday 7th - Bournemouth Blow Out

Galingale Wall Lizard

I headed to the Lower Test Nature reserve for buttonweed then onto Purbeck for Galingale and Purbeck sea Lavender. But I spent the majority of the day in Bournemouth looking for shieldbugs, I only found brassica and hairy shieldbugs, plenty of 22 spot ladybirds along with a couple of ice creams. There were plenty of wall lizards in the sunny periods but a couple of rain showers got rid of most of the tourists.

Chips - Poulner Fish and Chips, Ringwood - Saveloy, Pea fritter and Chips 8/10

Saturday 6th - Brief Beaks

Beaked Earthstar

Just one brief stop today for some beaked earthstars in a churchyard which was on the way to a tourist destination.

Friday 5th - Suffolk Scymnus

Oak Scymnus

I headed to Cornard Mere after work for some ladybird hunting, 7, 22 and 24 spot, cream spotted, harlequin and round keeled rhyzobius but the prize was an oak scymnus. A few nice plants such as golden dock, red goosefoot and water chickweed were present and I had a nice afternoon. Later I headed to the Lee Valley where Andrew Jewels had found some late instar Southern green shieldbugs.

 

August

Monday 31st - Kent Calling

Large Conehead

I had a later start than the previous day and headed to Kent arriving at Ashford mid morning, here hidden behind a Tesco superstore was the delicate few flowered fumitory. I tried for some shieldbugs without success so headed to the coast here I found a angle spotted ladybird and sharp rush at Ramsgate. I popped into Sandwich Bay for more shieldbugs and found some heath shieldbugs during a brief search. It was time for chips before heading to Dungeness. Here with some amazing help from the Obs crew we managed to locate 3 of the large coneheads recently discovered at the site. We also had tree crickets, sickle bearing bush crickets and the cockroach Ectobius montanus top night.

Chips - The Chippy, Greatstone - Saveloy, Cheese fritter and Chips 8/10

Sunday 30th - Cracking Chilterns

Down Shieldbug Edible Dormouse

An early start for green figwort which was easily found, my next target was a little harder as I had limited information, and after about an hour all I could find was some Nodding bur marigold. I headed into the Chilterns for Chiltern gentian and some nice Silver spotted skippers, most of the other butterflies were looking past their best. I headed to another site abundant with autumn gentians, but I was after a much smaller plant the bastard toadflax and more importantly the rare Downs shieldbug which relies solely on this plant. I found one juvenile during a painstaking search of the short turf. After visiting family locally I headed home through the Chilterns, via a couple of sites for violet helleborines which had all just gone over including the var rosea. It was time for some chips and then a stake out in Wendover woods for edible dormice which were very skittish and it took some effort to get a few photos.

Chips - The Chippy, Thame - Just Chips 8/10

Thursday 27th - Terrific Therfield

Adonis Blue

A leisurely pre work visit to Therfield Heath to see the Adonis blues and easily found plenty and in the rather cool conditions made them easy to photograph. A few rather tatty Chalkhill blues and a common blue and a broen argus also of note. I tried for ladybirds and quickly found a couple of 18 spot along with a single pine and several 7 spot. I had time for a quick visit to Cherry Hinton to see how the Autumn gentians were doing before work.

Monday 24th - Water Water Everywhere

Water Germander

A pre work visit to Kingfishers Bridge to see the very rare (but not here last estimate was in the millions) water germander, some golden dock and a nice great white egret was present as well during the visit on a rather nice sunny morning.

Sunday 23rd - Empty Essex

Peninsula Elm

I popped down to Canvey Island to do a spot of ladybird hunting but did not get much at all, 7, 14, 16, 22 and 24 spot and Adonis, but a few nice plats, lax sea lavender and rose campion the pick. I headed home via a few Elm microspecies ,Peninsula, Smooth leaved and Dwarf leaved elms.

Saturday 22nd - A Forest Forage

New Forest Shieldbug Ivy Leaved Bellflower

A day out in the New Forest, a nice hedgehog in the village as I left. Conditions were very mixed blustery and heavy rain showers made bug hunting difficult and I could not find wood cricket, but I did have some success with woodland grasshopper, New Forest shieldbug and Cepero's groundhopper. Some nice plants such as Ivy leaved bellflower, small fleabane and dwarf spike rush. I finished the day at Sandy Point where sea knotgrass was my target and I found a dozen or so plants before heading home.

Chips - Poulner Fish and Chips, Ringwood - Spring roll, Mac n Cheese bites and Chips 8/10

Thursday 20th - More Breckland Bugs

Schmidt's scymnus

An afternoon visit to the Brecks after work, to one regular site and a couple of new sites and glad I did. A Schmidt's scymnus at a new site amongst the commoner species of round keeled rhyzobius, adonis, 7, 14, 16 and 22 spot. A few nice shieldbugs as well forget me not and spiked the pick. Some cut leaved nightshade and tansy of botanical interest.

Tuesday 18th - What a Beauty

Beautiful marbled

I usually run three skinner type moth traps but they do suffer in the rain, so recently I built a rain cover for my triple actinic and only put this trap out to test the rain cover. The rain cover worked and I had plenty of moths mostly common wainscot along with the usual willow beauty, square spot rustic, green carpet, whitepoint, orange swift etc. the best moth being a vapourer on the outside of the trap. I was tidying up and saw a moth on the electrics box which flitted up onto the side of the trap and I quickly potted it and wow a Beautiful marbled although a little bit worn. This was a very rare moth until this year when there have been many records. A noteworthy record from my garden, which despite being in a village we are surrounded by an arable wasteland and the number of moth species is a little restricted.

Saturday 15th - Essex Elms

Common Bladderwort

I made a quick visit to Kent but was unsuccessful with Rough mallow yet again, now my bogey plant. I did find scented and scentless mayweed, broad leaved cudweed and corn chamomile. A Rambur's Pied Shieldbug was a nice find. Another spot had some common bladderwort and then I headed for home via Essex where I visited a few sites for elm micro species Pebmarsh, Pointed leaved, dark leaved and Essex elm.

Friday 7th - Breckland Bugs

Breckland Leatherbug Black Scymnus

Andrew Jewels met me in the Brecks for an afternoon of bug hunting, we visited three of my favourite sites and came up with a nice haul of 13 ladybird species Pine, 22 spot, 16 spot, Adonis, 7 spot, Cream streaked, Striped, 24 spot Ladybirds and Round keeled ladybird, Pointed keeled ladybird, Pine scymnus, Angle-spot scymnus and Black scymnus. But also several other bits and pieces Red Longhorn Beetle, Breckland and Dalman's leatherbug, scarab shieldbug and lesser streaked shieldbug. All this along with cracking views of crossbills and woodlarks, and some nice plants such as Perennial knawel, maiden's pink, Breckland wormwood as well made a nice afternoon despite the heat.

Thursday 6th - Bridge Bugging

Sciocoris sideritidis Mocha

I headed to Rainham RSPB to look for ladybirds and shieldbugs, I had a couple of Bryony ladybirds but no luck with shieldbugs. So I headed to the area under the QEII bridge to search further in the intense heat. It was very sucessful with Sciocoris sideritidis, Mottled shieldbug, common green shieldbug and Denticulate Leatherbug along with Pine, 22 spot, 16 spot, 14 spot, Adonis, 7 spot, harlequin, 10 spot, Round keeled ladybird, Dusky ladybird and dot ladybird. I crossed the river and after some chip met up with James Hunter for a session of moth trapping on a chalk grassland area. Conditions were perfect and moths a plenty with over 120 species including some crackers, Dark crimson underwing, 7 mochas, the pick. A black sexton beetle, eared leafhopper and a glow worm were nice addition to the evening.

Sunday 2nd - Forest Friends

Large Marsh Grasshopper Sika

I headed to Arne first thing to see the Sika and found a small herd a short way into the reserve, as a few more people arrived I headed off. At the New Forest I stopped near Burley and bumped into Dave Shute and Jon Stokes and our targets were very similar so we teamed up for a walk for a couple of hours. We had a nice selection of insects Small sandpit mining bee, Large Marsh grasshopper including one of the purple form, bog bush cricket, mottled beefly, Angle spotted scymnus to name a few, as well as Common lizard and common frog. Dave had a Beautiful marbled which he had trapped with him, another cracking moth to see. I headed to a couple of other sites looking for shieldbugs, I found tortoise shieldbug and some woodland grasshoppers With time getting on I got some chips and headed for home after a cracking weekend, a few misses so need to return.

