Hawfinch and Desert Wheatear

Had to finish the year on a day out and the last day of the year was the chosen day, the first bird of the day to try and find was the Hawfinch, there were plenty about after the influx in to the country but were we destined to find any.

Fountains Abbey was the place we were going to look for a few birds had been reported over the last few days in Yew tress near the Hall, just by the bridge near Westgate Car Park, (Westgate Car Park). On arrival we soon picked up on Blackbirds, Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch and then a fly over Hawfinch, I hoped that was going to be todays few, I needn’t have worried it wasn’t long after that a few Hawfinch started to settle in the nearby trees giving excellent views, other highlights a pair of Grey Wagtail and Redwing

On again to Danby Beacon for Snow Buntings, I wasnt holding out on these due to the high winds, after much looking only came up with a Male Stonechat and a few Red Grouse

Back in the car and down to Whitby for my second ever Desert Wheatear, obliging bird found on the farm track near the Abbey but keeping low down to the ground due to high winds, difficult to get a decent photo as well

Back in the car again and down to Scarborough stopping at Marine drive where we picked up Fulmars on the Rocks and a few Red throated Divers off shore, around the harbour were Turnstones, CormorantsHerring Gulls and on the defence wall 5 Purple Sandpipers, were keeping low trying to keep out of the wind, and to finish the day off a Starling Murmuration along the seafront

Day List :

Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Crow, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Cormorant, Desert Wheatear, Fulmar, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Hawfinch, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Pheasant, Purple Sandpiper, Red Grouse, Red Kite, Red throated Diver, Redwing, Feral Pigeon, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Turnstone, Woodpigeon

Hawfinch

Hawfinch

Desert Wheatear

Desert Wheatear 2

Red throated Diver

Red throated Diver

Old Moor

Good to be out again alas not venturing far, blowing a few cobwebs off, but to a place that has become one of my favourite places, Old Moor [Map of Old Moor]

Arriving on site at about 11am it was plain to see many birds along the hedgerow, Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch were readily picked up.

Thru and into the visiter centre to check in before venturing on to site, after this the first port of call was the garden hide were Grey Squirrels were being very active on birdtables and hanging on feeders. Birds on the garden feeders were Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Long tailed Tit and Wren was flitting about. Around the base of the feeders were Moorhens.

A a first visit over to the Tree Sparrow farm produced Collard Dove, Bullfinch, Reed Buntings, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker alarm calling from a tree as I made my way down to the family hide.

A view over the Mere from the hide, plenty of Wildfowl about Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Pochard, Shovelers, Tufted Duck and I even managed to pick out a Male Pintail. A few Geese on the mere the usual Canadas and Greylags, along with plenty of Cormorants, Black headed Gulls and a few Lesser Black backed and Herring Gulls.

Down at Wath Ings Hide a Green Sandpiper was a nice addition to the day list, also at Wath Ings I managed to add Little Egret and Grey Heron,

On my way out thru into the car park I picked up 7 Redwing flying over

Day List :- Blackbird, Black headed Gull, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collard Dove, Common Gull, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pintail ♂, Pochard, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Shoveler, Song Thrush, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon

Squirrel raiding the feeders

Squirrel...Mission Possible

In search of the High Brown

The High Brown Fritillary Butterfly a difficult one to separate from the Dark Green Fritillary unless you get a good view of the underside of the High Brown and it would also be a new butterfly species for me, so the best way of seeing one would be in Cumbria on a Butterfly Conservation walk with licenced catchers who are allowed to net the High Brown.

Undermillbeck Common was the battle ground and the group was 10 strong with two nets let the battle commence.

Any butterfly took some finding on this overcast day we started with Small Skippers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets. The Fritillary’s were harder to find but we got some luck with a sunny interval and Fritillary’s started to appear, netting them was different thing but once the experts got their eye in catches stated to happen. Examination of the first half-dozen showed all to be Dark Green Fritillay’s, bellies were rumbling so we decided on a dinner break, more Fritillary’s appeared tantalising us as we ate our sandwich’s , sure they were grinning as they flew past.

Plan B after dinner to a site nearby, which was within walking distance, we kept a look out for Purple Hairstreaks on the way passed some oak trees, they were being elusive as well. On the site Small Skippers and Common Blue Damselflies were about, no High Browns to be seen. A Common Blue Butterfly was on the wing then we had great views of a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary settled and gave the group some wonderful views, then a Female Black Darter settled and gave us a great photo opportunity.

The idea was to go back to the first site for an extra 20 mins but it took only 5 mins before a fritillary was in the net the call went out a High Brown had been caught and was soon in the pot giving the group good views of the fine details of the butterfly before it was released.

