About Two Owls

Sunday 11 December 2022

November Birding

After our Normandie trip it was back home to wet stormy weather so the start of the month was pretty slow mainly patch birding, ticking off the usual waders and woodland birds and those visiting the garden feeders.  On the 11th it was a clear sunny day though a little windy and Jackie wasn't feeling a 100% so I went out to Studland on  my own to see if I could get a few photographs of the Snow Bunting which had been found on the beach at Shell Bay. Annoyingly the Corfe Castle to Studland road was closed so I had to go via Swanage.  After arriving in the NT car park by the ferry toll booths I headed off out on to the beach and fortunately due to the ferry being out of commission on its service there were very few people on the beach.  I had been told that the bunting was often near the new enclosure so I wondered up the tideline near the sand dunes thinking if it was anywhere it would be searching for food in this area.  Well I scoured the area with no luck and I was just going to give up when I heard a Snow Bunting call going overhead but looking up didn't see it pass over me.  I scanned down the beach and saw fellow birder Gary Hayman walking towards me it didn't look that he had seen it either so I decided to walk through the dunes and marram incase it had pitched down into cover. I kept an eye on Gary as he walked toward me and I then noticed he turned and was looking at something on the beach and guessed it was the bunting so I quickly joined him and another birder and there it was just a few metres away and it enabled me to get some nice shots of this arctic breeding bunting.  
Snow Bunting - Shell Bay © Nick Hull

After we had our fill of Snow Bunting Gary and I then walked out to Jerry's Point to look over the harbour.  This proved quite fruitful as we had 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Great Northern Diver, and Black-necked Grebe and my first Red-breasted Mergansers of the winter.  At the end of the day Jackie and I recieved news that there was a Great Northern Diver in Lytchett Bay, a patch lifer, so we quickly headed out to Turlin Moor as that was where it had been seen last and in the last light of day we managed to see it roosting on the water in the main channel.  We popped out again on the 13th and had better views of it just off the Turlin screen, not often we add a species to our patch life list so thanks goes to David White who found it.

Red-throated Diver - Bramble Bush Bay © Nick Hull

In the late afternoon (13th) we traveled up to the northern chalk around the Cranborne Chase where we managed to have brief views of Grey Partridge, Red Kite and a early evening Barn Owl and a small flock of Corn Bunting going off to roost, not a bad day.

In bad weather on the 15th we had a look around the northern side of the harbour well mostly from the van as it was wet and windy but the only bird of note was a single late Swallow which passed by the van whilst at Baiter.  

On the 17th we headed down to Weymouth via Dorchester where we were to pick up my mother and take her out for lunch.  Once we arrived in Weymouth it was a little early to go straight to lunch so as the Sabine's Gulls were still at Chesil Cove, we had missed them on our last try, we popped over to Portland and had a look.  As there wasn't a parking space I had to to the top of the road to turn the van around. At the top we had the height to look over the wall to see over the Cove and there right in front of us were two Sabine's Gull. I jumped out of the van with the camera and took a couple of quick shots and then we headed off for lunch at the Turks Head at Chickerell and very nice it was to.

Sabine's Gull - Chesil Cove © Nick Hull

Sabine's Gull - Chesil Cove © Nick Hull

A shot of a Kittiwake that was in the company of the Sabine's Gull and a couple Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull which was all that could be seen.
Kittiwake - Chesil Cove © Nick Hull

On the 20th Jackie and I met friends for a walk around Lodmoor which turned out pretty non-eventful in that it was more or less the usual species present but a flock of Golden Plover and a redhead Goosander were nice bonus species. In fact I can't remember having seen Goosander before at Lodmoor.
Female Gossander - Lodmoor © Nick Hull

Unfortunately this was the end of our birding for the month as we both came down with a winter chough/cold and spent the remainder of the month trying to shake it off.  So we only managed 90 species this mouth but added one or two to the 10km and 1 patch lifer so not to bad at all.  What will December bring?

