Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mainly Butterflies

Still a bit quiet on the birding front. Reports of Honey Buzzards being seen almost daily now from the Welbeck Raptor Watch-point in north Notts are tempting me to visit soon. The Great Knot in Norfolk and the Lesser Yellowlegs in Lincolnshire could not tempt me away from a planned trip to Chambers Woods in Lincolnshire to look for butterflies. These woods are famous for holding a breeding population of White Admirals and Purple Hairstreaks and for having good numbers of Marsh Fritillaries and Marbled Whites in an adjacent meadow. It is too late in the year now for Marsh Fritillaries but the other species are currently on the wing.
On arrival we parked up and next to the car park is a dog-poo disposal bin. Someone had missed this obvious receptacle and left a huge dog turd on the ground. Normally this would be really annoying but for once I was pleased to locate said turd on the footpath as it was being used as a mineral source by a Purple Emperor! Great start but getting close-up shots was disgusting. Later there was a Comma using the same turd! This time I didn't get so close.
We saw at least seven White Admirals, mainly flying around the tops of the oak trees although one paid a fleeting visit to my feet but it belted off before I could focus the camera. No Marsh Fritillaries, as expected, but we did see a Silver-washed Fritillary zooming along a ride - a real bonus. Ringlets, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Small Whites were all abundant. We only located a single Marbled White but it was a good 'un.
Small Skippers were quite numerous but there were only two or three Small Tortoiseshells and Commas. I presume that these are second brood insects and are freshly on the wing. They all looked pristine. We saw a dozen species in this wood and we missed the hairstreaks. I recommend it!
Purple Emperor - on dog poo

Purple Emperor. Better shot of the turd!

Small White


Small Skipper

Small Tortoiseshell


Comma - on dog turd!

Marbled White
Purple Emperor - in tree tops.

Meadow Brown




Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Gaudy Birds of Kew Gardens

There are a few special introduced species which can be seen during a visit to Kew Gardens. Category C of the British List encompasses all of those species which have been introduced to this country but which now maintain stable populations without recourse to further introductions. You see a lot of Category C birds most days whilst out birding: Common Pheasant, Red-legged Partridge and Little Owl for example. At Kew they are a bit more exotic: Golden Pheasant, Ring-necked Parakeet and Red-crested Pochard are all pretty easy to see and photograph. So I went to see them and photograph them. As they are all a bit arty and gaudy and really shouldn't be here I've translated that into the photographs. These pictures are all a bit arty and gaudy and shouldn't really be here!

Ring-necked Parakeet - being quiet for a moment - Kew Gardens

Ring-necked Parakeet - Kew Gardens
Breeding by released or escaped Ring-necked Parakeets was first confirmed in Kent in 1971 now there are around 8.600 breeding pairs or c30,000 individuals post-breeding. Originally from southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa it's coming to a garden near you...soon!
Female Red-crested Pochard

Male Red-crested Pochard
Red-crested Pochard breeds patchily in Europe and east into Central Asia and most of the birds seen in Britain have originated from escapes or releases of birds from waterfowl collections.. The first British breeding record was in Lincolnshire in 1937 but numbers have increased to such an extent that there is now a naturalised, self-breeding population.
Young male Golden Pheasant. About as gaudy as it is possible to be.

More than its fair share of colours!
Young male Golden Pheasant - painted!
Golden Pheasants are from China and were introduced into Britain from 1725 onwards (main introduction from 1850) and have been released as far south as the Isles of Scilly and as far north as the Isle of Gigha off the coast of Argyll. They seem to be disappearing from their stronghold in the Brecks and there are only a few reliable sites for this species in Britain.
All of these photos were taken at Kew Gardens and have been extensively mucked-about with in Photoshop!