We left the site and four of us decided to go on to another High Brown site (Barkbooth Lot) and on entering the site we had caught another High Brown Fritillary within 5 minutes, these turned out to be the only two we saw for the day , we had plenty of Dark Green Fritillary’s to confuse us all

High Brown Fritillary

High Brown Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary-03228_edited-1

Gull, Butterflies and Snakes

Our first port of call for the day was at Nosterfield Nature Reserve, still in Yorkshire so we were off to a good start, the target for the early morning was a 2nd calendar year Sabine’s Gull (Video via Roger Parrish you tube), it took some finding eventually appearing to good close views, a great bird to see in flight with a very distinctive wing pattern, a lifer for me so I was off to a good start. Other birds here Great Crested Grebe, Black headed Gulls, Common Sandpiper, were of note.

On then to Foulshaw Moss for the Butterfly of the day, Foulshaw being in Cumbria so we had a little bit of a trek for 90mins. Arriving on site we made our way down to the Osprey viewing platform, the Osprey was seen on nearby trees around the nest site and in the nest feeding a young bird. A Water Rail was heard here and seen were Swift, Sand Martins and Swallows.

Coming down off the platform we walked on towards a viewing point and from here our second target was seen, a speciality of Foulshaw Moss the Large Heath Butterfly, good views were finally had when a couple decided to settle, a butterfly that was always on the move and at a distance so photos were not obtained, plus the fact we were on a peatbog, so I was sticking to the boardwalk, this butterfly was also a lifer for me, taking my tally now to 51 species, 7 more to go +1 in Ireland.

The day was brightening up, sunny intervals were more common which had now brought out the Common Lizards on to the boardwalk, 4 Banded Longhorn Beetles were seen along with a few Large Skipper, and  Green veined White  Butterflies.

Back at  the car park we got news of a Snake nearby, we had to have a look, it turned out to be an Adder another first for me, I was having a great day. We then got news of another snake, someone saying it was a Grass Snake, but taking a look at it this snake also turned out to be an Adder.

We then made our way up to Whitbarrows Nature Reserve a new place so neither of us knew where we were going, we took a best guess, we ended somewhere near but not on the spot. We made the most of it seeing Silver washed Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, Large Skipper, Green veined White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and unsure in a couple of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Four Banded Longhorn Beetle

4 banded Longhorn Beetle

Adder

Adder

Gambia

My March Gambian Trip can now be  viewed  here at this LINK

Hornsea Mere

Uncertainty over the Butterfly I wanted to see saw us heading out to Hornsea Mere to hopefully see the reported Red footed Falcon but on arrival it hadn’t been seen since 9am we arrived at 9:30am, not to be discouraged we were compensated with the aerial display of 5 or 6 Hobbies which more than made up for the loss of not seeing the Falcon.

Other birds seen whilst hunting out the Falcon were Marsh Harrier, Mute Swan, Swift, House Martin, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Cettis Warbler, Swallow, Tufted Duck. Also of interest at Hornsea and been here for a while was an Iceland Gull, which was located with the ducks rather a surprise

Iceland Gull at Hornsea Mere

Iceland Gull

After Hornsea we ventured out to Fordon Chalk Bank, near Hunmanby and the Wold Top Brewey, a Butterfly Site, a new site for me and I picked up a few firsts for the year notably my favourite the Small Copper. Numerous Brown Argus were on site along with Speckled Wood and Common Blue, in low numbers were Large Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Small Heath,

Small Copper Butterfly

Small Copper

We didn’t give the site a lot of time due to a text message of the butterfly I wanted to see today so it was off to a site near Knaresborugh where I saw the UK smallest Butterfly the Small Blue, so Id seen the UK largest and now the Smallest over a weekend

Small Blue Butterfly

Small Blue

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Swallowtails

I had a very brief visit down to the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw fen, the journey that so many people make for the Swallowtail Butterflies.

2017 was the year I was determined to see and photograph them after failing on a few occasions, so with news they were in flight and a good day of sun I was off heading south at 4am in the morning arriving at 8:30am after a 185 miles.

I walk around to the famous garden where the Swallowtails visit, but I was a little early so I had a look around picking up Cettis and Reed Warblers as I waited, Azure Damselflies and Large Red Damselflies.

An hour past before 1 Swallowtail appeared which I and a few other folk enjoyed as it feed amongst the flower bed, the spectacle lasted about an hour, before the Swallowtails dried up so I made my way back to the visitor centre and did a bit of birding as well. Here a Cuckoo took flight across the reserve, Grey Heron among the reeds and a Marsh Harrier flew thru

Swallowtail Butterfly

Swallowtail

Swallowtail