Monday, 19 June 2017

Lesser Emperor

Wow what a stunning few days we've had. Not so great for a three and a half week old baby, but great for dragonflies which is why I had a wander around Lower Bruckland Ponds this afternoon.

This proved a great move with a stunning surprise in the form of a male Lesser Emperor at 3pm over the top pond.  This is the third Lesser Emp I've found here (previous being 16th July 2006 and 10th August 2012) and turns out this afternoon several have appeared in the UK.  Sadly no pics as it didn't settle, and I last saw it being chased by an Emperor towards the next pond down. Fingers crossed it hangs around, all my previous have been multi-observed and I'd like to keep that record up!

Other notable Odonata on show this afternoon included my first Small Red-eyed Damselflies of the year, with at least five males on the smallest two ponds, am pretty sure these are fairly early too. Also still at least nine Scarce Chaser on the wing, seven lone males and an ovipositing pair. The more usual fare included 15+ Emperor, 20+ Black-tailed Skimmer, five Four-spotted Chaser, three Beautiful Demoiselle, two Banded Demoiselle, one Broad-bodied Chaser and the usual damselfly species.  And now for some pretty pictures...

Here's two different Small Red-eyed Damselflies...



Three different male Scarce Chasers...



A Four-spotted Chaser...



A Beautiful Demoiselle...



And VERY unusually for this blog - a flower! A rather long-stemmed Common Spotted (I think!?) Orchid...



And I just had to photograph this Coot chick on its completely exposed nest. Most Coot nests here are nicely tucked away...



I have also got a bit of birding news to catch up with.  I've already enjoyed three early morning wanders around the Axe Wetlands with Harry...



Each time I've heard singles of singing male Common and Lesser Whitethroats from the field to the south of the entrance track to Black Hole Marsh.  Interestingly the Axe Estuary Ringing Group recently trapped a breeding female Lesser White on Stafford Marsh as well, which is great news.  There certainly seems to be plenty of young passerines about this year too which is encouraging - it looks to have been a good breeding season for many species.

Sometime last week I has a Hobby from the back garden, not before time as they have been regular around here this summer. Red Kites are also clearly still around in some number, I had one over Colyton on Wednesday of last week and received emails informing me of low flying birds over Musbury (two) and Colyford on different days within the past week.

Apologies for the lack of posts lately guys, a mostly awake sometimes crying baby hasn't helped the cause. Although actually tonight he really did help...

 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Stormie

Good sea watching weather in June often doesn't produce much, with most species of sea bird safely on their breeding grounds a long long way away.  It's always worth a look though, especially if you need Storm Petrel for your Patchwork Challenge year list!

Although it's the strong winds and heavy rain that bring Storm Petrels close to shore, I always have better luck finding them off here once the weather has calmed down. Big waves and dark seas are not helpful when trying to pick out a Sparrow-sized mostly black bird that's probably a mile or so out! But when the waves ease and a bit of sun comes out that's when I usually have success, and today was no different...

Yesterday it rained and rained, and a really strong south westerly wind whipped up. These conditions were due to continue overnight until about 4am, when the rain was to ease and wind switch to a north westerly direction - perfect. So at about 05:20 I was setting my scope up in front of a nicely pale coloured and not too rough sea, and about fifteen minutes later my prize came. It wasn't the closest Storm Petrel I've ever seen here, but it remained in almost constant view for at least five minutes as it slowly battled its way west.  I always get such a thrill seeing this tiny sea bird over the huge expanse of the ocean, and I was surprised to remind myself on my return home that the last Stormie I saw here was back in May 2013.

Other than this it was a predictably quiet sea watch with 05:20-06:20 showing just; 

15+ Gannet
7 Kittiwake
7 Swift

I've not seen much about lately, hence the recent lack of blog posts. A flock of c46 Black-tailed Godwits on the Estuary on 2nd June were a real surprise as there have only been single figures present through most of May. I wonder if they were a late spring flock or a group of non-breeding birds?  

I do have some highly gripping news though of an Axe mega seen yesterday, a male Red-backed Shrike briefly on Colyford Common at midday. Despite a very quick and much appreciated text from Sue Murphy, we all managed to miss it. Hopefully it's not gone far though.

I'm sorry this has been a photo-less post, but I think I deserve some credit having written this entire blog post with a baby fast asleep on my left arm!!