Monday 20 May 2013

Great Crested Grebes and Butterflies

Yesterday was quite eventful, I started the day in the west of Leicestershire looking for Corn Buntings and then went to Warwickshire with Adey to look for Green Hairstreaks and skippers. I was successful with all but the Dingy and Grizzled Skippers. 

Whilst searching for the Corn Buntings, I came across a Wheatear  feeding in a field near Norton-Juxta-Twycross. It's fairly late for migrant Wheatears in the county, so it was a pleasant surprise.

The bright morning sunshine had worked its magic as far as Green Hairstreaks where concerned, but the heavy rain  a few days before had finished off the skippers. 

Green Hairstreak

Saturday 18 May 2013

Dramatic Skies

A couple of nights ago I went back to the site where I found the fox cubs. Unfortunately there was no sign of the foxes, but one of the pair of Little Owls that was there last weekend put in an appearance and also a pair of Yellow Wagtails entertained.  

 The sky gradually got darker and darker until as they say 'the heavens opened'.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Changes to the South-West Leicestershire List

A copy of the updated list can be found HERE

If the list doesn't open you will need to download Google Drive

I have decided, after much deliberation, to extend the boundary of my local listing area eastwards as far as the M1. This brings Shawell nicely into the SW Leicstershire Listing area, which helps to add a couple of species to the total. The map included with the list shows how well the M1 forms the eastern boundary.

The list now stands at 198 with the addition of  Ring-billed Gull, Iceland Gull, Egyptian Goose, Nightjar and Rock Pipit.

The Nightjar was seen by a lucky Earl Shilton resident during September 2012.

Nightjar - photo taken by Isabelle Vavasour
Also three of the old Great Grey Shrike records have been submitted to LROS records committee and  accepted.

Sunday 12 May 2013


This morning I returned to the site where I saw the family of foxes and they were still there. The vixen arrived but she was very wary. Occasionally the cubs showed, but they spent more time underground today.

Female Red Fox

Saturday 11 May 2013

A Surprise Redstart

This afternoon I was sitting in my car eating sandwiches when I heard a bird singing in the Hawthorn hedge at my side. The song was unfamiliar, but the contact call sounded similar to that of a Chiffchaff though louder. The bird stopped calling and I almost forgot about it whilst I was eating. All of a sudden a male Redstart appeared on the gate right in front of my windscreen. What an absolute stonker and all the more exciting as I wasn't expecting a singing Redstart in a hedge near Shawell today.

Male Redstart, Near Shawell

Sunday 5 May 2013

A Gentle Stroll

Dawn and I I headed off to the Peak District today to stretch our legs in preparation for a trip to Scotland later this year. We walked the length of Stanage Edge and then along Derwent Edge as far as Black Tor and returned more or less the same way to the car park  near Hathersage. In all we clocked up just over 14 miles.

The birding highlights included a fine male Ring Ouzel and an equally splendid male Redstart. 

Stanage Edge

Ring-billed Gull - Take Two

1st-summer Ring-billed Gull, Melton CP
To be honest I wasn't that pleased with the photos I took of the Ring-billed Gull last week, so  yesterday I decided to try again. Last time I was restricted to using my scope to provide the magnification, as the RBG was out in the middle of the lake. This technique is only really good enough for taking records shots unless the target is close and the light is perfect. Last week it was hanging around with a small flock of Common Gulls, but they seem to have gone and left it all on its own. 

Yesterday afternoon it was lured in quite close with bread although it still spent much of its time out in the middle of the lake.

Will this bird become an annual feature at Melton CP and will we get to see it as a smart adult?

1st-summer Ring-billed Gull, Melton CP

Thursday 2 May 2013

What's Up?

The BTO has just launched a new survey called What's Up? The survey aims to learn more about the distribution of the birds that live and breed above 750 metres. I'm proud to say that they have chosen to use a couple of my Ptarmigan photos to promote it. Pride of place goes to the one on the front of an identification guide that has been produced to go along with the survey.

I hope to take part in the survey later on in the year, as I often see more Ptarmigan and Dotterel than are recorded in the Highland Bird Report. As they say, don't leave it to someone else.

Details about the survey can be found at What's Up?

Wednesday 1 May 2013

A Few Gulls From Finland

A few years ago now, I visited Finland and spent a week photographing and watching European Brown Bears. The food put out to attract the bears also pulled in plenty of gulls. To be honest I didn't take that much notice of the gulls at the time, as the main event was slightly more impressive. However, since becoming hooked on gulls I thought it might be worth going back and taking another look at the  photographs. Most of them were of Baltic Gulls Larus fuscus fuscus, but amongst them were a number of Herring Gulls including the 'yellow-legged' Scandinavian Herring Gull from the previous post and a putative Heuglin's Gull Larus Heuglini.

I have added some of the photos below for interest, as a Baltic Gull might just turn up on one of our local patches. It would probably need to be colour-ringed to get it accepted though.

Baltic Gull, Larus fuscus fuscus