About Two Owls

Friday 17 September 2021

August surprise Aquatic Warbler

August I think is always a slightly strange month as summer isn't quite over and autumn hasn't really begun but usually we see the start of the return migration.  This year was no exception with returning Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Spoonbill and Great White Egret all being seen locally in the first week of the month.  Otherwise it was very much the usual summer species that is until the 17th and typically it was a morning when Jackie and I had decided to have a bit of a lay-in. It was around 06:56hrs and my mobile pinged an alert which is for the local Lytchett What's app group.  It had to be good at that time of morning, so checking it was a message from Shaun who was ringing out in the reedbeds in the bay.  The message 'We have just caught an Aquatic Warbler if you want to see it get to the water works asap'.  We jumped out of bed and fifteen minutes later we were gathered at the waterworks and Shaun arrived and produced a stunning juvenile Aquatic Warbler. What a surprise as the wind was all wrong and conditions wasn't at all right for the species to be in the UK and at Lytchett Bay.

Juv. Aquatic Warbler Lytchett Bay © Nick & Jackie Hull

The next day we decided to have a walk out across the fields and catch-up on some waders that were lacking from our list and as we were leaving Ian messaged to say he had found a Little Stint on the Sherford Pools.  We arrived shortly after and Ian kindly pointed us in the right direction and Little Stint went on the list along with Ringed Plover for the patch.  

Our next real birding trip out was on the 23rd when we popped down to Lodmoor and had a very nice mornings birding.  We didn't get anything much out of the ordinary but had some really nice conversations with a number of different visiting birders enjoying the day.  Highlights of the day were Green and Common Sandpiper, Bearded Tit and no less than three Great White Egrets.

Great White Egret - Lodmoor © Nick Hull

Our next few walks didn't produce anything new until we had a visit to Sunnyside Farm it is here that we often add Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail to our harbour list.  So after visiting Arne to top up on bird food we had a quick stop off at Sunnyside and almost straight away we heard Yellow Wagtails and eventually managed to find them out in the field with the cattle.  

A family walk in Wareham Forest produced very little but we ended the walk with excellent views of Spotted Flycatcher which brought the month's birding to an end.  

Spotted Flycatcher - Coldharbour © Nick Hull

Roll on September what could be waiting for us to see or find.  We are 11 species short of the 200 species with three months still to go it's going to be interesting and close run thing this year.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

The promised blog at last

 Hi all, sorry this has taken so long we have been a little busy of late with domestic duties etc. but here are a few of the other inverts we saw on our Hartland Moor walk.

Ammophila sabulosa Sand Wasp ©Nick Hull

The Dorset heathland have both species of sand wasp but Ammophila sabulosa is the commonest of the two they are fairly difficult to tell apart but A.sabulosa tend to be larger and have a bluish sheen to the black segment at the end of the abdomen which you can just make out on this shot.  They are a parasitic wasp which predates on moth larvae which it stocks it's burrows before sealing up the burrow. When her  hatch the young then feed on the caterpillars.  The adult will often return and check to see if more food is required at a later date.

Bee Wolf - Philanthus triangulum © Nick Hull

This is another species that burrows into firm sanding soils and it specialises in Honey Bees which it paralyses and stock several cells in her burrow and the covers in the burrow entrance They were formerly rare but in recent years have expanded their range and are becoming quite common around areas that have suitable habitat for them.

Ruby-tailed Wasp - Chrysididae Cuckoo Wasp species ©Nick Hull

We also saw one or two Jewel or Ruby-tailed Wasps the above photograph was of one I found in our conservatory there is quite a large number of species in this group and they need microscoptic examination of the genitalia to get to individual species.  There are others which can be identified from good photographs but still pretty tricky.  

These are parasitic also but they lay their eggs in various other digger wasp species burrows, it often helps to identify the host species burrow which indicates which is the likely ruby-tail species.  For example if the ruby-tailed pictured was Hedychrum niemelia its host would be Cerceris digger wasps.  If it should be Chrysis ignita its host species would be Wood nesting Mason Wasps.

In the last blog I posted a little about the Purbeck Mason Wasp  and during our walk I mentioned that they feed by taking the nectar from the heather flowers but because they have short tongues they short cut by snipping through the side of the flower.  Whilst out surveying after our walk I came across some heather where they had been feeding and took a couple of shots to show what I was describing. 

Snipped out base of heather flowers to enable access to the
nectar by the Purbeck Mason Wasp

To finish today's blog one of the last we came across, digging a burrow then found a few feeding, was a bee with big yellow baskets on the hind legs.  I tentatively identified it as Pantaloop Bee, having not seen a female of the species before, just a male in our garden and that was only for the first time this year.  So I took a few photographs and checked the id at home and indeed they were Dasypoda hirtipes the Pantaloon Bee named for obvious reasons.

Female Pantaloon Bee - Dasypoda  hirtipes © Nick Hull

The next blog will be the August bird and wildlife highlights.