Thursday, 23 April 2015

The week so Far . . .


Spent most of the day indoors working on a commission, picked the wrong day by all accounts as I found out later of an apparent Rough-legged Buzzard just up the road off Thornley Lane, hovering above a field with white 'ring-tail' clearly visible.
Bit of a bummer that as no doubt at some stage it could easily have been up soaring with the other buzzards in the area and at half a mile distant picked up from the back garden had I been in raptor-watching mode like most days of late :-/


Took a walk to Far Pasture but turned back as the wood yard gates were open and the two barky dogs were lurking in the compound. My record with barky dogs is not good, so I bottled out of sneaking past them and went to Thornley Woods instead mainly to see if I could locate a Pied Flycatcher.
I took the skyline route and on the way came across a Blackcap singing out in the open. Only trouble was the direction of the sun, which was incredibly strong that day, so what could have been a cracking photo ended up pretty average :

Singing Blackcap in strong sunlight
A search of Thornley and Paddock Hill Woods proved pretty fruitless, the intense heat didn't encourage the birds out in the open, so just common stuff around but I did get a decent pic of a singing chiffchaff :

Singing Chiffchaff in a better position
Also picked the wrong day to go trudging around the patch, the heat was a killer and I was knackered by the time I got home.


Home again, a nice pair of Bullfinches in the garden early doors, the male stayed in the trees at the back of the garden so I couldn't snap him, but his missus came down to feed and was much more obliging.

Mrs Bully
Don't come in that often so nice to see
Token red kite fly-over shot to finish
This one untagged

Thursday (today)

Another scorcher so this time I made it to Far Pasture for a much more leisurely stroll. Plenty birds singing but not much showing, and raptors were few and far between. Star bird was a drake Mandarin.
I was at the entrance to the car park and saw it fly in low from the direction of the river. I went to the hide and was told it flew around twice then landed on the far island and settled down out of sight. One bloke pointed out where it was, but it was well hidden and only the red beak was showing. It didn't move in the next hour except to stretch up once, which I missed.

I also got on talking to a bloke who was quite new to birding and used to work in badger protection, telling me how they used to repair dug out setts and reinforce them with concrete and mesh. But some of the stuff he told me about the sites he had to clear up and how the scum went about 'baiting' was heartbreaking.

Eventually my target species for the day started singing its raspy tune, a Common Whitethroat. It showed well enough as it worked its way along the roadside but was mostly very flighty and against the sun so photos not easy.

Butterflies were out in force too, mainly Small Tortoiseshells, but a few Peacocks, Orange-tips and Green-veined Whites. Also an orange one with black markings, I presumed a fritillary of sorts, certainly wasn't a comma as it had smooth-edged wings. Impossible to photograph as it rarely settled for more than a second as it made its way across the grassy bank behind the fence. By all accounts fritillaries shouldn't be out this soon up north but I'm certainly no butterfly expert so if you know better . . . .

So another interesting little session, and here's the day in pictures :

Another singing Blackcap partly obscured

Ponies at the Gate

There's a Mandarin in this picture, honest.

That red blotch centre picture is its beak
Don't think it would get past a records committee  :-O
Fishing Heron

Wren singing its heart out
Best pic I could get of the first
Common Whitethroat of the year

A blurry flight shot, same bird

Small Tortoiseshell

Green-veined White

 Not long now for the damselflies, can't wait :-)



  1. Won't be a fritillary Alan most probably either a Wall Brown or Speckled Wood both on the wing from your description I'd say Wall Brown.

    1. Cheers Michael, it was bright orange so def not a speckled wood. A fresh Wall seems best bet I suppose but doubt I'll ever know for certain. Think I'll stick to dragonflies :-)

  2. Whens yer first Damsel due Alan ??

    1. Differs every year John but I'll start looking early May. First large red was Thornley Woods Pond on the 8th last year.