Thursday 8 December 2022

Short Break to Normandie

After Mig-Week in Yorkshire Jackie and I spent a few days at home before we headed off to Normandie as we had to use up our ferry tickets which we purchased back in 2020 for our crossing from Poole to Cherbourg.  We didn't have the best of weather sunshine and showers I think sums it up pretty well.  Though it enabled us to do a couple days of birding and visit friends which we hadn't seen since before covid hit. 

For our first couple of days we stayed at Crasville a small hamlet near the coast which gave us access to drive to a few of our favourite places for birding. Gatteville-Le-Phare, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, Domaine De Beauguillot, La Pointe de Brevand, Géfosse-Fontenay and the  
Ponts Douve, Carentan les Marais. We saw 88 species in what was two and a half days of birding not too bad but if the wind was in the right direction we would have picked up more birds off shore but sea watching was poor.  

Cattle Egret - en-route to La Pointe de Brevand © Nick Hull

The Domaine De Beauguillot is a wetland reserve unfortunately they are doing some conservation work on the reserve so a large area was closed off but we managed to scope over part of the reserve.  We found a large flock of Barnacle Geese also Golden Plover in with the Lapwing and what was really nice was we had two Zitting Cisticola 'zitting' around us.  It was nice to see them as they suffered a few years ago when the Beast of the East freeze hit France as well as us in the UK and Zitting Cisticola suffered badly in Normandie as did the Cattle Egret.  In fact around the polder that surrounds the La Baie des Veys we came across really good numbers of Cattle Egret with many of the grazing cattle herds.

Red-legged & Grey Partridge near La Pointe de Brevand

At>La Pointe de Brevand we had the usual common waders though the tide was out and the waterfowl were scattered over the the mud far and wide. So we headed to >Géfosse-Fontenay en-route I spotted a small covey of partridge of both Red-legged and Grey species which we don't often seen here. Looking out from the beach at >Géfosse-Fontenay the other side of the bay we found 5 Curlew Sandpiper amongst the usual many Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Curlew Grey plover etc.  On our return to the cottage I noticed some egret in a field conveniently next to a layby. I quickly pulled in and took a look through the hedge and was surprised to see 9 Great White Egret and a Grey Heron all stood out in the field I assume they may have been migrant birds as I'm not aware of any breeding in the area. That evening at the cottage we heard Cirl Bunting singing in the adjacent field and we also heard it again the next morning.

Female/immature type Black Redstart - Gateville-Le-Phare © Nick Hull

Gateville-Le-Phare didn't produce much, as I mentioned earlier the wing direction wasn't right for good sea-watching, but we had a Peregrine hunting around the Lighthouse (Phare) and saw it catch something presumably a Turnstone or another wader which it carried off east.  We also had a female/immature type Black Redstart around the cottages and a very nice Wheatear with the Alba Wagtails on the rocks by the beach.

Northern Wheatear - Gateville-Le-Phare © Nick Hull

Our only other birding was with a friend in the forest in Calvados where she lives and we added Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper to our list which was a nice end to a short trip.

Friday 11 November 2022

October & MigWeek 2022 plus

 MigWeek 2022

Jackie and I have been away to The East Riding Yorkshire for The Flamborough Observatory MigWeek 2022.  This is the fourth time we have visited for this event and there is three reasons for that. 1. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly 2. Some good birding and 3. Excellent lectures. 

From the birding side they have ringing demo’s, vismig every morning, also birding walks and every other evening a lecture. 

We left home on the 7th Oct and arrived around six hours later at a Haven Holiday Park at Flamborough which turned out very convenient for most of the locations we wanted to visit. 

Our first morning we headed to Flamborough Obs at the South Landing to the ringing demo, not expecting a great morning as the wind was in the southwest where it stayed all week which effectively totally wrong for good migration for this coastline.  Nonetheless we were hopeful.  When we arrived the ringing team had just arrived back from a net round with several full bags.  By the end of the the morning had seen two Yellow-browed Warbler, Redwing, Blackcap several Wren, a couple of Treecreeper and Tree Sparrows. They also caught 13 Long-tailed Tit and as they release them all together so they don’t lose contact when they did it was like a bomb burst with birds going in all directions.  

