Strumpshaw dragonflies, 31 May 2014

We may have been unlucky with Swallowtail at Stumpshaw today (the sun decided to disappear as we arrived!) but some odonata more than made up for that. Best of all was a pristine female Scarce Chaser perched up nicely on the Lackford Run. At least 5 Norfolk Hawkers were less obliging though! Hairy Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser, Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly and Blue-tailed Damselfly completed the picture.
Birdwise a mega Bittern flew across the reedbed when I stopped for a well timed call of nature! 2 Cuckoos, 2 Common Terns, c7 Cetti's Warblers and Marsh Harrier were the best of the rest. 3 Common Lizards were also showing nicely on the short boardwalk off the Lackford Run.
Scarce Chaser

Banded Demoiselle

Azure Damselfly

Common Lizard

Black-headed Bunting, West Runton, 29 May 2014

Thanks to bloody Vodafone I didn't get up to West Runton last night as they delivered last nights voicemail at 8.00 this morning!
Luckily there was no harm done as the female Black-headed Bunting was still there today. Despite working this morning I managed to sneak away at lunchtime and dashed up to the coast. On arrival the bird hadn't shown for an hour and another hour passed before it finally popped up onto a hedge. And there it sat for a good 30 minutes during which time I snapped a few records shots using the iPhone/scope combination resulting in the pretty rubbish pics below!
The bird was #384 (BOU) for me in Norfolk and my first county tick for 2 and a half years!
It was a classic twitch too as the only other birds I saw were Common Whitethroats, Linnets and 3 fly through Stock Doves  

Black-headed Bunting, West Runton

Black-headed Bunting, West Runton

BBB Hawkmoths and scarce orchids, North Norfolk, 26 May 2014

Bank holiday Monday on the North Norfolk Coast - we must be mad! Actually it wasn't too bad at the places we visited. First port of call was Holt Country Park where I wanted to catch up with the nationally scarce Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth and 3 of these beauties duly obliged around the flowering Red Campion close to the carpark. A wander down to the wet valley on the edge of the heath was more in hope than expectation but I did manage to find 2 rather early female Keeled Skimmers. At the traditional spot in the woods several Birdsnest Orchids were again present under beeches although it's fair to say that Belinda was underwhelmed with them!

Our only other significant stop was at Beeston Common, just east of Sheringham. Here orchids weren't exactly numerous as it's pretty early but several Southern Marsh Orchids were out and I also found 1 Heath Spotted Orchid and then a surprise Pugsley's Marsh Orchid. It's obviously just too early for Common Spotted Orchid but I did find one with one flower out! Common Blue butterfly, Speckled Woods and a soaring Sparrowhawk was about it.

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth, Holt CP

Birdsnest Orchid, Holt CP

Pugsley's Marsh Orchid, Beeston Common

Common Spotted Orchid, Beeston Common

Heath Spotted Orchid, Beeston Common

1st moth trapping session of the year, Pulham Market, 22 May 2014

After buying an MV moth trap last year it's hardly seen the light of day so with good intentions of it being the start of some more concerted trapping in 2014 I put the trap out last night. Almost immediately is started raining so I ran the trap for a couple of hours only (while trying to keep the bulb and electrics dry!)
A lovely Green Silver-lines was the pick of the pretty small catch with 4 Pale Tussocks being another new moth for me. Well, I'm very new to this! To sum up the catch:

Green Silver-lines - 1
Pale Tussock - 4
Shuttle-shaped Dart - 2
Flame Shoulder - 1
Treble Lines - 4
Common Swift - 7
Brimstone Moth - 1
Orange Footman - 1
Common Pug - 2
Tawny Marbled Minor - 1
Marbled Minor agg. - 1
Red Twin-spot Carpet - 1

Green Silver-lines

Pale Tussock

Costa Rica mop up

I promise this is the last post about my trip to Costa Rica!
Obviously birds were my main priority (after Belinda of course!) and I've already posted about the mammals we caught up so this is a brief summary of the other items of nature interest we encountered.
Amphibians were to the fore and we were delighted to see several Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs (know locally as Blue Jeans Frog on account of their blue legs) at La Selva and Selva Verde Lodge together with the odd Green and Black Poison Dart Frog. These creatures are superb and look like plastic childrens toys rather than real frogs! We also saw an unidentified green frog (see below) and a Cane Toad that visted the dining room at the Hotel Villa Lapas.

