Magnolia Warbler - Ohio, May 2017

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Scotland 21st July - 23rd July 2017

A long weekend with Ian Barnard to the Highlands of Scotland with the intentions of finding some new Dragonflies, Orchids and potentially a new Butterfly as well. The weather was better then expected but still wasn't perfect and certainly put pay to finding White-faced Darter and Azure Hawkers, the latter being new for me.

Friday 21st July
However, upon landing into Edinburgh (cheapest option) on Thursday evening we drove up to the Aberdeen coastline to Murcar Beach in the hope of seeing the long staying American White-winged Scoter, but as we hadn't packed tripods to save space and weight we resorted to laying in the wet grass to scan the flocks of Scoter, but over a few hours and the urge to hit to Cairngorms, we failed to find the bird, but had better luck a few days later.

Murcar Beach, Aberdeenshire

Arriving into the Cairngorms the weather had turned for the worse and after trying a few sites we only managed to find a Northern Damselfly and a couple of Highland 'Common' Darters near to Loch Garten, and two Common Hawkers at Uath Lochan, the Hawkers being new for me and represents my 45th Dragonfly/Damselfly in Britain. Despite having sites for both Lesser Twayblade and Small White Orchid we were obviously too late for these but did see plenty of Creeping Lady's Tresses. Also was good to see a Crested Tit, plus hearing several more.

Creeping Lady's Tresses
Northern Damselfly
Highland (Common) Darter

Saturday 22nd July
We stayed in Dingwall which was well placed to drive to Loch Maree The weather was better then expected today although the wind was still strong in places. Our main site for Azure Hawkers was Slattadale and despite finding perhaps 30+ Common Hawkers, we failed to find an Azure Hawker. Further down at Ben Eighe Visitor Centre we had better luck with yet more Common Hawkers, but then lucked into a flighty Scotch Argus (my last British Butterfly to see) and a superb Northern Emerald Dragonfly, the latter I had seen before but not photographed.

Common Hawker
female Northern Emerald

Loch Maree

We made our way back towards Aberdeen knowing the weather on Sunday wouldn't be suitable for Dragons and would try our luck again for the Scoter.

Sunday 23rd July
As we made our way towards Murcar it was obvious it was misty and grim, especially for laying in more wet grass. However, after spells of heavy rain the conditions cleared slightly and after three hours of scanning a single Scoter flock, I spotted the American White-winged Scoter swim into the group from the south and join a small group of Velvets in front of us. Views were good despite laying down and I even managed some phone-scoped shots of this and a drake Surf Scoter. It was a good end and we made our way back south towards Edinburgh for our flight back to Gatwick. A relatively successful weekend, though earlier in the season would no doubt be more productive.

drk White-winged Scoter
White-winged Scoter (left) with Velvet Scoters

Monday, 17 July 2017

Cuckmere Haven  17/7/17

A reasonable selection of bits this evening with the following highlights noted. 

Little Ringed Plover - 3

Sanderling - 1

Dunlin - 5

Whimbrel - 3

Hobby - 1 chasing Swallows (very early autumn record) 

Sand Martin - 6

Friday, 14 July 2017

Canvey Island, Essex 14/7/17

After yesterdays successful twitch for finally my first Marsh Sandpiper in the UK at Cliffe Pools in Kent (6 Black-winged Stilts also present), I was back on the motorways today slightly further north in Essex to Canvey Island for yet more Dragonfly action. For years I've been wanting to see the Southern Migrant Hawkers that have colonised certain parts of Essex, and most notably on the delightful(??) island of Canvey. Me and Dad left early and arrived on site just after 7am and soon found our first male Hawker. Due to the cloud cover we only managed to see around 10 males, and while most were settled and showing well, by the end of the morning we mostly saw them hunting along the long ditch. Also present were many Scarce Emerald Damselflies. A great morning out.

 male Southern Migrant Hawker on Canvey Island

Scarce Emerald Damselflies on Canvey Island

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ashdown Forest 9/7/17

A couple of hours spent at Old Lodge produced the expected Dragonflies that are photographed below.

 Black Darter - one of my favourite dragonflies
 Small Red Damselfly
 Keeled Skimmer
Emperor egg laying

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cuckmere Haven 4/7/17

Despite regular visits to the Cuckmere recently, this evening was the first notable session for migrants. The lower water levels on the meanders doing some good as two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers were present. Other common bits were present but most pleasing were the two young Oystercatchers that have finally spread their wings. How birds like these survive on the scrape is a miracle but this is now the second year running of successful fledging.

Totals are:
Little Ringed Plover - 2 juv
Redshank - 2 juv
Dunlin - 1

 recently fledged Oystercatcher - being without a lens currently my only photography is with my phone through my bins.
the meanders looking ideal for Small Red-eyed Damselflies but none this evening. Seaford Head in the backround.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Knepp Estate 26/6/17

Its been a few years since I saw Purple Emperors in Sussex, so I made the effort on what is likely to be the last good day for a while. The Knepp Estate seemed the most reliable, and although its not the greatest place to find them low down, I had several nice views of 13 individuals including one on the ground. The usual other bits seen/heard during the four hours I was present.

On Saturday, a walk in the Cuckmere produced my first Common Sandpiper of the autumn, and the two young Oystercatchers are nearly ready to spread their wings.

Purple Emperor at Knepp Estate

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Ashdown & beyond 18/6/17

Another long hot day out in the Sussex countryside was very successful. I started at a private site where a male Honey Buzzard and male Goshawk flew through, and then the rest of the day was spent on Ashdown Forest catching up on some newly emerged Dragonflies (namely Brilliant Emerald and Keeled Skimmer) and a few different Orchid species, and a bonus singing Wood Warbler. A cone and a flake was also very welcome.

 male Honey Buzzard - click on image to enlarge
Birds Nest Orchid
singing Wood Warbler

 Brilliant Emerald - just about make out the incurving anal appendages and the yellow frons. My first perched photo of this species.
 Heath Spotted Orchid

 immature Keeled Skimmer
Early Marsh Orchid