Two of several Yellow-browed Warbler seen Flamborough Obs. © Nick Hull

Looking at the photographs of the two Yellow-browed Warbler the plumage colour difference is probably due to different light condition when the shots were taken but you can see the bill colour differs with the one pictured on the left having an orangey lower mandible.

Just as the morning ringing had slowed down news of a Bittern at Thornwick Pools came through, this was literally right next to where we were staying so we headed off and ten minutes later were in the hide viewing across the pools.  Within a couple of minutes the Bittern walked out of the small reed bed and up the bank opposite pointed its bill skyward and enjoying the warmth of the sun.  I wish all twitches were as easy as this. 

Bittern- Thornwick Pools © Nick Hull

Most mornings we would start the day at Flamborough Obs with the ringing and gauge what to do next on the amount of overnight migration there had been.  Due to the wind direction most mornings were a little slow so we would head off somewhere else one such place was Hornsea Mere.  The Mere can be very good and has aways turned up something on our previous visits.  This year we arrived and things looked pretty quiet but we met a local birder intently scanning through distant wildfowl and he told us he had seen a Black-necked Grebe and a drake Greater Scaup in with the many Wigeon.  So we joined him and after a while I managed to find the Scaup an immature male or perhaps one still in partial eclipse plumage and a short while later found the grebe.  Whilst we were there the wildfowl numbers continued to increase as birds were flighting into the Mere and whilst directing another couple of birders towards where the Scaup was in the growing raft of duck four Whooper Swan flew in and settled giving there typical 'hooping' calls. 

On another occasion we headed off inland to Top Hill Low this is a water treatment works reservoir. Our target species here was to find a Smew on the reservoir.  Since we last visited here with a Two Owls group there had been a new hide/welcome centre built which was very nice but unfortunately not all the trails were open due to maintenance work. From the main hide we scanned the reservoir which had a good selection of wildfowl present with Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard and of course Mallard also there were seven Whooper Swan.  

Whooper Swan - Tophill Low © Nick Hull

We found a Black-necked Grebe just left of the hide much closer than the one we saw at Hornsea.  We continued our scanning and eventually another birder said he had found the Smew roughly half way along the reservoir with a few Coot and Tufted Duck.  It was a nice red-headed female and she was busy diving regularly and would regularly disappear.  We also found Goldeneye in fact around ten birds were on the water here, a species which was hard to find in the harbour at Poole last year.  We also visited again the next day with friends and went to a different hide over looking a large pool with islands and here we had Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Curlew, Redshank, Little Grebe, Greylag Geese a single Pink-footed Goose and a small flock of Golden Plover, which added to our growing list.

Reeve & Ruff - Tophill Low © Nick Hull

We also came across a few insects this very fresh Comma was a nice addition.

Comma Butterfly - Tophill Low © Nick Hull

and we also found several Common Darter one or two were seen still matting.  You can see the white stripe on the legs in this shot which is a good id feature for this species.

Common Darter - Tophill Low © Nick Hull

On two other mornings we were up early and went to Hunmanby Gap this was where Keith Clarkson was taking an introduction to vismig for anyone who wanted to join him.  We were also told it was good in a southwesterly wind.  On our first visit on the12th October it was pretty mediocre with small numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin, Chaffinch, Skylark Reed Bunting, and unlike home small numbers of wildfowl passage with Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Greylag Goose and by far the largest numbers of the morning around 260 Pink-footed Geese.  Apparently not all are going further south to Norfolk for two reasons one is that the farming practices have changed and there isn’t so much sugar beet being grown in Norfolk and the second is believed to be due to the milder climate and the geese are short stopping in Yorkshire, roosting on the Humber and flying north into the fields to feed during the day.

