Thursday, 11 August 2022

Visit to St. Nicholas Church and surrounding areas – 11th August 2022

Date: 11th August 2022  

Time: from 8:30 a.m.

Weather: dry, sunny, light wind, 21°C to 28°C

This was my first visit to the small pond in the north of the site since 5th July 2022. The extremely hot weather in recent weeks has unsurprisingly led to a significant reduction in the water level.
















Fortunately, however, it was still able to attract 2 Migrant Hawkers and a single male Common Darter. This was my first record of Migrant Hawker for the site of 2022, bringing the total to 9 species of dragonfly/damselfly. However, I was unable to get any photos of either species since they were both very active and failed to settle on the vegetation around the edge of the pond.

The large field that has to be crossed to reach the pond was knee deep in grasses and wild flowers and the edge of the pond had several clumps of Water Mint (photo below) which provided a nice aroma as I sat and watched the dragonflies.





























Despite the sunny and warm/hot weather during my visit, there were less butterflies than I expected but I did see c.30 Gatekeepers across the site, 3 Speckled Woods in the wooded areas and a single male Common Blue around the pond.

I saw 3 Red Foxes during my evening visit the day before (see here) and it was a little surprising to see 2 individuals on a hot and sunny morning.

The first Red Fox that I saw was a very brief sighting of an individual in the south west corner of the site before it disappeared into the dense vegetation.

The second Red Fox that I saw was in the western section of the cemetery. It was clearly aware of my presence but allowed prolonged views before slowly walking off out of sight. Maybe it was just too hot to bolt for cover. I was able to get several photos over a period of around 10 minutes although the light was somewhat challenging given the harsh and bright sunlight but the animal in deep shadow.















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox















Photo: Red Fox

With regard to birds, it was again predictably quiet given that it is the height of summer, both in terms of the number of species seen or heard calling/singing.

However, there were a number of highlights including the followingCommon Whitethroat (2 seen together in bushes close to the pond), Blackcap (3 heard alarm calling), Chiffchaff (3 heard contact calling), Green Woodpecker (1 heard calling in the wooded area at the end of the track from Larkins Tyres and 1 seen flying over the scrub area close to the pond), Greenfinch (1 seen flying over the scrub area close to the pond)

Species recorded during this visit were as follows (heard only records in italics):

Common Whitethroat
Blackcap
Chiffchaff
Blue Tit
Robin
Wren
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
Green Woodpecker
Magpie
Carrion Crow
Jay
Woodpigeon

Red Fox
Grey Squirrel

Common Blue
Gatekeeper
Speckled Wood

Migrant Hawker
Common Darter

Site totals to date (2022 totals in brackets):

Birds = 58  (42)
Mammals = 7  (4)
Butterflies = 22  (17)  
Dragonflies and damselflies = 10  (9)
Reptiles = 1  (0)
Amphibians = 0  (0)

💚🦆 🦉🦋🐝🦊🦡🌼 🌳💚
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Evening visit to St. Nicholas Church and surrounding areas – 10th August 2022

Date: 10th August 2022

Time: from 9 p.m.

Weather: dry, setting sun, dark, light wind, 21°C

This was my first evening visit for some time.

I had 2 separate sightings of an individual Common and/or Soprano Pipistrelle flying around the church.

In addition, I initially heard the loud "geckering" of Red Foxes beyond the church car park and the western section of the cemetery but later I had a brief torchlight view of an individual in the western section of the cemetery and 2 on either side of the eastern section of the cemetery.

Here are some photos taken on my mobile phone ....





Site totals to date (2022 totals in brackets):

Birds = 58  (42)
Mammals = 7  (4)
Butterflies = 22  (17)  
Dragonflies and damselflies = 10  (8)
Reptiles = 1  (0)
Amphibians = 0  (0)

💚🦆 🦉🦋🐝🦊🦡🌼 🌳💚
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature

More on avian bird flu

Thousands of seabirds have died in an outbreak of avian bird flu on the Farne Islands in the worst disaster to hit its colonies in nearly 100 years.

The National Trust, which cares for the islands, has found more than 3000 dead birds but estimated 10 times more may have fallen into the sea. The charity wants an urgent response but the Government said it could only take "limited effective actions", a predictably pathetic response to a catastrophe facing seabird colonies all round the UK.

The Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast are home to about 200,000 birds. The islands are an internationally important habitat for 23 species including PuffinsGuillemotsRazorbillsKittiwakes, Shags, Arctic TernsSandwich Terns and Common Terns. They were closed to the public earlier this month to try and prevent the spread of avian flu.

Some of the dead birds found were ringed and this has revealed details of their travel logged with the British Trust for Ornithology. Casualties include an Arctic Tern which had flown from the Farne Islands to Antarctica 8 times during its lifetime, covering a distance of more than 230,000 km. Also discovered was a 16-year-old Kittiwake which was ringed on the islands in 2006 and a 4-year-old Kittiwake which may have returned to breed on the islands for the first time having spent most of its life on the North Atlantic.

Simon Lee, General Manager at the Farne Islands said: "The National Trust has cared for the Farne Islands for just under 100 years and there are no records of anything so potentially damaging to our already endangered seabird colonies."

Teams of rangers who live and work on the islands have been removing the birds so they can be incinerated. They have been wearing full PPE to collect the carcasses and avoid further contamination to healthy birds.

