Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shirburn Hill - August 16th 2009

A 2 hour walk on the Hill from 10:15 in sunny weather with some breeze.

The main reason for the visit was to find the Silver-spotted Skipper. Success; good numbers seen on all open short grassland areas. Other butterflies of note were Comma, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady, Small and Large Whites, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, both ♂ and ♀ Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Small Cooper and Brown Argus.

The bird life was as quiet as was expected for this time of year. Though a late summer Tit flock included many Phylloscopus warblers. Did not spend time checking the flock out so not sure whether the birds were Willow Warblers or Chiffchaffs. Did notice Great, Long-tailed and Marsh Tits in the flock.

Other avian interest included good views of Red Kite, Common Buzzard and there was a European Robin in full song.

Of the flora, Wild Candytuft was in flower across the hill close to areas of bare soil (scrapes) and Autumn Gentian found to be common in the open area above the scrub strip. Much more common than Common Centaury! The most noticeable plant in flower was Eyebright. The plants seemed to be everywhere! I have no idea what exact species of Eyebright they were; so, perhaps one day, I will have the inclination to key them out!

2 dragonflies seen on the hill. One a hawking mostly blue job the other a ruddy brown smaller individual. Need to start being more serious about identifying this group of insects.

Finally, some glossy golden brown small flies acting like pond skaters on a puddle within a rut. What I assumed to be ♂ flies, flicked their wings forward and back quickly. A courtship display? Should have brought the camera with me to support research into their identification. Their wings had a dark patch towards the apex.

A happy two hours!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rushbeds Wood & Lapland Farm - August 2nd 2009

Just a relaxing walk around the wood and fields at lunchtime (12:30 - 13:45). Warm with sunny intervals.

Not a serious bird watching visit and the flying beasts were very quiet anyway! Common Chaffinches around together with Great and Long-tailed Tits, Winter Wrens, Common Blackbirds and Chiffchaffs. The latter was not seen but believe around as 'huitt' calls heard. Also one Common Buzzard at wood centre.

May have seen a Eurasian Hobby at Lapland Farm. Definitly a falcon, but too distant to be sure and I am not familiar with this species yet. Must invest in a scope!

The butterflies grabbed most of my attention. Red Admiral, Common Blue, Brimstone, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Whites (Green-veined, Large and Small).

However, the highlight of the visit was a single Grass Snake (Natrix natrix). Seen in the wide hedgerow between the two fields of Lapland Farm. Not uncommon in the UK I know, but I do not see them very often!