Flight of Pink-footed Geese - Hunmanby Gap © Nick Hull

Our second visit was on the 16th and was much more productive in variety of species and we had an increase in numbers of most species compared to on the 12th. We added a number of species not seen on the previous visit such as Golden Plover a Great White Egret, House Martin, Song Thrush and Redwing, tree Sparrow, Rock Pipit, Lesser Redpoll and Yellowhammer.  

Though Jackie and I are pretty experienced birders and vismig-ers we both learnt something from Keith’s vast experience watching from the site and little tips he passed on how to identify some of the species passing over.  Keith must be one of the most enthusiastic birders I have met and it was a joy to spend a few hours in his company at Hunmanby Gap. 

Looking back on this years Migweek the best bird this year must fall to the Barred Warbler which we saw on the 10th.  We had visited Bempton and Hornsea in the morning and as it was quiet on the bird front we went into Bridlington to a little food shopping and fuel up the van.  On the way back to the campsite news came on  WhatsApp that a Barred Warbler had been found in the brambles near the Fog Station on Flamborough Head, so off we went.

Barred Warbler- Flamborough Head 

When we arrive there were half dozen or so birders looking into the bramble patch opposite the cafe so we joined them and were given direction by a birder and quickly found the birds sat in the sun amongst the brambles.  After a few minutes it began to move around and over the next ten minutes or so we gained excellent views of this large immature sylvia warbler.  

Siskin, Barn owl, Treecreeper & Bullfinch © Nick Hull

Friday 30 September 2022

September - finding White-winged Tern and more

Evie my 12yr old granddaughter has been volunteering along with me at Arne through the summer holidays and on the 1st we were doing reptile work placing out new covers and removing old ones etc. During the morning we had a view of one of the White-tailed Eagles and Stewart suggested we had lunch at the old Clay pit lake and as we were munching lunch Terry called Osprey and there it was crossing in front of us and it perched in a dead tree across the lake and stayed until we finished our lunch when it flew around and headed out over the Wareham Channel. Not often you can say you had lunch with an Osprey.

Osprey Arne © Nick Hull

Getting back into the swing of birding and our first highlight was 3 Curlew Sandpiper in Brand's Bay thanks to a call from @StudlandBirder on the 4th Sept we then followed this with ticking them off on the Lytchett Patch on the 10th when we also added Whinchat. 

Curlew Sandpiper & single Dunlin © Nick Hull

On the 9th we tried twitching a Bee-eater btween Woolgarston and Harman Cross but dipped though managed to add Redstart to the 10km list and also saw a couple of Spotted Flycatcher which is always nice to see and a juvenile Marsh Harrier which drifted over the Purbeck ridge and continued towards Corfe Castle.

Common Redstart - Woolgarston © Nick Hull

The absolute highlight of the month was on the 11th when we id'ed the White-winged Black Tern or White-winged Tern which some authorities now call it. Jackie and I heard that there were two Black Terns at Longham Lakes and thought we would go and check them off for the year list.  On our arrival we spotted them straight away at the far end of the North Lake and made our way around the lake to gain closer views.  

We had been watching them for sometime and I'd taken a few photographs when I spotted another tern flying in over the causeway and join the others.  I first thought it was another Black Tern but after getting better closer views realised it looked different it was obviously paler in colour and even looked a tad smaller.  Then I noticed it had a white rump and pale tail and mentioned it to Jackie she agreed and I said I think that is a feature of White-winged.  So we started to take more notice at this point George Green walked around the corner and said hello you two have you noticed that other tern and we affirmed our suspicion of what we thought it was.  He replied I was thinking the same.  So over the next half hour we managed to see all the features that we felt proved it was a White-winged Tern.  When a local photographer Jeremy McClements walked around the corner and I asked him if he had any shots of the pale looking tern, he scrolled through his shots and said "yes I think so here" showing me the back of his camera and George and I agreed the photograph proved without doubt it was a White-winged Black Tern and we put the news out for others.  I went back the next day to get some more shots of it as the ones I took at the time didn't really pass muster which I managed to do also managed to take a few shots of a Black-necked Grebe that had turned up overnight.