Chips - Poulner Fish and Chips, Ringwood - Burger, Cheese bites and Chips 8/10

Saturday 1st - Hants and Dorset

Tawny Prominent Nordic Bladderwort

A very early start with a quick stop Near for Pepper saxifrage before heading to Cadnam where small fleabane and pennyroyal. Slender cotton grass was in the centre of a very wet bog but I managed to keep it below the top of my wellies (just). Chaffweed eluded me at two sites so I left the New Forest and headed to the Dorset Heaths via Portland for the third British record of the tawny prominent moth. On the heaths I had some keeled skimmers and my target Nordic bladderwort, some distant sika and two peregrines. I moved to Winfrith Heath where I had permission to moth trap for the night. One trap in particular attracted the attention of a nightjar and he patrolled it most of the night, ensuring that trap had a rather poor capture rate. Not a massive haul but a few nice moths Drinker, canary shouldered Thorn, narrow winged pug, true lovers knot, lackey, lesser swallow prominent.

Chips - Cod Fathers, Portland - Sausage and Chips 6/10

 

July

Friday 30th - Fire!

Firebugs

I popped to Dovercourt before work to see the recently discovered colony of the firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus). The area was alive with them, adults and plenty of nymphs so clearly breeding well, I also had a rather nice lime hawkmoth caterpillar, well worth the effort to visit despite the sweltering heat.


Wednesday 28th - Super Spikes

Dune Wormwood

I popped to Newmarket to see the Spiked Speedwells with only 16 spikes on my last visit a few years back I was pleased to see almost 300 spikes, there were plenty of butterflies loads of Chalkhill blues but also meadow brown, small tortoiseshell, brown argus, common blue, small skipper, small heath, large white, ringlet and peacock.


Tuesday 27th - Homeward Bound

Dune Wormwood

I headed south making a few tourist stops before arriving at Crosby late afternoon, the strong wind was blowing the sand everywhere and made searching for plants tricky but I found some nice ones isle of Man cabbage and dune wormwood the highlights before heading home.

Chips - George & Angela's, Crosby - Sausage, Salt and pepper Chips 8/10

Monday 27th - Ruined by the Rain

Small Cow Wheat

I got the moth traps packed up and started walking up Cairngorm, before the rain started and it never stopped all day. I cut my walk a bit short but still found a few nice plants before retreating to the car for shelter. I headed for the forests for a bit lots of common wintergreen and a few creeping ladies tresses, least water lily and a couple of red squirrels. I had a break for food then did some more local walks for river water crowfoot and some commoner plants. Glen Tilt was my next stop and the long walk in the pouring rain was eventually rewarded with small cow wheat. I headed south stopping for mountain currant before a stop for chips. The Loch of the Lowes was closed so I headed tomy accomodation in Dunkeld for the night to escape the rain.

Chips - Marmaris, Blairgowrie - Haggis and Chips 7/10

Sunday 26th - Gorge-ous

Antler Moth Red Grouse

After a leisurely start I headed to a rather tricky gorge which at the bottom was Whorled Solomon's seal, the farmland I traversed during the walk had common hemp nettle and a calling Quail. I headed up Glenshee, the chairlift was closed so I had to be content with Scoping Ptarmigan and mountain hare from the car park, but a red grouse was obliging enough to come down to the car park. I stopped for some melancholy thistles before heading to Ben Lawers but could not find any Mountain ringlets. Next stop was Aberfeldy but could not find small cow wheat. I did find some roadside mammals, a brown hare and some red deer on my drive to Aviemore for chips. My last stop was at Insh Marshes for some moth trapping, weather conditions were sub optimal, cold and very windy and even siting the traps in sheltered spots did not help as the wind moved constantly. Still a few nice moths were trapped Antler moth, spruce carpet, northern spinach, pinion streaked snout, welch wave the pick.

Chips - Smiffy's, Aviemore - Haggis and Chips 8/10

Saturday 25th - Marvelous Mountains

Alpine Catchfly

I waited for the rain to ease before heading off for a long walk in Glen Clova and the mountains beyond, After an hour it stopped the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. The walk was tough in the heat but the views were amazing. I made it across the swollen river without getting wet and made it to my destination. Here in a rocky area was Alpine catchfly my target. Also in the area was mountain scurvygrass and Alpine mouse ear. The walk back was stunning and easier walking, the woodland had a few common hawkers but little else. I was exhausted but made it to Alyth for Chips by the river before heading to my accommodation for the night and some sleep.

Chips - Aylth Fish and Chips, Aylth - Haggis and Chips 8/10

Friday 24th - Up North

Dark Red helleborines

I headed north after work and made it to Bishop Middleham quarry as the weather started to turn, there was a fine display of Dark Red helleborines but conditions were not good for butterflies, I headed off before it turned bad but my drive to Scotland was in the pouring rain.

Chips - Coxhoe Fish Bar, Coxhoe - Spam fritter and Chips 7.5/10

Wednesday 22nd - Breckland Bits

Proliferous pinks Marsh Harrier

I headed to the Brecks, first stop a woodland ride for Corn Chamomile, smooth rupturewort and a nice selection of dragonflies and butterflies. I popped into Cranwich to see the fine display of proliferous pinks before heading to Foulden common for Large Thyme and more yet dragonflies and butterflies. Peacock butterflies were everywhere and in amazing numbers at all sites I visited today really amazing. I stopped at Santon Downham for Broad leaved and Green flowered helleborines some wall lettuce and heath groundsel. Last stop was Lakenheath for a quick wander again loads of butterflies and dragonflies along with a cracking Marsh harrier.

Tuesday 21st - Fenland Forray

Fen Ragwort

A brief stop for the Fen ragwort and soapwort before heading to Upwood Meadow, I have been there early in the year for the orchids but always meant to visit later in the year for the late flowering plants. One of the meadows was being grazed but the other was amazing full of flowers such as Betony, saw-wort, yellow rattle, great burnet, knapweed. I popped into Woodwalton Fen briefly for a quick walk, I met two ladies looking for beetles and I gave them a few pointers for the tansy beetles, they had found a nice Carabus granulatus. I had a brief view of a Chinese water deer and two grass snakes, a nice selection of insects, supported by and some nice plants, some impressive marsh sow thistles and yellow oxeye but the pick was some greater bladderwort.

Monday 20th - Lee Valley Ladybirding

Oak Scymnus

I headed to the Lee Valley to meet up with Andrew Jewels for an afternoon of ladybirds, we searched a couple of site for about 4 hours and came up with an incredible 16 species. 7, 14, 16, 22, 24 spot, harlequin, Adonis, ivy, red rumped, Round keeled, pointed keeled and oak scymnus, dot ladybird, red marsh ladybird, Forresters ladybird, pine ladybird Pleny of other insects of note Painted lady, dock bug, rhombic leatherbug, Tortoise, Pied and green shieldbug, oak bush cricket on a lovely afternoon.

Sunday 19th - Southern Comfort

Night Flowering Catchfly Wall Germander Jersey Tiger

I started in Dartford where James Hunter promised Jersey Tiger in his moth trap and the promise was duly fulfilled.
Ranscombe farm was a different matter and I had no luck finding Rough Mallow despite an extensive search, it is there somewhere. Panicled willowherb at my next site was far easier but I had to look hard to find one in flower as they were only just starting. I stopped on the coast briefly for Ox tongue broomrape before heading to Rye Harbour.
I had struggled to see least lettuce in flower and yet again I struggled but eventually I spotted a lone flower. I made it back to the car before the rain started and it was torrential all the way to my next stop even after a fuel and ice cream stop. Cuckmere Haven was quite busy despite the heavy rain, but the rain eased as I set off for my walk up to the cliff top. I was after a small plants in the short grass, not helped by the wind and rain I started my search after 10 mins I spotted the wall germander several plants in flower and several more which had been eaten. Despite the rain I had two unexpected chalkhill blue butterflies.
I got back to the car as the rain stopped typical! I popped in briefly on hoary cinquefoil but my last stop after chips was near Winchester and at about 8.30pm the night flowering catchfly was fully open very nice to see and time for home after a long day.

