Archive - June 2016

26th June 2016

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

There are many photographs of new species from my trip to Norfolk so please bear with us while we update the site. The reserve is on the West edge of the Norfolk Broads and it was teeming with life. I arrived mid-morning to slightly disappointing weather. It was overcast but warm and windless. At the very start of the circuit around the Fen I came upon a Twayblade Orchid nestling in uncut grass just off the main pathway. Further round a Reed Bunting attracted me by its familiar call. A dull-looking Grey Heron passed as I arrived at the Fen Hide but after a short wait the rather more impressive Marsh Harrier treated us to a fly past. Soon afterwards the sun came out and seemed to paint colours onto the reserve. As I left the hide a warden beckoned me over to see a Red-banded Clearwing moth he had attracted using a pheromone lure.
On my way to the next hide I photographed a beautiful Southern Marsh Orchid and close-by an Azure Damselfly. Overhead several Hobbys were performing aerial acrobatics as they pursued their prey and at the Tower Hide I captured a Hobby swooping over the edge of the pool. A family of Coots were carefully guarding their feeding young. On my way back to the car park I noticed a Black Swan in a small pool. Along the path verges Hogweed flowers were the dining place for many insects. I noted hoverflies Volucella Pellucens, Syrphus Ribesii and Volucella Plumata (which looks like a bumblebee but is actually a hoverfly!) I also saw the scary-looking black_and_yellow_longhorn beetle. Right at the end of my trek I got some great sightings of the Norfolk Hawker dragonfly. Back at the car my wonderful day was capped with tea and a sandwich followed with a chocolate biscuit. My only regret was that the Swallowtail butterfly, for which the reserve is renowned, managed to evade me (but I did see it the following day at Hickling Broad).

Twayblade Reed Bunting Grey Heron
Marsh Harrier Red- belted Clearwing Southern Marsh Orchid
Azure Damselfly Map Eurasian Hobby
Coot Black Swan Hoverfly - volucella_pellucens
Hoverfly - syrphus_ribesii Hoverfly - volucella_plumata Beetle -
Black and Yellow Longhorn
Hoverfly - Volucella Plumata
Dragonfly Norfolk Hawker Swallowtail.Britannicus

19th June 2016


There were a few Tweets of a female King Eider at the mouth of the Esk so we decided to head to our old stomping ground. Breakfast at Dalkeith Morrisons was a poor 7 due to a lengthy wait and an unforgivable wrong order. At Musselburgh a Sand Martin immediately caught our attention as we left the car. It was only a few meters above us and we watched it preening itself for a while. As we turned the corner onto the path by the sea wall the 'Queen Eider' was close in heading straight for us. On the shore a few meters away there were around 400 Common Eider, in various stages of eclipse. Among them were a few female Goosanders perhaps enjoying the protection of the large group. Just offshore were a few more Eider females with some ducklings. As we headed along the shore wall some nice Bucks-horn Plantain and Haresfoot Clover caught my eye. As we headed for the scrapes the Forth was rather lifeless but we discovered the seawall itself had a bit of life on it. It was time to get the Raynox DCR-250 Macro lens out. There was a very small fly like insect (which I've still to identify) and a multitude of very small red spiders. To indicate scale on the picture John put a penny on the wall as I captured the spiders going about their business. At the scrapes it was quite empty apart from the usual Oystercatchers, a lone Shelduck, a pair of Red-legged Partridges a long way off and a Greenshank and Curlew even farther off. On our return journey to the car a lovely Meadow Pipit landed on the sea wall and soon after I spied a very nice Skylark lingering quite close on a fence post. The waters of the Forth disappointed until we returned to the mouth of the Esk where Eider were still resting on the sandy shore with the 'Queen Eider' on the water with her head under her wing. Our satisfactory visit was ended with a more than satisfactory tea and Danish pastry as we thought, "Musselburgh always delivers!

Sand Martin King Eider Female Common Eider in Eclipse
Female Goosander Common Eider Chick Bucks_horn Plantain
Hares_foot_Clover To identify Spider Tetranychus_urticae
Shelduck Red_legged Partridge Greenshank
Curlew Skylark Meadow Pipit

5th June 2016

Kinneil Lagoon

When I awoke this morning, I wasn't sure where we would be heading. Usually we followed the weather but the whole of Central Scotland was to be warm and sunny. However, as I had my cornflakes, Twitter jumped to life with notifications of the elusive Gull-billed Tern, spotted at Kinneil Lagoons near Bo'ness. Decision made. We headed east.
We had breakfast at Tesco at Hermiston Gate - a creditable 9.0, a great improvement from our last visit there!  At Bo'ness we parked at Slab Lane and headed towards the Forth Estuary across the track of the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway . We were immediately met by a nice Wood Pigeon feeding on the grass by the path. Further along the path I came across a few Northern Marsh Orchids - a little bit of colour in an otherwise green landscape. Our first view of the Forth was a bit disappointing with only a distant flock of Shelduck. One flew over our heads and headed west. Perhaps the lagoon was in that direction. Some nice Red Poppies caught my eye. I thought I had something new when I turned to see a brown and white bird with a grey beak. It turned out to be a muddy Oystercatcher. A few minutes later we found the lagoon where a helpful digiscoper pointed out the Gull-billed Tern sitting on the water amongst some some Black-headed Gulls. It wasn't long until it rose and for 20 minutes or so flew up and down the lagoon feeding, allowing me to take a good few shots albeit with the light behind the bird.
On the way back we stopped at a small bay where a pair of Common Terns were feeding. Nearby I spotted a young Dunnock making a hell of a racket as well as a Foxglove standing proud in the late afternoon sun.
All in all it was a successful trip. You lose some..  You win some....
And to round it all off we had our usual cup of tea and a bun, bathed in lovely Bo'ness sunshine!
P.S. The Tesco bun was not as good as our usual Morrisons one

Wood Pigeon Shelduck Red Poppy
Oystercatcher Northern- Marsh Orchid Gull-billed Tern
Common Tern Juvenile Dunnock Foxglove

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