White-winged Tern Longham Lakes © Nick Hull

White-winged Tern Longham Lakes © Nick Hull

On the 15th we were invited on a harbour boat trip up the Wareham Channel leaving Poole Quay at 17:00hrs it was a pretty good trip We saw one of the White-tailed Eagles and watched a Green and a Wood Sandpiper on the Stilt Pools on Wareham Meadows take flight over the boat and you could see the Green Sandpiper was a much stockier and bigger bird as they flew past and away.  We also had seven Cattle Egret go into roost on the Island on Swineham Gravel Pits.

We twitched Lodmoor of the 16th as there was a punitive Citrine Wagtail which had been found by @MadDog the day or two before but it was a little oddly plumaged but none-the-less we decided it was best to go and see it. It turned out to be an easy twitch we arrived at the viewing point and there it was right in front of us with a few Pied/White Wagtails and a couple of nicely plumaged Yellow Wagtail all feeding over a patch of Glasswort.  At one point it was disturbed and all the wagtails flew and moved away a short distance and we heard it call which seemed Citrine like but it really needed to be recorded which it was a couple of days later and it has been confirmed from its calls to be a Citrine Wagtail which will be if accepted as such would be our first in Dorset.

Citrine Wagtail - Lodmoor © Nick Hull

Out on another boat in the harbour on the 22nd I managed to add Ruff to the 10km list but little else could be added which was new. Though we had nice views of Yellow-legged Gull, Hobby and the usual Brownsea Lagoon birds such as Avocet and Spoobill etc.

It was back to Lodmoor on the 25th for a juvenile Red-backed Shrike which had taken up residence on the old landfill site. It performed relatively well for us before it disappeared into the bushes out of sight.  Though at the time of writing it is still present.

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike Lodmoor RSPB

Next day Jackie and I went to Titchfield Haven on the Solent in Hampshire to meet up with Renee a friend we hadn't seen since before the 2020 lockdown. We had a pretty good day as soon as we started we saw four Glossy Ibis on the river and from the hide had an assortment of common species of waders and waterfowl including 3 Curlew Sandpiper right in front of the hide and we finished the day with two flyover Red Kite.  

Glossy Ibis Titchfield Haven © Nick Hull

Glossy Ibis Titchfield Haven © Nick Hull

This month has brought our year total to 208 species but we really need to get a good seawatch and some VisMig in at sometime before it's too late.

As for other wildlife in September we came across a few Small Copper one of which was in the Arne Cafe garden. Also I found a stunning Raft Spider Dolomedes fimbriatus on one of the ponds which allowed me to photograph her. I really like the shadow in the water it kinds of adds something to the shot. This species along with Fen Spider in East Anglia is Britain largest arachnid.

Raft Spider Dolomedes fimbriatus © Nick Hull

Small Copper - Arne RSPB © Nick Hull

After which I took Jackie to Middlebere to see the Marsh Gentian which seem to have had a very good year.
Marsh Gentian Middlebere Heath © Nick Hull

The home wildlife garden produced another first for us when our Grandson, Ben, spotted a small caterpillar  on the lavender.  When I went to investigate I also found a small beetle and it turned out too be a Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana. Though strangely these beetles are not found in America. It's believed when named in the 18th century by Carl Linnaeus mistakenly assumed the specimens had come from America. In fact they are native to the Mediterranean region of South Europe, North Africa and Middle East.  They arrived in shipments of herbs and first found in Cheshire in 1963 then three more discovered in Surrey in 1994 and since spread across the UK.

Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana © Nick Hull

Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana © Nick Hull

It has I think been a bad year for Odonata as we have recorded nowhere near the usual numbers but it seems that Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta have done a little better as we have been seeing the odd one in the garden and around Lytchett Bay.

