About Two Owls

Monday 28 April 2014

Bumblebee Workshop

Nick and I had a great day on Saturday in Winchester attending a Bumblebee Workshop.  I've long wanted to learn about Bumblebees and how to identify them, so this hands on day was just what I needed.  

So yesterday we were out in the garden trying to identify some of the bees we found on our flowers, between the showers anyway.  We were surprised how many there were though of course many were the same species or not a True Bumblebee or Cuckoo Bumblebee, for example Osmia rufa (Red Mason) bee.

We actually found four species and though we were told that we should only use the scientific name we have also put the known English name.   So hopefully we've not made a mistake with our identification.

Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee)
Bombus hypnorum (Tree Bumblebee)
Bombus terrestris (Buff-tailed Bumblebee)
Bombs pratorum (Early Bumblebee).

Nick took a few photos:

Bombus hypnorum

                                              Bombus pratorum

                                           Bombus terrestris - Queen

                                           Bombus terrestris - Queen

                                          Bombus terrestris - Queen

Monday 21 April 2014

In Search of Nightingale's

This morning Jackie and I were out pretty early with the group to a known site on the Isle of Purbeck in search for Nightingale. We were not sure if we would be lucky as we visited a few day ago and the only migrants we saw or heard were Blackcap and Chiffchaff.  Anyway after gathering together we headed off on what was a very sunny and warming morning and almost immediately Jackie heard a Goldcrest and we located it in a small fir tree singing his little heart out.  Just a few steps further on a Common Whitethroat was heard and sighted and we found three may four individuals in the scrub.  Chiffchaff and Blackcaps were also in good voice with a mix of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock,  Goldfinch and Wren all vying for songster of the morning.  It was only another twenty metres and I heard a distant 'tup,tup,tup,tup, pu,pu,puuu' from further along the path.  Walking another hundred to a hundred and fifty metres found us being serenaded not by one but two Nightingales superb.  Added to this a Grasshopper Warbler started his "reeling" song.
Snoozing Roe buck © Nick Hull
We listened and searched the bushes for a view as we listened for direction and it was Joe who picked a Nightingale out deep in the middle of a bush and he managed to get a scope onto it for all to see.  We spent quite a while here just listening to these wonderful songsters.  We managed to add Yellowhammer, Stonechat, Skylark a super relaxed buck Roe Deer and a few very young easter bunnies and a couple of very colourful cock Pheasants. Eventually we had to move on and we continued searching for bird, though we always keep and eye open for what other wildlife and be seen and Jess found our first Early Purple Orchids of the year.  Some of the group had two Field Voles, butterflies noted were Green-viened and Small White, Orange-tip, Peacock and Speckled Wood, and a Bloody-nose Beetle crossed the path in front of us all very nice to see.

Early Purple Orchid
Bloody-nose Beetle © Nick Hull
From a vantage point at the top of the hill we could view across the Poole harbour basin and dotted around in the sky were several pairs of Common Buzzards all enjoying the thermals.  I was able to check the Osprey post down in the Middlebere Channel and there was what looked like a bird of prey sitting on it was it could have been an Osprey or just another buzzard the distance was just to great.  Overhead we had a steady trickle of Swallows and a few House Martins.  We did hear a few Yellow Wagtails going over though difficult to see.

Here is a link to our audio/video page with a short recording made by Jackie on her iphone of the Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler singing this morning.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Hartland Moor

I started the day again at the moth trap and this morning produced 38 moths of 17 species new for the garden Brindled Beauty & Acleris Kochiella a small tortrix and new for the year were Muslin Moth and Brimstone.

Fresh Brimstone Moth from this mornings trap

Later in the morning we met our small group at Middlebere and walked around Hartland Moor.  From where we parked our cars most heard and saw Long-tailed Tits and our first Cuckoo of the spring and watched Meadow Pipit.  We started by walking the old tramway across the heath and Goldfinch, Linnet, several pairs of Linnet and Dartford Warbler, Stonechat and a couple of Willow Warbler were all seen well.

One of several Dartford Warblers seen today

We also recorded several species of butterfly,  Peacock, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell. As we walked on we had a couple of Skylark having a sing-off over the moor and several Buzzards were enjoying the thermals and soaring high above.  Our returning route took us back across the heath where we recorded several Chiffchaff and saw more butterflies and adding Green-veined White and Speckled Wood to our list. The silver sand of the path we were taking attracted a good number of Green Tiger Beetles.

One of many Green Tiger Beetle seen today
We crossed the road and started to head towards Middleber, here we had more of what we had already seen Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Chaffinch and Willow Warbler also commoner species like Robin Dunnock, Blackbirds and Wrens. A male Kestrel graced the sky as it went about finding itself lunch.  We stopped and scoped the Wytch Channel in the hope of waders but Curlew, Shelduck, Mallards and a few gulls were all that was present.  Jess spotted a Treecreeper but it didn't stay for all to see. Though the best bird here was picked up by Jackie an immature female Marsh Harrier came up the channel quartering the reed bed before heading off towards Middlebere.

One of Many Linnets enjoying todays sun

It was here that the group split Jackie with most of the group headed towards the cars for lunch, but myself along with Liz and Joe, continued on along the ridge to look over Middlebere channel to see if an Osprey was perch in the favoured dead trees but there was no sign.  We did connect with the Marsh Harrier again and had a Wheatear sunning herself.  Jackie and the others had a Large Red Damselfly to add to our day list.  But I think one of the star sightings of the day was when we were sat in the car having lunch Liz called there is a green lizard if fact we found four different individuals a Common and the rest were Sand Lizards so I grabbed the carmera and managed a few shots.  Nice end to the morning.

