The New Forest, 14 July 2018

A very long day trip down to the New Forest for some specials with Jus and Andy.

Meeting in Attleborough at 04.00 we were in position at Acres Down near Lyndhurst by 07.50. The walk from the carpark yielded 2 Common Crossbills overhead but in a 3 hour vigil there was no sign of any Honey Buzzards. Indeed, despite the perfect conditions raptors were thin on the ground with just 3 Common Buzzards and a 1s Hobby. The supportings cast however was excellent with 2 Woodlarks, 2 Common Redstarts, Tree Pipit, numerous Siskins. A Migrant Hawker was alkso my first of the year.


Following a cream tea in the tearoom/farmshop there we made the drive round to the other side of the A31 to Stoney Cross. Here, my no.1 target of the day was easily found in a wet flush - c15 Bog Orchids. This is my penultimate British orchid leaving me with just Irish Ladies Tresses (which may prove more challenging to get to!). Also at the site were loads of Keeled Skimmers and a Red Kite over the road.

Bog Orchids

Keeled Skimmer

 Stoney Cross site

With our main aim for the afternoon being odonata we drove back round to Mill Lawn Brook near Burley next. Walking east along the stream from near the carpark resulted in several diminutive Southern Damselflies, Small Red Damselflies, Beautiful Demoiselles, more Keeled Skimmers, Emperor Dragonfly, Azure Damselfly a a distant Raven. Our other main damselfly target eluded us though so we tried another stretch of the same stream just to the east of the A35 bridge. Walking here and we soon added Small Red-eyed Damselflies, White-legged Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselflies and Common Blue Damselfly. Eventually, Jus got onto a perched male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly which promptly tangled with a female and then disappeared. Luckily the female began egg-laying but frustratingly too far away for a decent photo (although I did try but that nearly ended in a muddy disaster as my boots got stuck and the boys has to haul me out!). This species really is very unobtrusive and scarce as it's name suggests.

Southern Damselfly

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Beautiful Demoiselle

White-legged Damselfly

 Mill Lawn Brook, east of A35

Our final port of call in the day was Thursley Common in Surrey on a detour on the drive home. En-route 3 Mediterranean Gulls were over the M27 near Portsmouth Harbours. At Thursley we found the male Red-backed Shrike easily but it was impossible to get closer than about 300 yards. A Green Woodpecker, Stonechat and more Keeled Skimmers were also there before we decided to give 'The Moat' a look hoping for Brilliant Emerald. That wasn't to be but we did add Emerald Damselflies and Four-spotted Chaser to bring the odonata day count to 14 species.

Yearlist = 226

         Red-backed Shrike (honestly!)

Keeping it local - Dickleburgh Moor, 8 July 2018

After a hot day in Norwich shopping I was keen to nip the huge 3 miles down the road to Dickleburgh Moor this afternoon.
This Otter Trust owned site has huge potential and talking to the site warden Ben it seems there are some big plans for it so watch this space.
Ben was also kind enough to drive us onto the moor in his 4-wheel drive so we could get some lovely close views of the Cattle Egret! The Glossy Ibis wasn't quite so co-operative but we still had some nice scope views and I managed a record shot. Into the bargain there were 2 Green Sandpipers on the flood plus a Turtle Dove flew past. On an earlier attempt to get closer to the Cattle Egret field side flowers near Dickleburgh sewage works yielded 2 Brown Argus, Essex Skipper, Gatekeepers, Green-veined Whites, Small Whites and Large Whites.

All in all a very nice couple of hours out and now it's being managed and water levels being looked after I have a new local patch with a little potential.  It was also a nice social with Dave Russell and the Dereham boys.

Yearlist = 224

Cattle Egret

Glossy Ibis

Brown Argus


Sheringham area, 30 June 2018

A walk in Sheringham Park from Upper Sheringham to the clifftop near Dead Man's Wood and back. The weather was glorious but naturewise things were pretty quiet. It was good to note Purple Hairstreak from the top of the gazebo in the park and a Southern Hawker was along the clifftops, my first of the year. Ringlets, Green-veined Whites and Silver-Ys were out in good numbers.

