Thursday, 20 July 2017

Around the Garden




 My garden has been quite a joy recently with one thing or another. It's buzzing with bees on the Lavender and Buddleia. A few self seeded plants have brought in the bees too including this wonderful purple one, I haven't been able find out what it is yet, there's some in a nearby car park so I guess it's come from there.



I left part of the flower bed by the path pretty much to itself and the Ragwort that's now growing there is full of Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars. 



My St John's Wort that appeared last year is almost taking over the Mint planter, but I love how it looks so it's staying. We planted a couple of new Buddleia this year, they're still quite small but in full flower now. The Foxgloves though are now almost flowerless.




I came home on Sunday to find my first ever Small Skipper in the garden, again loving the Lavender, it's an immensely popular plant (we just planted more in the back garden!). There's often Comma's flying around too though they rarely settle for long.



The pond has tiny snails in it now, we still need to do some work around it yet though.


My daughter found this Ruby-tailed Wasp in our hallway, beautiful colours but it was an ex wasp when it was found! I've never seen one before.


Every evening just after dark the Fox comes in the garden and cleans up around the feeder, a Squirrel comes and cleans out the peanuts every now and again and we get one or two Bats flying around the garden at dusk.




The Sparrows are constant visitors still, they love the feeders we've put up by the front door and spend a lot of time in the bird bath. 



Starlings fill the feeders in the back garden along with Collared Doves and Woodpigeons. There's been the odd visits from Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Wren, Magpies, Goldfinch and this past couple of days Blackbird and Dunnock for the first time in a while.




We've also had some amazing sightings, purely down to the fact it's so warm we have the patio doors open and I spend a lot of time stood by them sky watching! Our local Sparrowhawk flew low through the garden right in front of me last week and landed in a distant tree before spooking all the Sparrows that reside in the Conifer at the end of the houses.


Then earlier this week a large flock of Gulls - Herring and Black Headed (that I could pick out) flew in circles over the house, this is not something I see often, usually there's maybe the odd three or four passing by.


A few minutes later I was watching again, another bird flew over - a Bird of Prey but what, I got (bad) photos and checked it out with the bins, it had another bird in it's talons!! I had to check on the ID as I wasn't sure and got confirmation it was a Peregrine Falcon, a first patch tick and an amazing one!! I'm so pleased!


Not long after I watched another pair of Birds of Prey high up in the sky, the smaller one attacking the larger one and from we can tell possibly the Peregrine attacking the Buzzard. 


All that just from the garden!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Blacktoft Sands

After time with the Bee-eaters we headed back up the motorway to Blacktoft Sands arriving about 12. We ate some lunch surrounded by Tree Sparrows and bees at the picnic tables before heading onto the reserve proper.

A Four-banded Longhorn Beetle flew in front of us and landed on a fence.


Right off we could hear Sedge Warblers around us and spotted a couple as we walked along the paths. Along with a few Reed Bunting and a Dunnock singing away.



Just before I clicked a Sedge Warbler was sitting right here!!

From the hides we saw a Greenshank, Redshank, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Little Egret, Teal, Shovelers, Shelduck, Heron, Little and Great Crested Grebes amongst others. My husband saw a couple of Bearded Tits but I couldn't get on them (that along with yet another blinding headache after a day using optics means I really need to schedule a new eye test!).


We watched the Marsh Harriers, one passing food to another, they can be seen from most of the hides but the best views of the day were from the Singleton Hide.


We saw Butterflies galore and lots of Beetles all over the grass. My daughter spotted a Caterpillar moving at quite a speed next to the path - a Peacock Butterfly I think.


Meadow Brown


Clouded Border Moth



Small Tortoiseshell


Ringlet 


 Essex Skipper (black on the end of the antenna)?


Meadow Brown


Peacock Butterfly Caterpillar?


Soldier Beetles


Comma 

This Woodpigeon actually made me physically jump when it flew up out of the undergrowth next to path on the way to the Ousefleet hide!


We spent a little time watching Reed Warblers flying backwards and forwards from the viewing screen next to the hide.

The sun was high and very hot and we had to leave around 4, I was flagging a bit in the heat to be honest. It was good to get the air con on in the car!

We finished the day with dinner at a friends, spending the early evening sat in their garden watching Swifts and Buzzards overhead. Then we were treated to these Sundogs above the houses. Pretty much a perfect way to end our rather long day!




Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bee-eaters

I saw on twitter (how I managed without twitter in the past I don't know....) about the 7 Bee-eaters spotted at a quarry in Nottinghamshire a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't make a trip until yesterday and luckily they stayed put or I think possibly 5 have stayed around.

We set off about 7.30 and found the site without too much trouble, there are signs for the car park the RSPB have set up in agreement with a nearby farmer. All very well organised I thought. Crossing the road it's short walk along a bridleway by the quarry to the viewing point. There were already quite a few people there when we arrived and the birds hadn't been seen for about 10 minutes or so. But not to worry they soon appeared.

No mistaking the colouring on the wings as one flew across my field of view and onto the branches they are using as their perch. Two birds at first but another two soon followed. They were beyond my lens for photos but I snapped a couple anyway, you can just about tell what the blurry dots are!



We watched them eat bees and butterflies through the scope, beautiful stunning birds and a joy to watch. We stayed around half an hour and enjoyed every minute. Though I got the sense my daughter got a little bored after about ten minutes when the phone came out........

The quarry itself is a perfect spot, several pools and lots of Butterflies, Damselflies, Bees and bugs around, the sun had brought everything out. We also saw Swifts, Sand Martins, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Wagtail, Tufted Duck, Lapwing and Goldfinch.



Gatekeeper 


Common Blue Damsel Fly?


Small Skipper?


Burnet Moth


Edit - Green-veined White 


Well worth the trip!