Chips - Seafare, Winchester - Battered Sausage, Pea fritter, pickled egg and Chips 8/10

Thursday 16th - Mega Mothing

Ringed Border Dark Crimson Underwing Clay Fan Foot

I popped to see the yellow flowered teasel in Cambridge on the way to work.
After work I headed for the Chip shop before meeting up with James Hunter for a moth trapping session. We had 10 traps a mix of MV and Actinic and one LED trap running in a woodland clearing, the air was humid, hot and the mosquitos were biting all good signs for a top night. The number of moths built up and we got the first good moth of the night a small chocolate tip. It was not all about the rare moths we had loads of attractive moths which are not rare such as black arches, festoon, lobster, sallow kitten, lunar spotted pinion, L album wainscot.
There were lots of moths around all the traps and this brought in some more megas clay fanfoot, Scarce Merveille du Jour, Agrotera nemoralis supported by some nice scarce moths scarce silver lines, Four spotted footman, Lesser spotted pinion, Bisigna procerella, Evergestis limbata, Anania verbascalis.
Some non-moths were also attracted in to the traps orange ladybird, Diaperis boleti and great diving beetle and a selection of grasshoppers then the mega mega was spotted a ringed border an uber rare species.
And towards the end of the evening a Dark Crimson Underwing dropped in. A cracking night with over 170 species including some very rare ones and over 10 new ones for me, I headed for home but stopped near Dartford for a look at some white mullein a very striking plant and I headed home for a quick shower and on to work.

Chips - Fish and Chip Inn, Ashford - Battered Saveloy, Onion rings and Chips 8/10

Monday 13th - Breckland Bits

Maiden's Pinks

I popped to the Brecks on the way to work mostly for ladybirds but nothing of note only 7, 16, 24 spot, Adonis and harlequin ladybirds but I did find a few shieldbugs Fallen's and rhombic leatherbugs, and hairy and Scarab shieldbugs. Maiden's pinks were flowering in abundance along with a little Breckland thyme along with some nice dark mullein.

Sunday 12th - Clearing Up

Sallow Clearwing Frog Orchid Marsh Fragrant Orchids

I was up early and James Hunter and I headed to Dorset, first stop was the Berkshire / Hampshire downs, here in the rich downland flora we had a few frog and burnt tip orchids. It was glorious sunshine and singing skylark and corn bunting made the experience idyllic. We headed into the New Forest for some dragonflies, and conditions were perfect with Emperor, keeled skimmer, broad bodied chaser, Golden ringed Dragonfly, Small red damselfly, Blue tailed and Scarce blue tailed. A supporting array of nice plants such as clustered bellflower and squinancywort With near perfect clearwing conditions we tried our luck at a site in Dorset for Sallow Clearwing. The first arrived and we had barely unpacked the lures. In just over 30 mins we has 13 and spent a little time getting some nice photos and an interesting observation from James was the size differences of some individuals we had one half the size of most of the others. It was far beyond our expectations and we popped into Corfe to see Lulworth Skippers which were mostly past their best.
Next we tried for Sand lizards and had a brief view of two, but the site was full of other wildlife particularly butterflies, Grayling, silver studded blue, common blue, brown argus, peacock, gatekeeper, red admiral, meadow brown, ringlet, large skipper, small skipper, and a couple of dragons southern hawker, common darter, azure blue. It was time for chips before one last stop on the way home to see Marsh fragrant orchids at least a couple of hundred amongst the thousands of marsh helleborines, another excellent but tiring day.

Chips - Poulner Fish and Chips, Ringwood - Battered Sausage, Mac n Cheese bites and Chips 8/10

Saturday 11th - Vulture Venture

Lammergeier Caspian Tern

With the news that the Lammergeier had finally been pinned down and was roosting at dusk, it was an overnight drive to the Peak District making it to Strines for a quick sleep, a hedgehog of note on the way. Then came the long and rather boggy walk, with Nightjar and ring ouzel for company. It was almost a disaster the call came up that it was flying when I was still 10 mins from the viewpoint, but it circled round and some flight views were had before it perched on its favoured cliff and good views were had. Phew!!! On the way to Frampton a quick stop to try unsuccessfully for Welsh clearwing. On arrival at Frampton the Caspian Tern had just flown seconds before. It returned later but there was plenty to see at this very birdy reserve while it was away. Common, green and Curlew sandpipers, ruff, spoonbill, dunlin, black tailed godwits of note, but the Caspian tern was the highlight and it showed reasonably well. That was enough for the day before heading home to sleep.

Wednesday 8th - Northern Floral Foray

Alpine Cotula Alpine bartsia Round leaved St Johnís wort

Postponed from the weekend due to poor weather I headed north for a long day out, and the weather was excellent so the delay was probably for the best. I started at Ullswater for Creeping Spearwort which grows along the shore, but there was no sign, so I tried a few other bays near the site I was checking but no luck, although 4 goosander were nice. I bumped into some swimmers and they mentioned that the water level had risen quite a bit recently so I returned to the site and well underwater was the Creeping Spearwort, equipped with wellies and an underwater camera I found them and got a few pics. Next stop was High Force Waterfall, here I was after Shrubby Cinquefoil, it was growing in the car park but I took a walk to the waterfall anyway and saw some in a more natural riverside setting. Mountain pansies and dark green fritillary also seen along the walk and at least 3 spotted flycatchers.
It was a glorious day and my walk at Widdybank fell was full of birds such as, wheatear, skylark, meadow pipit, oystercatcher, lapwing and curlew. But I was here for some plants the lovely Yellow saxifrage and alpine bartsia both in good condition along with a good selection of other plants Smooth ladys mantle, bog asphodel
I popped into a small quarry reserve for the Round leaved St John's wort at its only UK site, along with lots of fairy foxgloves. I stopped for a well earned ice cream before my next site at Ilton where I found lots of Alpine Cotula alongside a moorland track. It was time for Chips in Thirsk before my last site at Gormire lake, but I was a little late in the season as the tufted loostrife had pretty much finished flowering and I made it back to the car before the rain started and headed home after a long but fruitful day.

Chips Westgate Chip Shop, Thirsk - Haggis, Chips Mushy Peas - 7.5/10

Monday 6th - Elms

Curve Leaved Elm

I headed to the Peterborough area the visit Swaddywell Pit somewhere I had been meaning to go for ages. Weather was good but a bit breezy but still plenty of insects of interest and a nice selection of plants. A nice reserve and I had it to myself and a nice way to spend a couple of hours. I stopped for a few Elms on the way home Narrow leaved, Long Tailed, Curve Leaved and Jagged leaved, a nice relaxing evening.

Friday 3rd - Blustery Brecks

Dusky or Heath Scymnus Ladybird

A quick look in the Brecks before work produced a few ladybirds the pick the orange form of the pointed keeled ladybird. It was quite blustery so difficult to find insects so I did not see too much apart from a couple of hairy shieldbugs and a fairy ringed longhorn beetle. and a few butterflies, some Henbane was a nice find. After work I headed to the Lee Valley where Andrew Jewel had caught a Dusky or Heath Scymnus Ladybird, but we are still struggling to work out which.


Wednesday 1st - A Foray into the Forest

Wild Boar Puss Moth American Blue Eyed Grass

I headed west for the day, my first stop was along the river at Tewkesbury where tasteless water pepper and greater dodder in the drizzle. Then to Highnam Woods for Upright spurge in light drizzle. I made it to the Forest of Dean dodging the showers while having a look at a few sites plenty of ravens and mandarins the pick of the birds. I met up with Ben and we headed to Mallards Pike for a wander mainly for plants with a nice array of the common species but some nice skullcap of note.
Then we visited a local contact of Ben's who had a puss moth caterpillar they had found so we took a look at this amazing creature. We searched an area for nightjars and managed to locate a roosting nightjar but it was obscured so not photographable, but still nice to see.
After an Ice cream we took a wander round Nagshead but could not find any pied flycatchers. Time for Chips and dippers, an adult and a juvenile showing well as we ate our chips. Then we tried to see wild boar and we found a lone youngster which showed well.
Lastly it was nightjars and we watched at least 3 nightjars along with a fallow deer and a couple of woodcock. I headed home as the heavens opened with only a barn owl of note.

Chips - Blakeney Chip Inn, Blakeney - Fish and Chips 8/10

 

June

Tuesday 30th - June Mothing

Varied Coronet Rosy Footman

Mixed mothing this month which started quite but eventually picked up towards the end of the month. Garden trapping - Small elephant hawkmoth, Ruddy carpet, broad barred white, coronet, Green silver lines, Swallowtail moth, lackey were the highlights. I alos finally got a clearwing in the garden a red belted Clearwing.

I managed to trap a few times at work and had some nice moths, rosy footman, lobster moth, eyed hawkmoth, reed leopard, coronet, blackneck, V moth And I got 9 red tipped clearwing to lure on afternoon. I did see a couple of other people's moths a beautiful marbled and a varied Coronet both really nice moths.