Super male Sand Lizard photographed at lunchtime


Lytchett Bay and Swineham

Started this morning nice and early checking the moth trap only eighteen moths of just nine species. Though the thing about having a new garden is for a while you get garden firsts and as last year was so cold and wet I didn't get started until later in the season, so I'm finding a few 'new for the garden' species. This morning included Herald, Nut-tree Tussock and Luna Marbled Brown.  I also caught two Clouded Drab one was at the pale end and the other the dark end of the colour spectrum they almost look like different species.

Lunar Marbled Brown
Both ends of the colour phases of Clouded Drab
A walk around the western end of the patch this morning added just four migrants species Wheatear, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Swallow so very little migrant movement away from the coastal strip though not that much better.  Perhaps too clear a night and the birds went over then taking a break further inland.

After doing family stuff this afternoon we had just arrived home when Jackie received a tweet and checked our local birding forum.  Paul Morton had found two Black-winged Stilt on the meadows next to the Frome near Ridge.  A quick call to Liz to see if she wanted to join us, which she did and we headed off.  Parking at Bestwall we walked towards Swineham Point, past the Curlews then climbed the bank, where they have felled the pines, and viewed across the meadows.  In the pool left of the Ridge Yacht Club  we could see a couple of Shelduck then a single female type Black-winged Stilt and a little further to the left the scope fell on a male. This was a Poole Harbour first for Jackie and I and looking back in the records there has only been two previous sighting in the Poole Harbour area the first in 1960 at the old Wareham Sewage works. Another record of an immature 3rd August - 6th September was from Brownsea Island lagoon on 7th June 1978 but this seems to not have been submitted or rejected by BBRC as it doesn't appear in the Birds of Dorset. The first recorded record for Dorset was at Lodmoor which was shot in 1837.  

A Fantastic finish to the day but I've just heard that there has been 10 found today on the Isle of Wight. Wow!  

Thanks to http://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk and Paul Morton for allowing us to use his photograph of this lovely pair of waders.

Black-winged Stilts - Wareham Meadows - © Paul Morton @harbourbirds

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Woodland Walk

Our Tuesday group met at Upton Country Park this morning for a woodland walk and listening to the spring birdsong.  In the car park we heard a Goldcrest singing so a good start and soon we had Great and Blue Tit, and a smart little Coal Tit put in an appearance.  As you would expect we also had Chaffinch, Robin and Blackbird and tucked down in a grassy field were a pair of Mallards.

We could hear the calls of Nuthatch and eventually we found a pair very busy looking for food on some mossy branches.  A Blackcap started singing but it was hidden away in a patch of dead foliage and we just listened to him for a while until he popped out briefly before flying across the path to start singing again.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker gave it's little "chipping" call, then Kate spied a small  bird and called our attention to it, it was Jess that was able to get a good view and confirm it was a Firecrest.  Such a beautiful little bird and always a joy to see, though as usual it was flitting so much it was hard to keep up with.

Further on I could hear a distant Willow Warbler singing, then Jess picked out a small warbler almost at eye level, however this was a Chiffchaff.  At first it gave a very quiet "wheet" almost under it's breath, we had such close views then as we moved on, it chose that moment to start singing it's usual "chiff chaff" song and we did later see a Willow Warbler.

As we looked over Holes Bay on a very low tide there were not that many birds to be seen, though we did have Curlew, Oystercatcher and Shelducks and a small flock of Teal flew in.  We could hear Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead and then we found some roosting with Black-headed Gulls in the bay.  

As we finished we came across a nice show of Lesser Celandines and a small patch of Snake-head Fritillaries.

Lesser Celandines 
Snake-head Fritillaries

Thursday 3 April 2014

Message from Chris Packham

We received a request to post the below message and it's something we have publicised in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
The Message from Chris.
Pasted below is a link to the home page of my website which currently displays information about an important project which I will be working on shortly. I'd like to ask you to forward this link by e-mail, Facebook and Twitter to as many people as possible, it really doesn't matter if they are 'into wildlife' or not, I'd like everyone to learn about this issue. Or if you have your own website then please copy the details onto it and encourage as many visits as you can.
'Malta – Massacre on Migration' will be my first 'as live' nightly YouTube diary from the frontline of this Mediterranean slaughter ground. Each evening at 9.00 PM UK time we will upload a short report of the days activities to increase awareness of the impact of the mass killing of birds and to ask viewers to help us end this vile travesty.
So please click on the link for more information and then please share it widely. We can make a difference - but only if we act.
Thank you
Best Wishes
Chris Packham

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Black-tailed Godwit travels

Only a quick post, On Saturday Jackie and I recorded a Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit on the local patch and we have just received the data back from the project and it appears this bird is well travelled.  
This is the data of it's life so far and where it has been:-

Adult, male
R8-YO 11.07.10 Hrisholl, Berufjordur, Reykholar, NW Iceland
R8-YO 17.08.10 Shannon Airport Lagoon, Co. Clare, W Ireland
R8-YO 22.10.10 Port du Collet, Bouin, Vendée, W France
R8-YO 12.11.10 Bondre du Briolet, La Turballe, Loire Atlantique, France
R8-YO 02.12.10 La Turballe, Loire-Atlantique, NW France
R8-YO 04.07.11 Berufjörður, Reykhólar, NW Iceland
R8-YO 04.10.11 Kergeorget, Sarzeau, NW France
R8-YO 09.04.12 Rossleague, Cork Harbour, Co. Cork, S Ireland
R8-YO 31.8.13 Men-Armor beach,Pénestin,Morbihan,NW France
R8-YO 29.03.14 Lytchett Bay, Poole Harbour, Dorset, S England