Reptiles were dominated by loads of American Crocodiles on the Rio Tarcoles, the so-called Jesus Christ Lizards (which run on water!) and a number of confiding Iguanas in a variety of colours. Only 2 species of snake were seen, several Eyelash Pit Vipers which were totally eclipsed by a huge Boa Constrictor which I spotted by sheer chance at Curu NP seconds after Belinda said how much she'd like to see a big snake!

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs

Cane Toad

frog sp

American Crocodiles

American Crocodile

'Jesus Christ' Lizard



Boa Constrictor

NE Peak District, 8 - 10 May 2014

We spent this long and rather wet weekend walking up in the Hathersage area in the NE part of the Peak District. Birding wise I pretty much saw all of the expected species without doing any actual birding or taking my bins! Best of all were a pair of gorgeous Pied Flycatchers (plus another singleton) in Padley Gorge near Grindleford, good numbers of Ring Ouzels along Burbage Rocks and Stanage Edge, 2 Mountain Hares on Stanage Edge, a brief pair of Mandarin on the lake on the Longshaw Estate plus a couple bonus bumblebee ticks in the form of several Early Bumblebees (Bombus pratorum) and a single Blaeberry Bumblebee (Bombus monticola) along Curbar Edge. I've summed things up in list form below:

Burbage Rocks/Higger Tor
Ring Ouzel c6
Cuckoo 2
Stonechat 2
Red Grouse c3
Grey Wagtail 1
Siskin 1

Stanage Edge
Ring Ouzel c4
Cuckoo 1
Red Grouse c4
Mountain Hare 2

Padley Gorge/Longshaw Estate
Pied Flycatcher 3
Nuthatch 1
Mistle Thrush 1
Cuckoo 1
Lesser Redpoll 1
Mandarin 2

Alport Castle & Valley
Common Buzzard 2
Raven 1
Redstart 2
Grey Wagtail 2
Dipper 1
Siskin c10
Cuckoo 1
Song Thrush 1

Curbar/ Froggatt Edges
Raven c4
Tree Pipit 1
Ring Ouzel 1
Early Bumblebee several
Blaeberry Bumblebee 1

Early Bumblebee

Padley Gorge


Aldringham Walks and North Warren, Suffolk, 5 May 2014

A long sunny bank holiday Monday walk starting in Thorpness, heading northeast and then south through Aldringham Walks towards North Warren and back via Thorpness Mere.

There was a real feel of spring with birds in song everywhere. Best of all the singers were 3 different Nightingales in full cry with some nice views of one. A couple of Garden Warblers didn't stand a chance in the song stakes but a fly-over Woodlark on the north part Aldringham Walks had probably stopped singing weeks ago! 3 Cuckoos (2 seen together) were my first of the year and then a stonking male Ring Ouzel flew across and open area of grass showing off his finest before disappearing into thick gorse. Walking alongside the reedbed at North Warren was equally enjoyable with 2 Hobbies, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler and Reed Warbler. Common Whitethroats were literally everywhere with the odd Lesser Whitethroat singing and a handful of Willow Warblers.

Insect wise 2 Green Hairstreaks were my first ones this year whilst Small Copper, Azure Damselflies, Large Red Damselflies, Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser were also seen proving the exceptionally early spring we're having.

Green Hairstreak, Aldringham Walks

Small Copper, Aldringham Walks

The Weald of Kent, 4 May 2014

Not a birding trip but a weekend geocaching with friends.
A walk along part of the Greensands Way near the village of Shipbourne had me very encouraged with the number of Turtle Doves on territory - I had at least 6 calling in just 2 hours. Into the bargain a pair of (presumably) tree nesting Ravens were displaying and my first Garden Warblers of the spring singing.