Sunday 28th - New Forest Flora

Rampion Bellflower Mudwort

It was a big day out in the New Forest, but a couple of stops on the way for Good King Henry and Corky Fruited Water Dropwort. Mudwort was next on the list and I got a bit wet getting close to this tiny plant. The next plant was easier a roadside stop for the delicate Rampion bellflower then heath pearlwort, Lesser marshwort then a rather damp stop for slender cotton grass which was quite tricy to ID as well. Here a rather nice Golden ringed dragonfly along with plenty of Silver studded blues. I then popped into Hatchet Pond for an ice cream and a quick look at Slender marsh bedstraw, before battling with lesser and intermediate bladder wort ID. No sign of small water pepper so I stopped for chips before heading for home via a quick stop for pink purslane which was still in flower.

Chips - Goodies, Totton, - Battered Sausage, Chips, Pea Fritter 7/10

Friday 26th - M25 Madness

Deptford Pink Red Fox

I was heading to Hadleigh CP to see Hartwort, but the M25 was closed, so I diverted and headed to Rainham Marshes via the M11, however that was closed as well so I spent a little time nearby on the coastal scrub looking for insects until the roads were clear. A few nice ladybirds 22 spot, and round keeled the pick but not much else. I eventually made it the Hadleigh and the hartwort was flowering nicely with some Deptford pinks, job done so I headed home. Over the last couple of nights the badger has become more active and used to the lights from the moth traps and for me being in the garden and I have managed a few photos, but tonight was exceptional. A fox cub visited as well and I got a few photos and to cap it all the muntjac visited and all three were feeding in the garden at once.

Chips - Fish n Chickn, Harlow - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Thursday 25th - Garden Goodies

Badger Red Belted Clearwing

I spent the afternoon at home due to the heat and popped out the CUL lure and finally got a red belted clearwing my first garden clearwing. Later I popped out to check on the Moth traps about 10.30pm, I walked out into the garden where a badger was feeding happily. I backed up got my camera and returned and the badger tolerated me getting close enough for some nice photos with my 180mm macro lens (the other lens was in the car). Badgers have been visiting the garden for the last month and I now put food out for them and I assume that they are using the pond for water in these dry conditions. I watched it for quite a while before my cat spooked it.

Wednesday 24th - Breckland Bugs and Botany

Ant Nest Ladybird Fly Honeysuckle

I headed to the Brecks after work in what was searing heat. I popped into Lakenheath RSPB for a short wander it was too hot for the full circuit. There were lots of warblers, a cuckoo and the usual birds on the wash. Emperor dragonfly, red admiral, large skipper the insects of note. A quick look at Smooth rupturewort before heading to Cranwich Camp for some ladybird surveying and came up trumps with several species, 7, 14, 16 spot along with pointed keeled ladybird and ants nest ladybird A nice oblique striped moth but plants were in short supply as half the site is still being grazed despite not a plant being visible, no idea what is going on here but no Spanish catchflys anywhere and only a few field mouse ears and purple milk vetch of note along with Scarab and Bordered Shieldbugs. I popped in to see the Fly honeysuckle which was flowering nicely before heading to check another site but only had a pointed keeled ladybird and forget me not shieldbugs also a Breckland wormwood of note. A quick check of one last spot but nothing of interest and I headed home to rehydrate.


Monday 22nd - What a Beauty

Beautiful Marbled

I was luck to be able to visit a locally trapped Beautiful Marbled moth and it was in perfect condition and sat nicely for photos. I stopped at a few sites on the way home for some more Elm micro species, Burred, Huntingdon, Coritanian, Moss's and Cambridge Elms


Friday 19th - New Forest For Flowers

Small Red Damselfly Wild gladiolus

An early start with a detour to Kent for Varied Coronet and yellow Bartsia. The destination was the New Forest but first a visit to Noar Hill for the orchids, musk, common spotted, chalk fragrant, common twayblade then a quick stop for Bee orchid var Belgarum before heading into the forest .
First some heath spotted orchids, then lesser butterfly and early marsh orchid including lots of the lovely var ochrantha. And a cracking silver studded blue it was pristine and must have emerged recently.
The weather then became perfect for insects with southern damselfly, small red damselfly keeled skimmer and beautiful demoiselle all seen within a few yards on a small stream.
It got a bit wet with a heavy downpour but the Wild gladiolus still looked amazing, particularly compared to the bog orchids at the next stop, supported by pale butterwort. The weather was not good for insects so it was time to head home with a quick stop in Hampshire for marsh Helleborine including several var ochroleuca


Wednesday 17th - Top Twitching

Desert Warbler Blyth's reed warbler

A very early start to drive through the fog to Holy Island where on arrival at 7am a dozen or so people were watching the Desert warbler which showed very nicely for a couple of hours. The Marsh helleborines were not out yet but were close, but the Common spotted, Early Mash and Northern Marsh orchids were out in force including some hybrids. The next stop was Grindon Lough, a site I visited several years ago for a Red Necked Phalarope and today also it was for a Red necked phalarope and apparently it si believed to be the same individual returning every year. A drake American wigeon was also present. Nosterfield Nature reserve was next for the rather camouflaged Lesser Yellowlegs that took a bit of finding. Then it was into the heart in the industrial North East where some rather nice Northern Marsh orchid var altara along with some nice hybrids. A quick stop at Greatham Creek for grey and common seals followed by another quick stop at Salthome RSPB for a Great white egret and 7 spoonbills. Luck started to run out with no sign of the Rose coloured starling or red footed falcon. But some nice views were had of the feeding Blyth's reed warbler not singing as it has been to some and that was time to head home after a very busy day.


Tuesday 16th - Breckland Blast

Forget Me Not Shieldbug

I headed out to the Brecks in search of the Grey carpet moth which despite all the time I spend in the Brecks I have yet to see and my quest will continue as I drew a blank at two sites. But it was not all doom and gloom a cuckoo, skylarks, forget me not shieldbugs, Adonis ladybirds, small tortoiseshells the pick of stuff. A quick visit to another site for Russian cinquefoil finished the morning and I headed to work.


Sunday 14th - Kent Korkers

Bee Orchid var Cambrensis

I headed out for a quick trip to North Kent to see the very rare Bee Orchid var Cambrensis there were several of these stunning plants in perfect condition. Next I visited nearby Ranscombe Farm allways a pleasure to visit and today had stunning displays of poppies and rough hawksbill along with some very nice Rambur's Pied Shieldbugs Next was a quick look at some grass poly and pale flax before heading home.


Saturday 13th - West is Best

limestone woundwort

It was a very early start to the West Country for some very rare plants first stop was Eype for the Slender Centaury only two plants were in flower so I had timed my visit a fraction too early, dune tiger beetle and seaside brooklime were of note at this site on a glorious morning. Two very small fox cubs were in the road as I left the village but were to quick for the camera. Conditions changed as I made it to Berry Head where a few spots of rain and some gusty winds were less than ideal wildlife conditions but my target was incredibly small so was not affected too much. The tiny small hareís ear was located after a short search which was interrupted several times by nosey dog walkers. I had a nice wander looking at some of the commoner plants before heading north. I had two stops the first a very brief stop for Starved wood sedge which I quickly found and then to the tiny reserve in Gloustershire for limestone woundwort which was flowering nicely. Then it was time for home.


Friday 12th - Listless Lizards

Lizard Orchid

I popped in to see the Local Lizard orchids on my way home but they were in a sorry state the recent conditions had not been kind to them and they were looking pretty poor. A few Pyramidal orchids were present but far less numerous than in previous years and the other wildflowers on site were also looking pretty poor hopefully the recent rain will help.


Thursday 11th - Awesome Orchids

Bee orchids var fulvofusca

I was heading the Dancers end to have another try for wood vetch after being rained off the other day, but got a tip of about some nearby bee orchids var fulvofusca. So that was my first stop and after a short search this lovely orchid was located. Plenty of other orchids present in very good numbers but mostly stunted I assume due to the recent dry conditions, common twayblades, common spotted, greater butterfly, pyramidal and chalk fragrant orchids. A very nice visit despite the tricky photographic conditions (wind) but the rain held off. I quickly located the wood vetch at Dancersend before heading home.