Ben McCarthy, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: "The scale of this disaster calls for an urgent national response plan for the virus in wild birds. We need a more coordinated approach to ensure effective monitoring, surveillance and reporting to support research into the impacts this deadly disease is having on our wild birds across the UK. There is a lack of clear and effective guidance and arrangements for disease control, and we need to urgently develop mitigation measures to reduce the further spread in the coming months as birds migrate back into UK waters."

The Guardian - Birdwatch: colonies hit by avian flu on Farne Islands sound warning

BBC News - Farne Islands: Bird flu death toll passes more than 3,000

National Trust - Protecting our seabirds: Farne Islands closure due to bird flu





















💚🦆 🦉🦋🐝🦊🦡🌼 🌳💚
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

White Stork breeding success in the UK

It has been a record-breaking year for the White Stork Project with a total of 20 wild juvenile White Storks successfully fledging from 9 nests. Of the total, 19 came from 8 nests on the Knepp Wildland in West Sussex which I visited in mid-May 2022 …. see here and here.




























Photo: White Stork at Knepp Wildland

As the wild juveniles vacate their nests, so the next stage of the White Stork Project has commenced. On 9th August 2022, 37 captive-bred White Stork juveniles from the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens were released in to the White Stork enclosure at Knepp Wildland and allowed to explore their surroundings for the first time. They wasted no time in taking to the air to join a group of 20 adults who were flying in the vicinity at the time and there were quickly 50 to 60 birds thermalling in the air together before some of them drifted off south.

The White Stork Project has been incredibly successful in re-introducing this species to the UK. On 15th May 2020, the White Stork Project announced that a wild White Stork chick had hatched in the UK for the first time for over 600 years at Knepp Wildland …. see here.

I have both seen and successfully photographed large numbers of White Storks on my trips to Spain, northern Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, north east Poland, Estonia and the Netherlands.

In Spain in particular, I have seen huge flocks of thermalling White Storks and it is amazing that this can now be seen in the UK.


💚🦆 🦉🦋🐝🦊🦡🌼 🌳💚
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Visit to Noak Bridge Nature Reserve – 7th August 2022

Date: 7th August 2022  

Time: from 9 a.m.

Weather: dry, sunny, light wind, 17°C to 22°C

The main focus of my visit was to provide records for the annual Big Butterfly Count. This was my last opportunity given that 7th August 2022 is the last date for this year's counts.







I visited 4 locations for my butterfly counts: 

High Ridge from the pedestrian gate access to the Spanish Steps: Speckled Wood (3)

Thorny WoodCommon Blue (1), Gatekeeper (3), Large White (1), Small White (2)

The path from the storage shed to Puckles PondSpeckled Wood (1)

The area around Meadow Pond: Common Blue (1), Comma (1),  Gatekeeper (3), Large White (1), Small White (1)

As was the case last year, there was a greater abundance and diversity of butterflies in the weeks prior to the Big Butterfly Count.

In addition to the butterflies, I saw a single Scalloped Oak moth at the end of the eastern boardwalk which I was only able to identify having seen one at my flat on 12th July 2022 and confirming the identification from a Google search. I was unable to get a photo of the one that I saw this morning but here is a photo of the one at my flat ....
















Photo: Scalloped Oak

As on my last visit on 3rd July 2022, the main highlights of my visit occurred at the Meadow Pond where I spent around 2 hours.

During that time, a Grass Snake was almost continuously in view, either basking in the sun or hunting. I think this may have been the same small and presumed juvenile that I saw on my last visit.




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake




























Photo: Grass Snake

The Edible Frogs, whilst unusually silent, were also very conspicuous and there were at least 5 very small presumed juveniles and at least 5 large adults, again sitting out in the open and only deciding to move if the Grass Snake approached too closely.




























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog



























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog




























Photo: Edible Frog

Whilst at Meadow Pond, there was a male Migrant Hawker flying over the pond and around the surrounding bushes and trees almost continuously although it did occasionally perch up for very brief periods. It was also joined by another for some of the time when there was some vigorous interaction. This was my first record of Migrant Hawker for the site.















Photo: male Migrant Hawker

In addition, I saw 2 or 3 male Common Darters plus a mating male and female. This was my first record for 2022 for the site.




























Photo: male Common Darter




























Photo: male Common Darter




























Photo: male Common Darter




























Photo: male Common Darter

Finally, there were still around c.5 Azure Damselflies at Meadow Pond.




























Photo: Azure Damselfly

Bird activity and bird song was almost completely absent and I only recorded 7 species! The only notable record was a male Blackcap which sang very briefly and weakly from the bushes surrounding Meadow Pond although I failed to see it.

With regard to mammals, I saw a single Grey Squirrel in the wooded area just along from the Spanish Steps.

Species recorded during this visit were as follows (heard only records in italics):

Blackcap
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Wren
Robin
Jay
Woodpigeon

Grass Snake

Edible Frog

Comma
Common Blue
Speckled Wood
Small White
Large White

Migrant Hawker
Common Darter
Azure Damselfly

Site totals to date (2022 totals in brackets):

Birds = 43  (24)
Mammals = 3  (2)
Butterflies = 21  (15)  
Dragonflies and damselflies = 14  (7)
Reptiles = 2  (2)
Amphibians = 3  (2)

💚🦆 🦉🦋🐝🦊🦡🌼 🌳💚
Stay safe, stay well, stay strong, stay connected with nature