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta © Nick Hull

I took a close up of the head and thorax mainly to capture the eyes and face to show the colours and that snazzy moustache 

Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta © Nick Hull

Friday 9 September 2022

August Wildlife Roundup

Migration starts at the end of July with a few Green Sandpiper and the odd Spotted Redshank moving back through, but August things start to increase a little more. Our month has been a little less intensive wildlife wise as we have been spending time with the grandchildren whilst they have been on holiday.  We also been out on a couple more boat trips in the harbour which have given us good views of various Osprey, Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and of course White-tailed Eagle which is still hanging around.

White-tailed Eagle G801 Poole Harbour © Nick Hull

Only 76 species seen this month though we did have some quality, a bird boat trip up the Wareham Channel on the 4th August produced several Osprey and view of the White-tailed Eagle.  This was followed by an early phone call on the 12th Aug from Shaun to say they had caught an Aquatic Warbler at Lytchett Heath.  So we forgot about breakfast grabbed the camera and headed off to the heath and had closeup in hand views of a juvenile Aquatic Warbler our third for the patch. We also saw a few Sedge Warbler too which was good to see the comparison between the two species.

Aquatic Warbler compared to Sedge Warbler Lytchett Heath © Nick Hull

Though Jackie and I have been part of the team looking after Poole Harbour's breeding pair of Osprey it wasn't until we had a late afternoon walk to the Lytchett view point on the 21st Aug that we managed to get one on our patch year list.

A walk at Bestwell on the 23rd was fairly quite but we did find a family party of Spotted Flycatcher which performed very well.  On the 25th Aug we had 3 Spotted Flycatcher in the Oaks on Lytchett Fields and a late Common Swift and a Yellow Wagtail flying over French's SANG when we went for the Little Stint on Frenches Pools, plus added Green and Common Sandpiper to our patch lists as well. 

Spotted Flycatcher - Lytchett Fields RSPB © Nick Hull

On the 27th whilst checking through my moth trap a Common Crossbill flew over calling and next day when travelling to a family lunch at Bowerchalk we saw Red Kite near Cranborne and another at Wyke Down where we added Whinchat to our county list plus Wheatear.

Whinchat Wyke Down © Nick Hull

We also had a quick stop at Martin Down to see if we could see any Chalkhill Blue butterflies but only found lots of Adonis Blue, Meadow Browns, Small Heath.

Adonis Blue (male) Martin Down © Nick Hull

On the 30th Aug we helped out as spotters on a Birds of Poole Harbour Birdboat with views of four Osprey and the White-tailed Eagle again plus Hobby.

Osprey Poole Harbour © Nick Hull

On the moth front I've added three macro moth Hedge and Six-striped Rustic and a Wormwood Pug and only my second Nutmeg.  Though I've caught Sic-striped Rustic before I've not had it for the garden and the Hedge Rustic is a rather nice record I have only seen two before one at Arne and one at Upton Heath DWT.

Hedge Rustic & Six-striped Rustic © Nick Hull

We also added two bee species to the garden list Bloomed Furrow Bee Lasioglossoum albipes and and White-zoned Furrow Bee L. zonaria and ended the month with a new beetle species Chrysolina americana Rosemary Beetle though I found it on our lavender but apparently they also like sage and other similar herbs. The photograph doesn't do it justice as in the sunlight it looks like a metallic jewel and as a none native species is there are monitored as they could become a pest but as we have a wildlife garden I don't think it will be a problem here.

Rosemary Beetle Home garden © Nick Hull

Tuesday 9 August 2022

July, When There Should Be More

July I feel is a strange month, you always feel that there should be more birds to see and catch-up on.  What is usual is some breeding birds are going for their second brood, some are finishing and thinking of leaving, then towards the end of the month others will be returning and migration starts all over again.  For us birders we tend to go off and look at butterflies, dragonflies and do a little bit more moth trapping.  I certainly do all of these, though always keeping an eye out for the birds to, as we walk around doing our surveys of some of Isle of Purbeck rarest invertebrates.