Tuesday 9th - Broken Breckland

Forget me not shieldbug Maidens pink

I headed to the Brecks after work first stop was the Feltwell area, here I had two turtle doves, a roe deer and a selection of nice butterflies. Next was Cranwich Camp but the gate was locked for some reason it was academic anyway as the site has had all the wildflowers grazed off so a waste of time visiting. I tried Cranwich Heath but that is currently being grazed! So no access, but in the surroundings on the disturbed ground I found some small toadflax and white ramping Fumitory. I popped in to see some Perennial and annual knawel and also found some nice green eyed flower bees. A quick look at some maidens pinks coming into flower before a search for grey carpet which was unsuccessful, but I did find two forget me not shieldbugs. I called it a day and headed home.


Monday 8th - Lee Valley Ladybirds

Red Rumped Scymnus Green oak tortrix

I spent the afternoon in the Lee Valley with Andrew Jewel for a bit of a ladybird hunt, It appeared that we were in between generations for most species as there were lots of larva. But we did record some conspicuous adults, 7, 14, 16 and 24 spot, adonis and pine ladybirds. Only a couple of inconspicuous ladybirds Litura and possibly new for the area a red rumped scymnus ladybird. Plenty of other insects pied, brassica and red legged shiedlbugs and a larger beetle Phaedon cochleariae and a couple of nice Green oak tortrix moths. Emperor dragonfly was nice to see and we found a group of oak processionary caterpillars before calling it a day.


Sunday 7th - West is Best

Somerset Skullcap

The weather was much better in the west so I headed to Somerset first thing to see the rare Somerset skullcap and I found a few nice plants of wolfsbane. I made an unsuccessful stop in south Bristol but did have a nice scarlet tiger moth. The major stop was near Stroud where I managed to find several Cistus moths the main target of the visit. Conditions were perfect and I had some nice butterflies as well including small blue, Marbled white and dark green fritillary, the only other things of note were tortoise shieldbugs. I headed home via a spot in the Chilterns for Green houndstongue a few plants still in flower. My last stop was for wood vetch but torrential rain stopped play a short way into the search, some nice Greater butterfly orchids and bush vetch of note. I will have another try soon.

Chips - Mr Chips, Dunstable - Saveloy and Chips 8/10

Saturday 6th - Local

Prickly Poppy

With dodgy weather I stayed locallish, first stop Barton le Cley for some arable plants in a field margin the pick few flowered fumitory and rough poppy (I had been tipped off about them they weren't just lucky finds). A quick look at some broad leaved pondweed then back towards home for some of the local Elm micro species (Sowerby's, Leathery leaved, Exeter, Round leaved Elm) while dodging the showers.


Tuesday 2nd - Oh my Ochrellouca

Early Marsh orchid var ochrellouca

headed to the small fen that holds the beautiful Early Marsh orchid var ochrellouca there were over 30 in flower all in perfect condition, this is the largest number I have seen there and I had it all to myself in beautiful conditions a totally amazing start to the day. A quick stop in Bury St Edmunds, then off to a roadside reserve for crested cow wheat, none at my first stop, but my second site had plenty although they were suffering from the effects of the hot dry weather. My last stop was in the Brecks for ladybirds and shieldbugs only 7 and 16 spot ladybirds and only hairy and Brassica shieldbugs. then it was off to work.


Monday 1st - Mega Mammals

Badger

An exciting evening, the cat brought in a small mammal which shot under our bed, I got a few glimpses of a mole! We could not relocate it, but kept checking and unfortunately found it dead an hour later. I was checking out my new toy a thermal imaging scope in the back garden and had a large heat lump under the bird table which was a badger. We watched it for a while eating the food I had been putting out every evening for it. Every other night two foxes had been helping themselves to the food so this was excellent, the foxes did put in an appearance I caught them on the trail camera footage later.


 

May

Sunday 31st - May Mothing

Grey Dagger

A pretty poor trapping few week's that has picked up recently, some of the highlights are Figure of eighty, coronet, lychnis, pale tussock, dwarf pug, privet hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, lime hawkmoth, Grey dagger, purple bar, Buff tip

Saturday 30th - I Seek him here, I seek him there, I seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That demned elusive Pimpernel!

Blue Pimpernel Salsify Small Blue Poppies

I was up early for a visit to Kent to search for the Blue pimpernel, but first I headed to Rye Harbour for a walk before the crowds arrived, I timed it perfectly and only met a couple of people during my whole walk. Plenty of Sandwich terns, avocets, oystercathers and a few nice plants ,b>yellow horned poppy, sea pearlwort, sea kale, salsify. Then some quick stops for sea clover, stinking hawksbeard, and sand catchfly before trying my luck for ox tongue broomrape probably too early as the bristly ox tongue was only just getting going, but I did have some nice butterflies, small blue and wall brown the pick. But the main focus of my day was at Ranscombe Farm where I was searching for the elusive blue pimpernel, a species that I had missed a couple of times before. It was hot and there were a few people around which I managed to avoid. The poppies were out in abundance and my search focussed on this area, scarlet pimpernel was flowering everywhere and I found several flowering Venus's Looking glass before eventually locating a lone blue pimpernel nicely in flower. Plenty of other plants of interest including corncockle, field pansy, corn salad sp and common broomrape. An ice cream was in order along with a cold drink before my last stop, I headed across the river to Hadleigh country park where I tracked down some Bithynian vetch before Chips and home.

I put some food out for the foxes (the badger has not returned) but saw a hedgehog in the garden, the first for a while.

Chips - Cyprus Fish Bar, Braintree - Battered Saveloy and Chips 7.5/10

Friday 29th - Awesome Orchids

Early Marsh Orchid

I popped in to Fulbourn Fen on the way home to see the awesome display of Early and Southern Marsh Orchids all in fine condition.

Thurdsay 28th - And Even more Brecks

Tortoise shieldbug

Once again it was an afternoon in the Brecks mainly for ladybirds and I had several species, hundreds of 16 spot, but a few others, low numbers of 10 spot, cream streaked, striped, 24 spot, pine, pine scymnus. I also had some nice Tortoise shieldbugs. Birdwise cuckoo and woodlark were the pick on a rather hot afternoon.

Wednesday 27th - Breckland Bashing

Thracian Birthwort

Once more into the Brecks for the afternoon where the Thracian Birthwort was flowering but the hot weather has not been kind to the flowers and only a couple were in good condition. My next stop was for ladybirds mostly 16 spot well over a 100 and singles of pointed keeled, 24 spot, 10 spot and cream streaked. I then headed to see the Military orchids just starting to flower nicely. I had a few pine ladybirds here and a tree pipit but not much else.

Tuesday 26th - North Norfolk

May lily Three spined stickleback

I headed to North Norfolk after work, first to Salthouse for the May lily, the first few were starting to flower, but it looked as some may suffer with the very dry conditions. Target done so I had plenty of time and headed to Beeston common for a wander, plenty of nice sights, southern marsh orchids, bogbean, ragged robin, lesser stitchwort in perfect condition. I watched some three spined sticklebacks in a stream including a male guarding a nest. A small slow worm succumbed to a magpie, some muntjac and a nice Keeled skimmer All finished off with an ice cream before heading home.
I went to bed early being on early shift at the moment, my wife woke me about 1am, a badger was in the garden illuminated by the moth traps very nice.

Sunday 24th - Dorset Dash

4 Spot Chaser

I spent the day in Dorset well away from the crowds looking for insects rather unsuccessfully. I did find some hairy, brassica and woundwort shieldbugs, 14 spot ladybirds, goldenrod crab spider, pointed keeled ladybird, dock bug, cocksfoot moth Other sightings included a cracking barn owl a cuckoo, an adder, common lizard and two slow worms and 4 Spot chaser. I found an ice cream on the way home and made a brief stop near home to see the local white helleborines which were just starting to go over.

Friday 22nd - Pre Work Wander

Henbane

I had a quick look round for ladybirds pre work in the Brecks, 5 species 7, 14, 16, 24 spot and Pointed Keeled ladybird and A rufous-shouldered longhorn beetle was a nice bonus despite the far from ideal conditions. Fine leaved sandwort, small alison and slender thistle of botanical interest, but the pick a bit further afield was some henbane in perfect condition.

Tuesday 19th - Bugs,Butterflies, Voles and Vipers

Minstrel Shieldbug Field Vole

A quick photo shoot with a rescued field vole before its release, before I headed to the Lee Valley before the crowds arrived. With no one about I quickly found my target, the recently discovered Minstrel Shieldbug. I headed off hopping over the river into Kent where I had a couple of hours looking for butterflies small and common blues, dingy and grizzled skippers, large white, brimstone, green hairstreak, small copper. There were plenty of day flying moths to add to the mix lace border the pick and a couple of nice adders basking in the shade, all very nice shame I had to drag myself off to work I could have stayed all day.