Green-veined White

 The view from the gazebo, Sheringham Park

After lunch in Sheringham I negotiated a quick visit to Beeston Common. Here, almost the first orchid I clapped eyes on was a gorgeous white Marsh Helleborine of the var. albiflora. A variation that I'd only seen once before and at this same site! There were plenty of more run of the mill Marsh Helleborines, a few Marsh Fragrant Orchids and a large number of Common Spotted Orchids.

Marsh Helleborine var. albiflora

Marsh Fragrant Orchid

    Marsh Helleborines

Pyramidal Orchid var. albiflora in Lowestoft, 26 June 2018

A quick after work dash to Lowestoft to see another orchid variation that was new to me.
With precise directions from a friend I found 2 Pyramidal Orchid var. albiflora with ease and spent an enjoyable short time photographing them. There were several 'normal' coloured Pyramidal Orchids with them.
My very own 'orchid summer' continues!

Scotland/Cumbria trip, Day 5, 24 June 2018 - Loch Bran & Tebay Services

We had time to visit just one site before the long drive back south to Kidderminster. That was the beautiful Loch Bran south of Loch Ness. Here we found our main target Brilliant Emerald very easily with a female egg-laying at our feet as soon as we approached the water! We went on to see loads more, mostly patrolling males which really are 'brilliant'! Into the bargain there we also a few 'Highland' Darters including a pair in tandem, Four-spotted Chasers, Large Red Damselflies and Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Brilliant Emeralds

'Highland' Darter

 Loch Bran

We had just one more place to do something on the way back where on the bank by the carpark at Tebay Services were an impressive display of big Northern Marsh Orchids with several Northern Marsh x Heath Spotted hybrids.

Northern Marsh Orchids

      Northern Marsh x Heath Spotted hybrid

Scotland/Cumbria trip, Day 4, 23 June 2018 - Boat of Garten, Avielochan, Glenmore Lodge, Cairngorm & Loch Morlich

With our orchid work complete today was more of a casual birding day.

It began with a 06.00 start and a walk through Boat of Garten woods in the vain hooe of seeing Capercallie. Needless to say we failed but the early start was well worth it with some nice views of Crested Tit and a fly-over calling Parrot Crossbill.

 Boat of Garten wood

Next stop, after some breakfast from the Boat of Garten shop was the small loch of Avielochan where we quickly located a pair of Slavonian Grebes plus plenty of Siskins (including great views on a garden feeder), Little Grebe, Common Sandpiper, my first Ringlet of the year and Common Blue Damselfly.


 Slavonian Grebe

The first of 2 extended visits to the Glenmore Lodge area was next with our target of Bumblebee Robberfly eventually located. Frustratingly the single individual we saw promptly flew off never to return! A lovely posing Red Squirrel, Northern Eggar, Serrated Wintergreen, London Pride and some 'nearly out' Creeping Ladies Tresses were also in the same general area and an Osprey nest with an adult and a chick were along the road between Aviemore and Loch Morlich. Viewing was very heat-hazy so we returned later for clearer views! Redstart and Goldeneye were also seen while poodling about before we headed up the road to the Cairngorm carpark. The railway was sadly out of action but a nice juvenile Ring Ouzel right by the cafe buildings was rather nice as was a Raven and a showy and very vocal Willow Warbler. We did a short level walk right from the carpark seeing Lesser Twayblade, Heath Spotted Orchid, Northern Marsh Orchid and Cloudberry.

Red Squirrel

Serrated Wintergreen

Northern Eggar

Ring Ouzel

Willow Warbler

Lesser Twayblade

Heath Spotted Orchid

                                                                                              Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich on the way back proved a good call with some lovely scope views of a pair of Red-throated Divers.

Yearlist = 222