On the bird front we broke the 200 species mark, though we could have done a little better if we had twitched one or two species earlier in the year, but we still have the autumn to go and I'm sure a few species will be added between now and the end of the year.  Our bird highlights of the month must go to a Honey Buzzard that flew past us in the New Forest on the 6th, White-tailed Eagle at Arne on the 20th and a Great White Egret on Lytchett Fields on the 26th July. 

Imm. White-tailed Eagle from a Bird boat in Wareham Channel © Nick Hull

Great White Egret - Lytchett Fields © Nick Hull

Our 10km challenge is now on 162 we are a little behind what we hoped but we have been away on holiday and been looking for other wildlife. We will get started again trying to catchup on a few that we missed in the spring and hopefully add a few of the winter species that we haven't listed in the latter period of the year.

On the 2nd July I caught a Striped Hawk-moth in the the trap and what was nice it was the last moth found in the trap as it was on the inside of the trap cover.  This was a first for me one I've always hoped to catch one day. They are a stunning looking moth as you can see in the shot below.

Striped Hawk-moth - Home garden © Nick Hull

Also the hot sunny weather has brought other migrant moths to our shore though for me other than the Striped Hawk-moth the only other that has really stood out from the crowd has been the Jersey Tigers which I've caught a few of this year.  Four Spotted Footman can also be a migrant though I think may also breed here now and another which I've been catching in good numbers has been Rush veneer a paralid micro moth though intersting isn't what you would say a stunner.

Jersey Tiger - Home Garden © Nick Hull

Rush Veneer - Home Garden © Nick Hull

I've also been catching a small grass moth called Oncocera semirubella this is a moth I catch on occasions and is of National importance.  Again this is a fairly small moth but with a touch of colour.

Oncocera semirubella - Home garden © Nick Hull

Our granddaughter has joined me in the Arne reptile survey team and has been out helping us.  She has seen her first, second, third and fourth Smooth Snake though the Grass Snake moved so quickly she only saw the tail as it disappearing into the heather.

Closeup of a Smooth Snake - © Nick Hull (Taken Under License)

As we were finishing one of our reptile surveys we came across a Hornet Robberfly they are a noteable species which are declining in many places but can still be found around the Purbeck Heaths.  There main prey is grasshoppers and they lay their eggs in animal dung so now that there are cattle and horses grazing on the open heath it should help this species recover here.

Hornet Robberfly – Isle of Purbeck © Nick Hull

Jackie and I went for a walk along the Hartland Moor Plateway to see if we could find and count the Purbeck Mason Wasps but after a successful season last year it appears this year has been very poor and we only found a single female. On our return to the car we had our first Gatekeeper which I took a couple of photograph off.  When I was editing the shots at home I noticed the small beetle and recognised it as one I had seen before there in 2019 after a quick check and a search for the previous photograph I was able to confirm it was the same species Calomicrus circumfusus and as it turns out it is also a Nationally important species and very notable.

Gatekeeper and the beetle - Calomicrus circumfusus - © Nick Hull

Closeup Calomicrus circumfusus © Nick Hull

Another species which I help survey is the Heath Tiger Beetle this is another Nationally important species which over the last few years some active management has gone into trying to create the right habitat to preserve and increase their numbers. Unfortunately I couldn't go out on the survey day with everyone else, so Jackie joined me on a warming morning to walk over part of the survey area.  We walked around a 100m up and back over the area I usually find them and counted 32 individual my highest ever count. Talking to a friend a few days later who went on the survey day they had 49 the best counts of the last few years so hopefully this trend will continue for this superb predatory beetle.

Heath Tiger Beetle (male) - Isle of Purbeck - © Nick Hull

What is also nice Terry one of my co-surveyors and myself now think we can differentiate between the two sexes. It appears that the white tusk like mandible sides are longer in the male than in females.  So hopefully in the future we will be able to separate and have a better idea of numbers of each sex that makes up the population at each location we survey.

I think that covers the highlight of for July wildlife, I wonder what August will bring.