Sunday 17th - Aquatic Antics

Large Red Belted Clearwing Water Shrew

After a nice lie in it was off to Norfolk where I was hunting for the large red belted clearwing. I hung up some lures and waited but nothing so I relocated to another area. A cuckoo, roe deer and grass snake kept me entertained as I waited for the clearwings to come to my lure, but come they did and I eventually managed some photos. I headed to Norwich where water shrews have been performing. One put in an appearance and I had some nice views of this insectivore missile. Supported by grass snake and water voles it finished off a nice afternoon.

Saturday 16th - An Orchid Orgy

Duke of burgundy Ochreluca fly orchid

After work I once again headed to the Brecks for a couple of hours. A mixture of ladybirds and botany was on the menu. A nice selection of plants included parsley piet, field mouse ear, spring beauty, common houndstongue. But ladybirds were harder to come by, cream streaked and pine the only ladybirds found. But it was lovely to be out and about on a beautiful afternoon. An early start and I was in Kent, it was a 15 species Orchid fest, starting with the uber rare Ochreluca fly orchid along with Greater butterfly (in bud), fly, lady, common twayblade, common spotted (in bud), white helleborine and early purple. Monkey was the next target and they were just breaking into flower. The next stop added Late Spider and Man then early spider at another site along with my first common blue of the year and a slow worm on one of the tracks. With Duke of burgundy next on the menu the sun co-operated and conditions were perfect, half a dozen seen easily including some still in nice condition. Plenty of moths present including the cracking white spotted and wavy sables and slow worm and common lizards seen. Another woodland stop to add Lesser butterfly and broad leaved helleborine (just leaves) to the list. A roadside stop added Lizard orchids (still in leaf) and then onto Marden Meadow for the Green Winged orchid spectacular to finish. A cracking day.

Friday 15th - Back to the Brecks II

Cream Streaked Ladybird

After work I once again headed to the Brecks for a couple of hours. A mixture of ladybirds and botany was on the menu. A nice selection of plants included parsley piet, field mouse ear, spring beauty, common houndstongue. But ladybirds were harder to come by, cream streaked and pine the only ladybirds found. But it was lovely to be out and about on a beautiful afternoon.

Thursday 14th - Back to the Brecks

Gorse Shieldbug

With lock down easing I headed to the Brecks after work, somewhere I usually go to a lot as it is only 15 mins from work. I picked secluded places that hardly anyone else would go to, apart from some quad bikers illegally riding! At my first stop I was ladybird hunting but had no luck but did get gorse shieldbugs and Adela reaumurella moths. My second site was more productive with pine and cream streaked ladybirds and a and juniper shieldbug. My third stop produced Pine Scymnus and red headed ladybirds and some corn spurrey. Next I took a walk along a forest ride where I have seen green hairstreak before, I had no luck but did see the first small coppers of the year, a Pammene rhediella and several pretty distant muntjacs and roe deer. My last stop was in Lakenheath where the chip shop was open so I took advantage. A very productive afternoon in the pleasant sunshine.

Chips - Historic Fish and Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 7/10


Friday 8th - Weekly Sightings

Pygmy ShrewTreble Lines Henslow's Goldilocks Buttercup

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly muntjac they seem to be everywhere as I drive home at dusk. In my little nature reserve its a chorus of birdsong, plenty of chiffchaffs and blackcaps, insects are abundant, the holly blues have finally allowed me some photos. Plenty of camera trap sightings of badger, fox, polecat and muntjac. I put a few mammal traps down in my reserve and had a good catch, 4 bank voles, 3 wood mice and a common shrew

The cat brought in a pygmy shrew unhurt, which was rescued and released safely. And a cuckoo in the garden was a nice surprise.

Moth trapping in the garden has again been dismal just Garden carpet, brimstone, common marbled carpet, treble lines, brindled pug of note. Plenty of local plants coming into flower poppy, wild clary, Swedish Whitebeam, broom, gorse and a few goldilocks buttercup micro species


 

April

Thursday 30th - Weekly Sightings

Early Purple Orchid Toadflax Brocade

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly muntjac and but a tawny owl one evening was the highlight. In my nature reserve its been a quite week although the camera trap highlights continue with lots of badger, fox, polecat and muntjac. Moth trapping in the garden has again been dismal just toadflax brocade, shuttle shaped dart of note. Local plants were again all common species but Early Purple Orchid, Vipers bugloss, wild mignonette, biting stonecrop the pick.

A couple of local walks produced 14, 16 spot, harlequin, cream spotted, pointed keeled ladybirds along with a red legged shieldbug.


Friday 24th - Weekly Sightings

Wood Mouse 10 Spot Ladybird Midland Hawthorn

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Mostly brown hares, muntjac and fallow deer but a tawny owl one evening was the highlight. In my nature reserve whitethroats have arrived and green veined whites and hairy dragonflies have emerged. The camera trap highlights continue with lots of badger, water vole, fox, and muntjac but a tawny owl with a mouse and another polecat sighting have been nice.

Moth trapping in the garden has been dismal just red chestnut, Hebrew character, brindled beauty, common pug, muslin moth, powdered quaker and pebble prominent. Local plants were again all common species but greater celandine, lords and ladies, thyme leaved speedwell, midland hawthorn were of note.

Soprano pipistrelles are now quite noticable in the village at dusk with several about most nights, and I caught a wood mouse in my garage.

A local walk produced three 10 spot ladybirds along with a Western conifer seed bug, dock bug, box bug and hairy shieldbug.


Friday 17th - Weekly Sightings

Soprano Pipistrelle Orange Tip Forestier's Ladybird

Incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of sightings. Lots of brown hares, muntjac and fallow deer but a water vole was the highlight. In my nature reserve blackcaps have arrived and a nice selection of butterflies present comma, brimstone, orange tip, small tortoiseshell, large white, holly blue, speckled wood and peacock. The first large red damselfly have emerged and at dusk common and soprano pipistrelle have been present. The camera trap highlights were badger, jay, water vole, fox.

Moth trapping in the garden was very quiet, early thorn, small quaker, common quaker, clouded drab, red chestnut, twin spoted quaker, brindled beauty and pebble prominent. Local plants were all common species but yellow archangel, primrose x cowslip hybrid were of note.

Some ladybird hunting proved fruitful with 5 species found within a couple of hundred yards from my house including a nice Forestier's Ladybird which I had not seen locally before. A Soprano pipistrelle was found in my drive unhurt but severly underweight, I fed it glucose solution and took it to a local bat carer and I will keep an eye on its progress.


Friday 10th - Weekly Sightings

Streamer

Again mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work and local wanderings but plenty of nice sightings. buzzard, red kite, kestrel the highlights. In my nature reserve blackcaps have arrived and comma, brimstone, orange tip, small tortoiseshell and peacock and at dusk common and soprano pipistrelle. The camera trap highlights were badger, jay, water vole Moth trapping in the garden was quiet, streamer, common quaker, clouded drab, common pug, small quaker. Local plants Garlic mustard, greater stitchwort, alexanders, ragwort, sow thistle, yellow archangel, sow thistle, germander speedwell, cowslip, wall speedwell, field madder, charlock.


Friday 3rd - Weekly Sightings

PolecatBadger

Mostly incidental sightings on my commute to and from work but plenty of nice sightings. Barn owl, muntjac, fallow deer, brown hare, buzzard, red kite, kestrel the highlights. Also a sign that it is warming up was a soprano pipistrelle hunting in the garden on Thursday evening. But the best sighting of the week was a glimpse of a polecat in the private nature reserve I look after. I was working in there on Monday afternoon and disturbed it. So I put up a couple of trail cameras to see if I could confirm the ID, and I got some nice photos and 4 more mammals into the bargain badger, rabbit, muntjac and fox..


 

March

Read my latest article in the Spring Edition of Mammal News

Mammal News - Spring 2020

Friday 27th - Fordham Woods

Chiffchaff

My pre-work walk was in Fordham woods a stone's throw from my work, the weather was spring like and the butterflies were in abundance 5 species in total, speckled wood, brimstone, comma, peacock and red admiral. Abundant birdsong was interrupted by the cronk of a raven as it flew over. scarlet elf cups were still fruiting alongside flowering marsh marigold in the spring sunshine.


Thursday 26th - Lower Woods

Oxlip

A pre work walk in Lower Woods which is on my commute, oxlips were starting to flower and the rides had sweet violets, greater stitchwort, dogs mercury, barren strawberry, wood anemone, lesser celandine all flowering nicely. great spotted woodpecker, chiffchaff the avian picks, the pond had spawning frogs and the only mammal was a grey squirrel in what was a pleasant walk.


Estonia - March 2020

Saturday 21st - Last Hoorah

Red Squirrel Kashmir Goat

Possibly my last non local day out for a while, I kept well away from people and the only person I interacted with was in the chipshop in Bala and they had distancing precautions. Although I went to North Wales and Snowdonia I went to places not popular with tourists and did not even see anyone at 3 out of my 4 stops let alone interact, that is proper social isolation. First stop was the Great Orme no one was about and the feral goats were just sitting by the side of the road at several points as were a pair of chough. Next stop was at Aberffraw that had a couple of dog walkers but they were quite some distance away, here I was searching for the tiny early sand grass, it was a little easier than I expected which was a relief. I popped into the Maltreath red squirrel feeding station, the car park was closed so I parked elsewhere along the road and had the place to myself, three nervous red squirrels visited along with a nice jay. Last stop was at Ganllwyd where at the waterfall there was no one so I had the Tunbridge filmy fern at this beautiful site to myself and headed home via Bala for chips.


Friday 20th - Lovely Lackford

Bank Vole

With our new Covid-19 working patterns I had the afternoon to myself, so I headed to some local roadside nature reserves and eventually located some grape hyacinth along with plenty of other roadside plants. Next stop was Lackford lake which was quite busy but I kept well away from the famalies. I was here for bank voles and they obliged along with some grey squirrels. Birdwise marsh tit and snipe the highlight of my walk round. Last stop was at Weeting for some mezereon which was in full flower a nice finish to the afternoon.


Wednesday 18th - March Moths

Common Quaker

I finally got one of my moth traps out overnight and had a few moths in this morning of just 3 species hebrew character, small quaker, common quaker


Sunday 12th - Happy Herps

Common Toad

The toad crossing in my village has been quiet only a few toads crossing but last night it got a bit busier with plenty of toads along with a common newt and great crested newt all safely transfered to the local pond.


Saturday 14th - A bit Peaky

HutchinsiaCotswold Pennycress

I spent the morning in the Peak district first stop was Miller's dale, here two dippers were on the stream but I was here for plants, it took a while but I eventually found some alternate leaved golden saxifrage amongst the more plentiful opposite leaved golden saxifrage. There was plenty of butterbur and some other early plants. My next stop was Monsal head, here last year in a terrible storm I managed to find Hutchinsia but did not manage a photo due to the conditions, the weather was better this morning and eventually I managed to find some for photos amongst the rue leaved saxifrage and hairy bittercress. Mandarin ducks and sparrowhawk of note here. My last stop of the morning was at Winnat's pass but I could not find any wall whitlow grass, probably too early. I headed to Oxfordshire for a family get together, stopping briefly for some cotswold pennycress on the way.

Chips - North Sea Fish Bar, Chesterfield - Burger and chips 8/10


Wednesday 11th - Cherry Hinton Check

Musk Storksbill

I was given the location of musk storksbill a plant not rare that I had not managed to find so after work took a look. I found it easily only one plant still in flower. There were lots of other plants including some nice Balkan anemones.


Sunday 8th - Incredible Inkpen

Spring Crocus

I was visiting family and combined it wih a visit to Inkpen crocus fields, this small nature reserve was full of spring crocus a super show of purple. A few white one present as well were nice to see and it was well worth the effort to visit.


Saturday 7th - Fallow Fowlmere

Fallow Deer

I had to go to Fowlmere and it was full of fallow deer must have been almost 100 including a few white individuals. A Kingfisher was the only other sighting of note.


 

February

Sunday 23rd - Dodging the Downpours

Grey Squirrel

I Popped in at Stocking Springs Wood on my way home the wild daffodils were just starting to flower another week they should be much better. I just missed one deluge and they were quite difficult to mphotograph in the strong wind. I headed to Letchworth for lunch and for a quick walk to see the melanistic grey squirrels. Two put in an appearance as I photographed a few spring flowers and as the rain fell once more I headed home.


Friday 14th - General Sightings

With the poor weather and weekend working it has just been incidental sightings to and from work and at my work feeding station but there have been some nice ones, the best was a weasel complete with vole sp crossing the road one evening. grey squirrel, rabbit, brown hare and muntjac the only other mammals.It has been productive bird wise, little egrets in good numbers at work and large flocks of winter thrushes dodging the resident sparrowhawk. Barn owls, red kites, kestrels and buzzards are very visible at the moment on my commute.


Monday 3rd - Windy Welney

Bewick's Swan

I had to go to Welney for another reason, but after I popped into the reserve. It was cold and windy a few Whooper swans present and as the water levels have dropped a bit since my last visit and the exposed mud attrated some waders and a water pipit. As I headed for home I spotted some whooper swans with a single Bewick's for company. Brown hares and a barn owl also spotted.


 

January

Friday 31st - Radnor Rocks

Radnor lily Great Grey Shrike

With news that the Radnor Lily was in flower I headed to mid Wales, as I arrived on site so did the rain but as the small group headed up the reserve path it stopped and the sun made the briefest appearance. There were three lilies in flower but only one really open, there was little else in flower apart for lesser celandine in the woods. I headed to Stratton where it was now raining heavily. The Great grey shrike was showing well in the small quarry/rubbish tip when I was soaked I called it a day and headed home.

Chips - Greedy's, Stow on the Wold Burger, mushy pea fritter and chips 8/10


Saturday 25th - Oh Otters!

Otter Water Rail

Finally out and about after working lots this month. I was out later than I wanted and the weather was dull and overcast. I headed to the Brecks starting at Santon Downham, muntjac on the approach. Here the trees were full of siskins and I flushed a mandarin on the river. It was not long until I spotted two young otters on the bank and they were joined by their mother shortly after. I followed them for an hour until they entered one of their holts and had a bonus lesser spotted woodpecker and kingfisher as well not a bad couple of hours. I popped in to Lundford but it was a noisy family fest so I got some lunch bewfore heading to Lakenheath RSPB another muntjac on the access road. The reserve was quiet a few whooper swans and a great white egret the pick. I stopped at the feeders as I left to get a few photos of the water rail and headed for home, two muntjac a short way down the road in a field.

Chips - Historic Fish and Chips, Lakenheath - Saveloy and Chips 7/10


Friday 17th - Wonderful Work!

Little Egret

Apart from the 5th when I was ill I have been working solidly since the 2nd Jan so all my wildlife sightings have been during my drive to and from work and at work itself, despite that I have had some nice sightings. Muntjac, brown hare, kestrel, buzzard along with both tawny and barn owls. At work the little egret flock has grown to 12, while marsh tits, grey squirrels and rabbits are coming to my feeders.


South Africa - November 2019

Wednesday 1st - Wet Welney

Whooper Swan

I popped to a rather flooded Welney for a couple of hours on what was a rather misty and murky start to the year. The lunchtime swan spectacular feed had a total of 5 swans 2 of which were whoopers. There were plenty of Whoopers on Lady Fen and tree sparrows on the feeders and plenty of birds scattered about 51 species of bird and two mammal species, roe deer and grey squirrel seen in the few hours out and about.

No Chips on New Years Day they always seem to close up.

 

2019 Review

Mammals

Stoat

A pretty standard year and the first for over a deacde that I did not see 50 species in the UK only seeing 49 this year. Some nice encounters with a stoat, and a Leisler's bat were worth mentioning and I won't try for 50 this year as I think I have demonstrated that 50 species in a year is now easily acheivable if you want to, but I will keep a list as always.

Birds

Tengmalm's Owl

Not a bad year with 230 species seen, considering how much effort I put in on other taxa. Some highlights were a flock of over 40 common cranes, waxwings, ivory gull, blue winged teal, black duck, pied billed grebe, white billed diver, buff breasted sandpiper to name a few. New species I caught up with were Brown Booby, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Paddyfield pipit and the cracking Tengmalm's Owl.

Other Wildlife and Trips

Snowdon Lily Salmon Horseshoe Ladybird

Following up on my other areas of interest I had a great year with some nice new Ladybirds the highlights were Horseshoe and Scmitts Scymnus, other highights were a Striped hawkmoth, Clifton Nonpariel. My 100 new plant project went well seeing well over 100 new species such as Pedunculate sea purslane, sea dafodil, heath lobelia, spreading bellflower, Snowdon lily and many more and I will try to do this again.

Trip wise it was busy with three weeks in South Africa where we had over 300 species of birds and 64 species of mammals, including some crackers like Serval, Cape Mountain zebra, Denham's Bustard, White Fronted Bee-eater and many more. .

A week in Scotland mainly for local specialities such as One flowered wintergreen, Purple Oxytropis and Azure hawker.

I also joined the Dutch Mammal Group for a survey trip to Bosnia where Parti Coloured Bat was the highlight.

We had a long weekend to Sicily where the orchids were the highlight. And a weekend to Gran Canaria for a few of the endemics.

Catch up with the 2019 blog

 
 

Upcoming Trips

  • Bulgaria - May 2020 - Cancelled
  • Montenegro - July 2020 - Cancelled
  • India - Nov 2020
  • - Postponed

    My Flickr Photos


    My Flickr Photos

     
     

    2020 Targets

    Green when Seen

  • Weather Earthstar
  • Elegant Earthstar
  • Somerset Skullcap
  • Thyme Broomrape
  • Small Cow Wheat
  • Alpine catchfly
  • Pipewort
  • Pyramidal Bugle
  • Scottish Primrose
  • Scarce forrester
  • Marsh Carpet
  • Woodland Grasshopper
  • Large Red Belted Clearwing
  • Cepero's Groundhopper
  • Dusky Ladybird
  • Daisy Earthstar
  • Green Hound's-tongue
  • Isle of Man Cabbage
  • Cornish Moneywort
  • Limestone Woundwort
  • Wish List

    Green when Seen

  • Ladybird Spider
  • Arctic Sandwort
  • Red cage Fungus
  • Norwegian Mugwort
  • Iceland Purslane
  • Radnor Lily
  • Field Cricket
  • Alpine Catchfly
  • Drooping Saxifrage
  • Teesdale Sandwort
  • Strapwort
  • Slender Centaury
  • Perennial Centaury
  • Sallow Clearwing
  • 13 Spot Ladybird
  • Bee Beetle
  • Large Marsh Grasshopper
  • Scaly Cricket
  • Purple Coltsfoot
  • Yellow Oxytropis
  • 2020 UK Mammal List (No Target This Year)

    Green when photographed

  • 1 - Grey Squirrel
  • 2 - Roe Deer
  • 3 - Brown Rat
  • 4 - Muntjac
  • 5 - Otter
  • 6 - Rabbit
  • 7 - Weasel
  • 8 - Fallow Deer
  • 9 - Bank Vole
  • 10 - Feral Goat
  • 11 - Red Squirrel
  • 12 - Polecat
  • 13 - Soprano Pipistrelle
  • 14 - Common Pipistrelle
  • 15 - Water Vole
  • 16 - Wood Mouse
  • 17 - Common Shrew
  • 18 - Pygmy Shrew
  • 19 - Water Shrew
  • 20 - Field Vole
  • 21 - Hedgehog
  • 22 - Badger
  • 23 - Mole
  • 24 - Red Fox
  • 25 - Common Seal
  • 26 - Grey Seal
  • 27 - Wild Boar
  • 28 - Red Deer
  • 29 - Mountain Hare
  • 30 - Daubenton's Bat
  • 31 - Sika
  • 32 - Chinese Water Deer
  • 33 - Edible Dormouse
  • 500 UK Birds

  • 481 - Western purple swamphen
  • 482 - Siberian Accentor
  • 483 - Forster's Tern
  • 484 - Blue Rock Thrush
  • 485 - Elegant Tern
  • 486 - Cedar Waxwing
  • 487 - Moltoni's Warbler
  • 488 - Grey Catbird
  • 489 - Stejneger's Stonechat
  • 490 - Tengmalm's Owl
  • 491 - Brown Booby
  • 492 - Paddyfield Pipit
  • 493 - Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • 494 - Asian Desert Warbler
  • 495 - Lammergeier
  • 496 -
  • 497 -
  • 498 -
  • 499 -
  • 500 -
  • 100 New Plant Species Photo Project



  • 1 - Radnor Lily
  • 2 - Perfoliate penny-cress
  • 3 - Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage
  • 4 - Musk Storksbill
  • 5 - Early Sand Grass
  • 6 - Tunbridge Filmy Fern
  • 7 - Little Mouse Ear
  • 8 - May lily
  • 9 - Procumbent pearlwort
  • 10 - Lesser Water Plantain
  • 11 - Thracian Birthwort
  • 12 - Sea Pearlwort
  • 13 - Blue Pimpernel
  • 14 - Bithynian vetch
  • 15 - Lesser Water Plantain
  • 16 - Few Flowered Fumitory
  • 17 - Somerset Skullcap
  • 18 - Wolfsbane
  • 19 - Green Houndstongue
  • 20 - Slender Centaury
  • 21 - Small Hare's Ear
  • 22 - Limestone Woundwort
  • 23 - Starved Wood Sedge
  • 24 - Seaside brookweed
  • 25 - Grass Poly
  • 26 - Pale Flax
  • 27 - Marsh St John's Wort
  • 28 - Pale Butterwort
  • 29 - Royal Fern
  • 30 - Pillwort
  • 31 - Yellow Bartsia
  • 32 - Hampshire Purslane
  • 33 - Pale Forget me Not
  • 34 - Alternate Water-milfoil
  • 35 - Round-leaved Crowfoot
  • 36 - Skullcap
  • 37 - Upright Spurge
  • 38 - Tasteless Water Pepper
  • 39 - Greater Dodder
  • 40 - Pink Purslane
  • 41 - Intermediate Bladderwort
  • 42 - Lesser Bladderwort
  • 43 - Slender Marsh Bedstraw
  • 44 - Lesser Marshwort
  • 45 - Heath Pearlwort
  • 46 - Rampion Bellflower
  • 47 - Mudwort
  • 48 - Good King Henry
  • 49 - Corky Fruited Water Dropwort
  • 50 - Fly honeysuckle
  • 51 - Alpine Bartsia
  • 52 - Ploughman's spikenard
  • 53 - Round leaved St John's wort
  • 54 - Shrubby Cinquefoil
  • 55 - Creeping Spearwort
  • 56 - Tufted Loostrife
  • 57 - Alpine Bartsia
  • 58 - Alpine Cotula
  • 59 - Smooth ladys mantle
  • 60 - White Mullein
  • 61 - Saw-wort
  • 62 - Wall Germander
  • 63 - Night Flowering Catchfly
  • 64 - Hoary Cinquefoil
  • 65 - Large Thyme
  • 66 - Heath Groundsel
  • 67 - Alpine Catchfly
  • 68 - Small Cow Wheat
  • 69 - Whorled Solomon's Seal
  • 70 - Mountain Currant
  • 71 - River Water Crowfoot
  • 72 - Isle of Man Cabbage
  • 73 - Dune Wormwood
  • 74 - Mountain Scurveygrass
  • 75 - Melancholy Thistle
  • 76 - Fan leaved Water-crowfoot
  • 77 - Nordic Bladderwort
  • 78 - Pennyroyal
  • 79 - Small Fleabane
  • 80 - Bulbous Rush
  • 81 - Caper Spurge
  • 82 - Common Bladderwort
  • 83 - Ivy leaved bellflower
  • 84 - Dwarf Spike Rush
  • 85 - Water Germander
  • 86 - Yellow Flowered teasel
  • 87 - Cut Leaved Nightshade
  • 88 - Hoary Willowherb
  • 89 - Golden Dock
  • 90 - Green Figwort
  • 91 - Sharp Rush
  • 92 - Few Flowered Fumitory
  • 93 - Nodding Bur Marigold
  • 94 - Purbeck Sea Lavender
  • 95 - Buttonweed
  • 96 - Galingale
  • 97 - Red Goosefoot
  • 98 - Brown Galingale
  • 99 -
  • 100 -

  • 2020 Bird Race

    No Particular Order

  • Cancelled for 2020

  • The Chip Count

    Chips 26
    Fish
    Fishcake
    Battered / Sausage 7
    Saveloy 9
    Spring Roll 1
    Pickled Egg
    Cheese and Onion Fritter 2
    Mushy Peas / Fritter 6
    Spam Fritter 1
    Haggis 4
    Mac n Cheese bites 2
    Pizza
    Parmo
    Burger 3
    John Bull
    Onion Rings 1
    Ice Cream 11

    2019 Total
    Chips 42
    Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites